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Before Salvation

Friday, February 03, 2023 @ 10:30 AM Before Salvation ATTENTION: Major social media outlets are finding ways to block the conservative/evangelical viewpoint. Click here for daily electronic delivery of The Stand's Daily Digest - the day's top blogs from AFA.

Dr. Ray Rooney, Jr. Digital Media Editor MORE

And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea (Luke 4:42-44).

I’ve struggled for quite a while trying to reconcile how rational and well-meaning churchgoers can read the Bible and think that Jesus supports homosexual marriage, transgenderism, open borders, entitlements, etc. Maybe I shouldn’t have said “Bible” and just said “gospels.” I really doubt that those who envision a progressive Jesus have read the Bible.

I’m beginning to understand, however, and the text above from the end of the fourth chapter of Luke’s gospel has helped.

Luke chapter four is jam-packed with information. It begins with the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness. From the wilderness, Jesus returns to Galilee teaching in synagogues. He then goes home to Nazareth and was driven out of town with the intent of throwing Him off a cliff. From there He went to Capernaum and exorcised a demon as He was teaching in the synagogue. Then there is the odd little account of healing Peter’s mother-in-law. More healing and exorcisms. The chapter wraps up with the text cited above.

Something to remember: this is extremely early in the ministry of Jesus. The calling of disciples doesn’t even begin until chapter five. Luke is clearly laying the foundation of Christ’s ministry. And so when I read that text a couple of weeks ago, a flag went up.

This was the first time in Luke’s gospel that Jesus told anyone what His ministry was about. Generally, when we define Christ’s ministry we speak in rather large terms. We say He came to die for our sins. He came to forgive us…to save us…to enable us to become God’s children. Salvation, atonement, and reconciliation are words that come to mind when considering why Jesus came to us.

There are phrases in Scripture that help too.

  • to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10)
  • “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45)
  • “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)
  • “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8)

All of this is true and accurate. But in Luke’s gospel, none of it was first. This was first:

I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…for I was sent for this purpose.

There are two things in that statement that mitigate against a theologically progressive Jesus.

First is the word “sent.” Obviously, the word “sent” implies a sender. Jesus never shied away from being sent by His Father. For instance, consider these plain words in John 6:38,

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Not only does “sent” imply a sender but it also implies both purpose and goals. And whenever there is a purpose with a goal there must be planning and objectives (see Ephesians 1:3-6, 1 Peter 1:20, Hebrews 4:3, and Revelation 13:8).

God’s plan of salvation for all of humanity hinged on the ministry of Jesus Christ. That ministry was planned and coordinated “before the foundation of the world.” Progressive churchgoers see Jesus as a freelancer. The only way you can have the command to “love one another” (John 13:34) include homosexuality, transgenderism, et al, is to sever the cords between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament. Except Jesus won’t allow it because He repeatedly said that He was sent by His Father! There is no unhitching Jesus or Christianity from the Old Testament (as pastor Andy Stanley famously stated).

This brings me to the second thing in Jesus’ statement that mitigates against a theologically progressive Christ. The preaching of the good news of the kingdom of God. A kingdom implies a king. A king reigns over his kingdom. A king has the first say and the final say. The king has his way.

Progressive churchgoers believe in a freelancing Jesus who offers personal salvation that has little to do with being under a King’s realm. In other words, salvation is eternal life as they envision it which has little to do with the God of the Old Testament. That means they long for immortality in a realm of their own making without a God who condemns all forms of sexual expression outside of one man and one woman in marriage. They think Jesus gives them that with “love one another.” But He doesn’t. Because that is not what love means in the kingdom of God. The problem is that Jesus didn't invent that concept out of thin air. It's actually found first in Leviticus 19:34...Old Testament. The same God and the same Old Testament that profoundly condemns homosexuality.

Luke makes it clear in his gospel. Before Jesus talked to people about being “saved” He talked to them about the good news of the kingdom of God. So, the question that must be answered even before whether or not one wants to be saved is: Do you want the kingdom of God?

If you don’t want to abide by the house rules, you can’t live in the house.

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