I always admired the people in Berea…when Paul brought new teaching to them, they scratched their heads. What? We haven’t heard that before! Where is that in the Bible? Is that real? And they dove headfirst into the Scriptures. That is a cool example…but I’m not there yet. I was trying really hard to be a Berean this morning…and its hard! You have to read the text to understand it, then re-read it to see if this new idea matches with it. And it takes a lot of focus.
Today I was reading in 2 Corinthians 5-7 where Paul talks about how knowing that we will be redeemed with Christ, we can focus on sharing that news with others. He says in chapter 5:
“14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
Now, looking at it with a filter of the Holy Spirit baptizing believers after conversion and eliminating their sin nature…I am not seeing it. All died, all focus on Christ. I am reading more of a focus on pursuing a Christ-like life, rather than reaching a specific milestone of gaining near-perfection. In chapter 5 it also says:
“9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
Jumping over to Paul’s book to the Ephesians, he says in chapter 4 (emphasis mine):
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
He goes on to talk about the different capacities that have been given to Christians, to enable them to be effective in all the different areas of ministry. I see one gift, rather than another after initial faith. We learn to use our gifts to greater capacity as we submit to God, but we do not gain any more grace.
What do you think? Does that only sound good, or is it correct according to Scripture, or is it not right at all? What does the Bible say, taking the words at face value without any spin on them? How would the original audience have understood it? What does Church history advocate? Be a Berean!
God, thank You for Your grace towards us. You are good! Please help us to see rightly Your direction for our lives as outlined in Scripture, and to pursue a greater relationship with You every day. It may not happen in a lightning flash of one single moment, but please help my life to daily grow closer to You. Amen.