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|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| The faithful servant.
|I was reading in Luke this morning, and I found that Luke 12:35-48 (the faithful servant vs. the evil servant) really spoke to me.
Now, I believe that one must be careful when one uses anthropomorphism in a spiritual context (for the sake of those who are new in the faith - or what have you.) When I say the text spoke to me, I do not mean to imply that I heard a voice, or something mysterious like that - I simply mean that I understood the text with greater clarity and application than I have yet understood it.
Previously, whenever I had read this text I relegated it to an "end times" sort of passage - to be sure, I have always heard it discussed in this way: We do not know the time of the second coming, therefore, since Christ might return at anytime, you should be occupied constantly so that if Christ should return today you will not be ashamed at his coming.
When I first began to read scripture, I was very weary about reading it incorrectly - you know, coming up with my own novel and bizarre take on what the text means, starting my own cult, and carrying on about how I and only I have understood scripture correctly in the last 2000 years. Well, okay, I wasn't really worried that it would go that far, but I was genuinely concerned that I understand scripture correctly. To that end, I always pray when I read, asking God to teach me and to keep me from error.
In that capacity, I was reading this passage this morning and, as I have said, this passage had always been understood by me in an
eschatological end-times context.
This morning however; having read beforehand a few chapters out of Numbers, a few out of Jeremiah, and a couple of psalms; I came to the book of Luke with a certain mindset which (I believe) allowed me to see something I hadn't really noticed before.
Before I go on, I should spend some time explaining
my hermeneutic the underlying principles by way I typically interpret scripture. I believe that spiritual truth is conveyed through scripture, such that a passage will convey one or more spiritual truths. I believe that a passage typically has one and only one contextual application, but the truth behind the passage can lend itself to many applications. For example, the passage that teaches that the ox that treads the grain should not be muzzled (in the immediate context) specifically teaches that the ox that treads the grain should be muzzled. The truth that is explored in this passage is directly applicable to that situation but, the truth that lies behind that instruction is also applicable in many situations. Paul exegetes explains it this way, "is it the oxen that God is concerned about or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes no doubt..." (1 Corinthians 9:9-10) Here we see that the text is a literal instruction regarding the muzzling of oxen who tread the grain, but the truth that is taught is applicable elsewhere.
So when I read scripture, I try and be sensitive, not only to the immediate context, but also to the possibility that there is a truth behind the context that is applicable elsewhere.
Now, back to the text. As I said, I have always regarded this text as primarily concerned with the second coming. That is because I had regarded the picture of the master going away and returning as being the thrusting thought in the passage. This morning however, for whatever reason, I understood it in a more practical way. I think that is because my focus was shifted from the absence/return to the alertness of the servant. When the focus shifts to the readiness of the servant, the "return of the master" becomes anything God asks you to do.
The idea being that the servant who actively expects God to require service from them today is going to be vigilant and therefore prepared when God does call on them (as it were). While our looking for the return of Christ is certainly proper, and this text no doubt speaks to that - it also teaches a practical truth - the servant who is expecting God to provide them an opportunity to minister (such as the servant expected his master to return, thus causing him to be vigilant in anticipation of the opportunity to minister to his Master by opening the door...), is far more likely to be prepared for a ministry opportunity than the one who doesn't expect (moment by moment) for his God to provide ministry opportunities.
The application in my own life is that I ought to be expecting God to provide ministry opportunities today - and every day. Scripture teaches this truth elsewhere of course, so it should be nothing new to the well-read believer, nevertheless, I was moved to see it in this text.
posted by Daniel @
Phew...for a minute I thought you were actually hearing voices.(chuckle)
Yes, I would say that application makes good sense. When we are in Christ and actively pursuing Him in our daily life, He will prepare us for His return that we should not be ashamed.
There are a few interesting features of this passage. One is that only ONE servant (regenerate one) is in view with 2 different potentials. There is not two different servants being described. This is very important in the Lordship Salvation debate. The servant (he IS a servant!) looked upon regarding the second potential of his service for the Master, did not persevere in faithfulness. He was not prepared for the judgement of the Master, the day of accounting: in other words the Bema of Christ (the Judgment seat of Christ).
He will be cut in two and given a portion with the unfaithful.
The Word of God will judge each believer at the Bema of Christ. Those who will suffer shame will be "cut in two" by the Word of God. Have you ever been rightfully confronted with a wrong you committed? Wasn't it like cutting you in two? Well according to Heb 4:12, 13:
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
The Word of God is going to be an instrument of our judgment when we give an account of ourselves at the Bema of Christ. For some it will be painful.
Now the portion of the unfaithful (Greek: apistia), is not inheriting the Kingdom of God. They will merely enter, but will not co-rule, co-reign with Christ. The glories, intimacy, honor, reign, and inheritance belongs to the faithful, overcoming Christians, who fare well at the accounting of their lives at the judgment seat of Christ.
2 Cor 5:9-11
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men! Persuade them as to what in this context? To be well-pleasing to the Lord. Why? Because each Christian will give an account of his life and RECEIVE the wages of his service for Christ. The second potential of the same servant was unfaithfulness. He has every reason to dread the Bema of Christ. But not dread HELL, this is a SERVANT of the Master, not some supposed or so-called servant. He is the steward of His master's house! Only those who are Christians will stand before the Bema. The unsaved stand before the Great White Throne judgement. The Bema is the rewards platform.
The steward's job was to dispense goods to the other servants and member's of the master's household. He was left to faithfully dispense that which was entrusted to him.
I don't think this view of the servants is quite right.
You mentioned of the interesting points that "One is that only ONE servant (regenerate one) is in view with 2 different potentials.", I'm not convinced you can rightly assign regeneracy (is that really a word?) solely because he is called a servant. I think this is very clear if you read the similair parable in Matthew 24:36-51. I think in this rendering of the parable, it is very clear that Jesus is not talking about some "Bema of Christ" scenario w/ the wicked servant, as he says (starting w/ Matthew 24:48):
"But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (ESV)
And that "weeping and gnashing" place isn't an entry but not co-rulership of the kingdom, that is the usual allusion to Hell.
It goes against the primae facie reading of the parable, here, Marc.
This is the SAME servant with TWO potentials, notice "if THAT" servant. That is a demonstrative pronoun that has as its atecedent that of the faithful servant.
He is the STEWARD of the MASTER's household, Marc. How can one be called a servant/steward of Christ's household, yet not be regenerate?
You are reading that assumption INTO the text. For the text clearly states that it is ONE servant/steward in view with two different potentials. One potential was that of being ready, the other was that of not.
This is the simple reading of the text.
It is pressing very hard, Marc, to state that an ACTUAL NAMED AND CALLED steward of Christ's household is unregenerate. There is no "so-called", "spurious" or "false" modifiers attached to the same steward with two different potentialities.
He IS a steward/servant of Christ's household. When Jesus came back, did he actually come to the wrong house, because this man was not actually His steward? Only truly born again people are entrusted with the duties and responsibilites that Christ gives them over His household.
Is now Christ giving the responsibility of Stewardship of HIS possesions to the unregenerate?
It is the knee-jerk reaction of 21st century readers of the bible to import into the phrase "weeping and gnashing of teeth" as a NECESSARY allusion to hell.
This is an oriental expression that relates severe remorse, sorrow, and regret over a life that was wasted for Christ. The original readers of this text would not automatically import into this the idea of hell.
For sure, Jesus uses this imagery of hell. It is found 6 times in the gospels. 3 of which refer to hell, 3 of which refer to the unfaithful at the day of accounting when their MASTER returns to review their service.
There is nothing inherent in that phrase that necessitates that it must be taken as hell.
Paul says that at the judgment seat of Christ, there will be terror for those who were not well pleasing, as the Word of God cuts them in two for their unfaithfulness, as they will receive what they have done in the body, whether good or bad.
John says that there will be Christians who will have shame at Christ's coming.
Imagine this scene in heaven at Christ's judgment seat where He is reviewing the lives of Christians. In front of him is a steward (A Christian) who was not faithful and was found unfaithful at His coming.
This man was given all things that pertain to life and godliness, exceeding great and precious promises whereby he could have escaped the corruption in the world, every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. But he spurned these things.
This man no longer has a sin nature. He can no longer rationalize his sin. When he is confronted with his wasted life by Christ using the Word of God, this man will feel remorse like he could have never felt it with his sin nature intact. It will produce in him severe remorse and regret, sorrow and inner torment. He was an unfaithful steward to Him who gave His EVERYTHING for him.
He will "suffer loss". GREAT loss. Yet he himself is saved, yet as through fire.
We know, though, that LATER, God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rev 21:4).
Obedience and faithfulness are REQUIRED of a servant. The negelct of such has grave and severe consequences: temporal wrath, and eternal loss.
This is where Free Grace theology has its doctrine of accountability. The Reformed tradition says that all will basically persevere and be faithful if they are truly saved. This consequently makes the subsequent works a necessary condition for salvation.
There really is no distinctive doctrine of accountability for the regenerate ones and rewards in Reformed theology. If one does not persevere, he goes to hell, showing he was not saved. In Reformed thought, everyone who is regenerate perseveres. There really is no distinction.
If everyone gets the rewards, then of what motivation is it? Of what significance does it hold? Paul disciplined and buffeted his body. There was no assurance that he would persevere and thus win the prize and receive the crown. "'Everyone is special' is just another way of saying that nobody is". Jesus reserves the highly esteemed positions in His kingdom for those who have had the overcoming, faithful, obedient, lives, those who have had the intimacy with Him here and now.
"A command that everyone keeps is superfluous, and a reward that everyone receives for a virtue that everyone has is nonsense."
It just occured to me.
The teaching of the parable is to "BE READY!" when Christ comes. If someone will be ready by virtue of their regeneration and Perseverance of the Saints, why would Jesus command us to be ready if there really are no consequences for the regenerate one who will by necessity persevere and be ready?
And what does this tell the person that is not ready? To do more works! In other words, work harder to get into heaven.
Antonio, it isn't Marc that you are in communicato with, but Mark.
The Reformed tradition says that all will basically persevere and be faithful if they are truly saved. This consequently makes the subsequent works a necessary condition for salvation.
Boy have you messed that one up ;-)
Reformed tradition does not make subsequent works a necessary condition for salvation. Where oh where did you dig that up from? It would be laughable if I thought for a moment that you weren't serious. What a preposterous notion!
In Reformed tradition genuine salvation produces good works, some thirty fold, some sixty, and some one hundred fold, (if you will.) Not that the cart of works is put before the horse of salvation - but that in a genuine salvation the heart changes - and necessarily, out of the treasure of this new heart godly fruit is produced.
Not that the apples make it an apple tree - but that if it is an apple tree it will produce apples.
Your characterization seems to betray a gross misunderstanding of the reformed position. You are saying that the works which follow salvation are required to produce the very salvation they follow - which doesn't make any sense. The reformed position is that when Christ saves you, and God's Spirit comes to live in you - things change. Typically that "change" manifests itself as a new found intolerance of sin and desire to do God's will. To the degree that this change manifests itself externally, a believer gives evidence that they are genuine. Not that evidence proves it, or the lack of evidence denies it - but the reformer says the heart has changed.
That is the difference.
if one does not persevere he goes to hell
The perseverance of the saints is not something that the saints generate themselves - that is, they don't make themselves persevere in order to be genuine believers rather genuine believers persevere because they are genuine believers.
Perseverance is not perseverance in works - it is perseverance in faith. We are not rewarded for our faith - since our faith was a gift.
I gotta go but I will get back to this.
Our rewards are based on
Hey Daniel, if I may join this discussion...I must confess that I have been confused regarding the exact meaning of the word "perseverance".
It seems to me there are two different discussions here; the first being the "proof" of salvation, and secondly the works of faith that accompany a believer for the which he will receive a reward at the return of Christ.
Conversely, there is also the mention of suffering loss, which in my estimation would be a losing something that was being attained for.
So does it not make sense that the believer who chooses to obey and diligently serve the Lord should receive a reward greater than the believer who is slothful in his walk?
If I have missed the boat on perseverance, please enlighten me.
Now that I'm back at a computer, a few more thoughts.
I've seen your interpretations of these scriptures before, and such thoughts usually are provided by Arminean Dispensationalists, I suppose I do mean to 'pigeon hole' you here. I strongly suggest the excellent work of Dr. John Gerstner "Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, A Critique of Dispensationalism" considering your position. I know the title comes on strong, but after reading this book (after countless nights of debate with college buddies) I felt the case was laid out clearly enough and I could make up my mind on dispensationalism. Your boy Zane Hodges is interacted with in the text and the appendices of letters chronicling their (Hodges/Gerstner) dialogue.
Also, the assumption about the servant belonging to Christ, his being a regenerate soul, is a rash one I'm afraid. It would be as if one would say that all 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13) were regenerate because the bridegroom symbolizes Christ(!), even though 5 were called in, and 5 were sent away into darkness...weeping and gnashing of teeth...?
Furthermore, you don't have me convinced on this "weeping and gnashing of teeth doesn't always mean hell" concept. Doing a quick search, occurances in Matthew, Mark, and Luke include one of the following: "fiery furnace" or "outer darkness". Take Luke 13:26-28!! as our example du jour. These guys claimed that they "ate and drank in your presence", and Jesus tells them they are not going to be in the Kingdom! They didn't just serve Jesus, they reclined at table w/ him! But they were workers of evil, like the wicked servant. So it didn't matter if they knocked back a cold one w/ the Boss, they were sinners, and sinners get sent to vrs. 28..."weeping and gnashing of teeth" and 'cast out from the Kingdom'. And if we are workers of evil, and God does not in His majestic mercy and grace, make us new to love Him through His Son, then we get what we earn, and that is weeping and gnashing of teeth...in the everlasting punishment of Hell. It seems as though I have to point the nasty finger of eisegesis back at you.
I won't address all of the perseverance and order of salvation issues, this is Daniel's blog and I think he'll address that shortly.
BTW, Daniel, thanks for the name check.
Yours in Christ,
oops. I made a mistake. I said Doing a quick search, occurances in Matthew, Mark, and Luke include one of the following:.
I did a quick search w/ "e-Sword" which I just downloaded this week (making excuses!), and I did NOT see that "weeping and gnashing" in the Gospel of Mark. And no, I'm not inventing some other "Gospel of Mark" here. :)
Apologies as I don't want to misrepresent God's word.
Have a good night.
Okay I am here now Antonio, did you want me for something? ;-)
Excellent reflections! Earlier today I was thinking about this idea of being ready... and even actively looking for opportunities to evangelize. I have a friend who is excellent at this and his example challenged me as well.