Saturday, March 19, 2011


Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18 NKJV).

Paul reiterates his expertise in being content, and likens the Philippians' recent ministry gift delivered to him by the faithful Epaphroditus, to the Old Testament animal sacrifices of consecration burned on the altar in both the Tabernacle and Temple.

It strikes me that everything that God has instituted throughout human history has lasting purpose. While the Old Testament sacrifices were fulfilled and superseded by Christ's once for all sacrifice on the Cross, the shedding of innocent animal blood perfectly foreshadowed the Son's blood being poured out in our place to make propitiation for our sin. And further, these ritual deaths presented a lasting image of both the penalty and horrendous nature of sin. There is also good reason to believe, based on the prophecies in the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel, that these will be re-instituted during the Millennium, not as foreshadowing, but as memorial.

One of the criticisms of any religious system that believes in sin, is that it is somehow primitive or amoral to attempt to satisfy a deity's anger over bad behavior, or to appease some whimsical divine displeasure, through some kind of substitutionary sacrifice. Modern, enlightened human thinking deems such a course of action as being indicative of magical thinking and therefore irrational and unreasonable. Underneath this intellectual sophistication, however, is a self-deluding conviction that appeasement of someone more powerful than you makes no sense. Really? I suggest that this is patently false, and unless the objectors were insane, when presented with the choice themselves to either be killed, or to appease, these modern sophisticates would choose appeasement. I know they would, because historically they have done so in the past.

When Nazi Germany rolled victoriously over the European landscape in brutal and ruthless conquest, it was the imminently rational and reasonable intellectual class in the various governments that preached appeasement. Whole nations were sacrificed to keep the Nazi fascists at bay, and Hitler ruthlessly broke all promises to remain appeased. He was no fool, but was a bloodthirsty psychopath who effectively played off both the German's fears and resentments, and the neighboring countries' modernism.

Now if appeasement to a ruthless mass murderer with a powerful and effective war machine made sense, then why would the same reasoning not apply to an omniscient, omnipotent Being who demanded satisfaction? My point is that their capitulation proved that their own arguments against the irrationality of propitiating God's righteous wrath against sin was just smoke. What was, and is, really being objected to is the notion that we humans are accountable to God; that He makes demands upon us; that He will judge our lives and deeds according to His standards, and not our own.

This is the same objection, incidentally, that was made in the Garden of Eden, and means that, chronologically at least, rejecting God as Judge is actually more "primitive" than complying with His supernaturally revealed sacrificial system, since the Mosaic Law came well after the Fall.

Paul reminds his readers by these verses that the system of propitiation which memorialized Jesus' sacrifice ahead of time, was the merciful precursor to the final satisfaction against sin achieved by the death of God's beloved Son on the Cross. Regardless of what our opinion might be, when the all powerful Maker and Ruler of Heaven and Earth declares that sin must be judged, it MUST BE JUDGED. And it will either be judged at your death on the basis of your own pitiful actions, or on the basis of Jesus' glorious and loving righteousness made available to you through faith in Him as Lord and Savior.

Is it then amoral, or immoral for one person to pay the debt of another? Certainly not if the payor does so voluntarily

The more I walk with the Lord, the more I see the worsening moral and spiritual condition of humanity coming to a head in complete agreement with Biblical prophecy, the more I am steeped in His truth, the more empty the arguments in favor of atheism or universalism or naturalism become.

But at least these anti-God proponents are committed enough in their rebellion to formulate an argument, however empty. What is more repugnant is the millions of doomed souls who neither care enough, nor think of God enough to even formulate a cogent theological position. They may operate on some vague notion of right and wrong, entirely situational, or expedient, and are able without qualm or conscience to toss such out the window if the circumstances make it too costly in gratification or chances for personal survival.

Another equally repugnant group is the religious hypocrites. These are those who talk a good game in the company of others they deem "religious" or "of the faith", but when outside that context, they, like chameleons or sponges, take on the characteristics of their environment, blending in, fitting in, doing nothing that would indicate their professions of faith are anything but empty, breath-wasting mouthings of carbon dioxide. 

Of those groups, there is more hope for the rabid fanatical atheist, than for either the apathetic practitioner of situational ethics, or the "religionized" hypocrite.

By giving us the picture of sin as a heinous eternal crime against an Infinite Being, by giving us the revelation of His Word, by sending His Son to die in payment of our sin, He has set everything in place to compel us to freely choose. Either we submit to His divine authority and mercy, and live. Or we submit to our own mortal and feeble rebelliousness, and die.