Fr. Ted’s Blog: Parable of the Sower

sower

“A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold.”

As he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Fr. Ted’s Blog Post Here

 

 

Wake Up Sleeper! Speak Up

Bonhoeffer4

. . . So I’m telling you this, and I insist on it in the Lord: you shouldn’t live your life like the Gentiles anymore. They base their lives on pointless thinking, and they are in the dark in their reasoning. They are disconnected from God’s life because of their ignorance and their closed hearts. They are people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed.

But you didn’t learn that sort of thing from Christ. . . .

Let no one beguile you with empty arguments. God’s anger comes down on those who are disobedient because of this kind of thing. So you shouldn’t have anything to do with them. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. Therefore, test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord, and don’t participate in the unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, you should reveal the truth about them. It’s embarrassing to even talk about what certain persons do in secret. But everything exposed to the light is revealed by the light. Everything that is revealed by the light is light. Therefore, it says,

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give you light.”

–Ephesians Chapters 4 & 5

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”– Eph. 5:11

“There is no difference in practice between being joint-partakers with the children of darkness and sharing their works. Such works must not be condoned or excused, but exposed for what they are.”–F. F. Bruce.

…we must admit, this is an area where we need help. Here, let us grow from the insights of John Wesley in his sermon, “The Duty of Reproving Our Neighbor.” He wrote this sermon near the end of his years, after a lifetime of practicing it and seeing the fruit of Christians doing their duty.

Chapter 1 highlighted the text of this sermon, Leviticus 19:17, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.” As we noted, this stands as the beginning context before the second great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Wesley begins, “We are to do all that in us lies to convince him of his fault, and lead him into the right way. Love, indeed, requires us to warn him . . .”

Then he makes a wise point: “We shall rarely reprove any one for any thing that is of a disputable nature . . .” (One example in our day is the dispute among some Christians about the drinking of wine or beer.) He then calls attention to “what is clearly and undeniably evil.” He gives such examples as drunkenness, cursing and swearing, and profaning the Lord’s day. (In America, where most Christians have whittled down the Ten Commandments to nine or less, we see how low we have fallen.)

But let us focus on his third point: “How, in what manner, are we to reprove them?” Noting that we are “called” to do this, he proceeds: Let us first take care that whatever we do may be done in “the spirit of love;” in he spirit of tender good-will to our neighbor; as for one who is the son of our common Father, and one for whom Christ died, . . . Then, by the grace of God, love will beget love. –From Chapter 4, Sin and Silence

invited-to-come

Love One Another and Herding Cats

love_one_another_1 John 4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

These days, trying to help Christians think straight and to take the text of Scripture seriously is akin to herding cats.

As always, the above text, “love one another,” refers specifically to our fellow Christians, not to our unbelieving neighbors or to anyone else outside the Church.

This is the special commandment which Jesus gave to his disciples. It is the sign by which Jesus said others would know that we are HIS.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”–John 13

Yes, Jesus also taught us to love our neighbor  (The Second Great Commandment). As E. J. Carnell wrote, “The responsibility to love all human beings is repeatedly set forth with such solemnity in Scripture that an unloving Christian is a manifest contradiction in terms.” (What we today call an oxymoron.)

The_Good_Samaritan

But when Jesus and John said, “love one another,” they were referring to that unique fellowship we have with all those who believe in Him.

Love…When Basics Become Heresies

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment. . . –Philippians 1

“Undiscerning love spawns and invites more heresy than any of us are ready to believe.”–Chuck Swindoll

In Testaments of Love, Leon Morris asks, “How do we
harmonize the assurance that ‘God is love’ with the assertion
that ‘our God is a consuming fire’? Most of us never
think about such problems, and in the end our idea of love is
indistinguishable from that of the world around us.”1Quoted in:

Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies

LoveCover

“…an excellent piece…one that many Christians need to hear”–R.C. Sproul on the essay, “When Love Becomes Heresy.”

The book (is)…an astringent corrective of misinterpreted love.” – Vernon Grounds, late Chancellor, Denver Seminary

C o n t e n t s

Introduction ……………………………………………………………..11
Chapter One:
Love and Obedience ………………………………………….21
Chapter Two:
Prayer and Exhortation ………………………………………39
Chapter Three:
Forgiveness and Repentance……………………………….63
Chapter Four:
Sin and Silence …………………………………………………91
Chapter Five:
Revival and Holiness ……………………………………….115

[These posts  are excerpts from the book: Exhortaton…do right; Heart and Mind; The Love Chapter; Of Ponds and Pitfalls; Repentance and Forgiveness ]

Now, also, available in E Book format for Nook, Kindle, or Smashwords for 3 dollars.

[Note:  You do NOT Need a Kindle or Nook.  You can read on your PC or Laptop]

Amazon, UK

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

The print edition, here or Barnes&Noble ( Marketplace for UK)

“Sometimes really great books are written by unknown authors; this is one of them.”The Determined Christian

 New Review here

Another New review

The Short Review: Buy this book!

The Long Review:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge . . .

End Notes of the Book

Notes to Text

Introduction

1. Chuck Colson, “Promises Without Principle,” Breakpoint, December 2000,

p.12. Available from Prison Fellowship Ministries, Breakpoint Magazine Services,

P.O. Box 1550, Merrifield, VA 22116, or http://www.breakpoint.org or Phone (800) 995-8777.

2. C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillan, Paperbacks ed., 1961), pp. 115-16.

3. Barna Research Online, “The Year’s Most Intriguing Findings,” 17 December 2001.

4. Tim Weiner, “US is No. 1,” San Jose Mercury News, 13 March 1991.

5. Online see abortionfacts.com; barna.org, archives, “Church Attendance”; divorcemag.com; guttmacher.org, “Country Abortion Rates”; umich.edu, “1995-1997 World Values Survey.”

6. Pulpit Helps 27, no. 2 (February 2002):1.

7. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, 1, 8. Quoted in Donald G. Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, vol. 1, God, Authority, and Salvation (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978), p. 57.

8. Martin Luther, Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, ed. John Dillenberger (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1961), p. xxii.

9. Ibid., p. xxiv.

10. Ibid., p. 343.

11. Ibid.

12. Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, 1:59.

13. E. J. Carnell, The Case for Biblical Christianity, ed. Ronald H. Nash (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), p. 33.

Chapter One

1. Leon Morris, Testaments of Love: A Study of Love in the Bible (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), p. 2.

2. e.g. Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers. See Paul Brownback, The Danger of Self-Love, Chicago: Moody, 1982; Paul C. Vitz, Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

3. I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), p. 444.

4. Blaise Pascal, Pensees, no. 100.

5. W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, Matthew (The Anchor Bible, Garden City, N. Y.:Doubleday, 1979), p. vi.

6. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (Chicago:Moody, 1980), 1:466.

7. Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975-78), s.v. “heart.”

8. Charles C. Adams, The Specter of Individualism, “Plumbline” transcript (Sioux Center, Ia.:KDCR radio, 1 May 2000), p. 2.

9. Augustine, Confessions (trans. Pusey) 4. 1.

10. Pascal, Pensees, no. 81.

11. A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (Camp Hill, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1986), p. 8.

12. Marilyn Hickey, “Ask Marilyn,” Charisma, June 1984, p. 17.

13. Elisabeth Elliot, “Gateway to Joy,” air date 8 February 2001. (Good News Broadcasting Assn. Tapes may be ordered at (800) 759-4569.)

14. Augustine, City of God (trans. Dods) 14. 28.

15. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), p. 34.

16. Ibid., p. 35.

17. Elton Trueblood, A Place to Stand (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), p. 56.

18. Morris, Testaments of Love, p. 273.

19. F. F. Bruce, The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), p. 53.

20. A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1948), p. 70.

Chapter Two

1. C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillan, Paperbacks ed., 1961), p. 20.

2. “The Plan of Our Heavenly Father,” Study Guide 1 (Corp. of the Pres. of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1986), p. 5.

3. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 8 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980), 6:305.

4. Deseret News, 14 November 1859.

5. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:306.

6. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, 3d ed., 14 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 1:397.

7. John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1-39 (NICOT, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), pp. 97-98.

8. Chuck Colson, “Triumph of the Therapeutic,” Breakpoint, October 2000, p.17.

9. David F. Wells, Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 4.

10. H. G. Wood, Christianity and Civilization (New York: Macmillan, 1943) p. 61. Quoted in D. Elton Trueblood, Philosophy of Religion (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), p. 171.

11. John MacArthur, “The Discipline of God’s Children,” tape GC 2331. Available from Word of Grace Tape Library, P. O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412.

12. Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975-78), s.v. “exhort.” Henceforth cited as NIDNTT.

13. Charlotte Holt Clinebell, Counseling for Liberation, ed. Howard J. Clinebell, Jr., Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976), p. 21.

14. Ibid., p. 31.

15. NIDNTT, s.v. “exhort.”

16. Ibid.

17. Clinton Morrison, An Analytical Concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1979), see index.

18. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), p. 260.

19. John Calvin, Golden Booklet of the Christian Life, trans. Henry J. Van Andel (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1952), p. 11.

20. Ibid., pp. 18-19.

21. Daily Mail, 10 May 1999.

22. Ibid.

23. F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (NICNT, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), p. 345.

24. Ibid., p. 348.

25. Ibid.

26. John Woolman, The Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman, ed. Phillips P. Moulton (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 53.

27. Ibid., p. 95.

28. Ibid., p. 54.

29. Ibid., p. 35.

30. Ibid., p. 33.

31. Thomas A. Bailey, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, 3d ed., 2 vols. (Boston: D. C. Heath and Co., 1966), 1:73.

32. Woolman, Journal, p. 52.

33. Charles Colson, Breakpoint Newsletter, n.d.

34. United Press International, 12 December 1995.

Chapter Three

1. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, gen. ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979-88), s.v. “forgiveness.” Henceforth cited as ISBE.

2. F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, rev. ed. (NICNT, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), p. 70.

Chapter Three (cont.)

3. J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs

(Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1993), p. 245.

4. On this verse, F. F. Bruce writes, “Table-fellowship included the Eucharist . . . but was by no means confined to it; it constituted one of the most solemn bonds of brotherhood. Within the Christian community an unwarranted breach of table-fellowship was almost tantamount to a denial of the gospel truth (Gal. 2.11ff.); where it was warranted . . . it was bound to be taken seriously and was calculated to be one of the surest ways of bringing a delinquent church member to acknowledge the error of his ways.” See 1 and 2 Corinthians, NCBC, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; London: Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1980.

5. Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 12:275.

6. Martin Luther, Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, ed. John Dillenberger (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1961), p. 72.

7. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (Chicago: Moody, 1980), 2:909.

8. Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975-78), s.v. “reconciliation.” Henceforth cited as NIDNTT.

9. ISBE, s.v. “repent.”

10. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), p. 149.

11. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, trans. Rev. Dr. Alfred

Chapter Three (cont.)

Marshall (Great Britain: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1958), p. iii.

12. I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), p. 867.

13. Christianity Today 45, no.6 (23 April 2001): 28.

14. Victor Parachin, “Letting Go: Ten Guidelines to Help You Forgive,” Journey, March/April 2000, p. 7.

15. Ibid.

16. Becky Beane, “Forgiveness” tract, p. 14. Article originally published by Prison Fellowship Ministries in Jubilee, Spring 1998. Please Note: To be fair to the writer, she does say that “reconciliation . . . requires repentance.” She just does not see the biblical condition of repentance as preceding forgiveness. Like so many, she uses forgiveness more broadly than the Bible does, using it synonymously for fruits like love and mercy.

17. ISBE, s.v. “forgiveness.”

18. C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Romans, 2 vols. (ICC, Endinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 1:256-57.

19. Ibid., 1:267.

20. Ibid., 1:258.

21. Ibid.

22. NIDNTT, s.v. “conversion.”

23. Ibid., s.v. “forgiveness.”

24. Ibid., s.v. “reconciliation.”

25. ISBE, s.v. “reconcile.”

26. Morris, Matthew, p. 116.

27. A. Noordtzij, Leviticus, trans. Raymond Togtman (BSC, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), p. 199.

28. Marshall, Luke, p. 642.

29. Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (NICNT, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), p. 432.

30. NIDNTT, s.v. “conversion.”

31. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, 3d ed., 14 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 5:149.

32. Deitrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, rev. and unabridged ed. (New York: Macmillan, Paperbacks ed., 1963), p. 47.

33. Marshall, Luke, p. 641.

34. Ibid., p. 642.

35. Ibid., p. 643.

36. C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (New York: Macmillan Co., 1953), pp. 142-43.

Chapter Four

1. Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (NICNT, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), p. 402.

2. Ibid., p. 403.

3. I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), p. 867.

4. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, 3d ed., 14 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 3:12.

5. Martin Luther, Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, ed. John Dillenberger (Garden City: N. Y.: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1961), p. 371.

6. Ibid., p. 293.

7. Ibid.

8. John Calvin, Golden Booklet of the Christian Life, trans. Henry J. Van Andel (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1952), p. 11.

9. Ibid., pp. 16-17.

10. J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs

(Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1993), p. 180.

11. John Calvin, A Harmony of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke, trans. T. H. L. Parker, eds. Torrance & Torrance (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 2:71-72.

12. F. F. Bruce, The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), p. 69.

13. Packer, Concise Theology, pp. 242-43.

14. Ibid., p. 242.

15. Ibid., p. 163.

16. Deitrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, rev. and unabridged ed. (New York: Macmillan, Paperbacks ed., 1963), p. 47.

17. Ibid., p. 55.

18. I. Howard Marshall, Kept by the Power of God (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1969), pp. 212-13.

19. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (trans. Beveridge) 3. 3. 1.

20. Anonymous, “Don’t Blame Divorce’s Victims,” Christianity Today

21. Tim Stafford, “The Church’s Walking Wounded, “ Christianity Today 47, no. 3 (March 2003): 68.

22. Editorial, “The Christian Divorce Culture,” Christianity Today 44, no. 10 (4 September 2000): 47.

23. Christianity Today

24. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, 3d ed., 14 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 6:303.

Chapter Five

1. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, 3d ed., 14 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 2:133.

2. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, rev. ed. (NICNT, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), pp. 348-9.

3. Wesley, Works, 3:212-13.

4. John Calvin, The Epistle of Paul The Apostle to the Hebrews and The First and Second Epistles of ST Peter, trans. Wm. B. Johnston, eds. Torrance & Torrance (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989) 12:195.

5 John Piper, World 18, no. 48 (13 December 2003): 51.

6. Wesley, Works, 3:212.

7. Ibid., 3:144.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid., p. 198.

10. Ibid., p. 205.

11. Ibid., p. 224.

12. Ibid., p. 206.

13. William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, ed. and abr. John W. Meister, for. D. Elton Trueblood (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1955), p. 7.

 Covers, See bookstore links above.

ebook for Nook

LoveCoverPrint Edition Cover

“Happiness is not to be found by dancing after any heathen god of love. Happiness is found by looking up to where a more terrible but a more tender God of love hangs, not on Olympus but on Calvary.”–G.K. Chesterton

The Great Commandment: Heart and Mind

My favorite Frank and Ernest cartoon displays one frame. A newly hatched chick stands with egg shells at his feet and with a small piece as a cap on his head: “Wow! Paradigm shift!”

Paradigm shifts can be hard to come by, especially when it comes to the “heart” of the Bible.

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart…” (Deut. 6).

In our culture, we refuse to understand the “heart” of the Bible. An old television commercial, featuring a famous NBA player, focused on a hand pointing at his head and a voice saying, “You’ve got it up here but you’ve got to get it in your heart.”

What we westerners divide apart, the Semitic mind of the Bible holds together, so that the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states,“‘heart’ became the richest term for the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature.”

That totality includes not only the emotions, upon which we so fondly dwell, but also the mind and the will. What we spend our time thinking about, what we dream of, what we deliberate over, what we choose to do, what we desire—these are all seated in the biblical “heart.”

Thus, when we come to the New Testament (NT), where the common Language of the Empire was koine Greek, all quotations of the Great Commandment include the word “mind” (Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:29; Luke 10: 27). It is not that something new was added, but that the word “mind” was needed so everyone could understand the all-encompassing scope of the commandment to love God. “A striking feature of the NT is the essential closeness of kardia (heart) to the concept nous, mind…

“The meaning of heart as the inner life, the centre of the personality and as the place in which God reveals himself to men is even more clearly expressed in the NT . . .

“The heart of man, however, is the place not only where God arouses and creates faith. Here faith proves its reality in obedience and patience (Rom. 6:17; 2 Thess. 3:5).”*

[That obedience shows itself in loving God with all our mind.]

*The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, s.v. “heart”

–From Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies

‘The Love Chapter’

Sad to say, most Christians read a great passage like “The Love Chapter” as if it stands alone, oblivious to the fact that Paul wrote a letter not chapters. First Corinthians, like the rest of the New Testament, stood without chapter divisions for over a millennium….

 

To divorce the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians from the rest of

the letter is to do violence to God’s word. This clouds our

understanding because it betrays the context. Regarding rules for

study, Haddon Robinson on Radio Bible Class is fond of quoting one of

his seminary colleagues: “Context is king.”

 

So, let us look at the context of love in First Corinthians.

Paul describes some of the qualities of love in verse four of

chapter thirteen: long-suffering, kind, absence of envy and

of parading itself, not puffed up. Being puffed up described

the Corinthians themselves (5:4). This attitude allowed them

to overlook sexual immorality in their midst. Paul tells them

that not only are they proud, but they have not “mourned”

(5:2) over this sin. And in chapter 8, he rebuked them:

“knowledge puffs up; but love edifies” (v. 1).

26

 

When we hear those ringing words, “love . . . does not

rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth (13:6, italics

added), we should recall the Corinthians’ sinful condition in

chapter 5—their disobedience, displayed by their toleration of

blatant sin in their fellowship. Here, Paul calls for stern measures

of Christian discipline so that they can celebrate Christ’s

sacrifice for sins “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and

truth” (5:8, italics added). The concern expressed in the first

citation (13:6), taken in the context of the letter, should draw

our minds back to the problem confronted in the second citation

(5:8). Note the concern for truth in both passages.

 

Today, it would be a safe assumption to say that the

majority of Christians, including leaders, turn this Scripture

on its head (instead of turning the world up side down—there

goes Murphy’s law again). Many Christians seize upon words

like “love is patient and kind “ and use them to undermine the

Scriptural commands regarding rebuke and discipline which

are to be implemented in the face of disobedience. Again, this

false premise results when we resist holding together those

things which the holy conjunction gives us, things like love

and obedience.

 

We forget that there is only one God who has given us

his word, which both declares “love is patient and kind” and

commands “remove the evil man from among you,” all in

the same letter. When Paul gave the Corinthians that command,

he was quoting Scripture itself (Deut. 17:7, LXX).

Such discipline served God’s gracious, loving purposes so

that “all the people shall hear and fear, and not act presumptuously

again” (Deut. 17:13, KJV). God does not desire “that any should

perish” (2 Pet. 3:9); he calls all to turn from their sin; but when there

are those who continue in their willful defiance of his commands, for

the sake of the health of his bride, his people, he will not tolerate it.

Earlier, Paul had asked the Corinthians, “Do you (plural)

not know that you (the congregation) are the temple of God

and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (pl.)? If anyone

defiles the temple (the congregation) of God, God will

destroy him. For the temple (congregation) of God is holy,

which temple you (pl.) are” (1 Cor. 3:16, 17).

God’s concern here is for the health of his Body, his

church (assembly) in Corinth. Love and obedience are the

keys to this congregation’s well being.

 

Today, this concern is lost among many evangelical

Christians. We so emphasize personal salvation that we

diminish Christ’s concern for his Body, his assembly of

believers wherever it may meet. To use a phrase of Elton

Trueblood’s, we make small what Christ made large. Why?

Again, we dispense with the holy conjunction, “and”—this

to our detriment. If we are to be whole and holy, we must

remedy our neglect. Otherwise, we will never get out of one

of the traps set for us by the spirit of our day—the trap of

individualism.  

Too often, as American Christians, we have fallen for this

potential heresy. But as one Christian radio commentary put

it, “The spirit of individualism is one of the false gods of our

modern age . . . it presumes the individual person is the final

authority in his or her own life.”

 

 

This individualistic spirit is not new. Paul exhorted the

Corinthians, “Love . . . does not seek its own (lit., the things

of herself).” He also wrote this as a direct command: “Let no

one seek his own” (1Cor. 10:24). This command addressed

the wrong attitude which stemmed directly from the

Corinthians’ misshapen view of Christian freedom. They

displayed this attitude with their slogan, “All things are lawful

for me” (6:12; 10:23).

 

The Apostle exhorted the Corinthians to replace their

self-centered focus with a God-centered one. “Flee sexual

immorality . . . you were bought at a price; therefore glorify

God in your body” (6:18, 20). He turned the focus from self to

love of neighbor: “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s

 well-being” (10:24). “I say this to your shame . . . brother goes

 to law against brother, and that before unbelievers”(6:5,6).

 

Just as Paul could not, Christians who love cannot

remain silent when face to face with fellow believers who

are departing from the narrow way. Though Scripture mandates

that we speak up, this imperative sounds off-key to

generations that have allowed the faceless Zeitgeist to

explain away God’s word through today’s fads.

 

It is not that Earthly Wisdom sings about love in, let’s

say, the key of E, while the Word of God sings about love in,

say, the key of G. This analogy will not work. Rather, we

hear two very different songs; while some of the words do

overlap, the dissimilar tunes ring out with a horrible clash

(that is, if God’s people are singing their song, because the

those of the world are certainly singing theirs).

The key question for us, as Christians, is, “Why are we

deaf to this dissonance?” Well, there is a breeze blowing in

our ears. The prevailing winds lull us to sleep as context is

blown away.

 

–From Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies

Copyright 2004 by Michael C. Snow