Truth (Bible Tag 18)

#52slowstitchbibletags penal substitution truth
 

I just finished watching a series called Innocent. The main character David Collins served seven years in a maximum-security prison awaiting trial and was released on a technicality for the murder of his wife. DI Cathy Hudson leads a new investigation to find the true killer, exposing many lies. 

I loved it! Each of the four episodes exposed the different perspectives and lies causing those perspectives. For every lie exposed, I was fist-bumping the air with an emphatic "YES!"

Truth is the most important thing in my life because I have waded through lies and deceptions seeking truth for over 50 years (as in cheating husbands and cult churches)  See my story here.

Seeking Biblical Truth

The biggest lie I believed, and one you more than likely have been taught, is that we are separated from God. This is not true. Before you knee-jerk, let's examine the evidence.

C. Baxter Kruger explains the separation lies in the video above. 

Who Shall Separate Us from the Love of Christ?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35–39

Most of us have been taught people are separated from Jesus and that at some point will pray to bring this absent Jesus into their lives. The truth is the opposite. Jesus has made room for us in his life. We don't bring him into our world; he's brought us into his. He has made us a part of the full life he has with his Father and his Spirit-filled life. 

We have not been separated or cut off from God. With astounding grace, Jesus has included us in his world and life with his Father and Spirit. He wants us to see what he sees, to believe in him, and to join him in his way of seeing the world.

It is not up to us to cross that gap and get to where God is—to enter his holiness. It has nothing to do with our actions--not even our faith. It is Jesus's faithfulness that saves us. 

We begin with union rather than separation. We now have to rethink everything in the universe because we have built separation into our default settings as fallen people and those profoundly influenced by Greek philosophy.

Whose Faith?

"Emunah" is another Hebrew word for "faith," but in Western culture, the concept of faith generally places the action on the subject rather than the object, as in "faith in God." Faith has the core concept of faithfulness in its complete biblical understanding. The word Emunah is translated as faithfulness in the ESV and other translations. 

Do you see the flaw in that line of thought? It focuses all of your attention on you: how hard you believe or whether you have enough faith. The point of the scriptures is that it takes faithfulness of a great merciful God rather than our faith.

Jesus taught that all we need is the faith of a mustard seed to move mountains. Mustard seeds will fall in dry, barren desert areas, in rocky areas where nothing else can thrive; it will embed itself and gradually develop, and as it grows, it will literally move boulders.

This is what faith is all about, Jesus is saying: being in the midst of a test, a trial, a desert and hanging in there—you are loyal, steadfast, steady, and persistent.  Faithfulness is a plodding determination to serve the Lord.

Separated Only by Our Own Misguided Beliefs

We are only separated from Jesus Christ and his Father in our minds—separated only by our own misguided beliefs, lost only in our own darkness. Jesus has never abandoned us. He invites us to leave misguided beliefs for the freedom and joy of his light.

Jesus is the Truth. He tells us to reject the darkness and accept his light. His command is His Father’s command. Evil’s strategy is to attack our vision of the Father’s heart. Satan’s goal is to destroy any good notion we have of the Father.

The life that Jesus has with the Father and the Spirit and our life in our darkness are not interchangeable. Jesus has forever welcomed us into his world, but we bring a profoundly detached perspective.

We must look at why we don’t grasp God the loving Father and His unending love. Confronting our faulty thinking and distorted perspective on God, others, and the world around us is an essential and ongoing process.

Once we get to a place where we accept the Truth, we can obey His command to love others with His Truth and Love in us. We are included in the trinitarian family of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will always be a part of this family. The trick of evil is to turn the revelation of blindness into proof that we do not belong to the family—that we are separated from God.

Penal Substitution Atonement is Not the Gospel

The Penal Substitution theory is the root of the separation lie. It was formally developed by Anselm of Canterbery during the 11th century and is now a common belief in Christianity. It is the belief that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross replaces the punishment we should have received for our sins. God’s justice is thus satisfied, and those who accept Christ can be forgiven and reconciled to God. In a nutshell: Jesus’s death was a payment for sin debt. 

If God's holiness requires a sacrifice before he can fellowship with sinners, how did Jesus do it without a sacrifice, given that he is as fully divine and holy as God the Father? Does God the Father ever truly forgive anyone if he requires someone to "pay the price" for sin?

Penal Substitution contradicts the Gospel by teaching that we are justified through our works. The doctrine of imputed righteousness is, at its core, a rejection of the Gospel. This is Paul's argument throughout the books of Romans and Galatians. Salvation is NOT by works, not by anyone's works, but by God's grace through faith!

Christ’s sacrifice indeed frees us from the penalty of sin and death. But the motivation for penal substitution is based on an angry God demanding punishment has been perverted.

Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

Most of us have heard that God abandoned Jesus on the cross, but was this true? Jesus' Father did not abandon Him at the cross. So, if the Father was physically separated from Jesus on the cross, literally abandoning Him and refusing to live in oneness with Him, the Trinity did not exist at that time. How could God exist if His triune essence was broken? 

 On the cross Jesus said, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  

Jesus was referring to Psalm 22, which begins, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" This was Jesus' cry as He entered all of humanity's lies and darkness, as He descended into the shadow depths from which we made up the fictional turned-away face of God. We believe that we are abandoned and unworthy to meet with God, and it is in this delusion that Jesus finds us. Read Psalm 22 to understand. Psalm 22 can help you change your mind and move beyond an angry God to better understand your loving Father as He truly is and always has been.

Jesus felt abandoned by God the Father at that time, as the One who chose "to be sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we feel as if God isn't present when we need Him, as if He doesn't care about our circumstances, as if we are all alone with no hope of help. When you cry out to the Father for assistance, He hears you. He has not hidden His face from you. Trust Him even when you can't see Him

Jesus stands in solidarity with us. He understands how it feels to be abandoned. He understands the anguish, confusion, and turmoil of being ignored by the One who defines Himself as pure love.

If we consider God to be an angry deity whose sense of justice compelled Him to punish Jesus for our sins, we will undoubtedly believe that He abandoned His Son on the cross. This leads us to more lies of an angry God who needs to be appeased, but you never know when he will let loose with his anger again. So we rely on how well we do, walking on treadmills thinking that his mood is based on how we act. 

Once you believe you are separate from God, you are at the mercy of anyone who claims to know the "secret" way to get across the chasm to God. Once division and separation are accepted as real, whole religious systems and institutions can be built as the way to salvation or enlightenment. People will pay blood, sweat, tears, and money to get from the damned side to the saved side. Lies.

The Truth

The Truth is God does not abandon us. In John 14:22, Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1 

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16

Download the "Are Believes Separated from God?" by Mel Wild PDFs

“For if, while we were God’s enemies,
we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son,
how much more, having been reconciled,
shall we be saved through his life!” (Rom.5:10)

“that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting people’s sins against them…” (2 Cor.5:19a )

God does not separate himself from sinners.
He's actually begging us to stop separating ourselves from Him.

Bible Tag Prompt 18

As you stitch this week, pray for truth. Pray false assumptions are removed so you can see Truth.  I felt like sheaf stitches are a good symbol of rejoicing in truth. Include them in this week's tag.

Prayer

Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
Ps 86:11.

Helpful Links

My Tag from Week 17