Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Bible is NOT about God's Plan of Salvation

Child of God, be glad! In fact be joyful, be happy, be excited that it is NOT about God's plan of Salvation. A true understanding of Scripture as a WHOLE will clearly demonstrate that the Bible is about God's design for RELATIONSHIP, first between man and Himself, and second, between men.

Salvation just happens to be a necessity to initiate and accomplish communion and relationship with God. If one were to technically analyze what percentage of Scripture is about salvation and what percentage of Scripture is about relationship and walking with God, one would see that salvation is but 20% of Scripture. But the WHOLE of Scripture is about RELATIONSHIP - - - man's relationship with God primarily....and as you will read in another blog, relationship is the only factor that will determine the Christian's assurance of Salvation - - no guessing!

This thesis is consistent with the Great Commandment declared and affirmed by Jesus Christ Himself in the three synoptic Gospels. Mark 12:29-31:

29Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Anyone who looks at the Bible as God's plan of salvation will NOT be able to get any benefit from reading about 80% of the Bible. I know many classicists who have actually forgotten details of the Old Testament because they see the salvation plan clearest in the New Testament. Another cult of classicists focus only on the Pauline Epistles because it is here that salvation by grace through faith, the gravity of man's sin and fallen state and the atonement seem to be clearly explained.

However, it is also in the Pauline epistles that declarations of foreknowledge and predestination are found. It is precisely the fact that they limit themselves to the epistles and Greek philosophy that they derive unbiblical meanings to these terms. They forget that it is also in the epistles and Hebrews that warn that assurance of salvation is based on one's "shared life" with the Vine and not on anything else.

Relational Theology sees that the Bible is God's design for relationship, primarily the relationship between God and man. The Bible has gone to great lengths using declarations and analogies to show us how God relates to man and how man SHOULD RELATE to God.

God's primary relationship design is the family. In the garden of Eden, God created man in His image because He wanted an extended family. To confirm this, God not only created the first family. He designed the first family to have an intimate "family-like" relationship with Him.

This is why He declares in John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Note from this verse that God's real objective is relationship. Salvation just happens to be a necessary step but this is NOT God's ultimate goal. Verse 13, contrary to how so many classicists interpret it, is simply God's way of declaring His divine adoption. Now, the classicists may come in and say that in the process of adoption, the baby does not make any decisions and that is correct.

However, the phrase "receive Him" clearly shows that the analogy is not a case of infant adoption but of consenting adult adoption. Adoption laws especially in the Graeco-Roman world as well as the Jewish culture, are not limited to infants. Adoption can be executed with adults as beneficiaries. If you have ever read or watched the movie, Ben-Hur, you can see Arius adopting Judah Ben-Hur by giving him his ring. Arius was Roman and Judah Ben-Hur was an adult Jew. That is the analogy used in this passage.

The second relationship that God instituted is the Theocracy where God choses a group of people and seeks to actively govern His chosen people. We can see clear evidences of this from Moses to Samuel.

The third relationship was not God-instituted but God not only allowed it but gave it conditional blessings - - - this is the Monarchy which started with King Saul but completed by King David (completed is used to mean that the King-subject relationship had it's defining moment with King David despite the fact that the Kings after him were mostly unfaithful).

The fourth relationship that God-instituted is the Church where Christ is the Head and believers collectively are the One Body.

The fifth relationship is yet to be - - - the restoration of the best of all relationships. When all believers get to heaven, they simultaneously experience the culmination of ALL the relationships of Father and child, a chosen people, King and citizens and the Universal Church in worship, adoration and praise!

Given the above background, how does this edify us or our relationship with God?

The answer is that this fact and this knowledge provides a deeper meaning and appreciation of our relationship with God. Now we fully realize that although our relationships are not a set of impersonal do's and don'ts, the guidelines, rules, laws and precepts we read about in Scripture simply serve to define our liberties and its bounds in a very personal and intimate relationship with God. The reason we walk with God is not just because He wants us to behave like disciplined children, but because our relationship is governed by love and caring.

This makes us really see that the Bible is indeed God's LOVE letter to us and not just a set of rules to follow. Now we don't just browse through the pages of Scripture just to get more information about God. Instead we read God's LOVE letter word-for-word with great and deep anticipation as He unfolds His heart to us.

It makes us understand why children in whom the father delights are well-provided for and even given their hearts desires, while children who misbehave are disciplined by a good father in the name of love. It makes us realize that in many ways, God did not set one standard for Himself and another standard for man. In so doing, He set Jesus Christ up as THE example of our walk on earth, showing us that in the power of the Holy Spirit, man has the capability to demonstrate the same love and forgiveness that Christ demonstrated.

It tells us that as Christ wept in John 11:35, that we have a God (co-equal with Jesus Christ) who also weeps, who is angered, who gets Jealous, who rejoices, who gets surprised as he relates to man. It confirms to us that God had to limit the exercise of His sovereignty (all out of His great lovingkindness!) to the point of even closing much of the future to Himself (yes, limiting His omniscience only to the past and present but still retaining the right and power to foreordain the future, but only exercising this in limited specific instances for very pointed reasons) so that in the REAL act of LOVE, He does take risks! It makes us appreciate even more His great love for us.

It is relational theology that confirms that although God CAN do ALL the work in His continuing creative work in the world including that of redeeming man and changing lives, He chose NOT to.
It is relational theology that confirms that although God CAN sovereignly anticipate what we need and do something about it, He chose NOT to.

That is why almost NOTHING happens beyond the normal course of events or beyond the normal consequences of our actions unless God is asked (through prayer) to get involved and actually intervene in the situation and actually change the course of events (e.g., someone sick of terminal cancer gets miraculously healed even if the normal course of events is death within weeks or months). Prayer can therefore be defined as a sincere request from the created to the Creator (from a child to his Father) to intervene in the normal course of events to change its course.

....under development. Come back soon but you do have already enough to chew on....

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