“What if the problem with prevenient grace is parallel? Would God extend sufficient (but resistible) grace to those he knew would forever resist and reject it? Wouldn’t that just be a waste?”
“The denying ourselves and the taking up our cross, in the full extent of the expression, is not a thing of small concern: It is not expedient only, as are some of the circumstantials of religion; but it is absolutely, indispensably necessary, either to our becoming or continuing his disciples. It is absolutely necessary, in the very nature of the thing, to our coming after Him and following Him; insomuch that, as far as we do not practise it, we are not his disciples. If we do not continually deny ourselves, we do not learn of Him, but of other masters. If we do not take up our cross daily, we do not come after Him, but after the world, or the prince of the world, or our own fleshly mind. If we are not walking in the way of the cross, we are not following Him; we are not treading in his steps; but going back from, or at least wide of, Him.”
“For an instant, Barabbas seemed to comprehend that this innocent man would be nailed to the cross in his place. Barabbas would be the first sinner for whom Jesus died. This is one small picture of the substitutionary work of atonement Jesus performed with his death; for we, like Barabbas, have been spared, with Jesus suffering the punishment we deserve” (67).
We have seen that, when read in light of Jewish apocalyptic literature, the disappearance of the sea in Rev 21:1 paints a symbolic picture of a day to be longed for, a day when God will remove from the created order all that is evil and antithetical to his purposes and to his people, a day when creation will emerge from its sorrow into the bliss of God’s manifest presence. This is a day of hope, and in the Apocalypse of John, it is that day for which the faithful around the throne and upon the earth await with eagerness. And yet, we live in a day when much of the church is highly influenced by the anti-creational theology of the best-selling Left Behind series. Many Christians have been thrice duped by the triply-failed doomsday predictions of Harold Camping. Even more recently, Pat Robertson pointed to the August 23, 2011, earthquake in Washington, DC, as sign of God’s coming judgment. It would seem that bookstores and the airwaves are seldom short of end-times paranoia and pessimism. Such well-known and highly publicized eschatology is damaging to the Church in its poor handling of scripture and the unnecessary mockery that comes when Camping-like predictions fail to be realized. The remedy to this problem is for the Church to articulate a thoroughly biblical eschatology of hope with an optimistic view of the future that God will draw the nations to himself and one day bring full and final renewal to all that he has made. The question before us then is this: In light of the scriptural vision of new creation, how do we regain an eschatology of hope? In an effort to move toward such eschatological renewal, I propose three essential tasks. These three are certainly not intended as an exhaustive list but as key elements necessary for the stated goal.
UPDATED: February 3, 2012
The web is aflame with commentary on the recent news that the Susan G. Komen for a Cure Foundation has ceased funding Planned Parenthood because the nation’s largest abortion provider is now under official governmental investigation. Komen, the nation’s largest breast cancer awareness organization, has withdrawn over $600,000 in grant funds from Planned Parenthood because of it’s policy to avoid partnerships with organizations under investigation. You can find the story in various places; so I’ll not rehash the details here.