Atonement: The Dividing Line Jul 6, 2017 15:12:35 GMT -6 watchmanjim likes this
Post by Gary on Jul 6, 2017 15:12:35 GMT -6
If you thought like I do that the Church might be gone in the next few months or years what would you want to tell people? I've thought long and hard about this and I keep coming back to the Gospel. Ultimately, all of our Christianity, biblical knowledge, and prophecy study is worthless if we don't believe the Good News.
The Apostle Paul made clear that Jesus' literal resurrection is what gives our faith its power. If Jesus did not rise again then we are still dead in our sins and hopeless - our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Yet while it is the resurrection that gives our faith its power, it is the atonement of Christ that gives our faith its substance (Galatians 2:20-3:29; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21, 23, 2:2, 15:3).
What is the Atonement? It is when Christ died for our sins just as 1 Corinthians 15:3 says. He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) and bore our sin itself on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). As the final atoning sacrifice for sin Jesus became the perfect and final fulfillment of all the sacrificial types and shadows in the Old Testament (Hebrews 1:3, 10:11-12; Colossians 2:16-17; 1 John 2:2). Paul calls belief in the Atonement "of first importance" in the Christian faith.
"Jesus died for our sins" sounds like elementary Christian knowledge, right? When I share this belief with people I usually get a yawn or a "yeah, yeah, got it" in response. Yet even though it is such a simple and foundational doctrine, it is attacked, ridiculed, and twisted more than any other Christian belief. If you've studied Church history you'll quickly recognize that it is differing views of the Atonement that are the root cause for most denominational splits.
People have always wondered why Christianity has so many sects and divisions - probably more than every other world religion combined. If Christianity is true why is there so much division and how do you know which denomination is right?
This question used to bug me, but now I see through it to the truth. The reason Christianity has more divisions and sects than any other religion is because Christianity is the genuine article. You don't counterfeit fake currency - you only counterfeit the genuine. If you want to steal, kill, and destroy as the enemy does (John 10:10), you won't get anywhere by counterfeiting what is already fake (Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, etc) - hence why those religions only have a handful of formal divisions. If you want to create confusion and chaos and lead people away from the truth then you have to counterfeit the truth itself and that is exactly what satan has done. He has sown discord and fear in the Body of Christ and sown tares among the wheat. The wheat and the tares are mixed together throughout all denominations, which is why I am a firm proponent of the doctrine of the Invisible Church:
The invisible church or church invisible is a theological concept of an "invisible" body of the elect who are known only to God, in contrast to the "visible church"—that is, the institutional body on earth which preaches the gospel and administers the sacraments. Every member of the invisible church is saved, while the visible church contains some individuals who are saved and others who are unsaved. According to this view, Bible passages such as Matthew 7:21-27, Matthew 13:24-30, and Matthew 24:29-51 speak about this distinction.
Now that I've been teaching for several years, I've come to realize that the Atonement is the dividing line within Christianity. It is belief in or lack of belief in the Atonement that divides the truly saved from those who merely profess faith (James 2:14).
Proponents of works-righteousness within Christianity as well as unbelievers in other religions reject true Christianity in the same way: they reject the Atonement and therefore they reject the Gospel. And not only them, but also those within Christianity who have twisted God's grace into universalism or as mere toleration of varying beliefs and behaviors.
The Gospel is extremely simple and can be summarized as follows:
For our sins
Appeared to many
You can even distill it down to just the three parts that you need to believe for salvation:
For our sins
If you personally believe and accept this Good News then you're in. You've made it aboard the Ark. The Holy Spirit has come and indwelt you and your own spirit has been made new. When Christ appears again your body will be made new, as well.
Notice also that the Gospel as defined in 1 Corinthians 15 is not just belief in "Jesus". It is belief in "Christ". Romans 10 adds "Lord". It is one thing to believe that a Jewish man named Jesus lived and died two thousand years ago. It is another thing to believe that Jewish man is the Anointed One sent by God to be your personal Savior and Lord.
We like to pick on liberal Christianity and rightfully so, for that group calls good "evil" and evil "good", twists and maligns God's Word, and denies the necessity of the Gospel. In so doing, they promote homosexuality, abortion, and every form of licentiousness as acceptable behavior to God. They also teach varying degrees of universalism since they've rejected the need for atonement.
But don't forget the other extreme: the hordes of Christians-in-name-only who give lip service to Christ and appear righteous on the outside, but never really believed or accepted the Good News. A few of these are even well known in the Bible prophecy community. Their standard for salvation is something other than Christ and Him crucified and so, unbeknownst to them, they are in just as dire a spiritual situation as are those outside of Christianity. They believe in themselves, their performance, and their own "good deeds", not realizing that they are full of hypocrisy, pride, and self-righteousness.
This group even makes sport of twisting the very Scriptures that speak against them in judgment:
- Revelation 3:15-18
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing', not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
You hypocrites: this is not speaking about those Believers who aren't doing enough, performing enough, giving enough, serving enough, or are too worldly in your eyes, etc. This is about you who would be justified by works of the law rather than by faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:4). This is about you who would mix law and grace (Romans 11:6) putting a burden on peoples' shoulders that neither you nor they can carry (Matthew 23:4). The salvation-by-works crowd doesn't recognize their poor, pitiable, naked, and shameful state. They think they are rich and in need of nothing, not realizing that it is God who provides what they are sorely lacking - namely Christ's righteousness that could cover their great shame. This is why Jesus closes His message to the Laodicean church with an invitation:
- Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Believers are permanently sealed until the day of redemption and have nothing to fear (John 6:39-40, Ephesians 4:30, Romans 8:1-4, 1 John 5:13), but unbelievers have never known God, hence why Jesus asks them to let Him come in. There are the obvious unbelievers who don't name the Name of Christ and then there are the less obvious ones that sometimes sit on the pew next to you and pride themselves on their religiosity. Salvation costs nothing but your pride, so please, for the sake of your souls, repent.
Likewise, the self-righteous twist Matthew 7 into condemnation of Christians who "aren't good enough", when the passage is really speaking to the self-righteous themselves:
- Matthew 7:21-23
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
These people who name God's Name offer their own works as satisfaction, but like Cain who offered the fruit of his labor as an offering, they will be rejected. What is the will of Jesus' Father in Heaven?
- John 6:28-29
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.'
In summary, liberal "Christians" and works-righteousness "Christians" reject the Gospel in the same exact way: they deny their personal need for Christ's atoning sacrifice.
Turn back and board the Ark. Time is up. Today is the day of salvation. Repent.
For further study:
WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
THE GOSPEL: PART 1
THE GOSPEL: PART 2
THE GOSPEL: PART 3
THE GOSPEL: PART 4
THE GOSPEL: PART 5
THE TIGHTROPE OF FAITH
A CLOSER LOOK AT GENESIS 3-4
ABOUT THE CRUCIFIXION
WHAT WAS THE CRUCIFIXION LIKE?