Tag Archives: salvation

Christ the Just

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Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-9
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15


Rabbi Tovia Singer has become very popular on YouTube as a debunker of the faults of Christianity. One such attack was on the very essence of the faith. In verse 18 of First Peter, we read: Remember that Christ the just suffered for us the unjust, to bring us to GodPhillips

Singer responds that Jesus did not sacrifice anything. If he knew that he only had a few hours of suffering to go through and that with his death he would put an end to sin, that is not a sacrifice, that is like winning the power ball. A real sacrifice is giving up your life to save another person with no expectation of any reward.

You can listen to his much longer explanation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51PcjmeG0hA

On the surface, R. Singer seems to have made a solid case. Most of us would be willing to do what Jesus did if we knew we would end up saving all humanity.

The problem is that the Rabbi has left out important information. He did so because he does not accept Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of Man, or the Son of God. He rejects any notion that Jesus was without sin. He even rejects the importance of animal sacrifice in the First Century Temple.

By the Rabbi’s account, Jesus willingly went to the cross in the mistaken impression that his death would eliminate sin. By Peter’s account, Jesus was the Once and Only Pure Lamb, put to death for the sins of the world. He chose to enter Hell to preach to the people there. God took him from the grave and raised him up to sit at His right hand in Heaven.

As we know, Jesus had many disagreements with the Pharisees. One of them was their insistence that they could stand in God’s presence as perfect humans because they observed the Law and all its supplements, amendments, codicils, and refinements. Jesus wanted them to worry more about the people they met every day instead of avoiding them for fear of contamination.

The Gospel message is that we do not have to worry about our sins. What the Pharisees did not understand was that they were sinning every day, throughout the day, without knowing it. We all do. To stop every time I sin and ask for forgiveness would eliminate most of the time I have to help other people.

After Peter describes the salvation of the Ark, he adds this: And I cannot help pointing out what a perfect illustration this is of the way you have been admitted to the safety of the Christian “ark” by baptism, which means, of course, far more than the mere washing of a dirty body: it means the ability to face God with a clear conscience. For there is in every true baptism the virtue of Christ’s rising from the deadPhillips


Read my earlier comments on this theme here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Help your Brother

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Psalm 149

Exodus 12:1-14

Romans 13:8-14

Matthew 18:15-20


Exodus 12 contains the heart and soul of Judaism and therefore of Christianity:  Passover.  God had to decide what to do with humans who choose to sin.  His Grand Solutions was the Passover; not the Exodus version, but the Jesus version.

God decided to personally intercede with sin and destroy it Himself.  As the Gospel of John has it, Jesus was dying on a cross outside the city at the very time thousands of Passover lambs died inside the Temple.

In Exodus God instructed the people to mark themselves with the blood of the lamb.  We who follow Jesus are marked with the Blood of the Lamb by the Holy Spirit so that the Wrath of God will pass over us with his Sword of Justice; not because we have not sinned but because God has called us to be his and has promised not to kill us.

But I still sin.  Living in a world of sin is like living in Seattle, I will get wet.  Sin happens.  We deal with it the way Paul instructed, that is, to love.  It is the same message Jesus gave:  love others as yourself and love God.  Easy, and so hard.

Jesus gives us another way to deal with the sins of his followers, to help each other.  The reading for today must be taken in context with all of chapter 18.  He who has wandered away needs to be rescued; the lost sheep.  We do not deal with him like the unmerciful servant, we seek to encourage, to help, to build up.

The words of Jesus in Matthew are not intended as a format for churches to follow, but as an example for you and me to follow.  The whole church need not be bothered with most of our sins.  For example:  If I hear someone say, “That boy in the White House…,” I should first try to understand what the person meant by using the diminutive, boy.  Perhaps he calls everyone boy, like a waitress calling everyone Hon.  In that case I could suggest, “You might want to choose a better term for this President.”

Life is full of these little sins.  Guard against them.  Think about what you say and what you mean.  Is it hurtful?  Does it demean someone else?  At the same time we cannot go on the warpath over these kinds of sins.  I learned early on that we have to pick our battles.  Anyone who has ever been an official in any sport knows that rules are broken in nearly every play, even among the professionals.  My father bragged that in high school basketball, he was never caught holding the shorts of the guy in front of him trying to rebound the ball.

We need to call the ones that cause the most harm and pray for the wisdom to know the difference.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence