11 July 2006

Poorly-equipped, but well-placed (plus an aside on Christian reading and preaching of the OT)

by Dan Phillips

On my recent trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada, I took reams of photos (you can see just a few here). On my last evening, I was strolling by a creekside looking for some fauna to add to my shots of flora, and saw this little fellow:

As you can see, he was having a fairly leisure look at me. And why shouldn't he? I'm sure I was an interesting study to him, and he could safely gaze on.

Why "safely"? He has no natural defenses against me, of any consequence. He's not large, he hasn't the bear's massive, devastating paws, nor the rattler's agonizing venom, nor the lion's crushing jaws. (Well, he does have my well-grounded fear that he might have some pestilential disease -- but he doesn't know that.)

Nor was he the only student I encountered. Here's one of his fellow-observers, gathering a few notes for his term-paper:



They and the others like them had one thing in common. When I advanced a bit closer, to get a better picture -- and how many good pictures have I lost, trying to get a better picture? -- they'd vanish. They'd disappear somewhere into their little rock fortress.

And that, of course, was their security, it was their deliverance, their defense. Nothing in themselves. Just the fact that they'd picked an impregnable place to make their abode.

As I reflected, my mind turned to the verse in Proverbs 30:26, quaintly rendered thus in the KJV: "The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks." Here are the comments of the great man himself, Charles Spurgeon, from his evening devotional for November 20:

Conscious of their own natural defencelessness, the conies resort to burrows in the rocks, and are secure from their enemies. My heart, be willing to gather a lesson from these feeble folk. Thou art as weak and as exposed to peril as the timid cony, be as wise to seek a shelter. My best security is within the munitions of an immutable Jehovah, where his unalterable promises stand like giant walls of rock. It will be well with thee, my heart, if thou canst always hide thyself in the bulwarks of his glorious attributes, all of which are guarantees of safety for those who put their trust in him. Blessed be the name of the Lord, I have so done, and have found myself like David in Adullam, safe from the cruelty of my enemy; I have not now to find out the blessedness of the man who puts his trust in the Lord, for long ago, when Satan and my sins pursued me, I fled to the cleft of the rock Christ Jesus, and in his riven side I found a delightful resting-place. My heart, run to him anew to-night, whatever thy present grief may be; Jesus feels for thee; Jesus consoles thee; Jesus will help thee. No monarch in his impregnable fortress is more secure than the cony in his rocky burrow. The master of ten thousand chariots is not one whit better protected than the little dweller in the mountain’s cleft. In Jesus the weak are strong, and the defenceless safe; they could not be more strong if they were giants, or more safe if they were in heaven. Faith gives to men on earth the protection of the God of heaven. More they cannot need, and need not wish. The conies cannot build a castle, but they avail themselves of what is there already: I cannot make myself a refuge, but Jesus has provided it, his Father has given it, his Spirit has revealed it, and lo, again to-night I enter it, and am safe from every foe.
Those are some blessed, wonderful truths, are they not? And every word is true.

But Spurgeon's meditation also poses an example, both instructive and cautionary, of how to handle the Old Testament.

As an example of a kind of trope, it's a beauty. I am using trope here to indicate where one observes a thing, and turns from it to a tangential yet somehow-related truth. It treats something literal as a point of departure on the way to something larger. One is no longer commenting on the thing itself, the literal object or occurrence, but on the truth suggested by the thing. The result is neither a study nor interpretation of the thing-in-itself, but of that to which it is taken to point.

So here, Agur is treating of "Four things on earth" that "are small, but they are exceedingly wise" (Proverbs 30:24; cf. vv. 24-28). In verse 26, he mentions the "coney," or hyrax or rock badger. Koehler-Baumgartner identifies it as the Heterohyrax syriacus, a little creature ideally designed to make its living among the rocky outcroppings found in abundance from the Dead Sea valley to Mount Hermon (cf. Waltke's commentary on Proverbs).

Now, here's the interpretive issue: is Agur really writing about hyraxes, about rock badgers? Or is he really writing about Jesus, and the Christian church? Is it legitimate to do as Spurgeon does? If we were to preach on this passage, should we dress like Steve Irwin and give a bonzer nature talk, or should we wear our black robes and speak only of "spiritual" matters, because details of creation are un-spiritual and beneath the Christian's notice?

The latter approach would characterize perhaps the worst of that school of interpretation which advocates the "take any text, and make a bee-line for Christ" school. Though nobody bee-lines more profitably than he, I believe I've read Spurgeon say as much. The sorts of Scriptures cited to validate this approach include Luke 24:44-49 and the like.

As I don't mean this to be a fourteen-volume essay, let's cut right to what I see as a most problematic with this way of handling Scripture: it runs the risk of being more Platonic, or even borderline Gnostic, than Christian. The unspoken assumption is that speaking of something literal, something of this creation, is low and unspiritual and unworthy. It is "more Christian" to turn from the literal to Christ.

But what is wrong with creation qua creation? To my reading, literal rocks-and-branches/nails-and-fur creation itself does speak of Christ itself. It proclaims the reality and glory of God (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20). All things -- including hyraxes -- are from Him, through Him, and unto Him (Romans 11:36). Every last atom and molecule of literal creation itself without exception was fashioned through the agency of Christ (John 1:3), all was created by Christ and for His sake (Colossians 1:16), all things now cohere in Him (v. 17), and He is carrying all things towards their designed end (Hebrews 1:3).

So, while the lilies, the birds and the grass may and do of themselves point to spiritual lessons (Matthew 6:26, 28, 30), they do not thereby cease being lilies, grass, and birds -- as if items of creation are evil or anti-spiritual in themselves. When we're warned not to love the world (1 John 2:15), it isn't God's good creation that is the danger, but our sinful corruptions of it (v. 16). Christ's resurrection body was a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44), but it was a spiritual body, as literal and physical as the words naturally indicate (Luke 24:37-43).

So in our reading, our interpretation, and our preaching, we dishonor God if we "go nuts" in either direction. If I preach on passages like Proverbs 30:26 in such a way as to give an impression that Agur himself was thinking and writing of Jesus Christ and New Covenant Christians, and not in any way of rock badgers, then I am heading off in the direction of trying to be more spiritual than God. The human author is destroyed, and we no longer have a man being carried by the Holy Spirit and speaking confluently from God (2 Peter 1:21). He is replaced by a disembodied echo, a pen floating in midair, writing ethereally "in code." I cripple my audience, because I convey to them (however unintentionally) that they cannot really read the Bible itself without my special help, without a decoder-ring. Nothing is as it seems, and the rules of grammar and context no longer apply.

Of course if I err in the other direction, I may give the impression that the Bible is little more than a field-book for naturalists or antiquarians, and a quaint and dated one at that. We would then read it as we would gaze at an item in the museum. It would saying something of itself, but nothing to us.

Down to brass tacks, then. Is Agur writing consciously of the safety of the Christian in Jesus Christ, crucified, buried, and risen? No. But is he writing merely of the safety of a rock badger in its craggy home? Again, no. He is writing of rock badgers, of ants, of lizards -- but they are specimens taken from the wise man's laboratory, which is God's creation. And that creation itself is instructive. It legitimately points away from itself to its Creator and, viewed rightly, it teaches of Him.

And so the little hyrax teaches us that even a brute animal is smart enough to know its own weakness, and rather than standing in that weakness, it finds a safe place to live, feed, and hide. Does this speak to us? Indeed it does, for we are weak, we are defenseless, we are vulnerable. It is our wisdom to flee from ourselves to the Rock that is higher than we (Psalm 61:2), to the name of Yahweh, which is a high tower to His people (Proverbs 18:10).

And from our perspective, with the advantage of the completed, inerrant, and sufficient written revelation of God, we know that rock to be Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:4), in whom by God's sovereign grace we have all that we lack in ourselves, and all we most deeply need (1 Corinthians 1:30).

So Agur is speaking indeed of rock badgers; and rock badgers speak of Christ. For our thinking and preaching to honor our Creator God, we must reflect on, and reflect, both aspects.

Dan Phillips's signature

49 comments:

Even So... said...

Nice.

Just to see if I assimilated this material correctly, Dan: considering what Spurgeon said about the rock, consider the real fortress of Petra, and the Edomites from the book of Obadiah....

It was a real, natural fortress, but God would bring it down, not so much destroy the earthen place as to bring down their pride in themselves...

Ergo, we must remember that we are to find shelter in the "real" rock, not some fortress of our own fancy...we must trust in God, not our own devices and safety nets...we must have the right "high habitation"...

BugBlaster said...

Good post!

Jeremy Weaver said...
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Mike Y said...

Dan,

Excellent post! I must admit that I'm feeling a bit slow this morning and had to read through it twice to get the gist of what you were trying to say.

I guess one of my pet peeves is when I witness Christians try to forcefully spiritualize everything around them. What's the point?

Certainly, creation speaks volumes of the Creator or the scriptures are a lie. And I do believe there are object lessons to be gleaned daily just from witnessing life.

But I don't try to reason from the external to the scriptures, but the other way around, so that I may enjoy what God has provided in the context in which he has provided it, and to keep from ever elevating the creature above him.

And thanks for teaching me trope.

-Mike

centuri0n said...

Hey Dan:

We missed you. Phil and I couldn;t keep the blog up without you.

ThirstyDavid said...

Dan, have you read Bunyan's commentary on Genesis? You would love it. Or not.

DJP said...

Aww, Frank -- now, don't go all soft on me! (c;

Besides, I just don't have as much good stuff to say as you and Phil.

(BTW, Frank, I thought yours on the Flood absolutely rocked.)

ThirstyDavid -- is it anything like Pink on John? Long on imagination and devotional... er... riches, but short on exegesis?

I think of combining Freud and Spurgeon to say that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; and a good cigar can be smoked to the glory of God.

(Hey -- it's Spurgeon! Don't look at me like that!)

ThirstyDavid said...

Dan,
I haven't read Pink, but that's a good description. I didn't even finish Bunyan. The creation account is not an allegory, and I'm not sure Bunyan knew that.

on cigars:
Even a bad cigar can be smoked to the glory of God; they keep the mosquitos away.

centuri0n said...

Dan --

What I meant was "we needed a 4th face for that new t-shirt, and if you bailed we didn't have anybody as a backup."

DJP said...

That's my Frank!

DJP said...

Jeremy -- Trying to think where to start...

With an open Bible and an open mind? How 'bout there?

Jeremy Weaver said...
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donsands said...

Very good thoughts. Good balanced teaching; "all was created by Christ, and for His sake".
Always look forward to read your posts. Good theology.

Gordon Cloud said...

This is really good work, Dan. While being careful to avoid the extreme of pantheism, I think that it is very important that we take the time to observe the handiwork of God in Creation. He has put it here for His glorification and we are all too often in too big of a hurry to see it.

candyinsierras said...

Are you sure those little creatures didn't just vanish cuz they realized you didn't have any tasty morsels for them? They were probably thinking...photos? That's it?

Screaming Pirate said...

Thanks for that, great material for some one who wants to be a pastor. And I see where you are coming from here.... I bet I could make this a very interesting conversation... humm... naa... All I have to say is good job with the kindom theology and the hermeneutics.. And I compleatly agree.

Karen said...

Is this not perhaps called 'overthinking it'?

And, the Holy Spirit, not Agur, is responisble for that verse. Agur probably wrote some original stuff. It didn't make it in.

Daniel Portela said...

So Spurgeon was right after all?

...

DJP said...

Was I really that unclear, if you read the entire essay from the start to the finish? I just don't see how; but then, admittedly, I knew what I meant.

As I think I clearly explain at some length, it depends. If CHS is saying that this is what Agur meant, or what the passage means, he is certainly wrong. As I explained at length.

If he is saying in effect that, "while this is not what the passage says or means, it reminds me of this truth," CHS is right, in that everything he says (about Christ and our position in him) is true. As I explained.

At length.

DJP said...

And, BTW, I also would have hoped it clear that the post was not about CHS.

It was about... well, read the title.

Jeremy Weaver said...
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Deutero Q said...

Thanks for a great post. I would add a few thoughts.

In both Luke 24:27 and John 5:39 Jesus speaks about His scriptural centrality. Accordingly, Graeme Goldsworthy ("Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture") asserts that "all biblical texts testify in some way to Jesus Christ. This makes him the center of biblical revelation and the fixed reference point for understanding everything else in the Bible."

In light of your post, I am curious as to how you would interact with that assertion.

If Jesus Christ is indeed the center of God's self-revelation and the very heart of biblical revelation, should not our preaching, teaching, Bible study, and living be decidedly Christ-centered?

A final thought. J.I. Packer says that the Bible is "a single book with a single author--God the Spirit--and a single theme--God the Son, and the Father's saving purposes which all revolve around him."

I am thinking through all of this and am reminded of a community worship service I attended not long ago. During his sermon, the preacher did not make one single reference to Christ. The preacher's text was from the Old Testament and his subject was the grace of God ... and yet not a single reference to Christ!

In any event, my ramblings were prompted by your excellent post. I welcome your thoughts.

donsands said...

My pastor preached this past Sunday on 1 Kings 17. He mentioned how God fed Elijah with ravens.
Could God have used another method? Thousands of different ways God could have done this, but He decided to have ravens bring Elijah his food.
I can see where some would yearn to see some spiritual meaning in these ravens. I simply see God showing His awesome diversity in the way He does the things He does.
It really is an incredible chapter of the Bible. The over whelming theme is "the Word of the Lord".
Once again, a really fine post. Very balanced teaching on balance.

C.Stephen said...

Dan - good observation. I love Spurgeon as much as anyone here, maybe more. Your post today reminds me of "Sermons in Candles", and how Spurgeon could use just about anything as an illustration to convey the Gospel. It seems to me that he often ends up using a snippet of scripture to launch an illustration rather than to exegete the passage. Over time I have found that his application is consistently scriptural and informed by sound theology, so I forgive him the little license that he takes. I always get scriptural truth from him, it just isn't always from the scripture that he cited. . .

DJP said...

Yes, Jeremy, the post answers your question, assuming it's an honest one. I guess you have to read again. Sorry.

Deutero, great question. I'm debating internally about devoting a whole post to it and its like. The (too-)short answer is that I'm content with the thought that I am simply incapable of being more spiritual or Christ-honoring than the Holy Spirit, and that I find His mind in the authorial intent of each passage, communicated by its grammar and syntax, and the normal canons of interpretation.

If I have to torture a text until it screams "Jesus!", I've not honored the Author, whatever my intent.

DJP said...

Steve -- I always get scriptural truth from him, it just isn't always from the scripture that he cited.

Bingo. I think I heard it said that Spurgeon preached some of his best sermons from the wrong texts.

As I said here (more than once, by now, I think): everything CHS said, after citing this passage, was true.

However, if he's saying that that is what the passage was about, what Agur meant to say.... mm... uh-uh.

But yes, I'm sure CHS could have taken a punctuation-mark and preached Christ. You might not end up knowing a penny more about the punctuation-mark, but you'd know more about Christ.

And by contrast, I've heard preaching that isn't much more than a running commentary. There is some detached exposition of the text, and it may be very accurate... but there's a reason God entrusted the proclamation of His Word to men, and not to angels nor other bloodless spirits. Both legs (What does it say? and What does it say to me?) should be part of good preaching, it seems to me. The first had better give birth to the second, and the second had better spring from the first.

Karen said...

Do you think people really get more - if anything - from preaching than they do from engaging the actual Word of God direct? I find 99% of all preaching to be tedious and vain. People puffed up with the sound of their own voice and the sense of their own importance. The best preaching in my experience is a person reading the actual Words of the Bible. The Word of God is living language and does its work. Then, actually engaging the Word of God directly (i.e. reading it yourself) is how one actually gets it into one and gets it into understanding. There's alot of talk of preaching (by preachers) about its worth that goes unconfronted (due to politeness). Christians are prophets, priests, and kings. A Christian should not only have the ability but the desire to engage the Word of God directly and learn it and get understanding from it that way. It's really the only way. Passive listening, unless it is the direct Word of God and you are yet to be regenerated, does really nothing. Where there's no effort...

Karen said...

Not the mention the prolixity... What a glaring sin of Christian writers and speakers throughout time...

DJP said...

You're setting up a false dichotomy, Karen, and asking the wrong question, imho

Having men preach the Word, and requiring the sheep to heed respectfully and attentively, was God's idea (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 1:9; etc.). So yes, we get at least one thing from attending to live preaching that we would not get if we refused to attend to it: we get God's blessings upon the obedience of faith.

Every Christian must attend the preaching of the Word. Wisdom calls for seeking out good preaching.

DJP said...

Deutero Q -- I've decided to revisit this from the perspective of your question over at my blog, hoping to do so within the next few days or week.

Karen said...

Hmm. The Bible usually mentions teaching in the context of the teachers having the Word of God, which, back then, was not widely available. And Jesus is talking to all Christians. Do you deny a Christian is a prophet, priest, and king? The priesthood of believers is the lost doctrine of the Reformation. Man always wants to place himself in the place of God.

DJP said...

Another false dichotomy. Believers certainly are priests. They certainly are not all prophets.

But since God said what I just quoted, and furthermore orders us to submit to the authority of pastor-teacher/overseer/leaders within the body (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17), obviously He doesn't see any concept-clash.

It's the same false dichotomy feminists have tried in marriage: both are in Christ, therefore there can be no authority structure in marriage. God clearly disagrees. Equal value does not necessarily m ean interchangeable function.

Man always wants to find some way around the commands of God.

donsands said...

Karen,
"I find 99% of all preaching to be tedious and vain".

I suppose it depends on who I'm listening to.

I love to listen to Alistair Begg, John MacArthur, James Boyce, R. C. Sproul, Sinclair Ferguson, Mark Dever, C. J. Mahaney, John Piper, and the pastor/teachers of my local church to name a few.
There are many who I don't listen to as well.
It's the ears of my heart that I need to be concerned with the most. When I hear the truth, am I taking it to heart, and becoming more like Christ. Am I a doer of the truth.
And if someone is preaching, and it doesn't corrolate with the Bible, then I need to act accordingly.
Dan's comment is right on the money for me.

And yes, I do read, study, and meditate upon the Word myself. This is surely essential.

DJP said...

Import to add to your point, Don, that listening to (or reading) excellent preachers is no substitue for obeying God by having an eyeball-to-eyeball relationship with a living pastor in a real (not virtual) assembly (Hebrews 10:24-25; 13:7, 17).

I've been exposed to many ways in which professors today are trying hard to rationalize their way around God's word.

donsands said...

"eyeball-to-eyeball"

Good point Dan. I concur.

Karen said...

Believers certainly are priests. They certainly are not all prophets.

You deny the image of God in believers. With the Word of God a Christian is a prophet. Clerics - Roman Catholic OR Protestant - always want to deny this.

The priesthood of believers. It is not only the lost doctrine of the Reformation, it is the most feared by those who would reverence man more than God.

donsands said...

"Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of Double Honour, especially those who labour in the Word and doctrine". 1 Tim. 5:17

Double honour is very significant, I would think. And to say, especially those who preach and teach, is likewise.

To have the gift of teaching the Holy Scriptures is an honour. And it is a gift of 100% pure grace from a sovereign Lord. There should be no putting teachers and preachers on a pedestal.
God is God. The Lord is the only One worthy. But we are to honur those He has chosen to lead, instruct, and teach His people.

DJP said...

Me: "Believers certainly are priests. They certainly are not all prophets."

Karen: "You deny the image of God in believers. With the Word of God a Christian is a prophet"

Paul: "All are not prophets, are they?" (1 Corinthians 12:29)

Karen said...

Paul is providing a more narrow definition of prophet in that verse (distinguishing it from apostle and teacher for instance).

A Christian, a regenerate, believing Christian, has the ability to communicate with God, like it or not (a Christian can approach God by the blood of our one Mediator Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit). And when a believing Christian speaks the Word of God to an unbeliever (or speaks understanding from the Word of God) the living Word is potentially powerful to even the awakening of that unbeliever in regeneration. The Word of God alone gives a believing Christian the ability to be a prophet.

Prophet, priest, and king. The radicalness of the biblical teaching and message is sometimes overwhelming to many.

Karen said...

But we are to honur those He has chosen to lead, instruct, and teach His people.

Teachers are servants. Any teacher or preacher of God's Word who doesn't know in his heart there will always be at least a handful of believers in his audience that have more understanding of the faith than him isn't worth his salt (i.e. he should assume that, and assume it in those he most looks down on in his vanity). And as for a preacher or teacher being chosen by God... That's quite a claim. How do you determine it? He has a seminary degree? Like Shepherd? From an 'accredited' seminary? Who accredited it? I judge teaching by the standard of the Bible. And if a person has the Spirit behind their teaching it will show. That's not something people really even need to claim or discuss. Calvin or Finney? God's own know who is more valuable.

Spurgeon drew a crowd for a reason. It didn't have to do with any pieces of paper he might have had hanging on the wall of his study.

There is an attitude and environment of man worship regarding clerics in not just the Roman Catholic church.

When you are addressing God's own; when you are addressing prophets, priests, and kings; and you have an attitude that you are the 'teacher' and they are your 'students' you are not acting as if you have understanding of God's Kingdom. And usually, as anyone can see, you are acting like a common secular professor feeling like it is your God given right to lecture to your captive audience, and they better 'honor' you or else.

DJP said...

So, in summary:

1. The Bible says we're to attend local church, in person.

2. The Bible says we're to sit under the ministry of pastor-teachers, and submit to their leadership and teaching.

3. The Bible says not all Christians are prophets.

These have been proven by specific citations, and disproven by none.

Are you obeying those commands of God?

Karen said...

So, in summary:

1. The Bible says we're to attend local church, in person.


And what does the Bible say a 'local church' is? Your church? The Roman Catholic church? A house church? Wherever two or more meet in His name? Ah, it gets messy, doesn't it? The Bible speaks of assembly. How many? What numbers makes an assembly? John Bunyan was accused in a court of law by an Anglican judge that he was breaking the law by not attending a local church. Bunyan responded that he didn't see that commanded in the Word of God. Amen.

2. The Bible says we're to sit under the ministry of pastor-teachers, and submit to their leadership and teaching.

The subject is the priesthood of all believers. Man has determined there to be a clerical class, Scripture hasn't. This doctrine is a hard truth for Protestants as much as for Roman Catholics. And for the record, Scripture says we're to be under the authority of the Word of God. Review those verses (especially the ones you're reluctant to cite because you know Roman Catholics cite them to make the same accusation and point you're making, and that you know any Protestant can nuke).

3. The Bible says not all Christians are prophets.

You can just ignore the response you received to that statement as if it didn't appear, I suppose. I suppose you have no choice, really.

These have been proven by specific citations, and disproven by none.

Really? The priesthood of all believers has no biblical citations to establish it?

Are you obeying those commands of God?

Another accusation. The accuser. Well, cleric, let me ask you: is church polity a 'command' in Scripture? Yes, no? The answer is no. No where in Scripture are we told to attend a congregational or presbyterian or episcopal - etc. - church. No where. To makes issues of church (and sacraments for that matter) dogmatic when the Word of God is not dogmatic on those issues is to play the game - the reverence of man game - Roman Catholics play. It's a deadly game.

Again, the teaching and message of the Word of God is radical. You become a prophet, a priest, and a king when you become a believing Christian. Embrace it. Live up to it. Don't stumble on common stumblingblocks the world and your old nature would put in front of you.

donsands said...

"Teachers are servants"
Amen.

Those who feed the sheep, are to be examples to the church. 1 Pet 5:1-5
James says be not many teachers, for their judgement will be much stricter.
1 Timothy & Titus give qualifications for leaders in the Church.
Surely I agree with you that there are many false teachers, and false disciples in the Church, but that doesn't mean God hasn't set His own gifted teachers and leaders in His Church. 1 Cor. 12:18
I would encourage you to read the Scripture passages I have noted here.
Surely we do need to be bereans. Acts 17:11

This is why God givesHis teachers to the Church:
"He [Jesus Christ] Himself gave some ... pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, ... that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love". Eph. 4:11-15
Have a blessed Lord's Day. And may we all bring glory and honor to our Savior, in all we do, think, and say. Amen.

Karen said...

Try to see how it is extremely unbiblical to be jealous of Christians in general having the ability to be prophets with the Word of God. The clerical class is vain in this manner. "What, average Christians being prophets with the Word of God? I spent two years in seminary for that right, by goodness! I won't cede that territory to any...Christian..."

Clerics also fall into this: "What? Christians judging me? No! They will obey me!"

Really? I'm a prophet, a priest, and a king. Who are you? My King is Jesus. My Mediator is Jesus. My High Priest is Jesus. My Prophet is Jesus. Who are you? Yes, if you are able to proclaim the Word of God with real discernement and effectiveness then it goes without saying you will have the Spirit with you and you will draw God's people to you. Yet...that 'goes without saying'. See? It doesn't need to be stated. It just happens. I read Calvin and not Charles Finney, not because Calvin calls me across time and tells me I 'must' read him...

Karen said...

Christian as prophet: Eph. 6:17b

Christian as priest: Matt. 6:12

Christian as king: 2 Tim. 2:12

Karen said...

Thanks for your comments, donsands. And to djp, I'm making a point in an intentionally extreme way to . . . make a point. Somewhere between the usual take by folks like yourself, and what I write you'll find what the Bible is getting at...IIDSSM.

DJP said...

Karen, you have made your personal opinions clear. You've illustrated the peril warned against in this essay, of isolating a concept and opposing it to the whole teaching of the Word of God -- and particularly egregiously, since your metaphor is specifically negated by the Word.

As I've never yet found a way to make an unwilling person see truth, I'm not sure there's much more to say to you. You treat the Word as your toy, and you're not listening to God's voice through it. I just wish you'd be more honest with yourself and others about your refusal to obey God's commands. If you don't want to obey, just say so. At least you'd have integrity.

And you keep calling me "cleric." What church do I pastor?

Karen said...

Right, I guess I was thinking you were James Spurgeon. Like the BHT you Pyro guys often come across as the same voice.

And, no, just because you accuse me of not holding to God's Word doesn't make it so. And, yes: you were taken back by the verse from Eph. 6. That's because you can only think of prophet in the context of ecclesiology ("Not all Christians are prophets!") Eph. 6 tells you what a Christian is and has and does. Eph. 6 is about the Way. Not the 'pew'. Active, progressive sanctification is the great weak (actually nonexistent) link in the understanding of all the branches and denominations of Christianity.

Zane said...

Spurgeon wasn't ordained. Actually, there are are about a dozen greek words translated ordained.

Here is a cool quote from CHS. Long but good. Enjoy:

Again, these people were in such a condition that their homes and homes were holy places. I grant you to notice this, that they were breaking bread from house to house, and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. They did not think that religion was meant only for Sundays, and for what men now-a-days call the House of God. Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lord's Supper that to this, day the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they left overeating their common meals, and when they began eating the Supper of the Lord. They elevated their meals into diets for worship: they so consecrated everything with prayer and praise that all around them was holiness unto the Lord.

I wish our houses were thus dedicated to the Lord, so that we worshipped God all the day long, and made our dwellings temples for the living God. A great dignitary not long ago informed us that there is great efficacy in daily prayer in the parish church; he even asserted that, however few might attend, it was more acceptable than any other worship. I suppose that prayer in the parish church with nobody to join in it except the vicar and the beadle is far more effectual than the largest family gathering in the house at home. This was evidently his lordship's idea, and I suppose the literature which his lordship was best acquainted with was of such an order as, to have led him to draw that inference. Had he been acquainted with the Bible and such old-fashioned books, he would have learned rather differently, and if some one should make him a present of a New Testament, it might perhaps suggest a few new thoughts to him.

Does God need a house? He who made the heavens and the earth, does he dwell in temples made with hands? What crass ignorance is this! No house beneath the sky is more holy than the place where a Christian lives, and eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and praises the Lord in all that he does, and there is no worship more heavenly than that which is presented by holy families, devoted to his fear. To sacrifice home worship to public worship is a most evil course of action. Morning and evening devotion in a cottage is infinitely more pleasing in the sight of God than all the cathedral pomp which delights the carnal eye and ear.

Every truly Christian household is a church, and as such it is competent for the discharge of any function of divine worship, whatever it may be. Are we not all priests? Why do we need to call in others to make devotion a performance? Let every man be a priest in his own house. Are you not all kings if you love the Lord? Then make your houses palaces of joy and temples of holiness. One reason why the early church had such a blessing was because her members had such homes. When we are like them we shall have "added to the church daily of the raved." I have already mentioned that they were a praying church, and that accounted greatly for the increase. They were a devout church, a church which did not forget any part of the Lord's will. They were a baptized church, and they were a bread-breaking church, so that they seers obedient to Christ in both ordinances. They were also a joyful church. We find that they ate their meat with gladness. Their religion was not of the somber hue which comes of doubting and fearing. They were believers in a risen Redeemer, and though they knew that they would soon be persecuted, they so rejoiced that everybody, could read heaven shining on their faces, and might have known that they believed in the blessed gospel, for they were a blessed people. They were also a praising church, for it is said they "praised God, and they had favor with all the people." Oh, may the Lord make this church and all the churches around us to be as holy and joyful as that apostolical community.