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The Whole Point

24 Aug

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

What I’m wondering, is why it is that Paul continually seems to bring out how we were weak, not righteous or good, and still sinners. Don’t we already know that? It all seems very repetitive and not very helpful.

First, we have to find out why Paul seems to be so repetitive… Why does he seem to be concentrating on Jesus dying for us “while we were still sinners”, etc. Shouldn’t he be telling me the three steps to purity in Christ, or some other simple program I can follow?

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The reason Paul seems to be repeating himself, is because it’s important! Something like a parent repeating something 20 times to a child (either because s/he has to, or because s/he wants to make something crystal clear). Paul is talking to the Romans as a parent, reminding them how it was they were saved… He’s also reminding them though that they had no ability and still don’t, to save themselves.

And the reason Paul doesn’t give them some sort of thing like, “12 steps to a guilt-free life!” is because Paul knows that the Gospel of Jesus will do everything and more that the twelve step course can do.

Second, now that we know why Paul kept bringing out their(/our) weakness, what did he hope to accomplish by it? … What was Paul’s “goal” when reminding them of their weakness?

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Paul’s reasoning was pretty simple as far as I can see. He wanted them to change from one thing, to another thing. Judging from the last several chapters, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the Roman’s were falling into the same trap the Galatians were. They were thinking that they needed to be circumcised, and that they needed to somehow work their way into Heaven. Paul wanted them to change from that “understanding” to a correct one, i.e. to the understanding that it wasn’t them that saved them-self, but Jesus who did it for them.

In fact, that seems to be Paul’s whole point. And it applies for both them and us. We are weak, pathetically so, to resist temptation. But Jesus is strong, strong enough in fact to save us!

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

And it’s only by Jesus’ amazing and quite literally, other-worldly love for us, and extraordinary power to save that we can be saved.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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2 responses to “The Whole Point

  1. Anonymous

    June 6, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    What a joy to read what a young, devoted believer is learning as he is eagerly seeking to know his Lord and Savior! Just came across this post as I was looking for a Twelve-Step blog for Christians. I have been a Christian for 38 years and am learning much about the grace and love of our God and I have become very sensitive, as you are, to how easily believers fall into the trap of legalism–how very often what we hear from pulpits preaching from God’s Word is legalism, although that is not necessarily at all what the preachers are consciously intending. And sometimes when we realize that condition we develop a super-sensitivity to anything that sounds like we are being told to earn our salvation or righteousness by steps or a program. But how do we accomplish the discipleship that Jesus commissioned us to do? Discipleship involves exhibiting and teaching the truth to new believers, repeating to them as many times as necessary and more, as you have said yourself in the post above, what they need to know, because we sheep forget so easily. And that repetition could be viewed as a legalistic program. I am in a Twelve-Step group for Christians and the more I learn the more I see the Twelve-Steps as the breath of the grace of heaven and the discipleship that I never had in all these years. And the steps are the antidote to legalism, because they state right out that we need to seek help, that we cannot fix ourselves, which is the antidote to the poison of self-actualization, which the world seeks.

    Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our Sin–that our lives had become unmanageable. (Read Romans 7:15-24)
    .
    How often do we understand from the pulpit that we can ‘just do it’? That we can stop sinning right now? The first step tells us we are POWERLESS over our sin. So we need to find SOMEONE else Who does have the power.

    Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Read Romans 7:25)

    Only He can make our paths straight, can make us more and more like Jesus. And we must trust that He is willing to do so and IS doing so.

    Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Matthew 11:29; II Corinthians 3:18)

    These steps turn our eyes expectantly to our Lord and Savior to do what we cannot do, in His way and in His time.

     
    • Joshua Cleveland

      June 8, 2012 at 2:56 AM

      Legalism is very, very bad, no doubt about it. I agree, and it’s certainly easy to get over-sensitive to it. But I have to somewhat disagree on how you believe I’m viewing twelve step groups. I view them as un-Biblical and unnecessary. – No where in Scripture do we ever see the disciples giving “steps” to freedom of any kind. We do see them, specifically Paul, writing letters to encourage and instruct, but never to give “steps”. As for your question, “But how do we accomplish the discipleship that Jesus commissioned us to do?” Well there are a hundred and one ways; it’s only limited by someone’s imagination. Jesus’ disciples of old certainly managed to pull it obey Jesus’ commission without “steps”. To name a few: small groups, which gather together to encourage and build up one another. Also, small groups are something which we see clearly in the Bible. As for the steps you listed:

      1. We admitted we were powerless over our Sin–that our lives had become unmanageable. This is a step which is completely right, but why do we need to be told this? Anyone who spends half an hour in the New Testament should be able to recognize their own depravity.

      2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Again, somewhat obvious if you look at Scripture, but also, notice the vagueness. “We need some power out there to help us.” Is roughly what they’re saying. I disagree with that completely, we don’t need some power, we need the power, Jesus Christ. The vagueness is what really bothers me about that step.

      3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Now, I disagree with this from a theological point of view. I don’t believe that we choose God, I believe God chooses us. In my opinion, it demeans God.

      Believe me, I do see and understand what you’re saying. You believe, unless I am mistaken, that the twelve steps point us towards the Gospel. I just believe that it could be done so much easier with the actual Bible, and that the twelve step groups focus too much on us, and not enough on Christ. But, if you, or anyone else can show me a place in Scripture where the use of twelve steps, or any steps, or whatever the equivalent of them back then was, I’ll be happy to reconsider my position.

      Thank you,

      Joshua

       

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