Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Does God Hate the World?

Yikes... I'm having a hard time with this... it saddens me that some hold such a negative view of my Father, and are trying to spread this message about my Father. I don't believe this message is what my Father's lost children need to hear.

OK... this first one is a bit extreme, but I believe some caution should be taken as this is where the road of Calvinism sometimes goes:


I guess if you are OK believing that man is totally depraved and incapable of choosing to follow God... and that God has chosen that a few elect will be saved, and that He has chosen that the masses should be tormented in hell for eternity... it's not too far of a leap to believe that God hates the world.... but thankfully most Calvinists don't take it this far.

But then I was wondering what some other influential Calvinists' positions were...

Mark Driscoll:
"The whole “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” -- that’s the wrong place to start. “God hates you and its going to go really really bad forever!” – hey now that is true…"

(and earlier)

"It says it in Psalm 5:5 “I hate -- or it says, You hate all who do evil”. Now let this settle. People say things like “God doesn’t hate anybody!” Yes he does! He hates tonnes of people! He does. Some people say “that’s not fair”. Course its fair! You hate people! And God’s far better than you and he knows a lot more people!"


Jonathan Edwards
"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much in the same way one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: His wrath towards you burns like fire: He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire: He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in His sight: you are ten thousand times more abominable in His sight than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours." (Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God, July 8, 1741)
John Piper
"But it wasn't always so for John Piper. There was a time when the mountain of granite was not under me but over me, ready to fall and crush me. It was the mountain of God's wrath against my sin. God hated me in my sin.

God Hates Unrepentant Sinners

Yes, I think we need to go the full biblical length and say that God hates unrepentant sinners. If I were to soften it, as we so often do, and say that God hates sin, most of you would immediately translate that to mean: he hates sin but loves the sinner. But Psalm 5:5 says, "The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers." And Psalm 11:5 says, "The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates him that loves violence."
So these guys seem to agree that God hates sinners.

Does the logic then go that I should hate sinners too because God does?

Yes there are verses that talk of God's wrath, and hate towards sin and sinners. (Mostly in the OT).

But I believe we need to emphasize the following:

God is love:
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. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:7-9 NIV)
God loves the world (John 3:16).

God's love towards sinners:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
I believe the description of love 1 Corinthians 13 should apply to my God as well... so for the sake of this discussion I'm going to replace 'I' with 'God'.

1 Corinthians 13 (modified some)
If God speaks in the tongues of men and of angels, but has not love, He is only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If God has the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if God has a faith that can move mountains, but has not love, He is nothing. If God give all He possess to the poor and surrenders His body to the flames, but has not love, He gains nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
... (some skipped) ...
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Am I wrong in substituting God into the passage above? If God is love, then I think not.

Please don't portray my God as anything but a God of love!

Think about the story of the prodigal son... did the Father ever hate the prodigal son? If my children ever left me and ignored all my advice would I ever hate them? No! And I believe our heavenly Father has an even stronger love for all His children, whether they are in a restored relationship with Him or not.

OK... that's enough for now... I may look at more verses later... I'm seeing that this is a larger topic than I originally thought.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Whodunnit - Who Killed Jesus?

Did God kill Jesus? Was Jesus punished by God's just wrath in our place for our sin? I don't think so. But the question of who killed Jesus seems to come up now and then.

OK, I'm not sure I want to create some new theological position here, and give it a new name... or quite likely this isn't a new position at all... I'm just thinking this freshly for myself...

Is it possible to view what happened at the cross as Jesus being killed by our sins?

Did our sin kill Jesus?

Romans 6:9-11 (NIV)
"For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
Rom 6:23 (NIV)
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Rom 4:25 (NIV)
"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. "
Gal 5:24 (NIV)
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
Rom 6:11 (NIV)
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
1 Corinthians 15:3 (NIV)
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,"
1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."
1 Peter 3:18 (NIV)
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,"
1 Timothy 2:6 (NIV)
"who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time."
Titus 2:14 (NIV)
"who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."
Matthew 20:28 (NIV)
"just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

OK... so I can't find a verse that says "Our sins killed Jesus". But my logic goes like this:
  • Jesus carried our sins to the cross
  • the wages of sin is death
  • He died for our sins
  • He gave His life on his own will, His life was not taken from Him
  • He gave His life as a ransom. For a ransom analogy someone is being held captive by a bad power, and a payment is given to the bad power to free the captive. Who is the bad power holding us captive that the payment was made to? God or sin? Our lives were held captive to the power of sin, and Jesus chose to give his life, to take our sin, and free us from our bondage to sin.
So who done it? Was it God that killed Jesus? Or did our sin kill Jesus?

What do you think?

Are there other verses? That either support or disprove the thought that our sins killed Jesus?

Related Posts:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Playdough Scripture 1 John 1:7

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, agree on all our theology we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

1 John 1:7 (Playdough Version)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coming Full Circle

This journey I'm on started with recognizing Jesus desire for all his followers to be united (John 17:20-23). So I've tried to understand some of the issues that are keeping Christ's people from demonstrating love towards each other. As I look at the issues I question if any of the issues are more essential to our faith than Christ's command to love one another.

All Christ followers from thousands of different Christian traditions claim to:
  • believe in Jesus
  • love Jesus
  • follow Jesus
However they disagree on some lesser theological points.

I've thought that the different traditions would benefit from fellowshipping with each other. The different traditions have different strengths and emphasis that other traditions would be sharpened by if they acknowledged their common love for the same Christ.

Now as my journey continues, I'm being shown different things in my tradition that I do not agree with. There are some core pieces of reformed theology that I question is really core to our scriptures.

So I've come full circle. Can I remain united with my brothers and sisters who hold different views on some theological points. Or do I have to leave and search for others who agree with everything I believe?

When I put it this way the answer is clear to me. I join with Jesus as he prays for unity, that dispite some lesser differences we can recognize our shared love and commitment to the same Jesus. When appropriate I pray we can have dialog on issues of dissagreement, and that truth will prevail... but above all I pray love will always prevail.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lake of Burning Sulfur

In past months I've looked at verses used to support the idea that hell is a place where the wicked or non-believers live for eternity and are punished for eternity.

See first post questioning the doctrine of hell here, or everything tagged with hell here.

The way I read it, there are a number of verses that talk of the wicked or non-believers perishing, or dying, and not living for eternity. Those who believe and follow Jesus are the ones who get eternal life.

However I've come across a few additional verses that should be considered, so I'm just adding them here to help organize my thoughts on this topic.

Rev 20:10 (NIV)
"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Maybe the devil, the beast, and the false prophet are tormented forever because they are eternal beings, not mortals like us?

Rev 20:12-15 (NIV)
"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
Matthew 25:41 (NIV)
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
Rev 21:8 (NIV)
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."
These verse talks of an eternal fire... but it does not say if those thrown into it will live in the fire eternally, or if they will simply perish in the fire... and there are references to a second death. Second death may simply mean what it sounds like.

Is the message "Love me or I will torment you for eternity" a message of love? I wouldn't be questioning this if it was clearly stated in scripture, but I just don't see it there. To be destroyed or perish may simply mean that those who do not choose life with Christ do not get to live with Him eternally. Either way eternal life with Jesus is still the obvious choice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Playdough Scripture John 13:35

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you attend the correct Sunday morning event love one another."

John 13:35 (Playdough Version)

When we meet someone new and they claim to be a Christian, why do we ask "what church do you go to?" Does where we go Sunday morning define our relationship to God?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is Obama the Antichrist?

Growing up in evangelical churches I've run into many people who speculate on who the antichrist is or will be. Recently a friend showed me some youtube videos that made the case that Barack Obama was the antichrist.

I'm no expert at biblical prophecies, I haven't focused much on trying to figure stuff like this out... it usually just makes my head spin.

But I thought I should at least look at what our Scriptures say about the antichrist.

I discovered there are only 4 occurrences of the word antichrist in the Bible.

1 John 2:18 (NIV)
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
1 John 2:22 (NIV)
Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:3 (NIV)
but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
2 John 1:7 (NIV)
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

A few things to note here:
  • John was talking to people during his time, saying "this is the last hour"
  • There was more than one antichrist during the days of John. Note the plural antichrists in the first verse, and the word 'many' in the last one.
  • The word antichrist supposedly can mean 'false messiah' or 'false anointed one'
  • John labels people antichrist anyone who is trying to deceive others to believe Jesus was not Christ and did not come in the flesh.
So from these verses do we have reason to be looking for a future super antichrist? I think John was talking to people in his day to keep a watch for false messiahs. If there was a 'super antichrist' it may have been Nero or one of the other Roman Emporors of those days who claimed to be gods.

There's likely many false christ's in our day as well... but from these verses there is no indication that we are to be waiting, watching and speculating about a unique antichrist in our day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

If anyone has material possessions

1 John 3:17 (NIV)
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"

God loved us.

He gave His life for us.

God's love now lives in us.

His love will flow from us to the world around us.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some thoughts from Mexico

We're down in rural Mexico staying with a family who is building an orphanage, and has 7 orphan kids living with them now. We've had the opportunity to visit a number of 'have not' people, and it gets me thinking...

Why do we place such value on money... our culture seems driven by it... but does having more money really improve the quality of one's life?
"Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot." (Luke 12:15 The Message)
The quality of one's relationship to God in most cases does not improve with more wealth. There is always the temptation to rely less on God, and get distracted by all the stuff we have. When we thank God for our food, how thankful are we really to God? We have a habit of saying a prayer before eating, but why don't we say a similar prayer every time we fill up our vehicle with gas, or as we're making a new purchase, or get dressed in one of our many outfits? I've never heard of a family who closes their eyes and folds their hands to say a prayer of thanksgiving for cable TV before turning it on to watch their favorite show.

And do we get distracted too much playing with our stuff (TV, movies, internet, shopping, hobbies, home keeping, home improvements) that we forget our Father is with us.

Unfortunately I think if I had less I'd likely be more thankful for each little bit God provided, and would spend more of my life enjoying His love for me.

This week I've been blessed to meet some people who truly love God, you can really see it when they pray - yet they possess a fraction of the stuff most in Canada/USA do.

There's truth in Luke 6:20-21 whether we like it or not:
Looking at his disciples, he said:
"Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.