Thursday, January 22, 2009

Save Me From...

Greetings to all, FilmCritic here, contributor extraordinaire (you heard me-"extraordinaire") with a little something for your wandering eyes. Snuggle up with something warm and fuzzy now, cause I don’t have any thing in that category for you today. Now with your expectations thoroughly lowered, I can begin.
My church recently rewrote our statement of faith, not to change anything exactly, but rather to change the wording to reflect the growth and vocabulary of the pastoral staff. We felt the old wording, for instance, was a little too “Saddleback” for our current persuasion (our current persuasion being…you know…biblical).
In preparing to preach from our section on the church I decided I wanted to preach on the last sentence, which reads, “We believe that the church is called to be a faithful witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Since I began reading Christless Christianity (maybe some of you have heard of it) I’ve admittedly been a bit jacked up about the prospect of preaching with this sentence in mind. However, it wasn’t this book that gave me the desire to preach on it. It was primarily two things. First, in the past year a new and fresh appreciation has grown in me for Paul’s masterful summation of the gospel in I Corinthians 15. So much so, I wrote a series of church newsletter articles interpreting and explaining the passage one statement at a time, occasionally stopping to point out a few false modern gospels along the way. 15:1-5 reads as follows,
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve
.”

The second thing that made me want to preach on this sentence was a book called, “Save Me From Myself.” It’s the memoir of Brian “Head” Welch, the former lead guitarist of Korn. It primarily tells the story of his addiction to meth and his eventual conversion to Christianity. It wasn’t what I was hoping it would be exactly. I think, all things considered, Welch presents, if not a false understanding of the gospel, certainly one that obscures the true nature of it according to I Corinthians 15. I want to tread carefully here because, for all I know, Welch could clarify himself if confronted and even retract certain things if compelled from Scripture. However, all I’ve got to work with is what he’s put in print.
The first example of the problem with Welch’s gospel is the title of the book itself. “Save Me From Myself.” What’s the problem? The problem is that the gospel doesn’t save us from ourselves. There are plenty of secular organizations and methods, not to mention religious movements that can provoke the change that Welch went through. Once again, I don’t want to down play the significance of Welch being freed from his addiction. I think we can all agree he’s better off and I’m thankful for that. However, plenty of people are freed from addictions that don’t give a rip about Jesus. Look at Robert Downey Jr. for instance. He’s been clean and sober for several years now and has even made something of a comeback for himself with Iron Man, Tropic Thunder and an upcoming inspirational tear jerker with Academy Award written all over it.
So, there’s nothing unique about the gospel if it’s about being saved from our selves. Actually, according to the gospel in I Corinthians, we could get “saved from our selves” and still be in a lot of trouble. Why? Because the gospel saves us from our sins! Much more than that, “for our sins, according to the Scriptures.” These are the same Scriptures that affirm mankind’s total depravity, the same ones that attest to the fact that all mankind stands condemned in our sin and needs to be saved, not from ourselves but from God’s justified wrath. Something outside of ourselves condemns us, and something outside of ourselves must justify us, make us right. According to the gospel, that’s Christ. The Son of God died for the ungodly, bearing the wrath of God, in our place, for our sin so that we might stand justified before our Great Judge and so that in his resurrection we might live with and enjoy him forever!
Many times Christianity is presented as the best solution for your personal problems, such as debt, obesity, or addiction. It’s designed to get you on a path to happiness and it’s still mistaken for Christianity because Jesus is the functional stepping stool to the coziest middle class life you can achieve.
So many times we confuse the symptoms with the disease. No one gets saved treating symptoms. Salvation is when God initiates, accomplishes, declares and applies something definitive in history. That’s what I Corinthians 15 is about.

8 comments:

Howard Fisher said...

Right on brother.

:-)

Anonymous said...

"In our place" ? Not true. For there is no case of any male human's life taken by bloodshed and there not exist the requirement of God to account for taking a man's life by bloodshed. However God further states that as a future event all men will have to give him a direct account in regard to one man's life taken by bloodshed. Gen. 9:5b NIV. For it to be unreasonable and a sin to not account to God regarding that by the crucifixion of Jesus his life was taken by bloodshed by the commission of murder against him. The sin of his crucifixion was the sufficient base to make atonement to the law of God by adding one word to the law after Jesus' crucifixion. Rom. 5:20 & Heb.7:12. Therefore the Acts 2:38 command given by God's spirit through the apostles at Pentecost can only be obeyed by each man confessing directly to God that he is sorry Jesus was crucified for forgiveness of all sins. "For it is not those who hear the law (Repent) who are righteous in God's sight, but it those who obey the law (Repent) who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13 This is the only correct explanation about Jesus' crucifixion.
Theodore A. Jones

Howard Fisher said...

howdy Theodore,

1) I am having great difficulty interpreting your comment. Are you denying the Biblical doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement?

"The sin of his crucifixion was the sufficient base to make atonement to the law of God by adding one word to the law after Jesus' crucifixion."

I have no idea what this means.

2) You commented, ""For it is not those who hear the law (Repent) who are righteous in God's sight, but it those who obey the law (Repent) who will be declared righteous.""

Do you know the difference between Indicative passages verses Imperative passages?

3) Perhaps you could tell us what church you are a member. That would assist us greatly in our understanding what it is you are attempting to communicate.

God Bless

Howard

Anonymous said...

Yes I have no doubt that God indicates to Noah that as a future event of God making this statement it is imperative that each man too will give God an acceptable account regarding the life of at least one man whose life was lost by bloodshed. Or the man who doesn't upon being informed that he must looses his life and soul forever.

It is correctly concluded that I do not nor will I support the conjecture of substitutionary atonement. For according to God neither does he.
So be holy as he is holy.

As for the law having been changed after Jesus' crucifixion. Heb. 7:12 does state that because of the priesthood having been changed it is indicative of the imperative that the law had already been changed. It might be true that Jesus died in your place for the sins particular to the law from Sinai but it is indicative and imperative that you understand he could not have died in you place for the sin particular to the law given in Jerusalem. For even He said before his crucifixion that after his crucifixion the world was to be convicted of guilt in regard to sin. So by that I think that it is imperatively indicative that he did not died in your place for any sin particular to the law from Sinai either.

I am a member of the Church of the First Born as to the assembly in heaven but as to the things on earth a member of Sandhill Heights Baptist Church, Elgin SC. According to the Baptist "Faith and Message" a Baptist has the right to interpret the Scriptures for himself. There are at least a few, indicative of a very small number, who actually do find what the small narrow gate perfected by Jesus' crucifixion actually is. However since there is a very large number associated to the doctrine of substitutionary atonement I don't think that large amount indicates a few do you? So I also think it is imperative for you to understand that you are on the wrong side.

Do you have any more questions?

Theodore A. Jones

Howard Fisher said...

Howdy Theodore,

Thanks for responding. It is clear that you are coming from a totally different theological perspective. We are speaking in totally different categories.

When I asked if you understood the difference between Imperative texts verses Indicative texts, I was speaking to interpretation methods and whether or not the Bible in certain texts is giving us specific commands or describing things as they appear. So your second response only adds a little clarification.

Your comment on Noah still makes no sense to me. Substitutionary atonement has nothing to do with that command to Noah and Capital punishment. Capital punishment has to do with something totally different and is in a different category of theology.

2) "As for the law having been changed after Jesus' crucifixion."

This statement seems to be the crux of your argument against Substitutionary Atonement. Again, we are speaking in different worlds. I have no idea what you are talking about when you speak of a different or changed law.

Are you possibly speaking of different application of the law under different Covenants?

3) "However since there is a very large number associated to the doctrine of substitutionary atonement I don't think that large amount indicates a few do you? So I also think it is imperative for you to understand that you are on the wrong side."

I am glad that you have concern for me. If I am on the "other side" then I need correction. However, Substitutionary Atonement is such a vital aspect of the Good News I have to wonder what your Good News is? I have the sneaky suspicion that you do not have a powerful Savior because you do not need a powerful Savior. I suspect that you do not need one since you are not "dead" in your sins. You just need to cooperate on some level with God to have a better life (ie: salvation).

Sir, I believe the Good News is that the eternal God the Son (Are you Trinitarian?) became flesh and lived a righteous life in my place (substitution which you deny), that by faith alone His righteousness is imputed to me (not infused), and that the punishment for my sin in Adam is taken by Christ when Jesus bore the wrath of God in my place.

If you deny Substitutionary Atonement, then you deny a fundamental teaching of the Bible. It is apparently you Sir, that is on the "wrong side". Your sin remains and you will face Christ on the Day of Judgment.

Having said this, I went to your Blog site, and I really can't understand what it is you believe. So I must refrain till you clarify.

Perhaps you have a church site that explains your beliefs in greater detail?

God Bless

Susan said...

Howard,
According to Jesus there is a bad seed and from that seed is a bad tree. Didn't a queer Haggard piece of fruit fall from your bad tree and doesn't this bad tree only produce bad fruit according to Jesus?

And according to Jesus doesn't he say that God has prepared a table before him in the presence of his enemies? And doesn't this table sit right down in front of every pulpit you have ever preached from?

Wise up Howard the things He says are indicative and imperative at least to Him and me.

What part of:
"And from EACH man too
I will demand an accounting
for the life of your fellow man."
is it that you don't understand? Or is it that you would rather make God's words mean less than what he has meant by saying them?

Fruit from the good tree understands that this law which has been added to the law of God has been added by the Holy spirit and given through the apostles at Pentecost. So then the father of Jesus demands that you give an account directly to him regarding that his only begotten son's life was taken by bloodshed by the law of the Spirit. See Rom. 8: 2. And if you don't paying hell for not doing what you've been told to do never ends. Is that trinitarian enough to suit you?

You are right for once Howard the majority have not been born again of God so they like you do not understand the scriptures and cannot. Substitutionary atonement is the old wineskin Howard.

As for a blog site I didn't know I had one. I have to admit of not knowing to much about that worldly stuff. You are ahead of me on that score Howard. No I don't have a church site.

Have to go to work today, making tents perhaps, and I won't be back for awhile. I think maybe you are ticked off Howard because I don't scratch itchy ears.

Theodore A. Jones

Howard Fisher said...

Howdy again Theodore (Susan?),

1) "I think maybe you are ticked off Howard because I don't scratch itchy ears."

You would have to be a lot more offensive to me before I would get "ticked off". I simply am not able to understand your comments. Some of your sentences and thoughts are difficult to follow. I realize you are trying to make a point, but I am not certain what it is.

For instance I asked you directly what this "new law" is. The response you offer is confusing at best.

2) "As for a blog site I didn't know I had one."

The things you have been writing about here are also on another site almost exactly word for word. This other site seems to endorse the book The Shack. The Shack is anti-Trinitarian, which is why I asked the question about the Trinity.

http://www.lofitribe.com/towards-a-holistic-expression-of-atonement/

It seems you were just making comments?

3) "What part of:
"And from EACH man too
I will demand an accounting
for the life of your fellow man."
is it that you don't understand? Or is it that you would rather make God's words mean less than what he has meant by saying them?"

I very much understand this text. I explained what it means briefly. On the other, you hand are introducing some connection between that and the atonement of Christ. You seem to be linking the capital crime and punishment from Genesis 9:6 with the "murder" of Christ.

Sir, I didn't murder Jesus. So I am not really certain what you are talking about.

4) "You are right for once Howard the majority have not been born again of God so they like you do not understand the scriptures and cannot."

Yes, I do not understand what your beliefs are. The reason though is not because I am blind, but because you have a great difficulty in communicating rational thoughts. You are assuming I understand your presuppositions and interpretive methods. This is why I asked for a church statement of beliefs. They are usually clearer than the things you are writing.

5) "Didn't a queer Haggard piece of fruit fall from your bad tree and doesn't this bad tree only produce bad fruit according to Jesus?"

I have no idea what this means. What is a "queer Haggard"?

6) "Wise up Howard the things He says are indicative and imperative at least to Him and me."

Again, I asked a simple question about interpretive methods. It seems you are a little ticked off?

7) "And according to Jesus doesn't he say that God has prepared a table before him in the presence of his enemies? And doesn't this table sit right down in front of every pulpit you have ever preached from?"

Are you talking about the Communion Table? If so, that is quite a logical leap in your ability to interpret Scripture.

8) "Is that trinitarian enough to suit you?"

It seems to me you either do not understand the question or you are not able to answer it for whatever reason. So I'll ask again. Do you believe in the doctrine of the Trinity as stated in the Creeds, Nicene, Athanasius, and all of the major reformational creeds such as the London Baptist, Philadelphia Confession, Westminster Confession, Concord, and others?

Howard Fisher said...

Theodore,

I am still trying to understand what your view of the atonement is. Would you be willing to listen to Sam Waldron's presentation of the atonement at a recent discussion of it between Baptists who disagree on certain aspects of it?

I am certain you would disagree, but at least you could point out aspects of his presentation that you see to be in error.

http://lifeway.edgeboss.net/download/lifeway/corp/Waldron_The_atonement_design_
nature_and_extent_hi.mp3

http://www.foundersconference.org/past/bbcon.html