Sunday, September 27, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly? Part 2

Rom 1:16-17 NASB  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Here is the second in this series, I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly. You can read the first one here, but I would suggest you do so after reading this. I am going to use a different version in each one of these for the sake of allowing you to see the subtle differences in translation. The first was the HCSB, and now I have used the NASB. These are a couple of my favorite translations, but most are good.

In this particular post, I want to focus our attention on the phrase from verse 17, "for in it the righteousness of God is revealed." I think the "righteousness of God" has at least two meanings in this passage. The first meaning that I will look at is God's justice or the justness of God, and the second meaning is a quality that allows one to stand righteous before God, guiltless and righteous. Paul uses the term in both ways off and on through-out the epistle to the Romans, and I believe that he uses it that way in all of this epistles. The context determines which use is appropriate and I would like to further suggest, to broaden our understanding that both meanings are inextricably linked.

First off, God is completely just in his dealings with mankind. The gospel proves it, and is the vehicle with which God meets out his justice to humanity. Secondly, and equally as important, being just, He has through Christ Jesus, that is, through the resurrection from the dead, reinstated his first claim about humanity after creating male and female (Gen 1:31.) Through the gospel he has declared that humanity is very good. That is why, when one apprehends the gospel by faith they are adjudicated righteous. I believe that the truth of the matter is that in Christ, the whole world was declared very good, righteous, but we only apprehend it during our days here on planet earth by faith.

This is why it is from faith to faith. Yes, in some translations it states from faith for faith but I guess both are correct. Here is what I believe Paul meant by the phrase from faith to faith. I will expand on this in the third post which is to come, but I must mention it here to help increase understanding of what the gospel actually is. Jesus alone had perfect faith. His faith, that God was His Father; that He was from God; that God was willing to forgive and save; that he could bring peace with God to all; that He was setting to rights what had been lost in the fall... He had faith in all of the above and more I have not mentioned or thought of for that matter.

If the first Adam brought death through unbelief, then it only follows that the *LAST ADAM* would reinstate life from belief. So then, two things are accomplished by this gospel. (1) God is justified and shows his justice by providing a way of escaping the fall, and (2) through the resurrection from the dead, God has proven that Jesus is righteous for his faith. Everyone can then apprehend His faith by faith. It is really quite simple. The gospel is simple. We will see this more and more as this series progresses, stay tuned!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly? Part 1

Rom 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. (17) For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

I want to begin a series that addresses the question; what exactly is the gospel? I hope it will be informative, and cause us to examine what we mean when we use the word gospel in our writing or in our speech. We must look into what Paul meant by the gospel. Why you ask? The answer is simple. His mission was to the Gentiles. Therefore, all Gentile believers especially, must of necessity, be interested in the gospel according to Paul. Paul lays it out in Romans like no other epistle.

Rom 1:1-7 " Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God's good news-- (2) which He promised long ago through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures-- (3) concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh (4) and who has been declared to be the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness. First of all Paul was singled out for the gospel. It was promised by the prophets in the sacred writings, but it was a story about God's Son Jesus Christ, who is Lord, descended from David, but was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection.

(5) We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name, (6) including yourselves who also belong to Jesus Christ by calling: (7) To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was made an apostle to bring about the obedience of faith to the Gentiles. The Greek word, translated as nations is ethnos and it is the word that is used when you see the word Gentiles translated. Take notice that Paul calls it the obedience OF faith. The King James Version erroneously translates it as obedience to the faith in Romans 1:5, but then, takes the exact same phrase and translates it the obedience of faith in Romans 16:26. That in and of itself is interesting and I have written blog posts on that alone, but that is not for this one at this time.

Rom 1:13-17 " Now I want you to know, brothers, that I often planned to come to you (but was prevented until now) in order that I might have a fruitful ministry among you, just as among the rest of the Gentiles. (14) I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish. (15) So I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. (17) For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith." Here is verse 13 it is spelled out that Paul's ministry was to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. This makes Paul's explanation, definition, and description of the gospel most important to us here in the 21st century who make up a mostly Gentile Church.

In looking at Paul's claim here in this passage, I think it becomes important and instructive to understand a little bit about the Emperor Cult, the religion of Rome. Caesar was known as the Savior of the world, who had brought salvation to the world, and he was also believed to be the son of God, and they called him Lord. The reason for this is that he had brought peace to the world Pax Romana but it was done by military force. It is interesting to me that Jesus, his followers, and finally Paul, use this same language about Jesus. In Paul's gospel Jesus is Savior; Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus is Lord, and Jesus saves the world by bringing peace to it.

However, Jesus does not do this by military force. He does it by resurrection from the dead, something that can not be said about anyone else including Caesar. Since Jesus followers lived in Rome occupied Israel, they were very familiar with the claims of Rome, and so it is not strange that they too would believe that Jesus meant to do it by military force. There are those today that still believe that ultimately Jesus will establish peace and his kingdom by military force. But, that was not what Paul or any of the writers of the New Testament were saying.

Paul was saying that what Caesar had accomplished in an imperfect way by imperfect means for the natural world, Jesus had accomplished on a cosmic, supernatural, spiritual level, that set to rights the world, and brought ultimate peace with God. It was a spiritual reality that transcends the natural. There is a lot more to be explored but this will do as a jumping off point with more to come in the next post.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Distorting the message and meaning of the scripture: Part I

Over the last six years, I have written many posts about the way that Jesus and His followers viewed scripture. They saw it as the redemptive narrative that pointed to Jesus the Messiah and His kingdom. Furthermore, they were removing the legal constitutional aspect of scripture that attended the old covenant and were installing a new and better way of achieving obedience. They were rejecting the read and do in favor of the believe and become. But even more importantly, they described a new and better catalyst for creating obedience. Paul called it the obedience of faith, and obedience of the heart.

You can find the operation and catalyst for the real transformation described in this among many blog articles found on this blog.  There are a lot more than just this one article so, if you find it interesting, and want more clarification, you can put "the transformation process" in the search box on the blog, and find several additional posts on this subject. It is my belief that understanding this process as it was explained by the first century apostles is the key to transforming the world around us, and bringing forth the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God.

However, current evangelical and orthodox doctrine ends up distorting the message and meaning of so many passages of scripture. The main reason for this is that current evangelical doctrine, and to a degree orthodox doctrine, focuses on a legal constitutional view of scripture. This makes it a law book and an instruction manual for all faith and practice. Doing this, actually voids the teaching of Jesus about the use of scripture, and leads away from the plan that will bring about supernatural transformation. As a result, we have many distortions of the scripture enshrined in evangelical doctrine.

This is the first blog post, in a series of the same name, that will serve as a guide and index for those to follow. I will briefly enumerate the distortions in this first post. Here is a list some of the verses that are distorted:

1. Hebrews 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

2. Hebrews 13:17 " Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

3. 1Co 14:40 " Let all things be done decently and in order."

4. 1Co 14:33 "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."

The above verses are used to distort the use of authority within assemblies, and bring about a kind of cultic obedience, elevating leadership way above anything that God intended. This is always the case with the legal constitutional view of scripture. It is problematic because it is used to control people in fairly abusive ways to allow the leaders to achieve their goals and keep people in subjection, in many cases, to their every whim. It brings about a kind of devotion that elevates men and women to the position that should only be held by God.

The truth of the matter is that all of the scripture was written to specific situations, and various different occasions. It is impossible to completely know the circumstances of the occasions, and therefore, it is impossible to know exactly what was intended in more than the way in which the literary and historical context allow. Yet, in the above passages of scripture, I hear pastors and leaders quoting them as though they are a hard fast principle that can be applied to every situation and that is just not so.

In fact, the common use of these scriptures in current evangelical doctrine brings about an unhealthy, authoritarian system that keeps individuals in bondage to their various assemblies, and prevents the atmosphere and teaching that leads to the transformation that I mention above in this post. It relegates the transformation process to a self reformation process that continually heightens guilt and fear.

Jesus said to the first century believers that "they would know the truth (Jesus), and the truth would set them free." Why are so many assemblies today putting people into religious and psychological servitude? Only the gospel, properly understood and proclaimed, will begin to overturn this sorry situation. I can no longer in good conscience remain silent. I am exposing the demon of religion in one of its worst manifestations. Stay tuned as this series will look at each of the scripture passages above, and show how they should be used.

The two overriding messages of the scripture

While this blog is dedicated to my paradigm shift it is also about the way in which evangelical Christianity is off the mark in doctrine and...