Timeout: Cosmic Conflict vs. Historicism

(Scott M Esh) #63

Hi Phil,
Just wanted to say that I appreciate your openness and respectful discourses. They give me hope that Christianity has not lost its way completely.

If you will note on the people writing about judgment, much is written about the act of rendering a verdict, and the rendering of punishment, but few, if any talk about WHY God has a judgment. How can anyone know how to render a verdict, if they don’t even know why there is a court case in the beginning?

If you read Daniel chapter 7, you will find something interesting. Nowhere in the entire chapter do you see a single verse about the judgment talk about anyone not making it to heaven. Of course we know that people will be lost, but nowhere in the text do we see any mention of people not making it.

In Revelation 20, we see nothing at all that says anyone will be saved. There are two different judgments, and they are as different as can be.

In Jude 14-15, we see that Christ comes, not the second time, but the third time, for the Judgment of the wicked. But looking at the text, why is he going to perform this judgment? “To convince the wicked”. Let that set in for a very long moment. The purpose of the judgment of the wicked is not to punish them, but to convince them. ( yes, punishment will happen, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

As for God’s strange act, unlike what many people ASSUME (without any proof, I might add), no one has proven Biblically that his strange act is the fire.

Isaiah 14 tells us that God will respond to Satan’s accusations by showing everyone what Satan is really like.

There is a lot more, but we can start with that. It’s a big subject.

(Phil van der Klift) #64

Thanks for your responding Scottmesh.

I like how you are looking at things carefully, bit-by-bit and questioning and exploring assumptions rather than just assuming the assumptions are correct. Christianity in general and some denominations in particular have discouraged this with unfortunate consequences…

You are right - it is a HUGE subject and has so many inter-related dimensions that also intersect with so many other ‘topics’/‘issues’.

I am following you so far.

Look forward to hearing more from you in time…

(Scott M Esh) #65

It happens in almost every SDA church in the world every week at church. Can’t believe that you can’t see it.

(Scott M Esh) #66

Now adding another piece of the puzzle.

Judgment is always referenced in relation to sin. So naturally, we need to know what sin is.

All throughout Christianity sin is defined as “the transgression of the law”. Although it is correct, there is a major problem with that.

The problem goes like this:

God created a set of arbitrary rules.
Satan broke those rules.
Adam and Eve broke those rules.
And now I have broken those rules.
God is angry with us for breaking His rules.
He has decided that all who break His rules will die and not live in heaven.

We realize that God is now against us, but maybe, just maybe, if we go back to keeping the rules, then if we get a good lawyer (Christ), then he can convince God to change His mind and declare a verdict in our favor so we can go to heaven.

The problem here is that every single interaction with God is purely from a legal perspective, so our ENTIRE relationship with God is 100% legalistic in every way. There is no personal interaction in any real way because our only perceived need for God in our lives is for our legal acquittal. Forgiveness is for a legal declaration of innocence, our behaviors are to prove our legal innocence, and going to heaven is based on our legal acquittal for our crimes against a set of rules. And our relationship with God? We need to toe the line so that our legal problems don’t get any bigger!

In other words, we have just discovered how legalism enters in to Christianity! The worse part of it is that once person sees God this way, he is doomed to be a legalistic no matter what UNTIL a very important thing happens. And what is that?

Moving right along (to answer that very question).
If I had a basketball and I asked three different people what is was like, one would say that it is round. Another would say that it is orange, and another would say that it has black stripes. Who is right? They all are. Each is describing a different aspect or characteristic of the basketball.

So what if sin is more than just the transgression of the law? I submit to you that there is a far more important definition of sin. No, I am not trying to commit “blasphemy” and do away with “the transgression of the law”. I am simply adding to the picture.

Since this is getting long, I will temporarily stop here as this is a good stopping point until I have more time.

(Scott M Esh) #67

According to your theory on Structuralism, what you are really saying is that humanistic understandings of Biblical words will change over times as humans will gradually change the meanings of the words.

This whole concept implies that the meanings of the words will change so much over time that the Bible will not say what was originally meant. Thankfully, with this understanding we let a God off the hook since we have chosen to redefine what the Bible says to what we want it to say. And now that the Bible is no longer the word of God, we can take His place and preach OUR more important personal desires in its place.

I think the Structuralist thinking is severely flawed.

(Kim Green) #68

That can happen…on a different level. However, the commenter was looking for more “proof” than the usual “crimes”. I wouldn’t assume that I did not “see”. :grinning:

(Steve Mga) #69

Perhaps SIN is the “removal of ourselves from God.”
Throughout the Old Testament, God calls the people to become like Him.
When Moses requested to see God when they were on the Mount, what
did God do?
God described His actions, His behavior, His personality.
THAT! is the seeing God in ALL HIS GLORY!
Many times God calls for Remembrance of His GLORY. The GLORY that
He “showed” to Moses in the Mount.
In the New Testament, it says WE will be able to see Him. WHY? Because
WE will be like Him.
We let God REMOVE all of those “normal” human behaviors that Paul describes
in both Galatians and Ephesians. Over time receive a “renewing of the mind” and
become infused with the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
And we Find that Rest and Peace we read about in Hebrews 4.
The Rest and Peace that Israel never found in the Wilderness walking with God
to God, because they allowed their “Natural” human behaviors to get in the way.
And refused to give them up.

(Scott M Esh) #70

Point taken.
God Bless.

(Scott M Esh) #71

To say this is to believe that God wrote a book no one can understand, and then tell his people it was written to show his people what they should know.

You can be as sincere as can be, but if you have a map of Detroit, you will never be able to use it to find your way around Atlanta.

Find the right way to study Revelation, and it will become an amazing book.

Right now, you are surrounded by a lot of false humanistic psudo intellectualism disguised as great forms of hermaneutics. Reject the wrong ways to study, find the right one, and you will find the truth.

Don’t give up.

(Phil van der Klift) #72

I look forward to hearing what the “more than” is … when you have the time.

(Bruce Clements) #73

I don’t believe god wrote a book no one could understand. I know that god isn’t in the publishing industry and never wrote any books, whatsoever, unless you call Nature a book.

Every book I ever read was written by a human.

And by the way, whenever an theist or atheist tells me I must trust his beliefs and/or skepticism above my own knowledge, I’m become even more convinced that while I don’t have all the answers, I must be headed in the right direction.

(Scott M Esh) #74

So if we only look at the Bible through the mindset that “Sin is the transgression of the law”, and only that definition, then we are forced to look at everything in the Bible with that definition. The problem is that that will not work. It is no different than trying to force a square through a round hole.

Psalms 32:5 talks about “the iniquity of my sin”. Notice that iniquity and sin are NOT the same thing. The Greek word for “iniquity” is 5571 “Avon” which is derived from 5753 “Avah”. The meaning is “the perverted outcome of perverting or distorting something sinful”. In other words, in the actual act of sinning, we are “transgressing the law”, but AFTER we transgress the law, we are experience the iniquity that comes from committing that sin.

For example, I kill someone. The act of killing that person is sin, “the transgressing of God’s law”. Part of the iniquity of that sin is that the person I killed is dead, I feel guilty (if I still have a conscience) for doing it, the relatives of the person I killed hate me, etc. All of these things that are the result of having committed the sinful act are what the Bible defines as the “iniquity of the sin”.

So why is this important? “Transgression of the law” is the legal part of sin. It shows our relationship to the law. But when we understand that iniquity is also present, then we can now understand that once a sin has been committed, it has an EXPERIENTIAL component!

Look at Psalms 38:
David is describing sin, but he is NOT talking about it in a legal way at all. Yes, the legal aspect of sinning is important, and it is clearly part of salvation throughout the entire Bible, but the entire passage in chapter 38 is only talking about the experience of sin. Notice how he describes it:

" A loathsome DISEASE"
“There is no soundness in my flesh”
“Neither is there any rest in my bones”
“Mine INIQUITIES are gone over my head”
“As a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me”
“I go mourning all day long”
" My wound stink and are corrupt"
“I am troubled”
I am bowed down greatly"
“I am feeble and sore broken”
" I have roared by reason of the disquitness of my heart"
“My groaning is not hid from thee”
“My strength failed me”
“My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore”

These experiences are NOT the act of transgressing the law, but the natural consequences, or what happens to the sinner AFTER the sin is committed. This occurs, not in place of sinning, but is simply the next step after committing the act. There is nothing legal about this stage of sinning, but completely experiential.

Look at Isaiah 53:

“Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”
“He was bruised for our INIQUITIES!”
“The chastisement of our peace was upon him”
“With his stripes we are healed”
“The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all”

Notice He took the Iniquity to the cross. Not only is He offering us legal forgiveness, he is offering to be our substitute for our iniquities as well!

Not sure? I John 1:9:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (Aphiemi= not hold it against us (legally) AND cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.

If the first part of the verse is unquestionably covering legal forgiveness, then cleansing us from everything associated with that sin includes the iniquity that Isaiah 53, tells us he took to the cross as our substitute.

So here’s the problem. If every time we read sin in the Bible and we read it as ONLY “the transgression of the law”, we will always look at everything written in a legal sense only. The problem with that is that huge sections of the Bible talk about experiencing the natural outcomes of the act and what sin does, not in a legal sense, but experientially. So to EXPERIENCE forgiveness, we need to read all of those passages in context.

This is getting long and is a good stopping point, so I’ll write more soon, picking up where I left off.

(Phil van der Klift) #75

Thanks again Scottmesh

I too had discovered the same as you are saying regarding iniquity via exploration of the Hebrew - so I am in agreement with you on what you are saying.

Consistent with the principle you are proposing, what if the ‘law’ the Bible is referring to is not legal, but natural law (ie principle-based constants as opposed to arbitrarily constructed rules? That would make transgression of the law also an experiential phenomenon because all natural law is experiential?

(Scott M Esh) #76

Hi Phil,

Hope you are doing well.

The Bible is very clear that the law is legal and that salvation is legal. However, that is part of the problem. Just as sin is legal AND experiential, salvation is too.

Mathew 1:21 tells us that salvation is “from sin”.

I John 1:9 tells us about legal forgiveness and experiential cleansing both. Isaiah 53:6 tells us that Christ also took our iniquity to the cross as our substitute. So why would he do that?

I am going to address your comment on natural law as a part of this, but first I want to persue why Christ took our iniquity to the cross.

Genesis :31 tells us that everything God made was good.

In James 1:15, he tells us “do not err”. James is very concerned that what He tells us is understood. There apparently were misconceptions about God that some bad things come from Him. He says, “do not err”, “every good gift and every perfect gift comes from God”. There are many other places that say the same thing. Everything good comes from God, That also tells us, and the Bible supports this, that everything bad comes from Satan.

So what does this have to do with the conversation? That’s what is so important. Iniquity is more than just an experience.

John 3:16 is very important here it says:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not be punished by an angry God, but have everlasting life.”

There is a tendency to read it that way in Christianity, but the words used are “not perish”. Looking up the word “perish” in the original Greek does mean to perish. When someone is perishing they are ALREADY in the process of dying. They are not waiting for a punishment. They are already in process.

Notice what God says in the very next verse:

It tells us that God does not condemn, and That Jesus was not sent to condemn. So who is condemning man? We continue in verse 18: " he who doesn’t believe is condemned ALREADY. Now John just said that God and Christ do not condemn, judgment day is far in the future, but men that do not believe are condemned ALREADY. So again, how can man already be condemned thousands of years before the judgment? Going back to John 3:16, we see the word perish again. Sinful man is already dying. James gives us the roadmap:

James 1:15 tells us that “sin, when it is finished, bringers forth punishment from an arbitrary, angry God.” No, it brings death.

Here is the very simple concept. Sin is simply self- destructive behavior. We are already dying. Condemnation in the Bible is not a humanistic condemnation of others, it is a condition! Biblical condemnation is not the God is angry with us, but that sin is already killing us. So is it the act of transgressing the law that is killing us? No, it is simply an act. It is the iniquity that is killing us. Psalms 38 and Isaiah 53 are overwhelmingly clear on this. The woman caught in adultery, Jesus did not condemn her. He told her not to sin anymore because sin is self destructive and the iniquity would kill her.

So if we read the Bible through humanistic definitions, and only look at sin from a legal viewpoint, which does exist, then it is not difficult to see why we constantly view everything in the Bible relating to judgment from a legal perspective. An arbitrary set of legal rules can only be judged by a legal authority with an arbitrary judgment. But when we see sin in all of its ugliness, we can see a different picture. Yes, there is a legal battle going on, and there is a legal component to the judgement, but iniquity must also be dealt with in the judgment. It must also be dealt with in salvation as well.

Until we understand that sin is the act of transgressing God’s law AND self destructive behavior, we will not realize the difference between the two when we study. If we are looking for it, we will see it everywhere. Every time we see the word iniquity, we will see a completely different picture of sin.

What if God is not some arbitrary judge angry with us, but is actively trying to save us from the horrible iniquity of sin?


(Phil van der Klift) #77

Interesting… this is in fact the same conclusion that I have also come to as well.

I agree with you on this too…

While you state that the law and salvation are more than just legal, I am having difficulty seeing that they are in any way legal. I know the English translations portray a legal aspect, but the original languages also support a non-legal conceptualisation. What are you seeing that is leading you to the conclusion that the law and salvation are legal? I am interested in your view in more detail.


(Frankmer7) #78

The law and salvation are far more than legal. They are covenantal and relational. Abraham was the first model of covenant with God by faith. The Law/Torah was a covenant that God made with a group of people through a mediator. It’s terms defined the covenant responsibility that they took on. The center of its housing was called the ark of the covenant.

Jesus then made a new covenant as the ultimate covenant keeper and maker, now with all people, fulfilling what Israel never did. He puts the law/God’s principle of love in the hearts of his followers. Salvation is simply deliverance into this relationship with God through Jesus. While there are definite legal images and aspects that Paul delineates, it is always in the context of covenant relationship.



(Cfowler) #79

Great explanation, Frank

Very succinct, clear, and from my understanding of scripture, correct.

(Phil van der Klift) #80

Thanks for your input to the conversation Frank.

I agree with you that the law and salvation are more than legal. Do you believe they are legal at all - and if so, what do you base that belief on?

PS: I am not asking these questions to try and change anyone’s opinion, but to be able to have an open conversation where all points of view are on the table and the basis/biblical support/rationale for those points of view are also on display for people to check out for themselves.

At the end of the day, we each need to be fully persuaded in our own mind regarding whichever viewpoint we adopt (Rom 14:5). It would be fantastic to see a Christian environment where this point is valued and where open conversations are welcomed without the pressure of trying to convict/convert anyone of anything because that is left to the Holy Spirit to do (Jn 16:8).

(Scott M Esh) #81

Actually, we are not waiting on God, He is waiting on us. Matthew 24:14 is very clear. To believe that we are waiting on Him is proof we do not know how the end of the controversy is supposed to occur.

(Scott M Esh) #82

I have really enjoyed the conversations we were having Phil, and I had many beatiful things to share with you, but our conversation has been derailed into a direction that will not allow me to finish. Frank’s understanding of the Bible is in direct contrast to not only Adventism, but to most of the Bible. Because of all the people rushing into the conversation, there is no possible way that I can share the message I wish to share with you.

Frank and I have long since agreed that we cannot reconcile our differences, so any conversation of theology between us will only result in degrading to arguing as to who is right, so I will remove myself from any further conversation on this thread so that everyone can express their views and let this discussion meander a thousand different directions becoming too diluted to answer any of your questions. But, expresssing one’s self is what a forum is for, so ideas will be presented.

I just have one question:

I Timothy 4:10 tells us that “God is the Savior of all men, specially those that believe”.

No one in all of Christianity has successfully answered this question yet, except one specific group of Bible students. I am sure that no one will be able to answer this question according to current theological belief systems, especially those who believe as Frank does. Until this verse is answered properly, salvation will not be properly understood.

It is not that I am afraid to engage in the discussion, but that in attempting to do so,
I would simply be wasting time trying desperately to keep the conversation on track while everyone keeps trying to run in different directions to prove their own particular viewpoints.