Showing posts from October, 2020

Does belief precede salvation?

In John's Gospel, we are told that "whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them" (John 3:36). How we understand this statement from John the baptist will depend largely on the theological lens through which we read (and so interpret) this text. If our lens is a  theology of separation , we likely will understand John's statement to mean that God stands separate from and in wrath against all people *until* they believe in Jesus, at which point God (for the first time) enters their lives, ceases to be wrathful toward them, and grants them eternal life. But is that interpretation justified? We answer no , because it is inconsistent with what Scripture tells us about who God is, as revealed in the person of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. According to that revelation, rather than separate from sinners, God is a friend of sinners , the God who is with us and for us, the God of lov

The descent of Jesus (part 8)

This post concludes an exploration of Raising Adam, Why Jesus Descended into Hell  by  Gerrit Dawson. For previous posts in this series, click a number:  1 ,  2 ,  3 ,  4 ,  5 ,  6 ,  7 .     In concluding his book ,  Dawson offers this summary:   In the events from cross to resurrection, Jesus opened up the prison of Sheol. Jesus traversed the lost lands of the realm that follows dying. Jesus hazarded this sojourn in order to blaze a road to life in the trackless desert. He plumbed the inky abyss of separation from God in order to shine in the place where once no light could penetrate. Jesus made hell unnecessary and no longer inevitable. Now he is the experienced guide as he takes us into everlasting life. (p. 103)  Dawson is pointing out both the objective and subjective implications of Jesus'  great transit of mercy -- his journey of descent and ascent. In an objective (universal) sense, that journey delivered all humanity from the headship of Adam to the headship of Je

The descent of Jesus (part 7)

This post continues a series exploring Raising Adam, Why Jesus Descended into Hell by Gerrit Dawson. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1 ,  2 ,  3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 8 . Last time , we explored the significance for all humanity of Jesus' descent on Holy Saturday into the realm of the dead (Hades/Sheol). We now continue that exploration, looking at the significance of Jesus' ascent out of Sheol on Easter (Resurrection Sunday). The Resurrection by Tissot (public domain via Wikimedia Commons) Descended to death in order to ascend to life Reflecting on Jesus' Holy Saturday descent into Sheol on our behalf, Dawson notes that the arc of the Savior's descent ended with a splash into the bottomless sea of death. His great transit of mercy took him beneath the depths of all our dying. He dropped out of his body, out of our time, out of any place we know, still unaware of his Father's favor or his victory over sin. Saturday marked the farthest reach of his descent

The descent of Jesus (part 6)

This post continues a series exploring  Raising Adam, Why Jesus Descended into Hell  by Gerrit Dawson. For other posts in the series, click a number:  1 ,  2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 7 ,  8 . Last time , we looked at the steps in Jesus' journey of descent on Maundy Thursday evening and Good Friday. Now we'll explore what happened to him on Holy Saturday and why it matters.  The Descent into Hell by Tintoretto (public domain via Wikimedia Commons) Scripture declares that on Holy Saturday (which, by Jewish reckoning, began at sunset Friday), the human body of Jesus lay dead in the tomb. Scripture then suggests that Jesus' human spirit, now departed from the body, descended into the realm of the dead ( Hades in Greek; Sheol in Hebrew). Like the other steps in Jesus' great transit of mercy , Our Lord's descent into Sheol has great significance in salvation history. Though some object to the implication that something needed to be added to Jesus' death on the cross to