Tuesday, October 1, 2013

And Such Were Some of You

Yesterday, our pastor completed a series on Judges entitled Scandalous Grace looking at how God's grace overrules in our lives for our good and his purposes, and also pointing out that four of those judges are mentioned in the faith chapter of the New Testament, Hebrews 11.
And what more shall I say?  For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.  (Heb 11:32-34)
These men were deeply flawed, yet the Lord used each of them and had them specifically called out by the writer of Hebrews.  This is both marvelous and confusing.

God has no limits to his grace.  If we have been believers for any length of time, there should be little difficulty appreciating the length and breadth of that grace extending to sinful men and women.  Before believing the gospel, we Christians were living in open opposition to the Lord (1 Cor 6:9-11a; Eph 2:1-3) and went through a change of position effected in us by virtue of Jesus' atoning sacrifice (1 Cor 6:11b; Eph 2:4-9).  We are God's elect (Eph 1:4; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 1:4; Titus 1:1).  Thus far there are no surprises.

A confusion comes when the elect do not act like the elect.  Whether old covenant or new, there is an expectation that God's work will manifest itself in good works (Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18; 1 Cor 6:12-20; Eph 2:10), yet selfish cowards, mercenaries, and scoundrels have their purported faith highlighted.  What gives?  How did they get in?

The bewilderment stems from a misconception or misunderstanding of life as one of God's elect.  I was in attendance during an informal gathering of Christians.  After some discussion, one mature, God-fearing gentleman said that it was too bad there were no good examples of fathers or husbands in the Bible.  That statement is simply not true—just the opposite.  Those people revealed to us by the Lord are the best examples for us.  We need them, not just because God can work through the weak and sinful, but because we are the weak and sinful.  Those negative examples illuminate the problem Christians bring to scripture.  We tend to think
Because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, I will overcome faults and understand divine mysteries.  Those Old Testament characters were weak because they do not have what I have.
What arrogance!—I had.  And my attitude was not unique.  I ran around with immature Christians that felt the same way.  I now regularly meet Christians of every walk who feel this way.  Again, what arrogance that we think we are somehow more spiritual.  We are not immune.  The church in Corinth firmly believed they were better and could do as they pleased.  Compare Paul's first letter to Corinth (and Clement of Rome's later letter) alongside the book of Judges.  The similarities would be remarkable.  One could easily rewrite Judges 21:25 and place it at the end of 1 Corinthians.
In those days there was no king in Corinth.  Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
I do not wish to say that the church is wholly destitute or corrupt by virtue of pride.  True, some individuals and groups have gone off the rails: Jesus is still the head of the church.  Rather we recognize that we are no better than those on whom we look down at, and daily come before Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in all humility remembering that "there but for the grace of God go I."


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Shouldn't that be "And such WERE some of you?" 1 Cor 6:11. Just wondering

Steve Bricker said...

Thanks, Glenn. That looks better.