Alan and Greg wrote about the "Insider Movement," a missions movement that, in some circles, has gone beyond contextualizing the Gospel to compromising key elements of doctrine. In attempts to remove the stumbling block that Jesus is the Son of God - a particularly offensive concept to Muslims - some Bible translations were actually changing the meaning of Bible passages with divine familial references. Mission groups have begun to look into this and one, the Summer Institute of Linguistics, has issued new guidelines for their translators.
In this month’s Solid Ground, Greg weaves two themes together with a third: Death was the goal of the incarnation, but it wasn’t the end of the story. A miracle followed. Further, the death itself was no ordinary death, but rather a miracle all on its own.
Two miracles. The first one left a corpse. The second one brought life. It’s an appropriate topic for our 20th anniversary edition of Solid Ground since verything we’ve done at STR for 20 years has been predicated on these two miracles.
What religious diversity shows us is that, if gods exist, they don't care what humans believe... any god worth their title could tweak things so that humans believed whatever they wanted them to believe if belief was important to them, and would have no one to blame but themselves if they were disappointed.... So either no gods exist, or they are fine with religious wars, misinterpretation, conflicting beliefs, and so forth.
Does religious diversity prove that God doesn't care what we believe? This seems to be related to another very common objection that we've discussed here before. If you can figure out which one, you'll have a head start! Tell us how you would respond to a friend who said this to you, and then we'll hear from Brett on Thursday.
“My Father, if it is
possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will”
In a sermon titled “The
Dark Garden,” Tim Keller explains how he came to understand that a god
without wrath and Hell is not as loving as the God we find in the Bible:
Because [a cup of poison] was the
method of execution for many people,…the Hebrew prophets came to use the cup as
a metaphor for the wrath of God on human evil…. For example…Isaiah 54: “You
will drink the cup of His fury and stagger.” So the reason why [Christian
martyrs] who died for what they believed in didn’t die the way Jesus is
dying—didn’t fall to the ground, didn’t find this horror coming down—was that
they didn’t face the cup. They didn’t face the justice of God against all human
wickedness and evil, which was just about to come down on [Jesus]….
It was in the Garden of Gethsemane
that I came finally to grips—I made my peace, as it were—with the wrath of God.
Now, it might shock some of you that…a preaching minister was struggling with
the very idea of a God of wrath, a God who sends people to Hell…. And then it
was studying the Garden of Gethsemane when I finally came to peace with it
because I realized this: The reason why people get rid of the idea of Hell and
wrath is because they want a loving God…. They say, “I can’t believe in Hell
and wrath because I want a more loving God.” And I came to realize in the
Garden of Gethsemane that if you get rid of the idea of Hell and wrath, you
have a less loving God.
Because if there is no wrath by God
on sin, and there is no such thing as Hell, not only does that actually make
what happened to Jesus inexplicable—Jesus staggering the way He is, asking God,
“Is there any other way?” [and] sweating blood means that He was wimpier than
hundreds of His followers, if there was nothing like [God’s wrath]—but…the main
thing is, if you don’t believe in the wrath and Hell, it trivializes what He’s
done…. If you get rid of a God who has wrath and Hell, you’ve got a god who
loves us in general, but that’s not as loving as the God of the Bible, the God
of Jesus Christ, who loves us with a costly
Look what it cost. Look what He
did. Look what He was taking. You get rid of wrath and Hell, He’s not taking
anything close to this. And therefore, what you’ve done is you’ve just turned
His incredible act of love into just something very trivial, very small….
And by the way, if the anticipation
of these sufferings—if the very taste of these sufferings—sent the Son of God
into shock, what must it have been to drink them to the bottom?
We see the height of God's costly love in what He did to give us grace, but you can't know the beauty of this grace—the very concept of grace will be meaningless to you—if you reject the rightness of His justice.
On the cross, Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses by satisfying the demands
of it. By doing that He paid our certificates of debt we each earned.
certificate of debt is a concept that lies behind Paul's comments about
the certificate of debt in Colossians 2:13-14: And when you were dead
in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you
alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees
against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the
way, having nailed it to the cross.
In Roman times, this
certificate was a list of crimes committed against the state that
required "payment," much like an indictment in our legal system today.
The Romans gave Jesus a certificate of debt when He was sentenced to
die; it was nailed to the cross: "Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the
Jews" (John 19:19). When the crimes were paid for, the certificate was
canceled and was stamped with the word tetelestai, meaning "paid in
Paul says that Jesus "canceled out" (paid) our certificate of debt (v14).
last words, His victory cry on the cross was, "It is finished!",
literally in Greek was "tetelestai!" "He said, 'It is finished!' And He
bowed His head and gave up His spirit." (John 19:30). "Paid in full."
What was finished? His work of redemption paying for our certificates
of debt against God.
asked in the past how the ancient Hebrews could have been so far ahead of
their time. The Bible Among the Myths extends the question: how could
they have been so utterly different from every other culture in history? For
the contrasts are great. Oswalt identifies these common (if not universal)
features of myth, contrasted with the Genesis view:
time: there is a lack of definite beginning and no clear direction to reality
(with no one to give it direction). The Bible speaks of history with a
beginning, with progress, and with a destination.
symbolizing the divine. The Bible specifically rejects this.
significance of magic, specifically the use of ritual and/or manipulations of
matter to cause predictable results in the realm of deity. This, too, is
nowhere to be found in biblical religion.
with fertility and potency, often expressed in religious (temple-based, even)
prostitution of every base description. God is not sexual, nor is the religion
obviously not the case for biblical theism.
use of images in worship: expressly forbidden in the Ten Commandments.
of chaotic matter: see above; not so in the Bible.
view of the gods, who are more powerful than humans but no better ethically;
the Bible depicts God as perfectly holy, just, loving, and righteous.
There is considerably more….
The God of the Bible is “serenely supreme,” unable to be
manipulated, and perfectly moral. It’s not hard to see why cultures wouldn’t
make up a God like this. A being who is before all and knows all, and who can’t
be swayed from His righteousness and justice, is a frightening one.
Frightening, that is, without grace.
I think the most amazingly unique thing about the true God
is the way He solved the justice/grace
problem—that is, without compromising His perfect justice, without lowering
His standards, without denying one ounce of the evil of our sin, “because of His great love with which He loved us,” He executed His perfect justice and secured for us the benefits of His
self-giving grace in one action on the cross.
On his own, no man ever came up with the brilliant, game-changing truth that God is both just
and the justifier.