SCANDALOUS

“As Christians, our purpose is to love those people the way Jesus loves them – with generous compassion, scandalous grace, and undeniable truth.”

ONE of my favorite Bible passages is John 1:16. In the NKJV it reads, “And of His fullness we have all received and grace for grace.”  It can also be rendered, grace upon grace’ , that is over and over again, never stopping, just continuous grace! I  heard it described once in this manner…

GRACE. God’s wonderful, matchless, unwarranted riches of forgiveness and love lavished upon people like me who were enemies of God, not loving, nor caring about Christ, God’s only Son who, not only was with the Father as the Creator of the universe; but, became the sacrificial lamb. Beaten so horrifically and murdered in a way by which no human, nor any creature should ever be subjected. Yet, by His grace, He made me an heir to His kingdom, a son, righteous only by the blood of Christ; but loved with a love so deep, so pure, and never ending.

Imagine a beautiful mountain stream, fresh, sparkling clean, amazing in taste and unmatched in its refreshment and with the sound of the water flowing along, the wind wafting along, lightly in the trees, birds and animals gathering to enjoy the wonderful early afternoon sight. For me, the smell of lilac, fresh and flowing on the air makes the scene complete. In that scene, the flowing water is God’s grace. One pastor described kneeling at that stream and drinking in the cool water to his heart’s content. I picture it differently. I throw myself headlong into the water, submerging myself and coming to the surface where I stretch out in the stream and allow the water to flow over me, knowing that every second the grace is new, it is fresh, and it will never run out. Every part of me completely engulfed by the refreshing stream. I find myself completely lost in its embrace.

Bighorn Mountain Lake

In a session for the Bible study, ROOTED: Connect with God the Church your Purpose, in teaching on GRACE, is written… “As Christians, our purpose is to love those people the way Jesus loves them – with generous compassion, scandalous grace,  and undeniable truth.” (emphasis added) I love that term! Scandalous grace! Defined, scandalous is at once, shocking or outrageous. That describes such love, particularly in Jesus’ time when He was seen lavishing love on an adulterous woman of the street by forgiving her of all she had done. Jesus love was certainly not the physical love we are drawn to imagine, but for the religious folks of Jesus’ time, the other definitions would fit HIS grace…  Think about how the self-righteous religious leaders of Jesus time (and perhaps even ours) might picture Jesus’ grace on those they saw as too low to speak with, to reprehensible to share a meal or clothing. Try these: disgraceful, immoral, shameful, indecent, disreputable, appalling, reprehensible, wicked… For Jesus to sit at the well and speak openly to the Samaritan woman, really! It was not just a woman He was lowering Himself to address, not just a poor woman, but a Samarian!

In a session for the Bible study, ROOTED: Connect with God the Church your Purpose, in teaching on GRACE, is written… “As Christians, our purpose is to love those people the way Jesus loves them – with generous compassion, scandalous grace,  and undeniable truth.” (emphasis added) I love that term! Scandalous grace! Defined, scandalous is at once, shocking or outrageous. That describes such love, particularly in Jesus’ time when He was seen lavishing love on an adulterous woman of the street by forgiving her of all she had done. Jesus love was certainly not the physical love we are drawn to imagine, but for the religious folks of Jesus’ time, the other definitions would fit HIS grace…  Think about how the self-righteous religious leaders of Jesus time (and perhaps even ours) might picture Jesus’ grace on those they saw as too low to speak with, to reprehensible to share a meal or clothing. Try these: disgraceful, immoral, shameful, indecent, disreputable, appalling, reprehensible, wicked… For Jesus to sit at the well and speak openly to the Samaritan woman, really! It was not just a woman He was lowering Himself to address, not just a poor woman, but a Samarian!

Then, of course, we have Mary, a woman no stranger to immorality and demeaning relationships with apparently multiple men… not only did Jesus love her with grace unmatched by anything the world had ever known, but He allowed her to express her thankfulness by pouring rich, fragrant perfume in his hair and by that publicly show the depth of her love for Him… certainly the religious leaders thought it disgraceful, immoral, shameful… Jesus’ grace to them was all of those. Even to Judas, an apostle… he could not fathom how Jesus would allow such a thing. Although Judas’ concern was more for the money he was losing by not having his own hands on that perfume than the indecency of Christ’s allowing such a show of affection!

THE GRACE of GOD,  poured out on mankind by CHRIST… absolutely SCANDALOUS!

PRAISE GOD!

Christ is the Answer… the Question However…

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 The Questions

 

For millennia man has been asking hard questions of themselves, of society and of history. During the last few generations, those hard questions either seem to have gotten harder or we simply do not like the answers, so, we modify or nullify the questions.  A new way to look at one of those plaguing questions can be to remove emotion or use logic to prevent a zealous nature from giving misleading answers to some fundamental questions. Before going any further, it is imperative to take just a moment to allay some fears that may be building out there. More harm has come to Christianity through the unbridled use of ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ or at least methodologies that some from those schools of thought who utilize logic and reason to attack Christianity and faith. Today the table has turned and logic and reason will confirm for us that it is possible to take facts and present a solid case about a difficult question and answer it. By using logic and reason alongside the Bible and not in place of it, certain facts come to light.

 

To lay the groundwork for any debate or discussion based on logic, there must be certain fundamentals; truths that each side agree to hold as facts. This particular logical search for an answer is based on a facts. For this specific argument from logic the following are statements of fact that are a required part of the logical foundation:

 

  1. The Bible is God’s Word and is, in the original manuscripts, without error and that the Word we have today has been divinely protected so that it is an accurate rendering of those manuscripts. That is, that upon points of doctrine, the Bible is consistent and without error. Paul recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16 states unequivocally, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”  
  2. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came in the form of man.  In the first chapter of John we read that Jesus Christ is God. He was also present in eternity past living with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Triune God created the world ex nihilo during which time Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead was very much alive. Christ existed fully eternally before and at the beginning of time as we know it.  The Apostle John writes, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”                                   
  3. That Jesus Christ left heaven to come into the world, as a human, to reach out to His own creation and show His love for them. Paul writes in Philippians 2:5 and following: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

 

The First Two Questions

 

1)  Is it reasonable to argue, from the testimony presented by the Bible that Jesus Christ ever ceased to exist?   

 

2)    Is it logical, from everything which is knowable about Jesus Christ or about any being, that He or any being who is eternal both from before time began through and after time ceases to exist, ever stopped existing and then began to exist again?   

 

Answers from Reason and Logic    

 

1)     If one holds to the truth of the biblical text which includes the testimony that states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”    then the answer is ‘No, it is not reasonable to argue that Jesus Christ ever ceased to exist.’

 

2)     Again, if one holds to the truth of Scripture which states, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man…” then again, the answer is ‘No, it is not logical that an eternal being could ever cease to exist and remain eternal as described in the Philippians passage and in other biblical texts.’

 

 

 

 

 

What difference do those answers make since most people of faith have usually believed such as is presented there?

 

 

 

There certainly are times when the answers with which society has a modicum of comfort become strikingly less comfortable when they are aligned with different questions. In one of Hollywood’s better historically based stories, Henry Fonda plays a military intelligence officer assigned to a forward unit near Spa, Belgium not far from the Ardennes Forest in December of 1946. Fonda plays Lt. Col. Kiley who holds out in his belief that the Germans are planning an all-out offensive. His commander, Col. Pritchard is hard pressed to tolerate Kiley but at one point offers the only positive suggestion to Kiley when Pritchard asserts that if Kiley is on the right track then perhaps his other officers are “not asking the right questions.”  

 

A short eight years after Battle of the Bulge was released, a U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that to abort a pregnancy was Constitutional. Since that 1973 decision arguments over everything from who can perform abortions, if a juvenile female must tell her parents she is having an abortion, and dozens of other questions have filled the court dockets. A singularly vital argument has been one of ‘when’ an abortion can be performed. At what stage of development does a fetus become a person? This is a particularly crucial argument because with it comes the theory that if the fetus is a person then, in the United States, according to the Declaration of Independence that each has been endowed by “their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” those being  the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

At this point an application of a new question to these comfortable answers is appropriate. Did Jesus Christ ever cease to exist as a person? The theology of the Triune God is One God in Three Persons. Those three persons are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If at any time, Jesus Christ was no longer a person, then logic would conclude that the Trinity ceased to exist. If, however, Jesus Christ never ceased being a Person, then from the split second prior to His miraculous conception through to the split second after His conception Christ remained a person. If Jesus Christ is a person at the very moment of His conception, then reason and logic require society to determine that every individual fetus, at conception is a person. In the United States of America, as asserted by our Declaration of Independence that if that fetus is a person then it must be also endowed with inalienable rights, primary of which is life!

Concluding thoughts…

This author certainly does not hold out any splendiferous hope that this short article and its reasoning and logic applied appropriately to what the Bible teaches in its entirety, not carefully chosen proof-texting snippets; will sway anyone who is not already in the circle of those who support choice – the choice of the child to live. However, if there are those who are somehow on the fence or even among those who believe themselves to be Christians yet support the idea of abortion; perhaps the Holy Spirit may use these words to help you understand the incongruity of such a position.