23 August 2006

Pet Peeve

by Frank Turk


I have a lot of pet peeves – you might say I am the Dr. Doolittle of Pet Peeves. It’s because I am an intransigent man, and you’ll get no apologies from me for it.


Anyway, the pet peeve I’m bringing to show-and-tell today is from 2 Cor 4 & 5 (ESV, sil vous plait):
2Cor 4:7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," {Psa 116} we also believe, and so we also speak, 14knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

5:1For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Yes, I know you were dying for a rather large does of 2Cor today, so I thought I’d serve it up here with all due fear and trembling – and keep in kind that my pet peeve is not with this passage but with those who abuse this passage to prop up their immaturity.

For those people, let me say clearly that there is something that this passage can not and does not say: it does not say “we fumble around in the dark, blinded by our faith and trusting the faith blindly.” There’s no way to make this passage – culminating in 2 Cor 5:7 – say that. Paul is not saying that faith usurps our sight, or that faith trumps our sight, in order to make us do irrational things: Paul is saying here that faith improves our sight in order that we may, in fact, walk the right way toward the right goal with the ability to do the right thing.

Think about where this passage begins (as I have cited it): Paul is underscoring that who we are as created beings – that is, as jars of clay – is intended to underscore that all the doing of the Gospel is God’s work and not our work. Isn’t that amazing? So, for example, when we are delivering the Gospel, we don’t have to invent a new tract or an interpretive dance that – if we just work hard enough – will turn men to Christ and His cross, at which time they can make a decision about what to do about that. That doesn’t mean we can be slack and do nothing, but it does mean that the pressure is off of our finite and fallible resources and the real “pressure” (if we can call it such a thing) is on God’s infinite and infallible resources. Amen?

In that, we can suffer through anything for the sake of the Gospel! You know: we can suffer through some mockery for the sake of the Gospel, because the Gospel doesn’t depend on whether or not I maintain my dignity and social standing. We can abide, as another example, being cast out of good company for the sake of the Gospel. We can also accept poverty, disability, and loss for the sake of the Gospel.

I know I have just told you why, but Paul says it clearly: because “we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”

Now, think on that: the mode of operation for the sake of the Gospel – and the manifestation of God’s power – is that “death is at work in us” so that life may be at work on those who see and hear us.

I’m going to get to my point here quickly so Dan doesn’t call the bandwidth accountants on me as I have just crossed over 1000 words in this post.

It is in that assurance that we have courage; it is in the fully-fledged knowledge that God’s power is manifested only in our abject weakness and inability that we have courage and strength to be ministers of the Gospel – not just pastors and teachers and preachers, but people who bear Christ’s name rightly down to the last person who can give a cup of water to a thirsty man.

And that courage, says Paul, is this: the Spirit of God is our guarantee that what we do is not in vain. When he says we “walk in faith, not by sight,” he means that we are not stuck with our sorry, fallible eyes to see if we can spot the trail out for ourselves: he is saying that God has prepared us for this work with the guarantee of the Spirit, and we have not traded our eyes for faith, but have been upgraded with eyes than now see all through faith.

This is not a groping around, or a sort of commitment of last resort: it is our first line of reasoning, our foundation in doing the things which we will do. God was good to us when it was easy to hear Him and, at first blush, repent – but He is still good to us, and so much better for having prepared us, when by the world’s standard we are being beaten down and ruined. If we cannot see that, we must look again – because we do not have blind eyes that rely on a guide dog, but eyes that have been enlightened with a lamp for our feet and a light to our path.










25 comments:

4given said...

Okay... so this was incredibly timely for me.

Joe Tolin said...

Thanks. This was my first trip to your blog. It won't be my last. I also enjoyed the post on Spurgeon. Speak the truth my brother.

Joe

Sojourner said...

Frank,

You're right. The treasure is the treasure and the pot is not. Our hope and glory rests in the power of the gospel and not our limited utility. However, the pot has feelings too, and by nature clay pots are fragile things. And though clay they be, they are still vessels of high honor when they are made for such noble purposes. The Lord was careful not to break the bruised reed nor snuff out the smoldering wick, and a servant of Christ ought to be careful to do the same.

philness said...

Frank,

Very thought provoking. Now that my brain is smoking, which doesn't take much for that to start happening, I have a question. Would you agree that the word death in Ps 116:15 refers to death to self?

centuri0n said...

Phil:

I think it means "death" as in "die".

I could be wrong.

SolaMeanie said...

Frank,

Good post, and who cares if it was near or over 1,000 words. I am glad to see someone who writes something of substance with text longer than a Jack Chick tract. Postmodern attention span be curdled!

I have often wondered why, when some see Scripture passages such as this, they push it to the lowest common denominator rather than let it encourage them to excel to greater heights. Indeed we see through a glass darkly, but that shouldn't stop us from striving to see more clearly in the light of God's Word.

Thanks for the encouragement.

P.S. The "Pyro red contacts" in your photo almost give the child a possessed look. Might want to edit that photo before we see rumors that TeamPyro is supporting a vast, right-wing Satanic conspiracy of possessed children with glowing red eyes.

centuri0n said...

meanie:

I didn't ask them. If someone wants to say something as unsubstantiable and wild-eyed as that, let them say it piblicly and then prove it, or else let them withdraw it or (if you will excuse the terse language) shut up to start.

This is TeamPyro for pizza ache. Are we not men? Shall we, like kindergarten children, run around as if someone was making a meaningful threat when in fact all theey have is the vague claim of "cooties"?

if they were going to git us with the "fire=devil" thing, you;d think it would have come way back when Phil called his original blog "pyro-MANIAC". To start junk ike that at this late date is pathetic.

philness said...

Frank,

Yeah like die to self? Like die daily in 1 Cor 15:31? It would be fitting with your post, yet the other day in Dan's post I was reminded of Ps 116:15 in that death meant that our death is precious in the sight of the LORD as if to say that He is glad to see us with Him in Heaven sort of thing. Non-the-less seems our Lord is wooing us to the same passages and that makes me feel special- at least until tomorrow when I must die to self again.

Even So... said...

My pet peeve (just joking, but if I weren't it would probably a pride peeve)...

When you guys post on something so similar to my
post of the day but get 1000+ more hits about it.

Maybe it just means God has us on the right page...imagine that...

Even So... said...

Oh, and its less than 400 words!

donsands said...

Wonderful encouragement. Thanks. All the pressure is on God. Amen.


"For this slight momentary affliction"
Paul was quite the man of God. Looking forward to meeting him.

sojourner,
good thoughts as well.

Taliesin said...

we have not traded our eyes for faith, but have been upgraded with eyes than now see all through faith.

So are you saying something like His word is a light that enables us to see the path where we are walking (to cite another Psalm)?

Thanks Frank

Gordon Cloud said...

Good post, Frank. I especially liked your point about faith enhancing our sight.

Jim Crigler said...

Re: [I]t does not say “we fumble around in the dark, blinded by our faith and trusting the faith blindly.” There’s no way to make this passage – culminating in 2 Cor 5:7 – say that.

What ??????? You mean the Force isn't with me?

surfer boy said...

You say we should not "trust the faith blindly." That's exactly what we are called to do. The word of God says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding"--no matter how rational that understanding may be.
You say, "Paul is saying faith improves our sight." Paul is not saying that. The word of God says, "Walk by faith and not by sight"--improved or otherwise.

Ilona said...

You've said some powerfully true things here..the hope within us as Christians wins against all the odds.

I'd have a few quibbles over your use of "irrational", but in light of the encouragement within the whole of your message I'll overlook it.

To surfer boy I'd say - you're right in what you say, but I think what is being spoken of here is the faith that sees "on the other side" that holds like an anchor in that which our eyes don't see. It is a message of our great confidence in Christ Jesus.... a faith that blasts through the darkness with a light that comes from God, not from anything else.

I agree that the believer does not have a "blind faith" nor a "leap of faith", but a firm foundation that builds to a powerfully reasoned answer.

And your reminder serves to further build mine, thanks.

SolaMeanie said...

Frank,

That last bit about the Satanic conspiracy was intended as a joke. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

I have a rather off-beat, arid sense of humor. More arid, in fact, than the Mohave Desert. Even my closest friends can find it tiresome, but they've learned to bear with it grudgingly. I'll try not to inflict it too often here. (smile)

Joel

centuri0n said...

Surfer:

You have abstracted the verse from the context. Take a look, for example, at 2Cor 5:5-6 and ask yourself: if Paul saying "what we are today is nothing and we have to seek or use something else" or is he saying "what we are today is especially made by God for the purposes at hand"? It is unequivocally the latter. In that, when Paul says, "we walk by faith, not by sight" in 5:7, he is building on that theme. So it cannot mean that we have blind eyes: it must mean that we have more than merely-human sight.

And that, btw, is a NT theme: going from blindness to sight; gaining enlightenment as revealed by God; the light of the world shining on men; walking in the light rather than walking in darkness. The idea that faith usurps sight is antithetical to the NT idea of God making new men of us.

___________________________

Ilona:

Bring it, I say. I reject the idea that somehow being "irrational" is the right view of faith. God does not call us to Use the Force: God calls us to be like Him, and to work in obedience to Him -- which requires knowing Him. That doesn't translate into a cartesian diagram of faith, but it does require that there is a propositional expression of the relationship between the creator and all other things.

I'm also reading Evangelicalism Divided by Iain Murray right now, so I am on a tear about all vestiges of experientialism in what people say about the faith. Pheh.

DeathRowBodine said...

Frank,

Great post, it demonstrated in a much more powerful way what I had attempted in this post some time ago.

Ours is a reasoned faith. It is not a blind faith but is, in fact, faith based in reason, evidence, and revelation.

DRB

Kim said...

Frank, I know you've said some really great stuff in this post, but I'm having a hard time getting past the freaky eyes at the beginning of it.

Jeremy Felden said...

It would be foolish to believe that walking by sight gives no valid results. There is plenty of truth that is revealed by God to the most pagan among us.

Walking by faith means that we are able to see where we believed things that were false and allows us to see the truth of Jesus Christ.

Is it possible for a believer to walk by sight? Of course. It isn't when he or she doubts that we're supposed to bark like dogs in church, but rather when he or she goes back to thinking like an unbeliever.

LeeC said...

Surfer Boy,
Might I suggest reading a book by Francis Schaeffer called "Escape From Reason". (The O.C. Supertones made a rather neat song about it with the same title.)

It is the non-christian that is irrational in his denial of the truth. Is this rationity?

Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
Rom 1:25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.


The Christian is a new creature with his mind being constantly renewed through sanctification.

2Co 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

The world calls true wisdom foolishness 1Co 1:20, but true wisdom only come from God. He is the very author of logic and rationality.

Eve thought she was being rational when she weighed what God had told her, Satan had told her, and what the fruit looked like to her in her own eyes. But it was the ultimate foolishness.

I find it very interesting how the world has taught us that faith is contra to reason and we the church have bought that bill of goods. For instance in reality the closest you will get to an unbiased scientist is a grounded(note that)Christian one. For he feels no need to do anything but look objectively on the evidence before him, knowing full well the ultimate truth, and that nothing e finds will endanger that truth, so he can use the scientific method without worrying about what he finds.

Anyhow, I have probably rambled o much, and gotten off of Franks initial intent, and besides, this keyboard is dying on me and its annoying to have to type every other letter twice so I'll shut upnow.


But ad that book. ;-)

LeeC said...

Grr, I wrote "Read that book", oh and great to see you still around Bodine!

troutdude said...

Another most excellent post! I cringe at "blind faith" comparisons as well.

GUNNY said...

Amen, what a whppin' to see such used by slackers as justification to loaf.

Not quite one of my pet peeves, but it beats me down as well.

Soli Deo gloria,
Gunny

P.S. Yes, those eyes were spooky!