Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is ‘at hand’ i.e. that it is close to us. The Apostle Paul declares that God is not far from any of us (Acts 17:27). Psalm 139 attests that there is nowhere we can go to that God is not (Psalm 139:7-8), that he hems us in (Psalm 139:5).
Why then do we think that God is far off, that there is a gulf between us? This idea has come from the erroneous idea that because God is “holy” he cannot allow himself to be in the company of sin (and therefore sinners). There are two passages which are often called upon in support of this notion:
1) Isaiah declares that our sins have made a separation between us and God. Therefore, it is said, there must be a real physical separation.
2) Habakkuk, in wrestling with God, argues that God is “too holy to look on sin”. Since we are sinners it thus follows that God cannot even look on us, and therefore must have separated himself from us.
But let us read these texts carefully. Continue reading “Lies we believe #2: There is a gulf between God and Man”
Before God gave Israel the sacrificial system, he invited them to be a kingdom of priests.
From the moment man left the garden of Eden, after the fear of God had entered man’s soul, he began to offer sacrifices to God. The practice exploded so that ritualistic offering of sacrifices eventually dominated pagan culture. Egypt had a highly sophisticated, well-established sacrificial system with elaborate temples and extensive public rituals. The Ancient Near East cultures worshiped Molech, sacrificing their children in the process. It was common in ancient pagan culture to believe that by sacrificing their firstborn they would ensure further fertility. Continue reading “Molech, Moses and Mercy”
I guess I should have already known all about this (binding the strong man) but I didn’t. Fascinating.
Gospel in 4 movements: Mark
Was Jesus’ self-sacrifice a payment?
The concept of price has many connotations, but it is not always related to a payment.
For example, when a soldier pays “the ultimate price” we do not make the illogical leap that somehow his life was a payment to someone. Actions have consequences, and we often refer to a negative consequence as “the price that has to be paid” e.g. if you decide to have offspring, then you will need to nurture and care for them for at least 18 years. That is the “price you pay” for having children. But there is no transaction, no payment to anyone.
So when something (freedom, peace etc) has been “bought at a price” it does not mean literally that some type of exchange or transaction took place. Continue reading “Price, Payment and the Transactional Trap”
If we turn from the source of all Life we get death by default.
There seem to be the opinion that Death originated with God i.e. he decreed it as “punishment” for sin. The following are reasons why we can biblically reject this hypothesis.
- God is Life and the source of Life.
We see from scripture that Jesus is the “The Life” (John 11:25, 14:6) and “the Author of Life” (Acts 3:15). We also see that God has life “in himself” (John 5:26) as also do Jesus (John 1:4, 5:26) and the Spirit (John 6:63) Continue reading “Lies we believe #1: Death is God’s punishment for sin”
Reading the New Testament I am struck by just how many times it records the hostility of the Jewish leaders towards Jesus. There was already enmity between the Pharisees and John the Baptist (Jn 1:24-25) with the questioning of John’s right to preach repentance. They were so intent on protecting their own authority that the Jewish leaders were thus also riled from the moment Jesus’ ministry began, at first just hostile (Mk 2:6-7, Mk 3:2, Jn 2:18) and then, very early on, bringing the knives out (Jn 5:18, Luke 4:28-29).
The Gospel record of this murderous intent of the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law is extensive:
Continue reading “Who killed Jesus?”
Catholic Nick does a great job at analysing Col 2:14 and exposing (again!) the inherent bias in our English translations …
An article exploring the inherent problems in fusing an Aristotelian doctrine of God with the teaching of the Bible about the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For those who are interested in exploring how Calvinism moved away from Calvin’s warm-hearted God this is a fascinating article. In it James B Torrance illustrates how using Aristotelian distinctions plus confusion over the nature of covenants, and wrongfully applying these to God lead to contra-Biblical conclusions e.g. that justice is the essential attribute of God, but the love of God is arbitrary.
“The doctrine of the Incarnation is not that an impassible God came in Jesus Christ. It is that God came as man in Christ and ‘suffered under Pontius Pilate’. Continue reading “Aristotelian influence on Calvinism”
Now that we are re-thinking the sacrificial system and how it pertains to Jesus’s sacrifice, many questions arise. Here a Presbyterian asks a key question over on PTM’s website, and Brad Jersak provides a clear and really helpful response…
One thing must surely be plain–that the punishment of the wrongdoer makes no atonement for the wrong done.
This unspoken sermon of George MacDonald is an excellent example of how much truth we miss (and even deny) when we interpret God’s justice in accordance with our own weak and fundamentally flawed human understanding of the concept.
The following are a few quotes, but you really need to read the whole sermon (link at the bottom) to benefit from the arguments presented.
“There is no opposition, no strife whatever, between mercy and justice. Those who say justice means the punishing of sin, and mercy the not punishing of sin, and attribute both to God, would make a schism in the very idea of God”. Continue reading “George MacDonald on “Justice””