18 May 2007

The Rest of the Story

by Frank Turk

I'm bumping Dan, btw, because I told him I was going to post today, and he posted anyway. Nyanyanya.

Over the last -- what has it been now? In blog time its seems like 10 years -- 5 or 6 weeks, I've been essaying on how to read one's Bible, and we got derailed by a brief rant on apologetics and hermeneutics, and last time I got back in the thing by talking about what I called a "good example" of hermeneutics in action. And we talked briefly (some might say "superficially") about how we can frame the doctrine of election by looking at the matter from the broadest possible frame of reference -- which is, from the two ends of the story. Whatever proof texts or favorite passages you might have regarding election, the fact remains that God circumscribes the matter by the scope of the covenant with Abraham ("many" -- more than a man could count), and the rock-solid book end of the Lamb's book of Life in Rev 20, where the number is finite, and those not listed there are cast into the lake of fire.

And, of course, that view has its detractors -- but none of them said, "yeah, those passages aren't relevant to the issue." That's great, isn't it? We could at least agree that these passages were definitely relevant, and the question was only to what extent they guided us in our understanding of election.

Let's be fair to me for a second here: I didn't say that these passages are the whole story -- they are not the whole story. But they set limits on the answers we can find in Scripture. And when we fill in the rest of the story -- albeit by proof text or some other parsing of the text -- we have a sort of dart board that the rest of the story has to hit in order to be relevant to our understanding.

So what's the deal with "the rest of the story" anyway? I used the apparently-controversial example of Stephen King's the Stand last time, and in order to try to keep this post from getting derailed by people offended by secular or pagan literature, I'll switch over to something less obscure -- at least in our circles.

Those of you who read my personal blog know that I am rather obsessed with 1 Cor 15:1-4. I have used it, since the beginning of my blog, as the pointer to orthodoxy. You know: anyone who wants to fiddle with what Paul there calls "of first importance" has not only gotten off the Christian bus, but he's also trying to stop other from getting onto said bus, and such a person needs to rethink the story he finds himself in. So to speak.

But isn't dropping a Scripture reference into an argument the bad kind of proof-texting? Isn't saying it sort of glib to say, "well -- 1 Cor 15:1-4. read it for yourself, bub. That's all I have to say"? Well, yes it is. But factually, we can stand on a passage like that because that's what Paul meant to do when he wrote it.

See: the rest of the story for the letter of 1 Cor is that Paul was writing to a church which he founded (see Acts 18), and he was answering their letter to him about certain problems they were having. And after 14 chapters (as we think about them -- Paul didn't write in chapters) of telling the Corinthian church all the things they were getting wrong, Paul lays it out for them plainly: "I think you guys don;t really understand what it is I was telling you for the 18 months I was with you." Well, he tells it better --

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
Now, of course: the rest of chapter 15 here is about that last bit -- about the overwhelming importance of the resurrection. It's easy to lose sight of that if we get myopia about these 4 verses. But what Paul is impressing here to the Corinthians -- as a reiteration of what he said in his greeting to them -- is that if you are Christians at all (that is, unless you believed in vain) you have to believe the Gospel in a way that is real in the same way that the death and resurrection of Christ is real.

If you have the Gospel, you don't jockey for church status; you don't abide sin in the church -- but you also don't discipline to punish but to redeem; you get your ideas about marriage right; you get your ideas about dress and appearance right; your get the Eucharist right; you get community worship right. To Paul, the rest of the story to understand the Christian life is the centrality of the Gospel. And the rest of the story of the centrality of the Gospel is getting the Christian life right.

So another aspect of right-headed hermeneutics is using the text the way the author of Scripture intended to use the passage.

I know for a lot of you this looks like baby steps, but my guess is that those who thing this series is going forward to slowly don't find every word from the mouth of God, as Jesus said, better than bread. This is how you learn to live on the word of God, people: by reading it carefully and thoroughly and in the way it is delivered to you, rather than as God's Cracker Jack box, or the daily divine Bazooka Joe comic strip.

Be with God's people in God's house on His day this week, and try to get the rest of the story from the bit of Scripture you read this week. And listen: if you do that, you;re going to hear something which tells you to do something which is going to cost you something. Don't be afraid. It will be good for you.









30 comments:

DJP said...

I'm bumping Dan, btw, because I told him I was going to post today, and he posted anyway.

OhmyGOSH, and because I SAID you could bump me IN my post, and because I EMAILED you and TOLD you to bump me!

Goodness, people think I'm a bad guy enough without you feeding the myth, Dood!

jsb said...

"And listen: if you do that, you;re going to hear something which tells you to do something which is going to cost you something. Don't be afraid. It will be good for you."

Sorry, but "costing something" is never as good as smilin', havin' a good attitude, and not allowin' any negativity in mah home.

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

1 Cor 15: The heart of the gospel. Amen. Everything else is important, but a corollary.

Daily Divine Bazooka Joe comic strips...you may be on to something there....

janelle said...

Just wanted to say that I am really enjoying this series, no matter how long it is taking. :-D

centuri0n said...

I'm just glad someone besides me is enjoying this series.

Rev. M. Brewer said...

Mr. Frank Turk,

"...if you are Christians at all (that is, unless you believed in vain) you have to believe the Gospel in a way that is real in the same way that the death and resurrection of Christ is real...Christian life is the centrality of the Gospel. And the rest of the story of the centrality of the Gospel is getting the Christian life right..."

Amen.

I thoroughly enjoyed this discussion piece. There are some gems that really stand out. I am currently working on a three part study of the Church: Purpose and Intent, Attributes, and Why We Gather. May I quote some of your thoughts? I will link back to this post with any quote I use.

In whatever may come, thank you for this delightful and thought provoking post.

Blessings,
Michael

donsands said...

"I know for a lot of you this looks like baby steps"

Sure we need to go on to greater spiritual strides, but the baby steps never get old to me.

The Gospel is the power [dunamis] that delivers a soul, and it should always be that same power in our daily lives.

Daryl said...

Baby steps, sure. But for me, it's real easy to skip the baby steps & move onto "fun stuff"...trouble is, with out the baby steps I totally miss the point of the other stuff anyways.

Thanks for the reminder.

David said...

That was really a good post.

Thanks.

centuri0n said...

Rev. M. Brewer:

If you are blogging, just link back. If you are preaching, be really obvious that you are citing a source so someone doesn't accuse you if lifting sermons off the internet.

God be with you.

Sewing said...

"Let me tell you about this wonderful man I know, full of insight. His twitchy eyebrow reminds me that even Paul had his flaws. Speaking of whom..."

Rev. M. Brewer said...

Mr. Frank Turk,

This one is just for blogging purposes. Thank you.

Blessings,
Michael

siminz said...

Another good read.... thanks.

( theologybites.blogspot.com - for christian soundbite mp3s )

Nath @ Reformed Geek said...

I'm really enjoying this series...thanks Centuri0n.

Sister Judith Hannah said...

Good Morning, Pyromaniacs and friends... Brother Centurion, your post is strengthening, especially your plea for Brethren to go deeper with CHRIST JESUS.

As I follow along the Pyro discussions, I am hearing this common theme: Let's MOVE ON! Let's go DEEPER! There's more... there's more... And indeed, good Brethren, there is.

However,the only way presented to go deeper is more reading, more studying, more evangelizing of the unsaved... all of which are good... but there truly exists the REST of the package!

For instance, I do not see any blogs on following the authority line, neither in the home nor in the church. Now mind you, I'm NOT talking about the baseless, man-made "apostolic succession" that some groups practice.

If the true, Biblical authority line was established and practiced-- as it was in the Early Church-- there would not be so many exhortations needed about Christian dress :>), just for instance. This is not to say that MEN RULE. This is to say that the brothers SET THE EXAMPLE FIRST. This is the first line of defense (in both the home and church) against the wayward spirits of the flesh and world. These spirits constantly tug and pull at the Christians.

The authority FIRST brings himself totally in line with CHRIST'S Words (Matthew 5,6 and 7,and rest). Then he will have the spiritual authority and the spiritual power in the unseen realm to oust the rebellious spirits leading the flock astray.

Yes, it will COST YOU BIG-TIME as you apply Matthew 5,6, and 7, and the rest, to your own life, your home, your family, and your church. You will indeed pick up HIS+ cross and die daily to yourself as you learn to lay down the sword and the lawsuits and practice love towards your enemies... individual and corporate... both perceived and real enemies.

You will indeed pay the price, receiving the reproach that was laid upon CHRIST JESUS, if you stop laying up treasures for yourself on earth. TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW so that you may use your time to serve CHRIST JESUS with ALL of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As you step out of this world's economic system to serve CHRIST JESUS, you will see a marvelous thing happen: HIS+ economic system will care for you and you will indeed be living in Psalm 23 and know NO WANT or lack of any needful thing.

Yes,dear Brethren, go the next step. Don't stop the exhortations but do start by laying the example FIRST. Want the Sisters to dress modestly? Then get out of your cut-offs, shorts, nicely-cut jeans, tank tops, open-necked shirts, and backwards ball caps. Cover your bodies with work overalls, work pants, solid colored long-sleeved shirts with the collars buttoned... no chest, no he-man hair, no muscles rippling... look nothing like the world but rather like a CHRISTIAN brother... and you will see the Sisters change their dress to be not only modest but also to reflect CHRIST and be in line with the Apostle's words... at least, the Sisters who are consecrated in their hearts to living for The LORD with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Yes, go ahead, pay a price for following CHRIST. No-one is holding a gun to your head to keep you from doing so, is there?

Yes, there are commandments to follow in the New Testament. They are given to help us grow... and grow closer to HIM+. JESUS our LORD said, "If you love ME+, keep my commandments." See John 14 and 15.

I hope this is helpful, dear ones, in your endeavor to have more of CHRIST and less of this world.

In Christian love,
Sister Judith Hannah
Order of the GOOD SHEPHERD+
(a Pre-Nicene order)

Rev. M. Brewer said...

"...Cover your bodies with work overalls, work pants, solid colored long-sleeved shirts with the collars buttoned... no chest, no he-man hair, no muscles rippling... look nothing like the world but rather like a CHRISTIAN brother..."

There is a lot of bondage in these words. I agree that we should trust our God that He will care for us. I believe that we should fully submit and live according to the Word of God and the example of Christ, but we have to submit to those things according to the Word of God and not according to the traditions of men.

Not looking like the world -within reason- is not about attire (but please be decent Brothers and Sisters), rather it is about one's manner, actions, attitudes, lifestyle. It goes far beyond what is on the outside; our Heavenly Father looks to the Heart of the matter.

Please understand, I read through your post, and I could have agreed with it had you not conditioned it with so much fleshly bondage. We as Believers must take care not to write additional laws unto ourselves, but strive to do what is right and good in the eyes of the Lord; following the example of Christ.

If for you it means to dress according to said standards, then blessed Sister do so unto the Lord. However, take care not to bind your Brothers or Sisters to your standards.

The heart is where it all falls. I agree that we don't want to look like the world: in spirit, in walk, in attitude. To do this however, falls back to the gospel being central to our lives -insperable from word or deed.

The "...more reading, more studying, more evangelizing of the unsaved..." keeps us close to the Word as we pick up our cross daily and respond to the Love and Word of our Lord, and the indwelling of Jesus in our lives.

Blessings.

(If I have overstepped, please forgive me and feel free to remove this comment.)

Coram Deo said...

Be with God's people in God's house on His day this week

"You may depend on it that the belief that this building or any other building is a house of God, a place peculiarly suitable for worship, is idolatry. You are giving to bricks and mortar some little of the honor which is due only to Christ as an altar." - C.H. Spurgeon

1 Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

Colossians 2:16-17
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

It would seem that Mr. Turk's predilection for subtle idolatry is manifested yet again.

Coram Deo said...

And lest someone here think I'm somehow ignorant of Hebrews 10:25 or arguing against its admonition, I'm not.

Rather I'm simply pointing to the obvious and consistently demonstrated truth that today's form of church-ianity is merely a perverse shadow of Nicolaitane harlot church of Rome, and is not the assembly of the Body of Christ described in scripture.

Sadly the modern church legalists are today's best representations of the Pharisees of old. These are whited sepulchres who indeed appear beautiful outward, which memorize scripture and hymnody thinking they will find eternal life, but inside they're full of ravening and wickedness.

Matthew 23:12-14
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

centuri0n said...

coram deo:

So the right answer, I guess, is to not be associated with other people who bear the name of Christ and sit at home in your underwear blogging. You should find a proof text for that so you can make a t-shirt or something.

Because this is really Phil's blog and not mine, we will avoid using the 8-letter word of internet conflagration, but your accusation here is all cuss and no word -- there is no soution for the problem you pose here because of the way you pose it.

May Christ forgive you for being so myopic and so hateful of what he loves -- which is His people called together in His name. When you see Him, and how He loves His people -- each, and all -- may He wipe the tears of repentence from your eyes in love rather than let you remember it for all eternity as one of the reasons you are forever separated from Him in judgment and justice.

God be with you this day.

centuri0n said...

And it is always amusing to see where the meta goes here.

Coram Deo said...

I don't hate what Christ loves, Frank. Can't you see it? Are you unable to discern that the professing church by and large has left its first love and fallen away from its faith in - and obedience to - Christ? Or do you choose to willfully ignore it?

I'm not here to oppose you but I can't in good conscious fail to point out that by holding to your current position you're opposing both yourself and the counsel of God.

Church apostasy isn't a new phenomenon; rather it's been getting progressively worse over time to the point where we find ourselves today. And where do we find ourselves today? What is "The State of the Church"? What would the Lord find should he return to claim His bride this very day?

Why nothing less than the fact that much of the professing church is deeply mired in unbelief and worldly corruption.

This fact doesn't elicit elitist glee within me, Frank. I don't carry myself with an air of smarmy indifference about the sad state of the church. It grieves my spirit, and I'm doing something about it. I warn others through my humble blog and I lovingly discuss this insidious problem with those who the Lord places in my life.

As the world becomes darker, and the false converts both filling the pews and speaking from the pulpits also become darker, then Christ's own - the true church - ought to shine more brightly and stand out in stark contrast to the status-quo worldly system. This occurs as they continue to speak truth and light and expound upon the unchanging Word of God in the midst of this present darkness.

You're right about one thing though, I'll certainly stand before the Living God one day - as will all humanity - and I don't plan to stand there ashamed that I didn't speak of Him before men urging them to come out of the harlot church - the scarlet woman - at every opportunity.

Spurgeon saw this day coming long, long ago during the Downgrade Controversy. Tozer saw it just as clearly. I'm not alone here Frank, and whether or not you'll admit it, I think deep down you know it's true.

And while I may be guilty as charged when it comes to taking a myopic view of certain things, let it be known, and may it be unto His praise, that the Word of God is clearly within my focus. I for one think that's a pretty good place to be.

From Christian Research Net:

(A.W. Tozer, Tozer on Christian Leadership)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

The contemporary moral climate does not favor a faith as tough and fibrous as that taught by our Lord and His apostles. The delicate, brittle saints being produced in our religious hothouses today are hardly to be compared with the committed, expendable believers who once gave their witness among men. And the fault lies with our leaders. They are too timid to tell the people all the truth. They are now asking men to give to God that which costs them nothing.

Our churches these days are filled (or one-quarter filled) with a soft breed of Christian that must be fed on a diet of harmless fun to keep them interested. About theology they know little. Scarcely any of them have read even one of the great Christian classics, but most of them are familiar with religious fiction and spine tingling films. No wonder their moral and spiritual constitution is so frail. Such can only be called weak adherents of a faith they never really understood. TIC, 76.

"Lord, send the Holy Spirit to renew within us a depth and seriousness in our pulpits? Give us boldness in our preaching. Amen."

Sharon said...

Coram Deo:

Was, then, the Psalmist, David "mistaken" when he penned, I was glad when they said to me,“Let us go into the house of the LORD”?

By the way, I found 211 biblical references to "the house of the Lord," all referring to the gathering of believers in one location, in a building. I'm not sure what your point is, other than claiming we should avoid attending all churches as being "apostate" simply because some don't preach the truth?

And now, if you'll excuse me, I am on my way to worship in the house of the Lord this Sunday evening!

centuri0n said...

CD:

I have an open invite to an abolitionist SBC pastor in DebateBlog right now which I am waiting to resolve, but I'd love to take you there on this.

But rather than delay you on this topic, let me ask you something: was there ever a time on this earth when the church wasn't somewhat wrong about something? For example, were the puritans so pure that they had no errors -- or the church which persecuted them so wrong that it was apostate?

I ask because, in your view, people are better off staying at home than being in church and pressing the case for the Gospel and Christ.

That is so badly-formed, and so badly-considered, that I think you are leading people to hell with your doctrine. That's the first time I have ever said that to anyone on this blog, but you win the prize. Please reconsider what you are advocating and withdraw your blanket affirmation that the church is a place which people should avoid.

Coram Deo said...

Sharon,

I just returned home from evening service myself and happened to read your comment. Regarding your question about David and the Psalms, you seem to be interpreting the New Testament with the Old and that's where your exegetical problems begin and end.

Frank,

was there ever a time on this earth when the church wasn't somewhat wrong about something?

Not that I'm aware of, no.

I ask because, in your view, people are better off staying at home than being in church and pressing the case for the Gospel and Christ.

This is your statement, not mine.

That is so badly-formed, and so badly-considered, that I think you are leading people to hell with your doctrine. That's the first time I have ever said that to anyone on this blog, but you win the prize. Please reconsider what you are advocating and withdraw your blanket affirmation that the church is a place which people should avoid.

My blanket affirmation is that true Christians ought to pray without ceasing for discernment and be workmen under Berean admonition at all times when dealing in matters of eternal import such as the proper handling of the Holy Writ.

This is especially true in today's professing church which, in my view, is mostly apostate. Certainly there is a remnant of true born-again believers within the visible church, yet sadly these are they who are most likely to be pushed out by the hirelings who are leading many - if not most - congregations these days. Other remnant believers will simply leave the harlot church under the leading of the Lord because they are unwilling to tolerate the continual marginalization of Christ, yet they are unable to turn the tide against the Purpose Driven madness, Nooma, or the emergent embrace of new age mysticism being spewed forth from the pulpit.

Perhaps this will result in a type of latter day reformation, or perhaps we'll see house churches continue to spring up as they have so abundantly in China, I don't know.

And while - contrary to your bizarre and unfounded accusation - I'm certainly not leading anyone to hell, I'm nevertheless convinced that the shallow, commercialized, "Church of False Evangelicalism of the Plastic Cross" is doing just that - and on a grand scale.

Defend that corrupted and worldly system if you will Frank, but do so at your own spiritual peril. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

centuri0n said...

Coram deo:

Where?

centuri0n said...

CD:

It seems my other engagement at DebateBlog did not accept his blogger invite to join the blog.

e-mail me and we can discuss the following statement:

"Does the believer in Christ have the moral liberty to abandon the local church?"

Coram Deo said...

"Does the believer in Christ have the moral liberty to abandon the local church?"

I'm not interested in debating you, Frank.

But that being said I'll reword your premise slightly and offer some examples from a single source (just to keep it simple):

"When does the believer in Christ have the moral responsibility to abandon the local church?"

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3

Exhibit 4

centuri0n said...

Oh wait -- not interested in debating -- just lecturing.

Consider yourself banned. You post again, it'll be removed. Your conduct and your doctrine are reprehensible, and if you decide to take up a public debate on the matter I'll discuss it with Phil and Dan that your ban be lifted.

That was your last post at TeamPyro, CD, unless you decide to interact in a way more meaningful than a lecture.

dec said...

Does Frank weep over "the reprehensible spiritual state of the modern professing church"? Surely so.

Does coram deo pray for the local church to be an assembly of "the true born-again invisible church believer". Surely so.

Both of you want the same thing. Frank wants to change the church from within. coram deo wants to start anew.

Frank wants to discuss this with you, coram deo. I urge you to discuss. The two of you agree on much. I believe you can agree on when to leave the local church.

My suggestion is to leave when asked to leave. Until then, fight the good fight.