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.
In celebration of Good Friday and Easter, here is a short clip of William Lane Craig debating the literal, historical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and the reliability of the eyewitness accounts.
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.
Sometimes we make the gospel more offensive than it needs to be. But I think the fear of being offensive at all has pushed large portions of the church in the opposite direction. Some of us need a healthy dose of backbone. (Myself included.)
1. Jesus used questions that led to answers.
Some of us have bought into the idea that questions for the sake of the questions is a virtue. Questions by nature are meant to drive us to answers. Jesus was a master of questions that drove his point (i.e. the answer) home. The next time you look at the gospels, make note of how often He uses questions, and how much value he places on getting the answers right.
2. Jesus could be intimidating.
Jesus fashioning a whip and cleansing the money changers out of the temple is a pretty well-known story. He’s also the one who after certain conversations seemed imposing enough that “no one dared ask him any further questions.” He spoke with so much authority in the temple that the Jews were amazed. Demons begged him not to send them into the abyss. The transfigured Jesus frightened Peter into speaking nonsense. And when John sees Jesus in Revelation he falls to the ground, utterly terrified.
3. Jesus did not try to befriend everyone.
We all liked to be liked and loved to be loved. Some of us even love to be liked, which is unfortunate. Jesus drew large crowds, then jumped right into hard teachings that turned many away. He never altered the message to try and bring them back. He wasn’t concerned with popularity. It came and went. He obeyed the Father.
4. Jesus was big on correct Theology.
It’s not uncommon to hear people in church say, “I believe the journey is more important than theology.” I’ve had someone mentally check out of a theological conversation by saying, “Well, I just try to be like Paul and just know ‘Christ and Him crucified.'” What he really meant was “this conversation isn’t really that important and I want to talk about something easy again.”
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness his defense was theology: “It is written…” “It is written…”
When confronted by the Sadducees about whose wife the seven-time married woman would be at the resurrection (which they didn’t even believe in to begin with), Jesus’ responds with criticizing their theology: ““Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mark 12:24 ESV)
After addressing their question about the woman, the addresses their incorrect theology (based, interestingly, on the tense of a verb.) “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” (Mark 12:26-17 ESV)
A servant is not greater than his master. Walk as Jesus walked.
There are a lot of topics that Jesus never addressed. If Jesus never mentioned a certain thing, does that mean it’s a moral gray area?
The Silent Jesus Argument has often been used to support same-sex marriage and abortion, but insert whatever issue you like. It’s a very strange argument to make. It’s usually made at Christians and it implies a respect for the authority of Jesus. Or maybe it’s a way of playing on the Christian’s respect for His authority. In which case what’s really being said is, “You say you’re a Christian but Jesus never said anything about this. So you’re making it up.”
In addition to being a logical fallacy (The Argument from Silence) it ignores the context of Jesus’ life and worldview. It’s like describing your environment with earplugs in and your hands over your eyes. Let’s take Jesus’ view on same-sex marriage, since that’s a hot topic these days.
FACT: Jesus never said anything about same-sex marriage.
True. But did he say anything on marriage at all? Yes, he did:
2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,[a]8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:2-8 ESV)
The Pharisees ask a question about divorce. And Jesus answers them by going way back to the beginning when God instituted the marriage relationship. So, he answers the divorce question by explaining marriage. He says “God made them male and female… therefore [since they are male and female] a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.”
Jesus, as a Jew, would have held to the law, which forbid homosexual relations. But on this question about marriage, he uncovers the roots of marriage. And they are deeper than Judaism and the law of Moses. They are rooted in the natural, biological order at creation.
So, while it’s true Jesus never mentions gay marriage, he does mention marriage and anchors it in the created natural order of biology.
My main point here is not to argue against same-sex marriage, polygamy, or whatever else we have to fill in the moral blank. The point is that the Silent Jesus Argument is misleading and betrays a very immature way of not only reading the gospel, but of reading in general. Just because something may not be explicit doesn’t mean it can’t be known.
Jesus did not come to make a commentary on what was moral and what was immoral. That was, in part, the purpose of the Mosaic Law. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt 5:17) And he did that by living, flawlessly, according to the letter of the law and then dying in place of those who violated it.
Which is all of us. Myself included.
Don’t fall for the Silent Jesus Argument. And if you disagree with Christians on the issues, fine. Make your case.
But the Silent Jesus won’t defend your view.