I admit, I spend an awful lot of time on dictionary.com. I think it’s important to be able to define words. I do, more often than not, use words inappropriately, but I think the ability to define them is paramount.
That said, I would like to offer the definitions to a few words I’ve found most Christians use, but whose meaning may not be completely clear.
If you will forgive me for doing so, I would ask that you read Genesis 2 and 3 before continuing. I will make references to this passage here without actually quoting the verses.
Law is a boundary to freedom. We are very used to such things in America. You can assemble as long as it is peaceably. You can say what you want, but if it is slanderous, there will be consequences. Adam and Eve could eat what they wanted, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
With the Law comes the Punishment for breaking the Law. In Adam and Eve’s case, you eat from that tree, you die. Law and Punishment are intertwined and indivisible. If you try to exercise your freedom outside of the bounds of the Law, you earn the Punishment for doing so.
Sin is breaking the Law and inviting the punishment. It is also the state of being removed from God’s presence. Sin defies God’s authority by overstepping the bounds of his Law.
Pronouncing the Punishment for breaking the Law is called Judgment. In the Judgment of Adam and Eve, their punishment included several provisions, including hard work, difficult childbirth, and death and even banishment from the Garden of Eden.
At first glance, this may not seem fair. The only Punishment declared with the Law was death, but they had additional provisions heaped on their Punishment. But what we see here is in fact the first instance of Mercy.
Mercy is the easing of Punishment. Their death should have been immediate, but it was not. While their lives were considerably more difficult than they experienced in the garden, they were given many years of life before their Punishment was exacted.
Repentance is turning back to God. Though we choose in our Sin to deny his authority, when we come to him sincerely desiring to live under his Law, he is merciful and offers us forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the pinnacle of Mercy. Forgiveness is releasing the lawbreaker from the Punishment, and restoring the freedom of the lawbreaker, subject once again to the bounds of the Law.
This type of Forgiveness is what the sacrifices of the Israelites bought, a release from the Punishment of their Sin. However, because they choose only to deny God’s authority, just as we do, when they were restored to their freedoms subject once again to the Law, they were already lawbreakers and once again deserving of Punishment.
So the problem is we enter this cycle. I live in a state of Sin, and so break the Law and deserve the Punishment of God’s Judgment. But if I turn from my Sin and Repent, he will show Mercy and Forgive me of my Sin and restore me to my freedom under the Law. But I am still in a state of Sin, and so break the Law as soon as my freedoms are restored.
Clearly, no matter how hard I try, as long as I am in a state of Sin and subject to the Law, I will only know God’s Judgment. Clearly, I need a Savior, someone or something outside of this cycle with the power to either get me out from under the Law or take away my Sin completely, not just the actions, but the state itself.
This is Grace. The unmerited gift of a Savior, of a release from the cycle of Sin’s captivity and from the oppression of the Law. Grace is this, though I only deserve the punishment worthy of a lawbreaker, I am given the inheritance of a son. Though I deserve to die, I am given life. Through my own actions, I forfeited everything, a garden of good food, and a tree of life, and instead invited the punishment of death. But God, through his grace, offers a new tree of life, the cross.
I can’t begin to explain how it all works. I understand that Jesus Christ is both God and man, though I can’t explain how. I understand that his death and resurrection have fulfilled the Punishment my Sin deserves under the Law, though I can’t explain how. I understand that the Holy Spirit through baptism, communion, and the bible, has created a new me, a me outside of the cycle of Sin. I understand that the Mercy of God now means that in my Repentance, my turning away from my Sin and back to my God, I am offered a Forgiveness that lasts, that remains true and unbroken. And I understand that I am now free, completely free, no longer bound by the Law, but by the Love of a God so deep and rich and un-understandable that he would die a brutal horrible death on the cross just to give me the opportunity to have this freedom.
I can’t explain how. I really can’t explain why. But I believe it.
Faith is more than belief. It’s believing it so much that it comes out in what you do. I am not a man of great Faith. Where the Law once bound my freedom, now my fears and reservations and my customs and desires all bind my Faith.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matt. 28
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” If I believe him, so what, it doesn’t do anything for any one. Even the demons know that’s true.
“Go.” That’s Faith. “Go.” I can believe him all I want, but until I Go, I’m not living out my Faith.
“I am with you always.” That’s a promise only a God can make.
I feel like such a huge dork. I left Joy out of the Fuwjax-lopedia. Thank you for correcting my omission.
I recently heard a sermon on the “Going” part of our faith life. The great commission, as Mathew 28 is called, is something that I, and I am sure almost every other Christian, see as something for the another Christian, blessed more by God with the spiritual gift of evagelism, to do. I also know that I, and would only assume that many other Christians do as well, come to turning points in our faith when we ask the question: is this it? I beleive in Jesus, poof! my sin is gone?
This is a two-fold problem. One is that yes, that’s it. The difference between Christianity and other world religions is Grace (with a capitol G because it’s from God). Other world religions are inward, human focused. I have all these rules to aspire to…I will live my life this way to be more powerful and more “good” in the next life….I will purge my life of ‘stuff’ to focus on how I relate to the world and reach an utopia. By default, human nature says The Only Way can’t be the one that has nothing to do with WHAT we do. That would be too simple, but in steps Christ to save us all, give us Grace, and make it just that ‘simple’
The second problem in an answer to “is this it?” Comes in knowing rather or not we are living a Faith life that is full and complete, because, no, this is not it.
How do we know? Let’s look at 1 John 1: 2-4 to see:
“The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We see from these verses that 1. belief, Faith if you will, is necessary. Next, 2. telling others so that 3. they can join in the fellowship of believers.
This is why we should evangelize, right? For the good of others, right? Is this it?
“We write this to make our joy complete.”
Happiness is an emotion. Human. Joy comes from God. If Grace is getting the cookie anyway after you were punished for hitting your brother. Joy is knowing that the cookies will never run out. There will always be a fresh batch right out of the oven.
The ‘going’ part of our Faith is looked at as “aw, man i have to.” When, instead, it should be “Whoop! I get to!” Because not only are you doing the will of God by following the last words Christ said to his followers, but you are also doing something for yourself. God says that He would rejoice(to be filled with joy) more over one turned sinner, then over a room full of believers. When you do the ‘going’ part you experience that Joy and understand the heart of God a little bit more.
Posted with : The Way