Monday, August 2, 2010

an exchange from facebook

My friend's status: Proverbs 17:15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.

Someone named Chris: Not much of a Proverbs guy, many of them were written as a way to teach a fear of God. (ie: 1:7a: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”). I believe Jesus was attempting to teach us a different side of God (love) and am hopeful that's the one we get to meet ; )

Me: Chris, some New Testament for you: look at Hebrews 13:8 in context with Colossians 1:15-17 and Romans 5:6-11.
Jesus' purpose was to provide us with the only possible way to find peace with God... His own substitutionary death.

Chris: How about John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Me: Exactly.

Chris: Ruth I think Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4; Romans 8:32, 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 John 4:9; 1 John 4:10, and Revelation 1:5 all describe a loving god which was my main point. Proverbs was a tool used the Jewish leadership to create a fear of god. (There are numerous examples of this vengeful angry god throughout the old testament). The New Testament marks a change in our relationship with god. Instead of being saved or destroyed through what we do we are saved because of what he (Jesus) did and our belief in him.

Me: I agree with you... to a point. I completely and totally agree that we are saved not because of what we do, but because of what He has done for us.

However, I do not think the God of the Old Testament is angry or vengeful... He is full of love and always had a perfect plan for reconciling mankind to Himself. Throughout the Old Testament, He promises that one will come who will bless all nations and fix our sin problem, bringing peace to mankind. The NT tells us that He chose Jesus to be our Redeemer before He created the world (1 Peter 1:20).

God is also unchanging (see my Hebrews reference above; coupled with the Colossians reference which shows that Jesus existed even before creation, as does John 1). Malachi 3:6 says the same thing, but I am guessing that you don't like to consider the OT as a reliable source.

The main point of salvation is that we were in danger of permanent separation from God for all eternity because He is perfect and holy, and we are sinful. 1 John 4:10, which you listed above, perfectly illustrates this... we needed an atoning sacrifice, a sacrifice that would satisfy the demands of a perfect, holy God... and He provided it Himself, in Himself. Because of His great mercy and love, He did the only thing that could be done. At just the right time (Romans 5:6) He took on human flesh and spilled His own perfect blood for us, satisfying His own perfect, holy character (His wrath against sin, so to speak), and saving us from eternal damnation.

God never changed, but our position before Him changes radically when we put our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) It is only because of His incomprehensible love for us that this change in our position could be possible.

I get concerned when people want to throw out portions of the Bible based on their human sense of what is nice and what is not nice. God is very clear that we must not be prideful when we come to Him (for instance, Luke 18:15-17, as well as nearly everything Jesus said to the Pharisees).

2 Timothy 3:16 says that ALL scripture is God-breathed and useful. At the time this was written, the NT didn't even exist as a recognized set of writings, so Paul must have been referring to the Old Testament, including Proverbs.

Wow. I will totally sign off now. Sorry [for hijacking my friend's facebook].

Chris: I did not say god changed I said our relationship with him did, and there are certainly many examples of a vengeful angry God in the Old Testament which is not seen in the NT.

"God drowned all the people of the earth in a great flood, killed... everyone (men, women, children, infants, and newborns) in Sodom and Gomorrah, allowed Joshua to kill the Amalekites, and even killed individuals himself: Er, Onan, Aaron’s sons, Korah and his family with 250 others, Nadab, Abihu, and 24,000 Israelites for “committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab."

God may have always been the same and I agree with your references, however he did show a much different side of his personality in the NT. Perhaps this is because when we look at the OT in a historical way we can see how the Hebrew people changed over time.

The Word Jehovah, ” literally means “He Causes to Become.” In other words, God becomes what is needed. In the Old Testament, god demonstrates different parts of his personality than he does in the NT because they were needed at that time for that people.

When Jesus died, the old covenant died. (IE Peter said we no longer had to follow dietary restrictions and could interact with the Goyim)(That we no longer had to be segregated because the whole point is to save humanity) I don't know about you, but I like to eat shell fish(that are not from the Gulf...hehe, don't own slaves and I have many gay and lesbian friends, the OT talks about this as well. Try saying the lord's prayer, which Jesus taught us, it describes a merciful loving god.

I'm sorry my first statement statement was so troubling to you. Best of luck on your journey.

I had signed off. I did not come back at him with examples of God's lovingkindness from the OT (partially because there are too many to count, but I think of "Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness," [Lamentations 3:22-23]). Neither did I clobber him with examples of God's judgment from the NT (although the story of how God struck down Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 was burning in my head).

I did not respond, because once someone makes up his mind to worship a god of his own making, from his own imagination, there is no dissuading him. If a person thinks he can just pick and choose which scriptures he likes and ignore the others, and that it is up to his own discretion to make the judgment calls on what parts of scripture we accept and what parts we do not, there is no basis on which I can have a discussion with him.

The thing that is really bothering me, though, is this: last Sunday in church, as we went through the "worship" portion of the service (and by that, yes, I do mean the music), I was thinking about the words we were singing, and I realized that, although we did not sing anything that was untrue, there was nothing in any of the songs we sang that would challenge someone who held to the type of belief system that "Chris" holds to. God loves us. God is always there for us. God is the great healer. God makes us feel better about ourselves.

Mm hmmm. This is only half the story. Our preaching is still pretty straight-up, but if music is billed as worship, and that is where our emotions and passions are engaged, and if this music is only based on the most palatable parts of the truth... where are we heading?

1 comment:

Emily said...

Great post, Ruth. Lots to chew on.