In response to many friends and colleagues, I felt it pertinent to explain that while Jesus didn’t say certain things it wouldn’t follow from, “what he didn’t say,” that we should interpret on that basis in order to establish theological principals.
Jesus said things, and we should interpret what he said about us, about His Kingdom, and who God is, from those things and from the revealed word of God (the Bible). What the bible actually teaches is far more important in developing ideas than what it doesn’t teach.
From Jim Palmer’s blog:
- “For God was so disgusted with the world and you that he gave his one and only Son.” (in reference to John 3:16)
This is the goto verse for many evangelists, and Christians who proclaim that God is only, “Love”. While I don’t disagree with the statement that “God is love” (cf. 1 John 4:8) I am troubled by this because, prevalent within many Christian circles is the idea that Love is God. We can’t elevate God’s love beyond and above God’s other communicable attributes. We know that God is love, but that God is also, Holy, Righteous, Just, etc.
This is best seen in Exodus 34 where God reveals His attributes (including Love) to Moses as He passes before him in response to Moses’ request to “show me now your ways” (Exodus 33:7).
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV)
Their firstly God states that He is merciful. Mercy is not the same as love. The statement precludes that God will not allow His wrath to consume the nation of Israel. God demonstrates His perfect love in His mercy. Mercy which is only possible to give if He is not also perfectly holy and righteous. In each of God’s attributes (love being one of them), we see the completeness of God’s other revealed attributes; God’s perfect love is also perfectly holy and righteous.
This is seen if you choose to read John 3:16 in it’s context also.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:16-21 (ESV)
For his audience, Nicodemus, the idea of the Messianic arrival (Jesus) was that of judgement, and the establishment of a new kingdom in the form of a new earthly Israel. What the New Testament teaches is this principal but not established in the ways many Jews believed it would be established. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”. Saved from what? From judgement! God’s holiness demands judgment be satisfied. He then proclaims what is the judgment; that people would come to “the light” (Jesus), not coming to the light (confession and repentance in Christ) leaves us exposed in condemnation before the holiness of God.
- “I have come to bring you a new religion.” (I am unclear on the direct reference [Jim Palmer provides none] but I am assuming it is Matthew 5:17)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17 (ESV)
Jesus came in order to fulfill the requirement of holiness before God. His holiness demands judgment of all that is sinful before Him, judgment which was satisfied at the cross. The cross the perfect completion of God’s holiness, sovereignty, judgment, mercy and love.
- “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have correct theology.” (ref. John 13:35)
This troubles me only because it attempts to vilify sound teaching and doctrine; theology. The idea is that absent from theology is “love”. But it is precisely through sound teaching and doctrine that we are able to love. I explain this in detail in my previous post on the importance of sound teaching and doctrine as explained by Paul in 1 Timothy (http://wp.me/p3s7oJ-d). Without the truth in us, we are unable to love others as God loved us. Love is never absent of the truth, it is essential to it. If any would lie, to a brother or sister to spare them the truth, then the love of God doesn’t abide in them; cf. 1 John 4.
Those who stress the importance of doctrine, at the expense of love, don’t know God. But loving as Christ loved is to know the truth of who God is, and what the Bible teaches us; cf. 1 Corinthians, esp. 10-13, et al.
- “If anyone would come after me, let him disparage all other religions and their followers.” (ref. Luke 9:23)
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. – Luke 9:23 ESV
Palmer implies that Christianity teaches that people who believe differently are of little worth, and that we forsake them as people because of their beliefs. The implication is that those who teach that Jesus is the only way for man to be reconciled to God, hate others outside of the Christian faith. I don’t believe that what the Bible teaches believers to hate. Telling someone that Christ is necessary for their salvation is loving them; proclaiming the truth in love is loving them as Christ did. Jesus in this verse (Luke 9:23) says that in order to follow him they must deny themselves, taking up their cross continually (aorist active imperative), and follow Him, not other Gods, not another “truth” but the truth of the Gospel. Jesus also spoke about this in very un-obfuscated terms in John 14:6
While, plenty more can be said about Palmer’s erroneous conclusions I think the point is clear; we should focus on what Christ taught not on what He didn’t teach. Only when we know, we study, we hold onto God’s word will we be able to to know with certainty what is true and what is false. It helps no one to explain what Jesus didn’t teach without teaching what Jesus actually did teach.
I understand Palmer’s dilemma. Many so often in the process of teaching and preaching God’s Word impose their own view upon scripture, but that doesn’t mean we should reject scripture. I can’t say I know Palmer’s intentions fully, but what I can say is that God has instructed man to proclaim God’s truth, not to proclaim what isn’t God’s truth; cf. Deuteronomy 31:11-12, et al.
More of what Jesus said:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19-20
Jesus is telling the disciples to teach everyone what He commanded them, and to practice and observe what He taught and proclaimed.
Dear Jim Palmer,
How can we proclaim truth without proclaiming truth?
While, I have not addressed 15 separate things that Jesus actually said, I hope that this has demonstrated that what we should teach is what Christ actually did say, in it’s complete entirety, not 15 points or a few select verses. Jesus said to teach “all” of what He commanded, not some and not what He didn’t command.