Reconciled

Well, I’m supposed to be writing my final papers, but instead I’m thinking about sin, depravity, Adam, and the second Adam.  This is a thinking out loud post, so be aware that it is process, not necessarily conclusion.

Maybe some of you wonder about these things.  What exactly happened in the garden?  Sin, doubt, idolatry?  And what is the curse of our fallenness?  Sin, shame, blindness?  What is it that we were baptized into in the first Adam?  Depravity, disease, death?  What have we been baptized into in Jesus?

I Cor. 15 – For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

It is interesting to me that Christians of almost every type are willing to accept the totality of the effect of the first Adam, yet immediately limit the effect of the second Adam, Christ.  Surely the actions of the second Adam are at least as impacting on mankind as the act of the first Adam.

Hebrews 10- Jesus sets aside the first to establish the second. We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. When this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins…by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The corruption has been set aside, not through our actions, but by Jesus.  It was the will of Jesus and the Father to accomplish this through His sacrifice.

II Cor. 5- The ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Our message to the world is that they are already reconciled to God, they are already loved and embraced by the Father.  That is the good news.  God is not counting their sins against them; he has already dealt with that problem.

That’s enough for now, maybe Romans 5 in another post.

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30 thoughts on “Reconciled

  1. I am with you Grace. Once you have some reading time, I can’t recommend the 2 volumes of T. F. Torrance’s enough (The Incarnation and The Atonement). Mind-boggling with grace! I’ve underlined too much already.

    They are not easy reads in part because they are edited theological lectures but more because they challenge so many foundation stones of the way we’ve accepted limited atonement (be it Calvinist or Arminian). It is a paradigm shift that makes the Good News really good.

  2. Agree too Grace – a limited atonement takes away from the Glory of God and the Good News part of the Gospel – have we been selling a false Gospel to the world since the Protestant Reformation!!! No wonder they reject it – they can see how it diminishes God even if we can’t.

  3. Your conclusion that, “…Christians of almost every type are willing to accept the totality of the effect of the first Adam, yet immediately limit the effect of the second Adam, Christ,” is as interesting as it is accurate. Considering the verses you selected, one might wonder if the apostle Paul’s mission was simply to deliver the (unbelievably good) news that, although the world was mangled by Adam’s sin, it is (has been? will be? is being?) redeemed and made new through Christ. This line of thinking suggests that redemption requires no action on our part; what action is required was performed by Christ alone. What value is there in delivering such a message? The value of hearing this message lies in the hope conferred on the hearers, who struggle to live in a hopelessly mangled world. However, does such a view suggest that Christ’s redemption, like Adam’s sin, is applied universally?

  4. Grace, I think we limit the second Adam to maintain the exception, which we then use to apply to ourselves. It’s a nasty trick that replicates the first, but it works, and we use it.

  5. Are you then suggesting that all who reject the gospel, or even the notion that there is a God at all, have been redeemed, reconciled, and baptized into Christ anyway?

    1. I am suggesting that, according to Scripture, they are reconciled although they may not be living in the understanding, light, or reality of that reconciliation. That is tragic, isn’t it.

      1. Agree again Grace

        Have you been reading ‘The Evangelical Universalist’ by Gregory McDonald?

        He uses a similar argument based on some of Paul’s teaching.

      2. Charlie, I haven’t heard of him. I don’t think I’m a universalist (not that there’s anything wrong with that) because it seems that each person has the potential to reject relationship with the Father. However, I believe that the extent of His pursuit and mercy is beyond what most of could imagine.

  6. C.S. Lewis’ perspective is pertinent. Based on my reading of The Problem of Pain, all are redeemed save (no pun intended) those who explicitly, actively tell God that they want absolutely nothing to do with Him, His people, or heaven. This is the view that, I believe, is held by Robert Capon as expressed in Between Noon and Three. It is my own view that the missionary effort is aimed principally at announcing this good news and, especially, conveying the life-changing implications of Christ’s redemption for everyday life. (Keep in mind that I am no theologian. I am just trying to put one foot in front of the other as I move through life.)

  7. Oh Oh…now you’ve done it. It’s like Jenga Grace, there’s only so man pieces you can pull out. You should have left that one a lone. Now it’s fallen down.

      1. LOL, I have absolutely no doubt your within bounds. But, the conversations, you, I and others are having is in a sense like Jenga. The modern evangelical church has constructed a model of systemic theology on atonement, from fragmented pieces of the larger story that is dysfunctional.

        Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. God loved us…” before we loved him.”

        I mean place that piece on our tower of theology, really causes the tower to teeter. It should challenge the whole way we do this thing we call evangelism. Just a thought…

      2. What else have you got to back up the “not counting sins” part? I’ve got the Great White Throne drama playing through my mind and the two seem to conflict. How do you reconcile those?

      3. David Olson, We’re a bit off topic as you’ve leaped from reconciliation right to Great White Throne in Revelation. I have no doubt the Revelation is a piece of Divine inspired scripture. But, I don’t take it anymore literally than I do the book of Genesis. For one it is a writing that is extremely futuristic, prophetic and filled with metaphor. There will be some kind of Judgment…yes. Will it be as literal as the highly visual images of Revelation…I don’t know.
        But what I do know is what Jesus said around judgment especially in Matthew 25:31-46. Even here it challenges the biases of our theology especially our theology of justification, that faith alone gets you in the door, that I mere confession of faith…I believe in Jesus, may not work.
        I think Grace is exploring a very important aspect of theology, that of reconciliation…we spend more time exploring the “us” part of the equation. Us reconciling ourselves to God. But the angle that God has always reconciled himself to us…is radical and scandalous. Can we believe he could be like that…

      4. Good thoughts Ron. David, How about Hebrews 10? The priests offered sacrifices daily for sin, but the sacrifice of Jesus was “once for all.”

        Having been taught an intimidating view of judgment, it has been helpful for me to interpret judgment through the lens of the Father’s love. Judgment is when things are set right again, restored to the way they should be.

        If we’ve been told that “Dad” is angry with us and “we’re going to get it,” we will be fearful of his return. However, if we know that our “Dad” is riding to the rescue to “make it all better,” we anxiously await his judgment of all things.

        Here is a link to an earlier post that I wrote about the end times and judgment.

  8. I’m hoping one sacrifice is enough – to reconcile us, oh I mean “all of creation” to Himself. The Kingdom of God is here not over there …

    I am really enjoying your train of thought and have been posting similar – the comments are great and more importantly constructive and refreshing.

  9. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14,15

    To men, this does not sound like Jesus describing people who are simply “reconciled but not living in light of it”…

    There are simply too many instances of Jesus addressing the matter of sin to list them here. Just do a search for “sin” or “repent” in the N.T., and that will keep you busy for a while…

    While we may prefer to try and find some way of avoiding the belief that some (in fact most) will be lost while simultaneously not fully embracing Universalism, there really is no wiggle room for some third option.

    Look in Luke chapter 8…

    What does Jesus say in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? He says, “I tell you that this man (the tax-collector who confessed his own sin to God), rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (vs. 14)

    Then in verse 17: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (sounds like a condition there…)

    Then immidiately in vs. 18 Jesus is asked,, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    Does Jesus respond by saying “Absolutely nothing! You already have inherited it, you just haven’t experienced the joy of this truth…”???

    No… Jesus responds: “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”

    “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

    When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.

    So this guy comes up to Jesus and asks a sincere question about entering the Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus lets the guy walk away sad…? This rich guy is unwilling to part with His worldly status and comfort in order to follow Christ, and wound up being an example to all of us that not everyone is willing to trade their pitiful earthly existence for an eternity with God. He approached Jesus, not the other way around. He wasn’t trying to trap Jesus with his question (as the Pharisees did), but was asking a real question. He was what we often call a “seeker”, He didn’t clench his fist to heaven and denounce God, He thought He wanted God’s Kingdom, yet still, when Jesus revealed the inward reality of His heart, it became clear that in reality he did not, and he went away sad…

    1. Daniel,
      I agree that sin is a very serious issue. Jesus and Paul address it repeatedly because of its destructive impact in our lives. Repentance, by definition, is not guilt, shame, and sorrow about our behavior, but rather, it is turning to truth and living in the light of truth.

      Neither sin or repentance change God’s heart toward us. They change our hearts toward Him. You’ve given good examples. God’s love and reconciliation is something that we receive, like children. The problem for the rich young ruler is that there was nothing he could do to earn this life. As Jesus said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

    2. Just like the Rich Young Ruler – whenever you come to the Lord on the basis of your own merit – He will always send you away disappointed. He will absolutely lead you into a place where you are totally unwilling to meet the requirement put on you. Welcome to the planet – everyone’s here. All of us are this rich young ruler. Want to know how to fail? – Try a lot harder !!!!

      The whole reason for the LAW – is to show you that YOU CAN’T KEEP IT – and thus – you need Jesus. Instead of trying to convince us all that you are willing to give up everything you have and follow Jesus – why not just admit your desperate state -and ask Jesus to help you?

      Jesus is bigger than my sin – and I am glad of that. There’s tons of things I’m not willing to do yet – until He changes me into something I’m not right now.

  10. Daniel, while the argument you make is not new you have failed to reconcile the basic fact that your argument does not consider what Grace has brought up. You can bring up verses that remind you of where you must accept it so you can count someone out, but you must ALSO weigh your argument against those verses that do not match your conclusion.

    What Grace is considering here is the idea of a different conclusion than the more traditional approach you have agreed to.

    1. What kinds of verses are you thinking about Jonathan? (that don’t match my conclusion?) Am I in disagreement with the fact that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love? Absolutely not!

      Are you saying that some parts of scripture suggest that only some are saved, while others suggest that all will be saved? Not really sure what you’re trying to say here. (and do you actually think my motivation is to try and count people out?)

      I guess I still don’t know what you mean by the more “traditional approach” that I have supposedly agreed to. Do you think I’m advocating that we just go up to people on the street and say, “Turn or burn!”? Cuz if that is the impression I have given I am so sorry. If it weren’t for the repeated and patient grace of God I would not be here right now.

  11. “It is interesting to me that Christians of almost every type are willing to accept the totality of the effect of the first Adam, yet immediately limit the effect of the second Adam, Christ. Surely the actions of the second Adam are at least as impacting on mankind as the act of the first Adam.”

    whoa, that paragraph blew me away. very nice.

    also reminds me of the last line of a letter shane claiborne recently wrote in an open letter to non-christians published in esquire:

    If those of us who believe in God do not believe God’s grace is big enough to save the whole world… well, we should at least pray that it is.

    Read the whole thing here: http://www.esquire.com/features/best-and-brightest-2009/shane-claiborne-1209#ixzz0YlpnqOMA

    nice post. peace.

  12. I definitely agree that Christ’s death is all that is needed for everyone, and I also agree that we can still foolishly reject that gift. Some are so deceived by the lie that they cannot see the Truth of God’s Love.

  13. I am a missionary and unabashedly share the gospel with people around the world. I don’t think this viewpoint at all threatens people sharing the Truth of the gospel! If anything it drives us forward because the battle is won, His Love compels us, and there’s nothing to do but point to the Truth and pray that people will be freed from their deception.

    1. That, Bryan, is a way of thinking and living and telling that has taken me over 50 years to grow into. It is so freeing to understand that my acceptance before the Father is not based on my ability to sell the goods and God’s acceptance of those I am brought into relationship with is not based on whether or not they buy my wares.

      You’re an encouragement, bro.

      Grace, your spike drivin’ is exquisite .

      T

  14. Bryan has a perspective that I would say 99% of Western professing Christians do not have; intentionally and passionately presenting God’s Word in an unreached, and often hostile culture. Here you take your theology out of the region of the abstract. Either it’s God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will attend its proclamation – or it isn’t and we are like fools wasting our time. I have seen miracles- both in the physical realm of healing, and the spiritual realm of absolute changed lives, just through presenting the New Testament (without commentary) in audio to Hindu and Muslim audiences. Being presented in an Eastern culture, I am always amazed at what passages God uses to get the listene’rs attention to open their hearts. They are seldom the typical ‘evangelistic’ passages we use here in the West. I know a young Hindu woman who turned her heart to Jesus when listening to the very first chapter of Matthew she heard the geneology of Jesus being read. “Our god’s have no ancestors,” she said. “Your Jesus has ancestors and lived as one of us.” God had her full attention, and by the time she got through the book of Mathew she gave her heart to the Savior of the world. While many of us spend volumes of time studying God’s Word, debating what it might mean, how much of it can be taken literal, developing our “inside” and “outside” lists, and becoming complacent in our abstract theories, millions continue to stumble in darkness because no one bothers to leave the comfort of their pewed positions and carry the light out. If Jesus indeed bore the penalty of the sin for all of humanity, let’s get out there into the pregnant fields of harvest and open God’s Word. Not just in strange unreached populaces half a world away … but right here in our own neighborhoods, schools and cities. Let the Holy Spirit prove whether it’s God’s Word or not.

  15. Am I so enjoying this or what? – and your guys thoughts as well …

    The ministry of reconciliation is more than just dealing with sin (shame? fear?) –

    In the Greek way of thinking, the body is bad and the soul is good, so only the soul matters. But in the Hebrew way of thinking, God values both the body and soul. In the Bible, the blessing of God on a person’s entire life is called “shalom.” In kingdom-based social justice, Messiah Jesus brings the “shalom” of God to people in need. He brings the “good news” of the gospel for their souls, along with food, clothing, comfort, justice from oppression, or other help.

    Sorry Grace … can I ask another question?

    Does Jesus wait for people to come to Him, or does He take His message to them?

    1. I believe Jesus is consistantly drawing people to Himself , working in their lives (though we don’t percieve it) and moving with patience until we recognize Him. So I think both are happening at the same time… He’s excellent at multi-tasking:)

  16. Mark

    He has always graciously kicked in the bolted front door of my life!!!! I don’t just think He stands at the door and knocks!!! Anyway that verse in Revelation is about Him trying to get into a Church – not an individual’s ‘heart’

  17. Just stumbled on your site through a Google search. Thanks for posting.

    The first paragraph sounds extremely familiar: thinking about theology with final papers looming in the background… then writing a process instead of conclusion post.

    Nice. I enjoyed reading.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

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