Attacking Brothers with Blessing

Paul usually included a benediction of grace and peace in his letters. “The God of peace be with all of you. Amen” (Romans 15:33). “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24). “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen” (Galatians 6:18). Here our greetings convey both human love and divine favor. Paul was not merely talking about a blessing; he was imparting it. In doing so, Paul was drawing on a rich Old Testament tradition. The “blessing” was standard practice among the people of God from the very beginning. Fathers pronounced a blessing on their children, a leader on the people. The blessing was given through prophetic utterance or the change of a name. Such a blessing communicated God’s favor. The loss of blessing was considered a terrible curse, as we learn from Esau, who wept bitterly when his father decided to let the blessing on Jacob remain, even though he had received it under false pretense.

Esau’s cry-“O Father, bless me!”-has echoed through the centuries in the hearts of those who have never received a greeting that carries the blessing of God. Children, parents, spouses, lovers, colleagues and friends want to know that our love for them reflects the love of God, that our love for them channels the love of God. People want to know that God’s favor rests on them. They depend on us, at least in part, to receive that blessing.

Our Christian enemies need that blessing too. I am not proposing that we ignore or dismiss tensions in the church today, but I am suggesting that we mitigate them by praying the favor of God on our Christian opponents whenever we meet them, whether in cordial or adversarial situations. They belong to God, as we do; they believe in God, as we do; they stand in need of God, as we do. The substance of our disagreements might not change, but the spirit of the relationship often will if in our greetings we bestow God’s blessing. We need to remind our opponents that though we differ with them in theology or practice, we still regard them as Christian brethren.

Gerald L. Sittser. Love One Another: Becoming the Church Jesus Longs For (Kindle Locations 316-328). Kindle Edition.

The Context of True Love

English: folio 150 recto of the codex, with th...
English: folio 150 recto of the codex, with the beginning of the 1. Epistle to the Corrinthians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This text, like all Scripture, should be read in context. If you tug on 1 Corinthians 13, you quickly find that it is tethered to the rest of the epistle and resists being torn from it. This isn’t rocket-surgery, but 1 Corinthians 13 comes between 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14. There is a reason Paul includes this here. Paul has begun a discussion about spiritual gifts in chapter 12. He has written that the body of Christ is composed of many members with different functions, and that every member’s role (no matter how big or small it seems) is indispensable. The hand can’t get rid of the foot and expect to be productive, and the eye can’t make its exit from the body and hope to have any use except for disturbing Halloween pranks. The Spirit has distributed these tasks throughout the church and has equipped every believer with abilities to serve the people of Christ. And then, in chapter 14, Paul wants to put forward a principle that will determine how the church operates in spiritual gifts, particularly with prophecy and tongues. That principle is that everything must be done in the gathered church in order to build up others. This is the idea he repeatedly presents in chapter 14.

It is his constant concern: “… the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (v. 3) Continue reading “The Context of True Love”

Is there a Proof Text for everything?

WCF, Chapter 1, Section 6-7

Section 6

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men (2 Tim. 3:15–17; Gal. 1:8–9; 2 Thess. 2:2). Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the

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Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word (John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9–12): and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed (1 Cor. 11:13–14; 14:26, 40).

2 Timothy 3:15-17 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

2 Thessalonians 2:2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

1 Corinthians 14:26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

1 Corinthians 14:40 But all things should be done decently and in order. Continue reading “Is there a Proof Text for everything?”