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Calling All Saints! Calling All Saints! — Part 2

Today, November 1, 2017, is the 500th Anniversary of the All Saints Day (commemorating all the martyrs who had died for the Christian faith over the centuries) for which Martin intended his 95 Theses on indulgences, and when many people read it for the first time.  It has been said that they spread throughout Germany in fourteen days, and throughout Europe in thirty days.  It swept Western civilization in moments, historically speaking.  Imagine if Luther had been able to post his Theses on a blog site.  Following is part two of my “umpteen conjectures” that challenge many of the assumptions that dictated especially the doctrines of Atonement and Justification at that time, but which still reign lo, these five centuries later.  Were those presuppositions in accord with the “pattern of sound words” laid out in the Biblical Scriptures?  You be the judge.

A Comedy of Errors, a Tragedy of Mistaken Identities (cont’d.)

What if the Old Covenant required victims to be overcompensated in order to satisfy justice (Ex. 21:34-22:15; Lev. 5:16, 6:5; Num. 5:7; 2 Sam. 12:6; Prov. 6:30-31; Is. 61:7; Zech. 9:12)?

What if the vengefulness exhibited by Lamech:  “Since avenging is seven times for Cain, for Lamech it shall be seventy-seven times [hebdomekontakis hepta]” (Gen. 4:23-24, LXX), was flipped by Jesus, who was evidently alluding to him in his reply:  “I am not saying [to forgive] ‘Till seven times,’ but ‘Till seventy-seven times [hebdomekontakis hepta]’” (Matt. 18:22)?

What if Christ’s “blood of sprinkling…is speaking better than [the righteous (dikaion)] Abel” (Heb. 11:4, 12:24; Matt. 23:35, cf. Luke 11:51) because it was perfectly righteous, hence his shed blood cried out for a more perfect avenging (ekdikesis) than Abel’s—an immediate and total reversal of death, plus life superabundant enough for all takers?

And what if God’s avenging of that innocent blood on Christ’s own behalf (i.e., premially) is, more than coincidentally, what inaugurated the New Covenant in that blood (Matt. 26:27-28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25-32), by glorifying him and awarding him the restitution of abundant life in the Holy Spirit to pass along, out of love, to our mortal race (John 5:21-29, 6:47-63, 7:37-39; Gal. 2:29-6:18; Rom. 8; 2 Cor. 3:1-18, 13:4; 2 Tim. 1:1; 1 John 4:1-5:13)?

That is, what if the New Covenant was inaugurated by the power of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, not at his cross, and that’s why his blood may be said to “avail”?

And what if that blood, the cup of New Covenant blessings (1 Cor. 10:16-22) along with its varied powers, is appropriated by us when we simply drink it worthily, by faith, in the risen Lord’s Supper, for a recollection of him, announcing his wrongful (not penal) death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26) by his blood getting shed criminally (not penally)  (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20-22), for the sake of many, for the pardon of sins?

What if minimizing the seriousness of the crime of the Jews in crucifying their Messiah at Roman hands trivializes the magnitude of the premial justice of God in resurrecting him from the dead?

What if by “the righteousness of God,” as commonly but one-sidedly translated, the apostle Paul was not referring so much to the character quality as to an historic event—the event of Christ’s resurrection, which singularly, publicly exhibited God’s restorative premial justice?

What if, somewhat ironically, only the Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims Version of the Bible (1582/1609) translated from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate (as compared with the Hebrew and Greek), consistently renders dikaiosune/justitia as “justice,” which, although likewise one-sided (but the opposite side, reflecting Roman legal predilections), yet just so happens to make far better sense in many of Paul’s key passages as well as elsewhere in the New Testament?

What if the “righteousness of God” fell on the Third Day as rightful justice for Jesus and has no reference to the Cross at all?

That is, what if Paul’s famous phrase “the righteousness of God” refers to God’s justice in action (dikaiosune includes both personal and social—I suggest the composite rendering ‘justness’) revealed (Rom. 1:17), manifested (Rom. 3:21), and displayed (Rom. 3:25, 26) by His raising Jesus from the dead, executed on the Third Day as restorative justice for His Son?

In brief, what if “the justness of God” refers first of all to the Event that made it most famous:  His raising Christ from the dead?

What if Martin Luther would have been an order of magnitude more overjoyed to discover that “the righteousness of God” was full-on premial to Christ and not in the least penal?

What if the following instances of dikaiosune probably refer to God’s justice as epitomized by Christ’s resurrection, encompassing the just due He awarded to Christ:  Rom. 1:17, 3:5,21,22,25,26, 5:17,21, 8:10, 10:3a,3c; 2 Cor. 3:9, 5:21, 9:9; Phil. 1:11, 3:9b?

Thereupon, what if such phrases as “justness of/for faith” (Rom. 1:17, 4:11,13, 9:30,32, 10:4,5,10; Gal. 5:5), “faith accounted for justness [apart from works/acts]” (Rom. [2:26,] 4:3,5,6,8,9,10,11,22,23,24, 9:8; [2 Cor. 5:19;] Gal. 3:6; Phil. 3:9; [Heb. 11:17-19]), the justness which accords with faith (Heb. 11:7), justifying faith (Rom. 3:24,), etc., all refer to Christ’s just-award, the Gift of the vital power of God’s resurrectionary public justice—the Holy Spirit—now graciously poured out upon us, encompassing every spiritual gift and blessing of the New Covenant, as promised by God “to [eis]” and “on [epi]” our faith (Rom. 1:17, 3:22; Phil. 3:9)?

What if the Gospel (euaggelion) of “the righteousness/justice of God,” from another perspective, is simply the proclamation of His righteous fulfillment of His ancient covenanted promises (epaggelia), first to Abraham regarding descendants and a Promised Land (Acts 7:5,17; Gal. 3:8, 14-29; Rom. 4:13-21, 9:4-9; Heb. 7:6, 11:9-19), then to David regarding Seed Royal who would save Israel (Acts 13:23,32-39, 26:6-8), and ultimately to everyone who has the faith of Abraham, concerning the Gift of the Holy Spirit of adoption, the down payment of an inheritance of everlasting life in the Messiah (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 2:33,38-39; Gal. 4:23,28; Rom. 15:8-12; 2 Cor. 1:18-20, 6:14-7:1; Eph. 1:13-14, 2:11-13, 3:1-12; 2 Tim. 1:1; Tit. 1:2-3; Heb. 4:1-2, 6:11-20, 8:6-7, 9:15, 10:23,35-39, 11:39-40; 12:25-28; James 1:12, 2:5; 2 Pet. 3:4,9,13; 1 John 2:25), which all nations could now access by faith and immersion into Christ’s faithfulness and divine favor (Rom. 5:1-2), divine power, indeed, even participation in divine nature (2 Pet. 1:1-4)?

What if when we beg God for justice, like the Psalmists, we aren’t asking for punishment but for restoration of plundered wealth, health, safety, and peace of mind (or is that asking too much)?

What if Jesus never asked God for mercy, but his sinless blood did cry out for just avenging?

What if the only thing that could really satisfy God’s justice was to welcome His Son alive and well back Home, restore his fortunes, exalt him over his enemies, and then kindly show them mercy so they could repent and be saved…and even share his good fortune?

So what if God’s justice fell on the Third Day, not on a hill far away?

~~ To be continued ~~


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Untangling “Predestination” — Part 4 (Appendix)



compiled by Ron Roper


In the beginning was the Explanation….All came to be through it….In it was life, and the life was the light of mankind.” (John 1:1, 3, 4)

For the Explanation of God is living and operative and keen above any two-edged sword.” (Heb. 4:12)

Having been regenerated, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the Explanation of God, living and permanentthe Declaration of the Lord is remaining for the age. Now this is the Declaration which is being proclaimed to you.” (I Peter, 1:23, 25)

Receive with meekness the implanted Explanation which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)

For the Explanation of the crossto us who are getting savedis the power of God.” (I Cor. 1:18) “We are heralding Christthe power of God.” (I Cor. 1:23, 24) If Christ has not been raised, vain is your faith—you are still in your sins.” (I Cor. 15:17)

No one can come to Me if ever the Father who sends me should not be drawing him“; “and I, if I should be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to myself.” (John 6:44, 12:32)

If ever you should be confessing with your mouth the Declaration that Jesus is Lord, and should be believing in your heart that God raises him from among the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart it is believed unto justness, yet with the mouth it is confessed for salvation.” (Rom. 10:9)

The Proclamationis God’s power for salvation to everyone who is believingfor a justice of God is being revealed in it, out of faithfulness for faith, according as it is written: ‘Now the just one out of faithfulness shall be living.” (Rom. 1:16, 17)

Consequently, faith is out of tidings, yet the tidings through a Declaration of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17)

The sacred Scripturesare able to make you wise for salvation through faithfulness which is in Christ Jesus.” (II Tim. 3:15)

Now I am committing you to God and to the Explanation of His graciousness, which is able to edify and give the inheritance among all who have gotten hallowed [by that Explanation of Truth they believe, John 17:17-20].” (Acts 20:32)

November 2007; revised July 30, 2009, April 3-4, 2015, May 10, 2017.

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by Ron Roper

What if God was only giving the Devil enough rope to hang himself, on that dark April day when he hung up God’s Son to torment and shame? I may be wrong, but what if the only wrath shown against Jesus at the cross was the wrath of Satan, who was about to get his head crushed by heavy fallout from his own diabolical deeds of terrorism—the prelude to God’s turning the ancient world upside-down?

What if the heinousness of human sin was sufficiently portrayed at the cross by the savagery of the malevolent who trumped up defamatory charges and brutally whipped, hit, mocked and pierced the Just and Holy One of God, without any alleged downpour of divine wrath on him (as if he were bearing God’s punishment for sins instead of suffering from their actual wrongs, which fatally took him down)?

What if sin was wrongly imputed to him by false witnesses and popular conjecture, not by God? What if that false condemnation justified the display of the true justice of God in reversing his death? What if Jesus, by surrender to death, was really paying his soul to ransom mortals from slavery to Sin (due to fear of death) without paying one thin drachma to God for sin’s penalties, much less to the Devil!

What if the only satisfaction God received from His Son’s death—far, far from any satisfaction for our debt of sins!—was observing his faithful obedience in the face of grisly assaults, staying sinless and non-retaliatory even to the bitter, bludgeoned, bloody end, so as to win immortality for humankind?

What if the love of God was demonstrated by His not avenging the malicious execution of His beloved Son with immediate wholesale slaughter by angelic hosts (after all, such displays of divine anger against the vicious do fill grim pages of the Old Testament), but letting this crime slip by in forbearance?

What if God was simply letting a day or two pass to let tears dry before unveiling His real, unimaginable justice by raising up His mangled Boy from such an indecent yet indubitable death to the pinnacle of honor, thus unleashing a flood of joyful tears from his loved ones in exchange? I wonder.

What if the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice signifies not his death but his resurrection from the dead? Could it possibly be that the ancient sacrificial blood had all along depicted the restorative power of Christ’s own resurrected life? Is that why it could serve for cleansing, sanctifying, healing, atoning, etc.?

And what if Christ’s well-deserved award for his heroic ordeal was God’s whopping reparation to make up for such tragic loss of innocent life and Spirit-powered career—teaching all he was instructed and doing all he was directed by God—to become a life-making Spirit, crowned at God’s side, peaceably drawing foes to conciliate with God and share in his promised inheritance of all, with plenty of siblings?

So, what if the graciousness we enjoy from God is simply the surplus of favor that God in His restorative or premial justice—not merely His indulgent tolerance or measured patience, kindness, or mercy—bequeathed to Jesus for voluntarily suffering such abuse from evildoers yet responding with resolute forgiveness, as attested by the wonders of Pentecost and showers of gifts from the Holy Spirit?

In short, what if—just what if!—God flat out ransomed Jesus from the grave as a sample of what He was preparing to do for any who would dare like fools to believe such a topsy-turvy story about His unfathomable graciousness and then respond accordingly by lifelong loyalty to His ethic and example…


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Does the expression “restorative justice,” as used by its modern practitioners, refer to restoration for the victim, or for the offender, or for both?

In light if a resurrectionary view of Christ’s atonement, he, the victim of Israel’s supreme sin[-offering], was restored via resurrection to his rightful glory, honor, and authority. But were the vicious offenders restored? Well, if the Cross means anything for the rest of humanity apart from Jesus, it surely means restoration as salvation, since this was the very significance of his name and mission! Restoration for the offended Head means restoration for the offending body.

Therefore, the human practice of restorative justice, if it is to image the divine, must embrace restoration for both and all! In fact, are we not to understand the Old Testament Levitical doctrine of overcompensatory repayment by the offender back to the victim as precisely a way of restoring the offender (conscience and all)? [10/18/07]

For us to get righteousness imputed to us by God is virtually identical with God not getting our sins imputed to us, i.e., to have our lawlessnesses pardoned and our sins covered over. It means nothing other than or more than that. How do I know? The Bible tells me so (Romans 4:6-8):

Even as David also is telling of the happiness of the person to whom God is reckoning righteousness apart from acts:

Happy they whose lawlessnesses were pardoned and whose sins were covered over!

Happy the man to whom the Lord by no means should be reckoning sin!

This means:


It’s that simple (for starters anyway). To insist otherwise (for starters!) is to fight against Divine simplicity and to “darken counsel by words without knowledge.”

The fundamental process underlying both expressions is simply the application of the blood of Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, to our hearts by our faith, for this brings the Holy Spirit into our hearts to cleanse away all sin and lawlessness by the resurrecting power of agelong life. So righteousness is the functional equivalent of forgiveness; there is virtually no difference of “degree” or otherwise between the two. They both bring to us the very same happiness (makar-).

Someone might argue that there is a technical difference between “being imputed righteous” and “actually being righteous,” but the distinction is pernicious because it implies that what God “only imputes” as righteousis not actually” righteous, as if God could lie! To the contrary! WHEN GOD ACTUALLY FORGIVES ACTUAL SIN, THE RESULT IS ACTUAL RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHICH JUSTIFIES GOD TO IMPUTE AND DECLARE IT TO BE SO! [10/22/07]

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“Justice vs. Mercy” or Penal Justice vs. Premial Justice?

The common apposition of the words “mercy” and “justice” in popular theology and sermonic speech is due to the common, but erroneous, conception of justice as exclusively penal or punitive. Then the notion of mercy and justice “agreeing” or “kissing” is attached to the Cross of Christ where allegedly we were shown God’s grace (mercy) because he was shown God’s wrath (justice). BUT THIS INTERPRETATION COMPLETELY IGNORES GOD’S RESTORATIVE JUSTICE!

Yet, to be sure, restorative justice is not the same as mercy. For mercy is still but oriented to the sinner, even as penal justice is, whereas restorative justice is oriented to the one injured or harmed, that is to say, the one sinned against.

Thus, when Paul in Romans writes of “God’s righteousness,” with only rare exceptions, he means God’s restorative justice manifested in the Christ’s RESURRECTION. [10/17/07]

It is noteworthy to observe that the Levitical version of restorative justice naturally required that the injurer should restore by repaying the injured. Therefore the necessary reparation needed to be extracted from the injurer before it could be given to the injured.

In the Cross/Resurrection, however, something absolutely unprecedented takes place. Not only does restoration occur to the injured before the injurer makes reparation, but the restoration comes from another source altogether—God Himself, Who also suffered from the injury! This is a stark revelation of the graciousness of God, beyond all expectation based on mere penal justice. Yes, the injury was even a capital offense of aggravated proportions, so any normal reparation by human beings was impossible. Yet to not even demand penal justice for the injurers, but rather to reprieve them for a full generation to make room for repentance was the grandest revelation of the mercy of God ever manifested in Israel’s long, tortured history. [10/17/07]

On the grounds of the wrongfully shed blood of Jesus, applied to our sinful hearts when we simply believe the Explanation of the Proclamation about what he did for us (which Message is the power of God for our salvation), we are cleansed or pardoned from our sins by the actual washing operation of God’s Holy Spirit that is then poured out in our hearts and thereupon God is justified in openly declaring us “just or imputing righteousness to us, i.e., in justifying us on account of our believing His Message, because this accords perfectly with His graciousness, aside from any acts on our part whatever.

This is contrary to the teaching of both the Roman Catholic Church and of the Protestant Reformation. Each will tend to see the other in this corrected doctrine of salvation, but it is neither. Romanism made justification depend on the end product of progressive sanctification. Protestantism made justification depend on the imputation of “Christ’s righteousness,” and in Calvin’s version that imputation in turn depends on a faith generated not by the power of the inspired Gospel itself, but by an arbitrary infusion of the Holy Spirit to the “particularly elect” as a “gift” (by which he meant not the Holy Spirit but the faith!), without which the Gospel itself is regarded as powerless to evoke faith in sinners, due to “total depravity.” Both are in error.

In the ppure and simple apostolic version, the faith of any sinner is counted (imputed) as righteousness when created by the power of the Gospel narrative (inspire by God’s Holy Spirit, in written or spoken form), and thereupon God bestows His Spirit of power into the sinner’s heart to cleanse away sins and thus justify God in declaring the former sinner to be righteous instantly, the sign of which, in conjunction with water immersion, was often the miraculous utterance of unknown languages, prophecy, and other extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit’s redemptive presence.

The Gospel narrative that has such power to effect so much is, of course, the Story of Jesus, especially his cross-and-resurrection, which jointly manifest the covenantal faithfulness or obedience of the Son and the covenantal righteousness or justice of the Father. [10/17/07]

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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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The miracle of turning water into wine by Jesus in John chapter two and the miracles of multiplying the loaves (and fishes) both point to God’s overcompensating expansion of the wickedly slain body of His Son. The outcome is a whole new and much larger Body of Messiah—the assembly of wholesome ones who host His Wholesome Spirit, given afresh and in much greater magnitude to Adam’s descendants in answer to the blood that Messiah Jesus poured out for the sake of mankind on account of sin. [4/10/07]

God’s indignation is not roused until His patience, forbearance, kindness, and mercy have been well indulged, indeed, especially not until His graciousness has been long insulted. This is the story of ancient Israel, progressing through the 70 year Exile and culminating in 70 A.D.—the gruesome self-destruction (for the most part) of Jerusalem’s inhabitants, then the destruction of the Temple and political establishment by the Romans, to round it out. [4/13/07]

Authentic submission (“islam”) to the only true God, Jehovah, entails willingness to suffer abuse rather than retaliate with violence against others. This response demands genuine faith, i.e., waiting on God to do His own avenging while we, in the meantime, develop and internalize the virtues that Jesus directed and exemplified. [4/13/07]

If Muslims can justify the alleged label of “blasphemy” toward Allah against someone, they may then proceed to justify violence against the violator instead of being constrained to exercise true virtues while letting God avenge any supposed blasphemy in His own way. [4/13/07]

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