Doctrine should never be understood from our experiences but we should always understand our experiences through sound doctrine. -or- The way we understand our life and all it contains should be on the foundation of sound doctrine. We err when we draw conclusions about the scripture from what we have felt, needed or experienced. Instead we discern the truth about what we feel, need and experience through the truth of scripture.
As I was walking to language school this morning and thinking over my life, the recent words of a friend and some experiences I have had I came to a conclusion that I hope to further explore. That is that whether a person is in error by minimizing the doctrine of holiness and sanctification on one hand or in error by minimizing the fullness and completeness of Justification by faith alone apart from works on the other hand, they basically stray on the same basic issue, having to do with whether Salvation is mostly or primarily man-centered or God-centered. If your basic understanding of God’s eternal purpose in salvation is to make much of man you will err in either of these camps. On the one hand you will believe that God’s aim in loving you and saving you is to make much of you, primarily, and to give you happiness and eternal life in heaven or perhaps even many earthly pleasures in this life. The other ditch, stemming from the same problem tends toward the belief that I must work and fight sin in order to make myself pleasing to God, thus worthy of obtaining eternal life. The fear of turning the grace of God into licentiousness will often drive a person that errs in this way to not trust God’s grace at all in reality, but to carry the burden of making themselves holy on their own, though perhaps admittedly “with God’s help” (I speak from experience).
Both are man centered views, on one hand God is condescending and benevolent, at work to show mankind their worth through abounding grace without accountability and on the other hand by requiring man to prove his worth and to attain to a certain standard, working to show himself deserving of God’s mercy.
I would argue that both are symptoms of the same poison. A Gospel that does not hold up a holy, just, sovereign God who alone can save, who alone can justify, sanctify and preserve to glory those whom He has chosen by His mercy according to the glorious council of His sovereign plan for the glory of His name. A gospel that exalts this God who saves men from all tribes and nations for His glory and the praise of His glorious grace. A God who with such mercy saves by grace through faith alone freely and doesn’t stop there but works to sanctify that person day after day more into His likeness so that He may have a holy people, called out from corruption for His glory! How great is THE Gospel and Oh! How great is the God of the Gospel!
My Crude Notes on:
II Corinthians 6:11-7:1
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.” 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
As the Apostle Paul works his way into chapter six, he begins to defend or at least give credence to the legitimacy of his apostleship. He assures that in his affection, servant hood and apostleship he has never held back from the saints in Corinth, but he spoke freely (pointing back perhaps to places like II Cor. 4:2), we see this heart in Paul time and again through His ministry (Acts 20:19-21;24-27).
Paul showing in the first ten verses the depth of his care and affection goes on to basically say “Hey, I have done my part, how about a little love.” It doesn’t say, but perhaps the folks in Corinth were a little skeptical of Paul or perhaps a bit timid after the hard words that were dealt over the situation of immorality in I Corinthians. We don’t know, but it seems possible as later in chapter 7 he will go on to rejoice over their repentance. Whatever, the case Paul opens his arms and admonished them to not restrict their affections.
It is interesting that after saying this, in chapter seven Paul continues in sort of the same vein as the first part of chapter six, but before he continues he takes what appears to be a sudden detour. 6:13:7:2, appear to flow together, but perhaps remembering the carnality that the Corinthians struggled with urged Paul to insert a sincere caution to the church, lest they misunderstand the idea of throwing their arms and hearts wide open. Let take a look at that “detour” more closely and then we will open up for discussion.
Paul is very concerned about yoking or joining with unbelievers in the church and the defiling effect it would have on their hearts. He reminds them of the new covenant promises and the implication of them, that we are the temple of the living God. He instructs them, in light of these promises, in the pursuit of holiness so that they may endure.
Verse fourteen is an often quoted verse. The meaning of it and the following verses are something that there are various view points about. Within the community of people doing the work we are called to do in this part of the world there are often strong opinions about this verse, varying again in wide degrees of practical application. Whether these verses apply primarily to business or to marriage or to the local church and to what degree and combination of these and perhaps others. So we must seek to know from the word why Paul interjects into the flow of his letter, to speak these serious words.
For what it is worth; my application:
- This is not speaking about being removed from the world, as in insulating ourselves from the lost. For we know the opposite is true. Jesus said “You are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden”, “Let your let so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”, “Go, therefore….” “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one…”. Jesus’ example of being a friend of sinners & the book of Acts, etc.
- I do not believe this is speaking directly to secular situations, such as being partnered with a Muslim to start a business in this part of the world. However, it could apply to this in essence if such a partnership would lead to sinful compromises, thus bringing shame to Christ and being counter-productive in our purpose to be light and to be messengers of the Gospel. We should “…not join them in the same flood of debauchery” as it says in 1 Peter 4:4.
- In the context and considering the history of the Corinthian church I believe this is speaking specifically in the context of the “ecclesia”, the local church. In the end of this letter, Paul instructs them to “exam themselves to see if they be in the faith”. In 1 Corinthians Paul had laid out for them the harsh degree to which sin should be dealt with in the church, though such harshness was (as we see in chapter seven) for the express purpose that God may bring about repentance in the heart of the one caught up in sin. Also, supporting this is that the passage is ended, not with a call to seek out those unbelievers that they were yoked with, but he says “let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of the body….”
- Finally, I believe this was placed here because unless sin is dealt with in the church and we partner ourselves in ministry with unbelievers, unity and the ability to have unrestricted affection will be impossible. For such unity and affection can only be of the Spirit and will not be found when the temple of the Spirit is defiled.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
The point of this parable is not that God’s arm can be twisted into doing something other than what He has ordained, but that God is faithful to vindicate the cries for justice from His elect.
The point in the comparison between God and the judge is not that God is like the judge in His actions, motives, or progression of thought to action, but that God is greater than this judge, who though an earthly judge may be moved to action by being wearied by the persistent pleas of this woman, God is not wearied by the cries for justice from His elect. In fact He will not delay, but I would argue is always at work unfolding His justice and deliverance to be fulfilled at the end of the age. Again, this parable is not saying that God is moved by repetitiousness and that if only His elect would plead more and ask more He would be moved to do something, but that His elect should pray and have faith, not losing heart, having the knowledge that their God who waits on them is not like an earthly judge who must be swayed, but that God “works all things together for good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose”, that God is not in need of persuading, but like as the perfect, just and good Father that He is He answers the pleas of His elect speedily.
Now that begs the answer to the question, “What does speedily mean?” In light of eternity and the scope of God’s vision and our own personal experience as His children we know that this can not be defined as within a week, twenty-four hours, a year…. I believe the answer could be found at the end of the parable “when the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?” We He find faith? Will He find those who have prayed and not lost heart after years of toil? As God’s elect we are to be heavenly minded, having fixed our eyes on that which is to come. We often experience the direct answers to our pleas here on earth, but yet I believe we are to pray and not grow weary knowing that “speedily” all will be made right and we should live with that perspective. That if God chooses to reveal His will and answer and vindicate me in a instant that is well, but that I can as one of His elect rest in His goodness and justice that when I pray to Him He cares and is speedily at work to right the wrongs, to come to my aid, to defend me… even if I do not see it or experience it tangibly until the moment when Jesus wipes all tears from my eyes.
Note: It has been a long time since any post. I hope and pray that I will have more chances to write in the coming days. May God be glorified.