Archive for April, 2011

Thoughts from a Young Man: Democracy and Godliness

Democracy is not a godly institution; Kingship is.
Do not think christian that you are living under a gift called democracy. Your government is called a Monarchy The Christ is your King!
Democracy does not promote Godliness. It is NOT A primary or particularly good reflection of God’s design (the argument could be made that it reflects the priesthood of the believer but that misses important points) for Rule by a powerful perfect, holy, loving King. We have a marred view of this because earthly kings, sinners like us all, have been notoriously villainous, like us who don’t have a stage to be seen as they do, therefore the institution is said to be wicked. Democracy is the same, we simply choose to ignore the fact that the masses oppress the a minority who chooses to not adhere to their agenda.
Democracy is not an evil form of government, government God’s way is good he designed and ordains it, but the people who comprise the government are wicked. When wickedness gets together it will follow its master, Satan the father of death, and oppress every demonstration of the goodness of God. Look at China. Children are oppressed but greed is encouraged, it pleases the masses, Christianity (and most religions) is persecuted violently while cults of fashion, godless science (not all science seeks to defame and blaspheme God just what is accepted), education, all forms of self-glorification are permitted (so long as you are the right people), freedom of thought and thinking is limited to those who follow the party platform. Yes this is an oppressive oligarchical Dictatorship so it is not American Democracy but all men are sinners.
Now look at American Democracy
Mothers have the right to sacrifice children to the Molech of our day, SELF it is called freedom of choice which is not given to those children.
QUICKLY the right to speak and believe is being hijacked by those who have a political agenda and don’t like yours. Law firms, private businesses, are being beaten into conformity to the political agenda of a movement that seeks to legalize oppression and persecution of those who speak of marriage as being that of a man and a woman and no other combination. Saying homosexuality is wrong is already considered hate speech and is punished by the legal system in some Scandinavian countries.
Your privacy, purity, modesty, are being stripped from your hands by a government set on physical and mental humiliation in the name of farcical security in airports. Young children are being molested, women and men sexually harassed. Fear and intimidation are used to ensure conformity. The tool of these? Judicial punishment.
These are societal shifts that demonstrate the increasing use of democracy as a tool of oppression and conformity.
Do not be surprised. Sinful men created a system to protect, their sinful passions, from other sinful men. On that account I heartily agree with C.S. Lewis’ assessment of the value of democracy:

I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man.

I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government.

The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure. I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation Nor do most people – all the people who believe advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumours.

The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

But we must accept that our founding fathers, the politicos not the godly men who established the foundations b this I mean the Puritans, didn’t ask God for a system but used his name to lend credence to their creation not his. His government is a Kingship not of this earth but of heaven. Should we promote democracy? We have but few days to speak so let us speak of gospel that saves, the gospel of grace. This gospel is the gospel that changes the corrupted, sinful men who use and government as a tool of oppression. It changes those who elect leaders who will oppress those they are commanded by God to serve for His glory. It is the gospel that changes you and I so we can bear unfair treatment through the active seeking of Grave for the glory of The Christ that we may know him more and that he would demonstrate his greatness through earthen jars.

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Thoughts from a Young Man: Peterson A Far Country

https://tfym.wordpress.com/

I was driving to work today listening to Andrew Peterson’s Far Country. I came across it as a free album around Christmas time. I have listened to it several times because it is simply intoxicating. Every time I dip into the lyrics I am blessed today was no exception. I was in the title track “Far Country”. It is a beautiful call to remember we are not yet home. Paul says, “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,” (2 Corinthians 5:2). The next track, Lay Me Down, so perfectly echos Paul in verse 1 but more on that another day. I was brought into worship by the following lines:

Father Abraham
Do you remember when
You were called to a land
And didn’t know the way

‘Cause we are wandering
In a foreign land
We are children of the
Promise of the faith

And I long to find it
Can you feel it, too?
That the sun that’s shining
Is a shadow of the truth

What glorious truth is here in these simple lines. We like our father Abraham are indeed wandering through a land that is not our home. It is not our promised resting place. This world is a foreign land. Whatever is good here is merely a shadow of the truth that is to come. Though this world has many hindrances which Peterson picks up beautifully we are reminded that there is a promised land, a land of glory, a land in which our Lord SITS at rest interceding for HIS saints.

Peterson does a wonderful job pointing out just how dark this world is. He reminds of the sin that lurks in everyone of our hearts which points us to the promised land where sin shall not no longer be. It is this land for which we long:

This is a far country, a far country
Not my home

In the dark of the night
I can feel the shadows all around me
Cold shadows in the corners of my heart

But the heart of the fight
Is not in the flesh but in the spirit
And the spirit’s got me shaking in the dark

And I long to go there
I can feel the truth
I can hear the promise
Of the angels of the moon

It took me a few minutes to gather the reference to the moon. I am not sure what it is exactly but what is the moon but a light in the dark of the night that reminds us that we are made for day. No matter how dark our hearts and sin there is yet a light in the world, The Christ, whom light the way and is the path to God the Father. Is all that in the text? No. What it intended I have no idea. But it was my thought process through which I worship our God. I was pointed to truth! That is what GOOD music does. That is what GOOD writing does. It’s style, tone, volume, quality, does not distract, muddy, or obscure the truth of God but points to and amplifies that truth!

Peterson has one more volley of truth. His beautiful description of the world in which we live. What he mentions are not in themselves wrong. The men and women who submit to this world and its cares as lord they take what is good and use it for their destruction. The passions of this life which control us are ion general not in themselves bad they are indeed natural affections but Paul warns us that we ought not use them as weapons of sin but weapons of righteousness! (rom 6:13). What stirred these thoughts? This BEAUTIFULLY crafted image that demonstrates that the world (kosmos) is a system of death:

This is a far country, a far country
Not my home

I can see in the strip malls and the phone calls
The flaming swords of Eden 

The flaming sword that prevented Adam and Eve from returning to the garden, cut off from God. The sword is the judgement of God. Our broken system we live under is our judgement the dividing wall of God and Man!

In the fast cash and the news flash
And the horn blast of war
In the sin-fraught cities of the dying and the dead
Like steel-wrought graveyards where the wicked never rest

How true! We slave we labor and all for naught! It is left to those whom have not earned it!—> ECCLESIASTES! These great facades are symbols of chains. They are not wrong but they are what we live for. Our work and passions bind us to themselves and blind us from heaven!

To the high and lonely mountain in the groaning wilderness 
We ache for what is lost 

Oh the groaning of the earth that is unwillingly in subjection to sin! Oh we in Jesus so long with all of creation for the returning of Lord!

As we wait for the holy God 
Of Father Abraham

I was made to go there 
Out of this far country 
To my home, to my home

Indeed the land in which we live is far from our promised home. Long with creation for the coming of our Lord when all shall be made new and we shall abide for ll eternity with our Lord in peace!

Thoughts From a Young Man: “take up your cross” is a way of being

tfym.wordpress.com

Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me CANNOT be my disciple.
If you think this verse is about ‘getting saved’ you are WRONG! (original is very harsh sorry about that)
That view
Is
Just
Too
Small

Jesus is not calling them to pursue an end, he is calling them to become like him.

Jesus is doing something normal among Jewish teachers. He is going about calling people to be his disciples. They will follow him learn his message and carry on after him. They will learn his ways.  Jesus is not calling them to pursue an end, he is calling them to become like him. Jerry Bridges says it wonderfully in Pursuit of Holiness 

God has not called us to a life of victory. God has called us to a life of obedience.

Therefore, to say this, carrying one’s cross, is how you are saved is wrong, because it is not Jesus’s point. If carried to it’s logical end, without sufficient grounding in faith, carrying the cross becomes a work, a thing you do, and that absolutely is not true. This is not to say effort is not required, it is. It is not an effort of an unaffected will. It is the effort of a will, produced from a heart being molded after the image of Christ. We miss this due to a problem of how we read the scriptures.

A Problem with Our View

We have a problem here. We view this anachronistically, meaning we view it with something in our understanding that is from a time later than when it was being taught. Essentially, because we don’t think, we are inserting an event into this passage that had not happened; we don’t understand rightly. What we insert is Jesus on the cross, along with a lot more, but Jesus had not yet died! This IS a foreshadowing of the death he will die but the people don’t see that yet. We must use the cross as our filter for what we read but we must understand what was being said before we can rightly apply the cross.

What Jesus is Saying

What is Jesus then saying? He like many teachers would be calling disciples, though if what Matt Chandler says on the process is correct, Jesus is doing it differently. He is calling any who will follow. Other teachers like Gamaliel, Paul’s teacher (the best of only only a few master rabbi, his teacher, Hillel, one of the others) would select only the brightest from the ‘academy’ Paul, to be their disciples. In this Jesus is a bit different not because he is out among those already rejected by best teachers (that happened) but because he has since he was 12 he has been humbly schooling the teachers. He has shown great knowledge and great authority and now he is taking disciples from those on the short end of the education stick. He is not taking those devoted students who HAVE ALREADY given their lives to be disciples. He is taking those WHO WOULD NOT give their lives to be disciples. He is taking those who are poor, humble, sinners, rejected by the teachers to be his students. Odd for sure. That is what I took from Chandler (I want to study that more). Here is what I see.
As odd as that is he is also saying follow me to the death. Again that is not unheard of: especially considering they are expecting him to over throw the Romans. What is shocking is it is not by sword. It is not an honorable death. It is the death of wicked evil men whom GOD has accursed. It is not death alone. No one simply dies on a cross by chance. A man died on a cross for a life of wickedness for which there is neither repentance nor forgiveness. The cross is merely the end of life lived for self. Yet it is a punishment applied not by worthy God fearing men but other wicked men, haters of God and goodness, lovers of self, son’s of the evil one Satan, children of wrath.

He is calling all who will live for uncrushble delight in God the Father.

Jesus is calling men to live in such a manner as himself; as beacon of the light of God. He is calling all who will live for uncrushble delight in God the Father. Laying aside self, for, it will never deliver unending sinless pleasure of delight in God. Jesus is calling all who will live for closeness to God no matter the costs and the costs are great! Christ says the costs are EVERYTHING you are and have so that you will have all that is Christ. Discipleship of Christ is becoming like him Romans 8:28. As he left the side of his father in heaven to take on the flesh of men that he would live in obedience tot he point of dying, a sinner’s death, so that in his rising again he would grant eternal life to all who believe we also must leave what we have in this world for obedience to the father! The cost of his radical obedience was his life. Following the Christ is being buried with him that we may also be raised with him. He was buried because he lived a life of light among the dead and in the words of Dr. Russell Moore was “stapled to a tree” for it. Jesus is saying none are coming after me who are not living such a life.

Carrying Your Cross as Becoming

Carrying our cross is seeing and saying no to sin. Anger when your husband forgets to call and say he will be late. Eating the last of the bread or milk knowing your wife will have to go without or go out of her way to eat. This is serving self not others. The sin is rooted in your heart and self-love. You are serving yourself when you do not honor your wife by looking at nude women on your computer. This is telling God your wife is not acceptable, the wife he gave you. In this you tell God what is not yours should be. God’s His for marriage is faulty because your insatiable urges for pleasure, power, control, and self cannot be satisfied in marriage and should be because they are of greater value than His glory in confirming you, your desires are part of you, to the image of Christ. This act is a fruit of your heart that screams at God. It says the women whom you have created are of no more value than serving my selfish pleasures; they are merely tools to serve me. Eating that extra helping when all ready satisfied says to God, “This is all made for my pleasure not God’s glory.”

The greatest offense in these acts is saying, “God I know you have promised to give me more of Christ, that he will be more satisfying to me than all else if only I will turn to him in this moment, but I don’t want more of Him, life, I want to take pleasure in death.” The deceitfulness of sin is such that, as absurd as that sentence seems, it gets us looking at life in that manner. What arrogance is in our hearts.

 Is the cross on your back, being carried by grace? Or is it lying discarded at your side in favor of a millstone of sin about your neck?

This verse is about living, being, becoming. That is carrying your cross. It is an active thing. Are you carrying your cross today?  Look hard. Take this question seriously? Be honest. Tomorrow, the future, what you plan to do is unimportant, what you did in the past is not critical. The question is where is the cross today? Today is all we have. This is same question we have for everyday. Where is the cross today? Is the cross on your back, being carried by grace? Or is it lying discarded at your side in favor of a millstone of sin about your neck?

年輕人的想法:雜草

最近我看關於婚姻的書。(即使我現在有一點生氣)。 書的標題是 “What Did You Expect?” (中文沒有 我自己翻譯 ”你有什麼期待嗎?)。作者是 Paul David Tripp (保羅 大衛 區普)怕。在這一章他說我們的婚姻有問題因為有雜草在裡面。他有一些例子。都是罪。

自私

這個雜草有巨大根能够把婚姻的生活越来越弱

如果你會買一杯茶你給誰?有一個餅乾誰吃?平常我吃所以我說我最重要。

繁忙

 如果我們太忙我們沒有聊天。每天我說, “我們沒有時間我們可以等一下討論。 所以重要的事情我們有不同的想法。

不注意

如果你沒有講話你不能多認識你的配偶。If you stop trying to know your spouse you cannot love them!

害怕

因為妳有害怕妳沒有耶穌的愛。

自義

你要不要你太太告訴你有錯?妳想要你老公幫你說妳的罪是什麼?那是謙卑

箴 言 3:33-35 

33 耶 和 華 咒 詛 惡 人 的 家 庭 , 賜 福 與 義 人 的 居 所 。

34 他 譏 誚 那 好 譏 誚 的 人 , 賜 恩 給 謙 卑 的 人 。

35 智 慧 人 必 承 受 尊 榮 ; 愚 昧 人 高 升 也 成 為 羞 辱 。

怠惰

箴 言 21:25

25 懶 惰 人 的 心 願 將 他 殺 害 , 因 為 他 手 不 肯 做 工 。

箴 言 24:30-31

30 我 經 過 懶 惰 人 的 田 地 、 無 知 人 的 葡 萄 園 ,

31 荊 棘 長 滿 了 地 皮 , 刺 草 遮 蓋 了 田 面 , 石 牆 也 坍 塌 了 。

箴 言 20:4

4 懶 惰 人 因 冬 寒 不 肯 耕 種 , 到 收 割 的 時 候 , 他 必 討 飯 而 無 所 得 。

箴 言 22:13

13 懶 惰 人 說 : 外 頭 有 獅 子 ; 我 在 街 上 就 必 被 殺 。

我們的問題是我們的不是別人得不是太太的是自己的!可是上帝給恩。我們會進步。

雅 各 書 4:6 

6 但 他 賜 更 多 的 恩 典 , 所 以 經 上 說 : 神 阻 擋 驕 傲 的 人 , 賜 恩 給 謙 卑 的 人 。

I am not perfect. I am not even a good picture of these things that is why I am learning. My chinese teacher said I should wrote a little each day so I wrote to you about what I am learning.

Good Books

神就是福音(教科書) (約翰 派博)

http://www.crtsbooks.net/pages/product.aspx?productSku=godisthegospel

基督徒的家庭生活 (傑伊 亞當斯)

http://www.crtsbooks.net/pages/product.aspx?productSku=christianlivinginthehome

婚姻靈修學 (湯蓋瑞)

www.crtsbooks.net/pages/product.aspx?productSku=sacredmarriage

婚姻人人都當尊重

www.crtsbooks.net/pages/product.aspx?productSku=respectingmarriage

Thoughts From a Young Man: “whom they pierced”

They looked on him whom they pierced

John 19:37

Man, in sin, killed Christ.

Christ died because of the sinfulness of men.

Jesus, God himself, died by the sinful deeds of men.

Jesus died baring the the weight of the sin of men.

This was no accident![1]

Indeed it was the sins of you and I that killed Him. Isaiah 53 says God poured out our sins on him, God crushed him. For what reason? That many would Go free. We killed God, the Christ, so that God the Father would be justified[2], righteous, in giving his enemies, us, a free gracious gift, ETERNAL LIFE freedom from death, His own holiness, an eternity spent in his presences. Do you realize what that sentence means? God desiring to love us, HIS CREATION, by giving us HIMSELF had to DIE to pay for our sins otherwise he would be not be a fair judge! But this was no accident. This was the plan by which he would demonstrate this glory.

This is the cross. The darkest hour in all history. That hour that moment when God uttered those glorious words, “‘IT IS FINISHED’ and yielded up his life”[3], the depth of man’s wickedness was on display as his own CREATOR hung limp and lifeless, stapled to a tree outside the “city of God”.

God died at the hands of sinners! All because of His radical love and His radical grace. His presence is as a glowing sun walking in our midst shedding its rays on every twisted surface of our wicked hearts. We cannot bare it, nor could the pharisees so they tacked God up to a tree, to die a sinner’s death, thinking they could that the light of the world would be extinguished.

hanging on the tree? Do you see your freedom rising from the grave? Do you feel guilty when looking at Christ baring sin? Do you feel anything?

Zechariah 12:10 says:

“they will look on me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping of a firstborn.

For their sin they shall weep bitterly. Their sadness and weeping will be like that of the death of their only son. WHY? Whom did they kill? …..GOD! They killed GOD! This was prophesied about 500 years before the death of Christ. God, speaking through his prophet Zechariah told the Jews that they would kill Himself. Oh what meaning does this give to Jesus’ rebuke,

“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time”[4]

God does not leave them weeping nor does he let us see our sin with no action against it. A few verses later in Zechariah we read:These men hated the love of God. He came loving the poorest of the poor. He can forgiving Sin. He came to set people free from death. They hated this! We hate this aparat from his grace. WHAT BLIND FOOLS WE ARE! Yes we are equals to them! We want nothing of God. We call Jesus a fool. A joke! A good man! A good story! A myth! This only changes when God opens our eyes, when GOD takes away our blindness so we can see HIS glory in the face of Christ.

What say you of this Christ? That is the question? What are you going to do with this Jesus? He died but as we will see he did not stay dead? How could he? He died for sins his soul never committed? He lived a life with God loving God wanting God He was God!  There was no sin found in him. He took on all the sins of all those who the father has given him so they would be free of them. As the hymn says in our place he stood condemned. He bore YOUR penalty, if you believe on Him his life HE will give YOU! So what do you say? We all must decide? Revelation says they who looked on him whom they pierced wept.[5] Do you see your sin?

In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David [those after God’s heart] and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for the cleansing of sin and impurity

God is promising those who weep at the cross that … HE … WILL … make them clean he will refine them. They very God they killed will forgive and heal them. The answer to  Jesus comes fulfilling this promise. Yes your sin is there on the Cross but your life also is hanging on that cross!

The blood and water flowing from the side of Christ is the fountain by which we are forgiven of our sins and washed clean from them. We are made holy in the sight of God and we are given the Spirit, to write the will of God on our hearts, as proof of our future Resurrection from the dead.

Jesus told Nicodemus, who will joined Joseph of Arimathea in preparing Christ’s body and laying him in the tomb, that the Son of Man shall be lifted up as the serpent in the desert.[6]

So that all who believe in Him [Christ] will have eternal life[7]

Look to Christ and be saved. This is not once at some time in the past; this is every day, in every temptation because HE is our ONLY hope and stay!

This then is the question that we, each, must answer, “Is this Christ God?”

By his life, death, and rising, which we will see next week, is HE able and willing to forgive your sins and give you new life?

Is he truthful and honest?

He said throughout his ministry that He would come to this death and he is here. As you look on him what do you think? As you see the MESSIAH whom God was pleased to CRUSH, on whom God poured out his wrath for the punishment of your sinful nature, the the God-Man who loved the poor, hurting masses who he healed and gave new life to what do you think what do you feel? On the cross Christ bought life and freedom for all his sheep. Paul tells us that Christ put to death the very power that holds us separated from Himself. He killed sin in the flesh by the cross so that we would be united with God.[8]

What then does this mean to us who are Christians? What does the Cross do for us? How do we see it in our lives?

Do you honor him in battling sin and temptation. Paul tells us that those in Christ do not fear the power of Sin for it is dead BECAUSE of the power of life in Christ.[9] Have you the magnified the the Sin killing Cross through we which Christ bought you?[10]

Paul says we not MERELY set free from sin but we receive a much greater and glorious gift: ADOPTION as Sons and Daughters of God! Therefore, our fighting of sin is not a duty it is a privilege, a right which he has given us! It is a mark of our identification as sons of God. We were not simply set free from slavery to sin we are ADOPTED by God.

if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Romans 8:13b-17

He did not make us orphans with no master.

He made us Sons and Daughters of the LIVING GOD!

WE ARE ADOPTED into HIS FAMILY! We have all the rights and privileges and responsibilities of Christ! God has gladly given us ALL HIS KINGDOM[11].

Paul says by this act we are joined to Christ in heaven already seated there so that God’s Grace in Christ would be on full display![12] Do you rejoice in this? Do you stand on this promise? Is this your glory?

For those who are do not call themselves Christians how do you see the cross? What are you coming to him for? Do you like Herod’s troops look on Christ with mocking scorn? Do you see anything in Christ?

Are you coming to Jesus to get something? Herod wanted to see Jesus to see what he could get from him:

When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. Luke 23:8-9

Are you coming to Jesus to see some sign? You see Herod wanted to see something that would make him happy. John the baptist had already called for him to repent, that is why he killed John the Baptist. He didn’t want to hear what Jesus had to say he simply wanted to see something amazing. He wanted Jesus to please him.

What are you looking to Jesus? Are you looking because your sinfulness offends God do you see that? Herod didn’t, do you?

You see when Jesus won’t satisfy Herod’s desire he simply turned to mocking and scorning and beating him. Why? It made the other Jews happy and provided protection for his position!

Do you see the glory of Christ in the cross? Do you see your sins hanging there? Do you see the life giving flow pouring from the side of Christ for the forgiving of your sins and the giving of eternal life?

If Not pray pray that he would open your eyes to see the glory of God in the face of Christ. By beholding Christ’s glory, the glory of the only-one-like-him, you will be save, you will be made children of the most high!


[1]John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

[2]Romans 3:26 for the demonstration of of his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be JUST and the justifier of the ones who has faith in Jesus

[3]John 19:30

[4]Luke 12:56

[5]Revelation 1:7

[6]John 3:14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up:

[7]John 3:15

[8]Ephesians 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

[9]Romans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

[10]Romans 8:10,13 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

[11]Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

[12] Ephesians 2:5-7 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Of Whom Bell tolls…?

I have had the chance to read Rob Bell’s Book Love Wins. I have to say I was impressed! There is just something about this book, a dangerous edge that even the likes of Taylor, Mohler, Moore, and Denny Burke, just could not bring out. I was often frustrated and left wondering what was meant. I still wonder at some but I have a swirling idea of where he goes wrong but for now these are my initial reactions as I read Love Wins.

There is no love. Love establishes boundaries and for Bell there seem to be none. If they do exist, like making the world better now by loving a nebulous love and peace and happiness, you can get in on the good stuff after you die. Why worry now?

Paul comes to the question of, “If grace is so free we could just keep sinning?” Paul says may it never be. Bell cannot. There is no standard for what is a Christ aside from loving people, and it seems, you don’t even have to be Christian to do that. (Bell does so by creating a period of time between earth and heaven called “the age to come” where sinners are tormented until they see they choose to see the love of God. He does so using the Rich Man and Lazarus. The chasm between heaven and hell is the rich man’s heart, according to Bell.)

You see it is not about who we are or who we are being coming the issue is a matter of what you want. If you claim to want love, peace, jot, happiness, you will get them in heaven in Jesus.

Bell consistently, not misinterprets but reinterprets passages to suit his need. Changing the meaning of the Greek words to suit his needs (I will post another article about Bell’s use of aion/aionios, two Greek words that he mangles in order to create an “age to come” before Heaven proper. I would like those who know Greek to comment on that when it comes out. I know so close to nothing I am dangerous).

Bell’s comments on Jesus leave one feeling like he was more like a man carried around by the cultural tide of the day. He is not a God coming among men that he would correct error and lead them to truth. Bell forces Jesus ideas through filters he claims to be Jewish ideas of the day. One place is his justification of an “age” before heaven. He says the rich young ruler and Jesus are not talking about heaven because the Jews of the day were not concerned with it. Whether or not that is true (I think Luke 1-3 make that nearly impossible, their focus on the coming messiah who doesn’t seem to be a political messiah).

I find no one is special. The grace of salvation is not a gracious-gift given to each person in love. It is a thing that all eventually choose to receive. It doesn’t seem like a gift but an eventuality. The book does not make me long for Christ. One paragraph from Crazy Love by Francis Change did more for my heart in pointing me toward the hope and grace and love of God than 4 chapters in Bell’s book. (Chan pointed me toward Eph 1:18, that is LOVE!) Christ really did a work on the cross he really redeemed a people. He bought with his blood his bride. We have but one life to live and then judgment says Paul. Not with Bell. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency or need of it in this life unless you want to get out of your “personal” hell that you create which most people don’t see as hell but a loving God, if they even think about him, giving them the “blessings” of this life.

There are numerous other problems in the hazy system that Bell has established in this book. All the problems ultimately stem from his views contradictory views on the role of Christ and God in punishment of sin in scripture. He states:

Many have heard the gospel framed in terms of rescue. God has to punish sinners, because God is holy, but Jesus has paid the price for our sin, and so we can have eternal life. However true or untrue that is technically or theologically, what it can do is subtly teach people that Jesus rescues us from God.

Let’s be very clear, then: we do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin, and destruction. God is the rescuer. (p.182)

Bell adopts this position because it is more palatable for himself. He, as a pastor, does not see telling a sinner that God hates sinfulness, (the consequences of which, you know the stuff that makes you miserable, are active images of God’s judgment meant to show sin to be wrong so that the sinner would turn to Him and ask “what can be done?” Bell thinks this is toxic (preface, p.183)), but has provided Grace in Christ for forgiveness and transformation in to the image of Christ, as being helpful. He thinks just telling the that, “love is what God is” and He wants to reflect that love through you, if you want to partner with Him is what spreads a desire for God’s glory.

This alteration in the gospel stems from Bell’s difficulty telling someone that God loves him or her but at the same time Christ must rescue them from God’s wrath. This theme is consistent thorough out the book. He addresses frequently as a problem in telling people God loves them but the moment he, the person dies, God changes and hates them. That is understandable but it lacks a manifold view of God’s character. He maintains both (creation directed) love and (sin directed) hate at the same time. (Yes, I believe scripture is clear he hates the sinner for the person and works cannot be separated, indeed, one flows from the other John 3:18, Romans 1:18-19, 28).

Either way, however you see it, Bell is wrong. To claim that Christ is not rescuing man from God is a contradiction of the scriptures. The scriptures do not support his view. In fact Paul tells us in Roman’s 5:9 (ESV), just a verse after one of Bell’s supporting verses 5:8, that Christ does indeed save us…from God!

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Not only is the blood critical in being made right, an aspect that Bell never seems to seriously address, but based on it’s worth, Paul claims, we can be equally assured of Christ’s deliverance from the wrath of God that is due us, “for the wages of sin is death” Romans 3:16. Effectively, Bell contradicts the scriptures as he develops and carries out his claim that “We shape our God, and then our God shapes us”(p.183). Unfortunately, for Bell, and fortunately for those willing to humbly come to God for the gift of Christ this a glorious promise.

I know you are wondering is Bell is a Universalist. I don’t know the definitions very well but it seems like it. He creates a middle place between earth and heaven in which all people who do not in this life accept Jesus or the nebulous love, joy, peace, and goodness, will get infinite chances to enter heaven. Moreover, all men who “are good” will get in directly. He says this based on John 14:6:

I am the way the truth and the life none get to the father except me.

He says this is exclusive, he is right and also inclusive, he is wrong. This is what he says:

What he doesn’t say is how, or when, or in what manner the mechanism functions that gets people to God through him. He doesn’t even state that those coming to the Father through him will even know that they are coming exclusively through him. He simply claims that whatever God is doing in the world to know and redeem and love and restore the world is happening through him.” (pg.153ish)

and then:

The kind that is open to all religions, the kind that trusts good people will get in, there is only one mountain, but it has many paths. This inclusivity assumes that as long as your heart is fine or your actions measure up, you’ll be okay.

And then there is an exclusivity on the other side of inclusivity. This kind insists that Jesus is the way, but holds tightly to the assumption that the all embracing, saving love of this particular Christ will of course include all sorts of unexpected people from across the cultural spectrum.(p.155)

What comes next is really confusing if he is not a Universalist or simply discordant (I suspect this is possible as his writing lack clarity BUT his arguments, though flawed by exegesis or logic are often clear):

As soon as the door is opened to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Baptists from Cleveland, many Christians become very uneasy, saying that then Jesus doesn’t matter anymore, the cross is irrelevant, it doesn’t matter what you believe, and so forth. Not true. Absolutely, unequivocally, unalterably not true. What Jesus does is declare that he, and he alone, is saving everybody.

Not true. Absolutely, unequivocally, unalterably not true.

He is as exclusive as himself and as inclusive as containing every single particle of creation.(p.155)

He might be arguing for all being accepted outright or through the process of his non-purgatory purgatory (the reason it is because there is no clear purgation; it is a matter of one realizing the goodness of Christ and choosing Him). I am not sure if he is just arguing that they should be invited in so they can hear good news (we must remember he is emergent so that carries a different view of the purpose of the church) or if these are other mechanisms for entering in to heaven. I would side with the later and thus CLEAR universalism (if I understand the categories).

There is much more that I could say and will say in the future. This is just an overview. I want to add more later because the issue is not about winning which I am so prone to pursuing. The goal is to shed light on the issues so truth can be seen. Light that lights a path to Christ. I light that stands as a beacon of hope. A boundary-less, standard-less God is not good news; there is nothing that prevents him from changing. But we have vast promises that the grace of God and redemption from sin comes through faith in the life death, and resurrection of Christ. God will surely save all who believe (John 3:16) and yes he does save them from the judgment due them for their sinfulness; this is grace, this is the gift.

Our God is sovereign and will reign in spite of this book and the others that Bell says are coming. The true, pure gospel will reign in every heart, in every sheep, whom the Father gave to Christ and none shall be lost!