Sunday, January 18, 2009

61 - More from the journey

Obviously anyone who gets up in the middle of the night DESERVES to be called strange, but others just ARE strange. So - if my thinking is a little off the beaten path - chalk that up to lack of sleep and inherent weirdness.

I have long struggled with all those verses that don't fit in with some folks take on spiritual things. So - allow me to struggle with that in your presence. We can usually find a version which says it in an almost incoherent way. I am not trying to do that. However - I DO wish to take the different phrases which represent different original offerings and try to see if they may share a slightly differing perspective and teaching.

Paul taught us to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:5 and no one talks about what the "obedience of Christ" has to do with my taking thoughts captive. However - if you realize that we are saved by Christ's obedience, then making THAT our focus is quite cogent. In fact, in the original, being saved by the faith of Christ is mentioned several times. If we ignore the concept - we'll also miss out on many verses which comfort us VERY much. Like that one I have mentioned about having FULL confidence on judgment Day - 1 John 4:17. Many of us just ignore that teaching and go on.But - God means for you to have confidence every day and even on judgment Day - so why not do it? Ah - but can we with our present theology? Maybe we need to augment our knowledge bank somewhat.

My contention is that Jesus is the New Covenant and HE invites us to be HIS BODY because HE is the Savior of the Body and we realize at a very DEEP level that the focus is Christ - HE gets all preeminence and we can be very satisfied with that. We also realize that HE is the Savior of the body, but somehow we compartmentalize those concepts to make the focus be on us and what we believe and that we CAN be saved if we have all the proper "positions" on all those Theological arguments.

Does that sound even CLOSE to JESUS being The Way, The Truth, The Life? Does that sound like Paul saying he did not want a righteousness of his own - but only that which comes from the righteousness of Christ? (Philippians 3:9)

What's the problem?

Well - Hebrew thinking has been ignored and canceled - for one thing. The old concept of a Promise Covenant is almost totally lost. Even though most of us know some of the ideals of a marriage covenant, we cannot seem to think of God loving us in a covenant structure. BUT - He did that toward the nation of Israel and that ended up in ruins. (Read Deuteronomy again sometime and check out the fulfillment especially of a section of chapter 28 - verses 47-53.) We are destined to that if we think WE can keep covenant with God.

However - God didn't structure it that way for US - the NEW covenant is DIFFERENT. (Jeremiah 31:31ff.) This is a situation much MORE like that of our children - they must be born into the family to be IN - and their relationship to us is one of DNA - not performance. Then - like Jesus, they LEARN how to be sons of the living God as one witness to the world that a God of LOVE is our focus and our guarantee of heaven. HIS character is impeccable; His promises are assured and we KNOW He will take care of it, as Paul taught - because "HE has given US assurance by raising Jesus from the dead." (Acts 17:31)

But - that doesn't totally answer our original conceptual query - how do we get involved with the "obedience of Christ"? Answer - His ultimate obedience was "obedience unto death" - and we are buried into that performance by baptism. We bury dead folks - and they are raised to "newness of Life". (Romans 6:4) But - instead of allowing the teaching to take us to JOY - we argue about baptism. Well - go ahead - but I won't argue with you. I don't fully understand any OTHER birth process either - but I do enjoy being born and I just REJOICE at the birth of my four children. I saw that experience - and I still am clueless. And - I don't even care - I am thrilled at God's miracles. If I am joined with His death, Paul taught, then I also know FOR CERTAIN that I will be joined with His resurrection.(Romans 6:5)

AND - all the time I know the focus is JESUS - HE is the LIFE and I am united with HIM - and I am very satisfied with that and I recommend it - because confidence on Judgment Day - that is really SOMETHING. I am ready for that because Jesus IS MY LIFE - and I am part of HIS body of which HE is the Savior. More to come

1 comment:

Orland Wilkerson said...

Your paragraph on baptism brought some thoughts to mind. Churches of Christ have been very insistent that adult baptism by immersion is necessary for salvation. In this comment, the word “adult” includes anyone who has reached the so-called age of accountability.
We’ve been overly concerned about whether the correct formula is said over the baptismal candidate: “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of your sins.” We can’t leave anything out of the rite of baptism; if we do, it’s not valid. Yet the book of Acts tells us that people were simply baptized in the name of Jesus. If “for the forgiveness of sins” is left out of the formula is the act void of any salvific force, or is it merely an empty ritual. In the past, people seeking membership in the church were required to be immersed as adults for the forgiveness of their sins. This was true of people who had been baptized by sprinkling or pouring, but it was also true of people who had been baptized as adults in other denominations where the baptism formula did not include “for the forgiveness of sins.” Many churches of Christ are now admitting into membership people who were baptized by immersion as adults; the exact formula is no longer an issue. I do not know whether baptism by sprinkling or pouring is being accepted by some churches of Christ. In any case, the biblical norm is adult baptism by immersion.