Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Salvation salvo

On another blog I follow, Jesusneedsnewpr, http://www.jesusneedsnewpr.net/forgiveness-jesus-osama-bin-laden/, a picture of Osama Bin Laden in the arms of Christ was posted. Some people have stated that we don't know if Bin Laden repented on his death bed and therefore, received forgiveness or not.  I have joined the discussion in a nit-picky manner. One person stated that the picture of Christ holding Bin Laden is a great picture of what Christ is willing to do IF we repent and believe.

So here is my question: does Christ's willingness to forgive depend on our repentance and belief? Does Christ only offer forgiveness when we repent and believe? Or does Christ offer continually to forgive, and we do not receive the forgiveness until we repent and believe?

I know this is semantics. But it colors my view of God. If God does not offer forgiveness unless someone repents and believes the correct way, does God truly love and forgive unconditionally? What if I don't believe correctly or repent of a sin?  If we must believe and repent for God to forgive, is this works based salvation? And when we get to Romans where Paul states "mercy leads to repentance," if God does not offer forgiveness first, how can we repent? So if Christ's offer of forgiveness depends on our repentance, then I see Christ as this judge who waits to make sure I get it right and then extends grace. But if Christ is offering forgiveness first, Christ is no longer that judge but a person coming out into the streets inviting us to a banquet. Belief is my entering the banquet hall and feasting on forgiveness.

God so loved the world he gave his only son so that whosoever believes should not perish but receive eternal life.  Is the whosoever believes qualifying God's love or qualifying the reception of eternal life?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Scripture and the complicated world we live in.

In the past couple of weeks, i have joined a couple of conversations on the internet. One was discussing rejoicing over Bin Laden's death. Those who believed it is ok to rejoice over Bin Laden's death quoted the Psalms where the psalmist rejoices in the demise of their enemies. They quoted the Proverb which declares the earth rejoices when the righteous rule. Those who declared we shouldn't rejoice over anyone's death quoted Ezekiel 18:23 and a proverb which said not to rejoice in your enemy's downfall as well as Jesus' words to love your neighbor.  Another conversation I passively joined was the topic of Hell, Heaven and the authority of Scripture. My part in the conversation was mainly an attempt to get us to think about how we use Scripture.

For so long, Christians have used Scripture as individual proverbial pieces. We pull them out to buttress our position or viewpoint. In the worse cases, we use them as weapons. And too often we take Scripture and force it into our political, religious, and individual worldviews rather than taking our worldview to Scripture--to the whole of Scripture to be changed by God's Presence as the Spirit uses Scripture in our lives.

We can all find and quote Scripture. So the questions I have been pondering are:  How do we/you "prioritize" Scripture? Does Jesus trump the rest of Scripture, then the NT over the OT, prophet over Psalm? What do you do when, like in the case of the Bin Laden discussion, Scriptures seem to say different things?