Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Heresy of God's Punishment

A Baptist whom I once knew, said: "you will have to pay for your sin."  

I have learned to avoid some things like the plague, such as certain preachers and the blog space "Pulpit and the Pen". 

In Isaiah 53 (the entire chapter), we find Jesus, the crucifixion, and all that He bought and paid for.  The chapter may be loosely summarized in verses 4-6:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
We could camp on Isaiah 53 for a very, very long time and still have material to uncover.  While that's all good, the point I want to make is this: Isaiah 53 is the solution to the problem.  Contextually, therefore, it precedes the description and the subsequent qualities of the repair.  

In other words, there's a problem, then a fix, then there's life after the fix.  Loosely speaking, we might infer that Isaiah 1-52 describes the status quo during the problem, Isaiah 53 the solution to the problem, and Isaiah 54-66 describes life after the fix.  

Consider then, Isaiah 54.  We find there brief descriptions of life before Christ, then we find the result of His work:

“For a brief moment I forsook you (before Isa. 53), But with great compassion I will gather you (after Isa. 53). “In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment (before Isa. 53), But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you, (after Isa. 53)” Says the LORD your Redeemer.
“For this is like the days of Noah to Me (Isa. 53), When I swore that the waters of Noah Would not flood the earth again; So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you nor will I rebuke you (after Isa. 53).  “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you (after Isa. 53). 
In other words, Isa. 53 is a line in the sand, it is a covenant equal in standing with the promise made after the flood (Gen. 9:8-17).

Angry Christians and their Punishing God

It is common for Christians to talk about being under the punishment of God, or that God is punishing this or that person, or this or that country.  Sometimes we hear it spoken of countries and peoples after floods, tornados, hurricanes, and tsunamis.

One of the contradictions those same people never address is this: if Jesus paid (was punished) for all of the sins of the world, then why is additional punishment necessary?  It would mean that He didn't pay for all of our sins and that we are somehow responsible for sins that remain.  This is not an uncommon doctrine.  Sam Cathy, a Southern Baptist Preacher, once said: "... you don't confess sin, and get forgiveness of sin in order to stop its consequences.  You confess sin and get forgiveness for it to get back in fellowship with God.  But you will have to pay for your sin" (SHBC, around 28-30 minute mark).  What Sam Cathy and many others like him have done, is conflate our purpose (our works) with our sin.  

In summary, if Jesus did not pay for all of our sins - if we must pay for some of our sins (either in the here and now, or in the then and there), then the work of the cross was incomplete, it was not finished.

The Source of an Assailant

With these ideas as our general, doctrinal backdrop, I would suggest that we can be forgiven if we missed this bit in Isa. 54: "So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you nor will I rebuke you..."  And we can also be forgiven if we miss the other salient bits too:

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires. “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of crystal, And your entire wall of precious stones. “All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great.  “In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; And from terror, for it will not come near you 
If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you.  “Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals And brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin. “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.
So then, when we're under attack, or when we see people who profess to be Christians suggesting "He is a man who God is crushing beneath his thumb", we should ask ourselves: who is really doing the assailing, and why is the assault succeeding?

Romans 8:82-29 NASB
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

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