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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
Looking for a church in the Omaha area? Come check out ours on Sunday mornings at 11!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Fate of Angels and Humans

Recently I was challenged by a fellow believer (and, at the time, fellow camper) on the meaning of my band's name and the biblical accuracy of it. Here's a couple of my thoughts on the differences between humans and angels and the "mystery" of salvation.

Heb. 2:16 "For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham".

Understanding this very straight forward verse, the following passage largely forms my theology on this issue:

1 Pet. 1:10-12 "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven - things into which angels long to look." (bold lettering my emphasis)

Now, applying the fact stated in the first verse, that salvific help is given to the descendants of Abraham and not to angels, then the portions of 1 Peter highlighted are all things that the verse suggests (as do I) angels do not understand fully and long to look into. It seems clear to me (and I think the rest of Scripture would agree) that angels have limited or no personal, experiential knowledge of salvation, grace, the glories following Christ's sufferings, or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. At the very least, their experience with such things greatly differs from that of mankind. They have no firsthand experience of sin and the fall (they must be untainted by sin to remain in God's presence) and thus have never felt a separation from God, a need for redemption, or the glories of Christ in their lives following such redemption. Of course fallen angels have experienced sin and the fall, but to them there is no offer of redemption through the death of Christ.

As I briefly mentioned before, I think the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is something that the Bible delineates as solely for those in the Body of Christ. Thus, we have firsthand relational knowledge of the third person of the Trinity that the angels will ever only long to know. Thus, there is clearly a sense that we as God's chosen children have a firsthand experience and deeper knowledge of these things, and that it is the fate of angels ever to long to look into such things.

Ergo (I've always wanted to use that word!) we as a band suggest that it is the fate of angels to constantly be looking into the lives of believers and seeing the grace, redemption, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit that they will never understand as we do. So how dare we, as humans and the objects of God's loving grace, ever take for granted these manifold blessings that we have in Christ and through Him?! How dare we who are not subject to the fate of angels cheapen or take lightly our adoption as sons and daughters, our glorification as saints, and our high position as joint heirs with Christ?!! The name Fate of Angels is, for us, a constant reminder to live in a manner worthy of all this.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Guilt and the Long Arm of the Law

How many times has this happened to you? You're talking to someone (or someone is talking to you) about Jesus and faith and one of you says something like "I'm mostly a good person, I've never killed anybody" or "Well, I try to be a good person, and I just hope that when I stand before God that my good deeds will outweigh my bad deeds". How does one continue in the conversation without making God out to be a spiteful and vengeful God who expects the impossible from all of us? I used the following analogy with a co-worker and it really seemed to hit home with him:

Imagine I am out driving one day and I decide to have a little fun. I run every stop light I come to, break the speed limit by a good 20 MPH, cause several accidents, and just generally ignore the traffic laws. Before long a police officer pulls me over and tells me he's been following me and saw the whole thing.

Do you think he would let me off the hook if I said "Well officer, I'm mostly a good driver, I've never killed anybody"? Do you think he'd be at all impressed if I said "When I stand before the judge I just hope all my good driving outweighs my bad driving and he'll let me off"? I doubt it (especially if he and the judge know every single driving violation I've ever committed).

It only takes one violation to be guilty of breaking the rules of the road, only one violation to give grounds for a ticket or a court appearance. If we are guilty, we either must pay the penalty or seek the pardon (grace) of the judge through the terms he has set.

It's often a hard pill for one to swallow when someone tries to tell them that just one sin makes them guilty, but this every day situation brings the concept down to earth. Understand, I am not saying you wouldn't hope for grace from the judge (and, indeed, that is what we have in Christ). My point is that we wouldn't consider the judge unjust for finding us guilty of the crimes we've committed. It is often too easy for many people to minimize the sin they have committed, and I've found this analogy really puts our guilt in terms that everyone can understand.

Note: An analogy cannot prove anything, only illustrate. If you find this analogy helpful, you still must argue for and support the position. If you find this a poor analogy (or disagree with the position) you still must construct an argument against it. A good analogy does not prove the validity of an argument or the truthfulness of a statement, just as a poor analogy does not prove an argument as flawed or a statement as false.

Choice and the Fetal Homicide Laws

According to an article in the July 9th edition of the USA Today, a majority of U.S. States now have fetal homicide laws (only 14 do not). Again I am shocked and saddened at how our obsession with autonomy and choice have blinded us to the tragedy taking place daily here in the United States. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled about the fetal homicide laws, but I am awed that so many people miss the double standard. To enforce a fetal homicide law is to say that a viable fetus has a right to life . . . that is, unless the mother decides otherwise!

Doesn't the choice of the mother seem a far too subjective standard to determine if the elimination of her fetus is considered a murder or a service? If she doesn't want the baby, the process is legal and even lauded by many as "an exercise of her rights". But if she wants the child, the same procedure (or any other action ending the life of the child) is a criminal offense.

Using such a definition, there is no objective value and no objective grounding for the life of the unborn. By such logic, if the mother vacillates between wanting to keep the baby and not, the status of the baby volleys between a valued life and a worthless blob of tissue.

Entertain with me for a moment a couple of scenarios. If a woman goes to a clinic to receive an abortion and changes her mind on the table, is the doctor guilty of murder if he goes through with the procedure? If woman intends to get an abortion but is physically assaulted by a man before she can have it done and as a result the fetus dies, is he guilty only of the assault or of fetal homicide as well (or did he do her a service by saving her the time and cost of the abortion clinic)? These are simply illustrations to point out the moral ambiguity surrounding the whole issue of abortion.

Have we really come to a point where individual autonomy and choice now trump the value of innocent human life? Do we really hold our freedoms so high and tight that we willingly blind ourselves to the infanticide taking place around us? I hope I am not the only person sensing a dire need for an objective standard for the value of all human life.