A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Risings of the Spirit

"12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves." (1Th 5:12-13 av)

Just as insurrection against the legitmate authorities in the civil realm, insurrection against the officers of the church is contrary to the Christian faith and can be justified only on a very narrow basis.

The work of the church authorities is described in three verbs: "labor among you," "are over you in the Lord," and "admonish you."

It is the express command of the Lord that His people live under the authority of the officers that He has appointed. They are to "labor" in the work of the Gospel and their role is clearly defined: "reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine." It has been the experience of this poor minister over some 50 years of ministry that those who so harden their hearts against this work of Christ will not end well.

It is not the nature of the flesh to endure reproofs, rebukes, exhortations no matter how longsuffering the minister is or how sound his doctrine, so the apostle begs the people of God to "know" their ministers and esteem them highly in love because of their work. It is a thankless job, but the work of the ministry is performed for the good of the church.

"Be at peace among yourselves" is a direct command and not a "beseeching." "Peace" and "rest" are mentioned directly at least 150 times in the New Testament, and "war" and "fight" and such words are used less than one fifth as much.

In addition there is the command that we "study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you." (1Th 4:11) The word quiet literally means to be silent, to stay at home and mind your own business, to be at rest.

This is the reason that the constitution of the Reformed Church expressly requires that contentiousness be dealt with by discipline, for there is no greater work of the devil than a refusal to live at peace and a refusal to be reconciled to the people of the God. In fact, Jesus said that we "Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Mt 5:24 av)

Solomon understood this well: Pr 25:28 "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." Self control means to control the risings of the spirit--the anger, distress, hurt, strife, pride, and such--that destroy the peace and tranquility of the church and allow it to be raided by all sorts of bad things. It is the duty of the officers of the church to see that this does not happen, to see that the walls are intact and in good repair.

"For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." (Jas 3:16 av)
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