Who has the final authority to decide if you’re saved or not: You or God?
If it’s you, how exactly are you going to accomplish that? If it’s God, what are your responsibilities?
Once a person, or a group of persons, enters into a covenant with Jesus, there are only two paths forward: progressing from glory to glory, or progressing to become something worse than what you were before entering the covenant. One path that is not available is to go back to a previous stage of development.
Today in the West, Christian morality has become an autoimmune disease. Whereas is the past, Christian morality was a cure to the disease of sin, now that same morality is being used to justify all kinds of destructive and evil ideologies.
The way forward now is not to try and get back to the days when people respected Christian beliefs, although did not believe themselves. The way forward now is either to become something worse than we were before ever hearing of Christianity, or to move on to a more glorious state. To move on to a more glorious state requires a newer and stronger dedication to Jesus. Will it happen? Is it too late?
Do we fully grasp the righteousness of Jesus in the post-Reformation world? Is theology set in stone now? Was it perfected by the Reformers?
The Reformation did a lot of good for Christianity, but one thing it did not do is reconnect the Church with its Hebraic roots in covenant; i.e. the covenant started with Abraham and continuing on to Jesus and beyond. Post-Reformation Christians are more influenced by Plato than they are by Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, and even Paul.
Because the modern Church does not have a proper understanding of the covenant which existed between God and Israel, we get a whole lot wrong when trying to understand the life, teachings, and work of Jesus two thousand years ago.
Followers of Plato tend to believe that there is a standard of good and evil, which can exist apart from God, which God Himself submits to, even if He Himself created that standard. Hebrew faith, however, holds that God arbitrarily decides what is good and evil, and without God there would be no such thing as good and evil. If the Hebrews are correct, then how can we ever know if we are in right standing with God? According to the Hebrews, we can know through covenant: a covenant in which the conditions are clearly laid out for each party — God has His obligations and the people have theirs.
The righteousness of Jesus, then, in regards to His life and ministry two thousand years ago, is not so much dependant on Him perfectly submitting to a standard of good and evil as it is dependant on Him perfectly submitting to the conditions of the covenant existing between God and Israel.
So, we could say that the primary mission of Jesus (the man living two thousand years ago) was not to live a perfect life without sin on behalf of all mankind (although He did indeed do that); His primary mission was to fulfill the primary mission of Israel, which was to reconcile mankind with God.
That kind of sounds like saying the same thing twice in just a little different way. But, why couldn’t have God just given the mission of Israel directly to Jesus first? Why fumble around with Israel at all? I write a little about that here: In The Fullness of Time.
In Malachi 3:1-3 we read:
“Behold, I send My messenger,
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the Lord
An offering in righteousness.”
The messenger is John the Baptist, and the “Lord, whom you seek” is Jesus. This prophetic passage was fulfilled when Jesus came to His people and visited the temple 2000 years ago.
Jesus had plenty of warnings of judgement for His people, the Jews, at that time, and He expressed them in parables — see Matthew 21, 25, and Luke 19 for example.
The return of the King isn’t really seen as a happy time, is it? The Lord would return to Zion, but not in the way His people expected, and as a result, there would be resistance (Luke 19:14).
Today, we too are waiting for Jesus to return one day, but this idea of the King being away for a time and returning in wrath and judgment does not really apply anymore does it? I’m not saying there is no more judgement, and I’m not saying there is no more wrath. But, God’s wrath was satisfied in Christ, was it not?
Unlike in the first century, we are not waiting for Jesus to come back to Zion, to establish His kingdom, to pour out wrath, to rebuild the temple — all of that’s been taken care of. And, we the Church, now have full access to God through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was not the founder of a new religion, and His gospel teachings were not primarily teachings on how to be a good Christian — look to the other authors of the New Testament for that.
Jesus’ primary audience, in the four gospels, were the Jews. He was fulfilling Malachi 3:1-3, and proclaiming and warning of the imminent coming of the kingdom and the resulting judgement that would fall on the Jewish people.
When Jesus does return again, He will not be weeping (Luke 19:41-44), rather He will be crying out with joy as He comes to join His faithful people.