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, October 31, 2010

Reformation Sunday - My 95 Thesis


Today is Reformation day. On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis. Issues he wanted the church to dialog about. I'm recognizing the guts it must have taken for Martin Luther and others to go against the flow of the established church.

Personally I'm not sure the work of the Reformation has finished. I'm doing my part by posting my 95 thesis, stuff I'd love to see the church dialog around:

http://jonjourney.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-95-thesis.html

Saturday, October 30, 2010

there the Devil would also build a chapel

"For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel." - Martin Luther

I find this quote interesting. I can't find the context. But can I make an assumption? Would Martin Luther be disappointed with where the protestant reformation ended up.... back in a bunch of buildings. Different leaders, different titles for the leaders, and some different theology... but a very similar structure.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Does your church promote drunkenness or orgies

Does your 'church' promote drunkenness or orgies?

Well I hope not... but I got your attention. :)

What about promoting or maintaining factions, dissensions and discord?

Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Interesting factions is listed so close to drunkenness and orgies. That would be a group of people who express a shared belief different from people who are not part of their group. Does this sound familiar?

Let's pray none of this is common in Christ's church!

Now I know I need to be pointing a few fingers back at myself. I am at times critical of church traditions and such. So it may seem like I'm promoting a sort of disunity.

But I don't want to promote any disunity.

No more protestants protesting the Catholics. No more Calvinism vs Armenianism or whatever. No Institutional Church vs home church. No more labels. Let's all just follow Christ and find our natural place in His body.

Yes, there will be discussions as we try to teach each other. And we may get emotional as we disagree about stuff. But at the end of it all, lets not label each other as if we are different factions. We are one whether we agree about everything or not.

"If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." -Jesus


(Thanks Bobby Auner for prompting these bizarre thoughts).

Related Posts:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gehenna

I was thinking about the typical Christian view of Hell again. I was wondering when people started viewing Hell as a place of eternal conscious torment.

Did the Jews of Jesus day hold this belief? Were the audiences of Jesus thinking this when He talked about Gehenna (that is often translated as Hell for us)?

Wikipedia on Rabbinical Judaism's view of Gehenna:

The picture of Gehenna as the place of punishment or destruction of the wicked occurs frequently in the Mishnah in Kiddushin 4.14, Avot 1.5; 5.19, 20, Tosefta t.Bereshith 6.15, and Babylonian Talmud b.Rosh Hashanah 16b:7a; b.Bereshith 28b. Gehenna is considered a Purgatory-like place where the wicked go to suffer until they have atoned for their sins. It is stated that the maximum amount of time a sinner can spend in Gehenna is one year, with the exception of five people who are there for all of eternity.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehenna#In_Rabbinical_Judaism
And:
There is much rabbinic material on what happens to the soul of the deceased after death, what it experiences, and where it goes. At various points in the afterlife journey, the soul may encounter: Hibbut ha-kever, the pains of the grave; Dumah, the angel of silence; Satan as the angel of death; the Kaf ha-Kela, the catapult of the soul; Gehinom (purgatory); and Gan Eden (heaven or paradise). All classic rabbinic scholars agree that these concepts are beyond typical human understanding. Therefore, these ideas are expressed throughout rabbinic literature through many varied parables and analogies.

Gehinom is fairly well defined in rabbinic literature. It is sometimes translated as "hell", but is much closer to the Catholic view of purgatory than to the Christian view of hell, which differs greatly from the classical Jewish view. In Judaism, gehinom — while certainly a terribly unpleasant place or state — is not hell. The overwhelming majority of rabbinic thought maintains that souls are not tortured in gehinom forever; the longest that one can be there is said to be twelve months, with extremely rare exception. This is the reason that even when in mourning for near relatives, Jews will not recite mourner's kaddish for longer than an eleven month period. Gehinom is considered a spiritual forge where the soul is purified for its eventual ascent to Gan Eden ("Garden of Eden").[23]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_eschatology

So we didn't inherit our beliefs about Hell from the Jews.

Jesus didn't spell it out clearly as I've pointed out here in my longest post ever.

Where did we come up with the idea that God's plans to torture billions of people for eternity?


Related Posts:


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Church Polity

I appreciate the coherent thoughts Alan Knox from the assembling of the church has put together on Church polity.

He has put together 8 posts in this series:
At issue is how we view leadership in a community of believers. It is common to have a few members make decisions on behalf of the rest. We typically view these as the leaders of the church. There are a range of ideas around how these governing bodies should be structured, and how much say the body or laity should have in decision making.

Taking a looking at Scripture, there isn't a clear winner between the 3 main types of church government that you frequently see in churches today (Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational). For example yes there were elders. But I think the similarities end with the label. Who selected the elders? How long did they remain elders? What was their role in decision making for others?

Alan suggests an alternate way... but it doesn't sound as practical or efficient. Is it possible we are to make decisions together - following the lead of the same Lord? It does seem a bit too idealist. But maybe no decision is better than a decision made by someone on behalf of others that may lead to disunity. If we can't agree together we don't move forward together. Or we wait until God does more work and we are ready together.

Anyways. If interested in this topic, Alan's series is worth the read.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sign Of Omission


Disclaimer: No, this is not a real sign. And nobody intends to preach half the gospel... we'd rather share the full gospel.

But do we emphasize the gospel message that Jesus and his disciples preached from town to town? Or do we focus on our unique understanding of an atonement theory?

Related Posts:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NBC reports on house church movement

Two related videos from NBC.
Reports that 6 to 12 million Americans are meeting in homes for church gatherings.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Discipleship

When most of us don't have hot clue about discipleship, it is easy to accept that there are a few who are leaders, shepherds, and overseers of the flock. They are gifted at leading, maybe it is best if we let them do all the disciple making.

If we were all making disciples, I think it would be easier to see that most of us are supposed to be leading, shepherding, and caring for the flock. It would naturally occur as we care for new believers, and are cared for by more senior ones.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who wants to be a leader

I read a comment somewhere by 'A. Amos Love' that got me thinking. It went something like this: "Jesus told His disciples not to be called leaders... and none of them did."

So. Is this accurate?

Did Jesus say we shouldn't be called leaders?

Matthew 23:8-12 (New International Version)
"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
No, Jesus didn't say "don't be called leader". But it does seem pretty close.

Similarly Luke 22:24-27 (NIV)
Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

'Leader' in the NT

A quick search of 'Leader' in the New Testament does give a few verses that use the word leader, like in Hebrews 13:7.


Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Young's Literal Translation is slightly different, Hebrews 13:17:
Be obedient to those leading you, and be subject, for these do watch for your souls, as about to give account, that with joy they may do this, and not sighing, for this [is] unprofitable to you.

Or Romans 12:8 (NIV)
if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
So, yes.... there will be members in Christ's body that will show leadership and lead others. As I write this... it sounds too simple and obvious. Of course there will be brothers and sisters that go before us. We will learn from and follow those who are living examples of what it means to follow Christ. You can't be a disciple maker without doing some leading.

But... the question still is: Did any of Jesus disciples call themselves leaders?

I can't find any verses. Maybe I'm searching the wrong key words. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

But here are some titles they did use:

Rom 1:1 "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,..."

Php 1:1 "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus..."

Col 4:12 "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings..."

Tit 1:1 "Paul, a servant of God..."

Jas 1:1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ..."

2Pe 1:1 "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ..."

Jude 1:1 "Judas, of Jesus Christ a servant..."

Rev 1:1 "...his servant John,"

Phil 1:1 "Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother..."

They also frequently use the title Apostle - one who is sent as a messenger: 1 Cor 1:1, 2 Cor 1:1, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:1, Col 1:1, 1 Tim 1:1, 2 Tim 1:1, 1 Pet 1:1

And 'The Elder" in 2 John 1:1, 3 John 1:1

Is it just a coincidence that those leading the early church did not call themselves leaders? Or is there a difference between leading, and being called a leader?

If the people we look up to for leadership like their positions of authority... those that follow will naturally want to climb the ladder as well. Young disciples will hope some day they can be leaders. They will think that is the highest calling. Is that what should be modeled?

But I think Jesus wants disciples that learn how to serve. So he wants those mature in the faith to humbly be examples of those who serve, so others will see how to follow.

P.S. don't follow me on this one yet...


Related Posts:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Concept Pictures of Places of Worship

I'm thinking of marketing some new products that will help people Worship God in different places. Here are some simple concept graphics of the plans I have under development.

My 'house of worship'


A special umbrella so you can worship God at the beach

Or you may want to worship God in your vehicle.



And a must have for everyone... you could worship God anywhere with this one.

Everyone would know what you were doing when you are under one of these structures.

Let me know if you think there is a market for these items? Would they help you worship God?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Playdough Scripture Psalms 23

The LORD My Pastor is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake....


Psalms 23 (Playdough Version)


OK, sorry. I know that sounds sacrilegious. My point is this:
If pastor means shepherd, and we call somebody other than God our pastor... do you see how wrong it can sound?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Pastor

I believe God calls us all to love and care for other members of His body, His church. Some people's gifting will bring them into unique opportunities to carry out this calling in different ways.

But what should we call these people?

In my circles, we've called some of them pastor, or lead pastor. What does the Bible say about the term 'pastor'?

In the Old Testament, it shows up a few times, depending on which translation you use. The words shepherd and pastor seem to be interchangeable. Different Hebrew words were used in these two examples, but they both seem to be connected to this meaning: to tend to a flock, to pasture it.

Jer 17:16
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
"But as for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd after You, Nor have I longed for the woeful day; You Yourself know that the utterance of my lips Was in Your presence"

American King James Version
"As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow you: ..."

Young's Literal Translation
"And I hastened not from feeding after Thee,..."

New International Version (©1984)
"I have not run away from being your shepherd;..."
Jer 3:15
American King James Version
"And I will give you pastors according to my heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding."

New International Version (©1984)
"Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart,..."

In the OT there were people that God called to feed and care for His people. But I wouldn't conclude from these verses the spiritual leaders of God's people called themselves pastors.

What about the New Testament? That is what we base our current church practices on right?
Well... the word 'pastor' only shows up once in most translations.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

So again, in the NT faith community, there were people that God called to feed and care for His people. But I wouldn't conclude from these verses that the spiritual leaders of God's people called themselves pastors, or lead pastors.

Let's compare the frequency of some words in the Bible:
  • 500 occurrences of the word Priest
  • 315 occurrences of the word Prophet
  • 150 occurrences of the word Minister
  • 34 occurrences of the word Elder
  • 27 occurrences of the word Preacher
  • 1 or 9 occurrences of the word Pastor (depending on the translation)
Or if we limit the search to the NT:
  • 150 occurrences of the word Prophet
  • 121 occurrences of the word Teacher (around 13 would apply to Christ followers)
  • 65 occurrences of the word Elder (around 32 would apply to Christ followers)
  • 9 occurrences of the word Minister
  • 2 occurrences of the word Preacher
  • 1 occurrences of the word Pastor

Shepherd?

There are 17 occurrences of the word shepherd, which has a shared meaning with the word pastor. Should we call these people shepherds? Or 'Lead shepherds'?

A few use the word shepherd like this:

Acts 20:28 (NIV)
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
1 Peter 5:2 (NIV)
Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;
But, no... we can't use this term ...We believe Jesus is our shepherd.

John 10:11 (NIV)
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 10:12 (NIV)
The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
John 10:14 (NIV)
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
John 10:16 (NIV)
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
1 Peter 5:4 (NIV)
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Let's pay careful attention to the heart of what Jesus says here:

Matthew 23:8-12 (New International Version)

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
IMHO... I suspect if anyone was going around calling themselves 'Pastor' in those days, Jesus would have added that to this list here too.

Shepherding, preaching, teaching, overseeing, caring for God's people is something we are called to do... and some will be more gifted at parts of this than others.... but I'm not sure if it should be a job title.

Related Posts:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Biblical Elders

So what does the Bible teach us about the term 'Elders'?

My first thought was to do a search for occurrences of the term. It turns out the word 'elder' shows up 194 times.

So my first observation is this:

Most of the 194 references to the term elder come from the Old Testament. When people use Scripture to support the way they define elders, do they ever look to the examples in the OT?

Did the elders in the OT hold a religious office? Or did the term elder simply refer to older wise men who were well respected in the community? I believe their culture had a role for elders to play within the family and community, but they were not necessarily viewed as their spiritual leaders.

Here are a few examples to consider:
Exodus 3:18 (NIV)
"The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.'
Leviticus 9:1-4 (NIV)
The Priests Begin Their Ministry
On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, "Take a bull calf for your sin offering and a ram for your burnt offering, both without defect, and present them before the LORD. Then say to the Israelites: 'Take a male goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb—both a year old and without defect—for a burnt offering, 4 and an ox and a ram for a fellowship offering to sacrifice before the LORD, together with a grain offering mixed with oil. For today the LORD will appear to you.' "

Deuteronomy 31:9 (NIV)
[ The Reading of the Law ] So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.
Joshua 8:33 (NIV)
All Israel, aliens and citizens alike, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the LORD, facing those who carried it—the priests, who were Levites. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.
2 Samuel 19:11 (NIV)
King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests: "Ask the elders of Judah, 'Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters?
1 Kings 8:3 (NIV)
When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark,
Ezra 6:14 (NIV)
So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.

Jeremiah 29:1 (NIV)
[ A Letter to the Exiles ] This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
Ezekiel 7:26 (NIV)
Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders.
(And also many NT examples outside of Christ's church like this)
Matthew 27:41 (NIV)
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.

There is a consistent distinction between elders and the religious leaders. I think the elders were simply older wise men who were well respected in their families and community. People in the community naturally looked to them for guidance and leadership. It was how their society functioned.

This concept is a bit lost in North American society, but we know there are still some cultures that function this way.

When we switch to the New Testament church, why do we think the term should support our practice of assigning a job title and job description to selected members for specific terms of service?

What do you think? Is there a link between the term 'elder' in the Old Testament with the term in the New Testament? Is it describing the same type of person? If so, why don't we look to the Old Testament as a model to how the elders functioned in the community, and not so much as a 'church' office or title.

OK, I plan to do more study on this topic soon.

Related Posts:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Playdough Scripture Col 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly Bible be the foundation as one of you teaches and admonishes one another the rest of you with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16 (Playdough Version)


Related Posts:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What is Simple Church



Enjoyed this video... thought I'd post it here. It's great to hear how God is working in many different people, directing them in a similar direction. May He be at the head of this movement.

http://www.site.house2house.com/about-us/welcome

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bless those who persecute you

Romans 12:14 (NIV)
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."
Typically I've thought about this verse when thinking about non-Christians attacking me about my faith - which actually happens far less than I've feared.

However, this verse is surrounded by commands on how to relate to other members of Christ's body... interesting.

Was Paul talking about persecution in the early church - by other members in the church?

We know that Christians have persecuted each other throughout history. We get passionate about our beliefs, and don't like it when others disagree with us.

So this passage reminds me to be prepared to be attacked for my beliefs. The attack may come from outside Christ's church... but just as likely from within. My response either way needs to be one of love.

Romans 12:9-16 (NIV)
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Responding to persecution with love is not my natural response. I'll need to die to self, and let God reign.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Take Up Your Cross

As I've been reading scripture lately I've been taking a new interest in references to the work Jesus did on the cross. I used to mostly think of the cross in terms of the Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory... but I'm now recognizing there are other aspects that I've overlooked.

What did Jesus have to say about the cross?

Matt 16:24-28 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
Matthew records Jesus saying something similar in Matt 10:38-39, and , Mark 8:34-38, and Luke 9:23-27. There is something to this passage that the gospel writers agreed was important.

So what could Jesus be asking of us here? By taking up our cross is Jesus asking us to pay the price for our sins like he did on the cross... no, I won't go there.

I think this lines up with what Paul talks about in Romans 6.

We used to let our own selfish ways rule in our lives. Jesus took our sins to the cross. He modeled putting sin to death. Jesus is saying we need to do the same. Our sin needs to die on the cross with Him.

Now with Jesus on the throne, we are now ruled by His will, guided by the Holy Spirit. In a sense we died on the cross with Jesus... our selfish ways are dead. The life we live now is Christ's.

Don't just take my word for any of this, read how Paul describes it in Romans 6.

Related Posts:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Signs that say it all





OK, maybe a bit harsh... This is not a reall sign, and this is not what I believe.

But what if Calvinists actually wrote on their signage what they believe.

Many Calvinist theologians believe that God hates sinners.

If God hates sinners, shouldn't we? We are to strive to be about our Fathers business... follow Jesus... etc.

The logic is crazy... so I put "Fun-Da-Mental".

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Difference between ransom and paying a debt

Paying a debt

Most Christians I know like using phrases like:
  • "Jesus paid our debt"
  • "Jesus paid the penalty for our sins"
  • "We need to accept Jesus payment for our sins"
I have noted for some time that none of these expressions are found in Scripture. But whenever I have tried to express this concern with others they don't seem to see the problem as I do.

In the paying a debt analogy. Somebody owes something to someone, and somebody pays the bill.

So we think of us sinners, owing God something (our lack of holiness?). Jesus dies to pay the price God requires of us so our debt is canceled. Instead of God killing us (or torturing us for eternity), God in a sense kills Jesus.

(Please correct me if I'm wrong... but I think this is sort of how the thinking goes.)


Paying a Ransom

Scripture does talk of Jesus paying a ransom

1 Timothy 2:5-6:
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time." (NIV)
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."
Hebrews 9:15 (NIV)
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

In the paying a ransom analogy some bad/evil force is holding somebody captive. Somebody with enough resources pays off the bad/evil force, and buys back or sets free what was captured.

In this scenario, we don't think of God as being the bad evil force that is holding sinners captive. I think it is our selfish (sinful) ways that are holding us captive. We don't have the resources to free ourselves. Christ's work at the cross defeats sin and sets us free.

Redeemed

Redeemed also shows up a number of times. It means to buy back. I think the logic is very much the same as the ransom analogy. Here is two verses:

Galatians 3:13 (NIV)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
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.

Are you OK with the emphasis that God is against us, but Jesus is for us?

I don't know why the work of the cross is usually described in a way that fits with the Penal Subtitutionary attonment theory instead of looking at the rest of Scripture. Maybe it's not this simple. I know theologians have been debating this for centuries. I just don't feel comfortable anymore with the emphasis this theory often gets.

There are also other ways Scripture describes Christ's work on the cross. I plan to do a few more related posts soon.

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