"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Forgiven and Damned?

"Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God's." -Rob Bell

Now, all traditions confess the strange and wonderful reality of Common Grace, as Matthew puts it, that God "makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."

Yet, statements such as "hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for" is what we are left with if we do not confess some limiting of the atonement. To say that God has forgiven people that then end up in hell, and the deciding factor on our fate and distinctiveness is us ignores Paul's harsh rebuke: "For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? " (1 Cor 4:7)

I know many will not agree with the controversial 5th point of Calvinism (Limited Atonement) but we must say that the love of Christ for the Church is different than His love for the world. His love for His Church redeems the Church. When we read in Scripture: "Husbands, love your wives," we know that love because it was modeled in Christ's for the Church as the verse finishes up "as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." My wife would not be happy if I told her the love I have for her is just like my love for everyone else. Christianity does not say this. It says "we have been purchased at a price" and "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). If we are forgiven, it means we are the Church and Christ loves His Church with an active love that forgives her and cleanses her. Christ does not love her from afar and let her be damned. That is not the love of a husband for his bride. What makes the Church differ from the world is Christ, and his love and forgiveness that he obtained for the Church with Himself. He did not give Himself and His forgiveness to the world, He gave Himself for His Church. All who Christ purchased in His death are His forever, His effectual forgiving love is particular to His Church, and He loves her with a greater love than what we are proclaiming with a gospel of the glory of man's decision.

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