I've been seeking the Lord for my Salvation and I come across the responsibility of man as mentioned in the Bible.
So, I wanted to ask about the Responsibility of man and the Grace of God, Sovereignty of God.
The Bible in different places commands us to do something, or rather, to change.
In 1 Peter 5:6,
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up"
"And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
"Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?"
2 Chronicles 7:14
"if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
And GOD, throughout the old testament, keeps telling Israel and even other nations also at times like- Nineveh (Jonah), through Prophets, etc to Repent and turn to HIM.
And in the New Testament, we are told to Repent and Believe.
These verses seem to put it up, like humbling oneself or having a new heart and a new spirit, to Repent, as human responsibility to do what's been asked of us to do.
And so it implies also that we naturally have the ability to do what's been asked of us to do and that it's possible for us to do it without God's help, just by our will? Because if we can't', then why would He ask that of us?
But the Bible also puts things the other way, which seems opposite, that we can do these things only by God's Intervention/ Grace, power:
".....The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul"
"Then He[Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures"
Acts 18:26-40, The case of the Ethiopian Eunuch
Ezekiel 11:19 (cf. Ezekiel 36:26, Hebrews 8:10, Jeremiah 32:33)
"And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh"
In Daniel 4, God humbles Nebuchadnezzar, after which he praises God, for doing so and humbling him.
So, what should we do when we come across such commands in the Bible?
Should we wait for God to do something that we can't or we don't have the ability (will) to unless God intervenes in some way, or,
should we do what we are commanded to (to Repent, be Humble, change our hearts and minds) assuming that have the ability(the will)?
It is said that we have the ability and faculties for dong what we are commanded to do, that if we 'will', we can do it, but that the problem is that we can't Truly 'will' without the work, influence of God in our heart.
Spurgeon says about this :
"The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, and so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful. supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained towards Christ".
If this is True, then,
How should we then carry out our Responsibility ?
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. – Acts 17:11
In modern evangelical circles the Bereans are esteemed as model believers that all should follow, and yes there are great attributes to them but also there are implications taken from them that are untrue. Firstly they were jews, meaning they were religious jews but not believing Christians. Yet Paul the Apostle states they had “noble character” meaning they had a sense of them that they were deep thinkers before coming to quick conclusions on a matter. They were willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, we see that they gladly received the message, meaning they were teachable, willing to learn and adjust their own beliefs. They were not so dogmatic to think that they were perfect or not needing correction or perfecting of their thinking of the Scriptures. When they heard reasonable words shared from the truth of Scriptures they eagerly sought these out to see if they really were Scriptural and true. They were not defensive but rather looking to learn and grow in their relationship and walk with God. They were also diligent in that every day they looked to see if the things Paul was sharing was true. They did not just give up or judge Paul but were willing to listen to the other side of the story and not come to quick conclusions. What a wonderful picture of a people who in the end mostly “embraced” the gospel message, they certainly were “noble” and the Lord honoured that.
The Bereans did not spend hours looking for gaps and mistakes in Paul’s and Silas’s teachings but looked to see what was true of what they were saying. Modern believers who esteem Bereans think of these things in a different way. They look to diligently check things with the Bible so they can accuse and criticize another person or ministry. Most people are usually have their mind made up someone is wrong and therefore go ahead and simply look for ways to attack another’s character, calling and ministry. Such ministries are known as discernment ministries or even heresy hunters. Most of those who follow the ways of these “type” of Bereans are joyless, critical in spirit, bitter or even angry. Many believe they can take down the ministry they are accusing and feel they are doing God’s work just like the early Bereans. If you desire to have life and peace, stay with the Word of God and stay away from those who make it their life’s work to criticize and accuse others. Follow the example of the true Bereans who were happy and joyfully to rejoice in truth when it was shared and be willing to grow in our understanding of the Lord.
Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. – James 2:13
We all have been shown great mercy in our lives. God has shown great compassion and forgiveness towards us in not counting our sins against us. We were in a place were God was ready to punish us and cause us great harm in sending us to hell for eternity for our great sins. Yet he showed great mercy and love towards us, forgiving our sins in his Son. When we therefore show no mercy to others, especially believers, we sin greatly. Warren Weirsbe says, “The most miserable prison in the world is the prison we make for ourselves when we refuse to show mercy.” Such a prison many believers are in not being able to show mercy to others but being a great benefiter of mercy from God. God came down from above as the compassionate one to forgive your sins, yet we cannot show compassion to the sins of another believer. Judgmentalism is one of the great sins in the Church, as we are always faulty in the way we see others, never knowing someones motives and heart (Jeremiah 17:9). When we learn to be full of mercy for others, we start to share the heart of Jesus Christ who did not judge but showed compassion to failing humanity. Look into the eyes of Jesus Christ now and see his wounds where he was pierced for you, can you say to him that you cannot forgive another? Have mercy to another?
The Desert Fathers were those who sought the Lord in a life of prayer in solitude, they sought God for God Himself. These were some of the godliest followers of the Lord in that era of Church history. A story of a Desert Father on not judging says, “A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, ‘Come, for everyone is waiting for you’. So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, ‘what is this, father?’ The old man said to them, ‘My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.’ When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.” If we see our sins as this old godly brother did, we will not judge but show mercy to a fellow believer on this journey with the Lord. If we judged our own selves we would see our failings as great and have great mercy to others. We should find ourselves as the publican calling out to God for mercy constantly (Luke 18:13). Just like the pharisee in the temple praying we can judge our fellow brothers, looking down on the errors of others, but not seeing our own. Lord have mercy on me and help me to be merciful to others. Amen.
By Omegaman 3.0
Daily Reading 23
If you prefer, you can look up the following verses in your own Bible, of by whatever means and in whatever version you choose.
Luke 18:1-17 Genesis 29:31-30:43 Psalm 23 Audio 5:27 Audio 9:~ Audio 0:53 The above addresses are linked to Bible Gateway. That is an easy way to read (or listen to) the Bible verses, and choose your version. Personally, I prefer written, that way I can go at my own pace, on think about it, before moving on. Nothing wrong with doing either or both. The Bible says faith comes by hearing. See the picture below to get an idea of what to expect if you follow the above links. Thank you Lord for making the your word so accessible for us in these times. Amen
For many Christians in our day, the concept of Christianity begins with the reformation period of the 1500’s, often with little desired to be known about the church before that time. And so, like a vessel adrift in the sea of modern individualism, we have in many ways strayed from the original course marked out for us by the Apostles of the Lamb.
An Identity Crisis
This identity crisis has been manifesting itself in very strong and even unnecessary divisions forming in the body of Christ. And, though true disciples of the Lord must of necessity refuse what is heretical, many of these divisions are due to ignorance and misunderstanding, and have been brought about by the deceptive wiles of the Enemy of our souls.
Another symptom of this identity crisis is the continual inventing of new doctrines and ideas. If there is no original belief or foundational understanding, then truth is essentially up to everyone’s own private interpretation of Scripture. In our day, there seem to be almost as many interpretations of Scripture as there are people reading those same Scriptures—along with an endless questioning and re-questioning of everything. With currently over 42,000 Christian denominations, the rugged individualism of Western thought has allowed an unprecedented explosion of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.
Yet, in the midst of the wilderness of this modern quandary there is a renewed hunger and thirst for Christianity in its purest form. Many are asking questions such as, “What did the original, early disciples of the Lord Jesus believe?”and, “How did they worship?
Meet St. Clement
Many of us would love have been given the chance to sit down with the Apostle Peter, or have a meal with Paul the Apostle. St. Clement may have done both!
Born in AD 35 and ending his earthly journey in AD 99, Clement was contemporary with the twelve Apostles.
Paul the Apostle mentions Clement in his Epistle as a co-worker:
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Early Church Fathers Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome, amongst others, hold to the view that this is a referral to St. Clement in the Scriptures. What an exciting thing to know that this name “Clement” now carries much more significance in our Bibles, he having been a co-worker with the Apostle Paul. Not only this, but he also went on to become to the bishop of Rome.
Connecting The Dots
For much of Church history the writings of the early Christians were available and the traditions of the Apostles and proper interpretation of the Scriptures were passed on. Since the reformation times unfortunately there was a divorcing of the historic interpretation of many practices of the Church and the interpretation of each reformer was more important. Of course there were lost doctrines that needed to be re-emphasized such as justification by faith. But many historic doctrines and beliefs were minimized at the same time.
Not only a minimizing of doctrines was occurring but also a great confusion ensuing where each reformer had his own viewpoint. Some stayed very close to the early historic church such as Thomas crammer in the starting of the Anglican Church. But most reformers decided the Church councils and decisions made in the past did not matter and they would re-find all truth themselves with the Scriptures in hand. This sounds good at first glance but when each person saying that comes up with a different interpretation of what the Scripture verse means then we have more confusion than clarity.
A way for us to minimize this confusion and muddying of the waters is to connect the dots from the first century Apostles in the Scriptures to the second century bishops and leaders in the Church who were established. St. Clement who we highlighted above was not only contemporary with the Apostles but discipled by them and ordained through their choosing as the bishop in Rome.
A Needed Study
It is of conviction that I believe evangelicals need to make a study of these early Christian leaders and see how the faith was passed on faithfully to the next generation. It is through this desire that I have compiled 3 books being released with samples of the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Symrna. All of these men were leaders in the Church, knew the Apostles and were ordained with their blessed in passing on the faith to the next generation. We can read their letters and I believe it will help give some clarity to Scriptures and the faith we hold precious in Jesus Christ. The first in the Early Church Father series on St Clement has been published and it can be read and downloaded freely
Enter the world of first century Christianity, hear the heart of an early Christian leader. You might be surprised and also blessed in what you read. The Lord bless you.