Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Eternal Life is Not on Offer

At the beginning of Chapter 5 in "The Really Good News About God" I mention preachers who ask their congregations, "Where will you spend eternity?"- a question designed to prepare the audience for a "fake news" promotion.

If those preachers understood that Jesus died for the sins of the world (1 John 2 : 2), 

that God is the Saviour of the world (1 Timothy 4 : 10),
that Jesus came to save the world (John 3 : 17) and
that God no longer holds people's sins against them (2 Corinthians 5 : 19),
then they would not ask such a silly question. 


They should all just know the answer: we'll all be together with God.
Eternal life is a given for everyone because of what Jesus achieved on the cross.

An interesting way of saying this is : If you are a descendant of Adam, then you have eternal life.
Really?
Yes, 1 Corinthians 15 : 22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
(Beware of people, including some translators, who change the order of the words in this verse to support their claim that not all who die because of Adam will be made alive because of Christ.)
I like using the CEV version of this verse, because it makes the order of the words harder to change,  "Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us."

For many people this will not happen until the conclusion of the ages.
They will live their life on this planet giving God no consideration at all, will die, will remain asleep until the resurrection at the end of the realm of time, when, among other things, death is abolished and only life remains - eternal life with God.

Now, about this fake news or fake sales promotion.
Preachers who are trying to sell "eternal life" are trying to promote something to people they already have.
"You need to confess your sins, you need to repent, you need to be baptised, you need to join our church, you need to ... and you will be saved, get eternal life," is a frequent line of approach.
But the fact is: we don't need to do anything now to get eternal life - it's a done deal, for all descendants of Adam.

So what justification is there for preachers to offer eternal life to people?
Unfortunately, poor translation of our English Bibles.
Most of our popular translations of the New Testament mention eternal life 42 times which gives preachers the Biblical backing for asking their question.
However in all of those 42 occasions, the underlying Greek word is aionian, which means "belonging to/during the eon or age", not "eternal". **

For example, look at 2 Peter 1 : 11 from two popular translations (ESV and NIV) and two literal translations (YLT and CLV).

  • For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (ESV)
  • and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (NIV)
  • for so, richly shall be superadded to you the entrance into the age-during reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (YLT)
  • For thus will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the eonian kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (CLV)
Given that Jesus is going to hand over His kingdom to the Father at the end of the ages (1 Cor 15 : 24), it is impossible for His kingdom to be eternal, just age-during or eonian, showing how obvious is the translation error in our popular translations.

So the offer really being made is for eonian life, life during the ages, life in the kingdom of Christ, life in the Body of Christ during the remaining eons, and not having to wait till the end of the ages when all will receive eternal life.

So what about those verses that say you have to be a believer to have eternal life?
Correctly translated, they are saying you have to be a believer to be in the Body of Christ, to have life and rule with Christ through the coming ages.
And what a blessing that will be!

Blessings, Barry

 ** To read more about this wrongly translated word, go to our webpage at www.ibtechservices.com.au, enter Main Website, click on The Bible image, click Bible Background, click on Translations, and read about Nouns and Their Adjectives.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Languauge of Salvation

I think some of the language relating to salvation needs some fine tuning, and the date when we were saved needs a major correction.

Many a person will say something like "It was on the 3rd December 2009 when I decided to invite Jesus into my heart and become a Christian".
And we praise God for such a person's experience and their inclusion in the Body of Christ, becoming part of the first fruits of God's great harvest.

Let's assume this person's name is Shirley.
Then may I suggest we rewrite this description of Shirley's experience in more Biblical terms, not to be petty, but to help us understand God's ways a little better.

Firstly, we were all saved about 2000 years ago when Jesus died, was entombed and rose again in about 30AD. (Notice I didn't say Jesus was buried because he wasn't, he was placed in a tomb.) Shirley was saved at that time - she just didn't realise it or had been given the faith to believe it until 2009.

"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died." [2 Cor 5 : 14]
And
"one who has died has been set free from sin". [Romans 6:7]
Sometimes an enthusiastic evangelical Christian will ask a new acquaintance, "Are you saved?", which demonstrates a limited understanding of what happened on the cross. If Jesus was successful when he died for the sins of the world then it should be obvious that the new friend is saved, even if they are not aware of it.
God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us this message of reconciliation.
[2 Cor 5 : 19]

Jesus praying to his Father: 
"I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do." [John 17: 4]
And on the cross, just before he died, Jesus said,
"It is finished." With that, he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.
[John 19 : 30]

So Shirley was saved when Jesus finished his work on the cross about 2000 years ago.

Secondly, Shirley did not choose God, but God chose Shirley, just as he chose his first disciples. [John 15 : 16]
He chose her to be one of His first fruits, by drawing her to Him and giving her the faith to believe the good news on that December day.

People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me. [John 6 : 44]
(And Jesus promised that everyone would eventually be drawn, see John 12 : 32)

So here's the rewrite:
"It was on the 3rd December that God gave me the faith to believe that Jesus died on the cross to deal with my sins and has chosen me to serve him in the Body of Christ."
And she may well add, "What a joy and privilege that was, and still is."

So is this being petty?  I don't think so.  It recognises the full value of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and corrects our theology by putting God in control, not us.
I am more persuaded by the Biblical doctrine of God's sovereignty than the mainstream church's doctrine of mankind's free will.
However, I know I am in a fairly small minority as we have been indoctrinated with the "free will" message for so long, both inside and outside the church.

Blessings, Barry

Monday, June 4, 2018

Don't Leave John 3:16 Alone

John 3 : 16 is probably the best known verse in the Bible and has been committed to memory by millions.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
(As long-time readers of this blog will know, "eternal" is not a correct translation of the Greek in this verse, but we won't focus on that in this post.)

Clearly this verse states that belief is needed for anyone to attain life.
So this restricts life to those to whom God has given belief (faith).

Now let's look at the next verse (sentence).

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [John 3 : 17]
This verse claims that God is going to save the world, for this is the reason Jesus came.

So let's put these two claims together.
Belief (faith) is needed to attain life AND God is going to save the world (everyone).


These two claims can only be consistent with each other IF God is going to give belief to the world, to everyone.
And if he hasn't done so by the time anyone dies and leaves this planet, he must be planning to do so in the ages still ahead of us.

One of our most-quoted verses shows this link ...

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
[1 Timothy 4 : 10]

So to understand God's plan for everyone we can't afford to consider John 3 : 16 on its own. We need the next verse with it to complete the picture.

Blessings, Barry