Tag Archives: redemption

What did Jesus mean when He said not to resist an evildoer, and to instead turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)?

In Matthew 5:38-41 , Jesus made three radical statements. First, He said that a person should turn the other cheek when someone strikes him. Second, He declared that His followers should give those who sue them more than they are asking. Third, He said that a person conscripted by a Roman officer to carry a load for 1 mile should offer to go 2 miles. Does this mean that we should never resist when somebody attacks us? Should we let everyone take advantage of us?

This can’t be what Jesus meant. After all, Jesus denounced the Pharisees who attacked Him ( Matthew 23 ), and objected when He was struck by one of the officers of the high priest (  John 18:22-23). Further, He advised His disciples to take measures to defend themselves ( Matthew 10:16; Luke 22:36-38 ). He also declared that they shouldn’t worry beforehand about how they should respond to their enemies’ charges, because He would give them the right words to say so that their adversaries wouldn’t be able “to contradict or resist” them ( Luke 21:14-15 ).

Similarly, the apostle Paul aggressively defended himself against his enemies, asserting his rights as a Roman citizen, and making it clear to his attackers that there could be consequences if he were unlawfully harmed ( Acts 23:1-3; 25:14-27 ).

What Jesus asks of His followers is not passivity, but surrender of the right to personal revenge. His three radical examples make His point about the attitude we should have toward those who wrong us. Rather than getting even, we should be willing to go to the opposite extreme. We need to be ready to humble ourselves for the kingdom of God. We need to understand that vengeance isn’t ours, but the Lord’s ( Romans 12:19 ).

The natural human tendency has been to seek the emotional satisfaction of revenge for perceived injury ( Genesis 4:8 ). Our instinctive response to any kind of injury is hatred and desire for vengeance. This is why Jesus made it so clear in His Sermon on the Mount that not only outward murder but also inward hatred is subject to God’s judgment ( Matthew 5:22-23 ).

The Old Testament law placed limitations on vengeance ( Exodus 21:23-25 ). Although, the “eye for an eye” provision of the Mosaic law has often been misunderstood as requiring vengeance, its actual purpose was to place limitations on it. The law prescribed that punishment must fit the crime. The law wouldn’t permit taking a life in revenge for an insult or a minor injury. If an eye were put out, only an eye could be taken; if a tooth, only a tooth.

Jesus went much further than the law, making it clear that He wasn’t merely calling for more limitations on vengeance. In Matthew 5:38-48 , He implied that we must give up personal vengeance altogether. But as illustrated above by both Jesus and Paul, there is a difference between confronting evil and seeking personal revenge. It is possible to confront evil with a desire for the redemption of its perpetrator. We are called to love a sinner while confronting his sin, but when we seek vengeance we are motivated by hatred—a desire to make someone suffer for what they have done to us.

If Matthew 5:38-48 were taken literally at all times, we would have to let everyone take advantage of us. Turning the other cheek would become an encouragement for evil. This isn’t what Jesus had in mind. His vivid examples illustrate His disciples’ need to give up any sense of entitlement to personal revenge, to be purged of the motivation of personal vengeance. By asking them to turn the other cheek, Jesus meant that His disciples should be motivated by love and a desire for the redemption and forgiveness of offenders—even when opposing their actions.

Are All Who Haven’t Heard of Christ Damned?

In John 14:6 Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus’ words make it clear that He alone has brought God’s gift of salvation to the world. But do His words also mean that everyone who hasn’t heard of Him will be condemned to hell?

Abraham lived long before Christ. When he told Isaac that God would provide a sacrifice, his words were strikingly prophetic, but he didn’t understand their true significance. He knew nothing about the Lamb of God who would die on a cross nearly 2,000 years later. People like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Job, Melchizedek, Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob never heard the gospel, yet Hebrews 11:13 leaves no doubt that they will be in heaven.

No one in Old Testament times had a clear understanding of the role that Jesus Christ would someday play in atoning for sin. But centuries before the gospel was revealed, the faith of Old Testament believers was already “credited to them as righteousness” ( Genesis 15:6; Psalm 106:31; Galatians 3:6 ).

One of the most remarkable missionary stories of this century was the martyrdom of five young missionaries in Ecuador and the conversion of the Auca Indians. The first convert from the Auca tribe was a young woman named Dayuma. Remarkably, Dayuma was predisposed to accept the gospel because of her father’s influence. Although he had never heard the name of Jesus, he spoke out against the blood feuds and murder that were an Auca way of life. Unlike the others of his tribe, he was deeply conscious of his sinfulness and knew that he and his people needed forgiveness. He told Dayuma that some day God would send a messenger to the Aucas to tell them the way of salvation. Like Old Testament believers, Dayuma’s father was still living by faith when he died ( Hebrews 11:13 ). The witness of his life implies that he would have been overjoyed to hear the gospel, but he died before missionaries came.

Does Scripture give us grounds for insisting that Dayuma’s father is any different in God’s eyes than the believers of the Old Testament? Clearly, Dayuma’s father, like Abraham, would face eternal damnation apart from Christ’s shed blood. Apparent, too, is the desperate spiritual need of those, like the Auca people, who live in fear and spiritual darkness. The fact that Christ is the only way to God places on us the responsibility to make Him known to all.

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles asked:

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:13-14).

But there isn’t a passage of Scripture that definitively proves that God looks upon Dayuma’s father differently than He looked upon Old Testament believers who had only a faint idea of the nature of coming redemption. (See the ATQ article, How Could Old Testament People Be Saved?) The apostle Paul may have had this issue in mind when he wrote the first chapters of Romans, declaring that God has revealed Himself in creation ( Romans 1:18-20 ) and in human conscience ( Romans 2:12-16 ). Paul said that each individual will be judged according to his response to these two revelations of God. To those who respond positively, God gives more knowledge—as He did to the Ethiopian eunuch and the Roman centurion, Cornelius (see Acts 8,10 ). Those who are lost will be judged according to their response to the spiritual light they have received ( Hebrews 4:12-13 ). 1

It may be that God will extend His grace to Dayuma’s father on the basis of Christ’s shed blood, just as He did to Enoch, Melchizedek, Job, Abraham, and Sarah—people who had only the faintest intimation of the means by which God would provide for their redemption. In the final analysis, we must leave this matter in God’s keeping. He is both just and loving. We can be assured that the Judge of all the earth will do right ( Genesis 18:25 ).

(See the ATQ article, How Can Christianity Claim To Be the Only Way to God?)

  1. Jesus made it clear that those who had little light will be punished lightly:
    That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked ( Luke 12:47-48 ). Back To Article
Did this answer your question?
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (13 votes, average: 3.85 out of 5)
Loading...

How Can Christianity Claim To Be the Only Way to God?

Although there are numerous groups in every major religious tradition, there are relatively few major religious traditions. Probably the oldest religious tradition is that of Animism, found mostly among the so-called “primitive” peoples of the world. Animism teaches that the world is populated by a myriad of spirit beings that can be appeased and manipulated through ritual and magic.

The Hindu religion has its center in India. In the form of Buddhism, it has spread all throughout East Asia. This ancient tradition teaches that all living beings are caught up in a cycle of reincarnation. It maintains that the only way to achieve salvation is to be freed of one’s burden of “karma.” Only then can one escape the cycle of reincarnation, lose one’s individuality, and merge with the Being of God like a drop of water in the sea.

Islam is the religion of Muhammad, a warrior/prophet who was born approximately 700 years after Jesus Christ. Islam is similar to Judaism and Christianity in some respects, upholding the authority of the Old and New Testaments and believing in one God. Its holiest book is the Koran. Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam despises idolatry and believes in the reality of eternal punishment or eternal reward in the next life.

The only other great religious traditions are those of Taoism in China and Shintoism in Japan. These religions are pantheistic like Hinduism, but they also have a number of animistic characteristics.

Although there are elements of truth in all of the religious traditions, the Bible teaches that there is only one way that we can be saved. In John 3:13 Jesus stated clearly, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” In Romans 10:9 we read, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ( John 14:6 ). We know that all salvation is accomplished through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ and His atonement for the sins of the world.

(See the ATQ article Are All Who Haven’t Heard of Christ Damned?)

Did this answer your question?
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
Loading...