Questions – Relationship=Obfuscation

From time to time I see statements, comments, questions, or rants that make me feel a desire and almost a need to respond to bring clarity or to open a dialogue that can be used to minister to those around me. This is always a challenge as it is very hard to cover some topics with a simple Instagram reply or a Facebook post (especially since I am not on Facebook) but the hope is to intrigue the reader enough to reach out and continue the dialogue. So last night my bride showed me a post and a question that is a response to that post in which I wanted to take a moment to reply; again in hopes to either start a dialogue or simply to inform and correct some misunderstandings.

First and foremost however I want everyone to understand that some parts of the question are far more detailed and in-depth than a simple 140 character reply. These theological concepts could take time to explain properly and furthermore would also take the Holy Spirit to unveil a person’s heart to truly understand. It is far more important to outline the fundamental fact of what Christ did on the cross as the perfect sacrifice so that those who would believe would not be separated from God forever. Without truly understanding the sacrifice that was made on the cross and ones need for Christ, the concepts discussed further down might not mean anything. So if you as the reader of this do not truly understand that and you want to know more please reach out to me and I will meet with you or call you or converse however you deem…cause it is that important!!

And to be honest that is the whole reason for our ministry, Into This Grace (www.intothisgrace.org), was started for this very type of thing and would gladly meet with you, your friend, or anyone that would want to sit and truly discuss for the sake of trying to understand.

So let me try to address parts of this question and then I will trust the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts and feet of the people that need more to contact us for further discussion.

Question:

If we were created in His image…….and we would never condemn our children to an eternity of torture why then would our “loving” God?  Is this a myth that has been perpetuated by organized religion? The same religion responsible for translating and retranslating the Bible because it’s subjects could not read Latin? The same religion that was also responsible for selling indulgences?  Makes me question it all……..
Asking for a friend.

1. We were created in His image. True. That means we are separate from every other creation in that we have a soul that is eternal. The Trinity (God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit) does not have a start or a stop in the timeline of existence, God was not born and He will not die. Therefore as humans, we have an immaterial part of us that gives us the ability to have a relationship with God and give us a unique difference from the rest of all living things. No other creation (animals, plants, etc) can live eternally in Heaven through salvation in Christ.

2. we would never condemn our children to an eternity of torture why then would our “loving” God?

I think it is first most important to understand the term “loving” as the Bible defines it. We must understand that scripture says (1 John 4:16) that God is love. He is not only perfect love though He is also perfect justice and righteousness. But His perfect love is demonstrated in the fact that He sacrificed His only Son as payment for the sin of those that would believe so we have to be careful when we begin to think that we are a better judge of what is right and wrong according to our limited standards. If we do that we then begin to say that God is unloving for allowing people to pay for their sins. God is Holy and is very clear throughout scripture that His wrath/judgment (Romans 1:18-20) will be upon sin and the only reward of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Physically that means our body will pass away and the soul which is in the image of God will eternally be separated from Him in Hell. But in the first chapter of Romans, it is very clear that God’s nature has been made known to all man and that those who do not believe are without excuse. This means God has revealed Himself and His love for all through His actions and throughout history.

3. Is this a myth that has been perpetuated by organized religion?

First and foremost we need to understand that religion is man-centered. Rules, regulations, works, etc… that all are actions and qualities that determine how close to God or approved by God one can be. In that regard, Christianity cannot be considered a religion; it is a relationship that God has established with His children. True biblical Christianity teaches that God is the pursuer and man is simply the recipient (Romans 8:3). The Bible clearly teaches that there is nothing man can do to make himself right with God (Isaiah 53:6; 64:6; Romans 3:23; 6:23). In fact, the Bible teaches that God did for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Our sin separates us from His presence, and sin must be punished (Romans 6:23; Matthew 10:28; 23:33). But, because God loves us, He took our punishment. All we who believe have salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Grace is God’s blessing on the undeserving.

4. The same religion responsible for translating and retranslating the Bible because it’s subjects could not read Latin?

I believe that this might derive from a Catholic background or in reference to that, but in all reality, no one “religion” is necessarily responsible for sole translation and retranslation of the Bible to current day. God sovereignly chose to have His Word written in Hebrew (the Old Testament) and Greek (the New Testament), and the only true translation would be a word for word translation from the original text. There are several of those to include in the conversation with English Standard Version (ESV) and New American Standard Version (NASB) being at the top in my opinion but again a long conversation that has many facets.

5. The same religion that was also responsible for selling indulgences? Makes me question it all…..…

That is truly one of the biggest problems with “religion”, it begins to derive ways for man to earn favor or wishes from God through actions or indulgences and that always return void. And furthermore, this is not the way that God defines our relationship with Him throughout scripture. In fact one of the very instances that we see Jesus show anger is when “religious” people turned His fathers house into a market selling and taking advantage of followers or those trying to get close to God through indulgences.

In summation, all of these are conversations that depend upon your understanding of scripture and your personal relationship with Christ. This is the most important thing to take away is that if you don’t know Christ and are not filled with the Holy Spirit then some of the conversations are just that, conversations. Jesus is in the heart-changing business, has your heart been changed? If you desire to discuss more or in greater details please feel free to reach out to me and I will gladly take time to discuss.

Pastor Tyler