Monday, January 15, 2007

Notes from the Quiet Time files - Half truths

And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." …But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife."

Abraham said, "I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.”
Gen 20:2 – 3; 11-12 (ESV)
Emphasis mine.

The above is part of the account of the second time Abraham passed his gorgeous wife off as his sister in order to avoid death at the hands of a ruler with an eye for harem-building. You can almost hear it in Abraham’s justification to Abimelech: “Well, technically…”

Half-truths. Statements which are technically true, but not complete. Lies.

Back in the garden of Eden, Satan stated an outright untruth (``Indeed,, has God said, `You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?'' Gen 3:1) to engage Eve in conversation. Once she is hooked, he follows up with the ultimate half-truth: The serpent said to the woman, ``You surely will not die! Gen 3:4. Eve thought Satan spoke only of physical death; Satan knew all too well (from personal experience) that spiritual death was the true consequence of disobedience to God.

Half-truth. A statement which is technically true, but not complete. A lie.

Through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God offers resurrection to the spiritually dead. It is a gift, open to all, free for the taking. But there is a disturbing trend among evangelical churches, a half-truth being promoted that, like the half-truth Satan told, condemns many to eternal separation from God.

Man is sinful, willfully disobedient to God. God is holy, and will punish sin. Man’s punishment is eternal separation from God; nothing he can do is good enough to pay the penalty for his sin; there is no hope. God Himself reached out to pay that penalty on man’s behalf, through Jesus Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary death on the cross. When an individual admits their own sin, and believes that Jesus died to pay the penalty for their own sin, their sins are forgiven, they are spiritually reborn and they enter into a new relationship with God. This is the Biblical gospel – the good news for mankind.

The evangelical church, however, has deemed parts of this message “too harsh” for post-moderns. No one wants to hear that they are a sinner destined for eternal damnation – that would never bring them into the church. Rather, the church tells them that if they “come to Jesus”, life may not be all rosy, but He will help you through the rough spots. More than that, He will provide a community of like-minded people around you for support and encouragement.

Never do they mention the need for repentance, turning away from your sinful past, renouncing it and embracing the forgiveness offered through the cross. It is too harsh, too unkind to tell someone they need to repent: it would hurt their feelings. But God has a purpose for those hurt feelings, for the sorrow that comes from knowing you missed the mark:

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Cor 7:10
Without repentance, there is no salvation. Without salvation, a man is destined to be forever separated from God, bearing the punishment for his own sins.

Half-truths. Statements which are technically true, but not complete. Lies.

In this case, a lie that keeps people out of the kingdom of God.

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