Monthly Archives: July 2014

Satan “crushed underfoot”…and some!

Learning to rule over our sins is to “crush Satan underfoot” (Romans 16:20)—a nice comeuppance. This is what we were given the Spirit for (among other things). [6/29/07]

By some arcane alchemy, penal substitution theorists transmuted the arch-injustice of the Cross into a diorama of “penal justice,” and pinned the whole scheme on God, for Heaven’s sake! Thus a voluminous transfusion of confusion was mainlined into the arteries of the Body of Messiah and jolted it into ethical and proclamatory near-paralysis. [6/29/07]

The single word, “blood,” is associated in the New Testament with virtually every soteriological term…EXCEPT “SUBSTITUTION.” And for good reason. The use of substitutes for Jesus, in the Old Covenant Scriptures, was necessary to communicate the coming reality. These substitutes—animals, garments, rituals, architecture—were all symbols, figures, similes, metaphors, stand-ins. But THAT NEED HAS BEEN SUPERSEDED NOW THAT “THE TRUTH” HAS APPEARED. THE LIGHT HAS VANQUISHED ALL SHADOWS. TO BE SURE, EVEN THE BLOOD OF THE OLD COVENANT WAS BUT A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE BLOOD OF THE NEW COVENANT—THE “TRUE DRINK” OF MESSIAH’S BLOOD—OF “GOD’S OWN [SON]” (John 6:55, Acts 20:28). All those shadowy substitutes have been whisked away in a clean sweep of imagery culminating in the Cross, Resurrection, and Pentecost events. These phenomenal occurrences thrillingly vibrate with the supernal transcendence of God becoming near…with us—Immanuel—for our long-awaited, repeatedly prophesied SALVATION!

The nexus of these culminating events is to be located in the meaning of the blood of Jesus. For the outpouring of the innocent blood of this one Just Man on earth triggered the outpouring of the Wholesome Spirit by the one Just God from Heaven, by way of RESTORATIVE JUSTICE.

Simply said, the blood of the Savior saves us by justifying the gratuitous giving of the Spirit of the Savior to fill us in re! That Spirit of wholesomeness is the tangible, experiential substance of agelong life, our present pledge-in-kind of all that is to come if we endure faithful to the end.

Therefore, in sum, we access this Spirit of Graciousness in which we stand, by faith in the righteousness of Jesus’ blood, symbolized (the symbol authorized by the Savior, unlike the now-ubiquitous cross) by our drinking of his cup—taking of the fruit of…the “tree [xulon] of life.” [6/29/07]

Thirty-something years of hard work UP IN SMOKE! That’s what the life of Jesus looked like at the baffling conclusion of his execution. It was all wrong! Tragically cut short in his prime! Victim of swaggering, self-serving authorities! A total waste! Never to enjoy domestic pleasures! Deprived of a family and heirs! Never to feel the weight of a crown on his brow after all! TOTAL LOSS!

Or was it? Quite the contrary! He gave up and surrendered his lifelong “earnings” into the covenantally faithful hands of his God and Father, Who not only transmuted every undeserved blow of evil into good, but TOOK THE EXCHANGE RATE TO A HIGHER POWER. PLUS, GOD PUT THIS OVER-COMPENSATING REQUITAL ON DISPLAY FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE…SO THAT THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD BE DRAWN BACK TO ITS LOVING CREATOR AND GET CONCILIATED AND SO THAT GOD COULD ONE DAY HAVE A UNIVERSE WHERE HE COULD NOT ONLY BE ALL, BUT ALSO BE IN ALL. God longs for a home, too. We’re it! All who trust Him by believing His Proclamation of His Kingdom and concerning His Anointed Son get to be homes for God! HIS HOMES! Ponder that. [6/29/07]

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SATAN WANTS YOU TO BELIEVE IT WAS GOD’S PUNISHING LASH…

Satan…I repeat, Satan wants people to believe that it was God’s hand whose lash Jesus felt, whose nails pierced him. This misconceived and mischievous perception of Calvary well serves his goals as the Great Deceiver, the Grand Liar, the Covert Killer. The heavenly Father gets painted with blood on His hands “all for love,” “because He is holy,” “to satisfy His offended honor,” “to avenge His broken Law,” “to satisfy His penal justice,” “to pacify His righteous wrath,” “to fulfill His sovereign will,” “for the glory of His own name.”

The time is now (if long overdue!) to stand against such sly and craftily crafted blasphemy—TO PUSH IT BACK, PUSH IT BACK, WAY BACK! [6/26/07]

PSALM 136

In Psalm 136, the revelation of God’s wrath from Heaven is a great comfort to God’s covenant people because it is exercised upon their enemies! In fact, it is an explicit factor of God’s covenantal lovingkindness that He wipes out their enemies by His wrath.

So yes, God’s wrath is an expression of His love for us…but only when it’s aimed at those bent on destroying us! Likewise, it is reassuring for Psalm 23 to declare concerning Jehovah, our Shepherd, “Your club and Your staff, they are comforting me” (23:4c), for while He speaks softly to us, He carries a big stick for those who threaten us. [6/26/07]

“Penal Substitution” speculators are cocksure they have justice on their side. This has always been the vaunted “strong point” of their historic position. Thus they remain wrong on only two points: what justice consists of and when to execute it.

They have settled for a definition that is exclusively penal or punitive, virtually eclipsing its rewarding or justifying side, which is arguably the more significant as THE ONLY FACET FROM WHICH THE POSITIVE ELEMENTS OF OUR SALVATION DERIVES.

Moreover, these penal substitution theorists have assigned penal judgment to the Cross (as if Jesus didn’t have more than enough affliction to deal with, there, from Satan) AND IN THEIR MISDIRECTED ZEAL COMPLETELY OVERLOOKED THE JUSTIFYING AND REWARDING JUDGMENT THAT EXPLAINS THE RESURRECTION.

This is no petty oversight, but in combination with the misattribution of divine anger at the Cross constitutes perhaps the most draconic sabotage of revealed truth ever undertaken. The apostle Paul surely encountered in his own day no “other gospel” more subversive of divine character than this one has been. The harm that it has done to the aggregate human perception of God the Father finds few if any equals in the age of the apostles. Since this perverse notion cropped up long after their day, it falls to our solemn duty, however belatedly, to deal with it in a suitable and decisive manner. [6/26/07] May God give us extra grace for our liberating task.

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PSALM 146 — God’s Right Judgment…Proportionately Considered

This astonishing Psalm extols the right judgment of Jehovah with relentless driving force.  And what gets top billing?  As we should expect of a God like this:  rightful awards!

  1. [Jehovah,] executing right judgment for those being exploited!
  2. [Jehovah,] Giver of bread to the famished!
  3. Jehovah, letting loose those who are bound!
  4. Jehovah, unclosing the eyes of the blind!
  5. Jehovah, making erect those who are bent down!
  6. Jehovah, loving those who are righteous!
  7. Jehovah, Guardian over the sojourners!
  8. The orphan and the widow shall He bolster up!
  9. And [almost as an afterthought] the way of the vicious shall He overturn!

EIGHT TO ONE!  WE WIN!  Yippee!

Thus does God’s lovingkindness trounce His severity!  Moreover, even this penal judgment is directed at the enemies of His faithful ones, as Psalm 136 so poignantly drives home by cheerfully remorseless repetition.

REWARDS TRUMP PENALTIES.  That’s the game rule in God’s Kingdom (Psalm 146:10).

Penal substitution speculators are all out of whack on this vital, decisive, pivotal, CRUCIAL DETAIL.  They repeatedly, habitually, unrepentantly miss this MOMENT OF TRUTH that would open their mental darkness to the Light of Life.  Like Christian on his beleaguered pilgrim way to the Celestial City, they stumble again and again under the toppling weight of their excess theological baggage.  And only at the foot of a Cross whose stigma was laughingly spun into outer space by Heaven’s supervening judgment can their backbreaking volumes of atonement theology explode into harmless confetti.  [6/25/07]

They who have gotten habituated to the agelong enjoyment of the forgiveness of sins have long since been wooed away from “the enjoyment of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).  “Christ, then, having suffered for our sakes in flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same thought, for he who is suffering in flesh has ceased sins, by no means still to spend the rest of his lifetime in human lusts, but in the desire of God.  For sufficient is the time which has passed by to have effected the intention of the nations, having gone on in wantonness, lusts, debauches, revelries, drinking bouts, and illicit idolatries, while they are thinking it strange of you not to race together into the same puddle of profligacy, slandering you” (1 Peter 4:1-4).  The brighter joy far outweighs the sordid.  The draw of pardon is much more attractive and liberating than we usually dare imagine.  That’s why so much of theology and preaching (from which may God save us!) is only so much hesitant second guessing how folks might “misuse” the graciousness of God.  What folly!  For along with God’s gracious pardon comes His refreshing Spirit of wholesomeness to ravish our poor spirits!  Or didn’t we get filled in on that small print when we first believed and got baptized?  [6/25/07]

Jesus did not die “instead” of us, but right along with us!  He died the gruesome death of a cross, just like so many thousands of others had died before and after him under Rome’s condemnation.  The difference was that he died a sinless man—in fact much more than merely, negatively without any sin, but positively exuding wholesomeness, healing, and abundant life to those around him.  This all added up to his not deserving death.

Therefore, on account of a wrongful death of such aggravated proportions, he was immediately awarded life agelong, becoming, indeed, a vivifying Spirit!  And we participate in his divine nature, now glorified, by our faith.  By suffering a parallel but radically undeserved fate, Jesus became our Mediator, channeling God’s life to undeserving fellow human beings—sinners who simply believe God’s powerful Proclamation about His exalting Jesus.  This reality is not substitutionary but participatory.  [6/25/07]

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Jesus “propitiated” humanity; he did not propitiate God

Jesus did not “propitiate” Deity by “absorbing God’s wrath”; rather he “propitiated” humanity by absorbing human hatred. His divine mission was to conciliate us, not God! He won our hearts by not judging or condemning anyone at the Cross, that is, by not reckoning our sins to us (2 Corinthians 5:19)!  That is the agelong symbol of God’s suspending His destructive rights and prerogatives to show us His ultimate ground of action toward belligerent mankind: self-sacrificing love. The Father honored such a supreme sacrifice by the paramount endorsement of RESURRECTION from the dead. Thus God’s own Son became a protective shelterconcerning our sins, yet not concerning ours only, but concerning the whole world also” (1 John 2:2), however, not concerning God’s wrath [6/24/07] (which would be an inversion of its direction and operation).  [7/10/08]

How have theologians gotten so messed up in their explanations of the Atonement? Answer: Because of sinful proclivities (“fallen minds”—Thomas Schreiner à la his quote in yesterday’s blog). Surprise. Knowing from Scripture that this contingency is all too viable, why wouldn’t we expect, further, that those who held the worst answers would gang up and, in ‘perfect’ conformity with the sinful violence they had worked back into the doctrine of the Atonement with ever so much hard work and special pleading, would unleash their tainted production upon a “guilty” (Adam’s guilt passed along, says they!) race with fabulous success and bloody consequences? It only makes sense. Therefore we should expect that the majority position—the seemingly “victorious” theological contender—would be DEAD WRONG and DEATH DEALING.

But aren’t there any “redeeming qualities” about the Penal Substitution theory? Yes. Thank God! There is much nutritional value in tainted meat, sour milk, infested flour, wilted vegetables, and wormy fruit. Feast if you like. But it remains an unwholesome diet nonetheless. Why try your luck against food poisoning, etc.?

Similarly, why continue to risk doctrinal poisoning and generally compromised spiritual health? If we can expect dominant unsound doctrines to smugly strut their wares and domineer the opposition with severity and arrogance (as indeed they all too often do), then we can foster a wary attitude and test the spirits against the veritable apostolic words. We must get prepared for a nasty backlash and know for a surety that this is not God’s “penalizing” us for not believing and meekly genuflecting before “the truth,” but precisely for adhering to it in the face of the punishing implements of Satan.  “These things have I spoken to you that you may not be snared, for they will be putting you out of congregations; but coming is the hour that everyone who is killing you should suppose he is offering divine service to God.”  “And these things will they be doing to you, for they know not the Father nor even me(John 16:1-3).  [6/24/07]

NOT EVIL FOR EVIL BUT GRACE FOR GRACE

The rock bottom ethic revealed at the “Crossurrection” is rewarding “graciousness in return for graciousness” (charin anti charitosJohn 1:16), not repaying “evil in return for evil (kakon anti kakouRomans 12:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, 1 Peter 3:9). The magnanimous, non-retaliatory graciousness manifested by Jesus, God’s Son, on the cross was rewarded royally by his Father’s Majesty at his resurrection with graciousness overflowing to all mankind, entered upon and enjoyed by the “idleness” of mere faith which fully accords with graciousness (Romans 4:16), not amounting to anything remunerable in and of itself. By this style of celestial mechanics, God—both Father and Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit—conquered evil in good (Romans 12:21), thereby making friends out of enemies and getting the ball rolling to conciliate the whole world to Themself. [6/24/07]

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CHRIST’S ENDURANCE OF THE SATANICALLY CRUEL CROSS: GOD’S PROUDEST MOMENT!

Our “subjectivefaith in Jesus meets the “objectivefaithfulness in his blood, to which God answered from on high with the requital of agelong resurrection life. [6/20/07]

Because One sinless man wrongfully died, a vast unnumbered multitude of sinful human beings can rightfully live again. Because One perfectly just man was unjustly condemned to death by human judges, an innumerable host of unjust sinners can be perfectly justified to agelong life. [6/20/07]

The shear line between the divinely-violent atonement of penal substitution fame and the authentic Proclamation of all the apostles can be discerned most visibly at the Cross. Was Jesus abandoned, at last, to the wrath of God (and even further, in some formulations, to the fires of Gehenna), or was he forsaken to the extremity of Satan’s rage and fury—beyond, that is to say, the protective hedge that preserved Job alive from Satan’s assaults—yet securely in the Fatherly favor and graciousness all the while? For if Jesus was always the obedient Son, fulfilling covenant faithfulness without flinching, even to the excruciating finish line, then it is inconceivable that though, to be sure, he was tempted by Satan most especially to doubt his Father’s continuing favor in this last blinding ordeal—yet it is unfathomable that he ever for even a millisecond slipped out of the Father’s good graces. MUCH, MUCH RATHER, THIS WAS THE INEFFABLE COSMIC MOMENT OF HIS FATHER’S MOST UNDIMINISHED PRIDE! THIS WAS GOD’S PROUDEST MOMENT!

For if this was instead a display of the Deity’s “penal pay-back” justice, THEN THERE COULD HAVE BEEN NO JUSTICE LEFT OVER FOR THE RESURRECTION! If God exhausted His justice on the Cross, then the Resurrection is just so much theological DEAD WEIGHT. [6/22/07] Nay! Emphatically to the contrary, that glorious morn saw the ultimate and more divinely natural triumph of God’s JUSTIFYING RIGHTEOUSNESS! For this, and nothing less, the whole created order, now disrupted painfully, had been WAITING ON TIPTOE:  TO CATCH ONE HOPEFUL GLIMPSE OF ITS PROMISED DESTINY! [6/26/07]

THOMAS R. SCHREINER & DAVID E. GARLAND:  “God sent Christ to satisfy his own wrath.”

The argument of Thomas R. Schreiner and David E. Garland that the term “sin” (hamartia) in 2 Corinthians 5:21 could not be properly rendered “sin offering” because “such a view requires two different meanings for the word sin in the verse, and we would expect verbs like offer or present, which are typically associated with Old Testament sacrifices,” is invalid in view of these identical conditions (i.e., those of 2 Corinthians 5:21 and its context) prevailing in the book of Leviticus from which (in the LXX) Paul is evidently drawing this peculiar language. Schreiner and Garland surprisingly fail to hark back to Scripture for the solution to the alleged difficulty. See Thomas R. Schreiner, “Penal Substitution View,” in The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views, edited by James Beilby and Paul R. Eddy (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006), p 90, n. 75; David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1999) pp. 300-301. [6/23/07]

A few pages later (p. 94 & note 95), Schreiner observes:

Some object strenuously to the notion that God sent Christ to satisfy his own wrath.95

95 We should be reminded when considering such objections that our task in doing Christian theology is not to determine whether what is taught in Scripture confirms to our moral notions. Rather, we are to conform our moral worldview to the Scriptures because our minds are also fallen. [6/23/07]

Indeed, I happily and emphatically count myself one of those conscientious objectors, protestants, and remonstrants! Accordingly, I have recently posted (for May 12-13, 2015) three very telling excerpts to the same effect, drawn from expositions by the Westminster Puritan divine, Rev. John Lightfoot, D.D. (1602-1675), happily (if somewhat risky at that time!) contrary as they are to the position that the Westminster Assembly (1643-1652) adopted for its catechisms (LC #49 and SC #27).

The sad irony repeats itself in Schreiner’s words; those who are so ready to correct their misguided brethren can fall into the very pit they themselves have dug in order to lay alternative foundations other than “that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” Touché!  Checkmate.  For, as this entire blog site is dedicated to clarifying, the notion that God sent Christ to satisfy his own wrath” is never so much as hinted at by “what is taught in Scripture.” Neither the sacred vocabulary nor their textual associations ever teach such a concept. And not being taught in Scripture in so many words, they must be all the more vociferously insisted upon and repeated ad nauseum lest their disciples “miss” them in their “naïve” Bible reading (because, of course, they are not to be found between its covers). So although it apparently conforms nicely to Schreiner’s “moral notions,” he should have taken greater care “to conform [his] moral worldview to the Scriptures because [his] mind [is] also fallen.” ‘Nuff said…for now. But as young theologians keep bringing it up, I shall be compelled to keep bringing it down the best I know how. [5/22/15]

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If the heavenly Father beat up on (we’re talkin’ abuse here, not corrective discipline) His innocent Son out of “love” for others, then surely some depraved earthly fathers may interpret that as a license to abuse.

Psalm 136 tells a different story. There, out of lovingkindness or benignity toward His own children, Jehovah rightly beat up on Egypt’s Pharaoh and some Canaanite kings, Sihon and Og, for their wrongly beating up on Israel.

Which of these stories is more compelling? Which makes better sense? [6/18/07]

A Resurrectionary Atonement is MORE…

Christologically VICTORIOUS!

Morally INFLUENTIAL!

Miraculously REDEMPTIVE!

Sin PURGING

Sinner RANSOMING

Satan VANQUISHING

Spiritually PARTICIPATORY

but NOT AT ALL…

Penally PUNITIVE

Forensically SUBSTITUTIONARY

[6/18/07]

If someone should call down a divine curse on another person, does God have to comply? Is God bound to honor such recriminations among sinners? Is God duty-bound to uphold our vicious oaths spoken in His holy name? Or would this amount to taking His name in vain? [6/19/07]

To assert as so many Western orthodox theologians and preachers do, right in line with penal substitutionary dogma, that “Jesus suffered on the cross what we deserved (although wholesome Scripture never discourses in this manner) is to venture to be wiser and more emphatic than God. It is to insinuate slyly, though perhaps unintentionally and innocently enough, that “we”…or at least other people…and definitely our personal enemies really deserve such debasing treatment, such cruel treatment FROM GOD! Anyone can see, with a little brave reflection, where such sentiments can lead in our interpersonal relations. Such a presupposition, lurking behind all our up-front talk about God’s “mercy” and even “love,” seriously taints our attitudes toward our fellow “cross-deserving” sinners. It cannot help but. God is herewith painted as one who is demonstrating by the Cross what we deserve! Is this, then, the “Word of the Cross” which Paul declares is the power of God for our salvation? Is this even but a tiny part of that glorious Proclamation? NO IT IS NOT, OR THE APOSTLE WOULD HAVE INCLUDED SUCH “SOUND” WORDS. It is, rather, a cheap and tawdry, not to say perverse, addition to Scripture that ought to be challenged and suitably devalued at every vocalizing.

Sinners “deserve” just what was spoken to Adam in authoritative warning: death. And that coincidentally happens to be what we all get. But what Scripture emphasizes about the cross of Jesus is overwhelmingly this: he suffered unjustly, what he did not deserve, at the hands of sinners, bearing those sins unflinchingly to the bitter, undeserved end…so that death-deserving murderers could enjoy life agelong and joyous. THAT’S THE MEANING AND MESSAGE OF MESSIAH’S CROSS. AND THAT IS UNMITIGATED GOOD NEWS in the context of our miserable enough estate. This benign Message completely eclipses our deserts and dissolves its presupposition. [6/19/07]

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THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT: The Last Frontier

This last frontier of Christian doctrine—the Atonement—has been best protected because least suspected by the orthodoxy of the West of any significant “heresy” (as they like to term falsehood and error). Much rather, this grossest of misrepresentations of the Father is the mother of a host of evil progeny both in doctrine and ethics. It has hobbled and handicapped every other endeavor of God’s people to some extent, retarding the full flourishing of both theoretical and practical outcomes. [6/10/07]

God’s Message to humanity is not, “Play nice or I’ll have to kill you” but “Play nice or you’ll have to die.” It is not, after all, a small distinction. God’s graciousness, its authenticity, and its credibility are all on the line. [6/10/07]

By escaping, with his Father’s help, every attempt of his countrymen to kill him by stoning, being pushed off a cliff, etc., Jesus was holding out for a worst case scenario—crucifixion. Why? Because only against such a dramatic, public, horrendous, and undeserved fate could God display the MAGNITUDE of His salvation in a fully historical, eyewitnessed manner and have a fully prepared contingent of followers to herald the event and be able to explain its fullest meaning to the desperately needy audience he wanted to reach—all of Adam’s descendants. [6/10/07]

Our Christian pacifism facilitates our boldness and frankness, our candor in the face of all worldly (including Jewish) opposition—willing to die for the Truth but never willing to kill for it. [6/10/07]  This was the moral advantage of the early Christian stance; we would do well to emulate them.

The hanging of Jesus on a tree/timber (xul) was the “turning of the knife—the use (or ultimate misuse) of the only instrument of cursing given into human hands that was indifferent to the actual sin or innocence of its victim. Thus Israel not only perpetrated a heinous sin by murdering their perfectly sinless Messiah; they also activated their ultimate weapon against him—the “divine curse” that God delivered into their hands as a test of their responsibility. This misuse of a divinely bestowed prerogative in order to enact and effect the ultimate rejection of this Man-sent-of-God evoked a cataclysmic reversal of destinies, both for him and for them as his PREVIOUSLY chosen people. [6/12/07]

The CRUCIFIXION: This was the act that “brought down the house” of Israel and burst open their blessings for all nations to feast on. [6/12/07]

Human beings are indeed ‘depraved’ to varying degrees, but this mortal condition cannot per se alter their ability to exercise faith. For Paul writes, “Yet to him who is not working, yet is believing on Him Who is justifying the irreverent, his faith is getting reckoned for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). He backs this up by declaring later, “For Christ, while we are still infirm, still in accord with the era, for the sake of the irreverent died…God is commending this love of His to us, seeing that, while we are still sinners, Christ dies for our sakes (Romans 5:8). And why? Answer: in order to generate faith in him within their hearts, for they were well capable of this ineffaceable human gesture, given adequate proof. It was God’s business to supply that proof, and He did so in profusion. [6/13/07]

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