Sunday, May 19, 2013

Redemption and Grace or the Demands of the Law


A baby is born with what is commonly called “Down’s Syndrome”. There are some obvious visual aspects as well as intellectual and emotional aspects as well. Another baby is born a girl but she has abnormal levels of testosterone and it alters her physique as well as changes her normal sexual attractions. Another baby is born with an adrenaline seepage which makes him frustrated and his temper is way out the normal range. Another baby is born with autism and refuses to respond to normal commands.

There are perhaps thousands of other biological abnormalities which result in irregular and sometimes bizarre behaviors. And the ones to which I refer have a direct relationship between behavior patterns and some physiological malfunction. Babies are born every day with these kinds of issues from slight to moderate and all the way to extreme. And as these children grow up they must deal with inward emotions and desires and pressures that normal children cannot imagine. That does not mean that most misbehaving children can blame it on some biological issue, but what it should do is make us aware that the effects of the curse reveal themselves in an array of areas. It is very easy and self serving to dismiss these kinds of facts and blanket everyone with a pristine and willful disobedience to the law and thereby relieve any struggle with the depth and scope of God’s redemption. All men are born sinners and all stand in need of redemption before a holy God. And Christ is the only path to that redemption.

But the church has isolated certain sins and ignored others. And along with that we have dismissed a range of disorders caused by physiological issues and labeled them as sin via an overt choice of that particular sinner. We have erroneously thought that any syndrome of disorders is an excuse for sin, or disrupts the doctrinal syntax as it pertains to sin. But that is not the case at all. In fact, the disorders and maladies to which I refer are all sin related and can be traced back to the very first sin. And since all men are born as sinners then that eliminates this emphasis on either the qualitative or quantitative assessment of sin, especially as it pertains to divine judgment.

If all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and if by one man’s sin we all are born fallen and in need of redemption, then how can works be recognized as part of the redemptive process? And if there are no works of righteousness that we can do to affect positively God’s offer of complete redemption through faith in Christ alone, then what implications does that upon the very essence of redemption and how it is made effective in a sinner’s heart and life? This is where the church has so often ventured into the vault of God’s eternal truth concerning redemption and taken certain unwise liberties. And when liberties are taken with the gospel then those liberties become stumbling blocks, falsehoods, and even heresies.

Each sinner stands before God as fallen and completely and utterly undeserving of eternal life. In fact, he is deserving of eternal death. His sin both inherited and practiced is empirical evidence that demands justice before a Holy God. That scenario is a constant among all men. No one is more or less deserving of God’s mercy and grace, and no one is more or less deserving of God’s justice and punishment. All men stand shoulder to shoulder with no plea or explanation. Eternal death awaits us all as we stand before God dressed in nothing but our sin and false righteousness. That situation is as dire as it gets.

Take the Christless humanitarian who dedicates his life to helping others, and place him beside the Christless practicing homosexual who is also a drug dealer to children, and you have two sinners equally condemned before God. Does that shock you? Do you have a difficult time coming to grips with that comparison? I mean doesn’t the humanitarian deserve some kind of consideration even though he still needs Christ? In our fallen minds we have created some self serving caste system which takes the consequences and weight of sins that are clearly evident here on earth, and we have translated them into the realm of eternal salvation. And even if we admit that Christ alone is the door, we subliminally, and sometimes openly, suggest that certain sinners must be viewed differently even without Christ. But I ask you this: If all sinners are dead in trespasses and sins, how can someone be more dead than totally dead? That reminds me of Miracle Max in the Princess Bride as he looked upon the dead Prince and he says, “I’ve seen worse.” Miracle Max goes on to offer the prognosis that the Prince is “mostly dead”.

Most of us find that humorous, however that is sometimes how we see things as it pertains to the eternal state of sinners. The sin of the gay drug dealer is far worse than the sin of the humanitarian when assessed through earthly prisms. But when we weigh their sins if front of the Holy and Eternal God of All Creation their sins have equally destroyed their souls and equally present an horrific affront to that same God. I hope, I pray that you can see the difference. This is not a condoning of sin, but this is the essence of the gospel. The offer of redemption goes out to whosever will regardless of their sin. It is an eternal miracle of grace without preconditions except that it applies only to those who are still dead in their sins. And that includes us all.

So now if we recognize the essence and purity of the offer of God’s redemption, and if we also recognize the equality of all sinners before God, then we can allow the Spirit to illuminate our eyes to the scope and the depth and the unsettling grace that is inherent within the gospel. Condoning sin? Absolutely not! Easy believism? Never! Lip service means being born again? God forbid! But let us now embrace the uncomfortable elements of that gospel. The word “uncomfortable” is used to show our own self righteousness because when we see lost sinners in a caste system it emanates and is fed by self righteousness and an unspoken perspective that we ourselves were only “mostly dead” and somehow became a believer with less sinful baggage than others.

Oh but the endless riches of His eternal grace! Open your hearts my brethren and see just who you were and what He has done! Were you any less of an enemy of God than others? Is the man who loads the bombs on the planes less culpable than the pilot who drops them? You see, when we look at the majesty of God’s redemption through the dirty lens of earthly perspectives we do a heartbreaking disservice to His love and grace. In fact, we also diminish the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How much blood did He shed for your sin? Was it less than He shed for David Berkowitz or Jeffrey Dahmer or Susan Atkins?

No, again we love to weigh things out like we were ordering lunch meat at the deli. You and I needed ALL of His shed blood as did all those who I listed. No sinner comes to Christ needing any less of His sacrifice than the whole! And please think on this…He gave it all to each and every one of us. You and I did not need some or even most of His sacrifice upon that cross. We needed it all! And so it was given to any sinner who repents and believes the gospel. You may not have understood the depth of it all when you first believed, but now you do. How could God do such a thing for me? Or you? This is beyond us and yet we cleave to Him in love and worship.

Take a brief look behind you. What is that we see? I see a grave now empty with dirt scattered everywhere. I see this grave filled with rotting works of the flesh and all sorts of diabolical transgressions committed against a Holy God. But I see no corpse. I see an empty grave of sin from which I was made alive. And sometimes I bring a corpse over to my former grave and I point it out to him and I invite him to look at me now. And I make it abundantly clear that I did not arise from that grave of sin by any power of my own, but that I believed on the Author of Life named Jesus and in an instant I was made a new and alive creation in Him! And as he gazes at my former grave, that sinner realizes he is still dead in his. And only through the miraculous ministry of the Spirit that sinner can be drawn to Jesus and like me look at an empty grave of sin where he once reposed.

And not one element of the law did I keep in order to be made whole. And look around at all the graves still left untouched by the Spirit. Can you not see something very similar? Yes, they have all been dug to the same depth. They may be different in the specifics of their repulsiveness, but they are equal in that repulsiveness. And the quality of their death is equal and complete. But when any sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and is resurrected from his place of spiritual death, he stands equal among the saints and is in fact alive in Christ. Completely, profoundly, and eternally.

Halleluiah! What a Savior!


Cherie c said...

"The offer of redemption goes out to whosever will regardless of their sin. It is an eternal miracle of grace without preconditions except that it applies only to those who are still dead in their sins. And that includes us all. "

Huh? I thought that once saved we are made new and sin no more?

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

I am getting confused again, I don't understand. Now I am feeling discouraged. I know I am a sinner bought by the shed blood of Jesus. When can I rest upon that? I thought doubt was a sin?
Don't even know what to say anymore.

Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

Please disregard. Now I get it. I'm such a dummy at times. Read all before questioning. Sorry, please forgive me.

Pray for those in the midwest, bad storms raging tonight.

Your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

michael said...

When both John the Baptist and Jesus began their preaching works they both said the same thing with John being of man's seed and Jesus not! They both heralded "repent" for the Kingdom of "heaven" is at hand. Later on we learn from the Apostle Paul the Kingdom of Heaven is Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit.

In the book of Acts we read:

God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31 ESV)


When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life." (Acts 11:18 ESV)

What's the point?

Well the point is clear to me by these two things.

One, to the Jews, the purpose of the Laws of God can be succinctly understood by this verse:

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. (Exodus 16:4 ESV)

The Law shows the weakness of human flesh. God provides tests for us all to bring us to see the weakness of our flesh!

By the time John and Jesus began heralding "repent" the Jews were well aware if they were walking in God's law or not making the work of the Holy Spirit plain to their hearts. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God".

To all others the notion that they were not wanted is grossly glossed over by the fact that "repentance" is granted and not self induced by the Jew and by the Gentile.


And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. No foreigner or hired servant may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you." (Exodus 12:43-49 ESV)


And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth." And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:46-48 ESV)

One wonders why there was more rejoicing and glorifying by the Jews as the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles?

Why wasn't more heralding the Truth through the nation of Israel then? Well your article makes the case that categorical error is systemic with all races, tribes, kindreds and tongues.

It is as you say this sin is in the blood of all from the fall of Adam to the last man!

No one escapes this categorizing others. I do it naturally and without the Spirit of Grace and Truth constantly bringing me to repentance I'm doomed to live making exceptions about others daily in this life!

Cherie c. said...

Please pray for me. I did not behave in a manner honorable to the Lord and when I apologize I am going to get lambasted. When the world hates you and you make a mistake either purposely or unawares, and you repent and ask for forgiveness, you really aren't forgiven and you will hear about it for the rest of your life. But we must humble ourselves and do it anyway.

My flesh makes my mouth say things it convinces me is in my defense, but it only makes matters worse. God's Grace I do not deserve. He is healing me and I go and shame Him. I deserve whatever I get when I apologize but love covers but not when its the world you are dealing with. I feel terrible about it and I have sorrow. Thanks for listening.

your sister in Christ Jesus (if He still accepts me),
Cherie c.
Cherie c.

Josef Sefton said...

Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.

Every person God saves is brought into the kingdom of LORD Jesus Christ.

Our heavenly Father is love and when anyone is in Christ they are loved. To be loved involves being accepted. Christians are accepted now and in eternity!

Shannon said...

Galatians 5:16-23
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Anonymous said...

Cherie, do not be so hard on yourself. Often I have found that those who are the hardest on themselves are the hardest on others. Forgive yourself and you will find it much easier to forgive others. This is God's grace working through us via the Holy Spirit. When our hearts are tender, we then have eyes to see and ears to hear. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

All I know about grace, not having really studied it in depth, is what I experienced since a child. I felt the conviction of God's Spirit listening to TV evangelist Billy Graham, in my heart, as a teen, being alone, promised the Lord I'd seek Him all my life and that I knew He was in charge of the world and my life. This prayer, however, was only a baby step. It didn't sway me growing up as a mature teen, young adult, and a pursuer of the things of the world.

Even though pursuing those things, there was a small conviction always there. A Baptist church Easter Sunday altar call, where I was a guest at 26 years old, intensified my conviction to several more degrees. But I still strayed.

Then, when life just could not give fulfillment, and I had this real hunger for God in my heart, I grabbed the phone book, looked in the yellow pages under 'churches' and prayed, Lord, please direct me to a church, which church. I called a number of an Apostolic holiness church and was determined to let the Lord truly save me, where I would give Him my whole heart, soul, life. There I was filled with His precious Holy Spirit. I wanted to be baptized in His Name because I wanted to publicly make a statement that I had committed my life to Him. Since that time, although now unchurched, I have not looked back - still sin and catch myself and repent, but I know He keeps His watchful eye on me to chasten me and keep me on the narrow path.

I know there are so many many true committments to Jesus Christ that I are so different and unique to mine, and when we are thirsty and pant like the deer at the brook for Him, I believe He receives all those, according to our uniqueness and His fatherly ways of forgiveness.

There are many in the world who aren't yet in 'thirsty' or 'seeking' mode where only the Lord know their hearts and knows the future. He can set them apart, waiting for that right time where they will urgently request him and be so broken. These are the broken people, the ones who are abandoned, have been spiritually invaded by worldly spirits, attitudes, cravings, and don't know how to stop. There are others who have been afflicted with physical internal/hormonal/chromosonal/abnormalities that are a part of the physical fall of mankind, caused by the first sin. These afflictions are only known by the afflicted and the Lord on how defeated they feel. They've been born in situations, like siamese twins, for instance, who are attached for life. Can we imagine what living for Christ would be like for these two? When the day arrives that they want to marry and have the freedoms of healthy people, what kind of internal conflict they feel on a daily basis?

The christian church doesn't know how to live in other people's shoes, and shows that it doesn't care to know. It just reacts like a superblessed people who feel self-satisfied that they must be special to God, because they don't have to deal with these afflictions, but don't understand the deepest, most conflicted hearts of those people who are afflicted.

Grace for these afflicted ones is free for them. Only the Lord, though His precious Spirit, knows how to deal with their predicament and the repentence they display to the Lord through their intimate relationship with Him might not be evident to the fake church, because the fake church looks to the outside of the cup to see if it's clean or not. And if the outside doesn't display yet what satisfies the pharisees in the church, they are discarded as trash. And this is so sad.

If the church would ADMIT that it doesn't know everything, and it can't meddle or interfere with how the Lord calls those to Him for salvation, and to repentence, as a loving father who knows the different personalities and situations of his children, then many wouldn't feel like they are not allowed to gain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.


Rick Frueh said...

I was saved watching Billy Graham in 1975. Yes, God uses vessels of imprefect clay. Like me.

Josef Sefton said...

Galatians 5:24
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

As we can see the key thing is to belong to Christ Jesus.

If someone doesn't belong to Our precious Prince of Peace, then the flesh with its passions and appetites and desires hasn't been crucified.

Let's praise Our Prince of purity and remind ourselves what He blesses!

Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see (experience) God.

Cherie c. said...

No, I am sure Jesus actually meant see God (Jesus) in His Glory, not experience Him. The Bible is literal, not allegory. Why do people put more into the Word than what is there? The Apostles didn't experience Jesus' ministry, death, burial and resurrection. They saw it with their own eyes as we will when He returns.

God is real and Jesus is real and the Holy Spirit is real. God is Spirit, Jesus walked and talked and died and became alive again and will return in person. The Holy Spirit is also spirit. Simple, lovely, and wonderful.

Pray for those affected by the storms.

Love to all,

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

You say all men are born sinners. Maybe I am not understanding what you said correctly...but are you saying babies are born sinners (original sin) and if they die they will go to hell? Aren't babies born innocent? Don't we become sinners when we make the choice to give into temptation? And yes all men sin and fall short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death. But what does scripture say about a baby formed in the womb?
Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Matt 19:14 Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Cherie c. said...

Adam's fall/sin is imputed to all mankind. Yes, babies are born with natural sin, but they don't go to hell if they die before an age where they can know the truth of God.

2 Samuel 12:19-24

19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.

20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.

21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.

22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?

23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

24 And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him.

David acknowledged that he would go to the child, not the child come to him. Clearly the baby went to be with God.

Everyone thinks it is mean to say a child is born with sin, when in fact the Bible is quite clear on this. Children do not learn to lie, it is in them. It is in us to rebel against God. We were all babies at one time, and we are all sinners falling short. It is only when we repent and receive the Word of the Truth and follow Jesus are we cleansed of all unrighteousness. There have been debates since time began on when the age of accountability begins. The Bible is silent on this, but we can get a glimpse of what it may be by reading scripture.

When Jesus said not to forbid the children to come to me and Psalms - we are wonderfully and fearfully made, do not mean that children are born innocent. It means that we are made in the image of God, and that children should be taught about Jesus, not that they are innocent. I have heard of children being saved as young as 6 and 7 years old and up. That does not mean that those younger cannot be saved. This is where we must have faith. I believe that my three babies are with the Lord. But if they had been born, they would be sinners just like my two sons, my husband, and me.

To think that because we are born uneducated, or unaware of our world, and who we are and of God, we are not sinners is prideful and not compatible with the Word of God. Every person (mankind) born of woman is a sinner except for Jesus. Hope this helps.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Josef Sefton said...

Cherie, what you write about seeing Jesus is true and this is made clear in 1 John 3: 2-3. This is a future event.

Additionally to this, in passages like Mathew 5:8, Hebrews 12:14 and Psalm 24:3-5 we learn that seeing God is a present reality for everyone that God has saved.

Everyone who is saved "sees" God or experiences Him in a wonderfully rewarding, living relationship.

Cherie c. said...

Now I get it Josef, sorry for the misunderstanding. Peace to you brother.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Rick Frueh said...

I do not wish to have a theological debate here. That obviously was not the reason for my post. To be clear, I believe every human IS born in sin and is a sinner even in the womb. The effects of that sin can be seen even when babies are born deformed or even dead.

Anonymous said...

Rick, I am sorry if my comments were out of line. Thank you for answering my question.

Chris Baumgart said...

Thank you for this lively discussion which continues to push me into finding answers or to be, through faith, satisfied with the mysteries of God leaving him to be the final judge concerning "original sin" ... Though we know that biblically the first record of sin was in heaven. One not need to be born of the flesh to partake in sin. Jesus says that sin of the spirit not of the flesh. It is manifested through man's flesh in this world. We know that the Word of God was given to Man, not to devils. Their judgement was already declared. The Bible states that through Adam and Eve sin entered into this World. And so it did. Sin was already here through Lucifer. But had not yet entered into Gods creation. Temptation broke the will of man to do evil and not maintain his holy state before God. From this point sinful man would now bear children into sin. From this point God would require a sacrifice for their sin. We are a different part of Our Loving Gods plan. We are created different than the angels. God takes great pleasure in us. Such as to send his only begotten Son here to die in our place because of sin. I will continue to grab onto the saving message of Jesus, I do not want to go back. Rick it is good to have our minds exercised here, it may not be your intent but it may be what God wants for us. Thank you all again.

Rick Frueh said...

Two sinners can only conceive a sinner. A sinner cannot give birth to a sinless child. Onloy Mary could through a miracle and because the father was the Holy Spirit. If babies are born without sin then Adam's sin only infected him.

Anonymous said...

Ezekiel 18:20 The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son:

Matt 18:1-6,10 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
verse 20 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Anonymous said...

Would it be helpful for me to point out the distinction between "sin" as in sin nature, the natural man, original sin; and "sins" which are thoughts and actions we commit? Perhaps some confusion about "innocent babies" arises from not understanding the scriptural meanings of the word "sin." David, sweet psalmist and man after God's own heart, writes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that he was "born in iniquity." We are all born with the Adamic nature which is corrupt and cannot please God; being under condemnation. That nature bears fruit of sin which wages is death. Praise God for He gives us a new nature, Christ's, by indwelling us with His Holy Spirit, which enables us to overcome sin. Romans 7 through 9 and Galatians is instructive in this matter of sin (generic) and sins.

Reine Gnade said...

Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Yes, those are true words but we all need saving notwithstanding how wonderfully God has made us.

Matt 19:14 Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

My understanding is that God the Father leads little children to Jesus. They fall into the category outlined in Romans 3:23 which says: For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Jesus commends the teachability and humility of children. They have attributes that many who are older than little children often lack.

Matt 18 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I think we ought to focus on the word converted. Jesus is saying that we must be converted in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Any keen observer of little children knows that they aren't all converted!