Blessed are the Merciful

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Does this contradict the previous point, for what is mercy if not the mitigation of the expectation of righteousness? When I have heard teaching on God’s mercy, I have been told that is it the relenting of God from his own righteous indignation. In other words, mercy is God not judging someone who entirely deserves it.

So, on the one hand there are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and on the other there are the merciful to whom mercy will be dispensed. Is there something counter-intuitive about that? If I were to pursue righteousness, surly it would be because I desired mercy? Surly the number one reason for right behaviour is the fear of judgement and the promised alleviation of it? Conversely, if I were to show mercy to a person I would be more inclined to do so if God promised that he would judge the offender I’d had mercy upon.

The two are separate and seemingly irreconcilable. Does the one desiring righteousness forsake mercy? Surly, if one wanted righteousness he would fall under God’s judgement for all are short of God’s standard? The merciful person would, therefore, be in a better position than the one desiring God’s righteousness. He would not be consumed in judgement.

Merciful people receive mercy.

Hungry, thirsty people are satisfied with righteousness.

How do these notions meet?

What if mercy is righteousness, in God’s eyes?

If I understand righteousness to be a state which God imputes to me by my response to his work (the cross), what response has God required? You get five points for instantly thinking of Micah 6:8 which in the NIV translates:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

(And may that be the last time I quote the NIV on here)

Mercy is the right response to God. In other words, it is righteousness in God’s sight.

It doesn’t seem this way because humans have a tendency to look only to one another rather than outside of themselves. However, in God’s economy, mercy is a response of faith and thus is counted as righteousness. Mercy is obedience, and obedience is faith. Jesus later reaffirms the point in his instruction on prayer:

…forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(Matthew 6:12)

And so, the merciful receive God’s mercy by their faith.

Are the Beatitudes an exposition on faith? Do they show us the ‘shape’ of the Christian life, and thus how one is united with God? I am inclined in this direction.

As always your thoughts are most welcome.

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43 Comments

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  1. Hey matey.

    Basically the whole second paragraph I’m trying to get my head around, but mostly this:

    “Surly the number one reason for right behaviour is the fear of judgement and the promised alleviation of it? Conversely, if I were to show mercy to a person I would be more inclined to do so if God promised that he would judge the offender I’d had mercy upon.”

    Is this meant genuinely, as in ‘I’ll be merciful, because they’ll get theirs come their time of judgement’?
    I’m not trying to be reproving either, but I’m not sure you’re not employing a sort of ‘sarcasm mode’ for that, since you’ve espoused a similar sentiment to me, once.

    “(And may that be the last time I quote the NIV on here)”

    Good man.

    Sorry to be a bore, if any of this was meant to be obvious, and I just overlooked something. Darn Christianese! (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=christianese) 😉

    Ben.

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    • Yes, Ben, I meant exactly what you stated. I was being sarcastic/utilising the reductio ad absurdum.

      I am genuinely offended that you thought I was using christianese! I was just being contentious!

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      • Believe me its a relief!
        Thing is, we discussed the issue of judgement and Hell, once before, and I was making some point that went something like: ‘Why the Hell’s Yahweh so obsessed with having people follow his rules, and sending those who are merely unconvinced to Hell?’, and you said:
        ‘Fiery judgement is befitting those who refuse to acknowledge God. He makes the rules’.

        That’s stayed with me, that sentiment. Sorry to conflate. I did, at least, expect sarcasm as a possibility. 🙂

        Chesterton, you must realise, that with the exception of those like me who indulge in the semi-masochistic pursuit of keeping an eye on theological and general Christian uses of language, there are a lot of hidden meanings that a lay-person might not get in certain words. Righteousness, for example, as defined in the Bible and here might mean something else to others. That’s all I really meant. Of course, this is a Christian blog, so those like me who comment on these should expect it. ;P
        (Note to self: don’t use urban dictionary in future; NONE of the definitions for anything are flattering).

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      • Urban Dictionary is like everything else on the Internet: When it’s anonymous, people only write bad things.

        As to the definition of righteousness, I’ve gone to great pains to explain the concept. I’d hoped the average reader would pick it up :/

        Better luck next time.

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      • I think you do well, I just mean as a stand-alone. Maybe a link to that post on righteousness, for those other people who just stumble in here?

        Ach well, I’ll stop telling you how to run your blog (the recent posts of which have been top-notch, by the way). Lots to discuss. Just one request: More philosophers in future!

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      • When this sermon is done, I’ll get back to the Kierkegaard 🙂

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  2. Ok – once again I am not with you. …..I understand righteousness to be a state which God imputes to me by my response to his work (the cross), what response has God required? …….

    This seems to be works still? This is not how I understand righteousness (or even grace). Grace and anything (like righteousness) that comes as a result of it, means undeserved favour – that means there is no response that God requires. We don’t act out of response – we act out of love. If I give you a present – it would be nice if you said thank you – but I don’t take the present back because you don’t say thank you. The requirement of me giving you a gift is not so you say thank you. In fact there is no requirement – I give you a gift because I love you – any response from you is out of your love for me – I can’t make you love me. One assumes that if you love God enough to accept his gift and say thank you then you love him enought to want to have a relationship with him. A loving relationship means naturally doing stuff to please the other person because you love them – not because you feel obliged, not because you have to but because you want to.

    Yes you are right about these words being about faith – because faith is how we enter the kingdom – but to see this as a list of requirements we have to act out or live up to is wrong – this is a description of love – these actions come out of love – if one has to force these actions then one isn’t loving.

    Why the comment about the NIV? I totally agree with not quoting the NIV! but am not sure why you are saying this.

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    • I believe I was pretty clear about the response God required by pointing out Micah 6:8.

      “We don’t act out of response – we act out of love.”

      Is there a difference? 1 John 4:19 indicates that love is our response. Does this mean obedience is not required? No. I didn’t say one’s actions or obedience were ‘works’ but they are ‘works of faith’ or ‘acts of faith’ and so *are* faith.

      The response is faith, faith through works.

      About the NIV? Well, I’ll borrow my Old Testament lecturer’s term I call it the ‘Nauseatingly Inadequate Version.’

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  3. Praise the Lord over the NIV -but I am sure we have had that discussion before when I sugggested that the NIV was not an accurate translation and didn’t you disagree with me?

    Of course love is our response – but that’s not how we get righteousness – that’s a gift – a gift anticipates a response but can’t command one. Obedience is longed for – and under the old covenant it was commanded because sin had not yet been dealt with. Once sin was dealt with at the cross God was able to give us a better covenant. A relationship of love between two people means obedience (like in the wedding vow – to love honour and obey) but that is a promise we choose to say and to obey out of a heart of love – not a command to obey out of duty. There is a big difference between the way we are able to have relationship with God post Jesus to the way they were able to have relationship with God before Jesus sorted the problem of sin. Hence why we have to always examine the old testament in the light of the new testament and not the other way around

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  4. Getting close to splitting hairs maybe? I agree with rightoeusness by faith – I think we all agree our own attempts at righteousness are poor when compared to God’s standards – but I also agree with Ian that it is a thing to be worked for, to be attained to.

    I wonder if you both have a personal angle on this?
    Ian reacts to those who portray being a Christian as ‘easy’ or ‘Sundays only’ or ‘I don’t need to try because god loves me’.
    Beverly reacts to those who portray being a Christian as ‘struggle’ or ‘week long struggle’ or ‘you have to work to attain it’.

    While I don’t 100% agree with either of the myriad sets of posts by Beverly or Ian, I tend to agree with most of the content of both. 2 sides of the jewel which is knowing Christ maybe? I believe there are many sides to that particular jewel analogy – God is certainly big enough!

    ….and btw, whats the beef with the NIV. Academic snobs! Message is clear enough but then I did have one as my first Bible for many years. NRSV/Amplified/Message these days but I still know a lot of NIV quotes. End of Christianese paragraph!

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  5. Hey Mike not an academic snob I hope! Just having researched texts used in all the translations have decided to stick to the kjv for study as it would appear to be the most reliable – they don’t leave stuff out, print inaccurate statements, change the name of Jesus, or make anywhere near as many assumptions in translation – and of course am freely able to quote 100% without copyright fears!!! – although enjoy the nlt for ease of reading!

    I know where you are coming from with regards to many sided jewel – that is a wonderful description of God and relationship with him. I do have concerns though when the facet through which a Christian looks leaves doubts and worries and fears and lack of fulfilment, joy and peace? When God’s word tells me that in his presence there is perfect peace – and I find myself without perfect peace – and I know I am in his presence because amazingly he has chosen to take up residence in me – then if I am not feeling perfectly peaceful I always understand I haven’t understood something so rush back to his word to see what Ive missed so the holy spirit can reveal it to me and I can use it to further be transformed by the renewing of my mind (and of course the same applies if I find myself lacking in joy, or find myself in fear, or worry or doubt etc etc. ) the more I practice this over the years – the more I discover the joy and peace of being in relationship with an awesome God.

    How did the sermon go Ian?

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    • Sermon is next week. Still petrified, mind.

      I feel confident in my faith to bring my complaints to God. Surly, if it’s always my fault that I’m not joyful, I’m not really believing that it’s God who brings the change, who brings hope. Otherwise, is not one’s faith imaginary?

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  6. Not sure I followed that exchange, but can I articulate (whether or not the sentence was made in sarcasm or otherwise) “Surely the number one reason for right behaviour is the fear of judgement and the promised alleviation of it?”

    For me, my ‘right behaviour’ has nothing to do with fear of judgement or any fear at all. My ‘right behaviour’ is both as a joyful response to the incredible ocean of God’s grace that he allows me to swim in and his remarkable unfettered forgiveness of my abject and pathetic human being, and also because it’s just the ‘right thing to do’.

    I have come to a point in life when I choose ‘right behaviour’ because I couldn’t imagine wanting to live any other way, because I’m in love with God and my deepest desire is to please the one I love.

    Of course I mess up at times, I have a propensity to be impatient, slanderous, judgemental and waste what God has given me, but I hate it when I mess up and just want to get back into the intimate arms of my creator, my love!

    Judgement? I’m more concerned about living a life of loving God now than what happens in the future. Probably end up in a hell I don’t believe in for saying bad things like that! 😉

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  7. Alex – I was so with you until the last sentence!!! – Have I misunderstand the statement
    “a hell I don’t believe in”?
    Can you explain further?

    Ian – a week to go – best advise Mark 13 v 11 (and the other gospel equivalents!) enjoying studying the passage and rest and relax in the power of the Holy Spirit

    Not sure I ever have complaints to bring to God? If I am not experiencing everything God has already given me/achieved through grace it wouldn’t occur to me that it wasn’t my fault? (Ephesians is wonderful at telling me what God has already given me – and I haven’t as yet discovered anything additional I require!)

    Certainly doesn’t make my faith imaginery – more real in fact – I realise that it’s already out there and God has told me he’s given it to me – so my job to claim it? Much more exciting to discover what God’s already given me than hope he is going to? Actually much easier to have faith – because I know it’s a done deal – I am living in sure and certain hope not anticipatory hope.

    Interesting statement “IF it’s always my fault!” seems to read that you sometimes think it isn’t your fault and that God’s to blame?

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    • It’s not worth going into in great detail, it would only end up in disagreement and argument. Suffice to say, I’m aligned with Steve Chalke on this one. I don’t think the bible tells us that God has his own personal Auschwitz for people that refuse to believe or trust in him, and I don’t think that would align with the loving God who is gracious and compassionate to all, not willing that any should perish.

      I think it best if swords are not drawn on this topic, before we even start, best to agree to disagree and let it lie.

      I’m not going to be drawn, you may have the last word if you want. 🙂

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      • Oh, and don’t get me started on ‘heaven’!

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      • I read ‘Lost Message’ and did not find it particularly compelling to be honest. Nothing but warmed-over liberalism.

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      • Not read it but from what I have gleaned about it it might be a call to grace as opposed to ‘warmed over liberalism’. I get the impression Jesus regularly sided with the liberal views except on marriage / divorce!

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      • I didn’t mean liberal in the sense of the politically left (I rarely, if ever, mean that). I meant theologically liberal. Lost Message, like many liberal works, stripped Christianity down of it’s ‘incorrect’ dogma and tried to ‘get back to what Jesus REALLY meant’. The fundamental assumption being that the Church has been wrong for the best part of 2000 years and Jesus really meant nothing of the sort.

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      • (This will proabably appear in the wrong place but I can’t seem to reply to your reply below!)

        Sorry, My bad, didn’t get your gist.

        I imagine there were plenty of times and still are when ‘The Church’ has ‘got it wrong’ over the past 2000 years.

        I’m less convinced these days about whether it is about being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and more convicted that it is about ‘showing God’s love’ in everything. But I’m probably ‘wrong’ on that 😉

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  8. Hi Alex – Not sure I understand? Have read Steve on the subject and am not sure he was against there being a place called Hell? More against the concept that a loving God would demand such a payment – therefore the payment being made was to the devil?

    As you say engaging with you would probably not achieve anything but would love clarification as to how you fit everything Jesus himself directly says on the subject (in the gospels and in Jesus’ revelation). Is there no hell for Satan in your view or just not for humans?

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    • It’s waaay to complex Beverley.
      Various things including the translation of ‘hell’ actually referring either to ‘Gehennah’ – the valley – rubbish tip next to Jerusalem or purely the grave. Jesus’ comment about ‘the gates of hell’ referring to a rock formation in Caesarrea Phillipi where Pan worshippers congregated. The ‘Hell’ concept being drawn from Hellenistic and Roman traditions in the first place. ‘Satan’ purely meaning ‘adversary’ and not a supernatural anti-god creature…
      Like I said, too complex and there’s no likelihood of either of us being persuaded away from what we believe on the matter.
      Which for me is no problem, I believe God is bigger than our differences, I don’t believe I have monopoly on ‘truth’ and I believe that God’s grace is big enough and expansive enough to cover both any mistakes / misinterpretations I have made or any that anyone else has made, as long as we are all genuinely searching for Him and the truth that he reveals to us.

      That doesn’t mean I think it doesn’t matter what you believe, but I hold fast to Psalm 86:5 – “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” and Joel 2:32 / Acts 2:21 / Romans 10:13 – “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.

      I said I wouldn’t be drawn! Sorry, but I hope it puts a bit of flesh on it whether or not you can completely understand my point of view.

      The overall metanarrative imho is that God is not one to threaten or bully people into following him – he will Love people to win them or not win them. The way of Jesus was ALWAYS peaceful, not warring / threatening / destructive.

      The way I understand it is “If it doesn’t look like Jesus, it isn’t God” Jesus “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” Hebrews 1:3 So if we see something that doesn’t look like Jesus and the way he did things, it can’t be God or the way he does things. Again, maybe I’m wrong, but I believe it;s a better way to live – the peaceful, loving way of the lamb.

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  9. Hey I understand a little more where you are coming from (obviously don’t agree but promise not to engage!!) Can I just ask a couple more questions a) why in your rationale did Jesus have to die and b) why does the revelation God gave to Jesus which John was instructed to write become a metaphor and what’s it a metaphor for? A quick glance at the website you posted seemed to start from an assumption rather than the “facts” infront of us (ie: the bible).

    Just would be interested to see how your doctrine all holds together.

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    • Sorry Beverley, I don’t have time to expand, I have 2 sermons to prepare before Sunday and rather a lot of other stuff to do. Suffice to say, I have good reasons for both. There’s some really good stuff on Revelation from Shane Hipps here, I can’t really say more without repeating Shane http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9829014/Shane_Hipps_Revelation.zip
      As for some of the reasons Jesus had to die, have a dig in my blog, I have some posts on that topic (not exhaustive).

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  10. Ah Alex now I understand – you are affiliated with the christadelphian persuasion which makes it all clear. As you say – no point in engaging – but I obviously see no biblical evidence whatsoever for those type of beliefs.

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    • That’s a bit rude and dismissive Beverley, don’t imagine you know anything about my beliefs just because you think you know what the community that I was brought up in believes.

      Likewise, I obviously see no biblical evidence whatsoever for your type of beliefs!

      Grace & Peace sister (though you might be appalled that I’d have the audacity to think of you as such) 🙂

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  11. •Jesus had a sinful nature (The Christadelphians, What They Believe, by Harry Tennant, The Christadelphian, England, p. 74 – this is a Christadelphian book.)
    •Jesus needed salvation, (Christadelphian Answers, ed. by Frank G. Jannaway, The Herald Press, p. 25 – another Christadelphian book).
    •Jesus is not God in flesh
    •That Jesus’ atonement was not substitutionary
    •Baptism is necessary for salvation

    Alex if the above information is incorrect then please feel free to refute it here – obviously books written by those of your persuasion may not necessarily represent the views of the whole group – but I am afraid if this does fit your belief system then I obviously love you as a human but cannot support your viewpoint. God calls us to speak the Truth – I believe there is absolute Truth and I certainly don’t believe there is more than one path to God – I believe Jesus himself made that very clear – I AM the way the truth and the life NO ONE comes to the Father but by me.

    Ian – where do you stand on this – you’ve been very quiet?

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    • On heaven and hell? Well I think the Biblical story tells us that God is renewing all of creation and that this renewal of creation will be finalised at the coming of Christ, where all God’s people will be resurrected from the dead to live in God’s new heaven and new earth (Matthew 19:28). Those who have chosen to not be a part of this renewal of all things show themselves to be enemies of God and his purpose and as such will be excluded from his new creation, sent away from the presence of God for all eternity (Matthew 8:11-12). In this way God’s judgement of humanity is dependent upon their faith, the faith the witness of their lives declares.

      On Revelation, I tend to try and read it as I believe John intended it to be read: Encouragement and hope for the persecuted Church, drawing hope from the final victory of God against Satan and the Christian’s engagement with that.

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      • I say, this is getting rather interesting… not much to say, myself, on the topics, but its good reading.

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      • Hopefully some good listening as well, if anyone has the stomach to download and listen to the several hours of sermon audio that I posted links to!!

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    • Beverley, I apologise if my last comment came across prickly. On re-reading I could understand if you took it that way.
      I didn’t want to cause offence or upset you, I respect you as another person in whom God chooses to live by his spirit and therefore don’t wish to cause distress or act rudely. I’m sorry if it sounded otherwise.

      Quoting various people / beliefs that you think a certain group holds at me doesn’t necessarily make me believe them! Where did you get the idea I was of that ilk anyway?

      Please don’t take me for an idiot that doesn’t look into stuff myself. I study my bible and look into the origins of words in the original language and do my best to search out truth.

      I agree, Jesus is the only way, if you’d dug in my blog, you’d have seen that on a fairly old post.

      However, the nuances of various interpretations of the bible, and the different transations, not to mention the concordance references are all informed and biased by the original translator / schollar’s particular bent.

      That’s fine.

      My God is big enough to cope whether I have got a small part wrong or whether someone else has or whether we both have.

      And I’d concur completely with Ian’s last post. Naturally there may be very sight (and possibly some larger) intricacies and semantics within what Ian said which would have most of Christendom arguing until armageddon (if it is really literal 😉 )

      I realise you may not have heard Steve Chalke’s most recent thinking – I remember now where I heard what seems most sensible and therefore I agree with and it was here – http://www.church.co.uk/downloads/ccu_sun_100314.mp3

      Heaven – Gerard Kelly speaks wonderfully of how I understand it just here – http://gerardkelly.tumblr.com/post/2759699607

      I don’t think my beliefs are quite so wacky and outlandish as you may have thought, I think I’m in fairly good company.

      I’m not going to address all your points one by one Beverley as I don’t think it is likely to prove either uplifting or edifying. I don’t seek to prove other people wrong and me right, that’s not what I understand my job as a Christian to be. I see my responsibility as living in a way that displays Jesus to the people I meet. To borrow some words from Shaun Groves, a man I greatly respect and derive inspiration from:

      “The apostle Paul says that if Jesus is my Lord (king, the one in charge of my entire life) and I believe (trust, rely upon) that God raised Him from the dead, then I am no longer an enemy of God but his boy, no longer punished but forgiven, no longer separated from God but united with Him forever and no matter what.
      Now God is sanctifying me – giving me a makeover into the image of Jesus. Slowly but certainly my King is overthrowing my character, my finances, my marriage, my ambitions, my shame and…

      All in an effort to make me obedient to His command to love Him with all I am and to love all people the way He has loved me.

      If you see me living anything like Jesus you are seeing Jesus living through me.”

      (This next bit I adapted to be personal to me) The King who left perfection for poverty is satisfied to stay in my little house in Lilian Street, and would rather drive my Focus than a Ferrari. The Miracle Man who fed five thousand sponsors children in Kenya. The Friend who forgave Peter’s betrayal has forgiven those who have hurt me. The Servant who washed his friends’ feet is taking out the rubbish and recycling and doing the dishes in my house.

      (Back to Shaun again) “There is no good in me but Jesus. And because He is in me I do good.

      This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)”

      I’ve spent too long on this, but I suppose insomnia has its benefits at times!

      Grace and Peace to you all

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  12. Thank you for this Alex – hope you managed to get to sleep in the end!! Ben – if you’ve got spare time – can I suggest the Bible is more edifying reading than something us humans are writing!!!!

    Obviously I am struggling with what you have written because whilst on the surface it sounds wonderful – on second reading what shouts out at me is the basis of your salvation seems to be your good works and earning a place with God through your actions?

    Your blog had a suggestion that the reason God allowed Jesus to die was because it was kinder to let him be killed than let him be tempted for ever? What about the problem of sin that had to be sorted? or have I misunderstood what you are saying? If this is what you feel – then am not quite sure how your comment about that Jesus died For us fits?

    I tend to use the bible to comment on itself (regardless of interpretation (and I stick to the King James) because I find whatever translation – there is always continuity – the old testament confirms the new and visa versa. If I can’t find something witnessed in the Word by itself in other places – then I know I have got a wrong idea. God calls for 2 or 3 witnessess and I believe this applies to his Word, so I am always very careful to make sure that a verse I grab to sustain a doctrine is fully sustained throughtout the whole word as I believe in its entire integrity. I am also wary of quoting people – preferring to stick to God’s word. It was good enough for Jesus to quote at Satan so it’s good enough for me (and Jesus didn’t seem to have a problem with how it had been translated (we understand he was using the Septuatant (excuse spelling) rather than the original hebrew – which given he was God’s Word – presumably he would have used had it have been necessary!!! (A caviat here that I do not rate highly most of the modern versions as they have adopted a different set of texts which seem to jeteson a large amount of the other texts!!!!

    What I don’t seem to be reading in your writings is any acknowledgement that God abhors sin? That God’s wrath is very real and has already been satisfied in Jesus – hence his Grace and if Grace then not of us. Whilst the fruit of loving Jesus (what we do in our lives) should be evident – our works (fruit) get tested by the fire and either survive or get burnt up – what gets us our passport in the kingdom is not what we do, but on whom we trust. Being saved is totally depenedent on God’s work not mine.

    I totally agree with your points about Hell – except that you don’t cover the fact that the Hell talked about in the bible is itself thrown into the eternal fire – but then of course you think Revelation is metaphor.

    Still trying to understand what it’s a metaphor for and why it needed to be a metaphor if it was to comfort and edify saints and alert them to a real situation about to happen?

    Anyway – I will listen to Steve and Gerard’s talks to gain more info on your point of view – but as we have already said – this isn’t something that’s going to be sorted on Ian’s blog!!

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    • Beverley don’t feel like you have to keep on ‘correcting’ me. It looks like you are reading what you want to find into what I write, and not reading completely. e.g. My blog on why Jesus died I clearly stated was “one of the possible reasons”.
      You say “the basis of your salvation seems to be your good works and earning a place with God through your actions?”
      Nothing could be further from the truth. I said it pretty clearly I think in a post above – “There is no good in me but Jesus. And because He is in me I do good” If you think that’s about ‘earning a place with God’ then I’m not sure how more clear I could be!

      I am saved by Grace, nothing I could do would ever be good enough to earn what God gives freely, nothing
      I could ever do would be bad enough to preclude me from the forgiveness that God offers when I turn to accept it. It’s al God But what we do now matters, only it’s a joyful response, not a duty or imperative to gain some favour from God;
      “resurrection says that what we do with our lives matters
      in this body
      the one that we inhabit right now
      every act of compassion matters
      every work of art that celebrates the good and the true matters
      every fair and honest act of business and trade
      every kind word
      they all belong and they will all go on in God’s good world
      nothing will be forgotten
      nothing will be wasted
      it all has it’s place” (Rob Bell)

      I quote other people’s words either because they say it more eloquently or because it’s not worth re-inventing the wheel!

      “Being saved is totally depenedent on God’s work not mine.”
      Yeah, totally agree, no problem.

      “Hell talked about in the bible is itself thrown into the eternal fire ”
      Which kind of reinforces it as a metaphor, how can hell be literally thrown into itself? That’s an oxymoron.

      The amazon link was to a book which I promise, you will find very interesting reading, regardless of whether you end up agreeing with it. It’s the Shane Hipps stuff you want to listen to on revelation, Gerard Kelly’s link was just a blog post and Steve Chalke’s link was about hell.

      There is room in God’s grace for both of us, I believe you will be there in God’s great big party in the same way that I believe I will be there. Should we not focus on inviting more people to listen to the music and hope they want to dance with us, regardless that their dance may be a little semantically or interpretationally different to ours?

      Trouble is as humans we like to prosthelytise – we are uncomfortable if anyone holds a view that is different to our own. And that’s difficult when we encounter grace. I imagine God’s grace is bigger than mine which is always going to make me uncomfortable if someone doesn’t agree with me, yet I have to believe that God can find a pace for the genuine seeking heart in his ocean of grace.

      God invites us into the dynamic unfolding of His drama in which He is working to bring the world back into a reconciled relationship with himself. It’s the story of God and God’s people at work in the world, not a set of static propositions or set of ideas to assent to. The message of the gospel is bound to shift and change as God’s spirit moves in this world. If we claim the message is unchanging, we risk boasting of a kind of omniscience in which we presume we know the totality of God’s plan and inexaustible mysteries. In that kind of setup, the spirit becomes no more of a ‘dashboard ornament’ – if we presume we have discovered the one, simple and unchanging message for all times and all places. Our posture should be humility and discovery. Remaining faithful to scripture does not mean doggedly holding on to some fixed and permanent idea of right doctrine until our knuckles turn white and our fingers drop off. We should be trying to develop a communal sense of patience to discover the gospel, God’s current plans and works, the courage to name them and te humility to hold them in open hands to allow it to be touched by God’s voice in scripture and the breath of God’s spirit moving among us.

      Too long, and that’s probably it for me, I need to do other things.

      Been great to discuss, grace and peace sister from a different mister, I hope it was uplifting after all!

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  13. Ok so just listened to Steve – He doesn’t touch on Revelation 20 v 14 & 15 . Eternal Fire – (“hell” gets chucked into eternal fire – so lets not talk about Hell – lets talk about eternal fire.
    Steve is inaccurate to tell the questioner that Matt 25 v 41 says gehena – when it clearly says eternal fire everlasting g166 αἰώνιος aiōnios fire, g4442 πῦρ pyr

    He goes on about the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of God and tries to dismiss satan as an “entity” as opposed to a real spiritual enemy – he cleverly distracts the argument by pointing out quite rightly that satan isn’t (and never has been equal) to God – and yet this “entity” offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world if he would bow – and Jesus didn’t say – on your bike they don’t belong to you!!! The reason satan isn’t mentioned much to ot saints is because ot saints didn’t have the power we have (jesus’ power) to fight the devil because Jesus hadn’t yet got the victory on the cross. No point in telling anyone about an enemy they haven’t yet got the ability to fight.

    Totally agree about us not going to heaven (either straight after we die or on Jesus’ return). Also agree that paradise and heaven are two different words – and that God will dwell with us on the new earth – all very supportably biblical but – this is a long way from saying therefore there is no eternal fire of judgement –

    Again Steve quite rightly says that eternal fire is reserved (and was designed!!) for satan and his angels – but it also tells us that those not in the book of life will be going there too – so Steve is right to say it wasn’t designed for humans and God didn’t want humans to end up there – but that’s very different to saying they won’t!!

    The rest of his arguments seem to be based on refuting other people’s theories without scriptural reference or back up which isn’t a strong point to argue from.

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  14. Beverly, I hate to break it to you, but the Bible WAS written by humans. 🙂

    Peace.

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  15. How did the sermon go Ian? Hope it was a blessing for you.
    Ben: – actually I fundamentally disagree with your statement – when the Word of God says GOD SAYS or GOD SPOKE or JESUS SPOKE or JESUS SAID etc then regardless of who or how those words were recorded – they were the very Words of God – take away the rest of the words and leave me just everything that says God said …….. and I still have more than enough of the very Word of God to bring power and life into every situation in my life. Either they are the Word of God or they are a lie – if they are a lie – what I sad person I must be to put my whole life in their hands – if they are the Word of God – it becomes irrelevant in what manner they were recorded. I believe the witness is accurate.

    Alex – thanks for your writings and you say some very wonderful things – but for all your writings what I don’t hear is that absolute trust and dependency on what God says God means. I just don’t feel I have the right to question God – (Job tried and look at the mess he got into!!) As God says were you (or me) there when ……………

    I love the Word of God – and the more I study it, the more revelation I gain that every single word is accurate in its entirety and has the physical power to change my life. As I study it more and more – less and less do I find the need to explain away difficult passages or to declare that God didn’t actually mean what he wrote or any other excuses that people use to explain away passages of scripture that don’t fit into their world view or thinking process. I have learnt over the years that the more I am willing to jetison my world view and the less I bring my opinion into scripture – the more scripture comes alive for me.

    Anyway – probably time to move on – looking forward to your next posting Ian

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  16. Beverley

    “those who have ears to hear, let them hear”

    Unfortunately, It’s clear that you are hearing what you want to hear from what I write.

    Fortunately, I don’t have to justify myself to you and Jesus has already justified me before God.

    I’m glad you’ve got it all so together and so sorted, I can give you Steve Chalke’s mobile number if you like so you can put him straight too.

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  17. If I have misunderstood your writings I apologise Alex. If you felt you were having to justify yourself to me then I again apologise. If you feel I have it all sorted, I can assure you I haven’t, and as for needing to get in touch with Steve I’ll leave it thanks – I was married at the church Steve was at back in 1977 so am not impressed that you have his telephone number!

    However in your writings you appear to have made many many statements that are contrary to the word of God. I hope you understand that the Word of God is so precious to me that I will seek to redress any error I read concernng it – this seems only biblical. Hopefully you will allow me the courtesy of stating here that I believe God’s Word tells me that God’s Word is eternal and unchanging, the devil is a supernatural creature who has rebelled against God and that Jesus really believed and communicated with the real fallen creature, that the gospel is also unchanging and unchangeable rather than shifting and changingand that Paul warns in both corinthians and galations about not listening to any other gospel than the gospel he delivered,, that there is a real hell which really will be thrown into the eternal fire along with all the people whose names are not found in the book of life.

    I absolutely agree that God is a God of love and does not will that anyone should be lost – but I have to weigh that up with the words of Jesus when he says that some will be lost. This for me doesn’t change who God is – but I fail to see the point of pretending otherwise.

    I would never subscribe to teaching hell fire and damnation – people need to hear of the love of God – and loving God and having a relationship with him will enable them to be more holy by accident than any amount of trying to be good. However – what’s the point of pretending there isn’t a real hell, or a real devil? If it was good enough for God to have written down, and for Jesus to speak about, then it’s good enough for me and I just can’t understand wanting to leave these bits out just because at first glance they don’t seem to fit with a loving God. I would have been there at one point but through study I have come to see much more of how the whole counsel fits.

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