Category: Salvation

Season After Pentecost (Proper 14[19]) – The Epistle Passage: When sins are deep

“So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.
Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.
Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:25 – 30)
Lying, sinful rage, stealing, evil talk – that is quite a list that Paul has started here. While I do not like reading a list of all the terrible things a person can do, what I do appreciate (if that is a sentiment that fits with this topic) is that all of these sins are ones that start with our thoughts and attitudes. Because if it not the human body that is inherently sinful but the human mind and spirit. Yes, we can direct our bodies to do all sorts of actions; but the starting point is always the intent to be contrary to the law of love. And, as Paul so eloquently puts it, to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. That, I think, is the greatest sin. Know what will displease the Divine and doing it anyway. Unfortunately it is a common trait amongst humanity. We may not at the time or in the moment realize what we have done, but the outcome is the same.
“Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Verses 31 – 32)
And from grieving the Divine it is a short step to causing pain etc for others. Or it may be that causing upset to others is the first intention, and that what it does to the Divine Spirit is a secondary outcome. Doesn’t really matter which end you start at in sinning – the Divine or your fellow human – the end outcome is the same.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Chapter 5, verses 1 – 2)
It does, but it should not, amaze me how many ways we can go wrong in living in this life. And I am including myself. Even if you think you are following Paul’s good examples and teachings as the above, you can still “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” Did you think, beloved reader, that if you do as Paul says as above you would be sin free? (I know I am being tough here, but bear with me.) Verses 31 to 32 tells us what should avoid doing. But it is the first two verses of chapter 5 that set the benchmark. We may do all the right things and be caring gracious people, and yet miss the mark of being “imitators of God” and being “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. Does that mean we should give up and not try? By no means!!!
Let me tell you, sinning does not take away the “seal for the day of redemption”. And grieving the Holy Spirit of God does not mean we are lost forever. Throughout this passage Paul is talking about what his readers/audience had done. It is not a condemnation, not a “you missed up so all is lost.” It is an exhortation to see what humanity has done and to mend its ways. If we have grieved the Holy Spirit, we can also make the Holy Spirit rejoice when we set ourselves the task of being the best imitator of God that we can be.
Yes, our sins may be deep. But we are not stuck in that depth. We are not condemned to live at a depth of sin so great that we are lost to the Divine. Take courage, beloved reader. Christ loved us enough to give up himself so that we might be saved and redeemed. Even if we have to be re-saved and re-redeemed every day. The depth of the Divine’s love is deeper than the deepest of any sin. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

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Season After Pentecost (Proper 13[18]) – The Psalms Passage: Asking for forgiveness for the small and big sins in life

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.” ( (Psalm 51:1 – 5)
I can’t say that I agree with everything the psalmist says here. Actually it is only one thing that I disagree with – that when a child is born it is already guilty of sin. Sin means deciding against God and belief in Jesus Christ, and deliberately choosing to not follow the law of love. Infants and small children have no concept of choosing for or against God. And no concept of the consequences. I firmly belief that the mercy and compassion of God covers children until that point in their lives comes when they realize there is a choice, and that they showed chose. I was about twelve years old when I came to that point. There is no one preset age. But I digress. I guess what I mean is that this psalm is for the adults in the crowd who have come to the place in their lives when they have decided.
“You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.” (Verses 6 – 8)
Here again the psalmist and I diverge slightly. Verse 8 implies that it is good that the Lord has disciplined us and we should be glad of it. Coming to see and realize one’s sins and ask/receive forgiveness is a good thing. I just don’t think has to be or necessarily is “bone crushing” but I allow the psalmist poetic license. But you know, if the psalmist is King David and he was seeing the magnitude of the sins he committed, maybe he did feel that his bones needed to be crushed a little bit!
“Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” (Verses 9 – 12)
This week our theme has been small and large things, minor and major issues and consequences. There is no greater issue than the committing of sin, and no larger need than forgiveness. And actually in the Divine’s sight there is no such thing as small and large sins, no matter how much we may like to categorize levels of “being bad” and assessing people according to the mistakes and missteps they make. If God’s compassion, grace, mercy, salvation, and redemption (to include all the aspects of forgiveness) is sufficient – then we should not give into temptation to judge. That would be sin!
“Yet he commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven;
he rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven.
Mortals ate of the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind;
he rained flesh upon them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall within their camp, all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.” (Psalm 78:23-29)
The Divine knew that his creation humanity would need forgiveness. If the Divine who created Adam and Eve was/is as knowledgeable as believers believe, then the Divine knew that the Tree of Knowledge would be their downfall. And yet it was created. So the need for forgiveness (and all that it entails) was pretty much brought into being at the same time. The Lord God provided food for the Hebrews in the desert, and Jesus said that was a lessor thing than the Bread of Life that the Divine Lord God established.
The Hebrews asked for sustenance in the desert and it was given. It is the next logical step to ask for something more lasting. Do not be afraid to ask, beloved reader. Ask for what you need, in small or large measure. If it is necessary to your continuing to be a child of God, it will be given. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Season After Pentecost (Proper 13[18]) – The Gospel Passage: Issues in life great and small, clear and unclear

“So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” ( John 6:24 – 25)
In other words, “What did we miss?” The success of the loaves and fishes was so great that the crowd was seeking more instant food. Jesus decided to put a stop to that and instead directed their attention of more important matters.
“Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (Verses 26 – 29)
Was this an earnest inquiry? Did the crowd truly want a way to gain eternal life – that is, salvation and redemption? According to some commentators I read, yes the inquiry was sincere. And Jesus’ answer was to tell them it is not works – that is, human endeavors – that bestows salvation but belief in Jesus as Messiah.
“So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?” (Verse 30)
It is this question that makes me doubt the sincerity of those gathered. One commentator posits that it was not the seeking and believing crowd that asked this but those pesky Jewish leaders that were constantly seeking and demanding signs and proofs yet not believing when it was presented to them.
“Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” (Verse 31)
It is also this statement that makes me wonder about this second set of question askers. We seem to be right back at the issue of food being provided. At first glance it seems to connects to the miracle of the loaves and fishes that Jesus performed. But the miracle, according to a commentator I read, is attributed to Moses and not to the Lord God that Moses believed in. And not to the Lord God who lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. Jesus again tries to readjust the “crowds” thinking. That what the “ancestors” received was food; what Jesus is offering sustains not the body but the soul.
“Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (Verses 32 – 33)
I want to add an “aside” at this point; it seems to me this is a fairly disjointed passage. The “crowd” at various points seems to take on different perspectives and attitudes. The writer of the gospel of John does not clearly identify who is in this crowd or what type of members it is composed of. And that it segues into such a clear yet mystical statement by Jesus of his mission on the earth leaves me wondering if we have not been reading a montage of conversations.
“They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (Verses 34 – 35)
We started out at the beginning of this passage being given the crowd’s (that is one type of crowd) perspective on Jesus’ track record of miracles, and this crowd wonders what they have missed in “awesome factor” and food. Then this crowd focuses in on the underlying message of Jesus’ miracles, that he represents a Divine Lord who offers salvation and eternal life. And they want this. But then the crowd (or is it another crowd) asks for proof that Jesus is who he says he is. Is he (Jesus), they ask, like Moses who was on a Divine mission from God? When Jesus answers, I am not really sure anymore which crowd he is addressing; the sincere crowd or the questioning crowd? And that the gospel writer does not seem to give much direction as to who is who makes me wonder if the point was not to give Jesus the opportunity to set down doctrine and theology.
However, beloved reader, in the middle of the muddle we have a clear statement that the work of believers is to believe in the One who was sent and that the Sender is the Divine. In the middle of a muddle it’s nice to have a solid direction. May you, beloved reader, set aside the small issues of life and focus in on the larger more lasting & eternal issues. And may the Holy Spirit make it clear to you. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Season After Pentecost (Proper 10[15]) – The Psalm Passage: The psalmist’s preaching style

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.” (Psalms 24:1)
It’s one of those times, beloved reader, that I am having a hard time settling my soul and spirit to comment on the Psalm passage. How I wish I had the psalmist calm spirit right. But my soul and spirit are roiled and riled by the cares and concerns of the day. And yet . . . . and yet, the notion that the earth & world, and all that is in it is founded and established on water calms me. The sea and the ocean calm me; flowing rivers, whether fast or slow, calms me. And I am calmed and readied to hear the psalmist’s words.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah” (Verses 2 – 6)
I am glad the psalmist did not say “those who are calm and at peace”! That would sometimes disqualify me. But even in my riled and roiled state my hands are clean (if not dear Lord, cleanse my hands) and my heart is pure (if not dear Lord, purify my heart). And my soul does not cling to that which is false (if that is so dear Lord fasten my soul more closely to you), and my spirit does not swear (that I am sure I do not do!). So maybe I will receive a blessing from the Lord as I seek the face of the “God of Jacob”. Amen!
“Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle.” (Verses 7 – 8)
This where I might part from the psalmist, where he praises the Lord who is mighty in battle, for I am not one who lauds battle might. However . . . . it is also occurred to me that this Lord God who is “mighty in battle”vies against the evil that too often threatens to overcome the world. And that is the stories of compassion and caring that are the victories in that battle. The thought comforts and appeals to me.
“Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah” (Verses 9 – 10)
May you, beloved reader, find the comfort and care you need in the Lord God who defends us from all that may assail and over come us. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Season after Pentecost (Proper 13 [18]): The Psalm Passage – Petitioning the Lord God on the basis of what will be in the future

“Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.” (Psalm 17:1)
While this psalm is being used in conjunction with the story of Jacob awaiting the morning when he will see his brother Esau for the first time in over fourteen years, I am mindful that it is most likely King David who wrote this psalm. While Jacob might have thought about this sort of thing during his fourteen plus years away from home, it is David’s contention of freedom from deceit we are reading.
But we can let it be our thoughts and words. And it is probably a good follow up to yesterday’s reflection on the passage from Matthew where I was talking about the Divine non-sinful nature of Jesus in comparison to us.
“From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right.
If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.” (Verses 2 – 3)
It is interesting to set these verses against the Lord’s prayer, in that section where the pray-er asks the Lord to forgive sins/trespasses/transgressions as others who have wronged the person praying are forgiven. But that is the position and contention of most Christians, that we have not sinned or transgressed. It depends, beloved reader, on who is defining the transgression.
“As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.” (Verses 4 – 5)
“As for what others do” . . . . . that is a very Old Testament perspective. ‘I am clean, O Lord! Others are dirty!” The Lord God judges each individual’s heart. We are not compared against one another. But in the Eyes of the Perfect and Divine Lord, everyone has fallen short.
“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.” (Verses 6 – 7)
This is the more truer part of this psalm/prayer. It is not because of our relative sin to other people that we are saved and loved. And it is not really that we are only the modest mildly of “bad” people. The Lord God’s steadfast love is for everyone. As is refuge from one’s adversaries.
“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.” (Verse 15)
Here again we have the protestation of the psalmist that he is righteous (no, it is not God’s righteousness that is meant), and because of this righteousness he expects to see the Lord God.
I probably would not have made an issue of this psalm if I had not written as I did yesterday. And not if I had not made note of Jacob’s missteps in relating to his family. And, furthermore, not if I had not been reading about how sin is the Eye of the Lord God as the beholder. All of these things I have lead me to comment as I have.
The psalmist also touches on the reality that the Lord God is ready, able and willing to forgive us for all of our sins. That our lips are only free from deceit because of God’s grace and mercy, and the atonement of Christ. The psalmist and Jacob, and all of the rest of rely on the Lord God’s plan for salvation. From the perspective of the psalmist, that is yet to come. We know it as a reality. So rather than faulting the presumption of the psalmist (when all is said and done) let us commend his faith that the Lord God will undertake for him, and for all of us. Selah!Filed under: Revised Common Lectionary Year A 2017 Tagged: Discipleship, Discipline in the Church, God's Nature, Nature of Jesus Christ, Psalm Passage, Reign of God, Revised Common Lectionary, Salvation, Season After Pentecost, Wisdom
Syndicated from a simple desire

Interview: Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God (Part 2)

Image via Waterbrook Multnomah
Brian Zahnd joins the podcast to discuss his new book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. In part 2, they focus on understanding the cross and Hell through the lens of a loving and nonviolent Jesus:

The idea tracing back to Anselm that God is satisfying his wrath, punishing Jesus, in order to gain the capital that allows God to forgive. (0:16)
The kind of justice which takes place at the cross. (6:42)
The view of wrath striking Jesus on the cross, and how we should see wrath instead. (14:11)
Hell and its various meanings which are not from Scripture. (23:16)
The parables of the sheep and the goats and of Lazarus and the rich man. (32:52)
How Brian preaches Hell. (36:48)
Interpreting the book of Revelation. (41:04)
The centrality of love. (45:31)
Brian’s hope for the book. (49:46)
Closing prayer. (50:42)

Links:
Word of Life Church
Brian Zahnd (website)
Brian Zahnd (Twitter)
Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

http://media.blubrry.com/mennonerds_audio/p/podcasts.mennonerds.com/Interview-BrianZahnd--SinnersintheHandsofaLovingGod-Part2.mp3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Interview: Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God (Part 1)

Book image via Waterbrook Multnomah
Brian Zahnd joins the podcast to discuss his new book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. In part 1, they focus on Brian’s story and the nature of the Bible:

Brian’s work with Word of Life Church in St. Joseph’s, Missouri. (1:09)
Writing theology at a pastoral level. (4:39)
The artwork on the cover of Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. (9:21)

Brian’s fascination with the infamous sermon of Jonathan Edward, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, including how that sermon is not representative of Edward’s ministry. (12:59)
Why we should not see God as angry, spiteful and abhorring of sinners. (22:50)
How we got to this place where the Bible is understood the way it is. (29:26)
Interpreting the Transfiguration. (37:20)
What the Bible is, if it isn’t an end in itself. (44:44)

Links:
Word of Life Church
Brian Zahnd (website)
Brian Zahnd (Twitter)
Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God
http://media.blubrry.com/mennonerds_audio/p/podcasts.mennonerds.com/Interview-BrianZahnd--SinnersintheHandsofaLovingGod-Part1.mp3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Season after Pentecost (Proper 7 [12]) : The Epistles Passage – Silly Questions & Serious Answers

“Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1b)

The writer of Romans (Paul) asks an absurd question to make a point.

“By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?” (Verse 2)

And answers it by saying “me genioto” which in the ancient Greek means “by no means!” I can still hear my Greek from seminary saying that with special emphasis. Paul has a habit of asking absurd questions, like this one to make a point – should we sin in order to know and get more grace? And answers it with another question asking how can we who have sworn to live a good Christian life deliberately do that which we know is sin! (Picture your favorite image of Paul being horrified!)

He goes on to strengthen his point . . .

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin.” (Verses 3 – 6)

Therefore it is unimaginable, according to Paul, that we would sin just so we can get the grace that was already promised and given to us. Not unlike shooting your nose to spit your face – another saying tossed around. Paul has more to say . . .

“But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Verses 7 – 11)

According to Paul those who believe in Christ and have put away and repented all sin, should never again sin nor seek to sin. And that we no longer need will suffer because of the sin we did in the past. So, let’s pose that question again – how can we who have sworn to live a good Christian life deliberately do that which we know is sin? Or maybe the more appropriate question is “why?”

Filed under: Revised Common Lectionary Year A 2017 Tagged: Christian Journey, Christian Life, Nature of Jesus Christ, Revised Common Lectionary, Salvation, Season After Pentecost, Spirituality, Wisdom
Syndicated from a simple desire

Interview: Wesley Rostoll, Seeing the Cross with New Eyes

Fellow MennoNerd Wesley Rostoll joins the podcast to talk about his new book, Seeing the Cross with New Eyes, with host Paul Walker. The book description is as follows:
“Why did Jesus have to die on a cross? Was it to appease His Father’s wrath or was it to undo the effects of the fall in Eden? In his first book, author Wesley Rostoll tackles the tough questions surrounding the atonement, eternal life, the Book of Revelation and more; offering us fresh perspectives into the cross that will transform our understanding of the gospel message.”
http://media.blubrry.com/mennonerds_audio/p/podcasts.mennonerds.com/Interview-WesleyRostoll--SeeingTheCrossWithNewEyes.mp3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Vlog 32: Cross and Atonement

For this vlog series, the participants follow up on the Easter season by discussing the cross and atonement. Steve opens the discussion asking the question. Deborah responds by suggesting that the different atonement theories are more complementary than contradictory. Micael wraps up the topic by questioning the common belief that the earliest Christians believed in a Christus Victor theory.
https://media.blubrry.com/mennonerds_audio/p/archive.org/download/Vlog32CrossAndAtonement_201705/Vlog32-CrossAndAtonement.mp3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Some Problems I Have With Penal Substitution Theology of Atonement

If penal substitution is true, God is not unlike other ancient, blood-thirsty god. In church we often sing worship songs with themes and phrases that say, “there is none like you!” I believe those songs are beautiful, because it’s true– there is no God like our God. But if penal substitution is true, God isn’t [Read More...]
Syndicated from The Official Blog of Benjamin L. Corey

Interview: Greg Boyd, Crucifixion of the Warrior God (Part 2)

Greg Boyd joins the podcast to discuss his newest book, Crucifixion of the Warrior God. In this part 2, the conversation focuses primarily on the nature of the cross. If you missed part 1, you can check that out here.
The book description (taken from Amazon):
Renowned pastor-theologian Gregory A. Boyd proposes a revolutionary way to read the Bible in this epic but accessible study. His “cruciform hermeneutic” stands as a challenge to the field of biblical studies and to all thoughtful Christians.
A dramatic tension confronts every Christian believer and interpreter of Scripture: on the one hand, we encounter Old Testament stories of God commanding horrendous violence. On the other hand, we read the unequivocally nonviolent teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. Reconciling these two has challenged Christians and theologians for two millennia.
Throughout Christian history, various answers have been proposed, ranging from the long-rejected explanation that these contrasting depictions are of two entirely different “gods” to recent social, cultural, and literary theories that attempt to dispel the conflict.
The Crucifixion of the Warrior God takes up this dramatic tension and the range of proposed answers in an ambitious constructive investigation. Over two volumes, Gregory A. Boyd argues that we must take seriously the full range of Scripture as inspired, including its violent depictions of God. At the same time, he affirms the absolute centrality of the crucified and risen Christ as the supreme revelation of God.
Developing a theological interpretation of Scripture that he labels a “cruciform hermeneutic,” Boyd demonstrates how the Bible’s violent images of God are reframed and their violence subverted when interpreted through the lens of the cross and resurrection. Indeed, when read in this way, Boyd argues that these violent depictions bear witness to the same self-sacrificial nature of God that was ultimately revealed on the cross.
https://media.blubrry.com/mennonerds_audio/p/archive.org/download/InterviewGregBoydCrucifixionOfTheWarriorGodPart2/Interview-GregBoyd--CrucifixionOfTheWarriorGod-Part2.mp3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

What “God Loves You” Actually Means

From the beginning, God chose to have a people who would be the object of his eternal love, just as Christ is the object of his eternal love. God sought to acquire a “bride” for Christ who would receive and reflect the love of the triune community (Eph 5:25-32). And the only qualification for being incorporated into this radiant bride, and thus for being loved by God with the same love he has for Christ, is simply that one is willing to let God do this!

The very same love that the Father has for the Son is now given to us, for we are, as a matter of fact, in the Son. The point is made perfectly clear in John 17 when Jesus prayed that his disciples, and thus all the world, would know that the Father has “loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23, emphasis added). Then a few sentences later, he said to the Father, “I made your name [character] known to them … so that the [very same] love which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26, emphasis added).

The perfect love that defines God throughout eternity—the ultimate, worth-affirming, mutually submissive love that eternally unites the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is now directed toward every person who is “in Christ.”

This means that as you read this sentence you could not be more loved than you are right now! The love that God eternally is burns toward you with the same unimprovable, passionate intensity that the three divine persons have for each other. The perfect love that God eternally is is directed toward you, right here and right now. It is not a secondary, compromised, watered down, or derivative love. It is the one and the same love that is shared by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the very act of loving Christ, the Father loves you.

The goal of creation is for people to participate in the eternal love of the triune God. We do not do this by performing good deeds, successfully conquering certain sins, or holding all of the right theological positions. These may be by-products of the change in reality that takes place in us, but they are not the cause of the change. We participate in the eternal love of the triune fellowship by allowing ourselves to be placed in Christ by faith. We receive it. It is simply a matter of saying yes to God’s desire to relate to us in the process of relating to the triune community.

This was achieved when Christ came—which we celebrate during this Advent season—crossing the infinite gulf that distinguishes and separates God from fallen humanity. Through the incarnation and the eventual crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the Father incorporates all who say yes into the Son. Thus the Trinity opens up the perfect, triune love and allows undeserving sinners to share in the dance of God’s eternal love and glory.

—Adapted from Repenting of Religion, pages 37-39
Image by Kaleb Nimz via Unsplash
The post What “God Loves You” Actually Means appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.
Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

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