Friday, October 03, 2008

NEWS FLASH! We Didn't Write The Bible....

...but, judging by the comment string on Wade Burleson's Blog, you'd think folks like you and me did.

Some seem to think that we have authority over the Bible, and not vice-versa. Isn't that what got Adam and Eve in trouble, in the garden? Not wanting to simply trust and depend on God, but to know, themselves?

I heard one time that what the Bible discloses, is ours to know, but what it doesn't, isn't. Put another way, it says to me that the Bible says what it means to say, and it says enough. Every time I hear lines like "Jesus was fully man as though He were not God at all, and fully God as though He were not man at all", I cringe. I haven't ever seen that line in the Bible .. I may be wrong, of course .. but I wonder why saying what the Bible says isn't enough.

The comment string on Wade's blog had a lot of comments, questions and the like about whether Jesus was/is eternally subordinate to God's will. Now I ain't no word expert, but I know a few things about what the Bible does say about Jesus. Like....

Jesus was, and is, God. Consider:

Hebrews 1:8-9:
But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."
(NIV)

Wow. God calls Jesus "God". Even explains it further in verse 9!

Well, if He'd just been God, I don't think He could have died, unless He .. Jesus .. did something about it. So we have that whole being made as a man, like:

Philippians 2:5-8: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (NIV)

So, Jesus was equal with God ... was, in His very nature, God .. but He chose not to grasp that equality. So He walked around here as a sinless man, and was tempted as we are. That means something, to me, only so long as He didn't grasp equality with God.

But that doesn't mean He wasn't still God.

Now, how about His will. Did He even have one, apart from God's will? I think so .. otherwise His comment about "Not my will, but thine", in the garden, would have been meaningless. He had to have a will of His own, then. But He consistently bent His own will to His Father's desires.

Any evidence of that? Sure:

John 5:19: Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (NIV)

Then, I have to ask: what is it that might be God's will for Jesus to do, now, that would require Him to "subject Himself" .. or be "subordinate to" .. God's will? I know that one of His ongoing activities, now that victory over both sin and death have been accomplished, is:

Roman 8:34: Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-- more than that, who was raised to life-- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (NIV)

No theologian here, but I kind of doubt that Jesus would have to set aside His own will, or His own authority, to intercede on behalf of those whose cries of our souls' lostness, across the centuries, were enough to make Him walk out of the carpentry shop and into the jaws of a world that mostly hated Him.


There's a lot of other stuff He said, and that was said about Him, of course. But those verses paint a picture of a God Who became man, here on earth, then denied Himself some of the qualities of being God while He was here, so He could live the Life and die the Death required to purchase my salvation. And yours. And that is tremendously encouraging to me on a couple of fronts.

He understands what it's like to be powerless here; in His case, He had perfect sin-stain-free communication with His Father .. He could discern His will perfectly, hear His Father clearly, and do His will perfectly. That tells me that God has power available for use here, in His work, beyond that which I ever dreamed. Unfortunately, much of the time I miss out on it, as my communication and understanding is worlds removed from the perfect sort that Jesus had.

People wronged Him as they had, and have, never wronged anyone. He forgave them. That tells me I can forgive beyond that which I have ever dreamed I could. And certainly beyond that which, in my sinful state, I've ever dreamed I'd want to.

Those things seem to be Biblical to me. And, in my life, God 's shown me their truth. I've forgiven folks who've wronged me, that I cannot dream of having forgiven 40 years ago. And God has done things in my feeble attempts to serve Him, here, that pretty well define the term "shock & awe", to me. Even, in some cases, 10 years and longer since they happened.

"The problem" exemplified on Wade's blog rears its ugly head when we start adding to what the Bible does say. Things like asking ... or telling ... about Jesus being subordinate to the will of God. Or to God. Something about lesser in power or rank. Such nonsense! Why do we need to even say that? To prove our superiority of knowledge? Or, worse yet, to draw some self-serving analogy to support our position on the subordination of certain people to certain other people? What a shameless way that would be, of self-aggrandizement or self-promotion.

Someone once said that no one had ever lost money underestimating the common sense of the American people. Apparently that applies to the common sense of some Baptists, too.

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7 Comments:

At 12:13 PM, October 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob,

I've not read Wade Burleson's blog, but I have a few thoughts on your blog. This is partly from your blog and partly from the book, "The Shack" (which I highly recommend). I think that we people, in our fallen nature, pretty much always think in terms of "power" and "rank" and "heirachy". So when we think of the Trinity, we sorta think of "God the Father" as the "boss" over "Jesus" and the "Holy Spirit". But maybe that's not accuracte--maybe all the parts of the Trinity function together as "one"--in a kind of oneness and perfect love that in our sinfulness we can't really appreciate. With "perfect love", I don't think they'd be a need for a "boss"--because no one would be serving their own selfish interests.

Melanie

 
At 12:34 PM, October 03, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

WOW, Melanie. Wish I'd said that.

I'm tempted to add that as a paragraph, delete the comment, and claim it as my own idea :)

Better not, though. Someone may have read it, already. :)

 
At 3:17 PM, October 04, 2008, OpenID debbiekaufman said...

Melanie: I agree with what Bob has already told you. Very good observations.

Bob: Good stuff. What surprises me most is that we would even have to write this stuff.

 
At 6:42 PM, October 04, 2008, Blogger Cheryl Schatz said...

I am not surprised that we have to write this stuff....if it were written to cultists who specialize in bringing Jesus down. But having to write it to Christians? Yes, that should surprise and shock us. It means that we have bought into a lie that downgrades Jesus. The lie says that we have to be careful not to give Jesus too much honor, too much glory, too much authority because only the Father has ultimate authority, ultimate honor and ultimate glory.

But wait a minute...didn't Jesus say that if we don't give him equal honor with the Father, then we dishonor the Father?

John 5:22, 23 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

I think there are many who think they are honoring the Father by giving the Father ultimate authority over Jesus. But Jesus clearly tells us that he is to have "even as" honor. Those who do not give him "even as" honor, dishonor the Father.

Clear enough? It should be for those who are blood-bought sons of God who LOVE Jesus and want to give him all the honor that is due his name.

 
At 10:15 PM, October 04, 2008, Anonymous Debbie Kaufman said...

Cheryl: Amen.(The Baptist in me. )

 
At 1:38 PM, October 05, 2008, Anonymous Justa Believer said...

Bob,
Interesting post. But I can't quite tell whether you are agreeing or disagreeing with Wade's post, or reacting to certain comments on it, or what. As best I can tell, no one (Wade or otherwise) said anything contrary to what you have said -- that Jesus, in His incarnation, voluntarily submitted Himself to the authority of the Father. The issue Wade is dealing with is the relationship of the members of the Trinity apart from the incarnation; that is, has God the Son always been in some way "subordinate" (under the authority of) God the Father, even in eternity past before the creation? Wade says that the historical orthodox (and Biblical) answer to that question is "No", Ware and others say it is "Yes". What say you?

 
At 2:59 PM, October 05, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Subordinate? I don't see the Bible saying that, so I would say no. He would have no decision to make, if that were the case. Hence "nevertheless, not My will but Thine" wouldn't have been appropriate to say.

"History" and "Everybody knows" say some stupid things, too. I'll lean solely on what the Bible does say.

Kind of like trying to decide why Jesus healed people and told some not to tell, and some to tell. I don't need to know that. Of about whether the creation days were 24 hours or not. That has been haggled over, for 40+ years, that I know of.

Also, we have only finite words to express infinite thoughts. That sort of rules out complete understanding.

Thanks for looking in an commenting. Come back any time.

 

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