Category Archives: Imputed Righteoussness

A Multi Part Series about Faith (and politics)

Due to many of the concerns  of mine and many human behaviors I have observed over the last 10 -15 years in the evangelical and political world I felt a multi-part, complex blog discussion was in order.   Yes you heard me right … this topic is going to be about both faith and politics.     Primarily I hope it is concerned with how faith and politics intersect and how the current  social landscape does not reflect the Jesus that I see in scripture.  My prayer and hope is that this topic speaks especially to evangelicals in the political world so that WE can be effective in His Kingdom to go out and make disciples of all nations.

And even though I do have my own biases, I want to keep those to a minimum in this discussion.  My hope is that like any good Gospel and Jesus centric sermon would do ….. that this discussion will convict both the perpetrator as much as the victim, the democrat as much as the republican, the liberal as much as the conservative, and the elder brother as much as the younger brother.  My prayer is that I can mostly put down my own biases and skews in life and talk to all sides and all people. In the end I hope you can hear the Good News about Jesus — that He died while we were still sinners so we can have TRUE FREEDOM!

This series starts with one basic premise I see that has reached an epidemic high in the current social and political landscape.    That our current culture embraces shame and criticism of others as a primary social tool to win.  Shame, I contend, since the fall in the garden is the primary tool that the serpent used to bend Adam and Eve toward sin.  And it is the primary tool that evil continues to use to keep entire cultures of people in isolation and propagating sin!  Todays social and political landscape continues to use shame as a tool to get on “top” of the other side. Also, this seems to be just as true in the Christian world as it is outside the Christian world.  It is just as true of democratic elites as is the republican elites, just as true of the political right as it is of the left.

Shame wants you to believe  it only shows up in big and grand ways.  However, it normally shows up in a persons face, subtle glances, and body language. It shows up in covert ways in our facebook posts and tweets.  Since we know as Christians it not right to be shameful people we submerge our shaming tactics into passive aggressive tendencies.  It shows up in a glance of disapproval and our  body language as much as our words when talking to a person we disagree with.  Shaming tactics are ubiquitous.  They are so engrained in our culture that we no longer see our tactics as shame.  We are not even aware of these shaming tactics.  We just see them as being right.  And in the Christian world many are in denial that our use of “truth”  often does not reflect both the position and posture of Jesus Christ toward a sinful world.  It does not reflect the Jesus that I see and read about in scripture!

This topic will have the following parts to it.  As I complete each part I will provide hypertext links to each part in this BLOG.

  1.  Truth — What is it?
  2. Genesis – Our Starting Point of Truth
  3. Gods Plan — Relationship and Community
  4. Establishing the moral vision of the New Testament and Jesus
  5. True Freedom — What does it look like?
  6. Application for Today

 

Freedom…. What is it good for?

Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭13-14‬ ESV

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””

See it at Bible.com:

http://bible.com/59/gal.5.13-14.esv

Last night we discussed the idea of Freedom in my men’s group and we discussed Galatians 5.

For me freedom takes on some deep thoughts.  Freedom, to me,  means freedom from any forms of righteousness the world places on me.   It means spiritual, emotional, and psychological freedom!  However, those are pretty big words.

Some might be looking for Freedom from sin.  But freedom FROM anything is not really freedom in my opinion.  How do we put hands and feet on the idea of freedom and what it means to you?  Is anyone bold enough to make comments on what Freedom means for them?

Freedom… what does it mean for you?  Any takers on making comments?

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WD40 and the 3 Narratives People live by

Do I have a Grace and Mercy “narrative” in how I live my life… or do I have performance narrative or self preservation narrative.

Performance narrative … always trying to win, look good. Can be subtle, Today many people have a moral performance narrative. Performance narrative says if I obey and do good I am acceptable. It does not see its own sin but looks at the sin of others,

Self preservation narrative says I need to protect myself from pain and hurt because its not safe (emotionally safe). A person with a self preservation narrative says no matter what I do I will get hurt again. Self preservation narrative does not have emotional safety.

Grace and Mercy Narrative is like wd40. When you pour wd40 on a something “stuck” it soaks deeply into the joint. You never see the wd40 but it makes everything in the joint operate more smoothly. A grace and mercy narrative makes relationships operate more smoothly. It is the wd40 of relationships. Unlike a performance narrative it says I am acceptable, therefore I want to obey and do good. Unlike self preservation narrative it allows me to explore thoughts and feelings safely and gives me the opportunity to grow and change in a safe environment.

However, grace and mercy needs to soak deeply into a person, like wd40 does. The problem we have in todays world is grace and mercy are often understood intellectually… is is not a deeply entrenched narrative in how people live their lives. Often for grace and mercy to become a deeply entrenched “narrative” it must be gained experientially driven vs just intellectually understood.

WD40 and a Grace and Mercy Narrative

Do I have a Grace and Mercy “narrative” in how I live my life… or do I have performance narrative or self preservation narrative.

Performance narrative … always trying to win, look good. Can be subtle, Today many people have a moral performance narrative. Performance narrative says if I obey and do good I am acceptable. It does not see its own sin but looks at the sin of others,

Self preservation narrative says I need to protect myself from pain and hurt because its not safe (emotionally safe). A person with a self preservation narrative says no matter what I do I will get hurt again. Self preservation narrative does not have emotional safety.

Grace and Mercy Narrative is like wd40. When you pour wd40 on a something “stuck” it soaks deeply into the joint. You never see the wd40 but it makes everything in the joint operate more smoothly. A grace and mercy narrative makes relationships operate more smoothly. It is the wd40 of relationships. Unlike a performance narrative it says I am acceptable, therefore I want to obey and do good. Unlike self preservation narrative it allows me to explore thoughts and feelings safely and gives me the opportunity to grow and change in a safe environment.

However, grace and mercy needs to soak deeply into a person, like wd40 does. The problem we have in todays world is grace and mercy are often understood intellectually… is is not a deeply entrenched narrative in how people live their lives. Often for grace and mercy to become a deeply entrenched “narrative” it must be gained experientially driven vs just intellectually understood.

The Evils of Idolatry and Thoughts on Worship

When our culture is considered through the lens of worship and idolatry we see a deeper sin and a greater need for a Savior. This is because everyone everywhere is continually worshiping incorrect things, and idolatry is, sadly, only seen when we examine our hearts deeply. We often have too narrow an understanding of worship and sin and do not see that idolatry empowers our sin and provides the motives for us to sin.

One of the great evils of idolatry is that if we idolize, we must also demonize. Tim Keller reminds us that if we idolize our race, we must demonize other races. If we idolize our gender, we must demonize the other gender. If we idolize our nation, we must demonize other nations. If we idolize our political party, we must demonize other political parties. If we idolize our socioeconomic class, we must demonize other classes. If we idolize our family, we must demonize other families. If we idolize our theological system, we must demonize other theological systems. If we idolize our church, we must demonize other churches.

An understanding of the nature of the Idolatrous heart then not only gives us the ability to see to the motives under the easy to see sins of money, materialism, sex, self-righteousness and power … but it also allows us to see the motives that drive the sins that also are not quite as devastating. It allows us to see the motives behind the sins that turn good things into ultimate things. Our hearts indeed turn easily to other gods.

If we understand this then we begin to have a fighting chance to have “heart based” change and sanctification. We see our need for Jesus … not only in our need to go to heaven…. but we also see our need for a Jesus that changes and grows us. Gods grace on the cross then does not become just an event that gives us a “ticket” for heaven but it also becomes the center of growth and change.

By looking at idolatry, sin, and worship of the heart in a deep way we don’t offer people a “system of redemption” and just some advice that stems from a mound of ideological insight and principals. Change does not come from the mound … it comes from a man. We offer a redeemer that glares at the heart of our idolatry and we finally have a chance at real, lasting change as a result.

Tastes Great, Yes Filling

In the video below, at some point Bill makes a point that the word righteousness is deep in meaning. I agree!  Quite often the word is read over too quickly. Over the summer we are taking a more subdued approach in the Hosanna sermons before we dig into Romans in the fall. Looking forward to digging into Romans.

 

Repenting of our sin and good deeds

I have never found an explanation of repentance and faith as clear as this one.

What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just a [self righteouss] elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything—how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, you sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because its so radical” – Tim Keller, The Prodigal God

We must repent not only of our evil ways, but also our good ways motivated by the wrong reasons.

The Gospel and Law

Our efforts to please God by obedience to that law have shown us that we must go beyond the law for a system of salvation. Thus we learned the lesson the law sought to teach us as tutor/guardian. Does this mean we no longer have to obey it? No. As we saw above, the law was our “supervisor” until we found Christ, and was thus like a guardian over a child until he or she reaches maturity. But let’s draw out the analogy. Is it the design of child-rearing that when the child grows to maturity he or she then casts off all the values of the parent or guardian and lives in a totally different way?  No. If all goes well the adult child no longer is coerced into obedience as before, but now has internalized the basic values and lives in a like manner because he or she wants to. So Paul is indicating not that we no longer have any relation to the values of God’s law, but it no longer is a system of salvation. It no longer forces obedience through coercion and fear. The gospel means that we no longer obey the law out of fear of rejection and hope of salvation-by-performance. But when we grasp salvation-by-promise, our hearts are filled with gratitude and a desire to please and be like our Savior. The only way to do that is through obeying the law. But once we come to it with this new motivation, we now are better in our obedience than ever.

Why?
A) If we think that the law-obedience will save us, we become emotionally incapable of admitting just how searching and demanding it is. For example, Jesus says that to resent or disdain anyone is a form of murder in Matt. 5:21ff. Only if you know that you cannot fulfill it completely, and that Christ did it for you, will you be able to admit just how broad and deep this command is.

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Bipolar Christianity

Matthew 9:13 says the following:

12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

In this passage Jesus is highlighting the two most prevalent life narratives or themes in which Christians can live their lives. He actually says these words on multiple occasions in the Gospel of Matthew. This narrative of sacrifice or religiosity or religious moralism is still the default mode of thinking that many mature Christians continue to partake in today.

The life  narrative that Jesus wants us to partake in is the narrative of mercy.  The mercy that was shown eventually to us through Jesus Christ on the Cross.

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Odds and Ends: Imputed Righteousness and the Lust for Divinity

Even though I am not an open theist myself despite being called one recently, I actually like the way Greg Boyd makes me think.  Greg Boyd also has some interesting points I agree with in the book Repenting of Religion and The Myth of a Christian Nation.

One interesting point that I Do agree with Boyd on is his understanding of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Greg Boyd (Arminian, Open Theist) and Paul Vander Klay (5 point Reformed thinker) are on opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways but come together on Gregs Point on the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Greg Boyd Information from Paul Vander Klays Leading Church BLOG
For another link on this concept click here

(you may have to read the links to make sense of the rest of the article)

Greg actually got this idea of the tree of knowledge of good and evil from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Lutheran theologian) of the early to mid 1900’s. I believe Dietrich got this idea from Martin Luther. The reason I say this is that Luther discussed two important concepts. The two important concepts from Martin Luther’s theology of the Cross are:

Concept 1) The imputed Righteousness of Christ (Romans 1:16-17, my new testament life verse). The only real and unbending righteossness and significance is the one we can have IN CHRIST.

Concept 2) A deep meaning of religious legalism and that the ultimate lust of man is a lust for their own divinity and a yearning for their own significance completely SEPARATE from God. (Genesis 3). This is mans original sin. Trusting in themselves and becoming their own gods. This is an equal slap in the face for older and younger Brothers (The parable of the prodigal son) and religous and irreligious people. Martin Luther on this point says the following:

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