Dan’s Online Diary 

# 20.4.03 by Dan
Listened to a message by Peter Owen on Saturday morning. He was giving a series of talks entitled 'The Gospel and sharing our faith'. I found the first message - 'What is the Gospel?' - very interesting, and so I'd just like to make a few comments, if you'll bear with me.

I thought it was very helpful, in that it brought to light an aspect of the gospel that we seem to have forgotten lately. All too often we think of Christ's work as simply that he was sent to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
But if you look at Romans 5:12-21, Paul clearly draws a parallel between Adam and Christ - by Adam's disobedience and consequent fall into sin, we too, as Adam's descendants, have that sin accredited, or imputed to us. The concept is called Federal, or Covenant theology. So in the same way, just as sin came to us through one man's disobedience, through one Man's obedience is our debt of sin cleared - through Christ. But it wasn't merely Christ's death as an atonement that is accredited to us. For indeed, if this were the case, we would be made righteous before God through Christ's death, but going forward, we would still have to be very careful that we do the right things in order that we do not fall away, or lose that righteousness. As well as, and of equal importance, as his death, Christ has imputed to us His life. His perfect, sinless life has been transfered to us in the same way that Adam's sin had been transfered to us.
So you can see that we do not need to live under any fear that our present or future sins will have any reckoning when it comes to our salvation. Christ has died for us, yes, but he has also lived for us. He lived the perfect life that we needed to have lived to be made righteous before God. And He's already done it - so we can have complete and full assurance of our salvation.
Its interesting to quote some other Reformation-type sources here:
The Westminster Confession of Faith says,
'By his perfect obedience to God's law, and the unrepeatable sacrifice of himself, which he offered up to God through the eternal Spirit, The Lord Jesus has fully satisfied the justice of His Father. ...'.
Here, His obedience is mentioned ahead of his act of sacrifice.
The Baptist Confession of 1689 says:
'This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which that he might discharge he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it, and underwent the punishment due to us,...."

The Heidelberg Catechism says (I really like this bit):
'Q. How are you right with God?
A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.
Even though my conscience accuses me of having greviously sinned against all God's commmandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.
All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.
Oh, and I very, very do.

So where does the law then fit into all this?
Well, I guess it doesn't - law has never been a measure of our salvation. The Western concept of 'law' can be understood as a bunch of 'rules' that one must abide by. But the Eastern concept - and to this day this holds - of 'law' is 'Torah', or teaching. So you can see that to live in obedience to the law is not to simply abide by the 'rules', but it is to subject one's self to the ever-ongoing process of learning, from the 'teachings'. This, in my opinion, makes Christianity so much more 'doable' (for want of a better word) - we don't need to 'do' anything - it has all been done, and secondly, we don't need submit to a list of rules, we just need to grow in the teachings of Christ. This came as a real comfort to me. But its kinda weird, cos i sorta already knew it, but I guess its just another step in my growth under the teaching.

Peter's second message in the series - 'What exactly has Jesus commanded us to do?' - was equally enlightening, speaking for myself, anyway.
The crux of this message, was the the fact that we all too often misread 'The Great Commandment' in Matthew 28:16-20.
The mistake is made in emphasising the words 'go' and 'all nations'. The actual emphasis should be on 'make disciples(learners)' and 'continue teaching'. 'go' can be better interpreted not as an actual single action - like to 'go' on a missions trip, but rather, 'as you are going' - like as you go about your daily lives. Secondly, 'disciples' should not be interpreted as 'believers'. There were many disciples who turned away - John 6:66 records that many disciples turned back and no longer followed Him after he taught on his flesh and blood being the bread from heaven. Judas Iscariot is another example of a disciple never converted. Making a disciple is a lifelong process - conversion is simply(but significantly, don't get me wrong) a point along the path of discipleship.
So, this ultimately means we shouldn't just rush up to complete strangers, share the gospel, and then dash off to the next person. We should recognise where someone is at, and seek to establish a friendship with them, and in a loving, caring manner, meeting them where they are at, we should seek to reveal Christ to them. Sure, some people can hear the gospel from a complete stranger and repent and believe, but that is not, in my opinion, what Jesus is intending us to do when He gives us the commandment in Matt 28.

So, what does this all mean to me?
I'm going to have more confidence across the board, in the knowledge that Christ's perfect life now covers my own entirely faulted life. And through this understanding, the Gospel is clearer, and, I believe, will make more sense to the average non-believer. Also, I realise that through my relationships with others at work(and other places), I have already begun the work of discipleship, despite the fact I am yet to share the gospel with them. But at least now I know I'm actually already part way down the track to discipling them.

In other news:

- I lit a fire tonight, for the first time this year. We have an open fire. I like them so much better than the closed slower-burning types. You get the smoke wafting out into the house, adding a nice aromatic character to the place. You get the lovely crackling and popping sounds that are noticeable absent from the closed fireplaces. You get to see the flames better - watching flames has to be perhaps one of my favourite sit-around-and-do-nothing pastimes. You get to play around with it - its not closed up in a box. Plus more other stuff. So you can see that an open fire is just so much more better than a closed one. He he - if you listen carefully, you can hear the shouts of disagreement from the environmentalists who lament the burning of fossil fuels. Sorry guys, while you're huddled outside in the cold, in the pouring rain, chained to some tree, I'll be stretched out here in the warm and dry on my tiger-skin-print beanbag, basking in the warmth and beauty of God's created flames. I know that was a bit harsh, sorry environmentalists.

- I'm getting fat. I confess my weakness of late, especially with the considerably more accessable quantites of chocolate as provided by this time of Easter. What in the world chocolate has to do with the Son of God taking upon Himself the sins of the world, I'm not quite sure. I guess I can kinda understand that the eggs can symbolise new life, as brought about by Christ's resurrection - but why chocolate eggs? Whats wrong with the ones a chicken makes, or any other egg laying animal, for that sake? And rabbits - where do they fit in? Everyone knows real rabbits aren't made of chocolate - so whats with that? And rabbits don't lay eggs, so theres no connection there. Hmmm. I smell commercialism. Its just like the jolly chap in the red suit with the black gumboots that turns up around about the time that we celebrate Christ's birth. Was he like the innkeeper who is feeling bad about the fact that he couldn't give our Messiah a place to be born, and so has come back to haunt us? I dunno, but he's surely too well padded to be one of those hard-case shepherds. He sure don't look much like an angel either(not that I've ever seen one myself). So again, where does he fit in? Seems to me like he's just a harmless version of what Christ should be. People aren't intimidated by Santa(which is an anagram of 'Satan', by the way), cos they don't feel bad about the fact that they're ignoring the fact that he died for their sins everytime he comes to mind. Plus, SatanSanta sells. Some 2000 year old dead guy is just far too solemn a concept for what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Anyway - I'm getting fat, was the point. I need to start running or something. Might have to put it off until all the chocolate has gone, though.

- If you've read this far, you're doing better than me!

- If you've read this far, you're doing even better still!

- I'm off to bed now, I have to drive away tomorrow. Michelle and I are going on holiday for several days. Its a surprise, we haven't told us where we are going. We're just going to drive until we get there and then we'll know where we were going. Could be anywhere really. We have no idea. So if the blog lapses for a few days, don't despair - I'll be back praps at some stage before the end of the week. Until then, think of stuff to challenge me with and give me a Shout Out!

Take care - love you all.