Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Faithfulness OF the Messiah

It is precisely the sinlessness and faithfulness of Messiah Jesus that brought the righteousness of Godonto” (Rom. 3:22, 1:17, Phil. 3:9, 2 Cor. 3:6-9, Gal. 2:21-3:6, 3:14, 22, Titus 3:6) our own faith, for it won God’s complete approval on his earthly career, in spite of his getting crucified, so that God performed an astonishing and glorious reversal, including magnificent overcompensation also in terms of righteousness being accounted to our mere and often meager faith. THIS IS GOD’S GRACIOUSNESS! On account of Messiah’s faithfulness, our faith gets regarded as/for righteousness. [5/01/06]

PONDERING THE FAITHFULNESS OF CHRIST

Romans 1:17, 3:22, 25, 27

Galatians 2:16, [20], 3:2, 5, 7?, 8?, 9?, 11?, 12?, 14?, 22, [23], 24?, 25, 26

Ephesians 3:12

Philippians 3:9

2 Timothy 3:15

2 Thessalonians 2:13

[5/01/06]

“CROSS-WIRING”

Every historic attempt to connect the Cross and Resurrection together into a “theory of the Atonement” has resulted in cross-wiring, incomplete circuits, insufficient current, and low voltage, plus, they have each and every one met with high resistance, in varying degrees, to popular and scholarly acceptance. But when the Cross and Resurrection get plugged together right, ALL THE LIGHTS COME ON! [5/02/06]

THE ATONEMENT PUZZLE

The long, tortured history of the so-called “doctrine of the Atonement” has seen theological laborers minutely surveying, assaying, parsing, diagramming, charting, analyzing, comparing, weighing, measuring, exploring, triangulating, metering, scanning, assessing, and evaluating every conceivable dimension (even some inconceivable) of every likely piece (and many not so likely) of the Atonement puzzle. But, as with all the king’s horses (we must have become desperate to put them on the payroll) and all the king’s men (do I hear an outcry?). The end results were less than cohesive or coherent. And even the reasons for this irresolution constitute something of a puzzle in their own right. [5/02/06]

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“TWO KINDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”

Martin Luther’s famous early Reformation tractate on “Two Kinds of Righteousness” (personal vs. imputed) needs to be rewritten. (Perhaps the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s famous manifesto, “The Ninety-Five Theses,” in 2017 would be an appropriate moment.) This time around, the contrast would have to be between a falsely alleged “punitive, penal, wrathful righteousnessmanifested at the cross of Messiah and the truly expressed delivering, liberating, rescuing righteousness manifested at his tomb. In this powerful contrast, God’s own character and reputation are in the balance.

Alternatively, one might contrast a righteousness that destroys Messiah’s murderers with a righteousness that restores Messiah’s own life with over-brimming bodily immortality! In this contrast the expectations of human justice are turned on their head.

In the first couplet above, the quality of righteousness/justice is at stake; in the second pair, the object of the righteousness/justice is in the balance. Both of these are objectively oriented to Messiah, whereas the Protestant Reformation’s obsession was subjective. [4/30/06]

The theory of so-called “substitutionary atonement” has displaced God’s own authentic victim-avenging justice and replaced it with a cheap, unworthy substitute that has nonetheless proved stubbornly durable through history. It is fair to say that it will never be vanquished by anything short of the veritable Truth itself.

All this is not to say that God’s higher justice is not retributive, for it most certainly is! But It is not retribution against (and therefore not repayment from) the injuring party; instead, it is RETRIBUTION FOR THE INJURED PARTY! Yet God did not take the overcompensation from the injurers in order to repay Jesus the damages they owed him, since in any event they were powerless to give back the life they had taken away (much less the overcompensation he was due from them as per the stipulations of the Law!)

Furthermore, it would not even have been right for the divine Judge to destroy the injurers and abusers and unjust executioners in this unique case because Jesus himself let them do it instead of dealing out justice to them, which would have been fully within his rights/authority. So he surrendered/gave up his rights to save himself and bore the injuries…like a Lamb, to the last bitter drop in the cup of their abuses, which the Father gave him to drink. [4/30/06]

In doing their own Messiah a terrible evil and tragic disfavor, the Jews did the whole world a wonderful good and marvelous favor (naturally, all unintended). We can be thankful it was not we who killed our own Savior, but in any case, now he belongs to all of us who trust him, whether Jews, nationals, slaves, free, males, females, whomever! “EUREKA! [4/30/06]

We don’t need a “substitute(i.e., an animal sacrifice) any longer; the real teacher has arrived! [4/30/06]

An “‘atoning sacrifice’ (ιλαστηριον, hilasterion) that fully satisfies the just demands of a holy and righteous God” does not exist.  How did we ever get the idea that this was the function of the sacrifices God appointed?  Calvin may think so; Leon Morris may imagine it; Richard Longenecker may believe the notion.  But where does that stand Written?!  IT DOESN’T!  (See Richard N. Longenecker, “The Obedience of Christ in the Theology of the Early Church,” in Reconciliation and Hope:  New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology, ed. by Robert Banks [Exeter, England:  Paternoster; Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1974], p. 144.)  [4/30/06]

How and why can we be “conciliated to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10)? Answer: By His Son’s refusal to destroy his enemies whom God showed to be clearly in the wrong by raising him from the dead. This determination of Messiah, on orders from Higher Up that he carried out to the letter, to bear the injustice rather than retaliate, was God’s way of making peace with His embittered enemies and showing them concretely that He bore them no ill will, regardless of what they thought of Him or did to His very Son! [4/30/06]

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Our Having Christ’s Spirit of New Life is PROOF That We Were Baptized into His Death

If we get life in Messiah Jesus without ourselves dying first, then, ipso facto, we must have died in him as wellThis conclusion follows from the fact of having experienced such life before we die a much deserved death for our own careers of failing to be righteousThis present possession of life from the Wholesome Spirit is proof that he included us in his death as well.  For such superexcessive life could only result from God’s rewarding him in overabundance for the injustice of his death.

The same can be said of Messiah’s entire virgin birth, upbringing, immersion, miracle-working, and righteous-teaching career:  it was all for us since the judicial award for it accrues to us in the Wholesome Spirit.  Messiah won the right to give it to whomever believe the Message; thus we win the right to receive it and so become sons and future heirs with him.  Thanks be to God!  [4/30/06]

“BIGGER THAN LIFE”

Satan thought he had squashed Jesus under the heel of death, but Christ bounced back bigger than life!  The “Crossurrectionmagnified and amplified the old humanity of the Jewish Jesus into the new mankind of Messiah, the Master of all.  [4/30/06]

It’s quite understandable that unless and until we really grasp what actually happened at Messiah’s cross/tomb, we will refuse to relinquish our own “words without knowledge” and balk at acknowledging the superiority of the divine teaching and explanation of Scripture in its own vocabulary.  [4/30/06]

The reason Jesus could bear or carry upthe sins of many” (Heb. 9:28) “in his body on the pole” (1 Pet. 2:24) is because he is the One against whom every sin is ultimately perpetrated.  Thus by holding himself back from avenging his own injuries (from “many”) to the full extent of capital punishment from the chiefs of the age, he played more ultimately into the waiting hands of God, Who, accordingly, judged him to be the righteous party in the suit and REVERSED THE CAPITAL SENTENCE AFTER IT HAD ALREADY CLAIMED ITS VICTIM, THUS DECLARING JESUS THE VICTOR!…AND ALL OUR SINS—THE WHOLE WORLD’S—PARDONED!  [4/30/06]

“ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES”

The so-called “substitutionary” elements visible in the Old Covenant stories anticipating the Messiah’s work are precisely the ones that are dropped when the reality actually dawned, for such substitutes (e.g., sacrificial animals and their blood) were only mechanical or functional necessities as shadows that could never fully depict the reality.  In Messiah himself, the essential truths of each and every “substitute” shadow-figure all line up and snap together into the ultimate working model who entered “into heaven itself(Heb. 8-10) on our behalf.  He did for us what we could never do for ourselves, but this does not mean that he ever suffered penal, punitive abuse from God “as our substitute,” for HE WAS THE VERY REALITY FOR WHICH ANIMAL SACRIFICES HAD SERVED AS EXPEDIENT SUBSTITUTES.  [4/30/06]  That reality unveiled an undeviating determination to suffer fatal abuse by the inveterate enemy of mankind so as to topple his tyrannical regime decisively through the Son leveraging his own faithfulness to his Father against the ultimate weapon of the draconic terrorizer of  the race.

God has provided a substitute for “penal satisfaction”!  For instead of acting punitively against the Messiah, he behaved propitiously, lavishing him with FAVOR SUPERABUNDANT, BEYOND MEASURE!  This is what the Father overpaid His Son for dying for us—the just for the unjust.  And Jesus, as the sole Mediator between God and mankind, graciously passed that graciousness on to us, bestowing its resultant, empirical, tangible gratuity (charisma) into our hearts as a foretaste and pledge of lasting life in God’s future Kingdom.  [4/30/06]

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The MAGNIFYING factor of Christ’s “CROSSURRECTION”

It is indeed true that by Messiah’s own personal obedience to the Father, he “merited” “for his people the forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life” (Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. III [NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1898], p. 142, quoted in John Driver, Understanding the Atonement for the Mission of the Church, [Scottdale, PA; Kitchener, ON: Herald Press, 1986], p. 190), if this is understood as processed through the magnifying lens of the CROSSURRECTION overcompensatory mechanism that reveals God’s own righteousness in its true magnitude. Hodge, however, does not see matters in this light. Instead, he (and historic Protestants) see “Christ’s righteousness” as a divinely accepted “substitute” for human righteousness. This is a dysfunctional fiction. Rather, Messiah, representatively does on our behalf what our own sinfulness disqualifies us from achieving and thereby as our Champion wins for us “the superabundance of graciousness and the gratuity of righteousness (Rom. 5:17), i.e., the Wholesome Spirit that actually “replaces” (better: fills up) our Adamically bequeathed deficiency of glory with life agelong. This is no “substitutefor our own weakness—unrighteousness, sin, and, even more fundamentally, death, but an overwhelming deposit of life-giving Spirit that actually makes up for our deficiency essentially by an infusion of God’s own nature (phusis/φυσις) into our human spirit in answer to our faith in His message of salvation.

The old “forensic” or “legal” view is hereby eclipsed by a better way of righteousness or forgiveness of sins, but not via a return to the old Roman Catholic way of our somehow achieving righteousness before God by the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit throughout our lives. BOTH RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS (a la Paul’s Romans epistle and Hebrews treatise, respectively) are instantaneously available by faith in Messiah and the consequent “sprinkling of the blood” of Jesus on our hearts. [4/29/06]

That Jesus bore our sins does not mean that he “bore our guilt,” it means that instead of avenging himself of the wrong being done to him by the Jews, Romans, and ultimately Satan, he let sin take him down to very death and beyond in order to let God alone vindicate and justify him all the more justly and gloriously! [4/29/06]

The Messiah was raisedfor our sakes,” “because of our justifying” (2 Cor. 5:15, Rom. 4:25) since his bearing sin instead of avenging it (a right that only he had from God, but which he relinquished so that we might live instead of die, forever) swung the initiative into God’s court, leaving his own fate at God’s mercy, in God’s hands. This very subordination justified God to execute His own supreme justice, and in His own perfect timing. And He did the deed in such a manner that when the dust settled, we were still alive and, moreover, free to choose God’s salvation (including His way of doing justice and making peace and conciliation without self-avenging) or reject it. Yet He did not leave mankind without a witness to the frightful result of rejecting such unparalleled graciousness and benign justice: 70 A.D. [4/29/06]

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The AGENT of Cleansing from Sin

Faith is said to be the means of “cleansing” (Acts 15:9) because it brings the Wholesome Spirit, which is the actual cleansing Agent. The blood of Jesus is said to be the means of cleansing (Heb. 9:13-14, 18-10:4, 1 Jn. 1:7) because it cries out for God’s just avenging to recompense the fatal act with a transcendently overcompensating just award of damages (dikaioma), namely, the promised gratuity of Wholesome Spirit—the Gift of God bestowed on faith—which brings agelong life!  But it is hardly necessary to be “washed in the blood” since this is not, after all, the actual cleaning agent involved. Rather, it is the sign (therefore a mere spattering or sprinkling is quite sufficient) that, when God sees it, evokes the release of the wholesome cleansing flood of God’s very own Spirit to immerse and, so, cleanse us, washing away all our wrongdoings/misdeeds by filling up our deficiency of divine glory, which we inherited from Adam when he ate from the fruit of the forbidden tree and started to deteriorate toward death without access to the Tree of Life. God thus stopped our sins dead in their tracks by giving us the very life that Adam’s sin deprived us of. This may at first blush seem a roundabout way of cleansing sin…but it works! And once we see it, we’ll never resort to lesser explanations but instead bask in the gratuitous life of God given to us by God, through faith! [4/29/06]

TOO EASILY SATISFIED

If we dare imagine that God’s “just judgment” (thus John Calvin) could be “satisfied” by Christ’s undergoing “the severity of God’s vengeance” and “appease His wrath” (Institutes II xvi 10–McNeill’s edition, p. 515 of vol. I) WE ARE SATISFIED BY FAR TOO LITTLE.  BUT WORSE STILL, WE IMAGINE THAT GOD IS LIKE US AND LIKEWISE “SATISFIED” WITH SUCH A VINDICTIVE, EVEN PETTY, SHOW OF RAGE.

Calvin is dangerously playing the part of Job’s “comforters” to argue by “words without knowledge” that Jesus must be suffering God’s wrath, for nothing else could possibly explain it, á là the Calvinism that attributes all that happens to God’s own “sovereign will.”  Far, far from it!  The only thing that will “satisfy” God’s wrath is the ultimate, total, and complete extirpation of sin (and its consequent curses, evils, and sorrows) from His created universe.  To the end of saving us from dying in our sins and suffering their fate in the Lake of fire, God commissioned His valiant Son (the very Reason for creating the universe in the first place) the only perfectly “Just One” who ever lived (Acts 3:14, 7:52, 22:14), to “take responsibility” for all the sin in the world by bearing/carrying them instead of “resisting” (James 5:6) the unjust by avenging their sins himself.  And with such a submissive, obedient conduct GOD WAS APPROPRIATELY SATISFIED! SO IN RIGHTEOUS COUNTER-RESPONSE GOD GAVE HIM STUPENDOUS GRACIOUSNESS IN A GRAND GIVEAWAY PROGRAM!

THE LAMB THE LION

The biblical symbols of the lamb and the lion depict the respective characteristics of Messiah Jesus as viewed from the cross and the resurrection. At the cross he plays the role of the amenable priestly Lamb of God who submits (“passively”…with all the divine courage, determination, and endurance he can muster!) to the despicable indignity of vicious, unjust crucifixion. That, in turn, calls forth God’s re-creative power to effect a metamorphosis into the Lion of Judah—the Royal Messiah promised in prophetic Scripture to rule over a renovated earth of righteousness and peace. The Lion, then, is the lamb as an overcompensated personage; the Lamb is the Lion “in disguise”! A LION IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING! The “followers of the Lamb” can perceive that by faith.

The imagery and “mathematics” of the New Earth and New Jerusalem show the loss/destruction of the old, GREATLY OVERCOMPENSATED! God here MAGNIFIES whatever good was in the old creation and its old capital, and all the evil in the old is overcompensated by agelong destruction in the Lake of Fire. That, too, is a magnified version of Gehenna—the end of ethnic Israel’s “national exhibit.” [4/29/06]

The Messianic achievement at the Cross disarms and deactivates/ nullifies (katarg) sin by killing the “Sinnee”—the very One having been sinned against all along, provided we understand this as a VOLUNTARY non-resistant surrender to this murderous act by the Victim himself. For only in this way could he pass his ultimate cosmic test and trial and ordeal from Satan by bearing this sin against his royal, just soul instead of lashing out in [Satanic?] self-defense or revenge and thereby destroying the very ones he came to save. That would have been “just” in a lesser sense than God Himself was capable of. God wanted to unveil “the length and breadth and depth and height” of His love and His righteousness and His graciousness and ultimately His Truth as promised in covenantal Scriptures too numerous to mention, and which must have looked to their ancient Jewish readers and interpreters and trustees as HOPELESSLY PARADOXICAL! ONLY A GOD AS GREAT AS JEHOVAH COULD HAVE BLENDED THEM TOGETHER AND SOMEHOW GLORIOUSLY FULFILLED THEM ALL—EN MASSE, AT THE CROSSURRECTION OF MESSIAH JESUS! [4/29/06]

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JOHN CALVIN’S IRRESOLVABLE CONTRADICTION

John Calvin strongly and fiercely states:

“If Christ had died only a bodily death, it would have been ineffectual. No—it was expedient at the same time for him to undergo the severity of God’s vengeance to appease His wrath and satisfy His just judgment.” Institutes of the Christian Religion, edited by John T. McNeill, translated by Ford Lewis Battles (Phila.: The Westminster Press, 1960), Bk. II, Chap. xvi, §10 (emphases added).

This could hardly be clearer, it would seem.  Yet to be perfectly fair, by way of mollifying that, Calvin outright contradicts himself and declares the very opposite at the turn of a page:

Yet we do not suggest that God was ever inimical or angry toward him. How could he be angry toward his beloved Son, ‘in whom his heart reposed’ [another translation:  “How could He be angry with the beloved Son, with whom His soul was well pleased?  from Vincent Taylor, Jesus and His Sacrifice, p. 159. note 3.  “Cf. [J.K.] Mozley, The Doctrine of the Atonement, p. 145] [cf. Matt. 3:17]?  How could Christ by his intercession appease the Father toward others, if he were himself hateful to God? This is what we are saying: he bore the weight of divine severity since he wasstricken and afflicted [cf. Isa. 53:5] by God’s hand and experienced all the signs of a wrathful and avenging God.” Ibid., Chap. xvi, §11 (emphases added).

So we have a problem (with Calvin, not with Scripture!).  Calvin wants it both ways.  He wants both Scripture and human tradition (particularly the one Anselm himself explicitly rejected).  As usual, he is “liberal” with his denunciations of those who would point out his evident contradictions and doubtful logic, but we can pass over those and leave them for God to sort our and judge.  However, we cannot live with Calvin’s confusions and compromises, whatever his motives.

The central problem would appear to be Calvin’s equivocation on the definition or meaning of wrath/anger.   This needs to be ironed out.  He still wants God’s wrath (horge, οργη) but he also wants Jesus to bear that wrath without God being angry (horge, οργη) toward himWRATH WITHOUT ANGER.  Is that possible?  Yet Calvin has no choice but to espouse illogic because he has not seen the LOGIC OF THE RESURRECTION!

In Greek, οργη means “indignation,” “anger,” or “wrath,” and is everywhere so translated. Therefore, how can Calvin split this hair so fine, especially without any linguistic warrant in sight? [10/21/07] I submit that this is an out-and-out contradiction in Calvin’s thought. His theory of penal substitution drove him to this irresolvable logical inconsistency. There were still several courses open to him and his followers in order to partly or temporarily relieve the cognitive discomfort, but they all lead to dead ends. This chief error of Calvinism spawned a host of others, the most famous being the “Five Points” that James Arminius exposed, although he died prematurely before connecting all the dots and descrying Calvin’s penal satisfaction/ payment theory of atonement manifest in the pattern. The only right course and legitimate escape from this logical snakepit is a return to the apostolic teaching concerning God’s restorative, rewarding, or premial justice that awarded super-compensation to Jesus for all he wrongfully suffered so that all who believe that God raised him from the dead could be immersed gratuitously in his rightful award from God.  [2/11/13]

Calvin gets away with this nettling contradiction by the legerdemain of using different (Latin/French) words for “wrath” and “angry.”  We might forgive him if he begged, “Pardon my French.”  But what of his Latin?  The contradiction of these two pages is stark and grating.  This thin linguistic whitewash shows through now that it’s had 450 years to weather.  Yet once we grasp…nay, once we are grasped by the thrilling logic (!) of Messiah’s resurrection, ALL IS FORGIVEN!  It is hard to remain angry at Calvin when we realize that he had to live without this fuller light, as did all his contemporaries!  Oh boon beyond words…beyond petty theological resentments, that we should be allowed, honored, privileged to be shown such incomparable TRUTH!  “COME…WELCOME, HOLY SPIRIT!”  [4/29/06]

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GOD PAID HONOR TO HIS OWN JUSTICE

It was the Father Himself who fulfilled His own “law of overcompensating justice” by raising Jesus from the dead!  This is startling, stunning!  God, “for us and our salvation” made ‘reparation’ to His law!  HE PAID HONOR TO HIS OWN TRANSCENDING CODE OF JUSTICE.  Thus not only did Jesus teach true righteousness–one higher than Moses’ code or the scribes and Pharisees–and not only did he fulfill it in action, “for us and our salvation,” but SO DID GOD!  [4/27/06]

We share in the atonement by TAKING THE LORD’S SUPPER IN FAITH. [4/27/06]

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