Christianity 201

October 9, 2018

“The Subjects of the Kingdom Will be Thrown Outside”

by Russell Young

The Lord stated that the “subjects of the kingdom would be thrown outside, into the darkness.” (Mt 8:12) Who are the “subjects”? The Greek terminology is “huios basileia” which means “children of the royalty” or “children of the king’s reign.” “Subjects” is replaced by “sons” or “children” in some translations. Huios as used in this instance, represents a universal sense of children having a particular position or relationship to God. That is, by relationship or position, not by birth, these have become children or sons of God. The Greek has three different words that have been translated in English as “sons”—huios, teknon, and huiothesia. Teknon refers to sons or children of natural birth. Huiothesia is used by Paul alone and has meaning according to Roman culture. It refers to an adopted son and Paul uses this term for those whose bodies have been redeemed. (Rom 8: 23) In his writing huios references Gentiles who have become children of God by position and not by birth, as huios (sons) of God. (Rom 8:14, 19; Gal 4:6)

Many commentators refer to the children of the Kingdom as being Israelites, and certainly the Lord was talking to a Jewish crowd when he made this statement, however, it would appear that he was informing them that they could not rest in their Jewish heritage as being their source of confidence and hope. The International Standard Version interprets huios as “the unfaithful heirs of that kingdom.” The Contemporary English Version presents it as “the ones who should have been in the kingdom.” By position, huios refers to those who have been “born again” supernaturally, having been cleansed and granted the Holy Spirit. Paul also refers to huios as “the children of the living God (Rom 9:26) and the “children of light.” (1Thess 5:5) These are people whom God esteems as sons, who have confessed commitment to his lordship, whom he loves, protects, and benefits above others. They are those whose character God, as a loving Father and Christ as lord, is attempting to shape by their leadership (Rom 8:14) and chastisements (Heb 12:5-8). By their confession, pledge, or promise they have acknowledged Christ as their lord (Rom 10:9─10) and the parentage of God and have accepted their position and reliance upon him as their father.

Certainly, “subjects” applies to the Jews, but there is no reason why it must not apply to Gentile confessors as well. After all, they are both huios of God, with the need to meet the same righteous requirements of any who will dwell with their Lord. Even though these are huios of the royalty, they will be cast outside.

Regardless of whether “subjects” are Jews or Gentile confessors, they were of God’s Kingdom—this passage may mean that those thrown outside will be the subjects of his kingdom while those inside will reign over them—and subject to his authority. The Lord’s words were directed to the Jewish leaders, who, although were subject to him, did not recognize their place. On the other hand, the centurion, who was being praised, was an outsider who along with other outsiders from the east and west would be invited to the Lord’s banquet. Apparently, the “subjects” who will be thrown out will be those who have not recognized the fullness of the Lord’s authority as sovereign and their placement will be “outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Lord addressed the issue of those who would not remain permanent members of his family in John’s gospel. “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son (those who are led by the Spirit of God-Rom 8:14)) belongs to it forever.” (Jn 8:34─35) Accordingly, “sinners” will not be permanent members of the family.

Daniel also stated that following the Great Tribulation “your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake; some to everlasting life others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan 12:1─2 Italics added) The names of those raised to suffer everlasting shame and contempt had their names written in “the book” and they resemble those who will be “weeping and gnashing teeth.” Although this reference has been made to those being raised before the millennium, their state is described as “everlasting” and must apply to the banquet also.

The reality is that some of those who were in the Kingdom of God will be thrown outside even though they were once huios of God. What is the “outside”? It is the place of the “nations”, the place of those not of the family of God. It must either be “hell” or some other place of habitation apart from the New Jerusalem. Some of those dwelling there will be of the house of Israel, while others of the Gentiles who will have recognized God’s sovereignty and will have become huios of God for a time but will have been cast from his family because of their unrighteous testimony. They were his subjects but had disdained his holiness and provision. They will be of the body that God declared to “depart” from him because of their wickedness; he had never “known” them (been certain of their commitment). (Mat 7: 2223) Their names had been recorded in “the book” but they will dwell in the state of “shame and everlasting contempt.” The Lord has termed the Jews who will dwell apart from his presence, outside the walls of the New Jerusalem, as “dogs.” (Rev 22:15; Phil 3:2)

Paul spoke of some who will be punished through separation from the Lord’s majesty. “He will punish those who do not know (appreciate) God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and marvelled at among those who have believed.” (2 Thess 1:8-10) (Belief is revealed through obedience–Heb 3: 1819) The Lord also warned, “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” (Mt 13:41)

Russell Young is the author of Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” Really? available in print and eBook in the U.S. through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.  His column appears here alternate Tuesdays.  To read all of Russell’s contributions here at C201, click this link.  There is also a feature-length article at this link.

July 5, 2013

What is Sin?

This appeared a year ago at Thinking Out Loud, and has not been seen here before…

Let’s begin with an elementary definition. David Peach at the blog Genuine Leather Bible (love that name!) writes:

“Sin is disobedience to God, or not following God’s plan. It is breaking God’s law in some way. Often we define sin as doing something wrong or bad. The only problem with that simplistic definition of sin is that it does not explain who is the one who makes the rules. Many people in the world believe that right and wrong are defined by individual opinions and that there are no absolute rules. However, when we talk about sin, we are talking about God’s definition of right and wrong. A person should understand that their sin is a matter of breaking God’s law, not some man’s opinion.”

Susanna Wesley, the mother of John Wesley once wrote:

“Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself”

Duke Taber writes:

“In our society, and especially in Christian circles, there is probably not one word more emotionally charged with negativity than the word sin. But what does sin really mean? What is the biblical definition of sin? It literally means missing the mark. It is a term in the Greek that comes from an archery term meaning to miss the bulls-eye. In Romans 3:23 the Bible says that ‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ So please allow me to reword it just a bit. ‘All have missed the mark and didn’t get their arrow to hit the perfection of God.’”

West Breedlove writes: “The meat of this prayer came from a John Piper sermon entitled The Greatest Thing in the World . After singing How Great Is Our God, I said:

Indeed God is exceedingly great. And the only reason someone has a low view of God is because they have a low view of sin.

Sin is:

The glory of God not honored.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savored.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The promises of God not relied upon.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.

That is sin!

The infinite, all-glorious Creator of the universe, by whom and for whom all things exist (Rom. 11:36) –– disregarded, disbelieved, disobeyed, and dishonored by everybody in the world. That is the ultimate outrage of the universe.*

And that is why we sing “How Great Thou Art!”

That is why the sweet sound of saving grace is surpassingly sweet –- The exceedingly great God has taken our exceedingly sinful sin and placed it on his Son…

This great God has taken the sins of liars, adulterers and the rest of his enemies, and has placed them on his Son; and there poured out his wrath – Jesus becoming sin, that in him we might become the righteousness of God!

Lord, help us to marvel at the miracle of your glorious grace poured out on us at Calvary.”

Finally, to challenge us, here is a thought that is better to read in its full context, but I’ll highlight a section here. This is from the blog Diaknos by Frank and Steph Rue.

“Yeah, I had heard the line, ‘Have you ever lied before?’ I raised my hand at those events where someone asked that question. Of course. Everyone’s sinned—even in my emaciated definition. So when I read passages like Romans 3:23: ‘…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…’

Are you getting the point? Do you happen to relate, perhaps?

The problem with this definition of sin is that it’s wrong—completely wrong. Its inadequacy is terrible: calling sin an occasional problem for man is like calling water an occasional ingredient in the ocean.

Jesus Christ said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38 ESV).

I’ve heard this verse before. But what does it mean? If we take it for its clearest reading, we must recognize that we fail to honor a command (the greatest command) of the Lord, for no one has ever loved God with all of his heart, soul and mind for every moment of every day. At some second, every one of us has violated (and will continue to do so!) this command!

Now it doesn’t matter if we don’t lie, don’t steal, or don’t kill—for truly: all have failed to do this one, seemingly simply command—every one of us, all the time.”

Get into this topic in great detail with this post at Christianity 201 a year ago.

(For all you ’80s rockers out there, here’s a link to the song Sin Kills by Andy McCarroll and Moral Support.)

July 7, 2012

On The Nature of Sin

There’s a whole lot of reading available to you today if you’re up for it!!

The first place to start would be a collection of five quotations posted this morning at Thinking Out Loud under the title What is Sin?

Then, we go to today’s source an article in a series entitled Three Errors About Sin at the blog Counted for Christ, written and edited by a group of Christians in Nigeria.  The links for the full series are:

This is an excerpt from the second part — mostly for those of who I know may not click through! — but it does read better in full.

Sin in a Narrow Sense

 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

In this passage we have a definition of sin. Sin is lawlessness. The word “lawlessness” here is the word anomia which literally means without the law. To make this a bit simpler, we could simply say that sin is breaking the law or ignoring the law. It is lawlessness.

In response to this, the first question we ask is “what law?”

  • Is this the Mosaic Law?
  • Is this the law of Christ?
  • Is this some internal law of the Holy Spirit who dwells with us?

Let us not worry about that particular question right now but focus on the concept of law.

A law is an objective standard. It is something that is known or should be known.

  • If I drive on the left side of the road, I know I am breaking the law.
  • If I cheat on an examination, I know I am breaking the law of the school.
  • If I tell a lie, I know that I am breaking the Ten Commandments which tell me not to bear false witness.

In each of these cases, when we break the law, we do so willingly and knowingly. Breaking the law implies an objective standard that one knows and then a deliberate decision to ignore or reject that standard. It is true that breaking the law can become so habitual that we do not consciously made a choice every time we break the law but we certainly did at one time.

Therefore, the first way the word sin is used is as a deliberate decision to reject some law or rule or principle that is known. This is a very narrow definition of sin. It implies that the person knows the law but that he deliberately and consciously ignores or breaks it. When one understands sin in this way, the immediate following context makes perfectly good sense.

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:4-9).

Before reading this passage of scripture, I will often ask my students, “How many of you sinned today?” Practically the whole class will raise their hands. I will then point out that according to John if they are regularly practicing sin . . .

  • They are not living in him.
  • They have not seen him or known him.
  • They are of the devil.
  • They are not born again.

The reason my students answer positively is because they tend to have a broad definition of sin. However, when I ask, “How many of you have stolen something today?” or “How many of you have cheated today?” I get few hands. They have not willfully and deliberately sinned but they assume they must have done something wrong in a broad sense of the word.

It seems quite obvious a broad definition of sin does not fit here. Therefore, one of the common ways the word “sin” is used in the Bible is as a deliberate willful ignoring or rejection of one of the known laws of God. This kind of sin always involves the will.

  • This is not necessarily accidental sin.
  • These are not sins of the attitude.
  • This is not unconsciously offending someone else.

These are deliberate acts of sin.

Sin in a Broad Sense

If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death (1 John 5:16-17).

Verse 16-17 are very difficult verses. Theologians have struggled for centuries trying to understand what it means to sin a sin that does not lead to death. I will not attempt to resolve that question either because I am not sure of the answer. The thing I wish to point out in this passage is another definition of sin.

In 1:17 John says “All wrongdoing is sin.” The word “wrongdoing” is adikia which literally means “without righteousness.” To say this in a way that we can understand, John is simply saying “Everything that is not right is sin.”

  • It does not matter if it is willful or it is not willful.
  • It does not matter whether the law was known or not known.
  • It does not matter whether the person thought about it or not.

The only issue here is whether it is right or wrong. As you can see, this is a much broader definition of sin.

If I tell you I will meet you somewhere at 8 AM and I get busy and forget and you go there and wait for me, have I sinned? Did I deliberately cause you to waste your time? Was this a willful decision on my part? No, it was an unintentional offense. However, was it right? It was not right and, according to this definition of sin, that kind of wrong doing is also called sin. Therefore, it is clear, just from the little epistle of 1 John that the Bible uses the word “sin” in more than one way.

How do you know when the Biblical writer is using the word sin to refer to sin in a narrow sense or a broad sense? The context will tell you. Unfortunately, the context can sometimes support either interpretation so it is not always easy to distinguish.

Sin of the Nature

However, there is a third use of sin. John says If we claim to be without sin . . .” (1:8). This is the verse that is part of the three errors about sin. Although this passage does not give us a definition of sin like the other two passages, it does use sin in a different way than the other two. Note that the word “sin” is a noun used in the singular here. Although this may not be an absolute rule, whenever you see the word “sin” as a noun in the singular it often if not normally refers to the sin nature. A good example of this is Romans 7:15-24:

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me . . . Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it . . . but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Paul recognized that there was something in him that kept him from doing the right thing. He identified it as “sin” in the singular.

I believe that this is what John is talking about in this passage. Apparently there were some Christian believers who were denying that there was anything like a sinful nature.

[finish reading this section of the series here]

~Danny McCain