Explain It To Me…

You see in the Gospels, Acts & the Epistles that they (are) called to place their faith in Christ” (Shane)

This is a very dicey one that I am looking at with more fervor these days…was Jesus asking them to ‘follow him’ (as a rabbi) – and that he pushed their focus onto the One God – and his teachings were part of that vehicle (even as a messiah)? Cause it is rather odd that Jesus never calls himself equal to God in any of the gospels until John. Fact is, none of these gospels were actually together as we have them today and were likely used singularily in the community lucky enough to scribally copy them. So if someone only has Matthew (for example) – would they still get Jesus as son of God (only begotten from God) or as a messianic rabbinic figure? And if they followed that – wouldn’t they be quite alright?

Someone explain me to me how this whole salvation/sacrifice/atonement thing works and why it works? Why do we need the sacrifice? What does the sacrifice do? What does it all mean for us? Why do we have to accept the sacrifice if we play no part in it?

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10 thoughts on “Explain It To Me…

  1. In the Synoptics, I get the sense of following Jesus, not worshiping Jesus. They’re too action-oriented, in the sense that there are rewards/consequences for how one behaves towards others. With John, I think the equality is up to interpretation. I know he says that he and his Father are one at a point, but I took that as one in purpose, not the same person, or equal. Much like as Jesus and God were one, so were the followers to be one. I mean, does Jesus say anywhere in the Gospels to worship him? What would be the ratio of follow vs. worship, or faith in Christ? If we look at any parables relating to final judgements that Jesus used, what got people saved? IN the sheep/goats, it was doing what Jesus did. Following him, even if you weren’t aware you were following.

    And even in the Epistles, there are a few areas that read “faith in Christ/Jesus” that should actually read, “the faith of Jesus/Christ.” As in, display the same sense of faith in God that Jesus did — which would go back to following Jesus.

    The thing is, for the Epistles, they are written after the cross and resurrection. In the Gospels, Jesus often praises the faith of people, or the actions of people, before the cross. Clearly, there was something there other than faith in Christ.

  2. “In the Synoptics, I get the sense of following Jesus, not worshiping Jesus” (OSS)

    Same – which would explain why the early Christian community was known fellowshippers with the Jewish faith – seen at the synagogue, seen with Pharisee’s in Acts, and even Josephus has James hanging around the temple right until his death. It seems to me these 2 faiths – at one time were quite harmonious.

    “I mean, does Jesus say anywhere in the Gospels to worship him?” (OSS)

    Yeah that’s the strange part – when ever someone does he refers them to the temple (the same temple we see Jesus disgusted at later with the selling of stuff in it).

    “what got people saved? IN the sheep/goats, it was doing what Jesus did.” (OSS)

    I agree here also – and even Revelations as a letter seems to not go away from this trend…actually I can’t find a single letter that is not calling for ethics from the people of the faith. But it also so very prominent in the gospels and parables like ‘the foundations’ or ‘judging a tree by it’s fruit’.

    “Clearly, there was something there other than faith in Christ.” (OSS)

    What’s odd for me – ever since I learned the rabbinical idea within Matthew – I see it in a new light…it makes more sense. Maybe Jesus is our rabbi and we are disciples – and we follow the same path as the disciples did as written in the book (or maybe this was the reason for the book). I have very little problems with faith in Christ for some reason – since I have faith in his teachings (that they do work). But I am under the current assumption that how one lives defines their faith and not what one claims they are (whether that be Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Buddhist, etc).

    Making a claim actually does nothing. Making a stand for some virtue or vice will tell me a whole lot more about someone’s character than their actual words. I think the tree and the fruit will speak for themselves in that sense. Good loving people don’t want to take everything you own – it’s just not their character. Good loving people that want to take everything you own – well – are hypocrites and liars. Maybe this is what I am addressing here in some small way. Who is to say who is going to be saved? And then, saved from what?

  3. **actually I can’t find a single letter that is not calling for ethics from the people of the faith. But it also so very prominent in the gospels and parables like ‘the foundations’ or ‘judging a tree by it’s fruit’. **

    In a lot of ways, it seems like the concept of grace gets twisted, in a way. It seems that if you mention that God judges based on actions, or that someone can be a good person (good is not synonmous with perfect), it suddenly means that you’re saying we can earn salvation, and the gospel is all about grace. But it’s not just about grace. Even Paul says at one point in Romans that one is judged based on actions, and contrasts the good vs. bad actions. Even in the Ephesians verse on grace, the focus there was on the fact that people cannot boast about their salvation, because they were created to do good works. You can’t “boast” about salvation because you didn’t create your goodness, it was installed in you from creation.

    If someone does the right thing simply because s/he thinks it’s the right thing to do, why wouldn’t that be taken into account? Why wouldn’t God use that to evaluate a person? It still wouldn’t mean the person is trying to earn salvation. If I do something good to earn salvation, then I’m cheapening the good act, because it’s become a reward for me, and a selfish motivation.

    **I have very little problems with faith in Christ for some reason – since I have faith in his teachings (that they do work). **

    Agreed. There are many ways to have faith in someone or something. It can be faith in their persistence, or love, or truth, or their teachings.

  4. I don’t think God required a sacrificial death for the atonement of our sin at all. I think we did, and he just gave us what we wanted. He gave us something we should have been able to understand, and we still got it wrong. He didn’t bring redemption, he made it evident. He didn’t bring atonement, He just gave us something we thought we needed. I think the Cross of Christ was the most spectacularly loving thing that has ever been done on behalf of humanity. It demonstrated his desire to be at peace with us, and required nothing of us to do it. And we still don’t understand it. We took a beautiful display of perfect love, one that should set us free to love the Father without any trace of fear, or requirement, or obligation… and we turned it into a religion of fear, requirement, and obligation.

  5. I see Jesus and God as separate persons but one in spirit and purpose. I do not worship Jesus anymore as is almost universally done in Christian churches. Here are some things I believe about Jesus;

    – Jesus was, is, and always will be. He was present and participated with God in creating the earth, heavens and all that is in them
    – Jesus worshipped God and He taught us to do the same. There is only one God and Jesus aint Him, He is God’s only begotten son who served one crucial role for mankind on the cross, but that is not all there is to the man. For those who believe in Him He is their Savior, King, Lord, High Priest, Teacher, and Judge.
    – Jesus is the messiah of the Isrealites. Sorry Yael, I know that is offensive to you, but hey, I have a right to believe it 🙂

    As far as the whole faith/works things goes, I have stated this before. Faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord is what converts us but works will naturally follow. It is not an obligation, it is not what saves us, it is a natural desire when one turns their heart toward God. The desire to know God will produce good fruit. If someone professes to be saved and their life does not show any signs of it at all they are not being truthful, or you are just not aware of how God is working in their life.

  6. **Jesus was, is, and always will be. He was present and participated with God in creating the earth, heavens and all that is in them**

    I agree with this statement, in a way. What I disagree with, in this, is using the name “Jesus.” The human personality named Jesus that walked around 2,000 years ago wasn’t the element present in the creation, nor is it the element that always will be.

    What was, is and always will be is the Logos — the Word of God. The Logos was manifested in the life of Jesus, but could’ve easily been named Paul or Larry (well, probably not the latter, given that I doubt the name was available in that time).

    I think that’s my biggest concern with worshipping Jesus. There’s too much focus on the man, on a human figure that walked around. Jesus was a created image, whereas the Logos was there at creation, when God spoke. It just never clicked with Judaism for me, with how strict it is in not worshipping idols, and that God is not a man. Even if one says if Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, as soon as the name “Jesus” is used, there is worship of a human figure involved.

    **is not an obligation, it is not what saves us, it is a natural desire when one turns their heart toward God. The desire to know God will produce good fruit.**

    I think this can be taken a step further, depending on the definition of “God.” We could say that the desire to know Love will produce good fruit, or the desire to follow Truth, or express Light, will produce good fruit.

  7. “It demonstrated his desire to be at peace with us, and required nothing of us to do it. And we still don’t understand it” (Bruced)

    I have also been examining this premise since you first introduced the idea to me – and I think there is an obvious flaw in it…accountability.

    One could come to the universalist faith and do things that are decent and nice and loving because of their love for God (or they understand love) – and who can say anything – that is all ‘good’. However, one could reject God/faith and hate others and basically run amok on society doing neither loving neighbor or themselves – and ruin their’s and a few other lives in the process…yet they still get a pass from God? In this system, no matter how loving God is – he is not a very responsible character. Actually, it would seem God doesn’t even care since the cross event happened (he’ll just forgive them all and that wil be that). I am not convinced God doesn’t require something from us – are we that off the hook?

    “We took a beautiful display of perfect love, one that should set us free to love the Father without any trace of fear, or requirement, or obligation… and we turned it into a religion of fear, requirement, and obligation.” (Bruced)

    I agree with a lot of the things you say here – that love should not make us into people of religious obligation and fear…I agree – I have always agreed.

    But to have no obligation whatsoever is also not a very responsible spot to be in either.

  8. “The human personality named Jesus that walked around 2,000 years ago wasn’t the element present in the creation, nor is it the element that always will be.”

    The reason I think the name Jesus is to be used is that the Apostles went forth with the Gospel “in the name of Jesus Christ”.

    Acts 2:38
    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    See also; Acts 3:6, Acts 3:16, Acts 4:10, Acts 4:18, Acts 4:30

    If recognizing the name of Jesus is wrong, then the Apostles did not understand this. If they did not understand this, what else did they not understand. It gets a bit slippery.

    I have learned to be open to what others say, but allow only the Holy spirit and the Word guide me in my pursuit to know God. It is how I have learned to worship God only, and so far I have no reason to stop holding high the name of Jesus Christ… just not in the way the most Christians are being taught to worship Him.

  9. Ken,

    But the name “Jesus” was only applicable after the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I can understand why the Apostles would use that name, given their encounters with Jesus. I just don’t think we can say Jesus, the human personality/man, was present at creation, especially since man is a created concept. The Logos itself would always be, without or without the birth of Jesus. But the name Jesus is meaningless unless there was a birth and body to attach to that name. They wouldn’t have said “in the name of Jesus Christ” unless Jesus was first born, whereas they could’ve referred to the Logos without any such birth. The man Jesus is dependent upon being created in order to have meaning: the Logos is not.

  10. OSS,

    I see your pont and it is logical, But then are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit contained in logistics? There are some things we can see about Jesus, His life, and His teachings that are wholly understandable but many things are a mystery.

    There are some who believe that King Melchizedek of Gen 14 & Heb 7 was actually the first appearance of Jesus. I have no problem with thinking on Him as the Word or Logos, just as I have no problem with King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He has many titles, but most are going to refer to Him as Jesus Christ.

    Jesus the person being there at creation, at His earthly ministry, and into the future is not a problem for me.

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