Originally posted by Taoman
To me the message of Jesus was in his way of living; between the myth-built lines (and all such truth bearing myths surround all great men, including Gautama Buddha) I find in Jesus a man who had abandoned his concern for self, who had stepped out into a space of no obvious support and sought in his culture and day to show others how to accept and care, riski enough, we too much hold and restrain "Her" to our so limited and defining human view.
To me the message of Jesus was in his way of living; between the myth-built lines (and all such truth bearing myths surround all great men, including Gautama Buddha)
How can you be so sure that the so-called "myth-built lines" are not simply the lines you have decided that you do not want to believe Jesus Christ said ?
I mean, if you take John chapters 14 - 15
, can you enumerate from four chapters which lines you have decided are "myth-built" lines ?
Or can you take the 48 verses in Matthew chapter 5
and tell me which you have decided are "myth-built" lines, and why ?
I find in Jesus a man who had abandoned his concern for self, who had stepped out into a space of no obvious support and sought in his culture and day to show others how to accept and care, risking approbrium constantly by the hard edge-makers, rubbing those edges out as soon as they made them, mixing with the poor and rejected, the common and despised, bringing a greater vision.
Okay. What else do you see there ?
That he used terms like "Father" and spoke in the ways and concepts of the day was incidental;
It is true that the term "Father"
as refering to God by the Jews, went back to the Old Testament prophets. Calling God "Father"
was not a new matter.
Living as if God REALLY was a man's Father
was another matter. And that Jesus did as no other. And there were a number of holy men and women who were exemplary in the history of Israel.
the greatest thing about Jesus of Nazareth (who obviously had a major impact on those who walked with him, as did his message) was, as Paul later expanded on, the grace and forgiveness of God.
I am glad you used the word "expanded" because Paul certainly did not invent either concept.
Christ said His reason for dying His death was to secure forgiveness for many:
"For this is My blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matt. 26:28)
His concept of His approaching death is that it is redemptive, substitutionary, and for the forgiveness of sins. The penalty of judgment for sins will fall upon Him instead of upon the sinner, if the sinner would only believe in Him.
As you suggest, the Apostle Paul only taught based upon what Jesus had already taught. In that way he "expanded" upon it.
And as for grace, with Paul it is much more than the traditional "unmerited favor". Grace in Paul's teaching was really the enjoyment of the resurrected Christ living in the receiver / the believer. This indwelling Life of Christ dispensed into man could become man's enjoyment, empowering, enabling, strengthening and everything.
Grace is to Paul, God living in us to be our everything having been born again thorugh Jesus Christ.
This grace is of its own meaning, unconditional. Thus was preached a fully open-hearted "God", who tirelessly accepted and supported and accompanied each man and woman, whether they looked to "Him" or not.
I would only mention that to find such a passage in the New Testament - grace
applied to an unbeliever as you suggest, I think would NOT be easy.
But I could find multitudes of verses on grace
applied to the man RECEIVING Christ as Lord, inviting Christ to come into one's heart.
However, that God is merciful and allows His rain to fall on believer and unbeliever is certainly true. That God loves the world - believer and unbeliever, is certainly true. Or that the gifts of sunshine, long life, and many blessings are from God upon those seeking Him and those not seeking Him, that is certainly true.
But I would be hard pressed to find a passage on the grace of God, in the New Testament, applied to the unbeliever. God seeks to lead such a one to grace
in Christ. Actually, the grace really IS Christ.
Notice the how Paul speaks of Christ living in him in one sentence and the grace working in him in another:
" ... and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me ..." (Gal. 2:20)
" ... I labored more abundantly than all of them [apostles], yet not I but the grace of God which is with me." (1 Cor. 15:10)
You see "not I ... but Christ"
= "not I, but the grace of God which is with me."
The selfless part, the empty part, is that when this is truly practiced, one loses gradually a sense of the edges between us. He showed us to accept the other as ourselves, and to such an extent of grace and forgiveness that we allow ourselves to see more clearly the other in ourselves and hard edges fade.
When a man realizes what he himself has been forgiven by God, he can view others differently. He can even love and pray for his enemies.
But he must grasp in the depths of his being that he really has been pardoned. He really has been forgiven. God looks now upon him as if he had never sinned.
He has realized that he was JUDGED by God - in Christ's death, on Christ's cross at Calvary. Justice was imputed on behalf of the believer upon the Son of God.
The deep realization of this forgiveness radically alters his view of others. He knows he is no better than anyone else. He is only a sinner saved by grace.
And other sinners, like Himself, also can be graciously saved by grace. To xome under this revelation has to soften the heart of men even for his worst enemy. This is what Jesus can do in our hearts.
Many people realized it OUGHT to be that way. Jesus Christ made it possible that it COULD be that way.
The main problem for theists (as I once was) is that "God" as usually conceived and argued over is just not big enough, we too much hold and restrain "Her" to our so limited and defining human view.
This is true.
In my experience, daily trials, daily circumstances, year after year, enlarge me. As I am pressed to enjoy Christ in more and more varied circumstances, I realize that what I know of Christ is only a drop in the ocean compared to the ocean.
The Apostle Paul discribed the love of Christ as the very limitless dimensions of the universe without end -
" ... you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be full of strength to apprehend with all the saints what the breadth and length and height and depth are and to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:18-19)
The BREADTH and the LENGTH and the HEIGHT and the DEPTH are the dimensions of the semingly infinite universe.
How broad is the breadth ?
How long is the length ?
How high is the height ?
How deep is the depth ?
These are the vast dimension of the universe itself. And the created universe speaks to mankind of the limitless love of God in Christ.