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I cannot accept the theology that says God breaks us to make us whole. We are whole because of the cross. Jesus never broke a bruised reed or quenched a smoking wick. He was the exact representation of God to us. He never told anyone that He would heal them after they learned a lesson. He never told anyone that tragedy happened in order to teach them something (remember the tower of Siloam).

I can understand enduring great hardship and thinking God must be allowing it, or even brought it, for a purpose. But Jesus did not model that. He said instead the we would have trouble in this world, but He has overcome the world. He came to destroy the work of the devil. And then He told us to go into the world and bring that kind of kingdom to the people. To be ministers of reconciliation.

What kind of kingdom? One where wholeness is the goal. One that operates from God’s heart of grace. One that models love and all the fruit of the spirit. One that heals, mends, lifts up, and walks along side. One that is diametrically opposed to the works of the devil, and doesn’t confuse his works with God’s ways. This is the new covenant mindset.

I do not believe that the bulk of the human race will be in a fiery burning tormenting hell and only a few select, elect, souls will be resurrected to life. It’s clear the being saved from that is part of what we receive when we believe on Jesus Christ. But most of the world’s people do not believe – indeed have not even heard the pure gospel and had a chance to believe it.

So, what are we saved from? In Jesus’ day, a lot of what they needed to be saved from was the coming anger, which I believe happened in 70 A.D. when Titus destroyed both Jerusalem and the temple, removing their house from the Jews. This is what Jesus told them would happen.

All of the New Testament was written before the destruction of 70 A.D., with the possible exception of Revelation…but even the dating for that book can be disputed and placed before that date. Let’s leave Revelation out of it, and just look at the books we are surer of.

Historians from the time of the early church tell us that the Christians in Jerusalem did indeed escape Jerusalem when there was an “unexplained” lull in the siege of the city. Just as Jesus said.

But as the gospel spread, and churches began, all over that part of the world, as recorded in the epistles and in the book of Acts, we cannot confine the concept of salvation to merely escaping Jerusalem. Neither did persecution end when Jerusalem fell. The scattered churches were eventually persecuted by Rome.

We have Christian universalists saying that all in the end will turn to the loving God. And we have fundamentalists saying that no one enters heaven unless they know Jesus, and those who don’t will go to hell. The truth is almost always in the middle ground. I believe this “argument” is the same. There are options not usually considered.

Let’s look at the word “saved”. The Greek is sozo: to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively); heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. Clearly, being safe from destruction is only one meaning. Those who are saved are, or will be, delivered, protected, healed, preserved, prospering (do well), and whole. In Jerusalem or away from it, this is good news.

For those who escaped Jerusalem, and for those who never lived there, Jew or Gentile, what remains to be saved from? Well, the obvious answer would be death. But the word, sozo, means more than to be rescued or delivered or protected. It means to be made whole, to be healed, and to be well off. So maybe we are saved both from something, and for something. In this life as well as the life to come (in the resurrection).

So, we believe and are saved. But what about those who don’t believe, who never even heard the gospel? Clearly they aren’t saved, as we understand it. Do they go to hell, as we understand it? Even though hell actually just means the grave, most generally think of it as a place of unending and conscious torment. Do all the unsaved go there?

The answer is that we all go to the grave. And we all will be resurrected. Dante’s Inferno is fiction and the lake of fire is a metaphor. God will do rightly. Love will win.

What did Jesus mean when He said to go and sin no more?

John 1:14 in most this verse is rendered in the following way:

(King James Version)Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

It has long bothered me that Jesus, who forgave sins and never condemned, would tell the man to go and sin no more or a worse thing could come on him. Jesus, who went against the culture and the perception that sinning caused sickness.

We are at the mercy of the early translators and their ideas of sinning. Even literal translations are no help in many cases. So allow me, a non-scholar but someone who tries to read the scripture through the lens of grace, to play with the wording a bit, taken from the literal wording (from the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer):

….and he said to him, lo! sound you have become by no means longer be you missing(the mark)! (hamartane) that no worse something to you may be becoming.

I believe a better way to read this, in light of grace and Jesus’ authority to heal and forgive, is like so:

….and He said to him, Look! You have become sound. By no means are you missing the mark! So no worse thing may come to you.

Now this is a mind bender. We have been taught so long that sin brings bad things to us, including sickness, that to see it in grace is difficult. This is how it was under law, to the Jews. This is how we see it, because we have put ourselves under the same law mindset. We do it in ignorance, but we have done it nevertheless.

Jesus breaks the connection between sin and our situation by taking sin out of the picture.

Jesus never put anyone under law. He pointed out the excesses and errors that had arisen in the Jewish religion, but He never put anyone under all that. So why would Jesus tell someone to go and sin no more (the woman taken in adultery) and also tell the crippled man to not sin anymore lest something worse come upon him?

True, he told the man that in the temple after the healing had taken place. I have thought He said it so He would not be breaking any Jewish laws. But we aren’t told this in the text. And when He said it to the woman, all the accusers had gone away. In the temple, it seems more like He was making sure the religious leaders knew He had healed on the Sabbath. Jesus seemed to relish healing on the Sabbath.

I propose that Jesus healed the crippled man (and forgave the adulterous woman) and what we miss is that it was total. He told the man that he was well, or whole. When Jesus makes us whole, are we not whole? Does it matter which side of the cross this thing took place? When He forgave (did not condemn) the woman, is it not the same? When Jesus took away our sins, and forgave us, was it not total as well?

Under grace, we are forgiven of all, past, present, and future. Grace and truth came by Jesus. He embodied it. The timing of when He healed or forgave makes no difference. The man and the woman were no longer under the law as far as Jesus was concerned and therefore were no longer sinners. And He said as much, but we miss it.

By failing to see grace in these two acts of Jesus, we set ourselves up for double-mindedness concerning forgiveness and sin. If we can see that Jesus was not in fact telling people to sin no more, but was setting them free of it, we will have defeated the thinking of the world, the law keepers, and the rule makers. Our minds will be more renewed than they were yesterday.

Too often I’ve heard people say that someone is forgiven, but then must be careful not to sin again, based on these two verses. This is wrong headed. We are forgiven, we are dead to sin, and we are dead to the law by which sin is known. It is finished.

Grace teaches us, not the law. The divine influence in our hearts is our teacher. We don’t tell people they are forgiven, and then tell them not to sin again. And neither did Jesus. Preposterous.

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