The Law and The Redemptive Process

The Law and The Redemptive Process

The Law and The Redemptive Process

A brief overview of the book of Romans

General and special revelation have very strong differences that are easily distinguishable: revelation given by direct divine intervention is special revelation and general revelation is accessible to all by virtue of living in the world.

General revelation is available universally and was pursued by means such as Philosophy wherein geniuses like Plato and Aristotle were able to make great strides in the realm of theology by utilizing philosophy to develop arguments like the Argument from Contingency (Aristotle’s unmoved mover), the Teleological argument, and others.

They, however, fell short of knowing God quite like the Hebrew did to whom God made special effort to reveal himself: “despite Aristotle’s remarkable moral sensitivity in many ways, he still despised the idea of humility and the idea of being in anyone’s debt.” (McQuilken, & Copan, 2014, pg.72).

Another philosophical argument for God, the argument from morality, is used by the Apostle Paul when he makes this a major premise in the beginning of Romans to lay out his argument of the inexcusability of all the gentile world before God (Romans 1:18-32). He goes on to liken this general moral understanding of right and wrong (Romans 2:14-15), of which has been seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2), to the Law of Moses in that he explains how the Jew is likewise doomed despite being divinely given the correct moral understanding of right and wrong by divine fiat (Romans 2:17-29).

Thus, both general revelation and special revelation are impotent for dealing with the great problem of evil and suffering faced by all mankind (Romans 3:9-20). 

This problem, of course, goes back to the very beginning wherein Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, giving them the ability to know both (Genesis 3:22) something which the Law of Moses serves an identical purpose: “law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless” (1 Timothy 1:9, ESV). That is why Paul spoke of the law as a curse to those who are under it in Galatians 3:10-14.

As Paul continues in Romans, he shows how God was fulfilling His prophecy of writing the law on our hearts through faith in Jesus Christ by referencing Abraham’s actionable faith in chapter 4, showing that it was the patriarch’s circumcised heart being lived out through faith that led to a circumcised flesh as a sign, proving circumcision of the flesh alone to be useless (Romans 4:9-16; Jeremiah 4:4; Deuteronomy 10:14-16; 30:6).

 

Abraham had, however, only general revelation to work from (Romans 4:10).

Paul argues from thus that it is faith in Christ that brings a total death to one’s own old moral framework of right and wrong, which he has shown in the earlier chapters to be inadequate and marred, via faith and baptism and (Romans 6:3-4).

This is because by being under grace, no longer have we any incentive to refuse repentance since the punishment that would discourage repentance (like admitting one was wrong, sinful, or wicked) has been entirely paid for. By this, the Law does not bind us (Romans 7:1-5) but rather just incites sin to war against us in the death throes of a soon-to-be-conquered kingdom (Romans 7:25; Matthew 16:17-19).

In a sense, this makes life much easier for the Gentile Christian who has never gotten the conscious correcting Law of Moses and thus has only to fight the battles against sin as they progressively learn more from the schoolmaster that is the law (Galatians 3:24; Acts 15:24-29), while Jewish converts have full knowledge of the law and thus have to combat sin in every part of life as soon as they are within Christ (Hebrews 2:19, Hebrews 1-12). 

Paul goes on to encourage believers that this life of internal war is worth the persisting battles that sin wages against us when we come to faith in Christ (Romans 8:18-25) because we have been made “…more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37, ESV).

In chapter 9…

…Paul shows that God’s not done with those who received God’s special revelation, arguing that it was because of their over-reliance on that very special revelation that they allowed themselves to stumble and that we Christians allow Israel to persist in existence by becoming the new child of promise that bears her birthright, replacing not Israel but rather those wicked generations that embody Esau.

Paul’s conclusion defeats the heresy of replacement theology in his quotation of Isaiah: Christians became the faithful remnant within apostate Israel, just like she was apostate back in Isaiah’s time, so that through the Christians Israel might be reconciled and saved (Romans 9:27-29).

Paul’s multiple quotations of the prophet Isaiah in Romans 10:18-21 shows how God going unto the Gentiles to punish Israel was specifically prophesied of and should come as no surprise. Thus, the Jewish rejection of Jesus is not evidence of the falsehood of Christianity but rather proof of it. 

In case it was not at this point already clear, Paul gives a useful illustration to explain how this process works: there is a breaking off of the branches of apostate Israel to graft on new wild branches of Gentile Christians; the tree is still the same tree meaning Israel never got replaced but rather only some of her branches. Moreover, there are even today Jewish-Christian believers.

Paul concludes that once this process is complete, then Israel will finally desire her king (Romans 11:25).

Paul spends the final 2 chapters of Romans describing how Christians rest in a sort of general-special revelation wherein the Holy Spirit renews our minds and empowers us with various gifts by which we can fulfill the law through love (Romans 12:10).

General, because it is universal to Christians; special, because He indwells only those whom He set apart.

Olive Tree in the Holy Land

To summarize…

…Humanity had a general-special revelation in the beginning but forsook it for a false, or anti-revelation that marred our ability to live by faith and caused us to live by a mental framework of what is right and wrong cursed to maintain it perpetually as it progressive degrades in our sinfulness.

Abraham was a unique man who lived by a similar kind of faith, via his general revelation, as from the beginning and so God decided that because of his faithful lifestyle He would save the world through him. From there, God gave mankind the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil again, intellectually repairing that lost knowledge of good and evil through special revelation. Then, through His son Jesus Christ, God repaired that spiritual loss of knowledge of good and evil so that we may live by faith one again and grant us a general-special revelation through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

With renewed minds and renewed spirits, one day soon the Lord Jesus will return to renew our flesh in the resurrection at the end of days so that we may once again live as we did in Eden.

References:

McQuilken, R; & Copan, P. (2014). Introduction to Biblical Ethics: Walking in the way of wisdom. Intervarsity Press.


 

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Reaching the Well Adjusted Person for Christ

Reaching the Well Adjusted Person for Christ

Reaching the Well Adjusted Person for Christ

How do we, as Christian brothers, help the men who would be considered well adjusted?

The guy who didn’t have abuse and severe trauma in childhood resulting in addictions or extreme dysfunctional behaviors, the kid who had a relatively stable childhood?

I’m thinking of the normal, contented average Christian man who loves the world more than Jesus but may not know it.

As a Christian, the worldly guy has no vision, no real relationship with Christ, and whose nature is passive and non-confrontational about everything that doesn’t measure up to Christ.

He won’t act or listen when confronted by the Holy Spirit.

 This guy will miss rewards in heaven because he half-heartedly or lukewarmly chose by an act of his free will to seek, ask and knock after Jesus.

He is disinterested in loving God with all his heart, soul and mind, and strength. He wants fire insurance but still be able to call most of the shots.

I am thinking about someone I know, a Christian who Satan sidetracked.

What happened, and how did Satan draw this person into a web of deceit?

Was it a lack of submission to the Holy Spirit and those seemingly little things, for example, having to do with self-discipline or believing truth?

Or was it a matter of entitlement/ ego?

Did he believe the hype about himself instead of believing what Jesus thought about him?

Or was it a “Williams” family curse kind of thing; hardheadedness, stubbornness, and a lack of humility and meekness to be corrected and to listen to someone?

(PROVERBS) Or was it giving in to the sinful flesh and its sensual desires and needs? What caused the downfall?

Today, I’m thinking about what it would look like to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ because that is where we are going.

All of my brokenness, self-dependence, self-rule, and pride must be broken and removed even if by the fires of purification.

It includes the broken addict or the extremely successful person.

 

Reaching the Well Adjusted Person for Christ


 

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The Choice that Confronted Adam

The Choice that Confronted Adam

The Choice that Confronted Adam

God planted a great number of trees in the garden of Eden, but “in the midst of the garden’’, that is, in a place of special prominence, He planted two trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Adam was created innocent; he had no knowledge of good and evil. Think of a grown man, say thirty years old, who has no sense of right or wrong, no power to differentiate between the two!

Would you not say such a man was undeveloped?

Well, that is exactly what Adam was. And God brings him into the garden and says to him, in effect, “Now the garden is full of trees, full of fruits, and of the fruit of every tree you may eat freely.

But in the very midst of the garden is one tree called ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’; you must not eat of that, for in the day that you do so you will surely die.

But remember, the name of the other tree close by is ‘life’.

What then is the meaning of these two trees? Adam was, so to speak, created morally neutral-neither sinful nor holy, but innocent-and God put those two trees there so that he might exercise free choice.

He could choose the tree of life, or he could choose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

Now the knowledge of good and evil, though forbidden to Adam, is not wrong in itself.

Without it, however, Adam is in a sense limited in that he cannot decide for himself on moral issues. Judgment of right and wrong resides not in him, but God.

Adam’s only course when faced with any question is to refer it to Jehovah God.

Thus, you have a life in the garden which is totally dependent on God.

 These two trees, then typify two-deep principles; they represent two plans of life, the Divine and the human. The Tree of Life Is God himself, for God is life.

He is the highest form of life, and he is also the source and goal of life. and the fruit; what is that? it is our Lord Jesus Christ.

You cannot eat the tree, but you can eat the fruits. no one is able to receive God as God, but we can receive the Lord Jesus Christ. The fruit is the edible part, the receivable part of the tree.

So, may I say it reverently?

The Lord Jesus Christ is really God in a receivable form. God is in Christ we can receive.

If Adam should take of the tree of life, he would partake of the life of God. Thus, he would become a son of God, in the sense of having in him a life that derived from God.

There you would have God’s life in Union with man; a race of men having the life of God in them and living in constant dependence upon God for that life.

But if instead Adam should turn the other way and take of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, then he would develop his own manhood along natural lines apart from God, as a self-sufficient being, he would possess in himself the power to form independent judgment, but he would have no life from God.

So, this was the alternative that lay before him, choosing the way of the spirit, the way of obedience oh, he would become a son of God, living independent upon God for his life.

Taking the natural course, he would put the finishing touch to himself, as it were by becoming a self-dependent being, judging and acting apart from God.

The history of humanity is the outcome of the choice he made.

I think this excerpt from The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee is extraordinary in its clear explanation of the origins of mankind and its effect upon history.

We were designed by God for God and for His glory and yet mankind chose his own manhood along natural lines apart from God.

This is my great challenge as a Christian.

Every morning that I wake up I must choose the way of the Spirit, the way of obedience so that I can become a son of God, living in dependence upon God for my life.

My self-dependent living will not bring me eternal life and all of the wonderful things that go along with it in Christ. You can partake of the fruit from the “tree of life” by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

He loves you and gave up His life for you.


 

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By the Grace of God I’ve Tried to Make the Best Of It

By the Grace of God I’ve Tried to Make the Best Of It

By the Grace of God I’ve Tried to Make the Best Of It

 

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” — Psalms 25:16

 

Due to various childhood trauma and circumstances, and the unique way I responded to them, I (and I’m not going to say it was some cruel trick or predestination of God) my 66 years of life have predominantly been of longing, loneliness and affliction. 

It is what it is and by the grace of God I’ve tried to make the best of it, like a person with a handicap. I did blame God from the very beginning, even as young boy at the age of 5, but over the years realized that He, My heavenly Father, was not to blame.

I can’t blame anyone for my responses to being wronged here on earth.

They are my free will choice. 

So, loneliness is feeling unhappy about being socially isolated or for some, the false perception of not being loved. Perhaps their needs, expectations or extra capacities disappoint or let them down.

Almost any woman in the world can relate to the letdown of their idea of a Prince Charming and the actual relationship in the flesh.

Perhaps some of the loneliest people are in a loveless marriage?

For me, I’ve identified that I want love, perhaps a perfect relationship.

Why not?

Who wants a mediocrity?

I think the Bible defines the ultimate, perfect relationship as that between God the Father and God the Son; perfect love, perfect harmony and perfect union from eternity past, broken only once on the cross when Christ took my sin upon Himself, my sin nature.

What Are the Benefits of Being Grateful?

It seems engrained in humans to know and understand a concept of a higher eternal laws.

Even children respond to “happily ever after” with that rare, unique union and love of their one and only prince or princess.

The idea is that they will never be alone ever again.

There are a lot of things associated with loneliness but there is a loneliness that, at the core, is an unmet or unrealized or partially realized or undeveloped need.

It can be a need for the idea of perfect love, intimacy, unity, harmony of spirit, commonality, total acceptance, approval, understanding, closeness affection or expressions of love in everyday things. 

It’s the communication of love or on many levels, the giving of one’s self. The trust, risk, the enjoyment of that person, and if you are lucky, the whole person. 

You may benefit from their intelligence, creativity, attributes, talents, personality, temperament and other things.

The degree that they choose to love you, their pursuit,  the passion, the commitment,  the exclusivity,  self-sacrifice and their ability to believe in and accept the live offered is all a part of the thing that erases loneliness. 

So, I believe that with each human there is a soul loneliness, a longing for God, a longing to be one with your Creator.

As a Christian I believe that when I am in heaven with Christ that finally my loneliness will be erased for all eternity.

 

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Christians Unconstrained with No Direction

Christians Unconstrained with No Direction

Christians Unconstrained with No Direction

So, I pose a question…

…why is it, what is the root cause of so many Christians with very little concept of the Lord’s great commission or the Lord’s example of making disciples?

This idea of birthing a little lamb, raising them, (can they magically raise themselves), shepherding them to become shepherds, mature in Christ?

Why do so few lifelong church raised Christians have no vision for those around them and at times very little love.

They appear not to know or have the Lord’s heart towards others and no eternal perspective. What are the issues, the reasons?

 Proverbs 29:18 “Without vision the people perish”.  Where there is no vision, the people perish.

The Hebrew word paw-rah’ means “to perish”. Paw-rah’ was the word used in a biblical proverb where a woman’s hair was let flow out of its covering.

 

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