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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : God's Plan for Peace and Unity

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roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: Mercy: Is this justice fully paid?

I believe that a dwarfed understanding of Christ's redemption sabatoges the freedom and blessed unity that Christ came to give.

The belief that Christ died primarily to take the punishment for our sins (God spanked him instead of us), then we may have unbalanced perception of God (ex: punative primarily). Might this not be a reason we are too often stingy with mercy?

In Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant, (Matt. 18:21-35) it seems that the debt was not paid by anyone, just forgiven - entirely!

Is forgiveness only possible if a debt is fully paid – somehow? On what basis can there be mercy if full justice is a necessary prerequisite?



I'm not expressing these thoughts to be accusational, but to examine potentially faulty thinking. I cannot deny a subtle punitive reflex at times at work in me when I am faced with the wrongs of others. I highly suspect that this arises from the "old way" and not from Christ's new life.

I believe that Christ offered a brand new life, not merely a "justified" old self.


Diane


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Diane

 2007/9/8 7:59Profile
roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: The enemies of peace and unity

Scripture teaches us, by both historical evidence and doctrinal teaching, that "law" is an enemy of peace and unity. This is one of the most difficult truths to "get", and so we keep on finding oursevles sabatoging our God-given freedom - not only our own, but also the freedom of others - that is, the freedom Christ offered through the cross.

Grace and law are mutually incompatible. You can’t be “married”, ie, joined to both. See Rom. 7

Those who are married to law, and thus, rely on self-effort find nothing more offensive than the grace of God. The law abider will do all he can to preserve and reinforce his “concrete” wall - and this will always separate him or her from the children of Light.

When confronted with expressions of the grace of God, the law-clinger will respond like a spider who sees an insect flying freely about it. The spider will instinctively construct a huge web in which to trap the insect. Then it will enshroud the vulnerable creature with its thread - till it can’t move any more, and then suck the life out of it.


If we find ourselves being robbed of God’s peace and presence, this could be one of the reasons.

How do we guard and strengthen the life that God has birthed within us?

EDIT: Since there is nothing more valuable to us than the Life Christ has given us, this question deserves a LOT of thought. We will (must!) come back to this later.



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Diane

 2007/9/8 12:46Profile
roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: The good news of peace and unity

[Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far away
and peace to those who were near. (2:17)

In Scripture the word preach [Gr. euangelizo] is usually associated with the words gospel or good news. To preach is to “proclaim, bring or announce good news” (Verbrugge)

This is just what Jesus did during his earthly ministry - constantly! He traveled around proclaiming the good news with words and action. He preached the good news to those who were near, that is, the Jews who had the knowledge of God; and he preached to those who were far – far from the knowledge of God and the privileges associated with covenant Israel.

Through healing, Jesus administered the good news to those who were excluded from Temple worship, considered far away because they were defiled: the ill, the lame, the blind, and the demon possessed. He restored women, giving them equal value in his kingdom. He loved children. He walked and talked with Samaritans, something the Jews would never do. He offered his peace - comfort in a world of inequality and hatred. He said,

Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give you:
I do not give you as the world gives.
Do not let your heart be troubled
and do not be afraid. (Jn. 14:27)

His teachings helped promote relational peace - peace with one another, ex the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the peacemakers.

For future consideration: compare peacekeeping with peacemaking
What's the difference?


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Diane

 2007/9/10 9:57Profile
roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: He needs to meet the REAL Christ!



While in a store today I saw a display of CDs of world music. The owner told me that he viewed this as a “small” effort towards world unity - by helping people appreciate world music. Needless to say, that led into a lively dialogue. His insightful thoughts about injustices and attitudinal barriers deserved an ear. Here was a thinking man, who carried a deep burden for the plight of our human race. I felt a bond with him in that respect.

But when it came to discussing the spiritual root cause of our inability to unify ourselves, I sensed a wall quickly rising up between us, of course resulting in his controlling conversational maneuvers – aimed to keep me from having an adequate hearing. When I expressed this observation, he quickly humbled himself and opened the door a crack.


But the walls were strong, reinforced with many layers of distorted perceptions accumulated over the course of his life. His religious background as a Catholic had led him to view “God” as a cruel excuse for horrendous injustice (inquisitions, etc). I tried to share about my Bible study about Christ’s unity, but found that he wasn’t able to hear. It was like driving down an impassible road - blocked every few feet. Then he disclosed another religious barrier – fresh on his mind. Yesterday a customer had reacted to him with what he viewed as a “dogmatic” rigid assertion: "Unless you ask Jesus into your heart you are going to hell”. Of course the store owner had no clue what this meant. And so he got his “shackles” up, rejecting, not Christ, but his faulty understanding of the customer’s claim.

What he desires so desperately is exactly what Christ offers: peace and unity. And yet, the man can’t see it! He has yet to meet the real Jesus.

Our message of the GOOD NEWS will tend to sound like bad news as long as it strikes against the stone barriers - such as misconceptions, bad memories, self-will, bitterness, etc. Clearly, only God can soften the walls through the work of his Spirit.

Yet he has called us to be representatives of Christ. Experiences like mine today strip me of all my fine-sounding rhetoric, and leave me with nothing to offer other than my own life – just as others see it.

We are Christ’s living letters. How do others read us?

Diane





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Diane

 2007/9/10 16:45Profile









 Re:

Quote:

roadsign wrote:
“Jesus came and preached peace to you who were far away
(yeah, that’s me – a gentile!)
and peace to those who were near
(that’s been me too – close to the knowledge of God!) ” Eph. 2:17

Being from a reformed background, I heard about justification by faith since in the womb. Then, when as a youth I first “asked Jesus into my heart” (having enter the evangelical community), I viewed myself as forgiven legally - the divine charge against me no longer applied. Jesus took the “big spanking” that I was supposed to get. Justice was fully paid. That was supposed to be good news. But I never did experience ecstatic joy over that. To be honest (now that I look back) that “truth” was no more than a “paper transaction” stored away in the safety box – waiting to be pulled out on the final day – to guarantee me entrance into heaven.

Even after I got “saved”, I still experienced my same fears and insecurities. I still felt like a nobody, less valuable than anyone else. I still let domineering people walk all over me. I still tried hard to please my authorities, and felt miserable when I failed to measure to their expectations (even if I was not wrong). I still tried to live by “the book” – doing the right thing – especially in the eyes of the “authorities”. For example I’d read (and enjoyed!) my “modern translation” out of the wary eye of the KJVOers.

I carried a lot of guilt because I could never do it all right. I had a hard time forgiving others for failing to prop up my need for approval. I could not forgive myself. Mercy and grace where foreign concepts.

And when I did happen to get it right, I felt good about myself – but it was a good feeling that arose from my own efforts, not from Christ. It was not the Lord’s joy that I experienced, but my own measly joy – so fragile, so easily blown away in the wind – like till the next insurmountable expectation descended on me.

My temporary experiences of joy were self-focused. My ability to rejoice with others and weep with them was primitive – at best. That’s because I still wasn’t “out of myself”. I needed REAL freedom, not merely assumed freedom. I needed the real experience of the real LIFE that Christ offered – the life that can only be lived in the Spirit. I was one of those Paul refers to as “near” but really I was just as “far” from the Father as the elder of the two prodigal sons. Though God was working in my life, I still needed to be rescued from the clutches of the devil. I needed to undergo new ownership. I needed to be brought into union with Christ.

I praise God that HE did just that - by the power of the Spirit. ..it is the gift of God Eph. 2:8 The implications have been enormous.....


Diane

Thank you Diane. These are great ponderings as far as I've read. But I had to pause here because you must have made a mistake - in most of this post you are talking about me, surely, not yourself?!!! :-P


Jeannette

 2007/9/10 17:23









 Re:

Quote:

roadsign wrote:
I believe that a dwarfed understanding of Christ's redemption sabatoges the freedom and blessed unity that Christ came to give.

The belief that Christ died primarily to take the punishment for our sins (God spanked him instead of us), then we may have unbalanced perception of God (ex: punative primarily). Might this not be a reason we are too often stingy with mercy?

In Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant, (Matt. 18:21-35) it seems that the debt was not paid by anyone, just forgiven - entirely!

Is forgiveness only possible if a debt is fully paid – somehow? On what basis can there be mercy if full justice is a necessary prerequisite?



I'm not expressing these thoughts to be accusational, but to examine potentially faulty thinking. I cannot deny a subtle punitive reflex at times at work in me when I am faced with the wrongs of others. I highly suspect that this arises from the "old way" and not from Christ's new life.

I believe that Christ offered a brand new life, not merely a "justified" old self.


Diane

One course I had to do in college was on the Atonement. The source book was Berkoff's book on doctrine. He gave the impression that there was only one true doctrine of the Atonement, the legal one of penal substitution. Even though other views were discussed, such as the fact that Jesus gained victory over Satan on the Cross, and that He died to give us His life, these, Berkoff dismissed as mere theories, not the Truth.

This idea is, I believe, dangerously unbalanced. Why can't all these attempts to explain what Jesus did for us be true?

Jeannette

 2007/9/10 18:06
roadsign
Member



Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re:

Quote:
you must have made a mistake - in most of this post you are talking about me, surely, not yourself?!!!:-P


No, mistake, of course, sis! This "connection" is the blessedness of being on the same rugged road together - under the canopy of the Spirit.

Actually more could be said about this doctrine. According to D. Bercot, it arose from the Roman Catholic Church in the early centuries. It is opposed to the doctrine of the early church fathers.

Just goes to show that before we denounce the RC, we better pay attention to what we've adopted from them.

A question to ask: Why has it remained so popular in our various protestant denominations? What is there about it that the church likes?

Diane


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Diane

 2007/9/11 7:48Profile
roadsign
Member



Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: He came and preached peace

”He came and preached peace to those who were near…” Eph. 2:17
“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No I tell you, but division.” Lk. 12:49

It is rather obvious that Jesus did not bring universal peace, quite the contrary. The results of his preaching at times produced anything BUT peace. His healings often incurred the wrath of the Temple authorities. They were angry because they assumed that he had violated the law (Can you see how Jesus’ preaching rebounded off that dividing wall formed by the law?) Actually, Jesus never did violate the spirit of God’s law, but just their interpretation of God’s requirements. They looked at it through a microscope and failed to see the grand picture: God’s plan. Their myopia caused them to misinterpret the picture, and thus turn the small strokes into huge sweeping swaths.

Isaiah wrote:
“If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river” Isaiah. 48:18

Clearly, it is really sin that creates divison - not Jesus. It would unfair to accuse Jesus of instigating division and hostility. He just exposed it – or rather, he identified the barrier: the refusal to trust God and receive the solution for their problem of separation from God (which they couldn’t see either!)

Most of those in Jesus’ “near” audience preferred their walls. Those walls, just like Adam and Eve’s figleaves, gave them a “comfy” barrier from God. Their walls kept them from facing their nakedness, spiritual poverty, and wretchedness. Their walls gave them a sense of righteousness. Their walls (ie, the law) had become their god. And so it is not surprising that they reacted violently against any “force” that threatened their sense of security. Jesus was the biggest threat that had ever entered their tidy, controlled “society”. They were not interested in any new “society" that included those “afar” (ie, God’s grand plan).

And so, just like their ancient Babel builders, dispersion was their only means to salvation.

God’s fiery judgments in history are really God’s acts of mercy. Just like dynamite, they shatter our stone barriers, our self-made constructs. And they pave a highway to God’s peace, found in Christ.

EDIT:
This is certainly true on a personal level. I'm becoming more and more convinced that if we don't see this truth operating in our personal lives - ie the work of trials, dispersions, etc we won't see it correctly on a larger scale: our society. We will end up being misguided "prophets".


_________________
Diane

 2007/9/11 7:54Profile





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