Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

metaphors of god's work in christ


I have commented before on the perplexity of the many metaphors used in the Bible to refer to all that God accomplished for mankind in Christ. So many of these metaphors seem to have a penal or legal connotation to them and thus we often conclude that a substitutionary payment had to be made to accomplish what God intended. I believe that the payment necessary was that of fully demonstrating the level of self sacrifice which ultimately leads to fulfilled, joyful living. Jesus' mode of living and death were all about showing the world another better way to deal with evil and our fellow human beings. His resurrection from physical death symbolized the abundant living which Jesus promised to those who would actually choose to die to old concepts and rise up to follow His example of living humbly, selflessly, and authentically.

In the following, I propose a different way to see and interpret some of the more prevalent terms used in the NT scriptures to define what Jesus made available to all mankind through His earthly life and ministry. Redemption is an act of validation, of confirming my worth. God buys me back from the second hand store, the pawn shop of life, where I have sold myself. Forgiveness is that which enables me to forgive myself, to relieve me of self doubt and the associated fear. Forgiveness is a metaphor for peace of mind, lack of fear and guilt, all of which are associated with judgment which ultimately goes back to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden. Reconciliation is God's word to describe re-establishing in man's mind a correct concept of his God relationship. Man becomes reconciled to the truth of the matter, shaking off former false impressions. Atonement (at-one- ment) is the recognition of the inherent unity of man and God, not the achievement of that union. The exalted position of union with the Almighty confirms God's love and graciousness for me personally but not to the exclusion of others. Justification signifies that which God uses to justify or explain His graciousness toward mankind. Justification is directed to man about God. This justification establishes God's glory and not man's acceptance. Restoration refers to regaining awareness of that which we formerly knew. It does not point necessarily to a return to a former state of mind in human history. It could easily be to a state prior to or outside of human history.

The multiple terms, we generally associate with what is broadly known as salvation, form an intriguing collage, each apparently addressing a different aspect of or way of looking at what Christ accomplished and what God intended for mankind. It seems appropriate to look hard at each of these in an effort to more fully comprehend all that God has made known for our benefit. My cursory stab at establishing a new perspective is not meant to be conclusive but merely indicative of another vantage point, which avoids the, legal, penal implications of the more traditional understanding of these same terms.