Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Croissants Falling from the Sky

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Croissants Falling from the Sky

In the previous blog, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Fumbled Fables, I wrote that in Francis Chan’s interpretation of Luke 13:22-30 (<– click the link to read the passage), he has misunderstood and misrepresented the glorious truth that Jesus communicates. And I also said I would demonstrate exactly how Chan has butchered this text and offer an explanation about the likely meaning.

When Jesus uses metaphors, allegories, and parables, He never intends for people to interpret every detail literally but to recognize the message exemplified by way of the imagery.  Jesus mentions food (to do His Father’s will), the temple (body), being born again, the living water, and the bread of heaven, and He isn’t talking about a burger, a building, a grotesque maternal experiment, H2O that is alive, or croissants falling from the sky.  Why is it that when Jesus talks about a gate, a master, a door, gnashing teeth, etc., some people take what He says so literally?  We know that there is spiritual meaning in His words, but we must ask ourselves whether the teachers of our day, like the teachers of Jesus day, actually comprehend.  Perhaps Jesus would ask today’s religious leaders what He asked one of the religious leaders during His time, “You are [teachers in the church], and do you not understand these things?”

According to Chan (and fundamental, orthodox theology) the meaning of Luke 13:22-30 is as follows:

Jesus is making His way to Jerusalem, and His disciples ask how many people will end up being saved.  Jesus answers that few will be saved, but even worse, many who think they are saved will end up on the “outside” of the kingdom, so to speak.  […]  This passage “gives no hint whatever that the door will remain permanently open.”  If Jesus believed in second chances for those who reject Him in this life, then this parable is dangerously misleading.

It is important to note that Chan says the disciples asked “how many people will end up being saved,” but what is actually recorded in the book of Luke differs.  It is not the disciples (plural) who ask the question, but a single, unnamed individual.  Furthermore, the question is not about how many people will “end up” being saved.  The question is literally, “Are those saved few?”  It is present tense, a strong indication that the individual’s question is about the people who were living at that time, not about all people for all time; otherwise the question would have been, “Will few be saved?”

In order to understand the motives behind the individual’s question, we need to note that Jesus had just finished orating two parables.  Given the content of these two parables, it is likely that the question was prompted by the subject matter of the parables – about how the reign of God appears as a small and seemingly insignificant change that gradually grows.  The extent of that growth, as Jesus described it, went further than the Jews had imagined it ever would.

Readers must understand that the Jews in Jesus’s day believed in their own exclusive right to enter into the reign of God – that was part of the reason why Jews did not associate with Gentiles (non-Jews).  They also imagined that the reign, or kingdom, of God meant that the Messiah would make the Jewish nation the most powerful nation in the world.  The highest concern of a spiritually-minded Jew during Jesus’s day was to be a part of the new world order that the Messiah would bring.  When it became clear that Jesus would not be the Messiah they had imagined, that He was not “of this world,” they crucified him.  This demonstrates the immediacy of the mindset of Jesus’s Jewish audience.  The person’s question was probably a selfish one, based on the assumption that Jesus would confirm the person’s religious, narrow-minded world view.

Chan says that Jesus answers the question by saying that “few will be saved,” but once again, what is actually recorded in the book of Luke differs from what Chan writes.  Jesus doesn’t even answer the person’s question, directly.  Here’s Jesus’s response:

“Be striving to go in through the straight gate, because many, I say to you, will seek to go in, and shall not be able; from the time the master of the house may have risen up, and may have shut the door, and ye may begin without to stand, and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us,’ and he answering shall say to you, ‘I have not known you whence ye are,’ then ye may begin to say, ‘We did eat before thee, and did drink, and in our broad places thou didst teach;’ and he shall say, ‘I say to you, I have not known you whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of the unrighteousness.’  There shall be there the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth, when ye may see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the reign of God, and yourselves being cast out without; and they shall come from east and west, and from north and south, and shall recline in the reign of God, and lo, there are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last.”

This is quite an elaborate answer when a simple, “Yes, few will ever saved” could have sufficed.  Let’s break down what Jesus says about “how many”  and “when” into its most basic elements.  (He does address numbers, but only within the context of time.):

1. “…many will seek to go in, and shall not be able…”

2. “…ye may see [them] in the reign of God, and yourselves being cast out without…”

3. “…they shall come [from all directions], and shall recline in the reign of God…”

4. “…there are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last.”

What do we understand from this?  The first one is easy.  A lot of people are not able to enter into the reign of God.  The second point piggy-backs on the first, a positive in contrast to the negative, that some people do enter into the reign of God.  It also emphasizes that at least some of the “cast out” ones were present among Jesus’ audience.  Number three implies that those who are entering into God’s reign are not exclusively Jewish, as the question-asker had assumed.  This means that the exclusive-minded thinkers must now broaden their horizons, must set aside their traditional beliefs, and must come to terms with the fact that God doesn’t cater to erroneous doctrinal positions, no matter how orthodox they are.  The fourth point, Jesus’s conclusion, is the summary and conclusion of points one through three.  Jesus’s answer is about what manner or in what order people enter into the reign of God, not about how many.  The people who are “first” in Jesus’s audience are God’s chosen, law-covenant people, the natural descendants of Abraham.  The people in Jesus’s audience who are “last” are those who were not included in the law-covenant.  Jesus speaks about things turning out completely opposite of what one might expect.  Why do the first become last and last first?  Because those who cling to a works-based salvation (the law covenant) or a salvation that in any way depends upon their own will or effort, are not able to enter in, while those who, by the grace of God, know that Jesus accomplishes salvation, pass by these others and enter into His reign first.

But what about the weeping and gnashing of teeth?  What about the gate?  What about the master of the house?  Jesus speaks plainly enough about entering into the reign of God, something clearly understood to be a spiritual realm or condition.  People enter into the reign of God through the faith of Christ, becoming spiritual “sons” of Abraham, hence Jesus’s name-dropping throughout His reply to the individual’s question.  In this sense, Abraham is the spiritual “father” of all.

Many people have been led to believe that Jesus is talking about eternal torment in Hell in this passage, but Jesus is talking about the currently bad and soon-to-be dire circumstances of the Jewish people, should they continue to reject their long-awaited Messiah and insist on establishing the kingdom of God by force or human effort.

TO BE CONTINUED…

*The next blog will expound upon Jesus’s message, audience, the political situation, and the dire warning He gave to His listeners.  It will also explain the ways in which His message applies to people today.

Next blog in this series: Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Jesus, Lord of Distance

Comments
  • Lanny A. Eichert December 25, 2011 at 4:49 am

    The present passive indicative verb to be saved is “are few being saved” and the answer is yes and will always be yes concerning mortal human beings. Never will there be a majority, but always a minority. Consequently in the whole course of human history, since God is always actively seeking and saving the lost few, the majority will remain forever lost and subject to eternal damnation. That has always been God’s plan. Jesus DID answer the question, “for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” {Luke 13: 24} MANY … SHALL NOT BE ABLE. Many verses few: means few are being saved and many are not able to be saved. With God it is impossible for Him to save the many. Here is something God cannot do and that is save the many. God cannot save everybody. That is the answer to the question of verse 23 and concerns the GATE, but the next discussion is about the DOOR, and entirely different word and different subject, Alice.

    Concerning the DOOR, the discussion is totally Jewish, even those coming from the four compass directions are Jewish. The subject is the thousand year reign of King Jesus of Bethlehem sitting on His literal throne in Jerusalem and ruling the world with “a rod of iron” as I had previously told you and NOT as you say “something clearly understood to be a spiritual realm or condition.” God is not a liar that He would deny the Israelites their Messianic Kingdom that He promised them through the Old Covenant prophets, even from His promise to King David, himself; and even Solomon after him.

    • admin December 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      Where do you get this NEVER and ALWAYS from? The first/last comment establishes an order of entering into His reign in which “shall not be able” is clarified – “shall not be able” for a given period of time, some before others, but not NEVER/ALWAYS.

    • Lanny A. Eichert December 28, 2011 at 2:23 am

      NEVER/ALWAYS has always been my theme countering your Amazing Hope heresy and you should see that from how the subject is limited to Luke 13: 23 & 24, but you erroneously apply Luke 13: 30 of a different context where you should not. I quote what I previously wrote, “That is the answer to the question of verse 23 and concerns the GATE, but the next discussion is about the DOOR, and entirely different word and different subject, Alice.” The FIRST/LAST is in the “door” subject of the literal thousand year reign of King Jesus Christ on the literal old earth from the old Jerusalem and His dominion is the whole world. You falsely equate “entering into His reign” with a reconciled life, which it is NOT in this context. “The kingdom of God” is written in verses 28 & 29 as the subject of the discussion from “the master of the house” in verse 25. It is true “a reconciled life” is required to enter the beginning of the thousand year reign and both the “first” and the “last” are reconciled souls that enter it at the SAME time, the beginning of it. Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets are not the first ushered into the Kingdom, because they enter it by resurrection after the Great Tribulation saints that survived and were separated out as sheep at His coming in glory {Matthew 25: 33 & 34} and are commanded to “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

      The reason for your error is you believe in a GENERAL judgment because you fail of the grace of God in His salvation that removes all of the saints’ judgment/condemnation placing it upon Christ. {John 5: 24} Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall NOT COME into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (Condemnation krisis κρίσιν judgment). {2 Corinthians 5: 21} For he hath made him sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Jesus endured my judgment of condemnation on the cross so that I will NEVER NEVER have to be judged ever again. That is Romans 8: 1 which I entreat you to believe with all your heart and be saved. {John 8: 32} And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Free, Alice, free from judgment. There is never any condemnation for God’s elect believers, none ever. That’s the GOOD news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ you are so sadly missing by incorrectly believing even saints go through the Second Death in the Lake of Fire following a general resurrection and general judgment. In judgments, Matthew 25 is NOT the same as Revelation 20. Matthew 25 has two classes of persons and two rewards while the Revelation has only one class of persons and only one reward.

      Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. {Romans 4: 8} There are people walking the face of this earth today of whom this verse is true: NEVER will God charge them with sin or with sins. Even the Israelites greatest warrior King David knew this and because he did know it and trusted it with all his heart, God promised that literal David that his family tree would produce the Messiah as both a Warrior King and a King of peace to rule the whole world from the literal Jerusalem throne. That promise you mentioned as the expectation of the Israelites of Jesus’ day, but then you dismiss it as a misinterpretation and non-literal. Shame on you. God will keep His promises to the Israelite people and He will nationally convert them in this mortal life at the end of the Great Tribulation to Christ and rule as their world-wide monarch for one thousand literal years, both religiously and politically.

      For me today’s meditation was 2 Thessalonians and my thoughts were tuned to your heresy as I read 2: 6 – 12 and paid particular attention to 11 & 12. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Thinking of Alice’s perverse doctrine I wondered why God would so actively work for the damnation of people He would eventually work to save out of that very damnation He worked so hard to accomplish.

      Jesus’ exhortation “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” is given to whom? People in this mortal existence. In this mortal existence there will always be the few and the many because Jesus said so. Once the many have transversed the broad way that leads to destruction there is never any MORE way for them to transverse. They have left mortal existence and cannot return to the beginning of the strait way or to the gate. They have chosen their way and followed it to its end. Both ways begin in this life, so they cannot after reaching the end of their road zap back to the beginning of the strait way to enter it by way of a new decision. Once they are dead and damned they cannot return to mortal existence, which is the beginnings of the two ways.

      • admin December 28, 2011 at 8:32 am

        Thanks for the well-thought-out reply, although I disagree with much of it. It is nice that you did not accompany your reply with a personal attack this time. I’ll be addressing some of what you said in future blogs – in fact the one I am working on right now (a continuation of the Croissant blog).

        • Lanny A. Eichert December 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

          Alice, your krisis κρίσιν judgment in your words “I disagree with much of it” says it all: you are still an unbeliever. Unbelievers are still hell-bound sinners that will burn in the Lake of Fire. This is serious “stuff” you are “playing” around with and leading others into the broad way to destruction with yourself. Religious attentions guarantee destruction by sidetracking people from the truth that “freely” saves souls.

          I watch a Tuesday evening program on the computor, http://www.hotm.tv, here in Mormon Utah separating truth from error and one guest stated that a Christian is a person who has been “forgiven.” Mormons rarely ever testify that all their sins have already been forgiven. You do not seem to understand how thoroughly the sins of God’s saints are divorced from them: as far as the east is from the west, a phrase you should already know, but haven’t grasped. Forgiveness is absolutely stunning to God’s believers, so much so that we never cease to be amazed no matter how long we’ve been saved, and to such an extent that we never cease to be amazed how free we’ve been made. We want that freedom for the likes of you, Alice, because it is so grand and liberating.

          I just have to laugh as well as pity your people when I’m accused of living in fear of hell fire because I so often preach about it. Sidetracked, don’t you see, eternal punishment emotionally sidetracks them from knowing the truth. That is emotional rebellion against God’s truth so often stated in Scripture. People are the problem, not the doctrine. The doctrine is truth, but people are naturally rebellious: that’s why God called the Jews stiff-necked numerous times throughout the Bible. The doctrine “must” be preached to save souls. It is what “saving” is all about.

          I wish you were one of us, Alice, as I do for all your people. I know what it means that you are not and that is the ugly “stuff” I have so grossly tried to describe hoping to shake you out of your sleep: maggots wiggling and eating your constantly regenerating and dying flesh inside your body for all eternity and constantly becoming flys all over your body in your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and other unmentionable body openings laying eges that hatch and are constantly boring into your insides. And that’s only part of the terror.

          • admin December 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

            Forgiveness is not the same as sanctification – we still ask for forgiveness, even though we have already been forgiven of all sins past, present, and future. We don’t need to worry about condemnation, but we are still dealing with the real presence of sin in our day to day lives, as well as consequences of those sins (because all sin has consequence). Your view of the LoF is very different from mine, and that’s why it bothers you so much to think about the idea that everyone experiences the second death (which happens in the lake of fire – the death of death), but if you remember “he who overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death” it might ease your fear about the concept.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm

            WHERE in the Bible are you instructed to ASK for forgiveness?

            • admin December 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

              Jesus, instructing His followers how to pray, says, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. Asking for forgiveness is in no way the basis for forgiveness, it is acknowledging the ongoing process of sanctification and being in agreement with it, despite the fact that our actions sometimes indicate otherwise.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 28, 2011 at 11:15 pm

            All sin has consequences. Jesus bore all the consequences of His saints in His own body on the cross, ALL of them: all for time and all for eternity, all the temporal consequences and all the eternal consequences in His own body. Why? So there’d be no hinderance for His graciousness. Think about it, Alice, if it weren’t so, God’s salvation is not complete and we have to do our part.

            Sanctification occurs four ways in the Bible. I was sanctified before I believed, I was sanctified the moment I believed, I am currently being sanctified while I am believing, and I will be finally and totally sanctified at the moment of my physical death when faith becomes sight. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” {Hebrews 12: 14} God, Himself, did it all. Don’t you see “willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” {2 Corinthians 5: 8} requires completed sancification (holiness) at the moment of change (physical death)?

            I’ve in the past tried to tell you it all comes to a stand still in the Revelation 22: 11 “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” See that “holy still” because it is our word “sanctified” still. See that word “still” but do you know what it means? FINAL. God is telling you to let it be because He will let it be: still. ἔτι eti even, yet, still

            Therefore there is no remedial Lake of Fire.

            • admin December 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

              If Jesus bore in His body all the temporal consequences of sin, then you can go kill someone, and you won’t even go to jail. Just tell the judge that Jesus bore the consequences in His own body, and see how far that gets you.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm

            “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” is not an instruction to ask for forgiveness: it is commanding God to forgive only if the one praying forgives. In Matthew 6: 12 the Lord Jesus was instructing His disciples BEFORE He instituted the NEW covenant. That verse is an Old Testament instruction and has nothing to do with today’s dispensation of the grace of God, the church age of the New Covenant in His blood.

            Again, WHERE in the Bible are you instructed to ASK for forgiveness?

            • admin December 28, 2011 at 11:41 pm

              Commanding God? Really? Well, I don’t read it like that. If you want to NOT ask forgiveness, go for it, Lanny. That is between you and God.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 29, 2011 at 2:21 am

            Aorist Active Imperative verb = “forgive us our sins as” Yes, commanding God. {Matthew 6: 12}

            Come on, Alice, all of the consequences of sins, temporal and eternal, were born by Jesus on the cross is in regards to both the temporal as well as the eternal relationship sustained by His saints to their God: spiritual consequences both in this life as well as that to come. Besides, Jesus died a criminal’s death, identifying with civil law breakers which all humans are in every society. Do you think this earth’s judicial punishments will have a Lake of Fire counterpart as remedial refinement of the human character? Aren’t you flurting with double jepardy?

            Since I have first believed 47 years ago I have NEVER asked God to forgive any of my sins, not even the day of my conversion. So find me a verse that I must ASK God to forgive my sins, a verse that instructs New Covenant believers of this dispensation to ASK God for forgiveness, anything after the resurrection of Christ that specifically instructs church saints to ASK for forgiveness.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 29, 2011 at 2:45 am

            I’m trying to tell you, dear child, that Jesus paid it ALL, just as our songs say.

            I hear the Saviour say, “Thy strength indee is small, Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.” Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

            Lord, now indeed I find Thy power, and Thine alone, Can change the leper’s spots, And melt the heart of stone. Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

            For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim–I’ll wash my garments white In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb. Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

            And when, before the throne, I stand in Him complete, “Jesus died my soul to save,” My lips shall still repeat. Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

            I’m sorry you don’t sing this song, Alice, truly sorry. Even Mormons who get saved sing this song with jubilation: there’s nothing more for them to do, they no longer need to “earn” their salvation and they leave their false religion behind as casptives set free. Freedom, Alice, freedom.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 29, 2011 at 3:04 am

            Why is there no Scripture specifically instructing New Covenant church saints to ever ASK God to forgive them of sins they continue to commit in the flesh as Romans 7 details to be their continuing experience even though they have been saved and sanctified in this mortal life?

          • Mary Vanderplas December 29, 2011 at 5:31 am

            “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew’s version) is a petition, not a command. Jesus teaches disciples to ask for God’s forgiveness. Once again, Lanny, you misinterpret the text, missing its plain meaning, in an effort to make it conform to your screwball theology.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 29, 2011 at 5:44 am

            Mary, it is still NOT in the context of the New Covenant. There are no instructions for the New Covenant saint to ASK god’s forgiveness. The real question is WHY?

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 29, 2011 at 7:25 am

            I ask again:
            Why is there no Scripture specifically instructing New Covenant church saints to ever ASK God to forgive them of sins they continue to commit in the flesh as Romans 7 details to be their continuing experience even though they have been saved and sanctified in this mortal life?

          • Mary Vanderplas December 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm

            There is no biblical warrant whatsoever for arguing that once we’ve been converted and received the Holy Spirit, we no longer have to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness. On the contrary, the Bible is clear that, this side of glory, we never outgrow our need for God’s forgiveness and renewal. The plain meaning of the text already mentioned is that Jesus taught disciples – including us – to pray for forgiveness. See also 1 John 1:8-10, where the necessity of honest confession and of seeking God’s justifying grace are implied. It is also the case that Psalm 51 applies to us, not to some former “dispensation,” as you erroneously contend. Like David, we sin – sometimes in big ways – and stand in need of being reconciled. The reality of our redemption and conversion doesn’t mean that we are no longer sinners.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 30, 2011 at 3:25 am

            God’s saints habitually confess their known sins to God, but never need to ASK for forgiveness, because God is faithful to always instantly fully forgive the very moment confession is made and not only that but to cleanse from every unrighteousness every time confession is made, as per verse nine. Yet there is also verse seven in 1 John 1 where God’s saints walk in God’s holy light and yet sin ignorantly and the Blood of His cross is continuously cleansing them from all sin.

            So judicially they have been thoroughly forgiven all the sins of their entire earthly life for all of time and eternity the very moment they believed AND by walking in God’s holy light and keeping short accounts of sins by confessing them ASAP they are always free from sins. There is therefore never any sins that need remedial treatement after physical death to complete the saints’ sanctification by means of a second death in the Lake of Fire.

            This is the confidence of God’s saints and why saints live a bold victorious life free of defeat that is “the norm” of the religious life.

            FREEDOM to live unhindered for the Christ of God.

            Study the verb tenses in 1 John 1

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 30, 2011 at 3:35 am

            Here, this will get you started:

            But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. {1 John 1: 7} What does the Present Active Indicative Third Person Singular καθαρίζει, καθαρίζω, katharizō, mean? {{the blood of Jesus Christ his Son is continuously cleansing us {saints} from all sin}} Do you see what the Blood of His cross continues to do for God’s saints? Can you walk in God’s light and still be sinning? How? By ignorance.

            If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {1 John 1: 9} What does the Present Active Subjunctive First Person Plural ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν, ὁμολογέω, homologeō, mean? From ὁμοῦ and λόγος that is homo and logos {if we are continuously confessing our sins} saying the same thing God says about what we’ve done: that thought/emotion/deed is sin. Name the thing and declare it is sin.

            If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {1 John 1: 9} What is the immediate result when God’s already reconciled saint confesses his sins? What is the timing and the extent of the result when God’s saint confesses his sins? Forgive and cleanse are both Aorist Active Subjunctive Third Person Singular verbs indicating completed action in a point of past time.

            • admin December 30, 2011 at 9:24 am

              I think that you and I agree more than you imagine on this point. Yes, the blood of Christ continually cleanses us from all sin, we are forgiven before we acknowledge our sin AND we are forgiven even if we don’t acknowledge our sin (like you said, ignorance), all our sins are forgiven past/present/future. A believer asking forgiveness is sort of like taking the Lord’s Supper – it is being aware of the saving work of Christ as a continual thing, that He keeps on saving us for as long as there is a need to be saved. Let me ask you this, has there ever been a time, in your 47 believing years, when God used your failure as a teaching opportunity? Were you not changed by the experience? This changing is sanctification, a process which He has promised to complete. In a linear perspective, we view this concept as not yet complete, but from God’s non-linear perspective, it is already complete. By asking for forgiveness and recognizing in that moment that we are already forgiven, we mentally move from our limited linear perspective to God’s eternal perspective. The freedom of which you speak is a clear conscience before God which every believer ought to have, knowing that our righteousness is based not on our own performance, but on the perfect, sinless life of Jesus Christ. Asking forgiveness is putting to death the earthly nature, taking off the old self and putting on the new self (Jesus Christ) – the new self is “being renewed in the knowledge and image” of God. Asking forgiveness is acknowledging that you said/did/thought/acted according to the old nature, a hindrance to spiritual maturity or fully attaining (in this earthly life) the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. The verb tenses vary, because spiritually, the linear perspective doesn’t factor in at all. But we are not yet rid of our linear vessels, which are prone to depravity. Yes, the vessel is dead and gone as far as God is concerned, because He already sees us when we are perfected, that is why there is an overlap in present/future verb tense regarding words associated with salvation/sanctification. The operative word there is “when”, again a linear word to describe a non-linear concept because our brains are too puny to describe it in any other way. Death and the realm of death, thrown into the Lake of Fire (ie, the second death) is already taking place for the overcoming believer. There are believers like you described:

              Is “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” a conditional prayer dependent upon a human action before forgiveness can be granted? Or, put another way, is forgiveness the result of human obedience?

              Where is grace?

              Those believers who are not overcomers, because they return to the law/works worldview in which forgiveness is somehow a result of or dependent upon their own efforts, fail to do God’s will, because they are depending on their own ability, whereas one whose righteousness is in Jesus Christ alone does the will of God and counts as dead anything that is not from Him. There are believers NOT included in the group described as “not hurt” by the Lake of Fire, and they are looking at a post-death future similar to that of the unbelievers, in which God baptizes (a picture of the death of the old self and the resurrection of the new self with Christ) them in fire. Jesus’s master/servant metaphor in Luke 12 paints a picture of this:

              The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”

              First, the “food allowance” is literally “wheat measure”, and the overcomers are put in charge of this – and a study on the harvests (barley-overcomers, wheat-unsanctified believers, grapes-unbelievers) will help clarify the “proper time” of the harvest of mankind (1 Cor. 15) and the role that overcomers play in reigning with Him as He brings everything into subjection.

              Second, “assign him a place with the unbelievers” demonstrates that the servant in the metaphor is not an unbeliever, but treated as if he were. Why? Because the law/works mind is the old self, not yet put to death. It is the believer who asks for forgiveness BECAUSE he/she thinks that forgiveness is a result of the asker instead of the Forgiver, Who died for all mankind “while we were yet sinners” and “while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son.” This further demonstrates the verb tense thing I referred to earlier. We are ALREADY reconciled to God, yet the call is given “to be reconciled to God” – for those who are not aware that their own unbelief is what keeps them slaves to the idea that God is their enemy.

          • Lanny A. Eichert December 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm

            My “first” response: Alice, why do you have to COMPLICATE things so much? You don’t know when to stop thinking and start taking what God wrote for us as word for word simple and literal and enjoy it. My wife once told me to stop trying to figure out how and why I love her and just enjoy it. You women are a contradiction in experience, because she is the one who originally asked the question why I love her. From that it should be no mystery why women don’t belong in theology. I’ll be trying to understand what you wrote before I continue, but it sure seems you certainly go beyond “what is written” to justify an unscriptual Second Death experience for saints. Cult leaders and heretics complicate things so terribly that few can resist them and they probably do in unknowingly in their sincerity, but sincerity is not the measure of truth: the Scriptures are. On thing though is obvious, you try to explain the unnecessary practice of ASKing God’s forgiveness. How would you feel if your child kept begging you to love him after you have been continuously faithfully loving him? Don’t you see how insulting it is to God for His saints to ASK for His forgiveness which He has assured to them upon His faithfulness? That’s a failure of plain faith. The same is true of your trying to force His saints to endure the Lake of Fire when God said “no condemnation” to His saints.

          • Mary Vanderplas December 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm

            “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We are not free from sin this side of glory. Not only do we sin out of ignorance, we also sin willfully – i.e., we choose to walk in the darkness of not loving God and neighbor. And in fact none of our acts is done out of totally pure love of God and neighbor. Even the good that we do is tainted by self-love. Yes, God has acted in Christ to redeem us and to give us a new heart – one that is bent toward God and capable of doing God’s will. But this new heart will be ours fully only in the state of glory. Until then, we sin – and cannot keep from sinning (non posse non peccare). It follows that we stand in constant need of confessing our sin and asking God to forgive us, which God stands ready to do. This is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” and why David, along with the unnumbered throng of saints throughout history, found himself seeking God’s pardoning grace.

            I grant that, because of the sanctifying grace of God as well as the hope of final full redemption, we need not despair over our condition. I grant, too, that, to an extent, we are capable of living the life that God created us to live – a life of love and service in relationship with God and others. But to claim, as you do, that “saints live a bold victorious life free of defeat” is a pipe dream, not reality; neither experience nor the biblical witness confirms it. Whatever “boldness” we have is related not to our having arrived at a state of righteousness, but to the grace of God that both sanctifies and justifies his children, who sin continually (Hebrews 4:16). Thus, the proper posture of the saint-sinner is penitence and seeking God’s forgiveness – as well as hope that looks forward to the day when by God’s grace we shall finally be unable to sin (non posse peccare).

  • Mary Vanderplas December 25, 2011 at 7:14 am

    I like what you say about Jesus’ frequent use of metaphorical speech and about the need to interpret such speech rightly. I think you’re right, too, in asserting a connection between the preceding parables in Luke 13 and this text in verses 22 and following, though I doubt that the person’s question was prompted by the parables. It is far more likely that Luke arranged the materials thus as part of his “Travel Narrative,” which begins in 9:51. (Matthew has them in separate places – Matthew 13:31-33; 7:13-14, 22-23; 19:30.) At any rate, I think you’re right to see here a connection between Jesus’ teaching in these parables – which call into question conventional ways of thinking about God’s kingdom – and Jesus’ response to this questioner. Specifically, the images in these parables shatter commonly-held views of how God works, much as the final salvation of God will overturn the expectations of those who assume that they are guaranteed a place in the kingdom.

    While I agree with what you say about the conviction of Jews in Jesus’ day regarding the coming of the Messiah and the time of salvation, I would caution against asserting that “they” – i.e., the Jewish people – “crucified him.” In fact, as the Gospel writers emphasize, it was not the Jewish population as a whole but only the Jerusalem leadership who was responsible for the arrest, trial, and delivery of Jesus to be crucified. Also, while you are correct in saying that the Jews in Jesus’ day expected God’s Anointed to exalt the nation of Israel and establish the kingdom of glory, I think it’s important to note that there were actually a number of different views and expectations concerning the future salvation that were held within different circles of the Jewish nation during the time of Jesus. While the dominant view centered on an anointed ruler who would arise, after the manner of David, and who would liberate Israel, leading the nation to glory, this was not the only view. There were others that were more or less compatible with this one – such as the coming of a messianic high priest.

    I agree that the person’s question likely was motivated by self-interest and that it’s significant that Jesus doesn’t answer it directly. Instead, Jesus challenges the questioner’s assumptions. What he is saying, I think, is that no one may simply assume that he or she is included. Many of those who so assume will find themselves surprised at the end when they try to get in but can’t (v. 24). The picture in verse 25 conveys that there will come a time when it is too late, when those who are on the outside will no longer be able to get in. There is a clear warning here for those who would presume that they are already in and therefore have nothing to worry about, even though they have not come to know Christ. As verses 26 and 27 make clear, it isn’t enough to be in close proximity to Jesus, to hear him teach and to have table fellowship with him. As valuable as these things are, they do not guarantee admission into the kingdom. What distinguishes a person as one who knows Christ and is approved by him is, rather, doing the will of God.

    I think you’re right to see in verse 29 a reference to the inclusion of the Gentiles. I would argue, though, that the force of the verse (and the text as a whole) isn’t just to counter the exclusive mindset of the Jews, but to counter an attitude of presumption and privilege that fails to take seriously that inclusion in God’s kingdom is more than a matter of name-dropping (to borrow your expression). The picture of a shut door with some being excluded is no doubt intended to shake up both Jesus’ hearers and Luke’s readers. In contrast, Luke presents a picture of God’s salvation encompassing many nations and cultures – an affirmation of the inclusiveness of God’s grace. I couldn’t agree more than what is being taught here is not eternal torment in hell, but the dangers of presuming upon God’s grace and resting on imagined privilege.

    • admin December 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      I agree to the wider application of v29 and the text as a whole, as is common with many of the warnings in scripture. Even though the context of the situation is the exclusivity of the Jewish religious mindset, the message is applicable to anyone practicing unwarranted exclusivity.

      • Mary Vanderplas December 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

        I’m not sure that “the exclusivity of the Jewish religious mindset” is the issue here as much as it is an attitude of presumption when it comes to one’s privileged status based on prior affiliation with Jesus. While I think there is a connection (for Luke) between the parables and this scene, I don’t think the connection is mainly one of challenging the exclusive mindset of the Jews, though the image of “birds of the air” may suggest the inclusion of the Gentiles. The parables seem to be not so much about the expansion of the kingdom beyond what the Jews envisioned as about its coming being exclusively God’s doing and totally beyond anyone’s imagining. Thus, the point of connection with the scene in verse 22ff. would be that the final salvation of God will upset expectations just as these parables call into question conventional ways of envisioning how God works to establish his rule. I don’t think it can be said with any certainty that the question arose out of a view that excluded the Gentiles from God’s saving mercy. The questioner didn’t ask, “Will only the Jews be saved?” It is more likely, in my view, that the question was motivated by a desire to satisfy curiosity about “who (else) will get in” – reflecting an attitude of presumption concerning his own secure status as an insider. This interpretation seems to be supported by Jesus’ comments about what is means (and what it doesn’t mean) to know and be known by him. I do think that you’re right to see in verse 29 the inclusion of the Gentiles, but I think Luke’s purpose here is to communicate that God’s grace is broad and inclusive – in contrast to the message of judgment and exclusion in the picture of the shut door. Whether this means universal salvationin the end is debatable. The “last, first-first, last” statement I see as saying in another way what has been said already: that there will be surprises in the end. I don’t see it as a literal description of the order in which Jews and Gentiles will be admitted.

  • Lanny A. Eichert December 28, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Haven’t any of you read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress?

    In his storybook he answers many of the problems surfacing on this site.

  • Lanny A. Eichert December 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    FYI

    Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. {Isaiah 45: 11}

    See that word COMMAND

    Why is that so strange to you?

  • Lanny A. Eichert December 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Is “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” a conditional prayer dependent upon a human action before forgiveness can be granted? Or, put another way, is forgiveness the result of human obedience?

    Where is grace?

  • Lanny A. Eichert December 31, 2011 at 4:13 am

    “Second” response, Alice.
    admin says: December 30, 2011 at 9:24 am

    #1) A believer asking forgiveness is sort of like taking the Lord’s Supper – it is being aware of the saving work of Christ as a continual thing, that He keeps on saving us for as long as there is a need to be saved

    The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of a “done deal” not an ongoing work. God’s saints need no more saving than they did the moment they first believed. The fornicating brother in the Corinthian church {1 Corinthians 5: 2 & 5} and the thief on the cross {Luke 23: 32, 39 – 43} are two examples of completed salvation without completed sanctification of the earthy life without afterlife necessities. You seem to falsely think progressive sanctification must occur either here or in the after life before salvation can be completed. {1 John 3: 2} “when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” Instantly, at Jesus’ appearance, no progressive experience. (Mary verse 6 of 1 John 3 is for you: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.)

    #2) By asking for forgiveness and recognizing in that moment that we are already forgiven, we mentally move from our limited linear perspective to God’s eternal perspective

    Isn’t it realized as a foolish foot in the mouth thing to have asked for forgiveness after realizing forgiveness has always been a “done deal” for the saint from the very first moment of faith? The “normal” Christian life is lived as the saint views everything from God’s perspective: living in divine viewpoint; and sin can be defined as loosing that view point and returning to human view point. In Romans eight and elsewhere it is walking in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit filled life. (Mary, take heed to Romans eight and review seven.)

    #3) Asking forgiveness is putting to death the earthly nature, taking off the old self and putting on the new self (Jesus Christ) – the new self is “being renewed in the knowledge and image” of God

    The act of asking for forgiveness is not mortification of the flesh and putting on the new nature. These are three distinct doings. The askings are totally different from the other related two. Now if your idea of asking includes forsaking I might see some sort of connection. Confession of specific sins only requires identifying them, not necessarily the forsaking of them. If it did, no one would be saved. We “sort of” have a desire to forsake what we confess and that only “sort of’ implies we want God to take away the love we have for that sin. Here I am “close” to what both you and Mary are trying to say, but it is all so wrong because it is so “human” and not divine: confess, not ask, is God’s instruction to trust His faithfulness {1 John 1: 9}.

    #4) Asking forgiveness is acknowledging that you said/did/thought/acted according to the old nature, a hindrance to spiritual maturity or fully attaining (in this earthly life) the whole measure of the fullness of Christ

    That is CONFESSION not asking, dear Alice, but also requires naming it “sin.”

    #5) This changing is sanctification, a process which He has promised to complete

    Don’t equate overcoming failure with progressive sanctification. The meaning of the term is being separating unto God in body, soul, and spirit. The result of separation is the overcoming life.

    #6) The verb tenses vary, because spiritually, the linear perspective doesn’t factor in at all

    No, Alice, the tenses tell us exactly that the moment the saint confesses sins, in that very point of time, God forgives those confessed sins, and more than that, He, in that very point of time, also cleanses the saint from all unrighteousness; and that is done in this mortal life of the saint. That means that at the very moment of confession the saint has absolutely NO sins, zero. Verse nine coupled with verse seven of 1 John 1 means the saint can indeed enjoy moments of sinless victory living in the Holy Spirit, neither grieving Him nor quenching Him. It MUST be noted that God produced this epistle of His exact words and spelling by John’s hand in terms of God’s “children” meaning this forgiveness is relational, not judicial. Judicially forgiveness for the person is for all of time and eternity from the moment a person believes. “Little children” is God’s affectionate term that He uses in this epistle for His saints that He purchased at the cost of His own blood and death on the cross.

    #7) Yes, the vessel is dead and gone as far as God is concerned, because He already sees us when we are perfected

    No, God left His saints on this earth with divine purposes for which He provide “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” {2 Peter 1: 3} You forget Romans 7? For I delight in the law of God after the inward man … I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

    #8) Death and the realm of death, thrown into the Lake of Fire (ie, the second death) is already taking place for the overcoming believer

    This is where you are a real nut case, Alice, taking something from eschatology and making it part of present things, even though the present is called the last days. Now this something I hadn’t picked up from your previous writings: you really believe the Lake of Fire is occurring right now? And the Second Death also? You’re like a sewing machine stitch going in and out from the top side of the fabric to the bottom side. You’re really stretching and pulling to do that. What can I say, because you give me nothing upon which you base such a statement. It’s just a hit and run statement without foundation. You frustrate me. I can only say: keep it in the context in which it occurs, The Revelation, and don’t export it anywhere.

    #9) Those believers who are not overcomers, because they return to the law/works … fail to do God’s will

    Don’t you have a definition for UNBELIEVERS? What are all religions doing? Preaching a works salvation!!! They are believers?

    #10) the group described as “not hurt” by the Lake of Fire

    Simply because they have absolutely no relationship with that Lake of Fire, as I told you previously. {Revelation 20: 6} on such the second death hath no power

    #11) (a picture of the death of the old self and the resurrection of the new self with Christ) them in fire

    You make Romans 6: 3 & 4 the Lake of Fire for legalistic “believers”? That is so totally incredible, I don’t know what to say. Above I tried to tell you legalists are UNbelievers and they will burn in the Lake of Fire forever WITHOUT remedy: no Romans 6 dying and raising there. And no Luke 12 there either.

    #12) “assign him a place with the unbelievers” demonstrates that the servant in the metaphor is not an unbeliever

    No, Alice, these words do not require that interpretation at all. Our judicial system has at times assign juveniles to adult punishment, so shall we say they were NOT juveniles?

    • Mary Vanderplas December 31, 2011 at 9:19 am

      “God’s saints need no more saving than they did the moment they first believed.”
      Untrue. See Romans 5:2; also, Romans 5:8-9 and 5:10. According to Paul (and other biblical writers), salvation has three dimensions: past (“we have obtained”), present (“we stand”), and future (“in our hope”). We were saved by God’s act in Christ two thousand years ago (the benefits of which we began to experience at the point of our conversion and coming to faith); we are in the process of being saved; and we confidently await that glorious day when we shall be saved completely.

      “…[F]orgiveness has always been a “done deal” for the saint from the very first moment of faith…..”
      In a sense, our salvation was a “done deal” at the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in another, very real sense, our salvation will not be completed until Christ’s return and the final victory of God. Both Paul and other New Testament writers are clear about this. “What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2b)

      “The ‘normal’ Christian life is lived as the saint views everything from God’s perspective: living in divine viewpoint; and sin can be defined as losing that viewpoint and returning to human viewpoint. In Romans eight and elsewhere it is walking in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit filled life.”
      You make a good point. In Romans 6, Paul speaks plainly about our deliverance from the power of sin through our union with Jesus in his death. Sin is portrayed as a defeated power, and willingly sinning as giving in to something that we need not allow ourselves to give in to. And in Romans 8:5ff., he portrays the new mindset of the Christian and the life in the Spirit overcoming the struggle with sin and death. Still, though, our deliverance (and the redemption of the whole creation, of which the work of God in us is the first fruits – Romans 8:23) will not be complete until the final victory of God.

      “…[C]onfess, not ask, is God’s instruction to trust His faithfulness (1 John 1: 9).”
      “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” is asking for God’s forgiveness, not merely naming the offense. Confession of sin entails seeking God’s pardon and the restoration of the relationship.

      “The result of separation is the overcoming life.”
      The “overcoming life” is the result not of separation, but of the Holy Spirit within and among us empowering us to live as we were created to live.

      “…..[T]he tenses tell us exactly that the moment the saint confesses sins, in that very point of time, God forgives those confessed sins, and more than that, He, in that very point of time, also cleanses the saint from all unrighteousness; and that is done in this mortal life of the saint. That means that at the very moment of confession the saint has absolutely NO sins, zero. Verse nine coupled with verse seven of 1 John 1 means the saint can indeed enjoy moments of sinless victory living in the Holy Spirit, neither grieving Him nor quenching Him.”
      1 John 1 does not say that “the saint can indeed enjoy moments of sinless victory.” It says just the opposite: that we deceive ourselves if we claim sinlessness. It says also that God stands ready to forgive us when we confess our sin. While, as God’s redeemed children, we have already been forgiven and accepted by God’s grace (justified), because we continue to sin, we continue to need to ask for and receive God’s pardoning grace. We have not yet arrived at a state of sinless perfection.

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