WHO PROPITIATED WHOM?
God Himself “provided” (Genesis 22:13-14; Hebrew: “saw [to]”) the sacrifice, not us. So He “paid for” the sacrifice for our sins, yet not for the sins themselves, of course (for Scripture never teaches that sins are, or can be, “paid for”). He bought and paid for us, not for our miserable sins!
Thus God Himself gave the propitiation concerning our sins: Israel had been taught and commanded to sacrifice in many ways to God, but when the full time came—the time, that is, when all those old shadows would be fulfilled by the Light radiating from the Cross that cast that long shadow across the irregular landscape of antiquity, unclear in form to earth-bound mortals, but clearly visible to the eyes of Heaven—I repeat, when that time came, God sent His very own Son, begotten before all ages of time, before they Two had planned the creation of all else. The Son, according to plan, was both given by the Father and voluntarily, obediently gave himself to be the coverage, shielding, or protective shelter concerned with our sins as well as those of the entire world. What a Savior! Hallelujah! Hallelujoshua! Praise Jesus! [3/17/04]
THE STRIPPING OFF OF THE FLESH = THE CLEANSING OF THE SPIRIT
The New Testament teaching and depiction of immersion suggests that the cleansing of the heart, the spirit, and the inward human entails the stripping off of the entire flesh or outward human. This was what circumcision pre-figured by the partiality of its symbolism. But what it only pre-figured, Jesus literally fulfilled by his crucifixion—the off-stripping of his entire body of flesh in death, and his descent, in spirit and soul, into the Unseen, there to herald and proclaim to the dead, preceding his resurrection from that abode, dressed in an immortal body or outward person that fully befitted his wholesomeness of spirit.
Water immersion allows all who believe to participate in Christ’s circumcision at the Cross (Colossians 2:11-15), which was the ultimate cleansing off of human flesh—Adam’s mortal flesh, banned from regenerative fruit for his eating forbidden fruit. Thus the flesh was not merely “washed off” with water; the flesh itself was “washed off” of the spirit—the body cleaned right off of its soul! When a person emerges from the water of immersion they are picturing the dressing (“in-slipping”) of their wholesome spirit with a suitably wholesome body, fit for agelong life in the New Earth. The cleaning must be more thorough than usually supposed. This body of flesh is much too decayed to survive by any measure short of a full replacement when Christ returns. [3/23/04]
WHERE GRACIOUSNESS REIGNS, GRACIOUSNESS TRAINS
How is it possible so to misunderstand the graciousness of God as to deny that the age of its superabundant dispensing is attended with a law that expects graciousness from us?! Dispensationalism is, indeed, well known for this distinctive and perfidious denial. But this denial, in practice, leads to the tragic stunting of spiritual growth to maturity in the image of God displayed in His own Son—graciousness and truth personified! For the Law of Messiah—the Law of Liberty that Jesus taught in the “Sermon on the Mount”—is as far beyond the Law of Moses as graciousness itself is beyond indignation. It requires graciousness from us where Moses required wrath. This new requirement is clearly a much heavier burden to our decaying flesh than Moses’ requirement. But the New Covenant supplies a new power for obedience as well as a new example of suffering abuse for the sake of obedience, rewarded with a new expectation of resurrection from the dead! As a result, Messiah’s yoke is kindly and his load light.
The heavier and more spiritual Law of Messiah is most certainly an inextricable part of the new order of graciousness inaugurated by Jesus; it simply demands that we become as gracious as Jesus, who went the full length of graciousness by sacrificing himself for our misdeeds. No greater love has any person than to give his soul (that is, earthly existence) for his friends. [4/8/04]
The Law of Moses demanded righteousness…to a point; the royal Law of Messiah requires graciousness…to a fault! [4/13/04]
The “Lord’s Prayer” does not authorize us to pardon sins-in-general that others may commit, but precisely to forgive “our debtors” of their debts against us and pardon “those who trespass against us” of those specific transgressions. Clearly, then, blanket, wholesale pardons were not what our Master expected of us, much less the clerical usurping of such an imaginary right. This strongly suggests that the admonition to “confess your sins to one another” likewise does not refer to a broadside confessional, but to our specific sins against those particular persons. This is still no small duty, yet is happily attended by graciousness from God. Let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill. [4/23/04]