Thursday, January 24, 2008

One

In June of last year, Bino posted a great blog that I keep going back to called "Dismantle the confession booths." The post is simply a series of Bible verses that show how, among other truths, we have already been forgiven. We don't keep getting forgiven over and over again, through confession of sins or through any other method or act. As I've previously stated, I've printed out all the verses (over two pages worth) and I'm using it to memorize many of the scriptures.

The scripture that I'm on right now is this one:
Rom 5:17-18
17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. (NASB)

I don't like pulling scriptures out of their context (like many people do with, oh, say, let me try to think of an example, hmmm - oh yeah, 1 John 1:9!), especially the above passage with the rich verses and chapters that surround it. Romans is definitely an epistle in which Paul used a lot of words at a time - many sentences and paragraphs - to form larger points. But yet if I keep the whole context in mind this is one of many smaller sections that are worth taking the time to memorize and meditate upon.

There is one word in particular that I want to focus on here. That one word is "one." It's such an important word when it comes to understanding the gospel! Why? Well, as the passage points out, the bad news - the condition that all of mankind has been in (sin, death, judgment, condemnation) - was the result of the transgression of one man, Adam. Sin and death entered the world through one man, Adam (oh yeah, context - see verse 12), and through this one man's offense, judgment came to everyone, resulting in condemnation. You never had to even commit one single sin, and yet you were condemned from the start because of the transgression of Adam. It's not fair, is it?

Well, the gospel isn't fair then, either! (Thank God!). The gospel - the good news - is also based upon what one man did! Whereas sin, death, judgment and condemnation came through one man's disobedience, the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness came through one man's obedience. Paul uses the words "gift" or "free gift" six times in Romans 5 and 6. The gift of righteousness and eternal life came solely through the obedience of one man, Jesus. You never had to even commit a single righteous act, and yet you've been given the gift of righteousness because of the grace of God given through the one man, Jesus!

Take some time and read through Romans 5 (not limiting yourself to that, of course) and see what it says about you, all because of the act of one man (having nothing to do with your own acts or lack thereof). Justified! Standing in grace! Saved from wrath! Reconciled! The grace of God abounding to you! Righteous! Reigning in life! Eternal Life!

13 comments:

  1. Joel--

    This is so encouraging!! I've been a Christian for 22+ years, but the "realness" of these verses is only now beginning to really settle into my heart, and change my beliefs and my behaviors. I was assured I was forgiven, and that heaven was my eternal destiny, but in the 'here and now', I was still so steeped in paralyzing performance-based religion. So much focus on myself, and 'how I was doing', and little joy in the truth that Jesus had truly done it all for me. When we do not walk in Christ-focused faith, but rather in self-focused fear, we lose our peace, and are not free to love others, because we 'need' to do the right thing for them, to gain or maintain our own sense of 'worthiness', rather than being so full of all Christ has done for us, that we lavishly give of ourselves, fully assured that our place in God's kingdom, and His heart, are forever settled.

    Kathy J

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  2. i am not sure whether others can take your penalty for the sins that you have committed even that someone is the son of god. i don't even know why such a judgment can be permitted considering, no court on earth will ever allow it.

    but such is the gospel we never questioned.

    but does it contravene jesus mission if the atonement story was different from what was conceived centuries ago by scholars?

    not at all. we need to understand the parables of jesus in much bigger perspective than your petty sins!

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  3. Kathy,

    Amen to all that! The self-focused, performance-based religion that I was heavy into also paralyzed me and most definitely did not produce any true godly fruit. So little joy and so little peace. We really do need to remind ourselves of the truth continuously, and really let it settle into our hearts.

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  4. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
    "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways,
    And My thoughts than your thoughts.
    -Isa 55:8-9

    Anonymous,

    I think we're dealing with a justice system that is a little higher than any court on earth. :)

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  5. Mat 5:17 Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to FULFILL.

    Lev 24:17 And he that smiteth any man mortally shall surely be put to death.
    Lev 24:18 And he that smiteth a beast mortally shall make it good, life for life.
    Lev 24:19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbor; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him:
    Lev 24:20 breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be rendered unto him.
    Lev 24:21 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good: and he that killeth a man shall be put to death.
    Lev 24:22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the sojourner, as for the home-born: for I am Jehovah your God.

    If you break the law, you pay the price. If you commit the crime, you serve the time. It is fair.

    All mortal laws can be traced to the laws of moses. God CANNOT/CANNOT/CANNOT contradicts Himself and will have someone serve your crime or lawlessness other than yourself.

    Having said that, the error is in the interpretation of the cross of Christ and the true gospel does not in anyway diminish its efficacy. The cross is very relevant today!

    If you get the cross wrong, everything goes wrong.

    You need to be born again to SEE the Kingdom of God.

    Lastly, in the words of Jesus to blind leaders: Mat 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him TWOFOLD more a son of hell than yourselves.

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  6. What's not fair is that we all inherited the sin of the one man, Adam, before we had even ever committed a single sinful act. What's also not fair is that Jesus did indeed fulfill the Law, and those who are in Him have the Law fulfilled in them, without ever having committed a single righteous act. I say "not fair" in both cases because in both cases we did nothing to inherit these things (sin in the first case; righteousness in the second). In each case it was because of what one man did.

    Thank God for this "unfairness." :)

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  7. what did adam do that plunges the whole human race into eternal condemnation?

    rape? murder? genocide?

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  8. Hi Anonymous,

    If the set of scriptures you read includes Genesis, you can read the original account there.

    If your scriptures contain the Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans as well as his 1st letter to the Corinthians, you can also read about it there.

    If you don't agree with or trust Genesis and/or Paul, that's fine. But then there's no point in continuing this conversation because obviously we'll simply never agree on the subject.

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  9. the lord said, let's reason. if it's not possible to reason, why asked it?

    so far, you have not gone into specifics. a point by point rebuttal on your part will be appreciated rather than dwell on general quotes. for instance, you mentioned one man sin black listed everyone. how so and what sin was that? i asked, was it rape? murder? the point is, was the specific sin reasonably 'sinful' enough to plunge an entire race into damnation? exactly what was that sin or the violation?

    fyi, i have read genesis and the book of romans. i believe god is fair. very in fact. but you seem to think he is not. could it be your interpretation is 'unfair'?

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  10. Hi again Anonymous,

    In this post I brought up Paul's words that explain it, and I also linked to an article I'd previously written that talks about this. However, I'll briefly spell it out a little further. :)

    In Genesis the transgression of Adam is made very clear. God told him he could eat of any tree in the garden, but not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam didn't trust God and chose to believe the lie. Long story short, he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Fast forward to Paul. He explains in Romans 5:12 that "...through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned...

    In a sense you could say that it's "fair" that all are judged for sin, "because all sinned," but yet it was through the one man Adam that sin entered the world. In short, Paul's point in Rom 5:12-14 is that since death entered the world through the one man Adam, all died.

    "But," he goes on in verse 15, "the free gift is not like the offense." By the one man's offense many died, but "much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ abounded to many." (vs 15) The next two verses then explain the judgment that came from the one offense and the justification that came through the one man, Jesus. Moreover, vs 17 says those who receive this free gift will reign in LIFE through the one, Jesus. :)

    Again, the gospel is not "fair," because receiving a free gift is not a matter of fairness in the first place! It's a matter of grace. Grace is not fair. Grace does not act according to what is fair and what is not fair. Thank GOD for the utter foolishness, nonsensicalness and absurdity of GRACE!

    The LAW is fair. I believe you pointed that out. The Law is holy and just and good. There is nothing wrong with the law. The law is so fair that Paul quoted from Leviticus 18:5, "the man who does those things shall live by them" (see Rom 10:5, Gal 3:12).

    Indeed, if a person is under the Law, the Law is a just and fair rewarder of both good and evil, resulting in blessings and curses.

    The good news is that we died to the Law. We had to, in order to be joined with Christ (Romans 7). The law no longer judges us because "you are not under law but under grace" (Rom 6:14) and "even when we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus..." (Eph 2:5-6).

    This exchange, of sin for righteousness, of life for death... is not fair. Again, it's a free gift. It's grace, through faith.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Eph 2:8-9)

    Paul's words, just before quoting the aforementioned words from Leviticus: "Yet the law is not of faith, but 'the man who does them shall live by them.'"

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  11. appreciate your effort to clarify - unlike some blogs i'd visited.

    jesus said that he is the alpha and omega - beginning and the end. all scriptures, from beginning(genesis) to end( revelation) speaks of, about things pertaining to him. problem is, the scripture is strewn with symbolism. as a case in point, jesus himself speaks in parables so those who can hear may enter in through the narrow gate.
    with that in mind, i assume we agree on that and that applies when interpreting the book of genesis? if so, then the tree of good and evil must symbolize the law? adam partook the law which resulted in him fallen from grace?

    you said the law is fair( which i agree), however, grace is 'unfair'. you then went on to say, because you are joined to christ, you are no longer under the law and the law judges you no more?

    my questions to you then are:

    1) since you are not under law( you are dead to the law in christ), does that mean you don't work at obeying its demand on you anymore? if not at all , where do civil laws feature in your life then? if you say grace helps you to obey the laws, aren't you going one big round and back to square one - subjecting yourself to laws again? does it sound like double talk, at the end of the day, still be condemned by the law?

    2) in regard to christ substitutionary death, how would you feel if the court punishes your son for someone else crime? i am sure no one with a sound mind can accept that, neither can you. but you will make an exception with God? only He can change the rules of the game because...His ways are "higher than ours"? since the bible says we are made in His image and likeness with Him living in us, does that mean as christians, we can change the laws too and punish innocent people for a crime they didn't do? wouldn't that be perversion of justice? why would anyone on earth, and in heaven, trust and respect God if that's the case? why even bother to obey the laws if the creator Himself openly violates it? how can He accused the pharisees of hypocrisy when He made Himself to be the biggest hypocrite in the universe for punishing an innocent being for our sins(lawlessness) or crime?

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  12. Hi Anonymous,

    As somewhat of a 'veteran' of online debates (going back at least 10 years - since the days of AOL 3.0!), I have to admit that I'm very tempted to keep this conversation going because this type of discussion is right up my alley. (I really enjoy all facets of it). I would really love to show you how I wholeheartedly agree on some things you've said (not the things you'd think) and passionately disagree with other things. I'm sure this conversation would have the potential to keep going and going and going like the energizer bunny. :) I've learned to have this type of conversation in very deep and very respectful ways with others (although it's sad that I generally haven't found that to be reciprocated).

    All that said, reality sets in, and there are a couple of reasons why I've decided to end this 'debate' here and now.

    1. It's not the purpose of this blog. Had I begun blogging, say 5 years ago, when I was very much into internet forum discussions, there's no doubt I would have begun a blog specifically for the purpose of shooting out doctrine! I do love doing that, but again, that's not the purpose of this blog.

    2. My motives and priorities have changed during the past few years. Long story short, I'm focused on other things in life and I simply don't have the time that I used to to devote myself to deep ongoing online discussions.

    Most comments and disagreements are generally welcomed here, but essentially this blog is for the purpose of mutual edification and encouragement between people who are already pretty much on the same page with things. I hope you understand.

    I do understand your devotion to the way you see things, and I wish you well as you find others who are willing to discuss these things with you.

    -Joel

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  13. you have been a gentlemen. your wishes therefore is much respected. believe me, it doesn't change my faith in God and in Christ. like i'd said, the cross is very relevant today. the main stream churches understanding of sin is seriously in error. the true message of the cross makes complete sense. the current message on grace vs law is full of holes. i agree that it will be too long to discuss this issue in your blog and may not be that 'edifying'. regard me as a devil's advocate...signing off!

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