Category Archives: Mercy

Grace: More Abundant Than Sin

God’s grace!  We are told that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.  We, as believers in Christ, know that we cannot “earn” God’s grace.  It is given out to whom He chooses to give it out to.  The wonderful thing is that God gives grace to all people (in different measures of course).  We do nothing to merit the dawning of a new day. We do nothing to merit the birth of a newborn.  We do nothing to merit safety from much danger in our lives.  And yet, grace is there to bless us, to save us, to walk with us and uphold us in this world of much sin and evil.

But, I think, that most Christians have no idea what God’s grace really is.  If they do know about it, they sure don’t act if they do.  God’s grace, to the one who truly acknowledges it and begins rightly to understand it, is like the runner who does not seem to labor in his marathon.  He seems to effortlessly glide along the path with no concern about the dangers along the way, the pain along the way, the struggles along the way.  Some would say he is “in the zone” or is experiencing the “runner’s high.”  God’s grace in the life of the believer is so much more than those chemical or mental experiences.  The runner in a sense “earns” those feelings and that state of mind through his activity.  For the believer this is not so!

If you step into most churches today you will hear a steady stream of moaning and bewailing of personal sin.   You will hear many people relaying their struggles with sin and the latest “remedy” they have found to combat their sin (the latest 12 step something, or avoidance technique, or meditation ritual, etc).  But at the end of the day, you will not hear much about the conquering of sin!  Where is the abundant grace that is more abundant than sin?  It seems, nowhere to be found in the modern church!  The modern day believer is so self-focused and sin-focused they couldn’t identify an act of God’s grace if it was handed to them on a silver platter with a sign attached to it!

The remedy though, I am finding out, is fairly simple and straight-forward.  You want to know what the remedy is? Sure you do!  Here it is, wait for it, wait for it, it is to  GIVE UP!   Give up trying to count and label your sin.  Give up giving it preeminence in your thoughts.  Give up trying to conquer it because in this fleshly body you will not conquer it (it needs no conquering!  Jesus conquered it for you on the cross!!!!!)  When you give up trying to eliminate sin from your life, grace is still there running on legs that never tire or ache.  Grace is there beside you, just waiting for you to accept powerlessness over sin and give yourself over to God’s love, mercy, His GRACE, and to carry you when you can no longer run!

Think about it for a minute.  If every time you thought about God’s grace when you sinned, about how your sin was wiped out by Jesus, about the love that God lavishes on you when you don’t deserve it, and many other like things, how long could sin keep you down?  How long would it take to realize that God is worth more thought and attention than the sin you daily espouse and bemoan?  How would your ministry to love others be affected by this new thought process and action plan?

I am on that journey of transformation.  I will arrive one day, at the end of the ages for sure, but during this earthly age, I am slowly learning that what we treasure in our heart (focus our lives on God’s grace, not our sin) will show us who deserves our time and attention.  Will you focus your attention on God and Christ or on sin and evil?  The choice is yours, my brothers and sisters, the choice is yours!  Make the right choice today!  (check out Paul’s letter to the Roman believers in the New Testament of the Bible, it will be a big help to you!)

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Craig

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When Is A Person Justified Righteous and No Longer Under Condemnation?

My previous two posts which got very little air time (maybe due to poor titling on my part!) ask this very important question.  When is a person free from sin?  When is a person justified?  Does the Bible say that people are free from sin when Jesus died on the cross and paid the death penalty for sin (all of mankind’s sin) or when a person believes in Jesus for his/her justification?  The previous posts were pretty short but got to the same point.  I will reiterate my perspective based on what Paul says in Romans.  Throughout Paul’s writing to the Romans, from 3:20-at least chapter 6, where I am studying, Paul’s sole argument is that Adam brought condemnation on the human race and Jesus’ death paid the redemption price for that condemnation (sin).  The wages of sin is death.  Jesus paid the death penalty for humanities’ sin problem.  One man, Adam, sinned, and that sin was laid to the account of the human race.  Adam withdrew all the grace from mankind’s account by sinning and all who have access to that account (requirement is being born into this life) are born with that deficit.  Before you jump on the analogy, I know all analogies break down, but I am trying to keep this  in easy terms to follow, using a banking system that we are all familiar with.  I know that God’s grace has never been removed from humanity, but it is God’s to give when He chooses.  In a sense, Adam’s account was full, and He never had to ask for God’s grace because it was always around Him and available to withdraw whenever he wanted to.  So, bear with me as I finish this analogy.  SO, when Adam sinned, he withdrew all the grace and emptied the account because what Adam did was a clear violation of God’s intent for him and Eve.  So, rather than kill Adam and Eve immediately, God withdrew all of the grace from Adam’s account which still was not enough to cover the sin.  So, God’s promissory note of full payment, Jesus Christ, would eventually come and complete the full payment God required and when that happened, mankind was set free from the payment (wages) of sin.  Jesus paid the full price required for ALL mankind.  Now, since all who are born in this life share that same account with Adam, all who share that same account with Adam have been justified in Christ.  In other words, all mankind is free from sin and the account of God’s grace is full again.

What we need to do is realize that our account is full by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, and be always acting upon the reality that we have been set free from sin by Jesus.  There is therefore now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Those in Christ are the ones who realize their account is full and paid up/off.  The ones who don’t realize it, still have a full account, they just need to check their balance (believe in Jesus) and then act upon what they see (a full account of God’s grace).  In a nutshell, you are not saved by works, or anything you do that would cause God to “owe” you salvation, whether that is faith, believing, choosing Christ, saying a prayer, NOTHING.  You are saved NOW, whether you lived before this time, are living in this time, or you will live centuries from now.  All those, especially those who came after Jesus’ time, are already saved by virtue only and solely by what Jesus did on the cross back in the early first century.  If you find offense in this, could it be because you want to do something to “earn” your salvation or merit it in some way?  Maybe, it is because you cannot fathom that ALL people will be saved and that cuts into your uniqueness, being chosen by God as His elect or by your own free will choice?  I would like to hear what you think or have to say about this situation.  It is, after all, one of the most, if not the most, important thing to understand, is it not?

 

 

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Don’t Let Sin Reign in Your Mortal Body

Here is my provocative question for this post.  When you read what Paul wrote in Romans 6:12, “Let not Sin, then, be reigning in your mortal body, for you to be obeying its lusts.” (CLV, Concordant Literal Version), do you:

A. Believe this to mean “stop sinning” and refers to the “acts of sin” OR

B.  I will never stop sinning in my mortal body but thankfully as a new creation in Christ my sins have been removed and sin no longer tells me what to do, I tell it what to do! (get lost!)

If you choose A., then you are in league with the whole modern church today.  You believe just as most every other believer today because you believe that Paul is telling you to quit committing acts of sin, like adultery, swearing, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.  It also means you will probably seek to remove all appearances of evil and sin from your life.  Example:  We don’t believe it is a sin to drink alcohol, but we require our leaders to abstain from drinking alcohol because we do not even want to give the appearance of sin, or cause even the least of our brothers to stumble.  Or, I have been “saved” by God and in my past have struggled with pornography, therefore, when I want to rent a movie from Netflix, I search only G-rated movies because I do not even want to be tempted to sin.  Or, I know overeating is a sin, but I have a lust for pizza so, as a believer, I will never go down the pizza aisle at the grocery store, nor will I go to parties where pizza is being served.

If you chose B., you look back at my last paragraph and say, “Wow, I am glad I am not like those sinners over there!”  No, I am only kidding!  But seriously, you probably realize that Paul’s whole case in Romans is not some theological treatise for the seminary classroom, nor for the making of super saints!  It is for everyone, saved and unsaved alike.  It is especially for believers who understand that they will never be NOT sinning in this mortal body but thankfully Jesus paid it all, paid for every sin, past, present, and future, on the cross and in his resurrection.  You realize that you are not defined by your sin but by your identity with and in Christ.  When you realize you sin, and you realize it is an anomaly, that because you treasure His grace, you stop and say, “No more,” and you continue on reveling in the grace that super-exceeds the sin you just committed.  Then, rather than being sad over your sin, and letting sin ruin your disposition, you push it aside and focus on the grace of Christ, His ever and over-abundant love for ALL OF HIS CREATION, and go about praising Him the rest of the day!

Which kind of person are you?  Which kind of person do you want to be?  Think about it!  Send me your comments and let’s dialog about it.  Questions?  Me, too.  Let’s help one another find answers! As always,

Love in Christ,

Craig

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Why I Chose Colossians 1 For My Main Page

It has been a long time since I discussed this verse (passage) of Scripture so I just wanted to add a short post for the benefit of a few readers that I believe can use it most.

 

(Col 1:15) Who is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature,

(Col 1:16) for in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or sovereignties, or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him,

(Col 1:17) and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him.”

(Col 1:18) And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first,

(Col 1:19) for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell,

(Col 1:20) and through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens.”

(Col 1:21) And you, being once estranged and enemies in comprehension, by wicked acts, yet now He reconciles”     Concordant Literal Version (CLV)

and compare a traditional version such as the ESV:

(Col 1:15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

(Col 1:16) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

(Col 1:17) And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

(Col 1:18) And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

(Col 1:19) For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

(Col 1:20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

(Col 1:21) And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

 

In Christ, verse 19, the fullness of God dwells, or the entire complement of God, all of God.  And, through Jesus, God reconciles to Himself ALL things, everywhere.  And as He does this, peace is made through the blood of the cross, peace between God and His creation (ALL THINGS).  For too many years I had blinders on and did not receive the truth that Paul was proclaiming here in these verses.  But, now the blinders are off and I see the glorious truth being proclaimed.  God will never settle for saving some, or in Paul’s words here, God will never settle for reconciling some to Himself.  No, this would never do for an almighty, loving God who said that He created everything at it was good.  Even in creations’ corruption, God still sees the good and has been executing His plan for reconciling back ALL things to Himself.  The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus has, is, and will save all mankind, AND all the rest of creation as well that needs to be saved and redeemed.  Why?  Because, it is God’s will that this happens.  How are we to be sure that Paul meant ALL THINGS?  In verse 20 Paul says that ALL will be reconciled to God, whether on earth or in heaven!

To me, and I hope to you, this passage brings an immeasurable hope fro the future of you and your loved ones.  If your Gospel lacks this inclusiveness, if it lacks even one person being ultimately reconciled to God, then the “good news” you have been proclaimed, or that you proclaim to others is not THE GOOD NEWS.  It is, in fact, terrible news, because it means that you cannot trust a word of the Bible, a word that proceeds from the mouth of God, so to speak.  Think deeply about these things and allow yourself to be transformed by the renewing of your mind with the truth of Colossians 1:15-21!

Blessings to you and love in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Craig

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“New creation” Christians should never ask what Jesus would do!

No new thoughts here today from myself, but stunning truth from Martin Zender, who I am seeming to relate to more and more.  Here are some comments from him that totally resonated with me and make sense out of the Scriptures.  Martin talked about a passage from Paul’s writings, 2 Cor 5:14-17.

 

14 For the love of Christ is constraining us, judging this, that, if One died for the sake of all, consequently *all died.
15 And He died for the sake of all that *those who are living should by no means still be living to themselves, but to the One dying and being roused for their sakes.
16 So that we’, from *now on, are acquainted with not one according to flesh. Yet even if we have known Christ according to flesh, but nevertheless now we know Him so not longer.
17 So that, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the primitive passed by. Lo! there has become new!

We are no longer living for ourselves.  We have been made completely new and compare more to Jesus’ resurrected state than we do to the world’s state, flesh, what we used to be.  Verse 17 says the old has passed away (the primitive).  What is the old?  The old is the world’s system, the Israelite system, everything Old Testament and everything pertaining to Jesus’ instructions to the Jews that He came predominantly to instruct.  Think about it.  We are so self-absorbed.  And no, I am not talking mainly about the unsaved in this life. I am mainly talking about those who should know better, believers in Christ.  We Christians are so self-absorbed that all we seem to think about is how much we sin, how badly we sin, how much more we need to be like Christ in our actions, how much better we are than other believers, how much less we are than other believers, and on and on, gag me!  The more we talk about, as Martin puts it, “surrendering the self”, the more we find ourselves having to dig out our old creation from the grave it was buried in with Christ and propping it up, and then abusing the old man (who is dead) and trying to make that corpse understand how bad it is, how much it is not following Christ, etc.  News flash!:  the old man is dead and CANNOT do anything  for he is dead.  He doesn’t hear nor understand your constant instructions to do better!

If we are no longer supposed to live to ourselves, and we are not, vs. 15,  we are also not to know Christ any longer according to the flesh.  Craig, what do you mean?  I mean, we live to Christ, not self.  We live to Christ not in the flesh but in the Spirit.  Analyzing self all the time, like we are told to do in the traditional church today, is against what Paul said we should be doing.The pre-occupation with flesh goes back to the age-old problem the church has had.  The church believes that unless people’s sins (flesh and fleshly living in particular) are kept ever before the average church members’ eyes, they will forget how awful they are and simply do whatever they want to do and begin to think the church irrelevant.  They will leave the church for other things.  Then the church will not have money to pay for pastors’ salaries and buildings and you name it.  So, pastors must always preach sin rather than grace.  In all the churches I have been a part of, sin was always more prevalent than grace.  So, instead of Romans 5 and 6 ruling the day (especially “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound!), it is Satan’s stain of sin, Adam’s downfall casting all of mankind into sin and eventually eternal conscious torment in hell (which I don’t believe is true!), and then all the guilt we should feel about the fact that we are filthy sinners deserving of hell and torment, rather than new creations in Christ, enjoying the abundant grace that surrounds us at every moment.

Think more about it.  We say we stand condemned before God because we are sinners, and when we are saved do we feel any less condemned based on what you hear in church every Sunday?  Hell no!  Paul says in Romans 8:34 that Jesus is our condemner, yet He died for us, and He was resurrected for us, and He is pleading our case to the Father, and so, are we still condemned?  Hell no!  We are no longer acquainted with Christ in His flesh but in His Spirit and in His resurrection and we stand no longer condemned.  We are free in Christ to love Him more abundantly than ever.  It no longer is the desire of the Christian to align himself with the shoulds (i.e. I should follow the 10 commandments, I should go to church more, I should give more, etc.) but aligned with wants (I want to love God more because I am no longer under condemnation, and I want to love His creation more, and I want to show my love to others in Christ, and I want…).  Let me sum it all up this way.  No matter how much I may sin (though my desire to sin diminishes and really should not even be a concern), God’s grace is covering over that in such a greater way that it obliterates the sin and focuses my desire more and more on His grace and love rather than wrath that I will not experience!  Christian, quit analyzing your every behavior, which is self-focused, and focus on God’s abundant grace that comes in measures that would blow your mind!

Sorry for rambling on, and I hope this makes some semblance of sense (it sure does in my mind!).  But, as always, my comment box is open and I would sure love to hear what you have to say, questions, comments, etc., especially the newer ones coming to my blog.  Grace and peace to you!

In Christ’s love,

Craig

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What Must One Know To Be Saved (Inherit the Kingdom)?

I have given this question so much thought through the last decade, and I have an answer that many/most Christians would not/never agree with.  But, it is biblical and it is fully supported by Jesus and I pity those who would say I am wrong.  This is my 100th post and I thought that I would make it a thought-provoking question post.

“What must one know to be saved?”

Think long before you answer.  Think deeply before you answer.  I challenge you to remind yourself of the fruit of the Spirit as Paul mentions in Galatians 5  (22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self control. Against such things there is no law).   I also want you to place yourself back in the days of Jesus and imagine that you have laced up your sandals, pulled tight your robe, and are following after Jesus on His journey around Galilee and Capernaum in the biblical narrative.  Around you are many types of people; nay-sayers, questioners, believers, young, old, children, babies. Then Jesus stops and gets asked a question about who is the greatest in the Kingdom.  Jesus calls a child over to himself and says:

Matthew 18:3 (LEB)
3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn around and become like young children, you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven!

Now, what is your answer to my question?  Are you summoning up a long list of do’s and don’t’s?  Are you putting together the Sunday School /seminary answer of “you must repent, you must believe, etc.?”  Well, let me give you my take and I believe Jesus’ take on salvation and being IN Him, In Christ.

What did that little child understand about Jesus?  What could he have possibly known about Jesus?  What would/did Jesus require of that child to be greatest in the Kingdom?  Did Jesus require them to have a highly evolved and highly complex theology about “The Christ” and the Father and the Spirit, along with a detailed set of beliefs, details that have eluded and excluded most of the human race from God and Jesus according to the church, both throughout the Middle Ages up to and including the modern era?

Or, did this child, and Jesus’ expectations for entry into the Kingdom focus on Jesus’ love and how He loved people?  I believe the answer ot the question is simply “love!”  Jesus expects us to love as a child loves.  That is really all a child could understand about Jesus, that He is love and loves unconditionally!  I believe it is as simple as that.  The more light we are given the more we can love God and others, but I do not believe anyone has to have a developed understanding of Jesus beyond “God is love, Jesus is Gd, Jesus is love” and live in that belief and share that belief with others through our actions in life.

Reader, I love you with the love of Christ and am trying to live more of that love everyday.  I fail but I am striving to be more like Christ in this simple way since I believe it is the most important thing we could ever pass on to one another and help each other with.  Be blessed in the warmth of His love today.  I pray I have given you hope and help straight from the mind of Christ today.  As always, feel free to share with me the edification Christ has given you and the love He has given you that I too, may be blessed by it.  Let me know what your heart speaks regarding this issue.  And let’s praise God together for it!

Amen and Amen!

Craig

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Did You Choose To Be In Adam?

One question I remember being asked many years ago when I was a pastor was this:  If I didn’t choose to be in Adam, why am I guilty of his sin?  Well, most of that question is valid.  Let me dispel the false part of that question.  I know this goes against everything I was taught in seminary and the local church business I was brought up in, but here goes.  No one but Adam is guilty of his sin!  Now, I know that makes perfect sense to the majority of people because it is only reasonable.  We don’t punish one of our children for the sins of the other, do we?  No, we don’t!  Most Christians would agree that throughout the Old Testament (most all of it, especially from Moses forward) the Law spelled out an eye for an eye, justice and restitution.  No more, no less.  You steal a lamb, you give up a lamb and possibly some interest, money lost because they couldn’t use that lamb that was stolen.  But, it wasn’t, “You stole my lamb, now you die.”  Certainly, though I am not spelling out every law here, but the law would never indict an innocent for the sins of another.  That would not be fair.

So, what about the rest of the question?Am I indeed in Adam?  Or, if I am not guilty of Adam’s sin, what am I guilty of?  What is it I inherit from Adam?  Well, first off, the first and last question just posed are answered the same way.  Yes we are “in Adam,” meaning we inherit something from him because we are human like him.  What we did inherit is death.  If you are born into this life you will surely, one day, die.  Adam’s sin was Adam’s sin and he was expelled from the Garden, promised he would work the ground with his hands until he died, and lost immortality after his sin.  We believe that if Adam hadn’t sinned he would still be alive today, in the physical sense. Though we are not told specifically that people would have immortality if there was no original sin, we do know that death was specifically given because of that first sin.  It is possible that God never planned or made people immortal from the beginning, at least as we are told from the record of the beginning, Genesis.

So why is this a deep and important subject?  For this reason, among others; if we never chose to be in Adam, then we also never choose to be in Christ!  WHA-A-A-T?!  Human free will has nothing to do with either situation, meaning we have no choice whether to be born and die, nor do we have any choice whether we will have immortality (typically assumed to be from belief in Christ, a free choice or a choice of God for only an elect few).  To keep this short and on point, without straying any further than I should, Adam sinned and everyone after him inherited death.  Likewise, Christ died and paid sin’s penalty and everyone will inherit immortality (life with God).  1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”  You have to twist the clear meaning of the Greek text to get anything but this!  The parallelism in this verse is exactly the same as that we find in Romans 5, my new favorite passages in the New Testament (Bible).  Why else would Paul compare Adam and Jesus?  One brought death to humanity, ALL HUMANITY, and the other brought life to humanity, ALL HUMANITY!  Period, exclamation point.

Dwell richly in these thoughts my friends and see if the joy of Jesus’ birth isn’t magnified in your mind and life!  God bless you!

Craig

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My new most favorite Bible passage – Rom 5:15-19

Here is the way it is, and I can unequivocally state it cannot be any other.  Either ALL inherit death and sin through Adam, or MANY don’t.  There is no other way it can be.  And if you come to me and say it can be some third way you are a liar and the truth is not in you!  How can I be SO dogmatic (and offensive to some people by this statement) about this topic?  I can because Paul makes some extremely clear statements in my new favorite Bible passages, Romans 5:15-19.  Here are those verses for you in several different translations:

 

“much rather the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, to the many superabounds.”

(Rom 5:16) And not as through one act of sinning is the gratuity. For, indeed, the judgment is out of one into condemnation, yet the grace is out of many offenses into a just award.”

(Rom 5:17) For if, by the offense of the one, death reigns through the one, much rather, those obtaining the superabundance of grace and the gratuity of righteousness shall be reigning in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

(Rom 5:18) Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life’s justifying.”

(Rom 5:19) For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just.”   (THE Concordant Literal Version, CLV)”

 

“(Rom 5:15) [But the gift is not like the trespass], for if by the trespass of the one, the many died, by much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, multiply to the many.

(Rom 5:16) And the gift is not as through the one who sinned, for on the one hand, judgment from the one sin led to condemnation, but the gift, from many trespasses, led to justification.

(Rom 5:17) For if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through the one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.

(Rom 5:18) Consequently therefore, as through one trespass came condemnation to all people, so also through one righteous deed came justification of life to all people.

(Rom 5:19) For just as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.”   The Lexham English Bible, LEB

 

 

“(Rom 5:15) But, not as the offence so also is the free gift; for if by the offence of the one the many did die, much more did the grace of God, and the free gift in grace of the one man Jesus Christ, abound to the many;

(Rom 5:16) and not as through one who did sin is the free gift, for the judgment indeed is of one to condemnation, but the gift is of many offences to a declaration of `Righteous,’

(Rom 5:17) for if by the offence of the one the death did reign through the one, much more those, who the abundance of the grace and of the free gift of the righteousness are receiving, in life shall reign through the one–Jesus Christ.

(Rom 5:18) So, then, as through one offence to all men it is to condemnation, so also through one declaration of `Righteous’ it is to all men to justification of life;

(Rom 5:19) for as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners: so also through the obedience of the one, shall the many be constituted righteous.”  Young’s Literal Translation, YLT

AND LASTLY,

 

(Rom 5:15) But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

(Rom 5:16) And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.

(Rom 5:17) For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

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

(Rom 5:19) For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.  English Standard Version, ESV

 

Here then is my dogmatism, just as Paul writes, substantiated.  In verse 18 we read that because of the one man Adam, condemnation came to ALL men.  So, either Paul is speaking the truth or Paul is a liar and worthy of an awful death for deceiving so many for thousands of years!  But, going even further with the strength of Paul’s beliefs about sin and death versus salvation (reconciliation, restoration, etc. ), Paul adds the statement in verse 19 that through the one man Adam many were made sinners, yet through the one man, Jesus, many will be made righteous.

Now, immediately most average church-going, bible-believing Christians will point out that in verse 19 Paul states”many” and “many.” They will say that “all” cannot mean “many!” Well, evidently it can  because Paul states it to be so and I stand dogmatically firm with him in what he says.  But, I am curious.  Why does that same average Christian ignore verse 18?  Paul there says the exact same thing as he does in verse 19, does he not?  Absolutely he does!  And, this is why I am so fascinated with this portion of Scripture.  When you read the words Paul writes here and really let them sink in, they are truly joyous words!  You cannot believe what Paul says in all of his writings unless you also believe that Paul was a universalist, meaning, he believed in the salvation of all mankind!  Hint for you skeptics:  you either honestly believe what Paul writes (and therefore must become a believer in the salvation of all mankind, Christian universalism, if you will, willing to give up your currently held beliefs) or you believe he is a liar and you yourself are at best a hypocrite (believing one thing but advocating something opposite) and at worst a liar of the worst kind (saying you believe in Christ but willingly lying about what He taught and the Spirit led Paul to write).

My exhortation to you, dear reader, is this:  Toss off the restraint of what really boils down to being a belief in legalism and embrace the Good News that was of great joy to all the people.  Believe today that God’s grace and mercy super abounds over any sin and error we could commit.  Isn’t it a true blessing to know that God truly is victorious over sin and death by covering our frailties and sins with His abundant grace?  To me it surely is and I hope one day it will be for you too!  Do your long held beliefs restrain you from this grace of God or will you change your understanding of God and believe He cannot be the loser over His creation?  I love you, dear reader, with the love that comes from knowing my Sovereign and Loving God will redeem ALL of His creatures and creation will be restored to what He originally created it to be!  Will you rejoice with me and praise our God or will you try to keep God small and boxed in by your thoughts of who He is?  Join me in praising the Almighty by letting your mind be blown away by His vast love for everything He created, especially YOU, the express image-bearer of God!

 

Love in Christ to you!

Craig

 

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We Are Not Born Sinners, But Rather Mortal

I was reading some teachings on Romans 5 recently and these few statements I will share jumped out at me and I wanted to get your thoughts.  Here is the first:

 

“We are not born sinners, but rather mortal.”

 

This statement does not intimate that mankind does not sin, but merely that Adam was born sinless, sinned, and brought with his sin, death upon the rest of mankind. In other words, his sin wrought mortality on all the rest of mankind.  It is not sin that is passed on but death (mortality) through Adam to us.

 

“If death is temporary (and it is), then so is sin.  So, if God eliminates death, sin automatically disappears.”

 

God eliminated death by raising Christ from the dead.  I would really love to hear your thoughts on these teachings I read by Martin Zender in his recent ZWTF Volume 3, Issue 43.  It sounds OK to me, but I value the thoughts (counsel) of multiple believers to keep things on track.  Let me know what you believe and why.  Blessings to you!

 

Craig

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Why Didn’t God Tell Adam and Eve About Hell?

I was discussing some biblical things last night with my youngest daughter and I told her one of the turning points in my beliefs about God and the outcome of man was this one:  If hell is eternal conscious torment forever (I know tat is redundant!), and it is the most horrible outcome that a person could suffer, why didn’t God tell Adam and Eve about it?  All we have recorded on this important topic of what would happen if they sinned was that in the day they sinned they would surely die.  Not one word about hell.  We have a few words about the pain they would suffer in this life and the fact that they would one day die physically, but not one word on hell.  Curious, isn’t it?

If you answer that in the Old Testament everyone who died went to Gehenna, or Abraham’s bosom, a kind of holding place or, if you will, a kind of purgatory, (not the Catholic one where people are waiting to progress into a better state due to prayers and giving of their still alive loved ones) why didn’t God command the New Testament authors to include hell as part of their preaching of the Gospel.  I have heard preachers say that the Good News (of the Gospel) can’t be good unless there is also some bad news for those who refuse the good.  Not one of the sermons by the Apostles nor any of the recorded disciples in the New Testament ever warn us about hell for those who do not accept the Gospel of Christ.

Yes, I know the hell-teachers of today will quote many verses that they support the teaching of eternal conscious torment ( I have addressed many if not all of them in my book review series that is still incomplete, Hell Under Fire on this blog).  However, why don’t they ever offer some explanation of why we teach the “turn or burn” Gospel today?  Why did that come up and where did it begin (hint:  go back to the days of Augustine, because I think we have him to thank for it, though it was not really taught before him, and yes, the soon-to-be Roman Catholic church took his teachings and ran with them for awhile)?  For awhile I thought pretty highly of Augustine, especially when I was so steeped in more traditional reformed theology.  However,  after re-considering who Augustine was, looking over seminary notes on church history and reading many other church history works, Augustine was not, and is not, someone we want to hang our theology on!  I encourage you to read about his life and decide for yourself if it was wise historically to put so much trust in his teaching.

Anyway, just wanted to give you some food for thought on this Monday morning.  Have a blessed day and remember, we are free in Christ to relish the grace given to us and to give it out super-abundantly to others.  For you believers, the summary of our lives in Christ is this; we confess Jesus is Lord, we love God with all our being, and we love our neighbor as ourselves (as we want to be loved).  Much more than that is typically legalism run amok!

Blessings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Craig

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Filed under God's Love, Grace, Hell, Mercy, Universal salvation