Into the Depths: Why I Should Quit Reading

Monday, August 14, 2006

Why I Should Quit Reading

I tried to tell everyone that perhaps reading is no longer a good idea for me.....no one listened. ;)

In my homework this week I am reading a book about forgiveness called "When You Can't Say I Forgive You." (I would underline it, but I don't know how.) Anyway, all was going along fine, until.....

Luke 5:18-20

18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

So, you are thinking, what the heck is wrong with that. Well, nothing is wrong with it per se. I have heard that story plenty of times, but for some unknown reason, last night it struck me as odd. Perhaps because of a recent blog that has gotten some interesting comments, perhaps it is just the first time the notion struck me. Here is my question.

If Jesus could forgive people before His death on the cross, without the customary O.T. blood sacrifice, why was it necessary for Him to die. I am not arguing His death or trying to sound ungrateful. Please no 'hate comments' or 'lecture comments.' I am just curious, if He could forgive this man, why not all men. Was there some time lapse clause that the Bible didn't mention. 'Said forgiveness only to become effective assuming recipient live to Easter weekend of the year 33 AD, at which time Forgiver will atone for said forgiven sins thus making them once and for all forgiven.'

That sounds bad, but put your preachers voice out of your head for a second and allow yourself to step outside the little box and really ask why He could forgive that man with no sacrifice but had to die in order to offer that same forgiveness to everyone else in the world. I don't get that.

I am guessing there are a couple people that this pissed off, and I am sorry if it did. But it struck me when I read it and I don't know what to believe about it. I don't understand it at all, as a matter of fact. I am sure there is some explanation or surely other people would have the same question.


Blogger LiteratureLover said...

Good question. I can't answer it, but I'm definitely asking some people who might.

August 15, 2006 8:16 AM  
Blogger Shayne said...

No clue. I wonder what that says about me?

Great question though.

August 15, 2006 11:04 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

You're actually asking a fantastic question - and exposing one of the touchiest theological topics - Atonement Theory.

What if forgiveness comes through Jesus himself - his very incarnation, his life, his teaching, his relationships, his nature, AND his death and resurrection?

We've tied together (in an almost mathematical kind of way) blood and forgiveness. But the kindness/mercy of GOd was poured out all over the place without blood in Scripture. Plenty of folks received God's favor without sacrificing an animal.

For that matter, ask even the most Orthodox Rabbi and they'll tell you - Forgiveness is a gift from God - not something earned or merited. The rituals and sacrifices are means for us - not for God.

In the person and presence of Christ, God is demonstrating his own lovingkindness and mercy - this is how far I will go to draw you to myself - I'll live this out among you and with you and for you. And forgiveness in this moment (Luke 5) comes about as is always does - through God's kindness and the trust (faith) of those dudes.

August 15, 2006 11:48 AM  
Blogger Shayne said...

Kyle, Wow.


It's occurred to me in my comments to you over these past months that I may have really just been pushing you to believe the way I believe.

I didn't mean to do that. I don't know everything there is to know, and certainly wasn't trying to come off as an expert. I was trying to offer a helping hand, but I did it badly. Please forgive me if any of my comments made you feel inferior, inadequate, or worse, more confused.

Thanks for the great blog, and all the mind-bending questions.

August 15, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Rev. said...

Great question! And kyle is right, it touches upon the doctrine of the Atonement. It also touches upon the doctrine of grace.

To answer quite simply, God is the one who has been offended. His law has been broken, rebellion and anarchy have been declared by fallen human beings, His honor has been insulted, His love has been spurned. God has the right to offer forgiveness to the very ones who have done these things against Him, and He does so. Can God forgive us, in a sense, even before we have asked for it? Yes. Read Ephesians 1 for a little insight. Can God forgive every single individual in the whole world? Yes, He can, however the Scriptures make it clear that He hasn't and that He won't. Why not? Well, that's His business, quite frankly. He has the right to display His justice and His mercy, His righteousness and His grace.

kyle, I like some of the points you've brought up, but I have to take variance with your position on God's mercy being poured out apart from blood/sacrifice.

How were Adam and Abraham and Moses made right with God? The same way as Paul and Peter and John. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. The OT saints looked forward to the Messiah who had been promised, the NT saints (including all believers since NT times) look back. The animal sacrifices weren't sufficient for procuring God's forgiveness. They were a constant reminder of the sinfulness of the people, and the promise of the One to come. That's the whole point, essentially, of Hebrews.

Kyle, I agree with you 100% on this statement, "Forgiveness is a gift from God - not something earned or merited." Forgiveness comes about as a matter of God's grace, not because of who we are or what "good" we've done.

August 15, 2006 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a pastor like kyle or rev, but it is my understanding that while Jesus was here on the earth he was 100% man and 100% God and it is God that forgives sin. Their are several verses that back this up. Also the word sayes that Jesus only did what he saw the Father do and only said what he heard the father say. We all should be more like Jesus and only do and say what we see and hear the Father doing, insteading of leaning towards our own understanding.

August 15, 2006 8:13 PM  
Blogger Bttrfly1976 said...

Seriously, Bible study can be exhausting. I appreciate all of your input. I am having trouble digesting it to make it make sense as far as the answer to whether or not Jesus' death really absolutely necessary, but, that will be something I have to tackle myself, I guess.
Shayne, I appreciate all of your input, sincerely!
LL, thanks for sending in reinforcement. ;)

August 15, 2006 10:40 PM  
Blogger Shayne said...

Ok Stephanie, I've thought about this question for 2 days now. Honestly, it never occurred to me to think about it until you brought it up.

Rev's comments about Abraham reminded me of something. He said
How were Adam and Abraham and Moses made right with God? The same way as Paul and Peter and John. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'll agree with him there to a certain point. But I was reminded of the scripture that talks about Abraham being justified by faith. He simply believed God and it was imputed to him for righteousness. I remember reading of Abraham sacrificing animals to God in thanksgiving or in supplication, but not for forgiveness.

Abraham was made right with God through his faith in God. As I was thinking about this I thought about Jesus' blood. It's there, available to all, but just because it was shed doesn't mean that the whole world is automatically saved. They have to believe in the power of that blood to heal them and cleanse them of all sin.

Perhaps that is the answer to your question. V. 20 says, "When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.'" Everything, everything, everything in scriptures boils down to that one fact: faith in Jesus Christ.

Why was it necessary for Him to die? Because He did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it. I'm not an expert, I've never been to seminary, and you can take my answer or leave it. But that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

August 18, 2006 7:38 AM  
Blogger Gunny said...

Rev is right on. Justification is by grace through faith, the content of which has become progressively more revealed.

The means of forgiveness was/is the sacrifice of Christ whereby He was punished for the sins of those who believe and they also receive His righteousness.

2 Cor 5:21 ... "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

The animal sacrifices were just a foreshadowing, for the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (Heb 10:4).

Yet, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Heb 9:22).

God basically forgave sin prior to the cross by grace through faith with His knowledge of future atonement. Prior to that time, those sins were technically unpunished. Thus, God had to set things straight (so to speak) by Christ's death ... to demonstrate that He is just, since those sins had yet to be paid for (cf. Rom 3:25).

Romans 3:21-26
21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

You understand me? Catching my drift? Or am I being obtuse?

August 19, 2006 12:23 PM  

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