Just started to get interesting

Discussion in 'The Commons' started by Tiffy, Aug 14, 2023.

  1. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Pity that 'Evidence of earth's age' was closed down, due to someone getting 'too hot under the collar' about things. Thus the subject never really gets properly debated on any forum I've seen so far. The atheistic forums squash it when rational arguments are put forward supporting the case for Discipleship of Christ in an otherwise Godless world. Christian forums tend to squash it when rational debate begins to get weighted behind a sane and rational interpretation of the scriptures rather than the naively simplisic literalism of some fundamentalist religious protagonists. Hence we rarely get a balanced discussion of the real issues, for and against evolution on the one hand and the enduring faith of Christ's church on earth, on the other.
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    This was my final contribution to the thread that got cur-tailed, (like the dog watches at sea).

    Here's where things get difficult for some to understand.

    Many Christians believe that without repentance (an act involving a 'turning around of ones life' and a 'renouncing of sin'), one cannot become a Christian, therefore cannot have been 'saved' by Christ's atonement.

    I know many 'fundamentalist, bible believing' Christians who are of this opinion, I'm sure you all know of them too. It is a pretty standard belief even among the most liberal of us believers.

    But what most of them still are unable to grasp is that Christ died for them 'while we were yet still sinners'. None of us whether Christian, Jew or reprobate atheist had repented WHEN Christ 'Died FOR US'. - We repented, if we did, BECAUSE Christ died for us. The atonement brought about for us happened on HIS DEATH, not on our repentance. His death happened, 'while we were yet sinners', long ago, before we ever repented. In fact before we were born.

    So in a very true sense those Christians who believe unrepentant sinners are not covered by Christ's atonement, and are therefore not 'elect' and therefore not 'saved' by what Christ did through his death, are confirming the notion that nobody can die for someone else's sins and have them forgiven. Supposedly, only by repentance within the heart of an individual can atonement take place between the person and God, therefore there would be no atonement for them, unless they repent.

    This leads me, at least, to the conclusion that either Christ died and atoned for the whole human race BEFORE they became repentant of sin or we, through our act of repentence secure our own salvation by at last becoming repentant and finally believing in Christ's death on our behalf.

    The second option seems to me to be unworthy of Him and what he did for the whole of mankind.

    I just wonder if it might actually be the 'false gospel' we are told of in the scriptures. Paul called it 'another gospel', presumably based upon something that WE have to do, rather than on something Christ has already done. Once, and for all.

    Responding to the true Gospel is truly a repentant heart toward a merciful God, but surely the grace of God does not DEMAND repentance from sinful mankind, before forgiveness is even on offer from Him? Repentance is a response in gratitude to God's saving Grace, not the price or a condition demanded for obtaining it.
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    Last edited: Aug 14, 2023
  2. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    At the risk of once again being ganged up on and lambasted, :cry: I will venture to comment. :discuss:

    I think the greatest significance of the word "repent," in most of the places where the Bible uses it, lies in a change of mind (which in the context of faith also results in a change of heart). One of the Greek root words is indicative of thinking and comprehending. Was it you, @Tiffy , or someone else on the forum who recently wrote that repentance and believing go together? I think they do go hand in hand.

    To believe (as a final conclusion) that Jesus died to redeem one from one's sinfulness, one will also believe (as a corollary) that one is a sinner in need of redemption, and comprehending those two truths is (in and of itself) a change of mind. That change of mind generally will include a degree of regret that one has done so much wrong in God's eyes, dismay that Jesus had to die for the person's redemption, and gratitude for God's gracious gift. But this "repentance" is not something that is "worked up" by the person; it either happens or it doesn't happen. The person either comprehends or he does not.

    Likewise, arriving at faith in Jesus as one's Redeemer is part and parcel of that comprehension. No one can "whip up" faith or manufacture it. Either one comprehends mentally & spiritually and thereby turns (from unbelief to belief), or he does not.

    Thus, I do not agree with the characterization of 'works' which some people apply to repentance and/or faith. By the grace of God and the kernel of faith he places in each one, each person either comprehends and allows his mind to be changed by God, or that person refuses to comprehend and believe. Therein lies man's free will: one chooses whether to receive, or to stubbornly push away, the grace of God. (The vast majority of human beings refuse, either consciously or subconsciously, and that is why so few are saved.)

    Perhaps an illustration is in order. Suppose I were to offer you a genuine Rolex watch. If you desire a Rolex and you believe my offer, wouldn't you reach out your hand to accept it? If I am faithful and true (as God is), I would deposit the Rolex in your hand. Have you worked to receive the Rolex? Not really; working to receive it would involve handing me remuneration for the watch, or perhaps coming over and ripping the watch off my wrist! All you have done is, believing me, you opened your hand to receive what I offered. Faith is akin to the open hand or the outstretched arm; through faith we receive what God places in our open hand, but we are not 'seizing hold' of grace by grasping or bargaining for it. We Christians have reached out to God in faith with an opened heart, assenting and desiring (not refusing) to receive what He promised to freely provide, and God did all the work: He renewed us spiritually and make an abode within us for our benefit.

    (But on the other hand (in the illustration), you might have chosen to refuse the gift. Maybe you don't like me, or don't trust me, or don't think the Rolex is genuine. Maybe you simply don't want a Rolex, or you might think you have the ability (and you prefer) to obtain a Rolex by some other means. Some people refuse to believe in God, refuse to believe His offer, don't want the offer, or prefer to think they can earn the offered salvation by their own means.)

    In other words, No, we do not "secure our own salvation" when we repent and believe. Consider all the times in the NT where we are exhorted to repent and to believe; surely we are not being exhorted to "secure our own salvation" in all of those scripture verses!

    With all that said, once a person arrives at that point of repentance and faith, the Holy Spirit moves in and 'sets up housekeeping'. The person receives spiritual insight and is moved by the Spirit to eschew further sin and to cooperate with Him in loving others and doing good.

    Not that anyone ever cooperates very well, but that's another matter. Even when one has received God's grace through faith/repentance, the temptation and proclivity to maintain our own control (rather than follow the Spirit's gentle guidance) is always present. No one ever succeeds perfectly. But God knows when a genuine change of mind and heart have occurred. And we know He hears us when we admit our faults and apologize.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2023
  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Taking your illustration itself as an allegory of the atonement of Christ I am prompted to ask you to consider the following points.

    The Rolex watch was not ever offered to us, it was actually offered to God, who accepted it, because it was, in effect, God that had offered it to God. Christ was in fact the offering, on our behalf. The Lamb of God. The Son, to the Father, of an indivisible God, who by the giving and accepting of the offering redeemed mankind, the whole of mankind, which was under the curse of the law, (before any of them ever stopped sinning and before most of them were even born). The Genuine Rolex watch therefore was not something offered to the human race, which they had the power to refuse, since their salvation happened before even the foundation of the world, while they were still spirit, with God

    "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;"

    The analogy would more accurately be your car insurance premium having been paid by a rich uncle of yours, once it became due. You being informed by your insurance company that it has already been paid, but you being unbelieving continuing to try to pay for it yourself or alternatively accepting your uncle's gift, while still continuing to deny his existence to the insurance company, even though they keep insisting your insurance premium has been paid for you by someone else. You are in fact insured, even though you don't believe yourself to be so.

    You are right though I think, atonement can't work, for the faithless, until they accept that their insurance HAS been paid, by the uncle whom they duly accept the existence of and are sincerely grateful to, to the extent of listening to and following his advice, (as far as they can understand it), on how to live on earth and how to treat others living on earth along with them. i.e our neighbour, however remote. But that stuff they then do through following their rich uncles advice didn't arrange their insurance premium being paid for them. THAT was entirely due to their uncle's love for THEM, even though they may have even denied his existence.

    If they continue to doubt the existence of their rich uncle they can have no personal ASS-urance of IN-surance, so if they ever had to make a claim they mistakenly wouldn't do it, and would cheerfully, or not, have to pay the full cost of a possibly very costly 'Car Crash'.
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  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Yet the story of both Peter and Thomas reminds us that God works will shaky faith as much as he works with resilient pure and pristine faith. That is because it is God who works for salvation, not us by the works of the quality of our faith.
     
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  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    That verse in Matthew makes plain that there are both sheep and goats, And these (goats) shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous (sheep) into life eternal (Matt. 25:41). This belies the notion that the goats' salvation happened at all. The plan of salvation by Christ's death happened before the world was made, but the actual salvation of each individual occurs, if it will occur, much later.

    In your example of the insurance, you rightly point out that "atonement can't work for the faithless." I don't think I put much stock in the idea that they "are in fact insured," because they are driving around without proof of insurance, which is illegal (at least on this side of the pond); those who are stopped and who cannot come up with proof of insurance are deemed by law to be without insurance. So it's not probative of their outcome to say they are insured de facto, because the judge will rule that they are uninsured de jure. :order:

    Perhaps a better analogy than either the 'watch' or the 'insurance' would be to imagine the 'last will and testament' of a deceased rich uncle (since you like the 'rich uncle' theme) :) . The document specifies that each (potential) heir who officially acknowledges the uncle's life and love will receive a specific (very large and generous) inheritance. The personal representative of the uncle's estate tries to contact each potential heir to let them know of this. If one of these heirs refuses to believe he had a rich uncle, or doesn't trust that the representative's message is genuine, or refuses the inheritance (or whatever), that 'heir' does not actually receive the inheritance. The person may well live penniless and in deep debt when he could have been swimming in money, but for reasons that are his own he does not receive that which he could have freely accepted. Should we call this person "rich" because an inheritance was arranged to be for his benefit if he should meet the simple condition? Of course not.

    It is God's will that all be saved and that none perish, yet we know from Jesus' own words that many (indeed, most) will perish. Most will not inherit the Kingdom of God even though our Lord made preparations (before the world was made) for its availability. Many will refuse to believe us (God's personal representatives) and His written Testament, or will prefer to reject the gift, or would rather try to get the inheritance by theft or hard work. To inherit the Kingdom, all a man must do (says God's Testament) is believe that "God so loved" him, "He gave His only begotten Son." That is the one condition. God had every right to impose a simple condition; He is not unjust in doing so. God actually would be unjust if He forced the inheritance upon those who would decline it. Thus, anyone who does not inherit the riches of His grace will get exactly what they think (however foolishly) they want: to be the masters of their own fates.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2023
  6. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    This of course is a limitation of the analogy. Faith, however, is not an action with an expected outcome. Faith is simply the response to grace encountered, the assurance of sins forgiven. This is kind of where you get when you embrace substitutionary atonement, and especially penal substitutionary and push it too far.

    There are a number of salvific metaphors employed in the New Testament, and none can be considered in isolation. There is a Justification metaphor that seems to work on a legal system, there is the Redemption metaphor that is more to do with the slave market, and there is the Penitent Thief with a grace-bound response. Beyond that there is the whole comprehension of Christus Victor, and that was clearly embraced from an early date and reflected in the Easter Anthems.
    1. Christ our passover is sacrificed for us : therefore let us keep the feast;
    2. Not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness : but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
    3. Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more : death hath no more dominion over him.
    4. For in that he died, he died unto sin once : but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
    5. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin : but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    6. Christ is risen from the dead : and become the first fruits of them that slept.
    7. For since by man came death : by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
    8. 8 For as in Adam all die : even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
     
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  7. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    When I use the term 'faithless' though, I am not intending to imply that applies to all non believers. Only to those who hear and consciously reject the Gospel, choosing to not believe it, but rather to remain in their sins, which way of 'life' they prefer, (darkness rather than light).

    Much of the human race have never been confronted by such a choice between a positive or negative response to hearing the Gospel of God's Grace. They are as if 'without god in the world', lost sheep, looking for a shepherd, but not yet having found one. That is a condition we all must be in, in order to enter the Kingdom of God, and unbeknownst, they are already in it, according to their condition. I think Christ's atonement works for them, right up until they hear and REJECT the Gospel. If we accept the Gospel and elicit a positive response to it, we immediately become ambassadors for Christ on earth, and hired workers in his vinyard. That is really 'living'.
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  8. ByOldEyes

    ByOldEyes Member

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    "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." - Hebrews 10:26-31
     
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  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I don't think our justification and redemption are merely metaphorical. God literally redeemed and justified us (disciples of Jesus Christ) by His grace, through our faith.
     
  10. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I admit to being a little frustrated by your post. Let me say absolutely I do not think and have never held the view that justification and redemption are metaphorical. Further, the post you are responding to does not say that.

    The term you, I presume, have misconstrued is, "salvific metaphor". And what I said was


    The meaning is this. The Bible, and especially the New Testament talks of salvation (I hope that point does not need to be debated). That is a big concept in the divine construct, and there are a number of methods used to discuss it, including salvation. redemption, justification, victory, restoration, re-creation, and that list goes on. These terms are, and certainly in academic circles, sometimes referred to as salvific metaphors. The point is that the limitation is language, not salvation itself. The point I was making (and continue to make) is that the reason why the scriptures use a number of these is that no single term will describe the whole nature of what God seeks to achieve for us in the atonement.

    I am a little cranky about this as I feel you have misrepresented what I said when there is nothing I have said in this or any other thread that would indicate that I have a low view of salvation. The thing that pleases me is that we are agreed on 'by grace through faith'.
     
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  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    This is what I meant at post #1 of this thread by "Here's where things get difficult for some to understand." This is why St. Peter wrote what he did about the teachings of St. Paul.

    It would seem from the context of Peter's sentence, 2 Pet.3:14-18, that some of his readers were lapsing in Christian conduct through misunderstanding some of what Paul wrote concerning the permanent effects for us believers of the salvation won for us by Christ. It seems it was not their faith in it that was lacking but the content and effect of that faith that was in error. Peter encouraged them to understand that their salvation EXISTED in the forbearance of Jesus Christ. There is a lot of the meaning of atonement also packed into that word FORBEARANCE.

    g3115. μακροθυμία makrothymia; from the same as 3116; longanimity, i.e. (objectively) forbearance or (subjectively) fortitude: — longsuffering, patience.
    AV (14) - longsuffering 12, patience 2;
    patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs [my emphasis]

    The permanance of salvation for any individual exists in CHRIST and what he achieved for the human race upon the cross by his act of self sacrifice. It was in HIS forbearance that our salvation should be considered to be placed. Not in our efforts to remain sinless throughout the rest of our life after repentance and regeneration through an intellectual acceptance of the existence of Jesus Christ and God and especially not in an intellectual belief in the actual existance of Adam, a historical man, being made out of mud one day, many thousands of years ago, then being conned by a talking snake.

    In this way, our salvation, from start to end DEPENDS entirely upon Jesus Christ. Our 'life' is hid with HIM in God.
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    Last edited: Aug 17, 2023
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for clarifying what you meant by that. I had no desire or intent to misrepresent or misconstrue what you wrote. Now that you bring out that point about the different aspects and viewpoints with their various words, I agree that "no single term" among those "will describe the whole..." It is unfortunate (and unnecessary) to argue one such viewpoint against another, for they are pretty much all valid parts of the sum whole and are compatible, not at odds, with one another. (One time I heard a traveling A/G preacher give an entire sermon on why "atonement" is exclusively an Old Testament concept and is not what Jesus did! :facepalm: What a waste of time.)

    May your frustration be alleviated. :)