Half-baked, Half-saved

Salvation is a gift, and even when we preserve or endure there is no credit to us. People are always distracted by self- importance: what we can say and what we can do. Nothing we can do seems to be anything more than a filthy rag, but there is always faith. Half-saved is what results when people do not believe, and half saved is lost.

Then they said to him, What must we do, to be doing the works of God? Jesus answered them, This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.

John 6:28-29

Faith needs no partner

If we see the way Christ paved for us we will recognize that tales about our performance and acquisitions – obedience and knowledge – are lies that keep us pinned under the burden of darkness. Work hard at believing the truth because it frees completely. This is not a halfway business deal. Christ frees us as we take God’s work seriously and without distraction.

Dead or Alive

Of all the bits that go into the accurate identity of his disciples this ID card is truly marvelous and elicits from the believer to a grateful and joyful “Yes!” “God’s work” is not a popular way of introducing ourselves but it is arresting, full of consolation and assurance.

For we are his workmanship (poiema, ποίημα), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

God prepared our works

Did he need to say “beforehand “? Yes. Someone will say “Prepare is always ‘before’ “. True, but the intention of the writer is to further (see vs. 8) caution people against claiming responsibility for the works that proceed from God’s creation. Not only does he save us apart from any work we have done or are required to perform, but he also takes the initiative to prepare the good works of the new life.

The Father’s poem – the result of grace

There is little room for misunderstanding God’s saving and keeping grace. He has hemmed us in most securely by anticipating our need and our quasi-intelligent objections. We love credit even when we aren’t in the game.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand (proetoimazo, pro + hetoimazo, προετοιμαζω) that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

What are the chances that Lazarus helped the Lifegiver call him forth from his grave of four days? Are today’s good works subject to condition and human invention and choice? What are the chances of anyone but Yahweh removing the cherubim and flaming sword the gate to Eden?

Life and death: straight priorities 2

Why such controversy about law?

The Law of God is the Law of Moses. To pretend that God’s Law is written in everybody’s national law is a convenient fable. The repeating annual cycle of guilt (in Israelite religion) proves that Law is neither deterrent nor detergent. The law is only mentioned as kingdom material by destructive forces. There is no life in the law just as there are no worshippers of God in Jerusalem per se. True worshippers are everywhere. If life and death were truly the priorities no one would spend penny on the law. It is a smoke screen that barely hides the self-righteous pretensions of resistant and rebellious generations.

Annual Cycle of Guilt

By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:8-10

No one in antiquity received the Holy Spirit because they corrected their way with reference to the Law. That is an absurdity from Psalm 119:1, 9 that Paul thought did not deserve an hour of his time, namely, that the undefiled are keepers of the law and need the law to cleanse their way. This does not pass the smell test.

Loving childish things

A child’s priority is not growing up. The law had nothing to do with our receipt of righteousness. Righteousness comes courtesy of the Son of God direct from the Father. There were people who wanted to equate the Way announced by Isaiah and John with the covenants and practices with which they had been familiar.

The age of minority ends and ushers in violence

The church rejected any such conflation. The followers of the Way and the Jewish leadership had the evidence that Christ was not Moses and the prophets. By no stretch of the imagination could they bring the two together. It is no wonder that the charges against Yeshua and his followers were capital offences. There was no way to reconcile what Yeshua taught and brought and what Moses and his followers taught. John said the tree was ready for chopping down, not because scholars, elders, and ruling priests were misinterpreting the text, but because the kingdom had arrived. The era of global ignorance (of God’s eternal plan) and the era of God looking the other way was over. Yeshua did not even try to reconcile his message with Jewish practice: not on holy days, not on neighbourliness, not on ablutions, not on defilement, and definitely not on the means of eternal life.

One of them had to back off. Neither religious movement, biblical scholar, nor 21st century charismatic, can change these facts.

Christ a sin minister?

The law’s function in defining our sin and showing how bad sin do nothing to save us. People seem convinced nevertheless that a holy and moral life is the absence of sin or at least the attempt at perfect obedience to the law. Christian and Jews have better evidence. How ungrateful can one become!

If sin is human lawlessness ( anomia ανομια) then should not righteousness be human compliance with law?

Not so fast Mr Lover Commandment-faker! The death required to redeem the lost is not achieved via personal provision. The life of the redeemed is not reckoned via debt. One cannot accept the gift of salvation and then claim to have contributed to the gift. Genuine gifts have no cost to us and no strings. We provide nothing that helps pay for or goes towards recognizing the cost of our salvation.

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, Romans 4:5

Law and faith personified

Since faith that brings life can be said to “arrive” we say with certainty that Law entered.

This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. Galatians 3:17

Added means it was not was on the table and no one had it for dinner until the angels set it up.

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Galatians 3:19

If faith did not arrive then the temple would still have some claim on providing purification . If faith did not arrive then the saints of old who died would be still sleeping, not knowing that their share in the gift of immortality had been confirmed.

The temple services finished

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51

The Resurrection of the faithful confirmed

The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. Matthew 27:52-53

Covenant and life

The law is a covenant set in place by angels (Acts 7:53) and it neither perfected nor matured anything. This fact makes Psalm 119 look like devilish creativity.

(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:19

All the primary parts of the covenant, command, decree, and judgment – mitzvah, choq, mishpat – had no part in the offer of life. Christ was not on the cross dying on the cross because the law said so. They also have no part in the condemnation of the race. The promise of life in the leather coats donation (Gen. 3:21) predates and overrides the lock out (Gen. 3:24), and the promise to Abraham of all families blessed in the Seed predates and overrides the condemnation that the law magnifies. The law is neither a sample or example of great education. It is a document of condemnation and a witness against the people gathered at Sinai and their descendants.

The law’s goodness

The law itself is good, holy and just, but far from perfect. If it were its perfection did not reach the people of God and its job was done as designed.

[The temple/tabernacle] (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, Hebrews 9:9

God was not with them as he had planned. Faith that arrives and saves is a person whose arrival changes everything. Note here too that the law did not come to force through Christ but through angels. There is no comparison. Just a delusion.

Creatures or God

No created thing should think about itself as a functional element in salvation hence the saviour is the God-man to make it effective.

There are no half-lost people. There are no Gentiles becoming Jews by believing in Christ. There are no Jews who can inherit eternal life by following Moses (except to abandon him by turning wholeheartedly to the prophet they were told to expect Deuteronomy 18:15ff). God did not come seeking the lost to reclaim Eden, Sinai or Mosaic Judaism. He came with heaven’s prior and most primitive majesty, the Word of God himself, our life, our food and drink. There is no law that gives life or maintains life.

Sorry Israel 2.0! Death and life are God matters. They are not Moses’. The resistance and misguided zeal of the Christian chasing down a foolish dream gets turned around when God grants the courage to discard tradition. We can understand Jewish people wanting to hang on to Moses (not that they should). Christians trying to be commandment-keepers and the people of God (in the way that Israel was) do not even deserve a minute of our time. The sneaky attempt by Jewish converts to kill the freedom Christ brought is what Paul aptly called another gospel. Their priorities were topsy-turvy.

The right to become and be named God’s children can only come from following Moses where Moses turns the keys over to Yeshua. The people who preferred to hear Moses rather than God all died in the desert as unbelievers. Their heart was where their treasure was. Their minds were not ready. Even when we are invited, as was Peter and his peers, we face the risk of being practically on the side of the opposition. Playing devil’s advocate is not a game that can end with delight.

But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. Mark 8:33

Life and death: straight priorities

We all know Christians who seem to be in a great hurry to get themselves right with God and broadcast their righteousness apart from the atoning sacrifice and life of Christ. The dilemma comes from our common poverty of innate eligibility and our abundance of unprincipled and unreliable solutions. All our work falls short. Neither the work we did before receiving our share of eternal life and the work we do now commends or accuses us to God. Christ pardoned us and gave us new occupations with reference to his great love. The work of faith, believing in Christ, is full and complete credit designed to bring us life.

Dead or alive?

The Christian is right with God. We are alive. We must reckon ourselves so. Christ’s death and resurrection are written to our account. To use the Passover imagery, we can say the destroying angel passes over our house the moment God sees our faith in the Lamb he provided.

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. Rom 6:10, So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Rom 6:11

Minor or mature

When one is a child one takes the easiest, nearest, and obvious path in line with our natural tendencies. The dilemma of our estrangement from God confronts us and the best we could do was cover with a vegetable parts. The solution God offered involved the life of a living entity whose skin serves to cover our open contradiction (private was public).

Since a regulation was violated in Eden one may think that regulations may correct the problem and give a sense of security, but there were no guarantees of perfect human compliance. God did not tell Adam and Eve what to do: he gave them coats. If one can convince oneself that all God wants is perfectly obedient servant-creatures or permanently juvenile children then it is easy to pick a set of rules and commit oneself to it. That, in any scenario, is not salvation, and it is not God’s highest initiative. Salvation means life from the dead for all humans, including the followers of Moses. No one gets away with following a few rules – from any source – and claiming to be whole.

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. Galatians 3:21

Hang on

It would be worth nothing if all went well because we had turned back to the elementary practices of world: carnal ordinances, food, drink, and festivals.

Salvation is worth more than all other things combined. Let us hang on. Let us hold fast. The confession “Yeshua is Lord from the deaf” saved our lives. There is no deeper truth anywhere. This is the majesty and glory of God. Hang on.