December 2, 2013

Buying Judgment, Part II: Buyer's Remorse

[Continued From Part I]

Jumping to the New Testament we see the largest bribe in history with the smallest return. Judas sells out the Son of God for a measly 30 pieces of silver.

Matthew 26:14-16 ~ “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Here the verse starts with "then" and it connects with what preceded this passage. Evidently Judas made these plans the same day that Jesus predicted His own crucifixion in two days away, namely, on Wednesday. Regardless, in Matthew 26:3-5 we were presented a dilemma on the part of the chief priest and elders. They wish to arrest and kill Jesus but do not wish to cause a societal uproar for fear of Rome coming down on their heads. Until verse 14 there is no resolution to this dilemma. As of verse 14, the answer arrives and the resolution's name is Judas Iscariot. Some resolution it turns out to be.

Judas now becomes the linchpin in the Jewish leaders’ plans and the catalyst for Jesus unjust trial and crucifixion. Judas is no mere puppet. He is working and conniving under his own initiative. Sensing Jesus is probably not the stereotyped military/political Messiah that was assumed to be coming to overthrow the Roman oppression, he becomes jaded and turns on Jesus. Having turned on Jesus it takes little money to convince him to do so. I believe this is why he sells out for such a low price. He sees little value in Jesus based on his way of understanding both prophecy and Jesus Himself. On the face of it at the worldly level there is little risk involved in ratting-out Jesus so he accepts little for what appears to be a poor political insurgent or a homeless wandering Rabbi.

What Judas does not seem to take into account is the spiritual risk made. In the spiritual arena, Judas took the greatest risk known to humanity and loses horribly. He essentially gambles away salvation for 30 pieces of silver. Paltry cost for a man’s soul. It is a juxtaposition between selling away of the thing of utmost value for literally nothing of value in return. It is literally Luke 17:33 played out in real life. It is the Faustian bargain that attempts to gain a momentary pleasure at the cost of eternal consequence. Do we do this? Gamble away eternal reward for temporary pleasures now?

Luke 17:33 ~ Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

John 12:6 clearly tells us that Judas did things for financial gain. This would be no different. For Judas, everything came with a price. The last price that he would pay would cost him everything for eternity. In his sin and greed he wagered and he judged wrong. The fact that Judas also appeared to have expected a more pronounce political or military Messiahship also speaks volumes about where his heart was at. He expected change through power and force. Change essentially devoid of love. A change devoid of heart change. A forced change devoid of a heart change in the people amounts to nothing more than tyranny and God is not tyrannical. God loves and is love. It would make no sense that the true Kingdom of God would be ushered in by violence and force. Willing servants in a kingdom are not forced servants.

People swayed from the inside change societies, people being oppressed or forced from the outside causes insurrection and rebellion. God doesn’t like rebellion, man does. God wants us to love Him, not force us to love Him. Judas’ thinking processes were totally messed up and worldly. How many of us think the same of Jesus today? A Cosmic guardian angel that will swoop down when we think He should to save us from our trials and dilemmas? I suggest many do based on the Jesus I see preached in many denominations and mega-churches today. Jesus ironically did end up doing what Judas expected of Him. He just didn’t do it in the time frame and the manner Judas expected. Greed and impatience compounded with an inability to see the larger picture spelled Judas’ doom. 

Judas, by putting a price on Jesus’ head…put a price on his own soul...and so do we. It was an insignificant sum for an insignificant man. I believe, had he knew he was gambling away his own eternity, he would’ve asked for more but since it was only Jesus…he accepted 30 pieces of perishable metal. He valued the world more than he valued the Creator of the world who is God and the world paid him back the only way it knew how…with death. Just as it does for all wretched sinners.

Coins made of metal that will someday cease to exist in the recreation of the New Heavens and the New Earth. It will be gone but Judas will still be in Hell paying for his heinous sins. He will forever be haunted with the fact that instead of abiding within covenant with God he instead made a covenant with sinful men who will most likely share his eternal misery in Hell.

For personal selfish gain we see sinful and wicked people betray others and they do it at the beckoning of greed and avarice. Because of acceptance of these bribes we then see people judged unjustly or send men to unjust deaths. In all these motives surrounding bribery we see evil and tragic endings. But even as the outcome may appear negative from a worldly point of view, God can use the tragedy to the advantage of all who believe. In loss there is gain. In meekness there is exaltation. In selflessness one becomes master and gains the upper hand. All though the power of God.

By sinful humans attempting to buy influence, judgment or action to achieve dishonest gain, those greasing the palms of others reap only judgment on their own sinful heads.


I guess in the end, that is why the Gospel is a gift given and why I tend towards the idea in Calvinism of an effectual calling. The idea that it is God that impels us to the Cross through the Spirit using our own pathos, ethos and logos. This is why in Calvinist (and Augustinian) thought...that there is also a thing called irresistible grace . We have nothing in us that would respond to God otherwise so it is His Spirit working in us that allows us to respond to Him. To me this effectual calling and irresistible grace does not dehumanize the man but shows all the more the grace and love of God who really does not want us punished or condemned. The argument for this is usually mis-characterized by those that do not fully understand it. It is not God forcing people to do things like robots. It is not so much that God is "forcing" us into heaven but that he wishes to protect us from His wrath when we are clearly too stupid and dead in our sins to do so. It is a dreadful and serious wrath which I suggest most cannot really comprehend no matter how much Jesus talked about it. It is essentially the willingness and ability to do God's will and these manifestations are evidence of God's own faithfulness to save men from the power and the penalty of sin
Somehow, some way the effectual calling/irresistible grace is done/used in conjunction with the volitional action of the believer. How this occurs remains a mystery to our finite mortal minds and this is why people are still responsible for their own condemnation. I admit I do not fully understand it but the logical fallout from this line of reasoning is the one that sits most comfortably I suppose. We see it in Pharaoh in Exodus, we see it in Judas in the Gospels and we see it played out in our lives around us.

The Gospel being a gift of mercy and grace having us drawn to it by sovereign God himself through our own volitional choices....therefore eliminates the possibility that the rationalistic mind can attribute bribery to God. It eliminates the possibility of believer being bribed into heaven against their will. People choose. It is here in junctures like this that we see the confluence of God's will and man's come together.  Paradoxically, it also shows the difference between men and God. Men's motives are sinister and reek of sin. Men's decisions and choices are always to be questioned as they have been warped and twisted by sin in the Fall. God on the other hand cannot be viewed as having bad motives even for things like effectual call and irresistible grace. To attribute bad ulterior motives to these types of things is to defame God and to misunderstand Him. He is just. He is perfect. He is perfectly good. He is sovereign. He is often protecting us from ourselves but some will still choose wrong regardless of the number of warnings because, well, they're stubborn and stiff-necked.

We are still responsible for our choices even if they are known in advance by God. People are not accidentally thrown in Hell, their acts are choices that get them there. As we all know (and as ludicrous as it seems), some potentially do not want to be saved and even Jesus knew this (John 5:5-6). These same people who reject God will have remorse/regret that they will be unable to do anything about for the rest of eternity.

As it says in the Westminster Confession, Chapter III, Articles VI, VII:
“As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means there unto. Wherefore, they who are elected…are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His Sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.”

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