Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Judgment sustantiates the Gospel

Some thoughts from a recent discussion board conversation with one of my best friends, a fellow brother in Christ. We have these conversations to hammer out issues. His post is in bold, my response is not. If this is helpful, I'm glad - it's long. If not, feel free to skip over to the updated Born Without Bones post.

Why would God make judgments? We are the ones that choose...God remains the same, therefore there is no judgment only existence.

To set the groundwork, we must accept that God indeed does make judgments. One only needs to read Exodus or any of the Gospels to see that God pronounces judgments, temporally and eternally. If we can agree on that then the why becomes even more important. It should be noted that so-called temporal judgments for Christians and Non would be different and for different purposes.

The fact of the matter is twofold: 1-We do choose. 2-God does hold us accountable for these choices, thus judgment is due and just. The connection is difficult, admittedly so, especially for me - as I would affirm God's sovereignty. However, it is exactly because we are the ones that choose that bears us the responsibility of consequence. I don't understand it fully, but I accept it because it is what is clearly taught in the Scriptures. (I'm still working on it.) It would be quite foolish to discard an idea as not true simply because I don't fully understand it.

I'll leave it at that for brevity's sake.

Main idea: Because there is a standard set (that God has in place for our good and his glory) there is the possibility of judgment. These standards are what bring God the most glory and us the most joy. When we break the covenant or ignore it, there is righteous judgment. For the Christian, Jesus absorbed it; for those who reject Christ they must take it on themselves. Hence the gospel is indeed good news for the sinner.

I suppose I was speaking of a peculiar transcendence...perhaps a bit of enlightenment that necessarily flows from the teachings of Christ; that in the end, the babble of our moralistic reasoning is inconsequential. Christ taught of love as if it had nothing to do with our judgments. It seems when we give up thinking about what is right or wrong, which in the end is perhaps impossible to know; and, begin to look at love as the expression of the will of God, we find ourselves always looking beyond.

Our moralistic reasoning should be, but not always is, based on the commanded will of God that has been explicitly revealed to us in the Scriptures. It doesn't include wearing ties and not having Mohawks and being a republican, but it does include loving God and loving people.

I would argue that this love that Christ speaks about is only possible because of the presence of judgment. The gospel throughout the entire Bible is that God wants to be our God and us to be his people. This is amazing because he also tells us that we're a sinful bunch. But even while we were still such, Christ died for us. Even though we deserve wrath (righteous judgment) we can still be adopted as His sons. Thus, this love for God and People is only possible with a correct view of the Gospel.

[Quick aside] Christ's so-called enlightened teachings are only a fraction of his ministry. The Muslims and Buddhists speak of Christ's teachings as enlightened, because they don't believe or understand the full picture. That doesn't make me any better than them morally. We're on the same field in that category, but I boast in the Cross above their teachings as salvation based on the reality of sin and redemption.

Do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, love thy neighbor as yourself, love your enemies, give to all that ask. All these things are nonsense or require vast amounts of human reasoning to justify. I suppose the key piece to this enlightenment is to give up all holds on a world stuck in the division between God and man. Let our judgments fade and our living begin.

Well, it's not as bad as you think. Love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemies, and give to all that ask, etc. have a pretty basic rationale. While I wouldn't consider this an exhaustive list of whys, I would submit:

We love because God first loved us. With such perspective we can, by his grace, love him back. In so doing we love people for many reasons: God tells us to, they bear the image of God, they are fellow sinners who need compassion, etc. When we love in this way, we make God look great and deserving of our life and love.

The reality is that we live in a world where we MUST distinguish between God and Man. But that distinction is not the problem. People are already pretty good at making themselves god. There's no need to philosophically "let go of" anything. We must hold fast to the whole truth that Jesus taught if we're going to do anything that counts.

Lastly - sorry about the long post - let's acknowledge that ultimately God is on the only being with the right to judge us. It is commanded that we not let our hearts be judgmental towards other sinners - in other words, suffering from plank/spec syndrome. This heart puts the "sinner" below you in pride. In contrast, it is commanded of us by Jesus to love others by spreading the Gospel message. If we do not, I would submit to you that we are not loving, but rather are being selfish and/or have a diluted view of the reality that Christ paints.

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