Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Authority - 2

Thanks for raising the level of discussion, friends. Let's keep the bar high.

I’m going to proceed assuming that we have all reached the realization that, at least as judged by our own actions, we believe that not all commands are necessarily binding on us today.

But before we discuss ways to discern which ones are binding, which ones might not be, and which ones are certainly not, we need to revisit our approach concerning Biblical examples in a similar manner.

Would you say that when the Bible gives an example, that example would then be binding on us today?

Surely you wouldn’t answer “Yes”, would you? Did you learn nothing from the previous post? ; )

One way to illustrate this concept is to consider the Lord’s Supper.

Someone once asked the following:

“Which of these nine examples of details concerning the Lord’s Supper are binding? It was eaten (1) at night, (2) upstairs, (3) in midweek, (4) during another meal, (5) with no women present, and there was (6) one loaf (7) of unleavened bread, and (8) one cup (9) of Passover wine which could not have been fresh grape juice at that season. Which exemplified details are binding?” (Free in Christ, Cecil Hook, Chapter 2)

Actually, you could add a good number of additional details to that list, but the point is clear enough.

Examples are great. Examples show us one way of doing something. Following examples is “safe” (until you remember that Jesus had some not-so-good things to say about playing it “safe” in a parable once, so on second thought maybe “safe” isn’t quite the goal…).

But examples aren’t necessarily binding.


Steven Hudgins said...

There is a key which begins to unlock the door to examples and those things which we may or may not feel binding. Paul gave us that key in 1 Corinthians 10. In verse six, Paul writes, “these things happened as examples” and then in verse eleven he writes, “They were written for our instruction.” As an individual we need to learn what works and doesn’t work in our personal lives. That is why some were preachers, some were prophets and some had different talents because each of us experiences life in a unique way for the glory of His kingdom.

Paul knows in the examples which were set for our instruction that, “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” He also knew what Jesus commanded for all to do is to love. Paul reemphasizes it in verse twenty-four, “let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” If I believe drinking is not a sin, but Shane does, then I can’t force or to manipulate his conscious by whatever sources to conform to my ideals of what is good. I won’t drink in front of him. The examples in the bible show too much wine can cause you to become drunk. Can’t I drink for my stomach’s sake? I have that freedom, but if it makes my brother stumble, then I can’t do it in front of him.

Therefore, our freedom can’t be at the expense of stumbling over one another. Paul writes, in chapter 10:29, “why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?” and then in verse 31, “whether, then you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The only stipulation he provides is “give no offense either to Jews or to the Greeks or to the church” (v. 32). The final example which one may apply if it so be fitting to them is in verse 33, “not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, so that they may be saved.”

Paul is mindful of his obligation to reach the lost. If there are things that convicts his conscious (going to a bar), then he won’t do it. Jesus came to earth as a man, to take away our concerns. Once we are immersed (1 Pt 3:21) and we walk (1 John 1:7) we are guaranteed heaven (Eph. 1) and sealed with the Holy Spirit (I believe you can fall from grace, I am stating we don’t have to worry about heaven). Our goal is not to get to heaven. Our goal is to be in the fields harvesting souls, which are ripe for His kingdom.
Finally, whatever we do we are to do in the glory of God. What we should be asking ourselves is the following: do we find what we are doing glorifying the Father? To one clapping during a song may find glorifying to God and to another they may not. However, to debate on such a matter destroys the very spirit and heart of worship, because the two have come together in His name. Where two are gathered He is there. As a parent I don’t enjoy my children arguing in front of me. There is no harmony and it destroys the family spirit. I feel God is the same because he asked in Mark 9, what are you arguing about?

Therefore, I do not find debates or arguing over mechanics glorifying the Father. A healthy discussion such as this, glorifies the Father because as Solomon writes, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Pr. 27:17, NIV). One must be careful of handling the sword correctly, so that we do not injure anyone who comes across its path (Christian or not).

Therefore, my friend Shane, thank you for sharpening my sword and helping me to be mindful it isn’t about the “mechanics”, but the spirit of man, which needs to be sought after and not that of my own good.

Anonymous said...

We don't follow all examples. I've always wandered who determines which examples are to be followed?

Janet (Lita's friend)

Shane Coffman said...

Good question, Janet. It would be so much easier if we had a Pope to determine these things for us, wouldn't it? ; )

I say you get to decide for yourself.

And I get to decide for myself.

And I'll trust your motives are pure, and hope that you'll trust my motives are pure.

And I'll be humble enough to seek out help if I'm unsure on a point, and helpful enough to come alongside anyone who askes for my assistance.

And we'll each stand before God to be judged, not each other.

How does that sound?
(other than my poor grammar...)

Brenda said...

I always thought that we were called to be examples for one another in Ephesians 5.
Although, we are worldly people and we make mistakes, we can still use examples of yesterday and today. Examples of both the right, and the wrong. What I see in this chapter are some very clear instructions on how to live our lives and be an example of Christ.

Didn't God send His son to teach us and be an example for us? Wouldn't that be the ultimate example to follow?
Just a thought.

Brenda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug Young said...

Shane. Once again, you are right. Furthermore, human reasoning must be used to try and infer which examples are binding. Several years ago, I read a book called "When is An Example Binding?". Deductions can be made about matters, but they are human deductions and inferences about what the Scriptures don't necessarily explicitly say. Therein lies the problem.

Our brethren would never condone a host of uncondemned actions of the early church. What Paul did at James's request in Acts 21, without rebuke of Luke, would never fly today.