Tuesday, September 25, 2007

TFA 07: Lessons for the present

Mark is well known for his books that cover all the old and new testaments, Promises Made and Promises Kept. These books cover the message of each individual book of the Bible, and it was this skill that we saw in the third and fourth sessions on saturday. For the third session on the present, we were taking through 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians is a good book to look at because it covers a large range of issues that are faced in churches today. Discipline in chapter 5, being wronged in chapter 6, the ressurection in chapter 15, the rights of apostles in chapter nine, gifts in chapters 12 and 14 which are all joined together in love according to chapter 13.

Theology then is foundational and crucial, we need to know what God is like so we can know what our churches are like. So what should we be like in our churches?

We are called to be holy, according to Chapter 1:2, and blameless in 1:8. Holiness is a strangeness to the world. We are estraged from the world, and we should be buried in the Word. Chapter 3:15 and 17 tell us that we are special to God, so we must be pure. We must not be overtolerant, according to chapter 5. Paul is yelling at the church here. Toleration of sin in the church is an immune system failure, it's that serious. God is concerned that His people be pure. We have church discipline to avert eternal condemnation. The unholy will not inherit the kingdom of God...chapter 10 shows us the results of people who did not obey God in the Old Testament. We are to be holy.

There were already problems with this in Corinth as we see from 1:10. They are being worldy in separating from eachother rather than from the world, as they should. The church should not divide for carnal reasons.

Chapter 8:1 shows us that love and concern for others should govern all that we do. Pauls example of this comes in chapter nine, he had laid aside his rights to be married or be paid for the good of the church. Chapters 10-12 are the implications of this, chapter 13 is explicit in what it looks like, chapter 14 shows us how we should work this out in practice. Even with all of us questing for truth there still must be love. Christians mustn't wrongly use their freedom, but rather the concerns of others should be paramount.

So thats the 'for all' bit...what about the theology bit. Why should we be like this? The church is supposed to reflect it's Lord, it's supposed to be holy and united and loving, as Jesus is. Be holy because God is holy, be holy because you are holy, the Lamb has been slain...do you not know? Our holyness is derivative. Be united because God is united, all the work is His, be it though Paul or Apollos. We are mere men, He is the foundation and the judge of the world. We are His body, and this many parted body should be a unit.

Paul deals with the factions of chapter one, with good theology. Mark made the comment that this was strage. Paul didn't investigate who was behind the factioning or what the rights or wrongs were, he points out that the church is the body of Christ (as Paul learnt on the road to Damascus) and that Christ is united.

And we are to be loving because God is loving. The church must manifest the charecter of God to the world. Is there any higher challenge or calling than that? We must have good theology, good 'knowledge of the holy' to do this well, or even anything approaching well.

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