Questions & Answers
Obedience and NT commands?
I enjoy reading what you have to say about obedience. I've been waiting for the Lord to show me how to view the many commands in the Bible while resting in the finished work of Christ. The question I always come back to is why are we commanded to do stuff when we are also commanded to rest in what He has done? Your writings are helpful because they always give me a new perspective to consider. B
Thanks for writing, I am glad to have stirred up the thoughts of Christ within you. :) You know, the more I read the letters of the apostles, the less I see all that so-called stuff were commanded to do. We have learned to read it that way because that's the way it's been handed down to us ... and we simply never even considered questioning the basic premise we assumed to be rock-solid. Were talking a 2,000 year distance between us and the original writings, and we've made a gigantic leap from the personal gut-level sense of an intimate communication between real people and turned it into an impersonal document that we find ourselves compelled to MAKE personal.
No, no, I'm not questioning the writings at all, but instead our whole approach to them. Let's face it, the Bible was one huge religious mystery to us until we began to personalize it. Little by little, we created these islands of familiarity wherein we claimed God was giving us special messages. Denominations have been established based on agreement in the groupings and supposed-true meaning behind certain verses, and sometimes based even on the avoidance of certain verses and passages.
So, a question to you is this: what is all this stuff you see as being commanded? And could it possibly have had another sense to it to the original readers (or hearers)?
Something to consider in this. When Jesus gave the twelve "a new command" how was it any different from the old command found in the law:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart ... and your neighbor as yourself? Deuteronomy 6:5
Was it just revised? Have we been duped into thinking we have something different from what was given through Moses? Was Jesus mistaken?
I know, I know, lots of questions, huh? :) Actually, I think that's the best way to teach ... and I've been harshly criticized for that from real teachers who have told me I just don't know how to do it. Hey, a good question can be far more instructive than a million half-hearted answers!! :) By the way, the distinction between the old and new that makes Jesus' "Love one another" a NEW command answers every question you've asked me. Of course, that won't stop me from continuing. :)
Okay. I'm sure that you would agree that the life within every believer is the same Spirit of God as was in Jesus. Since that is true then either we are as obedient as Jesus and keep the will of God as He did or there is something different about the life within the believer and the life within Jesus. B
Yes, yes, very perceptive. Have you ever noticed the difference between the simple cut and dried statements regarding keeping God's word or about those who keep my commands and the hemming and hawing approach most Christian teaching takes to it? Jesus simply said things like, "he who keeps my word" as if it was a NOT a partial reality, whereas we talk about TRYING to do God's will. We have doctrines that help validate the sense of a TEMPORARY walking in Him, but we don't find it written in the Bible that way.
Remember the incident when Jesus' mother and brothers came to take him away while he was addressing a large crowd? I think they assumed he was beside himself and came to rescue him from further embarrassment. Anyway, someone tells Jesus that his mother and brothers want to speak with him, but Jesus says, Who is my mother and who are my brothers?
In all honesty, most of our assumptions would force us to read it this way: My mother and brothers are those who have relative success in doing what my father wants them to do. But Jesus simply said:
For whoever shall DO the will of my father who is in heaven, HE IS my brother and sister and mother! Matthew 12:50
In his first letter, John connects the meaning of the phrase "keeps his word" with one in whom "the love of God is perfected", and then states:
By THIS we know we are in him 1 John 2:5
Once again, we have learned to read this whole letter in a relative sense and play around with formulating how much stuff it takes to be obedient or how much keeping we need in order to be considered a keeper of his word. But there is absolutely NO relativity to it. And this voids most of our silly doctrines of performance.
You are right, we are AS OBEDIENT as Jesus and we KEEP the will of God AS HE DID. No, there is no difference in the life that is in us vs. the life that is in Jesus. Our confusion comes from the fact that most Christian teaching has been based upon the assumption that there IS a difference. And this is the thing that causes us to reject the very words in the Bible that demand such a concrete reality and to insert our own variables.