I want to mention right away that this is in no way intended to be a personal attack, but rather a gentle and respectful defense of that which Kiel Hawk attacked last Friday in his column, mainly the Christian faith.
First off, I agree that “Pascal’s wager” of “if I am right, then I have eternal life; if I am wrong, then nothing will happen and I am okay with living as a Christian ‘in the safe'” is a weak and childish reason to believe in Christ for eternal salvation. Indeed Paul himself says, “If only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
I understand that the objections raised in the rest of the article were objections raised under the hypothetical situation that Christ will not return and that Christianity could be false.
However, since that clearly is not the situation we are in, let’s talk about the situation we are in: Christ is still believed to be true by the Church.
“The Christian,” who believes in Christ, and is passionate to cure people’s temporary pains on earth but condemns them to eternal damnation by never preaching and teaching Christ for the cure of our personal evils should question whether they are really Christian.
I also object that focusing on the “realities of heaven” (Colossians 3:2) will de-emphasize our desire to make earth a better place. Instead, by Christians fixing their eyes on the “author and perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2), it is the only way that we are able to selflessly “rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16) in order to love a broken world.
Without a Christian’s eyes fixed on Christ, you take away the very passion and compassion that they have known through Christ’s real death on the cross for their sins and justification in his resurrection (see Romans 4:25 and context). It would turn a people focused on living a selfless life like Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2 and context) into even more utterly selfish beings than we inheritably are.
Finally, to say Jesus promotes Christians to keep the entire Old Testament Law by quoting Matthew 5:18 is completely out of context. In Bible interpretation, “context rules.”
A quick read of Matthew 5:17 will show what Jesus is referring to in the rest of Matthew 5-7. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Then in Matthew 5:18 he says, in reference to the Old Testament Law, “not the smallest letter… will by any means disappear until everything is accomplished.”
The accomplishment he is talking about is not the end of humanity – the accomplishment he is talking about is when he is done fulfilling the entire Old Testament Law in his life, death and resurrection, so that by our faith alone in him we are no longer under the obligation to carry such a heavy burden of fulfilling 613 commandments.
Indeed, in Christ alone is the Law fulfilled, and thus Christians are no longer under the obligation to obey the Old Testament regulations.
So can Christians do whatever they want?
By no means! Instead, the Christian has died with Christ on the cross, and now Christ lives inside them (Galatians 2:19-21); thus, they are dead to sin, alive with Christ (Romans 6:1-13) and will desire not to sin but to live as “children of the light” (Ephesians 5:1-20).
Since Christ lives inside them, they desire to continue to fulfill the perfect commandments of Jesus in the New Testament, no longer out of a sense of duty, but out of real, deep, love through faith in Christ.
I too write this for our well being; not just for our well being on earth, but for our well being in eternity.