Thursday, October 12, 2006

Essence

I have been wondering about the Kingdom of God and the appeal to enter into the Kingdom life, is it propositional or invitational. It seems to me that much of what passes as 'voices of the Kingdom' are speaking in accents that are propositional.

By that I mean it appears that there is always a simple balck and white choice to be made, an expression in language or signs of something that can be believed, doubted, or denied or is either true or false. It is often a case of believe or be damned, never just a simple 'follow me'.

I ask though, if the existence of a counter divine Kingdom is believed, doubted, or denied, does it alter the Kingdom in any way? Not really, for that Kingdom remains in the state it was prior to its belief or denunciation.

I have been reading through the gospels and most of what Jesus does is invitational, take it or leave it. He does not condemn the choice or force a decision, he just invites, plain and simple. It seems he wants those who respond to enter into a willing relationship and not as one press ganged into the Kings service.

So how do you share the gospel, is it a proposition or is it an invitation?

10 comments:

Meg said...

I would vote for "propositional." Consider Matthew 28:19-20, then go to John 3:3, 6:44 and 15:16; Romans 11:26-27; Ezekiel 36:24-28, among so many others... I guess my problem is with the word "choice." Do we make the choice to follow Jesus unilaterally or, if there is a choice, does God first give us the inclination to make it? Is that "inclination" the first grace from Him that we ever receive? That's why I refer to the above verses.

I don't think anyone can write his own name in the Lamb's Book of Life, but the Great Commission certainly applies to all who are called by His name. I don't see any contradiction there.

There's a certain Jewish man to whom I've been witnessing for about 5 years. About a year ago, he asked me why I didn't "just give up" on him, as all other Christians he knows have, because he "hasn't accepted Christ." I told him that it wasn't for me to say that it was time to stop witnessing to him, that I did see some work of the Holy Spirit in him and that the Lord would let me know when it was time to quit witnessing to him. He gruffly said, "I'm not going to become a Christian before your very eyes." I replied, "If God wants you to, you will." I told him that I will not give up on him, not as long as I know him.

Sharing the Gospel is nothing more than one previously hungry beggar telling another where the food is and what that food does for you. Whether the second beggar has ears to hear and eyes to see the food is God's business. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Preaching is so important, as is a daily, quiet witness to the Spirit of Jesus Christ within each of us and a Christ-like, literal presentation of the Gospel every time an opportunity arises. It's what we're commanded to do.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, did Lazarus sit there in the tomb and say, "He's inviting me - should I come out of here?" By the same power and mechanism is each of us raised from spiritual death to life. It's a miracle every time it happens, and all of heaven rejoices.

Jesus says, "Follow Me," but even though, theoretically, everyone hears those words, it isn't given to everyone to do it. There's a price in it; that's why He said what He did in Luke 14:27-28. Once He saves a person, though, He will give that person the ability to persevere and to triumph. We can stumble and fall, which we all do every day, but we can count on His grace to sustain us.

Sorry this has gone on so long, but I thank you so much for this post!

dinsy said...

"If God wants you to [become a christian], you will."

Do you believe that if a person doesn't become a christian, it is because God doesn't want them?

Meg said...

Oh, no, there's 2 Peter 3:9 that militates against God's not wanting an individual to become a Christian! God wants individuals to come, but I do take it as a mystery of His sovereignty that not all will come. I don't believe in double predestination; otherwise, that verse I just referred to wouldn't be in Scripture. That would also be hyper-Calvinism and it's heresy. God sent His Son to take on human form and to be elevated on that cross in sacrifice and atonement (John 3:14; Numbers 21:9) for all to see. Romans 1 also figures in, too: all have inner knowledge of right and wrong; all have "inner witness" of the Gospel. But some are hardened to the message of the Gospel and God gives them over to their will.

We walk a fine line between hyper-Calvinism and "free-will-ism," between universalism and legalistic over-scrupulosity and some of the tenets of federal theology. I chalk it up to God's mysteries in that "His ways are not our ways" (Isaiah 55:8). Why did God choose the Jewish people? Because He loved them. Why did He love them? He really doesn't explain it except that by it, He was keeping an oath He'd made with them (Deut. 7:7-8). He promised to save a remnant, not all - not all of physical Israel, and not all of "the nations" (Gentiles).

It's not for me to explain, obviously. All I'm to do, as His child, is to be still and know that He's God (Psalm 46:10) and I'm not, and to obey the two great commandments...

Anonymous said...

Meg,

You have made a good tulip apology here and I understand it. What I don't understand, however is that if God has determined your Jewish friend is damned, nothing you or he may do will change his destination - he is Hell bound, because that is the “broad way” God wants for him. That is what he was born for - Hell. “If God wants you to, you will” is one of the harshest statements one may make to the unsaved. Tell a Jew he has no choice and he will rebel - he always has and the Bible is quick to point it out.

Of course God wants him, Meg. Other than his being “regrafted” there is this in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. NKJV

and: 1 Timothy 2:3-4 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. NKJV

Please do not give up on him, Meg. We have several friends in the same situation - we won't give up either.

Dave Wade

dinsy said...

Meg, I still don't understand.

"If God wants you to, you will" means you don't have the option to refuse. Extending that premise, if God wants everyone to, they all will. So if someone doesn't, it seems clear to me that God doesn't want them to.

Please show me why this is not true.

Meg said...

Hi, Dave,

Nice to meet you. (And hi, Dinsy, too.)

No, as I told my Jewish friend, I will not give up on him, as I said in my original post regarding him. If I'm ever out of his social ambit, I can still pray for him, which I will.

If God wants this man to become a Christian while he and I are chatting together someday, he will. Or it could happen another time, or long after he and I are no longer in contact. That's all I meant by that. BTW, this man does concede his belief that Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) "probably was and is" the Jewish Messiah, which is why I have such faith that he will be - or is right now - saved.

And you've certainly correctly identified me as a TULIP adherent. Three years ago, my father died. I'd witnessed to him for years; I didn't want my father to reject God, but he died an atheist, as far as I could tell. I have ultimate peace about it, though, because my first ground of peace is founded in God's sovereignty. I never, ever think, if I'd given him one more tract, if I'd said this or that to him, maybe he'd have made a "decision for the Lord." He died cursing people who believe in God, including me. Whatever. It's over; he is wherever God's determination for him, with his hardened heart, has sent him. At least I don't, as my Catholic siblings do, still have Masses said "for the repose of his soul."

There's nothing like "blessed assurance" - and there's no way that I know to get it without an unwavering belief that God gives it along with the gift of faith. It's "all of Christ" and no one else... And it is one of God's mysteries (John 3:7-8).

dinsy said...

What does TULIP signify, please?

Anonymous said...

dinsy,

http://www.fcosonline.org/index.php?topic=1502.msg17161#msg17161

You may enjoy this website with us - micah is here too, a friend, if I'm not mistaken.

Dave, posting as doc

dinsy said...

Dave - thanks for the reference, I found an explanation of tulip as well as what it stands for.

It's a pretty acronym for a belief in a monstrous God who condemns some people to burn in hell while choosing others to be blessed in heaven, according to his own whim. The tulip god really loves human suffering.

usadave said...

Dinsy,

You are exactly correct in your eval of standard reformed theology. Dave Hunt has written a good book called "What Love is This" which is a "BIBLICAL" refutation of 5 point Calvinism - or the tulip doctrine.

The initial Dort meeting - from which this doctrine developed - was a political plot to control the Arminian movement in Holland. While many of Calvin's teachings are sound, this hyper-Calvinism stuff came from there.

Politics has little to add to this world of ours. In its governmental form it is as corrupt as those practicing it. In the church it is anathema to God. In theology it stinks and tears down the Body of Christ.

 

Free Blog Counter