All truth is moral. That is, all truth has implications for living. We speak of abstract truth but there really is no such thing if we take this to mean some truth is divorced from real life. Every ‘truth’ is a part of reality that impacts to a greater or lesser extent on the rest of reality. Every ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ demands that other realities adjust to it and take account of it. Truth is what IS, and in our universe, an IS creates an OUGHT. I ought to treat my father with respect because he is my father. I ought to love my wife and cherish her because she is my wife. What is, shapes and informs what ought to be. What is fact shapes what is fitting, that is, what is right and proper.
This is why ‘truth systems’ (what we believe to be true) are so important for at a rudimentary level at least we are all shaped by what we think to be true. And it is why some so-called ‘truths’ are very dangerous. For instance, if we believe that evolution is the true cosmogony then we will champion a ruthless ethic of the survival of the fittest and assume that what now is, by definition, is superior to what came before. This is the logical imperative of atheistic evolution.
Many step back from these conclusions but in so doing they are being inconsistent with ‘truth’ as they perceive it. Unfortunately, many are only too willing to think and act consistent with this ‘truth’ and the results are frightening: ruthless unbridled capitalism, assumed modern western cultural superiority to other cultures past and present, the celebration of a dog-eat-dog ethos, the demise and dismissal of traditional Christian values that stress submission to and self-giving for the other (the Nietzschean belief that such values vice and are weak and to be despised), are just a few misguided beliefs and practices that have roots in an atheistic evolutionary world view.
Incidentally, the moral imperative of evolution is one reason why I am less than comfortable with theistic evolution. Theistic evolution assumes the mechanism of the survival of the fittest is God’s original design and intention. It assumes death and extinction, nature red in tooth and claw, to be right and good, the way, in fact, God meant things to be. Of such a world, evolving by his express creatorial fiat, presumably God declared his pleasure in the words, ‘good… good… good… very good’ (Gen 1). Violence, destruction and death in this version of ‘truth’ are not an anomaly, an intrusion, a hideous deformity in creation resulting from a space-time fall but are intrinsic to it; evolution is how it is and therefore how it ought to be. Such thinking seems to me far from Genesis One and the God of the Bible.
But, I digress.
To return: truth shapes obligation. Design has an intrinsic impulse or intention. An IS creates an OUGHT. This is why theology is never irrelevant. It is never, merely abstract. Our beliefs (what we think to be true) mould, and ought to mould, our behaviour. In the last few posts we have explored what it means for Jesus to be ‘the Son of Man’. How should this ‘truth’ shape our lives? How will It impact on other aspects of reality? What demands will it make? If it is a huge truth, as it clearly is, what seismic effects will it have on the rest of reality? What will be its implications for humanity?
We need not guess about the implications. Scripture itself draws the implications. We are left in no doubt
to reject the son of man has horrendous consequences
Seems a no-brainier really. If God is good and the Son of Man brings in God’s kingdom of good there can be no good for any who reject it; there is no good outside of God. By definition all who reject the Son of Man side with evil and identify themselves as evil (Jn 3:20); for such there can be no happy future. They are weeds destined for burning (Matt 13:38-41). For those who betray him, it had been better that they were never born (Mk 14:21). When he judges men, separating the sheep from the goats, it is only those who have demonstrated love to him (and so the good that belongs to the kingdom. Cf. Lk 6:45) who will enter his kingdom; all others will be cast into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:34-44). Those who have done good in the day of resurrection and judgement (both executed by the Son of Man) will rise to life and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned (Jn 5:29,30.). Those who have no love of him and no submission to him will face wrath at his coming (Matt 24:34-37; Ps 2).
only those who prove themselves to be truly followers of the son of man will enter his kingdom
True followers will be identified by a number of criteria. They will be marked by: faith in the strange glory of the Son of Man lifted up on a cross as an object for faith (Jn 3:14,15; 8:28); feeding spiritually on him as the source of their life (Jn 6:53); unashamed open devotion to him (Lk 9:26, 12:8); continual alert expectation of his return (Matt 24:44); obedient service that goes beyond lip service (Matt 21:28); fruit-bearing lives that bring pleasure to God (Matt 13:23); and love expressed to him in acts of unconscious kindness to his people (Matt 25:34-40).
For these, the faithful, the reward will be the blessings of God’s kingdom, the Son of Man’s kingdom (for they are one and the same) to which they receive entry (Matt 25:34).
True followers are not simply those who have heard the Son of Man but those who have obeyed (Matt 7:21,24,27). It is not the claim to faith that marks one out as a child of the kingdom, not even religious activity performed in the name of Christ but the life of faith, a life that resembles Jesus. Likeness to Christ is the ‘good fruit’ that identifies the true child of the Kingdom (Matt 7:15-20). Such people the Son of Man will not be ashamed to own as his brothers and welcome into his kingdom (Hebs 2:11; Mk 8:38). Those who have lived not for the present but for a kingdom to come, a better country in the future, God will not be ashamed to be called their God (Hebs 11:16).
The ramifications of Jesus as the Son of Man are immense. God’s rights as God are at stake. He has given to the Son of Man, to Jesus, all his authority. If Jesus does not reign then God does not reign. God’s sovereignty (his will) is executed through Jesus (Jn 5:16-28). The reign of the Son of Man is nothing less than the reign of God (Ps 2, 8; Hebs 2:5-9).
Of course, if we do not believe this we will live as most of the world does but if we do believe this, genuinely believe, well, it changes everything.