The Thinker Examines Sin and Salvation
Thinker: So, what is your thinking on the atonement of Christ?
True Believer: I believe he died for my sins and through the shedding of his blood I am saved.
Thinker: And what have you done to be saved?
True Believer: I believe on Him and accept the gift he has given me.
Thinker: And what are you saved from?
True Believer: My sins.
Thinker: All your sins or part of them?
True Believer: All of them, of course.
Thinker: Are you saved now?
True Believer: Yes, I’m saved through the blood of Jesus.
Thinker: Does this mean that your past sins will be as if they never happened?
True Believer: Yes.
Thinker: Theft is a sin, is it not?
True Believer: Yes. The scripture says, “Thou shalt not steal.”
Thinker: Let us suppose that before you were saved you robbed a guy on the street of his money that was going to pay for an operation to save his daughter’s life. Without the money the kid dies but shortly thereafter you find Jesus and get saved. Is the kid still dead?
True Believer: Of course.
Thinker: So, even though you are now saved, your sin still has a terrible effect and the father hates your guts. Sounds like your sin still has an effect even though you accept Jesus.
True Believer: Well, I suppose our sins have a residual effect in this world, but when we accept the atonement we have a clean slate in God’s eyes for the next world.
Thinker: So, even though you are saved your sins have an effect in this world but none in the next.
True Believer: Yes.
Thinker: Let us suppose that the sick girl was not saved when she died but was on the verge of it and would have found Jesus if she had lived. Because of your sin then she goes to hell instead of heaven. Does that sound like your sin will have no effect in the next world?
True Believer: There’s no way to tell if she would have been saved.
Thinker: We do know that a lot of kids do eventually accept Christ. That is a fact and in our example we are talking about one of these. Now, let us place ourselves in the kid’s position after death. There she is suffering in hell with the realization that she was going to turn her life around if she had lived, but this didn’t happen because of you. She curses your name even as you are enjoying bliss with Jesus. Does that sound like your sin has no effect in the next world?
True Believer: God will take away the memory of my sins so I will not be affected by anyone in hell.
Thinker: Where does it say that in the Bible?
True Believer: I’m not sure. It’s in there somewhere.
Thinker: Wrong. It’s not in there. And even if this strange idea were true it would be pretty cold hearted to ignore the eternal suffering of a child, by blotting out the memory, when that suffering was your fault. Don’t you agree?
True Believer: God’s ways are not man’s ways. If we could understand God then it would all make sense. We can’t use the reasoning of this world.
Thinker: But it sounds like you are using the reasoning from your mind in this world to make sense of the atonement. What makes you think that reasoning from your thinking in this world is correct?
True Believer: That’s what faith is all about.
Thinker: So your faith is based on the reasoning of this world?
True Believer: You’re twisting things. My faith is based on the Bible, the Word of God.
Thinker: And what makes you think you understand it since you have to use your worldly mind to read it?
True Believer: The Bible is clear. I just accept what it says.
Thinker: Let’s see if you accept this:
Gal 6:4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
Gal 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
Gal 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Would you read verse five for me?
True Believer: “For every man shall bear his own burden.”
Thinker: Does that sound like Jesus is going to negate the effects of our mistakes or sins?
True Believer: You’re taking things out of context.
Thinker: But the context continues in verse seven. Read that.
True Believer: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Thinker: So, even though you have found Jesus this does not negate the fact that you robbed a guy and caused his daughter to die and go to hell. What do you suppose this will cause you to reap?
True Believer: I will reap heaven because I am saved.
Thinker: Not so fast. Read Revelations 14:13
True Believer: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
Thinker: So, even though you now accept Jesus and are righteous what happens to your works?
True Believer: (He doesn’t want to answer.)
Thinker: Since you won’t say it, I will. It says “their works do follow them.” It is clear here that it is speaking of our works following us into the next world. Concerning our debts, Jesus said something interesting. He stated that those who are cast into prison “shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” Matt 5:26
So let us sum these scriptures up. They tell us that we will bear our own burdens, that we reap what we have sown, that our works follow us to the next world, and finally we have to pay our debts to the “uttermost farthing.” That doesn’t sound like a simple belief in Jesus is going to instantly undue all the damage created by the robber who cost the girl her life, does it?
True Believer: But the scriptures clearly say we are saved by the blood of Jesus. How do you explain that?
Thinker: One of the problems with the scriptures is that those who prize them greatly often misinterpret them the most. A prime example, from the Christian viewpoint, is the ancient Jews belief in the Messiah. From diligently reading the scriptures they thought he was going to come as a conquering hero, destroy the wicked and restore the kingdom to Israel. Did that happen?
True Believer: No.
Thinker: Correct. They missed reality by miles. He had no army, he said to love our enemies and his kingdom was not of this world. Yet you can’t blame them because when you read the Old Testament it does sound like they could have been right. Have you ever considered that you may also have wrong interpretations of the scriptures?
True Believer: No, because I interpret them just the way they are written.
Thinker: And so did the Jews who were looking for a conquering Messiah – and so do the hundreds of religions who disagree with you. They all think they are interpreting the scriptures just the way they read, but obviously they are not all correct. Would you agree?
True Believer: Some people just read things into them that are not there.
Thinker: Well, let us see what is there. Since you give much eight to the scriptures that tell us that we are saved from sin through the sacrifice of Christ let us examine those words. The word “sin” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word HAMARTANO which means “to miss the mark.” In other words, when the Greeks, 2000 years ago, shot at a target with an arrow and missed they “sinned” (HAMARTANO) or missed the target. Another way to phrase this would be to say that to sin is to make an error in their aim or judgment. Would you agree?
True Believer: I suppose.
Thinker: The word “saved” comes from SOZO which is “to save or deliver.” The similar word “salvation” comes from SOTERIA which is more correctly rendered “deliverance” or “rescue.” Therefore, when the prophets wrote of being saved from sin they were literally saying they were delivered from error. So what did Jesus do to save the people from error?
True Believer: I’m not sure what you are getting at,
Thinker: Let us look at the actual words of Jesus. He said to his disciples, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” John 15:3
Notice that this was spoken before his sacrifice of the cross. He didn’t speak of blood saving them from sin but something else. What was it?
True Believer: His word.
Thinker: Good. In other words, that which delivered the people from error was the words of Jesus. He also said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63
So what did he say his words were?
True Believer: Spirit and life.
Thinker: Here’s another powerful scripture giving light on the words of Jesus: “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.” John 5:24
So, his word can lead to what?
True Believer: Everlasting life.
Thinker: Notice that he taught this salvation before he shed any blood. Now let us read the advice of James. He advised us to “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:21-22
So, what is it that can save our souls?
True Believer: The word.
Thinker: Yes, Jesus’ words were so powerful he was referred to as the “Word of God.” Now we see that when he saves us from sin he really delivers us from error. How did he deliver people from error when he was alive?
True Believer: I see what you are getting at. You want me to say his word.
Thinker: That’s what the Bible you believe in says and it is quite a simple principle. When we error we can be corrected through words that set us on the right course. For instance, the people sinned or erred in thinking that they should hate their enemies but the words of Jesus corrected or saved them. He told them to love their enemies and do good to those who despise them.
What error did the sacrifice on the cross correct?
True Believer: I’m not sure.
Thinker: Again, the answer is quite simple. People had very limited ideas of how far we should go in showing love and forgiveness. Jesus not only forgave those who crucified him but volunteering for the great sacrifice was an unheard of act of love that saved or delivered the people from their wrong thinking. One could say that the shedding of his blood saved many from their errors. Because of him many take the principle of love to a much higher level than before.
True Believer: Wow, you are really twisting the scriptures.
Thinker: No, I’m following in the footsteps of Jesus and attempting to save you from your sins by the power of the word. In other words these teachings have power to deliver you from your errors of judgment and wrong interpretation.
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:17
Copyright by J J Dewey 2013
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