I haven’t had time to read the excerpt from Rob Bell’s book, “Sex God”, that’s in Christianity Today… I have a lot to read and that piece just was at the pit in terms of priority. That was the case until last night, when I was compelled to read what in the world Bell has said. Understand this, it is in typical emerging ooze fashion that Bell’s written theology causes many people to discuss his eye-brow raising ideas, and of course, igniting much controversy with those who don’t embrace such a version of emerging Christianity.
With that said, I must refute the premise of that entire article/book chapter: people are not worth dying for. This may be off topic and out of context from the chapter’s main point, but I must lovingly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to His saints.Our theology of love, death, sacrifice and giving becomes awfully skewed when we think that we are worthy of Christ’s sufferings and sacrifice, when we consider ourselves worthy for somebody to risk their lives to save us from a falling/burning building, when we feel we deserve somebody to get something from somebody. Our understanding of God becomes twisted towards apostasy and heresy when we think we are worthy of the Lord submitting to the Father’s wrath in our place.We don’t deserve God crushing His one and only begotten son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not deserve to have our sins to taken off our shoulders and onto Jesus. We are completely and utterly unworthy of God’s atoning sacrifice (or anybody else’s for that matter). Whenever somebody comes along and tells you that you are worth dying for, run and hide and shut your ears from hearing the man-centered gospel of human merit.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person???though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die??? 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.Romans 5:6-11
I have nothing personal against Rob Bell, but here, I am personally offended by his comments that I am worthy of God (or you) dying for me. Because I am not worthy; I have no value that would make such an investment profitable. Mark Driscoll at the 2006 DG National Conference mentioned this skewed analogy that he heard on Christian radio… a radio evangelist saying that the Gospel is like investment banking: God investing in us, taking a risk, in hopes of having a great Return on Investment in the end.However, when we carefully consider the logic of this analogy, we’ll find that it is incorrect and severely flawed–because we are the worst investment that God could ever make (if he were to make such an investment), for there will not be any ROI from us. We are sinners who will more than likely continue to sin, without any shadow of a doubt. A sacrifice is a sacrifice because you would never, ever get anything in return–a giving without receiving. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) The essence of agape is sacrificicial giving, for the receiver is indeed radically unworthy of the gift of love.We will never be made right with God, righteous in His eyes, by our own trying to be godly. For by ourselves and apart from the Spirit, we are ungodly and unrighteous. We cannot be justified by striving to become a worthy person; we can only be justified by faith in Christ’s atoning blood.
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”1 Corinthians 4:6-7
That’s the truth, and that’s the Gospel–the good news of Jesus Christ. We have NOTHING that we did not receive, and we should not be boasting as if we earned it by our own efforts. Everything that we do have is by grace; all things in life that we possess, including life itself, is an unmerited gift from God given freely to us. What more is that in our hearts there are sinful tendencies, desires, and dispositions with which we are all born into (“original sin”), and consequently, morally ruined characters which we inherited. Like fools who say there is no God, we are–in and of ourselves–corrupt and abominable in our deeds. Just as the Psalmist said, “there is none who does good“ ( Psalm 14:1).When we zoom out and take a long, hard at our lives, that is the very the doctrine of sin that is directly connected with the doctrine of salvation and sactification. For Adam’s sins are credited to us and thus we are deserving of the same punishment that was due for his sins; we are guilty of his rebellion as well. Without us sinning ourselves, this “imputed sin” still ruins of our standing before God. Together with original sin, it places us under the holy and righteous judgment of God: sinners in the hands of an angry God–not worthy to be loved, but worthy of His furious wrath, eternal separation from God and everlasting torment in a lake of fire.
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned??? 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.Romans 5:12-14
But praise be to God for being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which HE loved us. Even when we were dead in our trespasses, deserving of nothing but everlasting death, He made us alive together with Christ, and thus by grace we have been saved. In our unworthiness, He gave us what we did not deserve (=grace) and withheld that which we did (=mercy), hence imputing to us the hope of glory–an assurance that one day, we will stand before the Judge of all and have Him smile at us as His holy and faithful ones.I suppose this is why I strive to preach the Gospel to myself everyday, because I know I am totally unworthy of His loving kindness and forbearance. When friends come to me with their sorrows and sadness seeking spiritual guidance from me, the only thing I know how to do is to retell the Gospel story. I pray for them, and tell them that even with their inherent value as the image of God, inherent also is our sinful nature and thus the subsequent need for redemption in Christ by faith in His grace. That is all I know. I often think I know my life is from Divine accomplishment and not human achievement… but honestly, if I truly embraced Sovereign grace then Satan wouldn’t be able to drag me down in self-pity.And so, it is the only thing I can do to keep me afloat every day–to count myself as dead to sin and alive to Christ. Because more than often, Satan’s schemes causes me to forget.
“YOU are WORTHY to be praised, forever and a day!“