Thursday's Theological Thoughts: He purchased the WORLD
This week in the Ladies Bible Study we were studying Luke’s “Lost and Found Chapter” (Luke 15) and the accompanying readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Here was Jesus teaching the people that God loves all the lost and works to seek out and find them and reconcile them to Himself.
In the Epistle reading, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, the focus in those verses is clearly “reconciliation” with variations of that word repeated five (5) times.
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself…
…and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…
God was reconciling the world to Himself…
…entrusting to us the message of reconciliation…
…We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God…” (2 Cor. 5:18-20)
The author of the lesson reminded us that “Reconciliation is a decisive act that repairs a rift that had previously seemed unhealable…” That, my friends, is what Christ Jesus did for the world.
The world? I thought Jesus only died for the elect? Afterall, if Jesus died and reconciled the world then that would lead to universalism. Such was the accusation made to me on Twitter when I posted that “world means world” and Jesus died as a propitiation for the world (1 John 2:2).
Now, you might have noticed that I quoted a verse from God’s Word here. It is so true, Jesus is the propitiation for the world and God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. God offers the world Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. This is what the Bible teaches and is, therefore, most certainly true.
Theologians of the reformed style try to tell us that God is giving us just the “scope” of salvation, meaning people all over the world will repent and believe the Gospel. But once again, they are adding to the term that God Himself chose to use, cosmos (Greek) which literally means the whole entire world and everyone in it.
Then we came to two new terms for me:
A while back I wrote that sometimes a teaching is so deeply set that it seems to be chiseled into stone. Well, this was one of them.
See, in the Reformed view there is only one justification: that of believing sinners who repent. They are declared righteous. However, how do you know, if God chose only some to be justified, that you are truly among the justified? You might have a fake faith that looks really real but isn’t. You might just be fooling yourself, or as Calvin stated (see Befuddled much?) that God may let you think you have true faith and you don’t really and are therefore one of His that He reprobated and chose to send to Hell.
With this type of salvation system you have to ask the question, How can you possibly know you’re one of the few?
You tell me, Look at your fruit. Well, I know a lot of folks who are not believing in Jesus who have good fruit in their lives (kind, helpful, generous, gentle, etc) and I’ve known believers who did have great fruit but then walked away from Christ at the end. So, again I ask, how do you know you’re one whom God chose?
Quick answer is: You don’t…and…you can’t.
You say you believe, but do you have true faith? How do you know? Oh, you look at your profession and fruit? But you might just have fake fruit and false faith. What a conundrum! What a boggle you’ve landed in. Here, let me help you out of that quagmire of befuddled faith.
So, here’s the thing:
Jesus is the propitiation for the world and God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.
Justification has already happened. We don’t add one single thing to it but receive it like paupers holding out our hands. We don’t grab it from the generous one; we don’t tackle them and say, Aha! It’s mine.
We sit there, beggars all, receiving what Jesus has already done for the world.
My Reformed friends are now yelling, “What?!? You’re telling me God justified the world?” Well, actually I’m not, the Bible is.
In Matthew 13, Jesus is teaching in various parables about salvation and the Kingdom of God. The Disciples are wondering both why Jesus speaks in parables and what they really mean. Jesus condescends to us and explains the imagery He is using to teach. In vs. 36 Matthew writes that the disciples ask, “Explain to us the parable of the weeks of the field.” He (Jesus) answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom…”