Thursday, October 29, 2009

A recent inquiry...

I have a friend who recently asked me this question in email, I think it is a good one, and one that deserves an answer:

His question..."I have been having this thought lately. Question 1:Do you think someone can love Jesus without knowing it? Question 2:And do you think Jesus is bigger than religions and can bring us together?"

My friend, forgive me for my the two days that have passed unanswered, good questions need good answers and seminary provides little time to suffice for such. Along with a job at a church...time is seldom. But I love you and miss you come to Dallas and let me buy you a meal. Hope my answers suffice

Question #2: Yes, I believe Jesus is far bigger than all religions. Religion I believe in a universal sense is a cultural expression. Christ is far greater than any cultural expression and calls his people not into begrudging obedience but freedom. He is greater than every system of religion, and for that matter greater than every system of culture, politics, race, nationality, all are cultural expressions transient in their nature and lack much of anything other than a sense of creativity. Christ calls us to relationship not religion. He invites us to come and know truth. It is not us expressing our moral laws, but rather Christianity is meant to be Christ expressing the truth of how things are at the deepest level of the universe and us accepting his beautiful and gracious invitation to walk in this truth. But I think the nature of the question is more aimed at can one be saved apart from faith in Jesus. No, I would side with Peter who said of Jesus that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only real “life”. He will unite men from every tribe and tongue under his name, but it will be men and women who are saved only by the sacrifice he made, saving them by his grace through faith. He is supremely and enormously greater than all religions…

Question #1: Plato and Socrates both held to the idea that this world is but an expression of another one; a deeper and more true existence. They believed in a sovereign transcendant being who governed the universe, and the immortality of the soul. However I don’t know that they will be in heaven. Romans 1 says that man is a fool to claim that there is not such a being simply by looking around and within one sees this. It says “God has made it (his existence)plain to them, for his invisible attributes, namely eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made”, it continues that “although they knew God they did not honor him as God nor give thanks to him, but became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened”. So it is not simply being able to notice philosophically speaking there must be something behind the brilliant and magnificent workmanship we see in creation...With that said I believe that a “Rose called by any other name is still a rose, and doth smell just as sweet” (Shakespeare). And so through some sort of special revelation God may and could reveal himself to a person. But all are only saved by a saving faith in the God of the universe (this is the trinity…not saved by simply belief in "a God", but "the God" of the bible and all things. This does not mean one has to have read the bible, but has to worship the God of the universe as he has revealed himself…feel free to reply if I am not clear on this point), and that faith is justified as righteousness only by the blood of Jesus. But this leaves us with a plethora of questions for people throughout history and in isolated pockets of the world throughout time. In answer to this I find solstice in Genesis 18:25 “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” He will and does. Not what feels right, after all “there is a way that seems right to man that in the end leads to death” Proverbs 16:25. So it is not what seems right that will come into being, but what the scriptures tell us .We are by nature children of wrath and deserving of death. But God being rich in mercy entered into his own creation, bore the reproach of the cross, and paid for our sins that he might be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus. He is loving, but he is also holy. Thus only cross we see both his immense love for man in that he would die for me, and the incredible cost of my sin, in that it required the life of Jesus the son of God. Simply put it is at the cross we see the intersection of God's incredible love and his incredible holiness. Remember we all like sheep have gone astray and are justified only by his grace as a gift…Hope this helps...

"And they sang a new song:

"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be praise and honor and glory and power,

for ever and ever!" They said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped."- Revelation 5

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