Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pre-prolegomena: Being/ Doing

Being/ Doing

The last aspect that most people focus on is the aspect of being and doing. In fact, the idea of doing or good works is so prominent among many believers that it is deliberately discussed last of all.

The Scriptures when it exhorts us to do certain things always based the imperatives upon the indicatives. In other words, what we are commanded to do (imperatives) is based upon who we are (indicative). Put it in another way, we do (doing) because we are (being).

A look at all the New Testament epistles will show us that the beginning part is always about doctrine. Many people who want to be practical prefer to skip straight to the "applicational section" in the second half of the epistles, sometimes even citing verses out of context. Yet, have they thought why God would give the first half of the epistles to us? Why does God not begin Roman for example with Romans chapter 12 instead of Romans chapter 1?

We see in Romans 12:1 the word "therefore," which links the beginning of this practical half with what is said in the first 11 chapters of the book of Romans. This pattern can be seen throughout the epistles, with another example being the "therefore" of Eph. 4:1. This shows us that it is who we are and who God is and has revealed for us that is to form the basis of what we do.

Living the Christ life no doubt requires us to obey God's commands. But to go straight to obeying commands as a duty is to miss the whole point of Christianity at all, which is about grace. Rather, what we do must be grounded on who we are in Christ (being) and all the truths that God has revealed to us. In other words, to grow in the area of doing requires growth in the area of knowing and in the area of affection. To truly obey God's commands correctly, not out of moralism (sense of duty or desire to be good), requires a progressive growth in knowing and affection. Since such is the case, one cannot truly obey God's commands if one is not growing in the aspects of knowing and affection.

We obey, because we are already righteous. We love, because we are already loved. We are graceful, because we are given much grace. To reverse the order is to destroy the Christian life, something which many people sadly are doing. Those who continue this deviant path will face the judgment of Christ himself when he said,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Mt. 7:21-23)

Note that these people did many works for God, and even called him "Lord" two times, but this is not enough, because they are not of God. Whatever is not done of faith is sin (Rom. 14: 23b), so regardless of how much external righteousness one has, it is still considered "lawlessness" apart from Christ who calls his people righteous.

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