No Permission Necessary

I try to NOT be that Facebook Warrior who always has to correct other people as though I alone have the truth. Sometimes, however, someone posts something that misses the point and I try to nudge them back onto the highway. If they have questions and would like to converse, I’m happy to do that, but I’m not going to get into insults and accusations and other things that don’t promote peace and harmony. 53701909_2135950376492682_8582747011474784256_n

The image to the right was posted by a friend from the Philippines in response to something another close friend of mine posted… but never said or implied. It led to a fascinating conversation that touched on many topics near and dear to my heart. I thought I’d share it with you. I left his comments unedited, but I realize that English is not his first language and I ignored errors in grammar because communication and extending grace is far more important than grammatical precision. My replies are in italics.

 

Me: Who is saying here that you can earn God’s acceptance? If that’s what you think is being said, you’re very much missing the point.

He: grace is a gift ,but it doesn’t end up there.If we are absolutely save because of grace ,then why Jesus said to Nicodemus,  John, 3:3 – Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Me: OK, let’s run with that analogy… so, what role did you play when you were born the first time? Were you even aware you were born? Could you identify right then what happened to you? The second birth is no different, friend.

He: you are wrong , there is a difference, Read the conversation in John 3. The second birth is spiritual .It is impossible to born in the flesh again

Me: I’ve read that conversation many times… I’m not suggesting the second birth is physical… I’m suggesting that you play no role in it whatsoever and aren’t even aware of when it first happened… you only realize it later. As in Adam all die, so in Christ ALL are made alive. 🙂

I know it goes against what you were taught. It goes against what I was taught among the Baptists. But it actually IS a biblical notion, there actually ARE believers throughout church history who hold this view, and in the end it gives God far more glory than the horror story that he will torture forever those who didn’t come to the right doctrinal understanding in their less than 100 year lifespan. Every knee WILL bow and every tongue WILL confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God our Father

He: are you saying faith alone is enough?

Me: I’m saying God reconciled the world to himself through Jesus. I’m saying it’s ALL of God. The difference is simply those who realize it and those who don’t yet realize it. That’s why the good news is a PROCLAMATION – we proclaim what is already true.

And according to Paul’s letter to the Romans, faith itself is a gift from God… God gives the faith… and faith is not a list of doctrines and teachings, it’s the inner certainty that inspires us to take great risks based on the character of God and God’s never-ending love for us.

He: so you are saying after we realized, our part is finish ? You dont have to do anything ?

Me: let’s again use the first birth analogy: what did you have to do once you were born? Well, you weren’t yet capable of much, so your parents fed you, changed you, clothed you, protected you, and trained you until you could do more and more and more all by yourself. Did you HAVE to do anything? No, there are plenty of people who squander their lives for lack of purpose or vision.

But once we really see the beauty of the kingdom of God (like a precious pearl or a buried treasure), we are moved from within to participate in it. Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” becomes our passion – seeing ourselves, those we know, and ultimately the entire world living out the values and principles that Jesus taught so that the world is more and more restored and more and more in harmony and shalom (peace/wholeness).

Jesus is saving/rescuing/delivering/restoring the WHOLE WORLD, and we get to be part of that! It’s an AWESOME privilege and opportunity! Do I “have” to do that? No… but I WANT to 🙂

He: so what is the important commandment to those who know the ministry of Paul .We must remember the last Apostle was Paul, he was sent by Jesus for the Gentiles .And Jesus was sent by God for, Matthew, 15:24 – But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Me: How about you answer that question? Clearly you have a particular answer in mind, but I don’t yet see how it applies to this conversation.

I will say that the most important commandment for the church, though, doesn’t come from Paul – it comes from Jesus: “Love one another”. That kind of encapsulates everything, and throws away the stuff that really doesn’t matter (like doctrinal distinctions and practices between denominations).

But let me ask you a question as well… other than the fact that my responses probably don’t match what you’ve been taught (and they didn’t match what I was taught growing up either)… do you understand how what I’m saying is faithful to scripture and to the character of God as revealed in the life of Jesus?

I mean, you don’t seem to have any actual rebuttal to what I’ve posted, so is this actually making some sense to you even though the idea might be foreign to you and that foreignness might make you uncomfortable?

He: are you sure our old being can be holy in the sight of God?

Me: you’ll need to define “old being” and “holy” for us to truly communicate about this. I’m not sure if we view these terms the same or not…

He: I think we have different view? I know you read your Bible but your answer doesn’t aligned the scripture

Me: Technically, my answers don’t align with the interpretation of scripture that you’ve been taught. My answers certainly align with scripture, but not in the way you’ve been taught to read it. We were both taught that the good news was about getting into a good afterlife in “heaven” and avoiding a bad one in “hell”. However…

If you read the good news that Jesus proclaimed, it had nothing to do with the afterlife in a “heaven” or “hell”… it was about the Kingdom of God expanding on the earth (sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven because the Jews had this thing about not saying “God” out of respect). Read Matthew, which is especially titled this way as it was written to Jews… it’s everywhere, but our teachers assumed that kingdom of heaven meant “heaven when you die”, and assumed that “eternal life” meant something that it really doesn’t in the Greek… it means “life of the ages”, or what we would call “the best way to live”.

Our teachers misled us. I think they did it mostly out of ignorance and conditioning at Bible college, not out of malice. But they certainly missed the point of what Jesus taught, and my teachers even dismissed most everything Jesus taught because they thought the only important thing Jesus did for the church was die as a sacrifice.

But did you know that is just one view of the atonement out of seven or eight views? And that this view (Penal Substitutionary Atonement) was created by men 1500 years after Jesus walked the earth? It was NOT the understanding of the early church and of those who actually walked with Jesus. This is worth you studying, because many of us have been misled by good people away from the original mission and perspective of the early church.

If this is too much for you to consider now, I understand. It took me a long time wrestling with this. But it’s a worthy wrestle, like Jacob with the angel. Blessings to you and yours!

He: I have read the Gospel of Matthew about hell and Luke about after life on earth.And the little flock of Jesus were commanded to love one another, the same in the Church of God. But i wonder why the old being according to you can be holy and perfect

That is all my friend i just want to test the spirit if you are born again

Me: I didn’t say that – I asked you to define those terms and you haven’t defined them for me yet so I don’t know if we’re communicating or not. Please define what you mean by “old being” and “holy” and “perfect” and then I’ll try my best to answer your question. So please don’t say “according to you…” when I never said anything – that’s dishonest.

And if you want to test the spirit… Jesus is Lord, not Caesar or any other king or president, to the glory of God our Father. 🙂

He: I understand what you are saying, i know you know it ,very simple born a sinner,that’s it.Im sure you knew holy and perfect. I am not born with English the tongue. Jesus is Lord but God our Father is in heaven. the God of Jesus

Me: I was born a child of God who sins… but those sins do not change my sonship, just like they didn’t change the sonship of the Prodigal son – the Father embraced him and covered his shame and threw a party without requiring ANYTHING from his son – THAT is the gospel.

Holy means “set apart for a special purpose”. It doesn’t mean without error or flaw. My relationship with my wife is “holy” compared to my relationship with other females… my relationship with my wife is special, but it isn’t perfect. Our fine china is set apart for special meals like the Thanksgiving Feast here in America… but it isn’t necessarily flawless.

And Perfect in the Greek really meant something more like “Mature”. Again, it doesn’t mean “without any error” – God knows our frame, that we are made from clay, and any time we “miss the mark” (which is the true definition of “sin”) God understands just like I understand when my kids make a mistake. And I forgive them without beating them up or torturing them in fire or crazy things like that – I just let it go – THAT is what forgiveness is.

BTW, I said “Jesus is Lord!” so you can compare it to 1 Corinthians 12:3. And if you think “Heaven” is a physical location in the universe, you haven’t yet understood what it meant to the people back in the time of Jesus with their ancient cosmology. Heaven, more often than not in scripture, is a euphemism, not a physical location.

He: you are born a child of God who sins? You are wrong, just like i said you read the bible but your word doesn’t align the scripture. First John, 3:9 – Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Me: Commit means “continually practices” – and I don’t continually practice sin. It’s another unfortunate translation that has led people astray and thinking that God requires human perfection from us when God doesn’t. Also, when you pull just a verse like that and don’t read it for what the original author meant the original hearers to understand, you do injustice to scripture. The same author wrote this just a chapter later:

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Did you catch that? “Everyone who loves HAS BEEN BORN of God and KNOWS God”. Did you see any conditions placed upon that? No. Just the fact that love evidences our new birth.

We’re all born once without our permission… we just realize it later. Same things goes with the second birth. 🙂

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