Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why should we obey God?

What should motivate us to walk in obedience to God's commands?

1. Gratitude for what God has done. This is the “fundamental” and “first” (primary) motivation of obedience, but it is not the ultimate or final one. Each of the biblical covenants begins with a description of what God has done, and only then proceeds to outline the covenant principles, which are to be obeyed (Gen 6:8-9; Josh 24:2-3; Exod 20:1-21; Lev 19:33-36; Deut 15:15). Just as redemption is the heartbeat of the OT, so also, it is fundamental to obedience in the NT. Paul’s letters begin with what God has done and only then move to discuss what we should do in response. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom 8:32). Because God gave us Christ in the past, we can trust that His commandments are for our good in the future. Redemption is absolutely fundamental to Christian obedience. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:17-21).

2. Imitation of God. As God’s people behold His excellent holiness, they admire Him, love His character with complacent love, and want to be morally pure as God Himself is pure (Lev 19:2; Lk 6:27-26). Hungering and thirsting for righteousness goes here, I think.

3. Fear of God. Motivational fear is “filial," not “servile." It does not fear that God will cast us out of relationship with Him, and does not fear that we must perform to stay in relationship with God. “By this is love perfected with us so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 Jn 4:17-18). Proper biblical and motivational fear is the fear that unbelief leads to hell, but it is also fear of fatherly discipline, and of offending the One we love. But trust in and love for Christ drives out the fear of hell.

4. For our own good (Deut 10:12-13). Obedience brings future blessing. Ultimately this good is the blessing of personal fellowship with and enjoyment of God Himself, both now and in eternity. If redemption is properly the fundamental or primary motivation, then “blessing” is the ultimate one. Christians must obey the Lord in order to experience Him now, and in order to enter into heaven to enjoy Him there. But, this motivation is contingent upon redemption. If God did not demonstrate His steadfast and unconditional love for us in the past, then there would be no reason to trust Him with our futures. There would be no reason to think that His commands for us are for our good.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Denominational Theory of the Church - T4G

According to Bruce Shelley, the dissenting brethren of the Westminster Assembly articulated the denominational theory of the church in terms of four fundamental truths.

1. Differences about the outward form of the church are inevitable. This is due to mankind's inability to see the whole truth clearly.

2. Our differences on the outward form of the church are not matters of indifference. Even though they do not involve fundamentals of the faith, every Christian is obligated to practice what he believes the Bible teaches.

3. The universal Church of Christ can never be fully represented by any single ecclesiastical structure because there are true followers of Christ in a number of ecclesiastical structures.

4. The mere fact of separation does not itself constitute "schism." It is possible to be divided at many points and still be united in Christ.

There was a beautiful display of these realities this past week at the Together for the Gospel Conference where pastors, church leaders, and laymen from a number of different denominations gathered to celebrate their unity in the gospel of Jesus Christ.