Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Theology

Someone once noted, “A savior that is less than God is a savior incapable of saving.” It is understating the matter to say that if our Lord Jesus was not God incarnate He was unqualified to be savior of the world. Only God has the power, the capacity to save. Did God create the Son and send Him on the Father's behalf to redeem us? Could a finite being, no matter how powerful, redeem every person throughout all of time? And what of the numerous passages in the Old Testament where God reminds Israel (and through them all of mankind) that He alone is Savior, and beside Him there is no other? Did He change His mind, or was He mistaken? Was God unwilling to come to this earth and do what He promised in Scripture? If God did not come through the incarnation to partake of human misery and redeem us from our own sins personally, then we must conclude that He delegated another to do this for Him, who vicariously accomplished the task. In essence, God is still unknowable and remote, never having entered our world, and apparently desirous not to.

The fact that Christ was in fact God incarnate was a unique and unparalleled moment in our history. God stepped into time, stepped in to material creation, assumed the identity and body of a human being, and dwelt among us. God came close to us. God revealed Himself intimately through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not “a god” as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and others fallaciously presume, but was God the Son. In the Old Testament God promised to come into our world and save us from our sins. He said He would do it personally, and not vicariously through another being, not matter how marvelous a creation they were. Jesus Christ said and did many things only God could or should; for example: forgiving sins, healing multitudes, raising the dead, being with every believer on earth via omnipresence. The Jews were right to attempt to stone Him to death were He not God Almighty, since many things He did and taught were rank blasphemy if this were not the truth.

I have said this before, but it cannot be stressed enough in my opinion: It is not how much faith you have in Christ that saves you, but which Christ you place your faith in. The Bible is explicit in regards to salvation; it is grace through faith entirely divorced from works, Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9. It is by faith in Christ alone, who accomplished our redemption for us, John 3:16; 19:30; Hebrews 9:12; 10:14. Christ died for the sins of the world, 1st John 2:2; 1st Timothy 4:10. All religious institutions reject the reality of Christ's satisfactory payment to the Father for our sins, and this would be entirely natural to do, since they likewise reject the deity of our Lord. In effect such institutions take the place of our Lord as the dispenser of salvation, and that only through their particular church or cult. They defame and belittle Christ, because if they accepted the truth of what the Bible truly taught concerning Jesus, they would no longer have any reason to exist as an institution.

A being less than God could never satisfy God's righteous demands for sin's payment. Even a sinless man (were he only a man) could only save himself by his righteousness; and the Bible is clear that no man is sinless, Romans 3:23. The Catholics hold to the doctrine of Mary's sinless nature, yet endeavor to paradoxically state that she needed salvation as well. The ONLY reason Jesus died on the cross was to redeem mankind from our sins, Isaiah 53:10. If Mary was sinless she needed no Savior, because only sinners need a Savior. Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Mark 2:17. This theme is legion in Scripture. Yet Mary confesses: “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,” Luke 1:47. Either she is a sinner in need of God's grace through Christ, or she is sinless and without need of salvation. Since Scripture is clear that only Jesus was without sin—see Hebrews 4:15—we must draw the logical conclusion: Mary was also a sinner.

The various cults carry out their doctrines to the natural conclusions: if Christ were not God, then satisfaction for sin's payment is incomplete. The rest is up to us as we attempt to be a good person, or earn our way to godhood. But the standard for “being good” is measured by God, and He measures it by His own perfection. Therefore the entire idea of “being a good or moral” person carries a fatal error in logic. No one would ever satisfy this demand; we would need eternal life just to try perfecting our behavior! Some even deny the reality of sin's presence and concoct elaborate doctrines entailing the idea that Jesus was a “god in training” so to speak, working His way up the ladder of deity. What He did, so too can we, so long as we supplement the Bible with mountains of extra-biblical doctrines that only a particular church or cult has been made privy to. But as soon as one denies the existence of genuine sin in our lives and world, we have taken a step away from the daily reality of life.

Christ did not die to show us how to become gods, or open the way to godhood. Godhood is a delusion the serpent deceived our first parents with, and it cost them Eden, and their lives (though Mormon doctrine taught that this was actually a blessing in disguise). Christ came to seek and save that which was lost; He came to live out the life of man as it was meant to be lived: in faithful, humble obedience to the will of another. This is why Jesus was called the last Adam and the second man, 1st Corinthians 15:45; 47. Jesus in His humanity took on the role of a servant, not only to Israel and the world, but to the Father. He was the perfect man, innocent and sinless as Adam before the Fall. To reduce Jesus' character and purpose to less than what the gospel presents is to fabricate “another gospel” which carries the condemnation of God, though this apparently does not intimidate or terrify as it ought to. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed,” Galatians 1:8-9. It also corrupts the biblical message's simplicity by creating “another Jesus” that is contrary and unknown to Scripture, 2nd Corinthians 11:3-4. There is only one true Jesus Christ as the Bible portrays Him, and beginning with my next Post we will diligently hunt for Him.

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