sin

Give me the Jesus who did and said not the Jesus who would

Prostituteweepingatjesusfeet

I believe Jesus would [approve gay marriage]. I don't have any verse in Scripture. . . . I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that's just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don't see that gay marriage damages anyone else.

Former President Jimmy Carter

Our modern-postmodern generation prefers WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) to WDJD (What Did Jesus Do), every time.

With WWJD,

What purports to be moral guidance might be nothing more than subjective thought, opinion, or sheer imagination, taken as divine wisdom.

There’s a difference. With WDJD, Jesus revealed in Scripture is our guide rather than the Jesus of our imagination.

Here’s an example, when we train how to do Discovery Bible Study we often use the story of the woman who wept at Jesus feet (Luke 7:36-50). One of the discovery questions is, “What do we learn about Jesus in the story?”

Most people respond, he unconditionally accepts the sinful woman. That’s all.

But that’s not the whole story. Jesus announces to a room of Pharisees, who are sitting in judgment on her, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven.” No one ever points out that Jesus saw this woman as a sinner in need of salvation.

We’re uncomfortable with the reality of human sinfulness and the holy love of God which must judge and punish sin. Even in the life of this poor woman. Here’s the point, we have no right to sit in judgment of who God is. We have no right to shrink Jesus down to fit our preferences. He is Lord.

Once we’ve removed the holiness of God from the picture, the next thing we can do is remove the necessity of the Cross for our salvation.

To quote Robert Hart again,

…. the love of God is associated most closely with the cross of Christ (Rom. 5:8). The sight of Christ crucified was very terrible—indeed, it was so ugly that, in the words of the prophet, "We hid as it were our faces from him" (Is. 53:3). It was a violent, bloody sight, where the Man of sorrows was poured out like water, and all his bones were out of joint (Ps. 22:14). At once it was God's judgment on sin and the manifestation of his love, where he paid our debt in full ("Teleo," John 19:30).

Jesus came to save the world, to seek and to save the lost, to pour out his soul unto death as the "propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:2). He came for that, not to usher in an era in which lust and carnality, and "the releasing of our desires," take the place of repentance and of taking up one's cross to follow the Son of Man. Give me the real Lord Jesus, who paid my debt, who commanded me to repent, and who forgave my sin.

Give me the Jesus who did and who said, not the other Jesus, the one who would.

The problem with sin

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Most of this year I've been out training around Australia training anyone who wants to learn how to share the gospel and make disciples.

Every now and again someone interrupts the training, or  takes me aside afterwards, and explains that we need to contextualise the gospel presentation and remove the problem of sin.

Apparently any mention of sin is inappropriate for certain cultures. Sometimes I'm told it's a postmodern problem. It can even be a Chinese or Iranian problem. Any mention of sin, I'm advised, is unhelpful. The list of cultures with a sin problem is growing.

Apparently what we need to do is maximise the message of God's love and leave out that confronting message about our sin and God's judgment.

This sin problem is not new. It's the same problem Paul faced in his mission to the civilised world of the Roman empire. How did he deal with it?

Paul unequivocally calls pagans who listen to his preaching to turn to the one true and living God who created the world (Acts 17:30-31; 1 Thess 1:9). And he insisted that sin can only be forgiven through faith in Jesus, a Jew from Nazareth, who died on a cross for the sins of the world, whom God raised from the dead and who will return to judge the world. Paul knows that pagans must regard this news as intellectual and religious nonsense. He knows that it is only God himself who can cause Greeks to believe in Jesus the messianic Savior and Lord (1 Cor 1:17-25).

When people suggest the Christian message should be adapted to the intellectual and rhetorical needs and expectations of a Greek audience, Paul argues, they ignore the foundation that has been laid and start constructing a building that will surely collapse . . . These people will be judged by God (1 Cor 3:10-15). 

Eckhard Schnabel

If sin is not a problem, why did Christ die?