The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. The blog is meant to be a series however.
I can remember as a kid being confused about evangelical doctrine…actually, when I was a young man it was fundamentalist doctrine. Still, to me it always seemed like there was a contradicting message when you really looked at it. On the one hand, it was said that God is love and,has forgiven humanity in Christ, but, on the other hand, even after one is saved, you had better walk the chalk because God is an angry God who demands obedience.
When you look at this closely, you can see a further example of this double identity in the Calvinist-Arminian debate. But, wait a minute…when we really get honest with ourselves it is obvious that this double identity comes from reading the scripture. In the scripture we see that God is love, that he has abolished the enmity etc. And then, we see the anger and the chastening of the Lord. What can one do?
Well, if one doesn’t get a grip on different way to interpret the scripture the answer to the above question is give up…you can do nothing. This has been the frustrating state of so many evangelicals for so long. Their hearts are telling them that God is more loving than he appears in the scripture…but, there is no way to prove it with scripture…at least so they think.
Let’s examine a passage of the New Testament for a minute:
Rom 10:8-10 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); (9) because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Paul is discussing the word of faith, the gospel that they preach and he goes on to say that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you ..will.. be saved. In the KJV it says you ..shall.. be saved. Now then, this is a declarative sentence and if those are not the conditions for salvation then, the sentence is a lie. It can be no other way. There are no but’s, and’s, or’s. Face it, if that is not a true sentence all the time it is never a true sentence.
This is why Jesus and his apostles used a redemptive view of the scripture. What is meant by redemptive view? It means that the scripture must ultimately be viewed in terms of redemption and the salvation of God. A redemptive view demands that redemption take precedence over all else. When one looks at the finished work of Jesus this redemptive perspective becomes the driving force, the catalyst in all scripture interpretation.
These passages are known as the redemptive decrees of God. If the redemptive decrees do not have preeminence, then, there is absolutely no possible way to trust in the message of salvation and redemption and, we all are likely lost. God does not have a split personality and you can count on it. God is love. That means that God is synonymous with agape love and, agape love is unconditional love.
Over the next few posts we will take a close look at God’s decrees of redemption and hopefully we will see that there is a top down interpretation of the bible that allows the apparent contradictory reading of scripture to be completely cleared up.