November 10, 2014

Obedience: a family thing

"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love..."
1 Peter 1:22a

This verse strikes me. It catches me off-guard, and tells me something I do not expect.

I am a Calvinist. About as Calvinist as they come, subscribing to all five points of the classic TULIP acrostic:

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

Which basically is a more complex way of saying that I believe salvation to be a work of God, not man, lest anyone boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). So, when it comes to thinking about purification, my mind typically thinks of the objective purifying we experience by being identified with Christ, our sin-bearer and righteousness-giver (2 Corinthians 5:21). He bore my sins in His body, therefore in the eyes of God they no longer are borne by me.

Now, let's glance back at our opening verse. How does Peter say his readers have purified their souls? By obedience to the truth. That's interesting. I want to briefly consider two things that I think Peter is saying to us here.

1) There is a very true sense in which trusting Christ as Savior and Lord is itself an act of obedience to the truth. Jesus is the truth ( John 14:6) and He himself demands that sinners repent (Mark 1:15). We see in John's gospel the intimate connection between belief and obedience (compare John 3:16 and 3:36). This could well be Peter's primary meaning in this passage, in fact I tend to believe it is, since he refers to their obedience in the past-tense. So we need to see that obedience to Christ, first of all displayed in trusting Him for salvation, purifies our souls.

2) There is however a secomd part of this, the part that struck me afresh today. That is, obedience is something I am continually called to, and thus obedience to the truth will have a continual purifying effect on my soul. This is perfectly in keeping the command but a few verses earlier to "be holy, for I am holy." There is the promise of holiness for all who believe in Christ, but there is also a command to pursue it. Likewise here, for all who trust in Christ there is the guarantee of a purification of the soul, but there is also a command to purify our souls. By our own power? Of course not. Paul reminds the Philippian believers to, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12a-13)

Finally I want to consider what purpose God has in this. He purifies our souls objectively in Christ, and calls us to pursue it practically in our lives. But to what end? "For a sincere brotherly love." The purifying of my soul, while having profound impact on me, is not ultimately about me. It is for a brotherly love, a serving of others, particularly of other Christians. Believing in Christ isn't just about you being saved from Hell. It's about God creating a people, a family, for Himself. His purifying you by the work of His Son and the power of His Spirit is to make you fit to join this family, not merely relish in your personal rescue.

November 03, 2014

Hating the Sabbath

This is a little more journaly than I normal put up here, because I wrote it straight to me. Hope it's helpful.

Yesterday was Sunday. My only day off of the week. Andie made breakfast, we went to church as a family. Surprisingly, both kids sat through the entirety of the sermon. That was a relief. Andie took them home during Sunday School, and I taught a class. Was filling in for another teacher, so I taught on the importance of the preached word, taking Romans 10:13-17 amd 1 Timothy 3:15-4:2 as my primary texts. Rest of the day was wholly unproductive.

Took the family to Taco Johns, tried unsuccessfully to nap, then went to my mother-in-law's house (our normal destination on a Sunday afternoon). Spent the rest of the day watching football and a movie. It could have been a relaxing, enjoyable afternoon. Instead, I spent a good part of the time fretting over what I wasn't getting done. I have next week's Sunday School lesson to prep. I have two Absolute curriculum lessons to write, one to video and upload (along with editing it's manuscript), blog posts I should work on, books to read. Yet I did nothing. And I was wracked with guilt for it. But should I have been? Jesus says in Mark that the Sabbath was made for man. God commands a day of rest in Exodus.

Yahweh commands it, Jesus commends it: why am I afraid to practice it? Especially in a life where I am so bogged down constantly by fatigue; how could I not relish the gift of a day free from labor? I don't know. I don't know.

I worship myself. My productivity, my performance, my adding value to the world. It won't be remembered. It. Will. Not. Be. Remembered. That's one of the main points in Ecclesiastes. Whereas, obedience to God and doing what He has actually said to do, that has benefits to the thousandth generation! Don't hate the Sabbath. Thank God for the gift that it is, and enjoy it. He has given you six other days to be productive.

About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (