Monday, March 2, 2009

The Good News about the Good News

Most of us have been taught that all humans are born sinners, that our hearts are evil and deceitful, that unless we pray the "sinners prayer", are baptized, expend great effort at not "sinning" (which everyone will fail at), and seek forgiveness and repent continually we will be sent to "hell". We are told God loves us but then must live like He is just looking for a chance to zap us.

These three authors present that teaching for our examination and then show us how very wrong it is.

Derek Flood - Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor

Satisfaction-Doctrine. You may not be familiar with the terms "Penal Substitution" or "Satisfaction-Doctrine", but you surely know the basic theology behind it. It is a theology that can sound shockingly legalistic and cruel (and it is):

You have broken the law because it is impossible to keep it, and so you must have broken it. And because you cannot keep this impossible to keep law you will be charged with death because "the penalty for sin is death" and those are just the rules. God must have blood because the law requires it; there must be a penalty paid. The only payment that would have been enough is sacrificing someone who was the "perfect law-keeper", someone who could live a perfect life without sin. So God decided to kill his own Son on the cross to appease his legal need for blood. Now that Jesus has been sacrificed God is no longer mad at us for not doing what we can't do anyway, so we can now come and live with him forever - as long as we are grateful to him for his "mercy" to us.

That does not sound much like Good News does it? Read the "rest of the story" at his website. Derek goes on to point out that this is not what the early church believed. Check out the link.

Bert Gary

What these teachers want you to believe is that God's default setting is hell, and it's up to you to change God's mind about you. To them, salvation doesn't change you. It changes God! You are being saved by your own effort from a God who doesn't like you and has evil plans for you for all eternity. This "gospel" is founded on fear and death, and the author of it is supposedly God? This is depraved!

Not much good news yet, keep reading. Bert's blog has several articles that give fresh light to some fundamental traditional beliefs.

John Lynch - Room of Grace

There is someone watching and your value is on how much you do right and how little you do wrong. And he is constantly writing down the wrong that you have done for future reference to bring up again to you. And if you are naughty, no soup for you, only coal. And he is going to find you out. And this omniscient, controlling, legalist is coming to town. You better watch out, You better fear this guy, you better stop your crying and sniveling. You better not pout, you better put on a good face. You better act like your somebody different then who you happen to be, no matter how you feel you better put on a good show. So doggone it just be better then who you are for goodness sake. Don't be a whiner, fix your self, try harder. You better do more, don't have so many problems, watch over you shoulder, keep up appearances, get better in a hurry and if you can't act then act like you are, because you are constantly on trial. If you want good things to happen in your life you better figure out how to keep this guy pleased.

Its like we hear God going, " oh no, no, no, no. He is going to pray the prayer, don't let him pray the prayer. I don't like him, no, no, no. Oh nooo, he prayed the prayer. Shoot, doggone it, all right your in. Because of Christ, I love you now, but I don't like you. And when you get to heaven they will be no padding in the arm rests on your chair, I'm telling you that right now. Stay out of my way, you bug me. Had to pray your little prayer didn't you?

John really captures the essence of Good News in the rest of this profound message. Be sure to hear the whole message at the link provided, you will never forget it.

The truth is that the Good News of Jesus Christ is that we are all loved unconditionally, that it is not what we do but what He (Jesus) has already done for us. It is not that we accept Him, it is that He has already accepted us. it is not that we believe in Him, but that He believes in us. It is not that we become "good" in order to earn His love, it is that we can become "good" when we understand how much He loves and accepts us just as we are. It is not that we ease our shame by seeking forgiveness, it is understanding that we have already been forgiven and that shame was never even a part of it. It is not that as if by magic when we say the Jesus incantation prayer we become children of God, it is that we were adopted into His family (the Trinity) even before creation!

We do not need to believe in order to gain His favor, but we do need to understand that we are loved by Him in order to live in the power of that love. When we truly begin to understand that He loves us we move from erroneously thinking we are rejected by Him to close relationship with Him. It is then that we can see and live the abundant life He has given each of us.

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