The Great Reversal

This might be kind of quirky, but I really am enamored with this topic.  For over a year now,  it has been like a shiny object that I hold in my hand or pocket and take out frequently to admire, study, and enjoy.  I am not sure if the fascination is because it is new to me or if it is just inherently fascinating.  Anyway, I appreciate the people in my real life and on the blog who humor me in my latest obsession.

So what did Jesus accomplish in his death and resurrection?

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Romans 5:18)

One has died for all, therefore all have died. (II Cor. 5:14)

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Cor. 15:21-22)

Who are the exceptions to “all”?

Just as death spread to all men through Adam, in Christ we all died and we have all been raised into new life.  We weren’t consulted about this.

The gospel has never been about qualifying people for salvation, it is about letting them know the really good news . . . that they are already loved and embraced by the Father.

What kind of questions does this raise for you?

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31 thoughts on “The Great Reversal

  1. The question it raises for me, then, is how “the church” go to the point where the gospel isn’t about God’s love for us but is about how I (that’s the big ME) can go to heaven.

    How far have we strayed from what Christ intended?

    1. Joel,
      I think about this a lot. I am surprised that there is resistance to this idea, and I have trouble understanding where and how things got off track. It also surprises me that there are many who have believed the “really good news” all along, yet that isn’t the message that became mainstream in christianity.

  2. Am with you 100% Linda. The Adamic argument seems so clear – one representative archetypal man does the business – fall or resurrection? Great to see young? Yeshua followers questioning the prevalent so called ‘orthodoxy’!

  3. Eph. 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

    Yup, that little word,all, messes everything up. I have been thinking about the same thing. Thanks for posting. Seems that instead of trying use “evangelism” to get folks to switch sides, we are reminding them just who they really are.

    Nothing is too wonderful to be true.

    Rom. 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

  4. What about Romans 10:9

    That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

    That’s a qualifying statement.

    The message I get from both the old and new testament is that it matters to God that we believe him above anything else.

    1. True Ruth, it matters to God that we believe Him and that we know Him. Why?

      What does “be saved” mean to you, and where does it fit in with dying and being raised in Christ?

      These are great questions for furthering our discussion Ruth. Anyone else feel free to jump in here also.

    2. Ruth

      The text is important but I think it translates ‘ is being saved’ i.e. continuously – in other words it is an experience within daily life. I believe that those who confess now have come into awareness through the work of Spirit but that those who haven’t will in the next life as they see Abba face to face. We are first fruits of the complete reconciliation job announced by Yeshua – the good news is to tell others that God no longer or indeed ever blocked the way for prodigal mankind!

  5. Linda I do find these scriptures refreshing that you’ve been pointing out these past couple of posts.

    I guess to me being saved means having my name written in the book of life. That I have a place in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Even though Jesus provided a way for all of mankind, my understanding of the scriptures points to the necessity of putting trust in that as one would put trust in a chair to hold up one’s weight.

    Prodigal – are you saying that those who don’t have that faith now will have a chance to get it when they meet their maker? I just don’t get that from the scriptures – but you never know it could be. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

    1. Ruth even Paul said we see through a glass darkly – Scripture doesn’t show us everything but hints at certain things. I believe the nature of Abba, the god of Yeshua points us to a physical and spiritual cosmos that will be at one. The dualism of Greek philosophy is an enemy of this reconciliation and restoration of The Garden. We read our New Testament Scriptures through Greek influenced eyes. The original Aramaic is a much richer language than Greek with layers of meaning that are hidden in our English translations. A book called ‘The Hidden Gospel’ by Aramaic scholar Neil Douglas Klotz will give you lots to think about.

    2. Ruth,
      As Jonathan said, the reality of our inclusion is established in Jesus. Our response (trusting) doesn’t create this reality. Our response determines how we experience the benefit of this reality in our life.

      Being saved as Prodigal pointed out is a continuous process rather than a single decision. We are being saved as we experience the life of God. Trusting, believing, and faith are vital to knowing and experiencing life with God here and now. The relevance of the gospel is as (or perhaps more) significant to one’s current condition as it is to their eternal destination.

  6. Linda, maybe you should keep your shiney little little things to yourself….its upsetting my apple cart:) Now I’ve got this almost-shiney-little-thing I don’t know what to do with. I’ll have to lay aside the trashy novel I’ve been reading, dust off my bookshelf, and start thinking again!

  7. OK then, my starting point is hell, since that’s my main objection to universalism. So far I’ve discovered that all the Bible translations actually paraphrase the original text (Gehenna – which means valley of Hinnom) and replace it with hell. The Valley of Hinnom was the place of child sacrifice by fire to Molech. Its a metaphor I don’t totally understand.

    1. David

      Get the book The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald and save yourself a lot of angst – every angle is looked at there.We have to understanfd that the Orthodox Churches of the East have a totally different set of teachings than our Greek influenced Western Church – e.g. sin is a disease to be cured not a set of actions to be punished etc.

    2. David,
      The reason that I do not consider myself a universalist is because I believe that choice is an essential feature of love and relationship. In Jesus, God accomplished all that is needed to reconcile us to Himself. The unknown factor in this equation is our response. Scott Morizot recently did a great series on hell that you might find interesting.

  8. John 3:16-18 – Jesus says that God loves the whole world then goes on to speak about those who believe and those who do not believe. One of the messages of these verses is that life has eternal consequences.

    “All” may be a great word for a person seeking black/white or all/nothing answers.. many enjoy this sort of fundamentalist approach to the scriptures. I find more life in the gray areas myself.

    1. Bob,
      I agree with you (and Jesus) that life has eternal consequences. As I tweeted last week, this life is about becoming acclimated to the kingdom. We live under condemnation needlessly when we do not believe what Jesus has done for us.

      1. My take on John 3:16 is a bit different Linda. When Jesus says “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” I take perish to mean something eternal. What is your take on it?

        1. @theprodigalprophet – No shock for me.. there always seems to be some special translation to support one’s position. Any English language translations work for you for this verse?

        2. Bob,
          My take is that God so loved the world that He gave His Son so that none should be lost or come to destruction, but that by believing we can experience His life. I take eternal life to be more than just the afterlife. It is the dimension of kingdom life that we experience through knowing God.

        3. @Linda – I did not hear you address the “whoever believes” part of the verse. Do you feel that this applies to believing after you die as well as before? If so why do you believe that people change after they die? It seems that time would have to exist because most change comes with time.. if that makes any sense.

          Agree that eternal life begins at a point in time. At what point do you think it starts?

          BTW, I do hope you are correct. I do hope that all will be in heaven. That said I see nothing in the scriptures that would cause me to dogmatically believe that they are.

        4. Bob,
          I would say that whoever believes experiences life. I believe that eternal life has and always will exist in God, that we were included in that life through the resurrection of Jesus and that we experience it here and now as (to the degree) we turn toward God and know Him.

          How would you describe what happens when a person believes?

          BTW, I have not said “all will be in heaven”. I’m not sure yet how to explain my thoughts on the afterlife, and I don’t know about people’s choices after they die.

          Thanks for the dialog. I always appreciate your perspective and friendly manner.

        5. @Linda: Here is how I respond to “How would you describe what happens when a person believes?”..

          Spiritual birth. I think that is why Jesus’ followed up his conversation with Nicodemus with John 3:16 and the following verses. Being born spiritually is the issue. If we say that everyone is spiritually born then it seems to water down the idea of being born of the Spirit.

          Appreciate your perspective and demeanor too.

        6. Bob,
          This is where our points of view differ (which is okay). As I said in the previous post, I believe that in Jesus’ death and resurrection he reversed the curse of death and reconciled mankind to God. Believing determines whether a person’s experience is one of darkness, perishing, and condemnation or participation in the life of God. The Spirit is at work in all of this revealing God.

          Thanks for the dialog.

        7. @Linda – I like and agree with this statement:

          “Believing determines whether a person’s experience is one of darkness, perishing, and condemnation or participation in the life of God.”

          I guess where our views might differ is that I would extend it past death.

  9. I know this. I once was blind, but now I see. It’s tough to trade in an experience for a theory.

    During a horrible experience in my life I cried out to the Lord – “Jesus help me”. That’s all I said. Over the next year – I started to see the Lord – in little things – in big things – in many things. On the day of my last final exam in college – my senior year – I partied all night long – closed the bars – closed friends houses after the bars – drank and drank but couldn’t get drunk – smoked joint after joint – but couldn’t get high. My friend dropped me off at home – it was 4:30 in the morning. He was wasted – I was sober. Right after he left – the Spirit of the Lord fell on me. I fell to my knees. I cried, I laughed, I was born again right there that morning in my living room. I had never heard the term “born again” until it happened to me. I was raised Presbyterian – that local expression didn’t use that term. 30 miles away – the same weekend – the same thing happened to my best friend.

    My whole life changed. I had an old Buick that I hated – the next day – I loved that car. I told my girlfriend what happened – her question: “Why would God save you?”. I told my parents what had happened – they said: “We’ll believe it when we see it”. I told my friends what had happened – one of them tried to kill me.

    It was not a universal, positional thing for me (I’m not arguing that there are not universal, positional things, but…) – it was a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. The day before – I never read the Bible – the day after – I couldn’t put it down. I was changed. Wherever I went – I couldn’t keep my mouth shut about Jesus. (I still can’t)

    Being “Born again” is not saying a sinners prayer – it’s having an encounter with Jesus Christ. I never said a sinner’s prayer – I said “Jesus help me”. 3 words that changed my life forever. He heard my cry – and lifted me out of a slimy pit. I think of Simeon – waiting for the consolation of Israel – and in comes the baby Jesus. “Salvation” is always an encounter with Jesus – not something we can do – but who HE is.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Jerry. Knowing God is totally experiential. It is a real relationship with a real God experiencing real life in Him. Knowing the Father in Jesus by the Spirit is my anchor and security in exploring these theological questions. If anything leads away from that, I’m not interested. And as long as I hold fast to God, I’m okay with asking questions and waiting to understand more.

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