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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Thursday, May 04, 2006
The Punishment Angle
I know I hit this one a lot, but it is important, and cannot be over stressed.

Who/What does Jesus save us from?

Frank "Centuri0n" Turk recently posted some follow up to his debate with an atheist named Brian Flemming. Something Frank said underscored one weakness I find in the preaching of the gospel today:
"So the choice we are offering is that there is danger, that Christ can deliver you from the danger, but that if you reject His help He will be the judge who makes sure that you do not escape the danger – the punishment of your sin."

Now I am as fire and brimstone as the next Baptist. Don’t get me wrong. Frank is a stalwart defender of the faith, and while I am jumping off of something he said, I am certainly not suggesting that he said it wrong, or that he was wrong for saying it. This isn’t that kind of post.

But the biblical formula runs like this:

[1] Everyone is a sinner
[2] The penalty for sin is death
[3] Everyone is condemned already
[4] Christ died to save condemned sinners from sin

Yet the gospel we preach looks like this:

[1] Everyone is a sinner
[2] The penalty for sin is death
[3] Everyone is condemned already
[4] Christ died to save condemned sinners from the penalty for sin (God’s wrath; i.e.: Hell).

The difference is very subtle, but the end consequences to our Christian walk and our daily witness can be quite profound.

Let’s affirm up front that we shall be saved from [God’s] wrath through Christ (Romans 5:9) - Amen? Of course we say amen, we have the verse right there. With this verse we can answer “Who” it is that Christ is saving us from – God. Christ will judge on God’s behalf – but let us not be unsure here – we are saved from God’s wrath through Christ.

I don’t think that will come as some big surprise to anyone who attends a modern evangelical church. We know that ultimately God’s wrath is hell – and typically we prefer to present that aspect of the gospel as being saved from “hell” as opposed to being saved from the righteous wrath of our just God.

I think Cent captured that well enough in the quote above – Christ is the judge that we cannot escape, and His judgment is going to be righteous and final – and we ought to tremble at thought.

Yet (and I don’t suggest that I differ from Frank on this at all) oft times the emphasis of our salvation is stacked almost entirely upon our “punishment” – that we forget that scripture says that we are saved from (as opposed to “in”) our sins.

Here is where the modern gospel looses some of its original strength – not that “The Gospel” is weak, but that we are typically preaching it “half-strength.”

In Matthew 1:21 we read why Gabriel instructed Mary to name the Messiah “Jesus” – because “He will save His people from their sins” – the Anointed One was coming to “take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29) by “granting repentance to Israel” (Acts 5:31). Certainly forgiveness of sins came through Chirst (Acts 13:38), but more than this, “through [Christ] everyone who believes is freed from all things from which [they] could not be freed through the law of Moses.” Christ being the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).

I think the most profound message in the gospel is not that Christ saved me from sin's penalty, but that Christ saved me from sin itself. Nevertheless any "over," or "under" emphasis placed on the gospel is going to produce Christians who reflect the emphasis, or lack thereof.

Truly, the modern gospel typically produces saints who could care less about sanctification - because the gospel that saved them didn't mention being saved from sin, it mentioned being saved from sin's penalty - hell. Once they are "saved" that internal impetus we all have to obey God lacks something - a train without rails, it blows a lot of steam, makes a lot of noise, and runs as far as it can until it gets mired in muck - and there it stays.

We must be careful therefore to preach the whole gospel.
posted by Daniel @ 11:41 AM  
  • At 1:10 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think the attitude you mention at the end, christians who do not care much about sactification, is a result more of extremely poor discipleship than of the subtler nuances of how the gospel was presented to them when they chose Christ. The misemphasis of our witness is, in turn, a result of this poor discipleship. It's cyclical. WE are called not to save people (GOD does that) but to preach the gospel, to make disciples, to baptize, and to "teach them to observe all that I (Jesus) commanded you". Notice He did not say, "teach them all I have commanded you". That is what we tend to do, pass on the knowledge but then leave the new Christian to figure it out on his own after that. We think our work is done once they've accepted Christ, but it is only begun. Discipling, instructing in obedience and identity (baptism), and showing the babies HOW TO OBSERVE His commandements encompasses 3/4 of the great commision (Matt 28:19-20).

  • At 1:51 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I think we are saying much the same thing - I agree that we fail to disciple, I only believe that this failure doesn't start after the gospel, but with the very gospel itself.

  • At 4:20 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…


    You are so speaking my language here. This is something I realized way back, like a while ago.

    The salvation saves at the root, i.e. Sin. Sin is the root for punishment.

    So to prevent the punishment you get rid of the sin. Much like weeding a Garden, unless you get rid of the roots, the problem is still there.

    So the real problem is that Evangelical churches are starting to lean towards not wanting to address SIN from the pulpit. Therefore, the message is... "Keep on sinning because you are saved from eternal damnation" and therefore we eliminate Lordship salvation.

    Woord up yo!

  • At 8:36 AM, May 05, 2006, Blogger marc said…

    What are you doing in computers? Get your butt in a pulpit now! Thanks for the clarifiacation of what should be clear already but isn't.

  • At 10:16 AM, May 05, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    So the real problem is that Evangelical churches are starting to lean towards not wanting to address SIN from the pulpit. Therefore, the message is... "Keep on sinning because you are saved from eternal damnation"

    That -is- the real problem, and it all begins with the gospel.

  • At 10:17 AM, May 05, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Marc - Lord willing, one day.

  • At 8:28 PM, May 07, 2006, Blogger Joe Johnson said…

    You nailed it. Summarizing the gospel as avoiding Hell is like celebrating having leprosy but not dying. It does feel like we accent the wrong thing. Anyone who detests sanctification isn't going to be thrilled by being saved.

    But there's another aspect that really hangs out there. You mentioned that we are being saved from God's wrath (which is Hell). It's amazing to think that what God saves us from is Himself. He is just and justifier, working out His wrath upon Himself in Christ so we can be declared righteous. It's bizarre.

  • At 10:55 AM, May 08, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I have preached on that very item Joe - that we are saved from God. It is a powerful message I believe when preached to unbelievers.

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