Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Grace than Guilt

A lot of atheists scoff at the idea of the 10 Commandments. They say things like, “What? No one knew those things were wrong before God wrote it down for them?”

For years I struggled to understand the verse in Romans 5:20 - “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

If you read through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 - 7) you find several impossible standards being set out for us.
. Don’t be angry.

. Don’t lust.

. Honour others more than ourselves.

. Love your enemies

. Forgive those who harm you every time

Jesus is laying out in no uncertain terms just how far we fall from God’s standards and expectations for us. Because of this, Paul was able to write, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Now, many are tempted to look at the Sermon on the Mount, find it impossible and toss it aside.

Don’t! Ok? Please don’t do that. What happens when you toss aside God’s impossible standard is that you cause yourself to miss out on the opportunity to enjoy His incredible grace and mercy.

Only when we are forced to see our impossible situation can we become aware of our need for His grace. God is offering to do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves.

In Romans 5:20, Paul is saying, the more we become aware of how sinful we are (that’s what the law, the 10 Commandments are for) the more we can see that
. We need God’s mercy, grace and salvation
. We can HAVE God’s mercy, grace and salvation

All of us have sinned - All of us are guilty - All of us can be forgiven.

That is good new folks.

As the sign at the top of my blog says, “No one is so good that forgiveness isn’t required. No one is so evil that forgiveness isn’t offered.

Atheists are terribly offended by the very idea of forgiveness. Atheists, like the rest of us are Pharisees by nature; judging others of guilt while viewing ourselves as good. In fact, atheists have made a creed out of it: “I don’t need God in order to be a good person.” Mmm, hmm.

Is this how you view yourself? As being so good that you don’t need God? If so,

Be Afraid. Be very afraid!

It is only those whom God is seeking whose eyes He opens to their need for forgiveness. And when God does that for you, when God opens your eyes to your true nature, be glad.
. No matter how bad you have been and perhaps are, God’s grace is bigger.
. No matter how bad you have been and perhaps are, forgiveness is being offered to you.

Because of God’s mercy and grace, you no longer have to pretend. You can be real. You can admit to being in need of help. Reach out and take that help. If you do, a life so good you never dreamed it’s possible will open up to you. Good luck on your journey.

15 comments:

The Atheist Missionary said...

Mak, how do you decide which parts of the Bible to follow and which to disregard? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/6120373/Top-10-worst-Bible-passages.html

salvage said...

>A lot of atheists scoff at the idea of the 10 Commandments. They say things like, “What? No one knew those things were wrong before God wrote it down for them?”

Well isn’t that a good point? All of the sensible bits of the 10 Commandments (murder, stealing, not dogging your neighbor’s chick) occurred to pretty much every culture on the planet, even those who didn’t know Moses from Adam.

Say, why does your god demand worship in the 10 Commandments? Are there other gods he’s competing with? Why would the idea even occur to him that there are other gods to worship? And how can the creator of a whole universe be “jealous”? Jealousy (a rather human emotion) comes from wanting something we can’t have, what can’t a god have?

>Jesus is laying out in no uncertain terms just how far we fall from God’s standards and expectations for us. Because of this, Paul was able to write, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Isn’t that your god’s fault? See this is one of the many illogical aspects of your god and his creation mythology; we’re to blame for his shoddy workmanship. If your god is the omnipotent, omni-benevolent being you claim he is we should be perfect being made in his image and all or at the very least not as horrifically flawed as we are. From what I can tell if your myths and superstitions are true your god set us up to fail. What kind of twisted freak would do such a thing?

>Only when we are forced to see our impossible situation can we become aware of our need for His grace. God is offering to do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves.

So why didn’t it work? You do understand that fundamentally humanity is only marginally better than it was 2,000 years ago? And that most of our improvements in humanitarianism (end of slavery, civil rights, womens' liberation etc.) only occurred in the last 300 years thanks to the Enlightenment and the removal of religious roadblocks to science.

> We need God’s mercy, grace and salvation

>We can HAVE God’s mercy, grace and salvation

How strange then that only a sliver of humanity will receive these things, the majority of people before us and after us don’t accept Jesus as their savior and as such will end up in hell. Why does your god withhold what people need? Why are there so many other religions? Why does your god allow them to exist? Why didn’t he make Jesus permanent? That is he came back from the dead and stuck around to lead us rather than going to Heaven ? Rather selfish don’t you think?

>Atheists are terribly offended by the very idea of forgiveness.

Um… some are some are not. I don’t think you understand what atheism is, it’s the belief that there are no such things as gods. That’s it, it makes no other comment on morality or science. So some atheists may be offended others may have hearts that bleed.

Personally I'm somewhere in the middle.

“I don’t need God in order to be a good person.”

So. All atheists are bad then? Each and every one? All religious people are good? Like the Catholic priests that raped children and or helped rape children?

>Be Afraid. Be very afraid!

Ah, one of the many hearts of true religion; fear. Fear of life, fear of death, fear of your angry sky god.

Sorry Sparky, I’m quite relieved that the lunatic who seems obsessed with sex, foreskins and in fits of rage destroys cities and floods the whole planet isn’t real.

The Atheist Missionary said...

Be Afraid. Be very afraid!

I love it. When we get right down to it (as has been previously noted by PersonalFailure), God is the ultimate abusive spouse. Love me or else!

salvage, you are golden.

Makarios said...

TAM How come you keep asking the same questions? I've answered this already.

Lausten North said...

For those of us just tuning in, would it be too much trouble to link to the response to TAM's question? I too get tired of the question, but I'm always interested in a new twist on the answer.

salvage said...

Thanks AM, I enjoy your blog BTW.

Makarios said...

Mmm, if I can find it. I'm not sure which post it was on. But I'll look.

Makarios said...

"Mak, how do you decide which parts of the Bible to follow and which to disregard?"

In the Bible we find an old covenant and a new covenant. You probably know that. Jesus came, in part, to introduce the new covenant which did away with

. The Levitical code,
. The dietary laws and
. All of the requirements regarding feasts, and
. All of the sacrificial laws.

Those things may be of historical interest to today's Christian, but they are not prescriptive for how we live as Jesus desires.

Glen20 said...

Matt 5:18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."

salvage said...

. The Levitical code,

Really? Done away with? So then being gay is okay?

Makarios said...

The sermon on the Mount, as I understand it IS the law, in all its fullness. Love God and love your neighbour as yourself. That has not changed one jot or tittle.

As far as the whole "gay" issue is concerned Jesus upheld exactly what He had said in the beginning, A man shall leave his mother and father and be joined together with his wife and they shall be one flesh. And in Micah, "I hate divorce."

salvage said...

>The sermon on the Mount, as I understand it IS the law, in all its fullness. Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.

Now this is a bit of Jesus that I can get behind as I try and live by the whole "do unto others" deal and for the most part I'm pretty good at it.

But the issue is that not all Christians agree with you. Some of them still hold to OT ideals as well as the Mound stuff.

So what does that tell you? Either your god is a very poor communicator who simply cannot provide clear instruction or that it's all a bunch of stuff that people make up and warp as culture and politics change.

The later seems unlikely, I mean if you have a god that makes universes somehow I doubt he'd have trouble making himself clear so that leaves us with the demonstrably plausible later.

>A man shall leave his mother and father and be joined together with his wife and they shall be one flesh.

So why in the original church were priests and other officials forbidden to marry?

So why did your god make roughly one out of every ten humans gay?

Please, don't even start with the "they choose to be gay" thing. I'm a great supporter of gay rights but the idea of two men having sex much less me having sex with a man makes me ill. Like most straight men I'm hardwired to lust after the female hardbodies.

Gay isn't a choice anymore than hair color. Once again we have your god setting people up to fail. That's quite the sadist you worship.

>And in Micah, "I hate divorce."

I think that anyone with any sense would agree with that... well maybe not lawyers. But that isn't realistic because people change and relationships change and staying together in misery doesn't make much sense does it?

What about a wife who is beaten by her husband? Should she suffer the abuse for the rest of her life because Jesus hates divorce?

Makarios said...

Salvage - You ask some really, really good questions.

The struggle that I'm having is this. Is it worth it? Is it worth answering questions for people who are only looking for yet another area to justify their unbelief?

I'm sure you're aware of Jesus' admonishion regarding "don't cast your pearls before those who will just trample them into the mud."

Only two things tempt me to keep replying to comments by people like you and Glen;

. Others who might be listening in who have a genuine interest in what Jesus has to say about life, the univese and everything, and

. Your comment about the Gospel being too good to be true.

It isn't. It's so good that it HAS to be true. There is not a human being on earth who would, even if s/he could invent the Good News of Jesus' salvation. Why? Because the only paradigm that humans can undersand is EARNING our salvation. To not only get something for nothing, but in reality to get EVERYTHING for nothing is just not something that people can come up with.

I think that I just might blog and if you can hook another Christian to enter a discussion with you, well, good for you. But right now I'm tired. All of our children are special needs and right now they're taking a lot of effort. If you ever convince me that you care what I write, I might pop in, otherwise, at least for awhile, mmm, I'm going to rest a bit.

Rabhimself said...

You can't preach what you preach without being subjecte to criticism and questioning mak.

Especially when much about what you preach involves bashing atheists. You aren't just preaching to christians out there. Most of what you do involves trying to convince people that a) god exists and b) atheists are basically ignorant jackasses.

So i don't really see your point in the last post, you ridicule our position, but we can't ask you questions?

How foolish of us to think you might want to debate given what you write.

Finally, we do care what you write makarios, we might not agree with it, but it is the fact that we care that triggers the questioning.

Makarios said...

Hmmm