Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Paradoxical Situation

When reading the different Christian blog sites we are confronted with the writings of a multitude of people, both bloggers and the responders, expressing their own thoughts, and often an accumulation of the thoughts of their teachers, the authors they read, as well as their understanding of the Biblical texts.
The question must be asked,
How do we know whether the words written are from the mind of a false teacher, or a faithful one?

In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 7, Jesus was teaching the crowds. One of His teachings was how to know the true from the false, but He warned them that things were not always what they seemed. In verse 15 He tells them that there are “ravenous wolves” amongst those who are His sheep. These wolves actually appear to be sheep, apparently pious, sincere, truthful, and with the best interests of His sheep at heart.

It is not necessarily so!

So He tells them, in v. 16, that
You will recognize them by their fruits
He then uses a very reasonable analogy, which He presents in question form,
Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Of course the very reasonable response to His very reasonable question, must be a resounding

Reason, based upon evidence must be involved in forming these opinions,
So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit
So Jesus identified what we ought to look for, a mark of distinction.
Without this mark, we would find ourselves having a question mark hanging over all who express an opinion, whether as a teacher, a blogger, or a responder to a blog.
It is important that those we ascertain those who are trustworthy, and faithful sisters and brothers. Christ’s advice encourages us to form our opinion, or make value judgments, of the words coming from the mouths or keyboards, as to whether the authors are uttering, or writing falsehood. According to Jesus words, we are to make that assessment based upon their fruits.
What kind of fruit is being displayed when I read statements, directed towards a sister or brother, which are void of any evidence of grace?
Seems to me that such words as comparing a brother with “human excrement”, or claiming that a brother has written, or spoken heresy (with the juvenile disclaimer that the brother is not charged with being a heretic), or a sister or brother is “stupid” for what they write, are rather the expressions one would find coming from an unredeemed, pagan mind rather than Christian.
G.K.Chesterton was describing this paradoxical situation of Christians who don’t evidence grace, when he said,
It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong
True generosity of spirit towards those who think differently to us only comes as we are abundantly aware of our own unmerited receipt of, and continuing need for God’s grace.
Paul described the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit to look for in the lives of all followers of Christ, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Theological education and knowledge, or conviction, will never convince anyone if not accompanied by a humble awareness of one's own propensity to be pridefully wrong.
Is it only I who cannot see the evidence of grace in the kind of statements I’ve mentioned?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Thanks Lionel for the inspiration!

Reading several blogs recently, which I won't link to for reasons which will be obvious, I am made vividly aware of the dangers of allowing ANYTHING to be added to the utter completeness of what God has done for sinners like me in the establishment and inaugurating His New Covenant, by the finished work of the Lord,Jesus Christ.

It is reported that one man made a substantial donation with the hope that his gift will make him more visible to God. Another argues that those who don't teach tithing are close to being heretics. Another argues that some believers are more important to God than others.

What do these people imagine the Lord of Glory is impressed by? Do they really believe that Christ's work was imperfect and has to be completed by their meager efforts? Does He have favorites amongst His own?

I must confess that I have nothing which I can add to the great design of the "clothes" I now wear, will wear until eternity, before my Savior God.

Nikolaus L. von Zin­zen­dorf understood it well:

’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.

Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.

When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.

- Nikolaus L. von Zin­zen­dorf, 1739