|Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 8:27 pm: || |
A PARABLE ON A PARABLE
Jared was a tax collector. And, therefore, pretty much a loner. You see, people did not like tax collectors in his day. Not only did they take away the hard-earned money of the common folk, it was also suspected that they skimmed their own gratuity from the top.
Now Jared was not the worst kind of tax collector. He was quite fair concerning taxes of the humble people; he only supplemented his governmental wages with excess from those who had an abundance. After all, it is not as if they would ever miss it, and he could certainly use it more than they. Occasionally, he would use that same excess to give to someone truly in need, like his brother whose wife had been seriously ill last month. Yet, even though Jared was quite "fair" in redistributing the excess tax money, people were still very distrustful of him. This bothered him, but not enough to convince him to change jobs.
One warm evening, Jared was sitting outside on his rooftop trying to benefit from the shyest breeze that might whisper by him. He heard someone call his name, and he strode to the edge of the roof to identify the youthful voice. "Ho, uncle!" the voice resounded.
"Tobias! How are you? And how is your mother?"
"Mother is well, thanks to you and the money you loaned to my father. The doctors say she will recover completely in time."
"Wonderful!" exclaimed Jared, not bothering to clarify that it was really the taxpayers that had "loaned" the money to Jared's brother. "Do you have a moment to spare? I would truly love to hear how my brother and all of his family are faring. Will you come in and dine with me"
"Uncle, I would be happy to eat with you. I have been on the road for hours, on my way back from Bethlehem. It would be refreshing to break bread in good company."
"Well, then come on up here, and I will have Tamar bring us some bread and wine."
Jared called down to his servant to bring some food for himself and his guest as Tobias scrambled up the steps to Jared's roof and made himself comfortable on an plump pillow on a woven reed carpet.
"So," began Jared, "what brings you by my door this evening?"
"Father sent me to Bethlehem to settle one of his accounts. With Mother being so ill, he has not left home much lately; he has entrusted the settling of accounts to me."
"And were you successful in Bethlehem?"
"I was. Father will be pleased."
"I am glad to hear it. Was your trip pleasant?"
"Pleasant indeed," replied the lad. There was a pause while the younger sat quietly, brow furrowed in thought. Before Jared could enquire what troubled him, Tobias continued, "Do you know of this man Jesus of Nazareth?"
Jared thought. "Yes, I have heard of him. I have heard that fanatics flock around him, claiming that he performs miracles."
"I have heard these things also. Uncle..." the youth paused again, as if reluctant to continue, yet pressured to express something of great import. "Uncle, I saw him today."
"Truly, Tobias? Please, tell me about him. What is he like?"
"To look at him, you would not notice anything outstanding. He looks like any other common person, yet he speaks with a--a kind of power, as if he were higher in authority even than the king himself. And yet, it is not a power of physical force or threat. He speaks as if, well, as if he were ruler not only over the people of the kingdom, but over the world itself. I have heard it said that he speaks to storms, and they cease."
Jared was about to say something light to break the tension, but then he noticed the intensity of the look on Tobias' face. He really believed what he was saying! "I see that you have been strongly influenced by this prophet yourself, nephew."
"Uncle, I saw him make a man walk who had not walked in 15 years. I saw that same man pick up his pallet and carry it down the street, leaping and praising God."
Jared's eyebrows rose. "I should say that would be an astonishing experience. But are you sure it was for real. Perhaps it was planned as a show for those who do not believe."
"Oh, no. I heard people talking, how they had known him years, how astonished they were when they saw him leaping and dancing for joy. I heard that all the Prophet said to him was, 'Your sins are forgiven you. Go in peace.' I saw him rise straight up from the bed, his eyes filled with glory, his skin pink and healthy, his withered muscles firm and full. Uncle, do you think that the devil can heal?"
"You mean, son, that you think that Jesus might be a prophet of demons and not of God?"
"I don't know. I only know I must find the answer. I know what I saw," Tobias answered.
The subject changed and the two sat and spoke of family matters over a tray of dates and figs, breads and cheese. The wine relaxed Tobias to the point that he accepted Jared's invitation to stay the night.
After Jared had sent Tobias on his way early the next morning, he began to gather about him the things that he would need for this day's work. But all the time he was doing this, the words of Tobias kept repeating themselves in his head. Jared had heard of this man Jesus, but had not given him much thought. Like the other self-proclaimed messiahs, he too would soon fall silent and not be heard from again. And, yet, the stories of this man were different. The tales of healing and raising the dead to life again were rather unique, although others had claimed to work miracles also.
That day, Jared was very scrupulous in his collections. For some reason, he felt moved to be very precise in his work, not to shortchange anyone even a fraction of a farthing.
All that week, Jared went about his work, collectiong only the tax that was due the government. Even as he hurried about with his weekly chores, the words of his nephew haunted him. That Friday, Jared decided he must sate his curiosity once and for all.
Jared spent the night with a cousin in Jerusalem, and early on the sabbath, made his way to the Temple. Even at this early hour, the Temple courtyard was already bustling. Jared had not been to the Temple in some years; not that he no longer believed in the Jewish system, it was all a matter of time. To prevent traveling on the sabbath, he had to quit work quite early on Friday to reach Jerusalem before sundown. People already stood in line with their sin offerings, thank offerings, peace offerings. The poorer one had only small birds in roughly hewn cages; the wealthier with sheep and cattle.
Jared stood in the background and watched as a man and a boy approached the altar with one particularly beautiful lamb. He watched in growing anguish, knowing what would be the fate of that innocent creature. The lamb followed his master obediently, unaware of what was awaiting him. Jared watched the sacrifice with a twisting in his stomach. It dawned on him that it was the very deeds of a man such as himself that necessitated the death of this harmless and spotless lamb. And then, with a flash of revelation, Jared realized his own sinfulness, and the great toll that must be paid for the remission of sin. In agony, he grasped his breast, his head bowed to the earth with the heaviness of guilt and said, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."
Quickly he exited the Temple yard before anyone could notice the anguish that he was experiencing. But someone had already noticed. In fact, two people had noticed, one of them a prominent Jewish religious leader.
Jared tarried at his cousin's house for the remainder of the sabbath, trying to sleep, trying to escape the experience that had so profoundly affected him at the Temple. But sleep would not come, so, after the sabbath, Jared journeyed home.
The next week, Jared redoubled his efforts to tax justly and properly, and even undercharged some of the people whom he had overtaxed, making up the difference out of his pocket. He realized how wrong he had been in overtaxing even the wealthy. The money simply was not his to take. He made a vow to systematically return all the funds he had absconded over a period of time, to make things right. He had seen how sinful he was, and the terrible wages that sin brings, and he wanted desperately to have a clean heart and clean hands.
Later that week, Tobias stopped in to see him again. The two embraced.
"Nephew! You are back this way so soon?"
"Father sent me to Jerusalem to purchase some merchandise. I am on my way home."
"You must come in and tarry with me this evening," Jared offered.
"I must return home on the morrow, but I will be glad to share your hospitality tonight," said the younger man. "There is something I must tell you."
"News? Is your mother ill? Your father?"
"No, my family is well. What I have to tell you is about this man Jesus."
"Come up on my roof, sit, and Tamar will bring us some fruits, bread, and wine."
Tobias climbed the stairs and made himself comfortable on the mat on his uncle's rooftop.
"So, have you taken up with this man, Jesus?"
"Yes, uncle, I have. But He is not just a Man."
"A prophet, then?"
"He is much more than a prophet. He is Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jared raised an eyebrow. "But we are all sons of God, and Abraham, and Moses."
"No, uncle. He is the Son of God. He will set up God's kingdom here in Judea. He will free the captives and enslave the oppressors."
Jared look sharply around him onto the streets and courtyards below. "Be careful what you say, lad. Those are treasonous words. You could be killed for saying such."
"He is the Son of God. I have seen the miracles flow from His fingertips. He will save Israel."
Jared was silent for a moment. "I went to the Temple last sabbath. I went there to see the one who causes such a stir in Judea..." Jared began.
"I know," replied the other.
"You know?" asked Jared, surprised.
"Yes, one of his followers, your former colleague, saw you there."
"Saw me? One of my colleagues? Who?" exclaimed Jared.
"Levi Matthew, of Bethany."
"Matthew! A follower of Jesus?"
"Yes," replied the younger. "He has been with him for almost three years. He said he saw you at the Temple."
"I did not see him."
"He was there with Jesus of Nazareth."
"Jesus was there? I did not see him either."
"But He saw you also. In fact, he pointed you out to His disciples."
Jared flushed as he remembered his Temple experience.
The lad continued, "You said a prayer."
"Oh, no, surely no one heard..." Jared began.
"In fact, there was another man who heard your prayer also."
Jared stood and paced uncomfortably.
Tobias went on, "A Pharisee of high standing was giving his morning prayers. He prayed, 'I give God all glory because He has made me to be better than other men, such as thieves and adulterers, and that poor tax collector standing over there. I give my tithe and offerings, with His help, I fast twice a week.' The Pharisee prayed very loudly so that many could hear, including Jesus and His followers who were standing near the Temple gate."
Jared looked long and steadily at his nephew. Tobias, trying to cover his uncle's embarrassment, hurried on with his tale. "Levi Matthew told me that Jesus condemned the Pharisee."
"Condemned?" Jared was surprised yet again.
"Yes," said Tobias. "In fact, Jesus said that you went home reconciled with God and not the other man."
Jared sat down, his brow furrowed. "How could this be?"
"I am not certain, uncle. All I know is that Jesus said that God heard your prayer."
"Heard my prayer?"
"And not that of the Pharisee?"
There was a very long silence. After a few moments, Tobias cleared his throat self-consciously and told Jared that he was tired and would like to go to bed.
Jared lay in bed nearly all night long, staring into the blackness of the night, trying to make some sense of his nephew's words. In the wee hours of the morning, Jared decided to return to the Temple and see if he could find some answers, perhaps even speak with Jesus himself.
The rest of the week, Jared lived in anticipation of going to the Temple on the sabbath. Jared kept a close account of the taxes and overcharged no one. He would have to wait a few more weeks, however, before paying back the goldsmith excess taxes so that he would have a nice offering for the Temple. On sabbath, the Temple was crowded again, bustling with pilgrims and local folks alike, all there to worship God on His holy ground. Jared looked around in the throng of worshippers to see if he could catch a glimpse of Jesus of Nazareth. He stood up on a pile of wood to get a better vantage point. He could not see anyone matching the description of Jesus, but he did see a Pharisee standing on the edge of the Temple steps, praying loudly. Jared could not make out the words, so he pushed his way closer. "And, God of Abraham, Isaac, and David, I praise you for helping me to walk in the paths of righteousness, I thank you that I am not a vile sinner, but that I am able to keep the law You have given to Your children..."
Tobias' words were verified. Surely this was the Pharisee of whom he had spoken. Jared muttered a low prayer, "God have mercy on me, a sinful man," and exited the Temple quickly.
Still, Jared had not seen Jesus. So he planned to go back to the Temple weekly until he should catch a glimpse of this Man who had miracles in His fingertips. The week went quickly. He did his work quickly and efficiently, tried to be very scrupulous in his taxation, but he did take just a little more from a couple of his wealthy patrons for a substantial offering at the Temple.
The next Friday, he hurried to Jerusalem in great anticipation. Surely tomorrow he would see Jesus of Nazareth. He entered the Temple courtyard on sabbath morning. He was early this time; the crowds had not come yet. Still among those wandering idly in the courtyard, he was able to spot the same Pharisee as he strode to his strategic position on the Temple steps. He began praying, "Lord, I thank You that You have made me to love your law, that I am not as other men, vile sinners...."
Jared, upon seeing that Jesus and His followers were not in sight, bowed his head slightly and said, "God be merciful to me, a sinner," and exited the Temple courtyard.
That week, Jared again pondered Tobias' words that his prayer had resulted in his being reconciled with God. If his prayer caused him to be justified, then he should tell others that they, too, can be justified. He began to make plans for what had become his weekly journey to Jerusalem.
This sabbath, he spotted the same Pharisee immediately, but this time, Jared positioned himself closer to the Pharisee. Before the Pharisee could begin praying, Jared said, out loud this time, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." The Pharisee barely glanced his way before he started his morning prayer. Jared did not stay to hear what he said, but quickly exited.
The next week, Jared got to the Temple earlier so that he could find a good position in which to place himself so that more people could hear his message and know what it meant to be justified. He waited until the Pharisee had finished his prayer, then he began to pray, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner," and then left the courtyard.
It became a weekly habit of Jared's. One sabbath, Jared did not wait for the Pharisee to finish praying. Instead, he prayed loudly, trying to overpower prayer of the other, "I thank you, God, that You in Your great mercy have revealed to me that I am a sinner. Please reveal to this Pharisee that he is a sinner also..."
About this time, another One entered the Temple courtyard. His eyes took in the entire scene: Pharisee praying loudly from the Temple steps, Jared praying even more loudly at a distance, and as His eyes traveled from one to the other, He saw no difference between the two.
|Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 8:49 pm: || |
As usual, you have pulled another dandy from your stash. How true! I will print this one off and re-read it tomorrow.
|Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 8:56 pm: || |
You are just TOO sweet.
|Jude the Obscure|
|Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 9:52 pm: || |
Thanks so much, Patti!
Isn't it great how the thrill of the gospel can inspire in us expression in the arts?
I'm thinking of painting, sculpture, architecture, fiction, prose, verse, music performance, music composition, dance, chorography, drama.... I'm sure there are more.
Thanks for the poem on another Discussion and for the parable on this Discussion.
|Jude the Obscure|
|Posted on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 5:24 pm: || |
Patti, this reminds me of another parable:
Outside the SAD GC office skyscraper (cloudbrusher?) an elderly homeless black man, whom I'll call Nate, was encountered by a nattily-dressed, energetic GC "Prexy" Bob as he bounded up the magnificent outside steps leading upward to the main entrance of the headquarters of this vast multinational corporation.
Thinking to play the Good Samaritan role, Prexy Bob, quoth, "Yo there, my friend! How about a job as a janitor?"
"Huh, sir?" said Nate.
"A job! Don't you want a job? Get you off the wellfare roles and the food stamps?"
As the truth sank in, Nate brightened into a broad grin, with only a few teeth missing. "Yes, sir!" he reposted.
So on Prexy Bob's orders the man was soon hired and put to work cleaning the private chapel tucked secretly away in the high-rise office building's penthouse reserved for the GC prexy alone -- and his guests, of course, of course.
And that very day Nate was industrously waxing the burnished bronze candlesticks and worshipfully Windexing the stained glass as the mid-day sunshine streamed in. Nate was in heaven at last.
But lo, just then did enter Prexy Bob and all the world Division presidents. For no less than prayer. For GC Prexy had long felt that there wasn't enough "spirituality" in the top ranks, and so he had personally jet-setted them all in for a very special prayer service in his official private penthouse chapel.
Prexy Bob led the way. Falling prostrate in front of the altar, he began to address the Almighty: "O Lord, I am nothing!"
Thinking it best to follow suit (in fact, THE suit), each DivPrez prostrated in turn -- in alphabetical order, no less -- and repeated the highly "spiritualizing" phrase, "O Lord, I am nothing!"
Upon noticing this unfamiliar phenomenon, Nate was at first startled, then afraid. If these high and mighty business men were "nothing," then what must he be?
Maybe it would be best -- meaning, maybe he could make an even better impression, thus the better to retain his job -- if he himself would follow suit.
And so, after the last DivPrez had had his turn, Nate -- in front of the startled eyes of every man in the room -- strode resolutely to the altar and prostrated himself before the Almighty.
"O Lord," he intoned, "I am nothing!"
Prexy Bob looked at each DivPrez in turn, that is, in alphabetical order. And, following suit, each DivPrez looked back at Prexy Bob. This was, after all, the first than any of them had noticed that Nate was even sharing the luxurious private penthouse chapel with them.
The pressure mounted. Sweat broke out on every face, except Nate's, of course. Finaly Prexy Bob broke the silence:
"Ha ha, ho ho, hee hee!" he erupted in uproarious laugher, followed by each DivPrez erupting in equally uproarious laughter, in alphabetical order, of course, of course.
Then, pointing a pudgy, but ringless, finger at Nate's prostrate form, he cried out, "Look who think's he's nothing!"
And, true to form, each and every DivPrez, in alphabetical order, of course, of course, duely pointed their own pudgy, but ringless, fingers at the hapless Nate and cried out, this time in unison:
"Look who thinks he's nothing!"
And it was a long long time before the uproarious laughter subsided.
|Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2000 - 4:31 pm: || |
Letter to a concerned SDA:
Do not be sad for me! How could one be sad when another can testify of the wonder of the grace of Jesus Christ that has changed her life!?
I did not leave the SDA church because of "unhappy experiences." I did not leave for emotional reasons, but for spiritual and intellectual. I was (naively) happy as a clam. Or I thought I was. Until I started openly questioning cherished beliefs. The truth is, Dolores, that many of the unique "truths" of SDAism cannot be supported by Scripture. And some even contradict the Scripture in general, and the Gospel in specific.
Dolores, suppose with me for a moment. Just suppose you are a salesman for a company in which you have invested all of your money, and you sell a product that claims to remove stains and leave your garments looking like new. You do a pretty good job of selling it untested, but one day you decide to test the product out for yourself. You spray it on an old T-shirt and, to your consternation, it does not remove the stain, but makes a worse stain itself. You figure that it was just the poor quality of the fabric that you tested it on, so you try it on a dress shirt. To you horror, it not only does not remove the stain, it puts a darker stain on the shirt and even eats a hole in the shirt. You still cannot believe you have been selling a bad product, so you try it yet again, only with the same horrible results. So what would you do now?
1. Would you keep selling the product, even if you had invested your life savings in the company? Would you just quit selling it, and not tell any of your associate salespeople about the test? Would you just say nothing and pretend that you do not know any better?
2. Or would you tell as many people as will listen about, not only the false claims of your product, but that it is actually harmful? Would you go to your former customers and warn them?
Which is the more honest way to deal with the problem?
I can guarantee that if you did the second option that some of your former colleagues would be very upset with you and tell you that you are just trying to stir up trouble. You might even have the company CEO come down on you. If you didn't take the initiative and quit, you would be "dealt with" immediately. First, your colleagues would probably tell you not to make so much stir about it; that if you are quiet, this crisis will pass also. They offer their badly stained clothing as "evidence" that the product really worked--or it would after a while if they just continued to believe in the product.
What if your conscience will not allow you to be quiet and sweep the issue under the rug? Well, then you would probably start hearing from the upper management. If they couldn't shut you up, they might try to bribe you to keep your mouth shut; or they might give you a corporate "cold shoulder." How long would you be able to live in these circumstances, working for a company that shuns you because you found a serious problem with the product they were selling? Would you stay, hoping that you could convince your fellow salesmen that the product was a phoney?
I think you get my drift. Of course, you will not agree with me, and that is your prerogative, but I am telling you in all sincerity that that is "where I am coming from."
You see, Dolores, SDAism has a flawed product. The factor that makes the whole package and system questionable is very simple: They do not depend upon the doing and dying of our Lord alone for their salvation. That is the crux of the whole problem. If they did, then it would nullify many of their "unique" doctrine. I left the SDA church because I failed to receive any nourishment in the Gospel of our Lord and any assurance that His saving work is sufficient for me. I found many fine Christians outside SDAism who know the Source of their salvation, and they live as happy, confident, rejoicing Christians, not insecure, afraid, and unassured people who are not sure if they are "ready for Jesus to come" or not. If SDAs believed that the historical work of Jesus Christ is their complete and full salvation, there would have never been catch-phrases like, "Pray that we all will be ready," or "God is waiting for us to finish the work," or "the close of probation." All of the above are incompatible with the message of the Gospel, that Jesus Christ and Him crucified is all we need to know; that trusting in Him is all we need to "do" to be saved. As I am writing this, I know that there will be several answers to this post that will say, "Oh, yes, we do believe that we are saved by our faith in Christ alone, but . . ." And the very presence of the "but" indicates that they do not believe in salvation though faith in Christ alone.
I know it is hard for you to visualize; but try to understand that my motivations are not entirely selfish for being here. (I am not a Jesuit, and no one is paying me to "infiltrate" the church. :) I wish I could wave a magic wand and give you and all SDAs the peace that comes from knowing that my salvation has been wrought in full by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That there is nothing of positive value that I could add to it. I have no magic wand, and my words are most inadequate, but still, I try in my fumbling, bumbling way to explain to SDAs that they can rest. They can put away the little red books and trust in what Christ has done for them. They do not have to vindicate God's character--Jesus has already done it. They do not have to defeat Satan--this also was accomplished at Calvary. They do not have to remove every defect from their characters--not that they could--they can depend upon the infinite mercy of God in sending His Son to do what we could never do--fulfill the law perfectly and offer Himself as a propitiation for our sin.
I have written much more than I intended, so I will close. I hope that relieves some of your anguish for us "apostates." I have so much more than I did when I was an SDA. I have the assurance that Jesus Christ stands for me in judgment and that He, and He alone, is worthy! And God sees me as worthy when I believe in Him! What a liberation! I no longer have to toil my fingers to the bone to try to make myself acceptable to God. God has accepted me, not because of what I am or what I do, but for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
May God richly bless you with the assurance of His great love for you (and for me :) as shown in the wonderful saving act of His Son.
Grace and peace,
* Not her real name.
|Posted on Wednesday, June 14, 2000 - 10:28 pm: || |
The above parable/letter was excellent! So much I'd like to comment on but it is getting late for me, so will have to get back later.
One Scripture that seems to apply to how Adventists view those who disagree doctrinally is found in 2 Corinthians 6...Paul talks about his hardships and how he and other followers of Christ were thought of..."Through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine,yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;" and then a great section..."sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything!!"
Only because of His Grace,
|Posted on Sunday, June 18, 2000 - 4:25 pm: || |
A Syrupy Soliloquy
I was raised on pancakes (hotcakes for you Yankees; flapjacks for you Westerners). We had pancakes just about every Sunday morning, because
1) they were cheap; and
2) they filled us up so well that Mom did not have to cook again until supper. (I did not figure this one out until I, too, had children!)
My mother experiments in the kitchen. That is not always good; but sometimes it is quite nice. We had pancakes made with buckwheat, cracked wheat, whole wheat, rye flour, fruit, flax seed, sunflower seeds, granola, wheat germ, bean sprouts--just about everything including elderberry flowers. Sometimes she would make syrup herself from bringing brown sugar and maple flavoring to a boil. This was very good, but it was a bit thin. Sometimes she would heat up Johnny Fair (Do they still make Johnny Fair?) or Karo for our pancakes. But my favorite was plain ol' Log Cabin syrup. We didn't have it often, because Log Cabin cost quite a bit more than Johnny Fair or mom's homemade syrup.
As a young mother, when financial times had became a bit easier than when I was a child, I would buy Log Cabin occasionally (or, more often, its generic equvalent) for our pancakes. I experimented with the different flavors if we ever went out for breakfast at Shoney's or IHOP, but I always came back to maple-flavored Log Cabin syrup.
Last month, my half-sister (whom I have never known until the past couple of years) flew me up to Boston for her 33rd birthday party. I had never been on the East Coast, at least not in the history recorded in my brain, so it was a weekend full of firsts for me. One of these firsts was tasting real, genuine, 100%, all-natural maple syrup. I was very excited at the prospect. As much as I loved the imitation stuff, I knew that the real thing must truly be wonderful. My half-sister's mother, my former step-mom, made some wonderful pancakes, and had put some real maple syrup on the table just for me. I couldn't wait. I buttered up my pancakes really well, poured the liquid gold (must be liquid gold for what it costs!) over the first one, and took a bite.
It was good, but I was disappointed. Much to my surprise, I liked the imitation maple-flavored syrup better! That wasn't supposed to happen. I was supposed to be totally charmed, enraptured with the "real thing"! I was supposed to be willing to pay any price to have only the genuine item! And I liked the imitation better. A real blow to my connoisseurial ego!
(So guess what kind of syrup I buy now? Log Cabin, of course. Why waste all that money when there is something cheaper, albeit "imitation," that I like better?)
It struck me this morning as I fixed pancakes for my sweet hubby (won't have to fix anything else until suppertime! :), that there is a moral to this story. Many of us have been raised on an "imitation" gospel. We have been told since we were knee-high to a grasshopper that Jesus will save us if we are ready when He comes, if we are good enough, if we persevere, if we fight the good fight, if we --, if we---, if we ---. We like this gospel, we are comfortable with it. When the True Gospel comes to us, the genuine article, the truly Good News that our salvation does not depend upon what we do, but upon what Jesus has done, we are not comfortable with it. We may taste it, we may "try it on for size," but then we feel uncomfortable with it because it highlights our inability to help ourselves, our total helplessness and hopelessness; so we say, "Thank you for letting me try it," and then reach for the imitation again.
The myth (the imitation gospel) that Christianity tries to peddle is the same notion that bewitched and beset the Galatians: that they could "start out" in the Christian life by faith, and then finish, complete, "work out," their salvation by observing the law. (It doesn't matter which law one refers to; when any law adds to, solidifies, or complements our salvation in any way, we are legalists.) Salvation is God's work. Jesus Christ secured forever the salvation of all who would believe in Him. That is the genuine thing; that is the "maple syrup" of Christianity. We may not like it any better than the Log Cabin. In fact, we may choose to believe that Log Cabin (or Aunt Jemima, or any other brand) is the "true" syrup for us because it is what we are familiar and comfortable with; but this does not make it so. All of my belief in the world, all of my love for Log Cabin, all of the millions of people who choose Log Cabin over real maple syrup will never turn Log Cabin into the "real thing." It will remain a cheap imitation of the real thing.
So it is with our obedience to Christ, our personal "experiences," or anything that comes through our sin-permeated vessels, some choose to use the word sanctification. It will always remain a cheap, dirty, pathetic imitation of the righteousness that saves us--the once-for-all, unrepeatable, perfectly wrought and perfectly completed doing and dying of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
May God never allow us to be content with the imitation gospel, may He never let us rest until we rest in the Real Gospel--Jesus Christ and His righteousness.
|Posted on Sunday, June 18, 2000 - 5:32 pm: || |
Patti, I agree 1000%!! Great analogy about imitations and the real thing. (my son likes the Log Cabin version over true maple syrup also!)
Do you think the freedom of the Gospel scares people? I think some want the security of rules, regulations and being told just how to live. The freedom to THINK is just too much for them!!
Is this whole idea of wanting the old imitation over the new real thing what Jesus was talking about in Luke 5:36-39?
"He told them this parable: 'no one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wine-skins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins."
And then this last comment of Jesus: "And no one after drinking old wine wants the NEW, for he says, 'the OLD is better'."
For me, the new is so much better; it's all of grace, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS from start to finish. Don't you love these passages?
"But now a rightousness FROM GOD, apart from Law,has been make known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who BELIEVE. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3;21-23
"But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law, so that we serve in the NEW way of the Spirit, and not in the OLD way of the written code." Romans 7:6
I also like Exodus 33:14 where Moses is told by the Lord, "My Presence will go with you, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST."
I want that Presence always; to rest in His finished work alone, the true unending Sabbath Rest!
Enjoying the real thing,
|Colleen Tinker (Colleentinker)|
|Posted on Monday, June 19, 2000 - 4:05 pm: || |
Patti, I love your "real thing" analogy! Until I experienced grace, I had such a limited idea what people were talking about when they talked about the gospel and prayer, etc. It often seemed to me that people were trying to be pious.
I'm sure some people are just using Christian words to be pious, but the reality is so amazing! There really is a "Real Thing"!
|Posted on Monday, June 19, 2000 - 6:40 pm: || |
Thank you for your kind words, Colleen.
I am very certain that you know what grace is.
|Posted on Monday, June 19, 2000 - 7:38 pm: || |
Are you as certain that I know what grace is?
Blessings to you!
|Posted on Monday, June 19, 2000 - 8:34 pm: || |
In the first place, Max, my opinion and a quarter are worth about 2 cents.
Actually my statement to Colleen was rather arrogant; as if I am the judge of who understands grace and who does not. I will say that I think that your view differs from mine somewhat.
Grace and peace,
|Posted on Monday, June 19, 2000 - 9:00 pm: || |
Thank you, Patti. God bless and love you all the time. --Max
|Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2000 - 5:52 am: || |
And you, too, Max.
I am sorry if I come off as being arrogant.
Just because we differ does not mean that I think you are wrong or hellbound. In fact, I am still a bit confused as to exactly what you do mean, so it is not fair for me to make a judgment call.
I am sorry for my confusion.
God bless you always.
|Colleen Tinker (Colleentinker)|
|Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2000 - 3:51 pm: || |
I can personally attest to the evidence of grace in Max's life. He is a miracle!
Judging from your posts, Patti, I also see the evidence of grace in your life.
I just praise God that he equips each of us with different giftsˇall of which are for the edification of the church, I might addˇand that he loves each of us in the way he needs to love us in order to reveal himself to us.
In His grace,
|Posted on Saturday, October 07, 2000 - 9:08 pm: || |
I was impressed the other day with a sermon on the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Which one do we always relate to? The publican, of course, because we all want to "go down to our house justified." However, we must remember that the Pharisee represented the those who repositories of God's truth. If we claim to have the "truth," then we must examine what Jesus said about the Pharisee. The Pharisees were, of course, some of the
best law-keepers of all time. Christians are known in general to be people who claim to have have high moral standards.
We generally think of the Pharisee in this parable to be self-exalting and self-righteous. Let's consider the passage again, though.
10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
A point that we tend to miss is that the Pharisee did not take credit for his good works. He gave the "glory" to God:
"I thank YOU that I am not as other men."
In the publican's prayer we see the same two elements of faith that were shown by the thief on the cross:
1. "God, have mercy on me"--an acknowledgment of the saving power of God;
2. "me, a sinner"--a statement of unworthiness and need.
And the publican went home justified--set right with God.
We can never reach a higher point in our Christian experience than being set right with God. The feeling our need of the mercy of Christ is the gift of the Holy Spirit drawing us. And we never outgrow the need for mercy and
grace. The moment we start to openly praise God for the good things that are happening in us as the Pharisee did, we are actually, as the Scripture says, exalting ourselves. We have lost sight of the sinfulness of our nature and our for mercy and grace. We stand truly as the Pharisee.
Looking at the perfect righteousness of Christ always, we can only continually bemoan our sinfulness before God. But where the sin increases, so grace increases. The more sinful we see ourselves, the more astounded we are that Christ could forgive and accept us, the more grateful we are to Christ and His great mercy. (The one who is forgiven the most, loves the most.)
Yes, we offer our works as an offering of gratitude to God for His great salvation in Christ; but always they remain filthy rags. We always live as sinners forgiven and accepted by God only because of Christ's vicarious life and death for us.