Saturday, February 25, 2006
The Quest for the WHOLE Council of God.
I was surprised but thrilled at a number of comments that came out following a recent post on the grace of God. I think Don kicked off the discussion by speaking of the freedom that we MUST find in Christ, then I threw out the thought that it is essential that our DOCTRINE must affect our PRACTICE.
The wonderful Jul then commented on something that has been at the back of my mind - the practice of constantly discussing "indwelling sin" accompanied by "accountability" groups. She, like me, is troubled by this - and made the point that we are indeed 'jars of clay' and that God is actually glorified in our weakness! She ended her comment with this outstanding conclusion; "When are we going to remember he chose us because we are weak and foolish? We are usually spending all our time trying to fill in the cracks in our jars of clay so we can impress everybody, instead of letting his glory shine out through our brokeness".
Don, then again demonstrated his experience and wisdom and gave a fantastically long post (that I wished he hadn't stopped on!) with discussing the Gospel - something that MUST be close, indeed central to all of our hearts. He again like Jul and myself has experienced the long accounts of how heinous our sin is that put Christ on the Cross. A popular quote is often used in this context of Martin Luther - "We carry the nails in our pockets". Yet Don wondered; "I thought He'd forgotten my sin at my moment of salvation, and raised me up with Jesus in baptism???". He noted how the Puritan writers are often used to talk of the need to constantly be "mortifying sin".
And he echoed the ache of my heart that we so rarely hear talk of the "positional" verses such as; 1 Peter 2:9: "We are A CHOSEN RACE, a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a HOLY NATION, a PEOPLE FOR GOD'S OWN POSSESSION!/That we might proclaim His excellencies!" and also remembered a hymn inspired by Galatians 2 & Colossians 3:"I've been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I liveYet not I, but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for meIf ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God set your affection on things above, not on things on the earthFor ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
The Whole Council of God.
This was the most outstanding section of his comment that I really want to emphasise, because in it - he summed up and vocalised something that I have been teasing through for a long time. He said:
"Here's how I see the gospel, based on how the disciples of Jesus behaved:
1. The cross without the resurrection leads to confusion and despair.
2. The cross with the resurrection leads to joyful assurance that our sins have been forgiven by God, through Jesus, who is now alive.
3. The cross with the resurrection and the ascension leads to hope in a glorious future with Jesus, who has gone ahead to make a dwelling place for us with His Father, and will one day return to destroy evil forever and take us to live with Him as He is now.
4. The cross with the resurrection, the ascension and the infilling of the Holy Spirit leads to a triumphant Body of Christ on Earth; moving with the mind and power of Christ to become ever more like Him and tell others of what we've learned and experienced with Him; and, united with Him not just through His written Word, but also through His moment-by-moment presence with us in our *redeemed* inner man. Members of this Body have complete access to *everything* that is His (Jn 16:14-15), including the experience of sonship in His Father!".
This IS vital because it emphasises the point that by no means am I or any of us trying to do away with the vitality and centrality of the Cross. I love and appreciate and benefit from the prophetic insight that speakers such as Mahaney have brought to this area. The importance that we mustn't just see it as a "beginning" and then to have no more relevence to us as believers! I have listened many times to Mahaney's message that he brought to the Brighton Leaders Conference last year on "The Cup". It must be heard.
Are we not missing out by stopping there? Is our Christian experience and life lacking because of an undue emphasis on one extremely valid part of the whole council of God? Another commentator noted quite rightly that this IS important - it is more than just semantics, or theological head knowledge - this is actually affecting lives! He ended quite rightly by saying that we cannot refrain from discussing this simply because of the sincerity or "nice-ness" of those advocating this view!
Ern Baxter was a strong advocate of the "Whole Council of God" as I have referred to in a previous post - "The Neglect of the Resurrection". There are a lot of issues and questions to be dealt with here. My first job is to take Volume 4 of the Works of John Owen to work tonight to re-read. It is quoted frequently in the whole area of discussion and I want to refresh my memory as to exactly what the Puritans said and their intentions - as I am absolutely positive that they never intended a legalistic unhealthy focus on "indwelling sin".
Furthermore as Hugh reminded me on a different subject, the most essential thing is to get into Scripture and assess what the Word of God has to say. So while I am aware this post has thrown out a lot of questions, I am excited about what may be found - as the bottom line here is indeed as Don said; Freedom in Christ!