Johnson U. Essay: PAUL’S VIEWS ON GAINING A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

Firstly, we must accept that Paul’s view—on gaining a relationship with God—is not the same as his view on gaining a tunic or a pot. He would say that once you have the tunic, or pot, you have gained it. And, that your wearing that tunic, or cooking in that pot, does not make it any more yours than it was the day you gained it. His view on our relationship with God is more profound—with complex spiritual ideas over lapping, and some of them still to reach their culmination, even for those who have fallen asleep. Paul believes that a right relationship with God is gained by—perpetually—reliving the actions leading to—and occurring in—the initiation of that relationship.[1]For Paul “gaining” and “maintaining”—in this context—are very closely related.[2]

Paul’s message is that God begat Himself in Jesus, and endured the punishment for our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him—through Jesus Messiah (Rom 1:1–4; Col. 1:17).[3]Paul writes that we all know that there is a Creator—and have his moral code written on our hearts—but choose to ignore this, at some point in our lives (Rom 1:18–32). A. Das cites Gal. 4:29 in noting that the Spirit has something to do with the birth of Christian faith, but does not expound.[4]This is probably because Das also notes that Paul writes that the Holy Spirit enters our lives when we are baptized (Gal. 3:25–27).[5]

Paul teaches that we are seenas being perfect when we believe—and are baptized—in(to) Christ, just as Abraham believed God’s promise (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal 3:2–9).[6]Faith is best seen as when we re-embrace the truth—that “what can be known about God has been made plane to [us],” and that we have turned away from this truth by choosing sin (Rom 1:18–32).[7]So, we re-embracethe Spirit through faith in the Gospel we heard, and we receive the Spirit when we put on Christ in Baptism (Gal. 3:25–27).[8]In this baptism we are justified, and become one with the God Head through Jesus Christ.[9]

The fruit of this new relationship with God, is becoming more like this same God Head we are baptized into (i.e. “sanctification”).[10]It is helpful to note that the OT has shaped Paul’s use of the concept “justification,” so that it is used much less often as a noun, and more frequently as a conjugate of the verb “justify.”[11]This suggests that we should constantly relive/remember the justification process we experienced (i.e. repentance)—to make ourselves more like Christ, who is holy (Phil 2:12). The holiness that the Holy Spirit produces in us has no correlation with status as we have already been statedto be holy by our baptism into Christ’s atonement (Rome 2:25; 5:9; Gal. 3:27). But refers—instead—to the holy character of God that the Holy Spirit produces in our being/living (sanctification) (Phil. 3:3).[12]

Accordingly, as we repeat repentance, we continuously remember our justification in Christ.[13]Each time we remember our justification—in repentance—we understand it better. It’s similar to seeing a great movie when you were a kid. You wanted to watch it again and again. Then it became your favorite, and—before long—you could quote any line. The idea that God came down to us as a man and endured our penalty and excepted us as adopted children into his family is too grandiose foranyone to understand completely (Rom 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). It’s like learning math. The teacher is the evangelist. The material being taught is the Gospel. The students are the Christians. The students are already Christians because they believe in the material, but—even though they’ve seen the teacher perform the steps to arrive at the equation’s solution—they still need to go home and practice. So, they go home and repeat the same kind of equation over and over. Each time they do that type of equation, they understand it more and more. The difference is that the material of the Gospel is supernatural, and each time we remember our justification—through repentance—it produces a reflection of God’s life/character (Rom. 5:3–4; Phil 3:3).[14]This is referred to as godliness or holiness.[15]

On the reverse side of this coin, every time we repent, we trust God with whatever void—or lacking—we were trying to fill with sin. Logically, as we begin to trust God with our lives, we stop trusting in ourselves, and empty ourselves of our sinful character in the process of being filled with God’s character(Col 3:5–17; Phil 3:3).[16]This is what Paul refers to when writing that the Spirit wars against the flesh (Rom. 7:23).[17]It’s like pouring sand into a glass of water. The glass is us; the sand is God’s Holy Spirit; and the water is our fleshly character—that trusts in sin to fulfill our deepest needs, and heal our deepest wounds. The first time we repent—and are baptized, is not the most of ourselves (the water) we will ever loose, as his character (the sand) makes space for itself in sinking to the bottom of the glass (us). Even though, God regards us as having a glass full of sand when we are baptized into Jesus Christ (justification), we have—really—only received the first bit of sand. More and more sand is poured into our glass every time we repent and re-experience the Gospel. The sand sinks to the bottom of the glass because it weighs more, and more and more water is lost. So, each time we remember our justification and repent, our flesh becomes more crucified—like Christ’s, and his Holy Spirit fills us up, similar to how Christ has alwayslived, in—and with—the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor. 5:14–15; 1 Thes. 5:23; Eph. 5:26; Phil. 3:3)[18].

Paul teaches us that the God Head became flesh, suffered, died, defeated death, and raised himself so we could have communion with Them (Rom 8:32; Eph. 1:4).[19]We are—also—to reflect that sacrificial love and give our lives to serve others, just as Christ did (Eph. 5:2).[20]Paul teaches that God will never stop pouring his life into us (Phil 4:3; 1 Tim 1:16; 2 Tim 1:10; Titus 1:2).[21]In the same way that God is relational within the Trinity, and wants us to have a relationship with Him, He also wants us to be in communion with each other—being encouraged in our faith by others, and encouraging them in our faith (Rom 1:12; 1 Thes 5:11; 2 Thes 1:4; Philem. 1–7).[22]The culmination of this relationship is worshiping God (Rom 15:9–12; Eph. 1:14; Phil. 3:3).[23]

SOURCES CITED.

Das, A Andrew. 1995. “Oneness in Christ: The Nexus Indivulsus Between Justification and Sanctification in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.” Concordia Journal21 (2): 173–86.

Martin, Ralph P. “Center of Paul’s Theology.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

McGrath, Alister E. “Justification.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

O’Brien, Peter T. “Church.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Porter, Stanley E. “Holiness, Sanctification.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Schnabel, Eckhard J. 2005. “The Objectives of Change, Factors of Transformation, and the Causes of Results: The Evidence of Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence.” Trinity Journal26 (2): 179–204.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2006.

[1]A Andrew Das, “Oneness in Christ: The Nexus Indivulsus Between Justification and Sanctification in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 179; 184; 186.

[2]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 173.

[3]Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology(Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2006), 27.

[4]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[5]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 183.

[6]Ibid.

[7]The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Rom. 1:18–19; all further biblical citations will be in the NRSV, unless otherwise stated.

[8]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 183.

[9]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[10]Ibid.

[11]Alister E. McGrath, “Justification,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 518.

[12]Stanley E. Porter, “Holiness, Sanctification,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 397.

[13]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[14]Eckhard J. Schnabel, “The Objectives of Change, Factors of Transformation, and the Causes of Results: The Evidence of Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence,” Trinity Journal26 (2), 2005: 180.

[15]Porter, “Holiness, Sanctification,” 397.

[16]Schreiner,Paul, 28.

[17]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[18]Porter, “Holiness, Sanctification,” 398.

[19]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[20]Schreiner, Paul, 25–26; Schnabel, “Change, Transformation, Results,” Trinity Journal26 (2), 2005: 183; Ralph P. Martin, “Center of Paul’s Theology,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 94.

[21]Schreiner, Paul, 27.

[22]Schreiner, Paul, 25–26; Peter T. O’Brien, “Church,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 129.

[23]O’Brien, “Church,” 130.

Johnson University: Jesus Christ’s Understanding of His Own Nature and Mission.

First of all, let me say that this paper is lacking a lot of important points. But they only gave us five pages (double spaced). Well, at least you know it’s a short read. 🙂 My favorite point is highlighted, below.

JESUS’S UNDERSTANDING OF HIS OWN NATURE AND MISSION

The Jewish understanding of Messiah, in first-century Palestine, was “not uniform,” “sometimes confused,” and seldom carried scriptural connotations.[1] What uniformity canbe observed expects a Messiah with an earthly kingdom, who will rescue Israel from its earthly enemies.[2]Jesus saw Himself as the incarnation of YHWH.[3]Thus, Jesus saw his Messianic reign as greater than this world, just as He and his kingdom are greater than this world; and his mission was to help the world’s understanding of the kind of King the Son of Man was to be, as He did.[4]

The Davidic Messiah took on “super-human and transcendent” qualities and was expected to free Israel from earthly powers, in second temple literature.[5]All three synoptic gospels—and John—record Jesus responding to blind men calling him the son of David—and Jesus reaffirming this title’s truth by healing those men—immediately before his entry into Jerusalem—where He was praised as the “Son of David … in the highest heaven (Mat 20:30–31; 21:9 // Mark 10:47–48; 11:9–10 // Luke 18:38–39; 19:38–40).[6]This shows the crowds understood Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem—on a donkey—as a claim to be the Davidic Christ as well. After this Luke tells us of Jesus’s statement—to the Pharisees—that if the crowds stopped praising his name, “the stones would shout out” (Luke 19:40).[7]

Further,  Jesus confirms his kingship when telling James and John that the Father will choose who sits on the right and left of his throne—in heaven (Mark 10:40 // 20:23), and when telling the disciples that they will sit on thrones—under Him—in the coming Kingdom (Mat. 19:28–29 // Luke 22:28–30).[8]Jesus’s explaining his coming to “bring a sword” (Mat. 10:34), and “fire” (Luke 12:49), echo functions of the coming Davidic Messiah—to judge the earth—in OT and second temple literature.[9]Jesus claims of his mission to save the lost sheep of Israel (Luke 19:10; Mat. 10:6) also fulfill the Messianic function of salvation.[10]

Lastly Jesus confirms Peter’s confession that He is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mat. 16:16–17); “the Messiah” (Mk 8:29–30) “the Messiah of God” (Luke 9:20–21).[11]Note how Peter, Matthew, Luke, and—probably—Mark, understand the Davidic Messiah to come from God—not David. And how Jesus affirms He is the Davidic Messiah—who is from God—in all three cases. It is also important to note that Jesus affirms that Peter’s understanding—that Jesus is from God—was given to him by God (Mat. 16:17).

Further, the question invoking Peter’s confession of Jesus’s Messiahship—in Matthews account—is “Who do people say that the Son of Manis?” Not who do people say that I am? Therefore, Mathew, Peter, and Jesus all understood “Messiah” to be a synonym of “Son of Man.” Given that “the Son of Man” is the title Jesus uses most often—by far—to refer to Himself, clearly shows that he understood himself to be the “Messiah of God.” Though some claim that Jesus was denying his Messiahship when referring to Psalm 110 in Mark 12:35–37—the preceding affirms that Jesus is actually developing its primitive worldly definition into something greater.[12]

“The Son of Man” is a theologically loaded phrase used by many prophets and originating with Daniel,[13]However, it is most completely understood in its Davidic and Messianic contexts, and was shown to refer to the “Son of God”—in second temple Judaism—with the discovery of the dead sea scrolls.[14] Furthermore, at Jesus’s trial, the high priest equates “the Messiah” to being the “Son of God,” and Jesus adds “the Son of Man” to these first two synonyms, in his response to the high priest (Mat 23:63–64 // Mk 14:61–62 // Luke 22:67–70).[15]

Except for Mark 15:34, Jesus always refers to God as Father in the synoptic gospels.[16]“… [N]o one know[ing] the Son except the Father, and no one know[ing] the Father except the Son …” (Mat. 11:27; c.f. Luke. 10:22) adds to this idea that—in proclaiming to be “the Son of God” Jesus is claiming to beGod.[17]Therefore, every time Jesus refers to Himself as “the Son of Man,” He is claiming to be a part of the God Head.[18]It is prudent to note that the previous logical conclusion can be reached from each and everysynoptic gospel. This is important because many—in modern scholarship—refute Jesus’s self-understanding as Emanuel—in the synoptic gospels, to make John’s recordings—of these claims—out to be a later exception to earlier Jesus tradition.

In John’s gospel, Jesus claims to be: “bread of life” (John 6:35, 48) or “living bread that comes down from heaven” (John 6:51); “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12); “the door”—for the sheep (Jn 10:7, 9); “the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14); “the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25); “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6); and “the true vine” (Jn 15:1, 5).[19]Though some would undoubtedly argue, that these descriptions are ambiguous, a few things must be considered first. John’s grouping of these sayings into seven—the number representing perfection—and God—suggests John understood each one of them to be a claim of divinity.[20]In five of the seven, Jesus contrasts Himself from humanity, by claiming to have life in Himself. John’s prologue explains the pre-existence of Jesus as the “Logos,”which he undoubtedly learned from Jesus when—or after—He claimed to be that “Logos.”Therefore, Jesus’s clame to be the Logos is a claim to be God. Jesus also—explicitly claims to have existed before Abraham (Jn 8:58).

The world has not seen God’s heart from the day it ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, to Israel’s exodus, to the turn of the first century. Then God became a man—who knew he was the incarnate God—to help the world understand things as He did; including his Messiahship.[21]Jesus had come to “proclaimed the message of God” (Mark 1:38 // Luke 4:43).[22]The message was that He was God, and had come to save those who accept they have sinned (Mat. 9:13 // Mark 2:17).[23]And that whoever believes that He is God, will be saved (John 3:16). The purpose of the ministry Jesus did for the people’s physical wellbeing was to help them embrace the truth that the Messiah, is the Son of Man, who is the Son of God, who is God. This is so that we can have a relationship with Him. Now that Jesus has revealed his identity as Lord and Savior, we can begin to do this. How can you have a relationship with someone you don’t know or understand?

SOURCES CITED.

Bird, M. F. “Christ.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Bock, D. L. “Son of Man.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Miura, Y. “Son of David.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Schnabel, E. J. “Mission.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Stapleton, Andrew J.  “First-Century Jewish Messianism and Jesus’ Self-Understanding.” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa30 (2). (2006): 23–40.

Williams, C. H. “‘I Am’ Sayings.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Winn, A. “Son of God.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

[1]Andrew J. Stapleton, “First-Century Jewish Messianism and Jesus’ Self-Understanding.” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa30 (2), (2006): 24.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Ibid.

[5]M. F. Bird, “Christ,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 116; Y. Miura, “Son of David,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 882; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,24-25.

[6]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26; The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989); All further Biblical citations will be in the NRSV, unless otherwise stated.

[7]Miura, “David,” 883

[8]Bird, “Christ,” 118.

[9]Bird, “Christ,” 118; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,28–29.

[10]Ibid.

[11]Bird, “Christ,” 118.

[12]Bird, “Christ,” 117; 119.

[13]D. L. Bock, “Son of Man,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 894.

Bird, “Christ,” 117; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,24; A. Winn, “Son of God,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 888.

[15]Bird, “Christ,” 117.

[16]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,28–29; Winn, “Son of God,” 888.

[17]Winn, “Son of God,” 889.

[18]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26.

[19]C. H. Williams, “‘I Am’ Sayings,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 397.

[20]Ibid.

[21]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26.

[22]E. J. Schnabel, “Mission,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 605.

[23]Ibid.