After A Bigger Gospel

So, there has been the historic church fight between those who say Jesus died for the sins of the elect only and those who say that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. And then each side has a bag of verses and they begin to throw them at each other.

Of course, context matters for each of the verses used, and you can find many a good debate on Youtube about such matters. I am not interested in debating that at the moment, but I would like to put forward a typological argument that incorporates what I think is right from both sides of that debate. Essentially, we need a bigger Gospel. A Gospel that envelopes the forgiveness of sins for the elect, and God’s love for His creation and its renewal.

Jesus is the victorious King, and in His victory was His death for sins the only thing He accomplished? No. It is one of the things He accomplished.

What else did His death accomplish?

Jesus accomplished the greatest exodus in history. When He was on the mount talking with Moses and Elijah, this is what they were discussing, His exodus to come (Luke 9.31). We are accustomed to the Exodus story. God was coming in wrath upon the land of Egypt. He was bringing death upon all people there, the Israelites included. And what they needed was a substitute. God, through Moses, proclaimed that if anyone would spread the blood of a lamb on the posts of the door of their homes they would live. This message went out to the Israelites and the Egyptians.

The lamb is slain, the blood is spilled, and God’s wrath passes over those under the blood. For those who disregarded the word spoken, the firstborn died.  The death of the lamb brought salvation for those who trusted God’s Word, and destruction to those who disregarded it.

And Jesus came to fulfill the greatest exodus in the history of the world.

He is the Lamb that was slain, and it is His blood that delivers us from the old world and from the penalty of our sin. This is typology. The old Adamic world is typified in Egypt, for example.

An exodus has two dimensions Either the death of the lamb, or the death of the first born. Those are the options. Salvation and wrath.

Jesus fulfills Passover in His body and blood, and Christians can generally track with Jesus being the Lamb of God, but is there anything going on with Jesus being the first born? He is the Incarnate Word, the Son of God, the new man born by the Spirit, and He is Mary’s firstborn, after all.

What did the firstborn of Egypt receive on the night of the death of the lamb? Death. The first born receives the death penalty for the unbelief of the household. Jesus as the first born, the new Adam received the sort of death the entire old creation deserved.

What did the Adamic world deserve as the firstborn? Death. But Jesus, the first born of God, took the death of the world upon Himself.

So, perhaps as Lamb, He dies for His people, and as First Born He dies for the world. In this sense, we can say that God so loved the world. All those in Adam have the proclamation made to them, and are called to join the covenant, and all those in the covenant have their sins covered in the blood of the Lamb.

Not only did Jesus take His people out of Egypt (the old world) He is transforming Egypt (the old world) into a city of God, the New Jerusalem. In union with Christ, we are new creations.

Be Offensive

God saves. He shows favor. And that is offensive.

Take any example of God’s saving acts and you will see a few things. For example, Israel brought out of Egypt in the book of Exodus. God’s saving act to redeem created three categories of people. The first group of people would be the ones being saved and rejoicing in it. The second group of people would be the Egyptians whom God is crushing in order to save the first group. And the third group of people are those to whom salvation is extended but think it stinks (usually a subset within the first group, known as the grumblers and scoffers).

God saves and He offends the Egyptians and He offends the Israelites. The Egyptians tell the Israelites to get out and take their Yahweh with them (although some Egyptians converted and went with Israel). God saves and He offends the Israelites. After all, what did Moses bring them out into the desert for? Simply to die!? It was better in Egypt where we were slaves! At least we had onions.

God’s salvation is offensive. When God used Gideon to save His people there were the Midianites who were offended and crushed, and their were again Israelites who were simply beside themselves because Gideon caused such an offense. Gasp! We are in trouble now you rabble-rouser!

God saved Israel from the Philistines through David. The Philistines were offended and crushed, and some Israelites (David’s brothers) complained. David was only there to see the bloodshed of battle, they grumbled.

The same is true today. Talk to any evangelist and ask them who is offended by what they preach, and you are guaranteed to hear two answers: unbelievers and Christians. When God’s salvation is made known, people are always offended, and quite often it is even those who claim to be His people.

Of course, there is a way to be offensive where we are simply jerks and that is not what we are after. But someone calling you a jerk, and you actually being a jerk are two different things. If someone labels you a bigot, or some other thing, because you say, “Repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus.” Well, you are not a jerk, they are simply blaming you for the offensiveness of God’s salvation. For them it is the stench of death. Like the Jews and the Romans, they simply want Jesus to stay dead.

Many times we Christians hesitate to point at sin because we don’t want to offend. Many times we don’t speak up when we should, we don’t take the opportunities to bring sanity to insanity because we are afraid we might cause a conflict. By giving in to that fear, we are missing many opportunities to tear down strongholds. By giving in to the fear of being offensive, we are keeping Jesus in the grave. Idolators and adulterers get what they want when the church shuts her mouth.

This boils down to the fear of man.

Call it a spiritual law if you like, God is offensive.

We have two options: fear man and skitter about in darkness refusing to shine a light on the gloom and smog of culture, or fear God and offend someone.

Only one of those scenarios will end up in the salvation of sinners in the resurrected Lord.


Mammon and Amen

A Lord’s Supper Meditation

Luke 16:1-18

Etymologically the word mammon and amen come from the same root. Mammon is the thing in which you place your trust and security, for many it is money. In the parable in Luke 16 mammon is money, that which we think will secure or future. This is, of course, idolatry. We trust the gift rather than the Giver. We trust the created thing rather than the Creator.

At the Table we find God’s promise to us that He is more trustworthy than mammon. Money, and created things, are fleeting and unstable, but the body and blood of Christ reaffirm God’s everlasting promise that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Rather than finding hope and security in mammon, our only hope is in the Name of Jesus, the Name in which we pronounce our Amen.