Tag Archives: grace

Can a Person Absolve your Sins? Drum roll please…

A penitent confessing his sins in the former L...

Image via Wikipedia (confessing to another)

About 500 years ago there was this spat. At the time, having your sins forgiven was a sort of pay as you go thing. It was a bit like a toll road.

The toll booth worker was the Priest. If you bought “indulgences” the Priest could better settle up your debt with God.

Handy little business model, especially when folks hope to avoid damnation, right?

This became rather upsetting. So these Reformer types started protesting. It was not so much to split from the Church, but to transform it–at first.

Of course, men can get pretty riled up about their new fantastic ideas (ever seen that?), and before anyone realized it, a huge split…others might say a heresy or rebellion… was cemented into place in history–forever changing the landscape of Christianity.

Spiritually speaking, some good was gained (and Catholics adjusted to these grievances by the 1960s with Vatican II), but as more and more people are beginning to realizing now, some very good and important things were lost because of going this route.

So, what is the real purpose of a priest, or priest-like figure? Is it necessary? Can absolution of sin come from a man in a white collar? What about a teenager in a crew neck? Or a lady with a scarf?

Drum roll, please…..

Oh!  Wait! Before, you start gathering firewood and a sturdy stake for my conflagration, please hear me out the entire way. (Then have at it; I’d like to hear from you.)

The I Timothy 2:5 “one mediator” verse is often used to underscore that Christ alone can forgive sins and be our mediator to God. It’s true. This was the mission of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

But Protestants have, by the over-reactive trailblazing of the Reformers, missed quite a bit of the spiritual benefits of what Jesus’ brother James talks about:

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

What is James saying…that confession and other believers’ prayers are powerful and effective against sin? Yes.

GASP.
Okay, not a total gasp. But how does this play out? You may wonder…

This confessing to each other is not the same as be able to actually take Jesus’ place (obviously). James shows us that confession to each other works. It does something important. God wants it to be done this way.

It absolves us (because God absolves us). So, it is true that we personally experience the relief of our guilt being removed. We experience, in real terms, the agency of God’s forgiveness of our guilt. Someone is there beside us, standing in the gap for us, so we can be reconciled more thoroughly, more completely than we can experience it otherwise. It is God’s work; and we are agents of his ministry.

These confessors  to whom we confess become a flesh and blood representation of God’s love that promotes gracious forgiveness and offers wholeness. It offers us freedom from guilt (felt guilt, and feeling or thinking as if Christ‘s work is not complete). It puts flesh on our spiritual justification.

It seems we can’t handle our sin on our own too well, at all.

We are sinful, and it’s not a private matter.

Just confessing to God, and keeping our mistakes and sin to ourselves, is not the recommendation and requirement of Christ’s disciples.

The Community of God (i.e. the Church; our brothers and sisters in the Lord) plays a vital role in our spiritual growth and growth in grace. Confession ushers in that felt healing of the sin and guilt which weigh us down, and disables us.

Our sin is a rejection of community (aka The Bride of Christ) and an act of selfishness.

Our sin is a destructive thing. Socially and spiritually destructive.

Confession and absolution, (the kind you might say/declare out loud to another person) restore us at a core level. To ourselves, to God, and to community (aka The Bride of Christ).

In this way, we act not as God, but on God’s behalf. We minister.

It is simply true that he forgives us. We concur and offer social restoration, and remind the confessing one of God’s gracious work and love for us.

We minister to each other, on equal footing, and we may offer God’s grace to a brother or sister who cannot yet properly apprehend it. We can accept their confession and offer forgiveness, so we speak the Truth of God’s Kingdom into their life. We help set the captives free. (Not because God can’t do it without us, but because he wishes to use us this way.)

YES. We may say, “You have confessed, and you are forgiven. God absolves you. I, too, forgive you. Go in peace, and rest in his love.”

Please offer this to others. Ask for it on your behalf, too.

Will you comment on this topic, please? Your input is vital on this one. Thank you.

Original Sin

How do you understand the notion of “Original Sin”?

If we suppose for just a few seconds, for argument’s sake, that the Garden of Eden story was left out of the Bible, what changes with some of our notions of Original Sin?

Thanks for your responses.

(part 1) The Living God vs. our dead idols

 

The Holy Fire did not consume the bush

 

Fire:

1. Normally destructive

2. A consuming chemical reaction

3. In art, symbolism, movies, and maybe in the human psyche, fire is seen as a living being, of sorts.

For example, witness lines of the film, Backdraft, 1991.

Robert De Niro’s character- Donald ‘Shadow’ Rimgale: It’s a living thing, Brian. It breathes, it eats, and it hates. The only way to beat it is to think like it. To know that this flame will spread this way across the door and up across the ceiling, not because of the physics of flammable liquids, but because it wants to. Some guys on this job, the fire owns them, makes ’em fight it on it’s level, but the only way to truly kill it is to love it a little. Just like Ronald.

Many times we function in life as if God is an idea. God may be getting frozen in our mind. Static. Stiff. Or maybe we think of God in relationship to things past: Bible stories, fixed doctrinal positions, the holy and immovable One.

Yet God is the only Living God. The Highest. All the other things we worship are dead, or they can make us numb, dead-like. Getting our fix of whatever…people, gossip, technology, gadgets, velocity, power, status, (etc. maybe you can think of others) are all tertiary distractions, fool’s gold. They don’t bring life, or growth, but instead more craving.

Let’s share a bit, shall we? Please list a dead god you’ve worshiped. (If you can, include some adjectives about it.)

Thank you for reading. 🙂

Are You Discouraged?

Oswald Chambers

 

 

Oswald Chambers meditation:

. . . when Moses was grown . . . he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens —Exodus 2:11

 

Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, ” ’. . . bring My people . . . out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ’Who am I that I should go . . . ?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God.
We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. It’s as if God had ignored the entire thing, and when we are thoroughly discouraged, God comes back and revives His call to us. And then we begin to tremble and say, “Who am I that I should go . . . ?” We must learn that God’s great stride is summed up in these words— “I AM WHO I AM . . . has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him— our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.

Have you thought about discouragement in this way?

Your thoughts or comments are encouraged.

What in the Hell?

fires of hell?

Scot McKnight has an intriguing post regarding Sharon Baker’s book Razing Hell: Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught About God’s Wrath and Judgment. His article here.

After you read these 7 considerations (from Scot’s post), will you please comment here?

1. Theodicy: how does God deal with evil if it, in effect, exists for ever in a hell-state? Does evil not continue to exist, even in spite of the statement in Revelation 21:1-4 that death and suffering will be no more? So, the issue here is squaring God’s goodness with eternal evil.

2. Eternal hopelessness: a traditional hell does not permit any hope after death for anyone, including those who have never heard. Is there a law that says God’s grace can only be active in the temporal sphere — that is, during our physical lifetime?

3. Eternal evil: does not the traditional view entail the view that God never really does purge his world of evil?

4. Justice vs. Love: the issue here is an old one. If God is love, how does justice fit in with that love. Is God ambivalent or split? An image of God that emerges for many is a cruel father who guides people to think of eternal punishment as an act of love.

5. Eternal divine violence: assumptions are that punishment is an act of violence and eternal punishment would mean God is eternally violent. She connects this view of God with acts of violence in history. She thinks God’s violence contradicts God’s love.

6. Retributive justice: again, a major issue is that God’s justice in the Bible — in Christ — is restorative but hell is a belief in a retributive justice that never becomes restorative.

7. Eternal punishment for temporal sin: how can it be just to punish a human being, who sinned temporally — that is over a life time (and no more), for an eternity for that temporal sin?

Speaking Event Sept. 26th

Author Ed Cyzewski and I will be teaming up to teach, pray, and experience God’s word, together with you, at this public event sponsored by the Redeemer Church, and called “The Basics of Reading and Praying Through the Bible.”

Redemption Church (link)

How should one read the Bible and study it?

What are spiritual practices, what are they for, and how does the use of the mysteriously named Lectio Divina benefit prayer and meditation on God’s word?

This Sunday, you will learn and experience this helpful prayer exercise for yourself with Lisa, and be better able to understand and utilize the Bible with Ed. You will be better equipped and motivated to grow closer to the Almighty God of the Bible through this engaging event.

If you’d like to find out more, or come, link here to the facebook event page.

No way to make it this time?

Contact Ed, or me to visit your group in the near future. See you soon! 🙂

Sunday Verse for Reflection

(Creative Commons photo of Robert Williams/Navy)

As you read these, absorb them. Worship our Maker and Savior today.

(3 versions/translations)

Psalm 37:7

(The Message)

Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.

Psalm 37:7

(Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Be silent before the LORD and wait expectantly for Him;
do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way,
by the man who carries out evil plans.

Psalm 37:7

(Today’s New International Version)

Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Thoughts or comments?