In the New Testament there are various words used when referencing the Old Testament (e.g. nomos, graphe and gramma)*. On just two occasions (Eph 2:15 and Col 2:14) Paul uses another word: dogma (literally “ordinances”). Paul must have had a particular idea in mind, common to both Ephesians and Colossians, in selecting this very particular word.Continue reading “Handwritten Ordinances or Record of Debt?”
It is often authoritatively claimed that the cup that Jesus drank was the cup of God’s wrath. In support, verses are quoted from the OT which refer to the cup of God’s wrath (e.g. Jer 25:15). Whilst it is true that the OT often refers to a cup of wrath, this is not the only kind of cup. We cannot ignore the broader definition of cup and its multiple use. Continue reading “Lies we believe #4: Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath”
There is no doubt that God demands justice. But exactly what is “justice”? What does it look like?
The understanding that springs immediately to our minds is derived from Criminal Law. When a crime has been committed against an individual, the injured party “demands” justice: the perpetrator must be punished and the punishment must fit the crime (e.g. an eye for an eye). If the perpetrator is let off we would be quick to declare that justice has not been served. Yet even if the injured party were to choose to forgive, the law of the land would still require a sentence to be administered in order to satisfy justice. There must be punishment. Justice, then, operates under the “law of retribution” and as such has little room for mercy. Indeed, to show leniency would be to thwart justice. Justice and mercy stand directly opposed. Continue reading “Lies we believe #3: God’s justice demands that sin be punished”
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”
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:
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)”
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.
- 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”
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”?