Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Justification by faith and Matthew 25:31-46; the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of salvation

Was Luther and Augustine right? Are humans born in sin? If the answer is yes and, yes, I believe it is yes, what is original sin? How is it connected with birth? These are questions that must be answered if we are to understand sin and redemption. I really would like to call it human pathology….the reason being….that evangelical Christianity has developed connotations about the word sin that are exaggerated and distorting.
The Hebrew word translated sin is chata and, it means missing the way. The Greek word for sin is hamartia and it means missing the mark…it is an archery term which means missing the bull’s-eye. There is a big difference between missing the mark and what evangelical doctrine has put on the word sin. The reality is that missing the mark is in fact a human trait. However, in the sense of the fall, missing the mark means being born into a world in which death is inevitable and the knowledge of good and evil is attainable. Facing mortality, being aware of mortality coupled with the survival instinct promotes selfishness and greed. Selfishness and greed is the source of all sin/pathology. Selfishness and greed is exacerbated by the knowledge of good and evil because we develop judgment and we then seek justification for our actions. I can see that this condition could easily be described as total depravity as it was used and meant by Luther and Calvin.
What is the cure for our condition? The answer is absolute faith in our eternal connection and acceptance with the divine. This is the reason that the resurrection and faith are important and, are an intricate part of redemption. On the other hand, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless and, visiting the sick and prisoners is the opposite of selfishness and it becomes a fair standard to judge by.
This in a nutshell is the gospel. The kingdom of God is available now and, faith in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ brings a settled faith in our eternal connection to the divine. The settled faith comes from the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that God is love, Jesus is the redeemer and we are eternally God’s children. The justification that we need is not our self justification. That is the source of wars and crimes and hate. We need to be certain that we are justified by God, by the source of all that is and that we are eternal and eternally connected to him. It is not merely a means for entering the covenant although it is that….but, it is also the way in which people can be certain of their divine connection.
People who are truly convinced of their eternal life can then be unselfish. They can feed the hungry, clothe the naked and provide shelter for the homeless. OK, I realize that there are many who have not believed in Jesus per se that are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and sheltering the homeless but, I would wager that there are few if any, who do not have an abiding faith in the eternal and, in the goodness of their expression of the divine no matter what that is to them. Jesus is the one by which God became incarnate to show us how God would be as a man. He demonstrated perfect faith in the father by being willing to die so that we could be convinced of the resurrection. The sin that he died for is unbelief. That is why faith is obedience. The writer of Hebrews explained that without faith it is impossible to please God because one must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who diligently seek him as God.
This is precisely why the community of faith should be living out these social justice principles so that people everywhere will inquire about such love and kindness and we can then explain that is the result of Jesus and the gospel. While we miss the mark all the time, we can do the works called for in Matthew 25:31-46 and, if we are busy with that task we will often be too busy to miss the mark in other ways. That is why Jesus hit the mark for all of humanity.
You can find posts that explain various positions of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. I say very often that we are that walking epistle; that walking Bible and if we as Christians do not live what is written and show to others that we not only talk the talk, but we walk the walk. It will not mean a hill of beans for those who don’t believe because we will only look just like them and that would not bring them to Christ.


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