Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins. “Pay” is a good word to use for it– even the writers of the New Testament use accounting language to describe what took place. In fact, when Jesus cried “It is finished” the word he used was “tetelestai.” That’s an accounting term that means, “paid in full.” When ancient Greeks finished a business transaction, the account would have that word written on it. In this case, it was a divine transaction where we take on His righteousness and Christ takes on our sin.
If the penalty for our sins was annihilation instead of torment, then Christ would have to have been annihilated in order to pay for them. But he wasn’t annihilated, He was tormented. He endured a conscious awareness of his pain and separation from the Father…which is a good description He gives elsewhere of the fate those who die in their sins without his provision. [Luke 16]
Furthermore, it would be impossible to first exist, then be truly annihilated, and then return, as there would be no continuity of existence. That is, something that ceases to exist cannot return. It’s gone. The only thing that could “return” would be a copy, not the original. Otherwise the thing, or person, wouldn’t have been truly annihilated.
If I am right on this, it’s another reason to reject annihilationism.
Stand to Reason mentioned a sermon by Tim Keller where he describes how he came to terms with the wrath of 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 love.
Definitely worth a read, especially if you find the idea of hell difficult to swallow. I don’t particularly enjoy the idea myself, but I find it makes sense– in addition to the fact that what I enjoy has little bearing on the way reality really is.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when it seems the longest “argument” most people will endure is an infographic. This one has been floating around this week amidst the latest crisis-de-jour in the media.
I thought as an experiment, I would like to try to unpack the arguments behind the sarcasm. Even though that’s always a risky proposition and most are straw-men.
1) If someone says an act isn’t natural, it’s a reference to natural moral law, not natural or synthetic materials. It could be that certain sexual behaviors occur naturally, but this doesn’t get us very far in the discussion since murder is perfectly natural, and just because it occurs naturally doesn’t equate with a moral good.
2) I don’t know anyone who has made this argument. But for the fun of it, let’s take it seriously. Is sexuality and it’s components (desire, attraction, emotional attachment etc.) immune from external influence in the same way that your height is? Height is a physical property. Sexuality is desire and behavior.
Not that it matters, as the issue here is the nature of marriage, not the malleability of sexuality. The main question is, is marriage a specific thing, or not?
3) I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings (i.e. facts) but there are other groups riding on the heels of the same sex marriage wagon. And there are those within the movement with an agenda of expanding the boundaries of marriage way beyond same-sex relationships.
4) “Straight marriage” (a redundant term) has indeed been around a long while. In fact, we’re the first generation in recorded human history to try to equate heterosexual unions with other unions. It’s almost as if everyone else knows something we don’t. Even in cases of polygamy, it’s one man married to one woman, multiple times, at the same time. Not everyone all married to each other. The ancient greeks, who celebrated pederasty never even equated homosexual relationships with marriage.
Those other things listed are in a different category altogether.
5) If you have to point out bad relationships as a defense for a new type of relationship, then maybe there’s a problem with what you’re proposing.
6) Marriage is based on two things. First, gender differences and second, the basic unit at which society is perpetuated. Meeting either of these is grounds for marriage. The second is the only reason, in my opinion, the State should be involved at all.
And yes, there are gender differences. The fact that that even has to be pointed out is a testament to the mental dark ages we’ve entered.
7) They may or may not. Though statistically it is more probable. Again, sexuality is influenced by various things, including parents…but not solely.
8) This is just a way of saying “religion is false, it has no bearing on reality, so shut up.” It’s okay to belittle certain worldviews, unless its the worldview that embraces homosexuality. Well done, Infographic.
9) I’m not going to even bother linking to all the studies that would say being raised by a biological father and mother give a child the best shot at life. They’re easy to find. This is an attack on common sense itself. Yes, many great people were raised in other situations, and others came out much worse than they might have otherwise. Many in single parent situations feel the vacancy of the missing parent. Marriage laws reflect what will most likely give the child the best chance and foster those types of relationships. To intentionally try to institutionalize other relationships as if they are just as good is insane.
10) This is just poorly written…even for sarcasm. Heterosexual unions are the basic unit of a self-perpetuating civilization. Including other types of relationships in that mix does alter the foundation. It is unavoidable. The basic unit of society is more than a social norm.
Now that I’ve taken the time to type all this out, I’m certain most people who are impressed with the wit of the infographic will not have the patience to work through the ideas I’ve presented. And we descend further into the mental dark ages.
On Monday nights I meet with a group of men to study the book of Romans. Each of us takes turns doing observations on the verses for the night and tonight is my night. We’re in Romans 1, and rather than get into the homosexuality issue (maybe later) one thing is striking me as interesting and it’s this:
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [p]a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [r]unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [s]indecent acts and receiving in [t]their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit [u]to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, [v]haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
When we think of God’s judgement we usually think of the bad guys getting punished–maybe with a spiritual surgical strike– where there’s no collateral damage and when the dust settles the good guys are left standing.
But here we have this idea that God says “Okay, have at it. ” What follows is one evil thing piled onto another. They’re like dogs, running away from their master, leash dragging in the dirt, tearing up the neighborhood as they go. Wait? this is judgment?
I have a few thoughts on this passage.
First, at this point in my life I can’t imagine a worse life than being allowed to indulge into whatever I wanted. As any addict will tell you, indulging in pleasure without restraint is a process of gaining more desire for something that gives you less and less pleasure.
Second, the people under judgement here seem unlikely to show love to each other. They give approval to those who live like they do. But that list of characteristics doesn’t sound like a very fun party. At least not for very long. I’ve known people like this. It’s all fun and games until they turn on each other.
Third, and this is the unsettling one (for me anyway) is that the effects of these acts don’t seem limited to those who are under judgement. There is collateral damage. Parents suffer because of the sins of their children. These lives touch the lives of people who are trying to please God and the godly ones get burned.
Eventually, God says, “Enough”. In the Old Testament we see God delaying destruction until various people groups sins reach their “full limit.” There is a final judgement, but there is also judgement leading up to that.
Life is messy.
There’s a gentleman at the end of our hallway at work who just moved in a few months ago. Most people on our floor have been here for years and have come to understand the etiquette of the building. First rule: Don’t annoy people by being loud in the halls.
This particular guy is very loud. Everytime he walks to or from his office he must pass by every other office on the floor. Each time he’s (loudly) on his phone or (loudly) talking to a co-worker. He smokes, so he passes by often.
It bugged me at first, but eventually I started to find it amusing. Mostly because, perhaps wrongly, he was always in a crisis. Always complaining about something or someone. There’s no way he doesn’t have an ulcer.
Anyway, I just heard him walk by and I caught this part of his complaint de jour:
“…It’s because of their stupid Jesus and their stupid Bible…”**
And that’s what it all boils down to isn’t it? If people understand the gospel and what Jesus said and did, then they either follow him or hate him. Sometimes this hate is honest- like my neighbor. Other times the hate is shown by redefining or explaining away the offensive parts so that we can digest Jesus Lite.
Which is no Jesus at all.
**Isn’t this hate speech? Oh, right. It’s the PC sanctioned form of hate speech.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Why read John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion? For gems like this:
In vain were the authority of Scripture fortified by argument, or supported by the consent of the Church, or confirmed by any other helps, if unaccompanied by an assurance higher and stronger than human judgement can give. Till this better foundation has been laid, the authority of Scripture remains in suspense. On the other hand, when recognising its exemption from the common rule, we receive it reverently, and according to its dignity, those proofs which were not so strong as to produce and rivet a full conviction in our minds, become most appropriate helps. For it is wonderful how much we are confirmed in our belief, when we more attentively consider how admirably the system of divine wisdom contained in itis arranged – how perfectly free the doctrine is from every thing that savours of earth – how beautifully it harmonises in all its parts – and how rich it is in all the other qualities which give an air of majesty to composition. Our hearts are still more firmly assured when we reflect that our admiration is elicited more by the dignity of the matter than by the graces of style. For it was not without an admirable arrangement of Providence, that the sublime mysteries of the kingdom of heaven have for the greater part been delivered with a contemptible meanness of words. Had they been adorned with a more splendid eloquence, the wicked might have cavilled, and alleged that this constituted all their force. But now, when an unpolished simplicity, almost bordering on rudeness, makes a deeper impression than the loftiest flights of oratory, what does it indicate if not that the Holy Scriptures are too mighty in the power of truth to need the rhetorician’s art?
Whatever I get in this life is better than I deserve. Even in utter misery God may still be present. In Hell there is full justice.
To believe the Bible gives an accurate account of history is not to believe in impossible tales of talking snakes, dead men getting up and walking around, nor men standing in furnaces and not burning. Instead it is to believe in certain agents that have control over matter who manipulate it at times for certain purposes. Snakes do not talk, but they can be made to appear to. Dead men to not walk, but in principle God could raise them to life again. And of course, fire burns unless prevented from doing so. The biblical accounts of the miraculous are the accounts of agents at work, not nature violating its own rules.
Chesterton’s Orthodoxy was not an easy read the first time around. Reading it on an airplane may not have helped my comprehension.
I’m now on my third reading, and each time the door opens wider and more and more rays of brilliance shine through. I also read Heretics this year, which may have helped me in coming back to this work since it is a follow-up of sorts. After wielding his devestating intellect and wit against various philosophies of his day (many of which are making the round again) he was challenged to state what he does believe in.
He begins by comparing his own journey to a man who left England, sailed around what he thought was the entire ocean, only to set foot again in that ancient home of the Brits. Like this man Chesterton says:
I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.
It may be that somebody will be entertained by the account of this happy fiasco. It might amuse a friend or an enemy to read how I gradually learnt from the truth of some stray legend or from the falsehood of some dominant philosophy, things that I might have learnt from my catechism–if I had ever learnt it.
At the outset the book is admittedly autobiographical. But before we attempt a post-modern “this is just his story” spin to it, we are hit with the logic of his journey. Reason and common sense are the winds in his sails, and as a result his story ends up a powerful defense for the Christian faith. And that faith is defined by Chesterton at the outset:
When the word orthodoxy is used here it means the Apostles’ Creed, as understood by everybody calling himself Christian until a very short time ago and the general historic conduct of those who held such a creed.
If truth stands the the test of time, then this “slovenly autobiography” certainly has the ring of truth. The passages, though written in an early 20th century, British flavour (see what I did there?) one might think he somehow had a special insight into the 21st century.
Or then, maybe he just saw the logical progression of the nonsense that defined his day.
Next time: The Maniac