Lies we believe #2: There is a gulf between God and Man

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”

Molech, Moses and Mercy

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”

Lies we believe #1: Death is God’s punishment for sin

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.

  1. 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”

Who killed Jesus?

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?”

Isaiah 53 in the New Testament (the Apostles’ teaching)

Isaiah 53 is consistently used as a proof text for the penal substitution theory of the atonement. Whilst there is no doubt that this chapter contains prophetic echoes of Jesus’ sacrifice, we should not simply assume that we can apply the entire text literally to the events of Golgotha. The litmus test for how to understand Isaiah 53 must come from the New Testament and the Apostles.

Let’s examine all the specific verses from Isaiah 53 which are either utilised or directly quoted in the New Testament. Continue reading “Isaiah 53 in the New Testament (the Apostles’ teaching)”

The Gospel Narrative: Never Alone

In John’s gospel Jesus categorically states that he would not be left alone by the Father.

There is one oft overlooked problem with claiming that the Father abandoned Jesus, and that is that the Gospel narratives do not bear it out. Let’s examine them.

  1. Was Jesus abandoned by his Father?

John’s Gospel provides us with two very specific statements from Jesus about his coming death – and the shock is that Jesus categorically states says that he would not be left alone by the Father. Continue reading “The Gospel Narrative: Never Alone”

He became sin: Union or Imputation?

A common theme of the Apostle Paul is ‘we are in Christ and Christ is in us’. Paul does not talk imputation, he talks union.

One verse that has puzzled me a lot is II Corinthians 5:21

What does it mean for Christ to become (or be made) “sin”? How can one who does not know sin, nor has committed any sin, become “sin”?

Continue reading “He became sin: Union or Imputation?”

The book of Romans, and “passing over” sin

On what basis do we claim that, in divine forbearance, God made an omission that he now has to put right?

Must God punish all sin? Was he, in effect, storing it up under the Old Covenant until the day that Jesus would be punished for every last sin ever committed?

Let us examine closely the usual ‘go to’ passage presented in support of this argument. Continue reading “The book of Romans, and “passing over” sin”

Atonement and the nature of God’s Justice

As long as our thinking remains shaped by the scheme of this age… our understanding of the cross will inevitably be conformed to the world’s ideas of justice and peace

Darrin W. Snyder Belousek has written a book that anyone and everyone who holds to the Penal Substitution view of the Atonement should read. Deftly and carefully he examines our presuppositions against the biblical text.

Early on, as he sets out the purpose of writing this book, he quotes J. Lawrence Burkholder:

“…the Bible is seldom, if ever, approached without presuppositions. They change from age to age. Frequently they reflect quite unconsciously a framework of meaning and habits of thought that are supplied by the prevailing world view.” Continue reading “Atonement and the nature of God’s Justice”

Stricken by God? Isaiah 53

Examining differences between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint.

 

Isaiah 53 is often quoted in support of the belief that on the Cross, God poured out his wrath onto Jesus. It is claimed that the crushing of the Messiah was God the Father’s handiwork, and it pleased him to do so. Our English Bibles read this way, but are they consistent with the original text? What does it say in the Bible Jesus knew?

Continue reading “Stricken by God? Isaiah 53”