Thursday, September 19, 2019

"The wrath of God remains on him"? - More problems with Penal Substitution

I was talking with a friend and I remembered a fascinating verse (John 3:36): "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." This verse is powerful in two ways, which I'll now discuss.
First, as some observant folks have pointed out, we see John clearly show the opposite of "believes in the Son" is not "disbelieves the Son," but rather "does not obey the Son." This means that in John's mind, to "believe" and to "obey" are synonymous. This obviously causes problems for the surface-level reading of many Protestants, wherein they think John is advocating a one time act of faith saves you forever. Rather, John is using the verb "believe" and "has" in the Greek Present-Tense, meaning that a person only presently "has" eternal life only so long as he is presently "believing," which is to say he is only saved as long as he is presently "obeying" the Lord Jesus. If the believer stops believing, or stops obeying, the having of eternal life also ceases as well. (See THIS POST to learn about how the Bible defines having Eternal Life, and how Protestants completely misunderstand it. Also THIS POST to see that a person "for whom Christ died" can be lost.)
Second, and more importantly for this post, the verse says that for those who do not believe, "the wrath of God remains on them." This is fascinating because it indicates that everyone (except Adam, Eve, Jesus, and Mary) begins this life with "the wrath of God" upon them by default. Only when a person turns to believing in Jesus does the "wrath of God" stop being on that person. Otherwise, it "remains" on you if you don't accept Jesus. But this means that the "wrath of God" was upon all of us at some point, which is impossible in the Penal Substitution model, since it teaches that Jesus endured the wrath of God in our place. And imagine a person who did not start believing in God until he got to his deathbed, maybe even the "Thief On The Cross" (See THIS POST), this means that the wrath of God was upon them for 99% of their life. Does that make any sense? No. Penal Substitution clearly didn't protect the Good Thief from being under God's Wrath, nor does it for any adult convert for all their prior years. But really, it doesn't matter how long God's Wrath is upon you, what matters is that it could never be upon you per the Penal Substitution claim. This also refutes the minority view among Calvinists which teaches that the Elect are "eternally forgiven" so that they are never born under God's Wrath (which I addressed HERE).

Monday, September 9, 2019

Revisiting Abraham's "faith reckoned as righteousness" - Part 2 (This is yuge.)

I am pleased to present a post that I am very proud of and think you will greatly enjoy. It's about 5 pages long but I think reads fast and is worth it. I don't know how it all came together, but perhaps it was inspiration from above, even the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I will never read Romans 4 the same way again, and hopefully you won't either.

It was almost a year ago when I began to start rethinking what exactly Paul was arguing in Romans 4 (and Galatians 3), and I wrote a post about it (HERE). The simplistic, surface-level "faith not works" is just not a convincing reading when you consider the actual words of Paul and other key details. One thing to realize is that when Paul first made his claim, it had to be a convincing claim to both Jews and Christians who heard it. Otherwise, Paul would have discredited himself if his argument wasn't based on good logic and good exegesis (e.g. see Paul's actual argument in Romans 9 HERE). 

Paul could not simply say "I'm an apostle, so I'm right," since the Jews would have just laughed at him. With that in mind, simply quoting Genesis 15:6 doesn't prove anything. The Jew would respond "so what?" Believing and having that faith reckoned as righteousness doesn't in itself tell us anything about conversion (especially since Abraham wasn't converting here), it tells us nothing about the Gospel, nothing about forgiveness, etc. So Paul's argument had to be something more substantial than just quoting Genesis 15:6. And I think I've figured out what makes Paul's argument so solid, and it appears a few verses after verse 6:
5 And God brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. 7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 
9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 
18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”
Notice that right after Abraham believed, the narrative immediately begins speaking of a (mysterious) Sacrificial Liturgical Rite for the ratification of a Covenant. I really would love to study this passage in more depth, as it seems very important in Salvation History. Sadly, it seems that we routinely skip over everything past verse 6 just as we routinely skip over the verses past Romans 4:8.