Friday, July 10, 2009

Reply to Maggie - from Forest's Facebook page.

Maggie, thanks for interacting with me about this. It is my sincere hope that this discussion will be edifying for both of us. The Facebook page only provides a few hundred characters of context, so I had to edit a lot of my post. That makes it much more difficult to provide context and emotion. I do not mean to reply flippantly to you, but rather ask that you perhaps immerse yourself in the Scriptures to see if the traditions you hold (we all hold traditions of some sort) conform therein.

Here's my post:

"Sin is not what puts you in heaven Or hell."
the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness..." - Romans 1:18 (read thru -32 )

The context here explains WHY the Gospel is needed in the first place, that is, because everyone sins and is under God's wrath, needing a Savior. Chapter 2 of Romans explains why the Jewish folks, who had the Law and the Prophets, also needed a Savior, because they were sinners to and under greater condemnation for sinning against not only what is revealed in nature (Romans 1:18-19) but also what is in the Law and Prophets. (Romans 2:3-12)

This is why Paul writes: 12For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;
Notice that everyone perishes... death is the penalty for sin. Chapter 3 of Romans goes on to explain how both the Jews and the Gentiles are alike in that they're all under God's wrath.

Paul writes: 9What then? Are we [the Jews] better than they [the Gentiles]? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;

Paul's summary is a quote from the Psalms:

Paul is clear. No one, Jew or Gentile, in and of their "free will", seeks for God. Everyone is an enemy of God and by birth, by nature, a child of God's wrath. (Eph 2:3)

"you're not hell bound because Adam ate an apple"

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--

In chapter 5 of Romans Paul establishes the idea that Adam represented us all in the Garden of Eden. Through Adam sin entered the world. Paul goes further stating: "by the transgression of the one the many died..." You and I therefore sinned... IN ADAM.

Let's be clear, Adam's sin was not merely eating an apple. Mankind has since the beginning sought ways to diminish the sinfulness of sin. What Adam did was disobey the Holy, Righteous, Omniscient judge of the universe. In so doing he failed in several of God's commands. Adam failed to rule over the creatures of the earth and subdue them by obeying the serpent. (Gen 1:28) Adam failed to rightly inform his wife of the commands of God, and to ensure that she follow them. Eve sinned by listening to the serpent, and Adam sinned again by listening to Eve and eating of the fruit of the tree God commanded them not to eat of.

This story sets the stage for the need for a promised Savior (Gen 3:15), the need for shedding of blood for the sake of sin (Gen 3:21), and the new reality of sin and death. It's startling to note how you dismiss Adam's sin as merely "eating an apple". Adam's sin is your sin, and my sin. We sin because we are sinners, we are not sinners because we sin.

This might be hard for our modern mindset to comprehend, but it is similar to a king declaring war on another country. The two countries go to war... and everyone, whether they like the king or not, is technically at war. God made a covenant with Adam, (Hosea 6:7), and warned him that he would die if he ate of the fruit. Adam ate, and died, spiritually, the moment he ate of the fruit. In so doing Adam, in effect, became God's enemy and thus we are all born at enmity with God. (Rom 5:10 , Col 1:21)

But that's the bad news as proclaimed by Romans 5. The good news is also proclaimed in Romans 5.

Romans 5: 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

All mankind is thus born 'spiritually dead' (Eph 2:1), and in need of spiritual life, found only in Christ. I highlighted a portion to note that not everyone is in Christ, only those who" receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness" are given new life in Christ.

God therefore provided Christ as a new representative, a second Adam, (Rom 5:14) to represent His people and provide atonement for their sins on the cross. By faith in Christ then, one is transferred from the kingdom of darkness and death (in Adam) into the kingdom of light and life (Christ.) Col 1:13 - For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

Everyone is therefore in Adam, and dead, or in Christ and alive. 1 Cor 15:22 - For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Pastor John Piper explains it this way:

The problem with the human race is not most deeply that every body does various kinds of sins... behind all of our depravity, behind all of our guilt, behind all of our personal sinning, there is this mysterious connection or union with Adam, our father who sinned and we being in him in some mysterious way also sinned, and died, and are condemned.

What Christ has done for all who are in him, is far greater than what Adam did for all who are in him. It's all about the superiority of the work of Christ for those who are in him, over and against what happened for all who were in Adam. - John Piper

"This means when they are born, when they become of age, it is up to them where they are destined. "

Psalm 58:3
The wicked are estranged from the womb;These who speak lies go astray from birth.

Eph 1: 4-5 - just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will...

Eph 1: 11 - In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

God had a plan when He created this universe. Sin did not surprise him, in fact it was with the intention that God would provide for His Son a people to reign with Him in eternity that He created this universe.

The words of Eph 1:11 are inescapable... God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. Everything that happens happens because God so foreordained it.

This includes the actions of sinful humans:

Acts 4:27-28 - For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

God foreordained that Pilate, Herod, the Jews and the Gentiles to falsely accuse, try and crucify Christ.

Consider also the words of God to Isaiah:

Isa 46:10-11
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, 'My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';
11Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.

Thus: Whatever God wants, God gets.

"but he also gives you a path of choices along the way so you get to decide your fate"

Let's look at Romans 9 to determine if that is the case.

Romans 9:6-8
But it is not as though the word of God has failed For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;
nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED."
That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.

Not everyone who was related to Abraham was a 'true' descendant of Abraham. It is only those who, like Isaac, were born miraculously (Paul is alluding to being born-again), who were truly "Israel". This of course includes we Gentiles, and always have.

Consider that Abraham himself is only a "Jew" because God called him. Before that he was a Gentile like us. Rahab, the prostitute, who is a antecedent of Christ, was not a Jew, but is considered one of the faithful. Thus Paul states that it is those who are of faith, both Jew and Gentile who are the true Israel of God. (Rom 2:28-29, Gal 3:29 Gal 6:16)

Paul explains this further:

10And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;
11for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
12it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER."
13Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED."

This passage brings up a lot of emotion! God chose Jacob over Esau, condemning Esau BEFORE they were born!? Yes! "though the twins were not yet born"

God did not take into account their deeds? No! "had not done anything good or bad"
14What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!

God is not unjust, even though it seems that, choosing to show mercy and grace to one person over another before they were born and before they did anything good or bad may seem that way.

15For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." 16So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Salvation therefore is dependant not on our will, or our effort, but on God to have mercy. Consider what God says to Pharaoh:

God raised up Pharaoh to show his power, and wrath... as well as his grace and mercy to the Jews.

18So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
This is Paul's theme. Salvation depends on God to have mercy on whom He desires. But God also hardens whom He desires to harden. Now, at this point you're thinking: "God is unjust!"

Paul responds to you:

19You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" 20On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? 21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
Remember, Romans was written to Gentile Christians.

24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Yes, it is about faith. But faith is a gift of God to those whom He chooses to have mercy on.

So, let me conclude with Ephesians 2, where this is all sewed up for us:

Ephesians 2:1-9
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

- It is while we were dead in sins and trespasses that God raises us to life (makes us born again), not after we figured out the Gospel and chose to "let Jesus in our heart".

Instead, God is so wonderful that he actually seeks out us who are enemies of Jesus and gives us a new heart, and puts his Holy Spirit in us, and brings us to new life that we might love and serve Christ. (Romans 8:7-9, Eze 36:22-Eze 37)

This is historic Christianity, and I hope you can see that it conforms to what the Bible teaches. I ask that you consider this, and do some research on it in the Bible and also in Church history.

A good place to start is

Thanks for reading!

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