choked up…

So, in my latest attempt to get a handle on what is becoming so pervasive, even very close to home for me, I googled R.B. and his “the gods aren’t angry tour.” 

Couple of excellent summary blogs later, and I get into reading comments…..

“Hey, it’s easy to say “universalism is a different gospel,” but honestly, I’d like to hear an argument as to why.” 

And my heart breaks….  

It is not the first time I have wept over a different gospel.  The tears have flowed quite freely in the last few months – when I first became exposed to RB and the emerging church (a little slow, I know : )

My heart aches, when I sense that the gloriousness of Christ and what He accomplished on the cross is being diminished.  When His horrificly beautiful act of sacrifice that we must focus on (much like when we cannot take our eyes off a car accident)  actually gets cheapened – because the word sin does not even enter into the “story” of the Bible.  When man does not need a Saviour anymore.  When grace loses its greatness – for he who is forgiven much loves much, and let me tell you – the modern man has been forgiven very little in his own mind….  His mercy, His grace, is greatest, when I can cry with Paul, and Isaiah “Oh wretched human am I!  Chief of sinners!  Woe is me God!  And oh…how GREAT Thou art!  You have forgiven ME?  From THIS?  AH!!!!  God!!!!” 

I love my Saviour.  My Father.  His mighty saving hand accomplished more than I will ever, ever comprehend this side of heaven.  He is greatest, when I am smallest – like when staring up into the night sky, and you realise how infintesmal you are – only it is a greater, greater scale than that.  His holy condescention! 

Let us not blaspheme – by even whispering of another way to God save but through His Son, and belief in His blood.  Let us not cheapen His mercy by thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought.  And oh! let our hearts be awakened to the absolute awesomeness of Him who would call us friend, beloved, bride, son, daughter!


20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeromy
    Nov 17, 2007 @ 21:11:38

    Hey Verity,

    I love the awe you have for God. Your love for Jesus and what he did on the cross is infectious. Your heartbreak that something so beautiful is being diminished is clear. And I share everything you wrote in this post. I wish you could have heard Rob in person. Perhaps if the audio or a video gets released you can grab a copy. I did not take anything that he said as falling into our human category of Universalist…If anything, he had a very high regard for Jesus and his work on the cross.

    I am just growing in this, but I feel that a lot of what is taking place lines up with your heart as expressed in your post. But if anything, there is a growing sense that the work Jesus did on the cross is so much more glorious, merciful, powerful then we (or at least I) traditionally give credit to. That it is so much more about Jesus and so much less about us. That it is so much more about mercy than it is about control and fear. That the Good News is even better news than we ever thought it was and that perhaps it is so good, we can’t believe it or accept it. That through Jesus’ work here on earth (life, death, resurrection) the penalty has been paid…God’s righteousness has been appeased…God’s forgiveness has been made complete. That God is not angry, he is not mad, but he has forgiven us and we are at peace with him. Perhaps it is US that cannot let US off the hook, US that cannot forgive US, US that thinks we are still at war with God. That if, through Jesus’ work on the cross, we as humans are truly forgiven in God’s eyes, then it is finished. it is done. There is nothing more to do, but to realize and walk in this free gift…but even if we don’t, how does it matter? God’s opinion, forgiveness, and work is the only thing that matters. Perhaps all this religion, the whose-right-and-whose-wrong, the wars, the hatred, the judgement here on earth isn’t even necessary. Perhaps if only we could realize that we humans are all at peace with God and we can walk, and love, and celebrate, and unite in the cease-fire that was made possible through Jesus. Perhaps we have limited Jesus’ work. Perhaps we really think that God forgiving us is totally dependent on us saying “sorry”…like our words somehow trigger his love and forgiveness. Perhaps we think it is more about us than it is about him. Perhaps we are the ones who could not accept God not condemning people who are worse than us to Hell. Perhaps we are the ones who are worried out heavenly bliss would be ruined if God opened his heart to people we do not think should be let in. Perhaps we are the ones who see humanity as a collective of different categories (Black, white, jew, muslim, hindu, african, mexican, buddhist) and God doesn’t, but he simply sees his kids whom he has forgiven but who will not accept it or stop fighting each other. Perhaps we do think of ourselves and our distinctions more highly than we ought and we need to be set free from fear and judgement to realize the depths and incomprehensibility of God’s love. That yes, his saving and forgiving hand actually did accomplish more that we will ever realize this side of heaven.

    Believe me, I know this sounds crazy. I know this sounds insane. I know this sounds unbelievable. I know this shakes the very foundation we stand on. But this thought of God’s ultimate forgiveness creates in me a love that is deeper, an awe that is wider, a wonderment more Godly than I have ever had before towards God and Jesus and the Holy Spirt. It is incomprehensible for me to think of such a loving God. It is very hard for me to personally accept it because I want to keep beating myself up, thinking I am unlovable. That I do deserve his wrath.

    But for me, perhaps the good news becomes this. As I shout in the streets and whisper in the ears of people everywhere…”You are forgiven. God is not mad at you. You and him are at peace and it has nothing to do with what you have done or believed to deserve it…it is because of Jesus!! So come on! Let’s tell everyone. Let’s link arms and celebrate the goodness of God as we serve and love him and each other. Let his Kingdom, and peace, and right-relationship come to earth as it is in heaven. Jesus…Thank you for making providing this peace!! We love you!! We trust you and we will follow you wherever you lead.” That perhaps, forgiveness proceeds belief and following, not the other way around. That the acceptance of his forgiveness leads us to belief and a turn-around of our life (repentance).

    How is any of this NOT good news? In Jesus? Less of God? Can you imagine the freedom that comes in and through Christ? I can. I think I am just starting to get it…and I’ve been a Christian since I was 5. A passage that has shaken me up for the past year or so is Romans 5:9-21 ( This passage is the typical passage used as a proof text for Total Depravity and man’s inherent sin nature. But was that Paul’s only intent? Or was he using Adam’s sin-consequences-applied-to-all to point to Jesus’ life-giving-applied-to all? I’m not sure…but it has wracked me.

    Wow, Ok, so it wasn’t supposed to be that long…talk about a brain vomit. You can take up some of my blog bandwidth as payback. 🙂


  2. Verity
    Nov 18, 2007 @ 08:34:38

    I’m going to cut and paste from my reply on Jonathan’s page (small world, eh?) I don’t think it answers all of your thoughts, but it is all I have right now (headaches and such….)

    I think (when we talk about the whole world being already reconciled) we lose God’s glory and sovereignty.

    The word sin occurs in the NIV almost as many times as the word love (475 and 551 respectively) – and yet I am not hearing what we are being saved from…..

    I say we lose a sense of God’s sovereignty, because when we agree that the whole world is already reconciled, and man just has to accept it, we are putting the final act of reconciliation into the hands of men. I just do not see that in the Bible – chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, love Him because He first loved us, predestined to adoption….

    And why was He harsh to the pharisees, if they were already reconciled too? Why did the disciples shake the dust off their feet in some towns? Why were they told that they ought not to cast pearls before swine? Why speak in parables – to blind eyes and harden hearts? How is that loving? Or reconciling?

    God’s grace is best understood, when we best understand our own sin, and absolute need of a Savior. God is most glorified in me, when I can point to Him and say “He is my only hope in this world, wretched, wicked as my heart is!” That is why Paul asks if we should sin that grace may abound. Because grace is more evident when we see what it saves us from.

    Man needs salvation. Man needs the blood of Christ (for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin)

    I am not called to judge either. Some of my best friends are not saved, and I certainly do not talk to them as I share with you – I understand their need for love as well as their need for a Savior. I understand that only God can convict – and that often when we try to play the part of the Holy Spirit the walls go up…

    And I think it is about some dotted I’s and crossed T’s…. John 14 is a great marriage of what we are both saying (if that makes sense : ) “If you love Me, you will obey Me” The cost of discipleship is great, the road is tough, and there is more to obedience than just love….

    What does “already forgiven” mean? If God’s wrath is satisfied, why do men still go to hell? If Christ’s blood has covered all creation, why does God still hold anyone responsible for their sin?

    We do not bring judgement. Only God does. But man needs to know that judgement is coming – “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” Luke 12:5


  3. Jeromy
    Nov 18, 2007 @ 14:00:52

    My paragraph breaks will align with and address yours…


    All this thinking gave me a headache last night too.


    How does God lose any of his glory and sovereignty by reconciling all of humanity? Does it perhaps even increase?


    We have been saved and forgiven from our sin, by God, through Jesus…it’s done…so lets get busy living.


    My response said nothing of the sort. Man has been reconciled and forgiven. Our response (or lack of) does not trigger his forgiveness…he’s already done that. What it does is free us to walk in the knowledge of our forgiven state which allows us to live life abundantly and to the fullest…telling others the good news that they are forgiven.


    Because they were condemning and calling unclean what God declared clean. They were making people twice the child of hell as them because they were speaking against God’s forgiveness.
    The parables were to make people think, not just regurgitate easy answers.


    Amen. But, again, our knowledge or lack of knowledge of grace does not trigger or limit God’s forgiveness…our knowledge simply helps us to walk in the freedom already granted and declared by our sovereign and glorious Lord.


    Well said.


    But they are forgiven. Is that what God’s role in the world is…to convict and condemn?


    Who would not want to love and obey and follow and walk with and die for a God who, when we were God’s enemies, reconciled us to him through the death of his Son? Is love not a more righteous motivator than fear of condemnation and punishment?


    Would we be Ok if God, in his sovereignty, decided to let all men off the hook, out of his love? Why is it that we are OK with him letting US off the hook and forgiving US, but not THEM (whoever they are that you say go to hell)?


    Verity, you pull these angry, fearful verses directly out of their contexts (like the one in Romans 5 you quoted in another post about us being “enemies of God” which was clearly not meant to identify us as such, but to show that while we were enemies, Jesus reconciled us to him). Same with this one… read it in it’s context:

    “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies[a]? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

    Jesus pointed out their fear of the pharisees and what they might do to them and said, but if you feel you must fear, fear God…BUT I am here to tell you what God is like, how much he cares about you and that you do not need to fear him…Read it…it is right there. DO NOT BE AFRAID…YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN MANY SPARROWS. Do you see the damning danger of taking the hellish passages out of their loving contexts?


    Please give my previous response time and thought. I am in no hurry nor am I trying to prove my point. But please don’t dismiss it or jump to attack-mode simply because it doesn’t line up with your paradigm. I would love to dialogue with you about my response, not Jonathan’s. Again, give it time….


  4. raquelamisto
    Nov 18, 2007 @ 15:36:04

    I have an in between opinion 😛

    “Would we be Ok if God, in his sovereignty, decided to let all men off the hook, out of his love? Why is it that we are OK with him letting US off the hook and forgiving US, but not THEM (whoever they are that you say go to hell)?”

    If I had the choice, I would take my mother, father, brother, sisters, and all of their families to heaven with me. Are you asking if I’m okay with the fact that 99.9% of my family isn’t going to make it into heaven? This is just absurd… so absurd, that I’m struggling with not taking the statement personally.
    Do I like it?
    Absolutely not.
    Makes me nauseous just thinking about what may be ahead for the people that I so desperately love. But whether I like it or not, this does not change what God has said. It simply isn’t up to me. What is up to me is the amount of time that I spend in prayer for them, how I show them a changed life because of my belief in Jesus, how much that I tell them about His love for them and how they too can receive the gift that is being offered.

    Yes, I agree that forgiveness is available to all who accept it HOWEVER those that don’t accept don’t receive. I can offer you a slice of cake, but if you don’t take it you don’t have it. Forgiveness is available but not without repentance. Not without belief.

    You know the Bible well and so I won’t quote verses for you but why then did Jesus TELL individuals that they were forgiven? What did their faith have to do with them being forgiven? Why was their forgiveness a catalyst for healing (in some cases)? First they believed AND THEN they received.

    Yes, I agree with you 100% that I want every single person to live out all of eternity lavishing in the love that Jesus has for them. And this desire is what pushes me to evangelize, to love, and to give myself up for them.

    In regards to the sparrow passage in Luke. While there was a crowd of at least 10,000 it is made clear this (vs 1-12) was directed towards the disciples and not the crowd. Why would He do that?


  5. Verity
    Nov 18, 2007 @ 18:36:05

    Jeromy – I did rush out a response this morning – sorry… I did a cut and paste, and alot of that was not addressed to you… forgive my hastiness…
    I will address your post sometime this week…


  6. Jeromy
    Nov 18, 2007 @ 19:34:12


    Sorry, it was a poor choice of words on my part.

    Did you read my previous response? Maybe the illustration of my dad might help. We are not talking about cakes, but relationships. I forgave my dad in my heart nearly six months before I ever told him. It was not based on him saying sorry, believing wether or not I forgave him, or doing anything to deserve it…it was a decision and work in MY heart to forgive him. Six months later, when I told him and he heard that I had forgiven him, was when he believed it, received it, let it sink in, and FELT free from his guilt. But, when was he forgiven? When he accepted it or when I forgave him? Now if I was the one who had the power to condemn my dad to hell, or jail, or wherever…is it not MY act and decision of forgiveness that matters? Or is forgiveness dependent on the person first saying they’re sorry? That is not how I understand forgiveness nor how Jesus taught forgiveness. Read Romans 5:9-21; 1 Tim 2:3-6; 4:9-10; Titus 2:11.

    Regarding the sparrow passage, do you hear what Jesus is saying? I don’t know why he was speaking to the disciples, but are you suggesting that it only applied to them and not to the crowd? The context is the pharisees: Do not fear what they are going to do to you because of me, and if you feel like you need to fear something, then fear God who can condemn you to hell, but let me tell you what God is like…Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies[a]? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. You do not need to fear him.

    But please, if you haven’t already, read my previous response. I would hate for you to personally carry the eternal burden of 99% of your friends and family if it’s not necessary. Perhaps God, Jesus’ work and salvation is so much bigger than we could ever imagine…


  7. Jeromy
    Nov 18, 2007 @ 19:38:36


    That’s OK, I understand. Please, take your time.


  8. raquelamisto
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 01:47:52


    It’s not my burden! It’s my joy! My joy to have the opportunity to do God’s work… Truly He loves them far more than I can ever imagine. He wants to spend eternity loving on them far more than even I. This isn’t a guilt thing… (More and more I find myself hating that this is only written.) This is something that I do BECAUSE I love them BECAUSE He loves them. And because they are the ones who choose, how can that possibly be my burden? What makes me sick to my stomach is that it will be their own yoke to carry if they decide not to hand it over to the Lord.

    regarding the sparrows,
    My suggestion is that he says this to the disciples only because they already believe. We have different conversations with those who believe that Jesus is the Savior and with those that don’t. Just as, it appears to me, Jesus had meat for His believers and milk for the non-believers. He promises relationship and life to those that believe. If this isn’t true, then why say this:

    “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

    And maybe we’re asking the wrong question here… maybe the question is ‘who deserves heaven?’


  9. Jeromy
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 23:02:16

    You’re working with two assumptions:
    1) People in the crowd are not followers.
    2) The crowd cannot hear what Jesus was saying.
    Are you saying Jesus is saying to the Disciples “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” And that the crowd needs to be afriad? That the crowd is not worth more than sparrows? Or take it one step further, are you saying that Jesus is saying to the disciples (believers), “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” I am confused…but regardless, I don’t think the point of the passage is WHO Jesus is talking to. So, let’s agree to disagree…it’s not a big deal to me.

    My point with the Sparrows was that it is dangerous (and bad Biblical Interpretation) to take verses out of their context. I was simply putting the “You need to fear God” back in the paragraph it belongs in; where the end, the climax, the POINT of Jesus’ words were that God is a god who knows and loves you intimately and that you do not need to be afraid of him. Do you see that? If not, I’m not sure there is anything more I can say but to sit with the passage, really consider and meditate on it.


  10. Jeromy
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 23:02:52

    In reply to “Who deserves Heaven?” No one.


  11. Verity
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 23:23:09

    for Jeromy:

    “How does God lose any of his glory and sovereignty by reconciling all of humanity? Does it perhaps even increase?”
    It cheapens the gospel. If Jesus has already forgiven everyone, then it basically leaves us with: His blood was insufficient. Why, if His blood was sufficient, are not all going to heaven? Why does God punish His Son, and then man as well? Is that justice? Is that a just God? Why forgive people, but still condemn them?

    Again, with the Pharisees – why, why? if we are saying that God is love, He has already forgiven everyone, etc. is He talking so harshly to the Pharisees? I see the same four or five examples pulled out of the gospels – woman at the well, woman caught in adultery, etc… to show His love – which He absolutely is! But, why then does He not offer this to everyone? Why is He not reconciling the Pharisees to Himself? Why does He not tell them they are already forgiven of their hypocrisy, and of making others follow in their steps?
    And – the parables were to intentionally blind people to the truth…. Luke 8:10

    “Would we be Ok if God, in his sovereignty, decided to let all men off the hook, out of his love? Why is it that we are OK with him letting US off the hook and forgiving US, but not THEM (whoever they are that you say go to hell)?”
    Only if it does not compromise who He is. Do you not see what you ask Jeromy?? He is infinitely loving, and infinitely just! Sin will be paid for – by man, or by Christ. If by Christ – than by a belief in Him. God will not be mocked! He would be wrong to let man off the hook! He would be sinning then Jeromy! One, even one sin is aggregious against a God such as ours. The bite of the apple in the garden of Eden was an act so very evil – because in that moment Adam and Eve said “This apple satisfies me more than You!” UGH! We do it in 1000 different ways – and every time it is damnable. He is of SUPREME worth – infinitely above us! And, to gloss over the sins of man is to be unjust.
    Romans 3:25,26: “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

    My sin was nailed to the cross! Praise the Lord! But, Jeromy, as much as I would love to believe that everyone I know will spend an eternity in His presence, many will not. And that does not make God any less glorious, or worthy of praise. Or any less loving. Romans 9, again… Some are vessels of wrath – for His glory. It is all for His glory.

    I agree, there was more context to that passage, that I should have included – I did not mean to mislead – your thoughts are an excellent addition – but do not mistake the fact that Jesus Does still warn them whom to fear – God is a wondrous mixture of Holiness and mercy….


    I am not sure How to respond to your initial post – will get to that tomorrow.


    Raquel – I love you. Will have to read your thoughts tomorrow as well….


  12. Jeromy
    Nov 20, 2007 @ 00:15:20

    Jesus’ BLOOD = forgiveness of our SINS

    That is all I am saying. Sin, Yuck. Jesus’ Blood, the power to forgive our yuck. I just think it might be even more powerful than we think it is. I honestly think we are all going to be really surprised when we see who God does come judgement. But I could be wrong.

    Take your time.


  13. Trackback: Choked up, part two « Verity
  14. Mark Berry
    Nov 21, 2007 @ 13:31:18

    Can I just butt in to add nothing to the “debate”, but to congratulate you on the manner in which you are holding it! Comments sections of Blogs (much as I love Blogging) have brought out some of the most hate-filled and antagonistic elements of people who claim to follow Christs way of love, this is an example of the opposite. Thank you


  15. Verity
    Nov 21, 2007 @ 13:58:05

    thank you very much for the encouragement Mark!


  16. raquelamisto
    Nov 24, 2007 @ 00:59:51

    Tonight, I weep with you Verity. Tonight my heart breaks.


  17. Verity
    Nov 24, 2007 @ 12:56:36

    Ah Sweetie – I figured there was a reason you called – sorry I missed it…. Give me a shout later on this weekend. I need to tell you about the sweet conviction I experienced, reading your post on Jonathan’s blog – re. Christmas…


  18. Neil Christopher
    Jan 12, 2008 @ 18:35:05


    First of all, you are to be commended for attempting to have a high view of the efficacy of the blood of Jesus in terms of the forgiveness of sins.

    We just want to be sure we are thinking “biblicly” (or in other words ensuring our thinking lines up with what is revealed in the Bible) on this topic, as this comes down to the crux of the gospel…how and what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

    Remeber that Romans is Paul’s explanation of the Gospel; in a way our explanation of the good news should in a very real way reflect Paul’s thinking in Romans. And Paul was a missionary; he spent his life after his conversion travelling the Roman world to convert people, to see them turn from their sin and believe on Jesus. He obviously assumed they needed saving, that they weren’t automatically forgiven by virtue of Jesus’ death. Romans is quite clear on this.

    Your focus was on Romans 5, the whole concept of “imputation”, Adam representing us in terms of sin and Jesus representing us in terms of righteousness; where Paul is explaining in a sense the “mechanics” of how God can justify the ungodly. But don’t forget the first 3 chapters, where Paul is quite clear on God’s wrath presently revealed against people and how that is evidenced and why both people with knowledge of God’s revelation in the Bible and people without it stand condemned apart fom justification by faith.

    Jesus himself in his earthly ministry assumes that there are some who would experience damnation, that many of his hearers would not believe on him and live. As has been pointed out by many, Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else in the Bible. And who should be more familiar than what he would accomplish with his blood than Jesus himself?

    The concept of not everyone going to heaven is probably the most difficult of any of Jesus’ or Paul’s teachings to contemplate. But teach them they did, and to embrace the Christianity of the Bible is to wrestle through them.

    Keeping seeking God! Ask the Holy Spirit’s help as you continue to read the Bible! These things have a way of making God bigger and us smaller…


  19. Jeromy
    Jan 12, 2008 @ 21:06:01

    Neil – Thanks for your words. To understand a bit more of where I am coming from, much of this was discussed in more detail in these places:

    Romans 5:



  20. Nicole
    Jan 12, 2008 @ 22:15:42

    Thank you for your comments Neil!


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