Jesus’ death does not merely make it possible for God to forgive, nor does it merely symbolize God’s forgiveness. Jesus’ death is God’s forgiveness.
Joel sees the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as an eschatological event, an event that demarcates what was for him the “age to come” from what was his “present age”. As Christians, we live in the “age to come” and are beneficiaries of the ideal experience of all Israel having the Spirit and prophesying that is anticipated by Moses in Numbers 11:24-30.
The biblical concept of “holiness” is not simply “doing good”, but it is the context that defines what is good and infuses our doing good with divine significance. The relationship between holiness and what the world sees as “good” is complex: sometimes they coincide, sometimes they are askew, and sometimes they come directly into conflict.
Inasmuch as non-Christians do good, they are working with Christians in doing the will of the Lord Jesus. Non-Christian goodness does not supplant or negate the lordship of Christ. It confirms and demonstrates it.
The relevance of the Church is not dependent on its ability to strategically adjust its message to pertain to what the world is concerned about. Rather, the Church only needs to concern itself with being relevant to ground of all reality, God himself in Christ. Inasmuch as it does this, what the Church has to say is by definition the most relevant thing that can be said.
In the aftermath of Harvey, the question we need to be asking ourselves is not, “Why did God punish the people of South Texas and Louisiana?” The question is, “How has God judged me and judged us as a community, as a nation, as human beings?” How has he brought to light things that were lurking deep within your heart? How has he called to you and to all of us to purify ourselves? How has he revealed the light and the darkness within our community and within our nation?
Modalism is a mistake because, in the name of preserving the simplest possible concept of God’s unity and defending the totality of God’s presence in the Incarnation, it subjects God to time and space.