Sunday, February 27, 2011

Judgement in the house of God?

I read this By Paul Ellis. Go check out his writing, its very good. - Check in the right margin of my blog for "Escape to Reality".


“For it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet 4:17)

Here’s a passage that seems to come up whenever something bad happens to Christians. If a pastor stumbles in sin and his church splits, it’s God judging His house. If an earthquake wipes out a city and some of those who die happen to be Christians, it’s God judging His house. Some people seem to take perverse delight in threatening others with the sword of God’s judgment. They seem to forget Jesus’ warning in Matthew 26:52.

All of our sins were dealt with at the cross. We have been fully redeemed and sanctified by the blood of the Lamb. There is a day coming when Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats, but this is only bad news if you’re a goat! If you are a sheep it is a day to look forward to with eager anticipation and confidence. Where does this confidence come from? It comes from a revelation of the Father’s love as expressed in the Son’s perfect work on the cross.

So what is Peter talking about when he says it’s time for judgment to begin with the house of God? I’m going to give you two interpretations. The first interpretation emphasizes things we must do while the second emphasizes things Christ has already done. However, I will first give you the scripture in context:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Pet 4:12-19)

Interpretation #1: Work harder

There are only two kinds of religion in the world – religion based on our works or religion based on His blood. Someone whose faith rests in human works will interpret the judgment of 1 Peter 4:17 as punishment for Christians. Of course they won’t come right out and say it. They will use words like purification and discipline but what they really mean is condemnation and wrath. They will refer to patterns of judgment in the Old Testament but make no mention of the cross. They may talk about Ananias and Sapphira but ignore Jesus. Strip away the jargon and their message will be this: “Bad things are going to happen to you. God is behind these bad things, but don’t worry because far worse things are going to happen to sinners.” They may try and pass this off as “good news” by saying it’s better to suffer a little wrath now than hellfire later. What should we do in response to such a message? More works of course! We should try harder to be better Christians. We should repent more, confess more, and generally straighten up and fly right.

There’s no way around it. If you interpret 1 Peter 4:17 through the lens of works you will end up with a condemning message. “God loves you and because He loves you He’s going to give you a whipping. It’s for your own good.” How is it, then, that in the five verses immediately preceding, Peter uses words and phrases like “rejoice,” “be overjoyed,” “you are blessed” and “praise God that you bear His name”? How in the name of all that is sensible are we supposed to get joyful over a divine whipping? Either Peter has lost touch with reality, or he has something completely different in mind.

Interpretation #2: Make up your mind

The key to understanding 1 Peter 4:17 is the word “judgment.” In the original Greek this word is krima which means “decision” or “decree.” It is closely related to the word krino which means “to distinguish or decide.” The appropriate image is of a judge deciding a case. A judge’s decision is called a judgment. If you have been raised with a legal mindset, it is natural to assume that all judgments are bad. When a cop waves you over, you automatically think the worst. But a judgment is not inherently bad; it’s just a decision. When Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:13 “judge (krino) for yourselves whether a woman should pray with her head uncovered,” he is saying “you decide.”

When Peter says it’s time for judgment, he is literally saying it’s decision time. Who is making the decision and what is the decision being made? From most translations we get the impression that God is judging or deciding things about the church. But a literal translation of this verse, such as is found in the Literal Translation and Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, reveals that Peter is seeking a judgment, or decision, from the house of God. It is those in the house of God who are deciding. What is the decision that Peter has in mind? Judging by what he says in the next verse, it seems to be the decision that separates the righteous from the ungodly. Peter reminds us that the decision to put one’s faith in Jesus is the most important decision there is:

“…if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?” (1 Pet 4:17 AMP)

Some context will help. Peter was writing during a time of great persecution. Because of Nero – not God – Christians were being tortured and killed for their faith in Christ. Paul was probably dead and Peter himself would soon be crucified. If you were a follower of Christ, martyrdom was a very real prospect. In view of this, Peter says three things: (1) Don’t be surprised that you are suffering for the gospel (4:12). If they persecuted Jesus they will persecute you. (2) Even though persecution is painful, rejoice on account of the coming glory (4:13). It hurts now, but justice is coming. (3) If this suffering is causing you to be in two minds about being identified as a follower of Christ, then make up your mind and decide (4:17). Better to suffer with Jesus now than to be found without him later.

Is Peter saying Christians can lose their salvation?

No he is not. There are two issues here. One is security and the other is fruitfulness. In the last verse in the passage he encourages the believers to commit themselves “to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Who is faithful? God is! You may be worried about persecution but you do not need to worry about God letting you go. In the words of Spurgeon, if He has loved you once He will love you forever. The concern is not that Christians could lose their salvation, but that they might be driven underground in fear (3:6,14). This is why Peter urges them to continue doing good (4:17), even in the face of persecution. Peter knew from personal experience what it was like to run from Jesus in fear and he didn’t want his readers doing that. The good news of God’s grace will not be heard unless its preachers are bold.

A final word on judgment

Jesus said two things about judgment that are relevant here:

“For God sent not the Son into the world to judge (krino) the world…” (Jn 3:17a, ASV)

“For judgment (krima) I have come into this world…” (Jn 9:39)

Jesus did not come to judge the world, yet the world will be judged on account of Jesus. Remember that another word for judgment is decision. Now if Jesus said He is not the one doing the deciding (krino), but that decisions (krima) will be made on account of Him, then who is making these decisions? We are! Every single one of us will either decide to put our faith in Jesus or we won’t. Those who put their faith in Christ are made into a new creation and given His Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor 5:5,17). Those who refuse to decide are left unchanged. You could say that we are all born goats but some of us choose to become sheep. When Jesus returns in glory He will not judge anyone. He will simply separate those who have chosen to become sheep from those who have chosen to remain goats. The Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, but not all men will put their faith in Him.

Keep keeping it real guys

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Taste and See

Hi Guys, came across this note by Jacques Crafford and thought it was very good :)

"Psalm 34:8 "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."

How does one taste and see that the Lord is good? To taste and see that the Lord is good is to INCLINE YOUR EAR to His love and grace and to "approach" Him in the light of no condemnation.

Heb 4:16 "Let us therefore come BOLDLY unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find GRACE (divine influence) to help in time of need." 2 things that stand out in this verse is the fact that God's throne is called the throne of GRACE. At the throne of grace you won't find condemnation or accusation (John 5:45) The only thing you'll find at the throne of grace is... GRACE. Secondly it talks about BOLDLY approaching BECAUSE of the finished work of the Cross. I love the AMPLIFIED version of Heb 4:16 "Let us then FEARLESSLY and CONFIDENTLY and BOLDLY draw near to the throne of grace..."

Let me just make it VERY CLEAR: Approaching the throne of Grace does not mean you "go" somewhere or "do something" to ask for forgiveness. "Coming to the throne of Grace" is our everyday approach towards God, on what basis we relate with Him, and merely our listening to Him confirm our identity in the UNDERSTANDING that we ARE forgiven by the perfect sacrifice ONCE AND FOR ALL (Heb 10:10-19; Heb 9:24-26) ITS ONLY IN KNOWING THAT WE ARE FORGIVEN THAT WE CAN APPROACH GOD WITH BOLDNESS for eg. Nobody walks into the Bank manager's office with boldness when asking for a loan extension. Likewise when you ask someone for forgiveness you do it from a state of lowliness or remorse and never with BOLDNESS.

To get back to the scripture of tasting, lets quickly look at the greek translation of the words TASTE and SEE:

The word TASTE translated as taw-am': FIGURATIVELY to PERCEIVE (Perception)
The word SEE translated as raw-aw': in this context means to EXPERIENCE/to literally EXPERIENCE FOR YOURSELF

Paraphrased: PERCEIVE and EXPERIENCE that the Lord is GOOD

Our perception (TASTE/taw-am) of who God is has to change for us to (EXPERIENCE/raw-aw) this goodness which is why FAITH is so important. Now first of all faith is not a willpower decision for Jesus... Faith is a PERSUASION. We cannot benefit from this compelling love if we dont believe in it (are not persuaded about it). Faith is something that happens to a person upon hearing the SPOKEN Word of God (Rom 10:17) that comes through the GOOD NEWS. (1 Cor 2:5)

Paul emphasized what our FAITH PERSUASION should be focused on in Eph 3:17-19 "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by FAITH; that you, being rooted and grounded in LOVE may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height (of this love), and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God." The LOVE in this scripture is NOT love FOR Christ but the LOVE OF CHRIST towards us, the breadth, length, depth and height thereof, and that through PERSUASION we may be able to comprehend/EXPERIENCE it.

The CRUX: We need to be persuaded about the REALITY of HIS LOVE and GOODNESS and it can only come through hearing and understanding the Gospel. So what does it mean to taste and see that the Lord is good: TASTE (approach and perceive Him AS IF HE IS GOOD) and EXPERIENCE for yourself (that He REALLY IS GOOD!!!!) You will know if you EXPERIENCE the love of Christ because you will never be the same and its quite impossible not to get excited about it. Luke 2:10 - GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY!

Jesus defines this in John 5:44 where he draws the absolute connection between faith (believing) and the importance of seeking the Glory (opinion) that COMES FROM God - Joh 5:44 "How can you believe, you who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from God only?" - Jesus is not rebuking them for seeking glory from men but He actually stresses the silliness of believing (HOW CAN YOU BELIEVE?) when your not seeking the GLORY that COMES FROM GOD ALONE which in essence OUTSHINES the glory that could ever come from man. (1 John 5:9)

This GLORY (Opinion) is the GLORY REVEALED IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST AS IN A MIRROR... Joh 17:22 "And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one," - Now 2 Cor 3:18 makes perfect sense! With unveiled faces (FREE AND BOLD ACCESS) we BEHOLD (PERCEIVE) the GLORY OF THE LORD as in a mirror (AS IF TRUE) are being TRANSFORMED (INTO EXPERIENCE)

It all boils down to this. The moment you see God for Who He is, you will see yourself in Him, His image and likeness. When Peter got the revelation of Christ, Jesus responded by revealing his new identity.

2 Pet 1:2 "Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" Pursue the KNOWLEDGE that will multiply to you GRACE (Divine influence) and PEACE and you will know for sure you are busy with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Now, go taste and see that the Lord is GOOD!"