I have enjoyed much of this discussion as my truest passion to learn more of, and honor God, more than my passion for understanding evolution (which I do find quite fascinating).
I have a different perspective from which you might not have heard (at least I didn’t see it discussed too directly above), that seems to have me agreeing and disagreeing with a little of what many of you are saying, but from a completely different perspective. I am notoriously long winded, but I will try to sum it up as succinctly as possible, which addressing certain comments from above indirectly as well.
Some background info so you can try to understand where much of my thoughts are coming from… I believe Jesus was fully man in that He learned to walk, made mistakes, was tempted, had doubts ect. I think of the “God” part of Him more as a prince has “royal blood” in them. Jesus had “God blood” in Him. he was God, He created the universe, I think of Jesus as the prism that the light of God shines into and creation is displayed as a rainbow through Jesus (reference to John 1:3 and Col 1:16). There were plenty of humans in the OT who did just about every miracle that Jesus performed. For it wasn’t the OT humans performing the miracles of their own power, but God working in them. Just like it was very possible the Jesus didn’t perform any miracles under His own power, rather God working through Him. I won’t muddy the waters any more referencing the mere shadow of Paul healing people…
I do firmly believe that I could cast any mountain into the sea of do anything imaginable. As it would be the power of God doing it through me, and I would only be able to do something like that if it was God’s will.
I am very glad Jesus said that prayer of " not my will but yours". I end all of my prayers with this as well. Because I do not have the ultimate knowledge and wisdom of the universe that God has and I don’t want to pray for something that may butterfly effect against God’s will. I ask the desires of my heart (which I hope align more with His every day) and caveat it all with “not my will but your”. I might not literally speak that every time, but God knows my heart and my intentions and I desire that every time. I don’t care if I am sick or a loved one needs healing or I want nice weather for my event. I don’t want to do anything against His will. That is the fundamental purpose of all humans on earth, and to desire anything outside of His will is a sin.
Now I have to expand on desire…as that ties into the original questions of the thread. I like to think of humans have 3 stages. First there is the idea in ones head, it is almost subconscious, and it is never a sin. We don’t have any direct control of this, but this is one reason we are to guard out hearts and minds, “focus on what is good…”. So we have less bad things that pop up out of our control, the better off we will be. Then there is the second stage. This is the muddy waters of maybe not a sin, but can also be a sin. This is when we dwell on a thought. As Jesus warned us to not be anger in danger of murder and lusting as bad as adultery. The 3rd stage is certainly always a sin, “action”. That thought popped in our head, no big deal, pray about it, ask help from a Christian brother or sister, and move on. Dwelling on that thought, that can begin the intentions of actually doing it. And then obviously, doing the act is a sin.
So I do not believe a having a doubt is a sin. Am I good enough, can I do this event/thing? That is ok. I failed before. The consequences are immense if I fail…now you are starting to dwell on it. Now failing to do that thing you were commanded by God to do or knew you should do it and that doing it would bring God glory, you sin.
Jesus did not sin, he doubted. He rightfully fought that doubt with help from the Father. THIS is exactly why I believe He said this. For OUR benefit, AND because He was human. But He wanted us to know that when we do doubt, to always turn to God. In fact, if we had a human doubt or temptation and thought, “we are a deacon at a church (insert high level of self worth) we can handle not sinning” THAT is when you will sin and is a HUGE reason why I believe Jesus came to earth. To show us HOW to live.
My beliefs in a nutshell…Everything (including us) were all created for God’s glory. He wants to have a relationship with us, and wants to help us glorfiy Him, thereby giving Him even more glory (as to which He deserves). A great synonym I like for glory is credit. God created everything, and if anything good happens, He deserves the credit, as it all came from Him. I could…and do write pages in my blog expanding on this as I see it as a form of worship for me, but I am trying not to get too side tracked, but it is clearly the largest passion in my life.
So if we were created for God’s glory, but we need His help to do that. I say He created us like a 3 legged tripod, with God being the 3rd leg. We literally cannot do what we were created for (to stand up and provide stability for something) without His help, without a relationship with Him. That is to have a relationship with Him and when we do accomplish the task that brings Him (deserved) glory, we can thank Him for that help, and praise Him giving Him more glory. And others see this exchange and can also praise God for this, and He gets even more glory! And we are able to do what we were created to do, and so we are fulfilled and never have that void the rest of the world has that doesn’t know this.
So it do believe Jesus said that above and had doubt, and did consult God for help for that doubt. But I also believe He wanted to show us the way we are to live, and that is to always consult God when in “stage 1” and a thought pops in our heads that could lead to sin.
Since it is also discussed above that Jesus HAD to die for our sins, or there was no other way, I can also discuss my views on that which aren’t exactly ‘traditional’ doctrine.
Atheist use the argument (properly I believe and agree with them), that the sacrifice of Jesus’ life wasn’t that big a deal in that there are many humans “as spoken above” that die for other humans, but even those humans that do die for others, give up their life 'for good (they don’t come back to life). And that it isn’t really that big of a deal to give up your life if you know you are going to be raised in a few days and how that is not much of a sacrifice.
To give ones life has multiple meanings though. To die for someone (like spoken above jumping on a grenade vs just serving in the armed forces), is somewhat clear. But to give one’s life…that could be seen as to serve one or DEVOTE ones live for another. Though there are (rightly spoken) many humans in throughout history who have died for others, there is only ONE Person who lived (dedicated every action of their life) for another. Every decision Jesus made was to one, honor/glorify the Father, and two, set up the scene to be the spotless lamb.
There might be someone who, had their life saved (at least in movies) and claim in thankfulness to dedicate their lives serving the other. And they might attempt to do a decent job at it, but I guarantee they won’t do it to 100% perfection for one. But imagine if this ‘master’ they served greatly disrespected them on a continual basis or even tried to kill them and overthrow them. Do you really think they would keep serving them?
THIS is what Jesus did that was amazing! All humans who have did the egregious deed against the Father by sinning (by taking the gift of being the image bearer of God and trying to become our own gods and doing our own will over His) multiple times. Possibly claiming we can then make up for that misdeed by own own actions/strength and some disowning God and claiming they have no need for Him…Jesus gave up His life for them. Jesus dedicated every second of His life for them. THAT is how Jesus “gave His life for His friends” And in doing that ALSO as honoring the Father, AND demonstrated the love that God has for US. That is one of the many reasons I believe Jesus died on the cross for us, why it was “God’s will to crush Him”. It is my belief that there is no other way to impress on us just how much love God has for us!
As far as the actual act of sacrifice and dying for us being “required” like @mitchellmckain said in the first post, I am greatly against. Like there is some higher power above God that set some rule, and God’s only way was to send His Son to save us by dying and there was a ‘magical’ ‘formulaic’ deed that must have occurred? That is not a doctrine I subscribe to.
I think the death of Jesus for our sins is about a required as air is to breath or food is to survive. The only reason we need food to survive, is because wanted it that way. I fully believe if God wanted to, He could sustain a life on earth without food for 100 years or 10000 years. But He doesn’t want that, so He gave us food. The only one who can forgive a trespass is the one who was trespassed against and they can forgive it at any time in any way they want. I think it is a sick fleshly mindset that there must be suffering for the possibility of forgiveness. If someone murders a loved one of mine, and I see true remorse in them, I can forgive them. (Again that is not to say how great I am, for I am not, but to say that the power of the transforming Holy Spirit in me through the power of God, and truth of God, I can forgive that person). And there are people who have forgiven others of heinous acts. And surely man cannot be more merciful than the giver of mercy?
I believe God could easily and fully forgive all sins with the snap of a finger…but He doesn’t. I have my speculations as to why. I think we put too much emphasis on sin as an act. God could stop a murderer from stabbing his victim. But if the murderer gets to that point of desiring to end the life of another, THAT is the issue. This goes back to the second stage of dwelling on an idea. If God paralyzed that man so the murder didn’t happen, what exactly is the outcome? Sure that person can be alive still, but that sinful murderous, angry heart is still out there. THAT is the problem.
As a parent, do we want or desire, or require our children to suffer for the misdeeds they commit? NEVER! We DO want them to be ‘fixed’ though. We want the decision making process, that heart of theirs to be fixed so that some thing doesn’t happen. This is the purpose of a punishment, to correct, to transform.
THIS is another thing that Jesus did for us. God no longer seems to wipe people off the earth when the try to foolishly (and unsuccessfully) thwart God’s will. He always wanted to transform our hearts! That is how He ‘fixed’ sin, how He conquered sin. This is also why I don’t exactly believe in eternal suffering in hell or the ‘full wrath of God poured out on Jesus in our place’…but I don’t want to get too far off topic or on more tangents that I am already on. I write expand a lot on this in my blog, which I don’t think I am allowed to link publicly but if you are interested I can send you a PM. where I expand on all of this.
But trying to get back to the topic. I do believe Jesus had thoughts of anxiety when he prayed that prayer, and I do think He wanted God to help Him. And there was an alternative to Him dying, but that is not what God wanted.
This expands on the 'God-blood" of Jesus I spoke of above. Jesus had the authority to forgive sins by the snap of His finger or the Words of His mouth, and that is exactly what He did to the paralytic. God also provides a hot coal to Isaiah to atone of his sins. I know Hebrews says “without the spilling of blood there is no remission” but remember the Jewish audience here. They had a covenant with God, and agreement with God, saying that exact thing. Requiring the sacrifice of a spotless lamb to forgive sins. As per there agreement, the spilling of blood was required for forgiveness. Again, not because of any magical properties, but because that is just what God wanted.
Just as the scape goat had no magic powers. I believe God gave the people that gift of that ceremony (one to point to Jesus and what He would later do for us), but two, because He created us and know how we work. He wanted to give the Isaelites a way to “get things off their chest”. To feel better, and not to feel guilty of a thing done in the past. I believe Jesus died on the cross because it was God’s will, and speculate it was God’s will because He found that to be the best way to demonstrate His love towards us. This was not a plan B or something God was forced to do. The OT wasn’t something that happened and God played by those rules. He made those rules so we would understand when Jesus did what He did. The crucifixion is the crescendo of the history of our world has been building up to. The birth pangs before the joy or a new life!
Like physics as we know it and it’s laws are generally how God seems to want things to work 99% of the time. But when He wants to change that, He does. We call those interventions miracles. I do believe God wants us to believe in His Son’s death on the cross to atone for our sins and that is the ‘only way’ to be forgiven…as much as gravity is the ‘only way’ our universe works. Only being the general 99% solution. But remember, with is impossible with man, is possible with God.
I don’t like doctrine or difficult formulas and interpretations required for salvation or a ticket into heaven, it is much more simple than that. Do you desire for the will of God above all else, THATS it! For if you were to go to heaven, but desire anything less, heaven would be hell for you. My desire is not for extreme comfort or no more pain in heaven, rather to do the will of the Father for eternity and have Him help me do that, and glorify Him for helping me. I can do that now, I consider myself to already kind of be in heaven, like Peter able to walk on water when looking at Jesus. The only difference is that now I fail, and fail often. Like Peter walking on water, I get distracted and scared of waves and winds and turn towards those distractions, and fall and sink. The great news, the Gospel, is that Jesus reached out His hand and pulled Peter back up. And in heaven, I guess I won’t fail Him, which will be great. But if for now His will is for me to be here, here is actually BETTER than the comforts of heaven.
And I will end it on this parable I took from my blog…
There is a parable of the unmerciful servant which has multiple meanings to it, but one I learned recently I thought was quite interesting. The servant owes his master 10 thousand talents, and 1 single talent is about 20 years of wages. So basically the servant owes 20 x 10,000 years, or 200,000 years. Not even Methuselah lived anywhere close to that, which the reason those words are used is to basically say, impossible to pay back, or it will take an eternity to pay it back.
When you take glory or credit from God (as to which all glory and credit belong), this is a sin, and occurs with all sins. When you do anything against God’s will, you are saying I know better than you God, so I chose to do mine, not your will. That is stealing glory, and exulting yourself above the High and Mighty God. So when you steal that ‘tiny bit of glory’ (even one tiny sin) that ‘tiny’ bit is worth 10,000 talents, or an eternity of human wages. So if you want to pay it back, God will allow you to….it is just going to take an eternity attempt to pay it back yourself. Even insulting Him to attempt to say that you have the ability to pay it back is stealing of His glory. I believe that is the unforgivable sin. Which I believe the only unforgivable sin, is the unrepentant one, the one with no remorse for stealing the Glory of/from God.
The good news is that God offers to allow Him to cancel he debt (to forgive of us this theft), and the only requirement is to acknowledge that you can’t pay it back yourself, and be resentful that you stole the glory in the first place. To realize how grave of a problem that was, and to desire to never do it again. Almost to want hell, to desire to burn for an eternity, to realize how terrible of an act that one ‘tiny’ thing you did (and truthfully, the many large things you did). In my mind, a Christian (on some level) doesn’t want to go to heaven to be with God for eternity, rather wants hell so God isn’t in the presence of such filth that we are. I say on some level because on every other level, the transforming Holy Spirit inside us knows the forgiving power of God and how loved we are by God and wants nothing more than an eternity in the presence of God, knowing He forgave our debts in His mercy.
I am a man of logic. Which I know we are told to lean not on our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledge Him…(Perhaps I am clearly acknowledging Him and He is directing my paths straight?) But I don’t like to use verses from a book to give my allegiance to. MY faith and foundation is in God, and the Bible is simply an illumination of truth, but not the truth itself. I like to step back and look at the big picture and explain things that way, verses just relying on a verse (that clearly as this thread show, can be interpreted differently). I know I don’t have all the answers, but it does frustrate me how complex and formulaic it seems people try to make it. As you can see, i can get complex and into the weeds too, but I base all of my interpretations off of the one truth that we exist to glorify God and need Him to help us do that.
As far as a requirement as a human to fear death, I would disagree against. I don’t fear death, and I am actually quite suicidal (full disclosure). If it wasn’t for God, I am certain I would be dead. I also don’t understand how any non-Christian is still living and hasn’t killed themselves. The thing preventing me from killing myself is that it is God’s will for me to be here. I actually wish (stage 1 thought and some times slightly into stage 2 dwell) about dying, or wishing for death. Like wanting terminal illness or something that allow me to die without killing myself. Which maybe that is my thorn in my side. I don’t know why I struggle with that. And when I am able to exclaim of the greatness of God (like above) I feel on top of world or in heaven, like looking at Jesus and able to walk on water. But unfortunately, the distractions of this world get me all too frequently to turn my eyes off of God and when that happens, those thoughts pop in my head. I thank God for His protection during those times and for reaching His hand back out to me always. I also kind of thank God for that thorn He ‘blessed’ me with. As if it wasn’t for that, I might become too prideful of my own effort and thought. The very sin I have (which I wish I didn’t(Rom 7:15) is the very thing that God gets praise for! That is how God turns bones to armies and makes beauty from ashes! I guess ironic for the guy who above claims he figured out the purpose in life and how to have ultimate joy and already began his eternity, is the one who is suicidal. This just goes to show when I have the joy it is only because of relying on God and when my gaze strays from Him, that joy is sucked away.
Perhaps someone would even see my vulnerability of sharing my thorn, and come to know and praise God for it. I have already been accepted and loved by my Creator despite who I am, and have no need for approval of man. That truth allow one to be very vulnerable and genuine with people. Again, God would get glory for/from the ‘flaw’ that I have.