Archive for the ‘Redemption’ Category

Launching the Rescue Mission

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

What if, as we’ve suggested above, the judgment for turning from God is nothing other than turning from God? Turning away is itself the disaster that bears horrid and painful results. What if God’s response to our turning away is not to turn away also, but to launch the rescue mission that will save us from ourselves?

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 272

[Photo: Burg Rheinstein, Germany, July 1997]

Elected to Bless

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

But the truer and deeper views of God’s plan of mercy through Jesus Christ — now in the ascendant I trust — teach us to affirm distinctly the doctrine of the divine election of “the few”: and just because we so affirm it, to connect with it purposes of universal mercy. For what is the true end and meaning of God’s election? The elect, we reply, are chosen, not for themselves only, but for the sake of others. They are “elect,” not merely to be blessed, but to be a source of blessing. It is not merely with the paltry object of saving a few, while the vast majority perish, that God elects; it is with a purpose of mercy to all; it is by “the few” to save “the many”; by the elect to save the world.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 228

Power

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Something has happened, clearly, that has unleashed this new kind of power into the world. That something is the chain-breaking, idol-smashing, sin-abandoning power called “forgiveness,” called “utter gracious love,” called Jesus. It isn’t that first you have to repent and then, as a result, God may decide not to press charges on this occasion. It isn’t that somehow you thereby gain “forgiveness” as a kind of private transaction unrelated to the truth about the wider world. It is, rather, that forgiveness is the new reality. It is the way the new creation actually is. All it requires to belong to that new creation, with that banner over its doorway, is that you should turn from the idols whose power (did you but know it) has already been broken and join in the celebration of Jesus’s victory.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 384

[Photo: Chateau Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland, November 12, 2000]

A Picture of Forgiveness

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

The cross is not a picture of payment; the cross is a picture of forgiveness. Good Friday is not about divine wrath; Good Friday is about divine love. Calvary is not where we see how violent God is; Calvary is where we see how violent our civilization is. The justice of God is not retributive; the justice of God is restorative. Justice that is purely retributive changes nothing. The cross is not where God finds a whipping boy to vent his rage upon; the cross is where God saves the world through self-sacrificing love. The only thing God will call justice is setting the world right, not punishing an innocent substitute for the petty sake of appeasement.

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 86

[Photo: Keukenhof, Holland, April 17, 2004]

Unwrathed

Friday, June 29th, 2018

This, then, is what I mean by ‘unwrathing of the atonement.’ Yes, every human being on the planet was destined for wrath (Eph. 2:3). Wrath, not the vengeance of an angry God, but as the process of perishing under the curse and decay of sin. And what did God do? He unwrathed us! He freed us from sin’s slavery and unwrapped us from death. How? By wrathing Jesus in our place? No! By becoming one of us and, as Jesus, overcoming wrath by his great mercy!

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 262-263

[Photo: Ladies’ View, Ireland, July 2001]

It’s About Love.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

This should not put us off. A world full of people who read and pray the Sermon on the Mount, or even a world with only a few such people in it, will always be a better place than a world without such people. Church history reminds us of the radical difference that can be made, that has been made, and that please God will be made. But the point is that once the revolution was launched on Good Friday, the vital work was already done. We do not have to win that essential victory all over again. What we have to do is to respond to the love poured out on the cross with love of our own: love for the one who died, yes, but also love for those around us, especially those in particular need. And part of the challenge of putting that into practice is that the powers, in whatever form, will be angry. They want to keep the world in their own grip. They will fight back.

N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 365-366

[Photo: Hug Point, Oregon, November 10, 2015]

As Though…

Friday, June 8th, 2018

In all this subject of death, there is an extraordinary narrowness in the views held generally, as though the fact of dying could change God’s unchanging purpose; as though his never-failing love were extinguished because we pass into a new state of existence; as though the power of Christ’s cross were exhausted in the brief span of our earthly life.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 213-214

Being Reconciled to God – Not the Other Way Around

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Think about Good Friday. Where do we find God during the suffering of Christ? Do we find God in the high priest Caiaphas demanding a sacrificial scapegoat? Do we find God in Pontius Pilate requiring a punitive death to satisfy imperial justice? No! On Good Friday we find God in Christ absorbing the sin of the world and responding with forgiveness. The cross is where God receives the most vicious blow of human sin, turns the other cheek, and forgives. The apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.” This should not be misunderstood as God reconciling himself to the world. It wasn’t God who was alienated toward the world; it was the world that was alienated toward God. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to change God’s mind about us; Jesus died on the cross to change our minds about God! It wasn’t God who required the death of Jesus; it was humanity that cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” When the world says, “Crucify him,” God says, “Forgive them.”

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 85

[Photo: Skerries, Ireland, July 2001]

True Meaning of Sacrifice

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Christ’s self-offering must define the true meaning of sacrifice, as opposed to letting the symbols of sacrifice define the reality of what Jesus did. Reversing these is the quickest path to paganizing the sacrifice of Christ. Christ doesn’t get his meaning from the symbols; the symbols derive their meaning from him, even when they predate his own sacrifice.

The meaning Christ attributes to sacrifice is simply this: laying one’s life down for someone else (I John 3:16). Anyone who gives their life to rescue another — whether it’s a fireman dying while pulling someone from a flaming building; a policeman who’s fatally wounded while rescuing a hostage; or a martyr stoned to death for preaching the good news — is ‘paying the ultimate price.’ Here, the metaphors are off the table. Here, sacrifice (laying down your life) is raw actuality — the events as they really happened.

Notice that this type of sacrifice has nothing to do with punishment, payment, retribution or appeasement. In every case, a life is given for the sake of the other, not to satisfy someone’s wrath or placate their anger, but as a life-giving, life-saving sacrifice.

When God sent his Son to earth to restore the planet, the sacrifice — his life, his death — was the costly offering of self-giving love. But unlike the fireman, policeman or martyr, Jesus’ sacrificial death allows him to rescue even the dead as well, because he brings them with him back from the grave!

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 256-257

[Photo: Sunset from Waterside Inn, Chincoteague, Virginia, October 2016]

God Does Not Give Up

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

It is impossible for me to believe that the God revealed in Jesus will at some point simply throw up his hands in defeat or harden his heart in retaliation.

To anticipate an issue we will discuss later on, why is death often seen as the deadline for receiving salvation? If God loves all people and desires for all to be saved, as scripture seems to clearly assert (I Peter 3:9) and as most Christians (besides Calvinists) would agree, then why would God’s attitude towards people change upon physical death? Why would God go from actively desiring and working for a person’s salvation in this life, and yet be content to give that person over to the rebellion forever in the life to come? Why wouldn’t God keep doing all that he could do to try to get through to that person?

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 27-28

[Photo: Leithöfe, Germany, May 2, 1997]