Saturday, July 28, 2007

God's Discipline & Blessings

It used to be commonplace knowledge in a Christian society that according to God - people would reap what they sowed. This didn't mean good people wouldn't have trials, or often live poor - but those who sought to live Godly lives had favor with Him. You might *look* poor but when you needed anything, He was faithful to provide. If you sought to be merciful, you would obtain mercy - especially with God in relation to your own failings. If you humbled yourself before God, Christ would lift you with Him. If you sought justice for others, sooner or later the injustices in your life would be offset or otherwise dealt with. If you were generous to others, generous deals would appear for you. If you left vengeance to God when you were injured, He would be faithful to defend you.

I still live by these ideas, and so do other serious believers, but it is getting obvious that a great many churched people do not.

Many are not concerned that they will reap what they sow in the lives around them - except in the matter of tithes, fundraisers for the sick etc. Its good that people are learning that sowing blessings in the lives of others and in ministries brings blessings, but you can earn financial grace with your generosity and still be cursed for how you use your tongue.

Seriously.

Everything we do has consequences here and eternally. Most Christians don't seem to understand that.

As near as I can tell, its mostly ignorance of what the Bible actually says.

Catholics are often guilty for thinking that one session in the confessional will remove the consequences of their sins, but an unworthy confession without real repentance cannot even receive absolution.

Protestants are bad for figuring that if they live 'mostly' right - they don't have to worry about being humble - or offending other believers - or even worry too hard about sanctity issues. As near as I can tell they lean too hard on the assurances of salvation continuing toward those who simply believe (There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus etc) - and then apply it to the daily bread of their lives. Basically, they think that singing and tithing enough- or keeping an extra neat house - will cover everything & allow them to keep getting uninterrupted blessings from God.

Now - serious repentance will restore your walk with God - and keep your salvation straight -but relief from the consequences are something we should be prepared to beg for as an extra grace. That isn't guaranteed at all.

It is true that Christ will overlook most of your smaller failings IF you abide in Him. But abiding means more than most acknowledge! Abiding means walking after Jesus, trying very hard to live as He asked you to do, being willing to abandon your sinful desires and being continually repentant of your failings. It means loving the brotherhood as well as God. It means preferring one another in love - that would include showing full respect even to those who hold a social position way below your own. It means refraining from slander and spiteful witticisms. Also it means the having the guts to say what you were given to say by the Holy Spirit, even if you know this will mean the end of favor with a well-placed personage. Abiding brings a desire for justice, a love for others, a thirst to be ever more like Christ Himself. Abiding means God's will and God's love always comes first in your life. This is how Christ lived on Earth - and how He still lives within us.

Comparatively few believers seek to abide in Christ daily. Regular spells of repentance is as good as most get. While that *will* cover you through the door - it *won't* preserve you from God's purifying fire here on Earth. (Woe to you if He doesn't believe you are worth that trouble! The undisciplined are not even His children.)

and that discipline can be very sore indeed.

Christ grants grace because He knows what you can do and how hard you are trying. He also knows when you AREN'T trying - and will deal with you accordingly - no matter how good you look to the pastor 's wife, your priest or anybody else.

To whom much is given, much is required.

Luke 12:47 And that servant who knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48 But he that knew not, and committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, from him they will ask the more.


People don't dwell much on the disasters of King David's reign - but we'd do well to learn from those too. He was a serious believer - but when he blew it - he blew it big time! And while God restored him to grace and position again and again, many of the trials David faced later were judgments on him - and in the x 7 fashion promised to God's people. David took one man's wife in secret - later a bunch of his partners were taken and used in public. David took a poll to determine his taxation & warfare capabilities - and God sent a plague in response for leaning on his 'horses and chariots.' Why? Because David knew better. This the same man who beat a giant armed only with his faith in God, a slingshot and a rock. He knew his God - so he was held to higher standard. Did David keep his faith and eventual salvation? Of course! But OUCH some of those spankings had to hurt!

But we're under a more generous covenant, right? Yes, in that we have each of us direct access to the Holy Spirit and the intercessory work of Christ - but we're not entirely off the hook. Consider what examples of God's discipline of believers exist in the New Testament: the couple that lied about the price of the field they promised to donate were struck down dead. Paul deals with sin in the church again and again - and even describes some of his own sufferings after his salvation as merited by his previous treatment of believers. I also believe he was covered for those by Christ's blood, but he knew that his own lack of mercy had not brought him extra grace in what was going to be a tough walk anyway. Check what he says here about the correction God sent to the erring Corinthians:
17 Now in this that I declare to you, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you.
20 When therefore ye come together in one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
21 For in eating every one taketh before another his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
23 For I have received from the Lord, that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he shall come.
27 Wherefore, whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Note that the correction for these believers included illness and death - because they did not regard the sanctity of the Eucharist and did not feed or regard with respect some of the poor folks in the congregation. Please not that these were early Christians - people under OUR covenant who were made sick or even brought to death early because they sinned against God and other believers. The loss was more than crowns they never saw in glory. There was a spanking in the here and now!


I hope this gets through and helps somebody - because there's no way any sane believer can study these verses and believe that basic salvation faith will cover unbridled carnal behavior - especially toward God's other children!

Discipline for grown believers can be a very serious business - and for the same reason it was for King David. We ought to know better.

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shown no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
or again
1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12 Having your manner of life honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme;
14 Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Usually you won't know which trials your fellow believers earned and which are Job-like trials /persecutions that will purify them even more with Christ but that they hadn't particularly earned. (The exceptions are when God directly sends someone to speak to a believer or ministry who is proving deaf to Him to their own hurt.) Trying to discern it is a temptation to judge them - which would only put another blot on YOUR robe. Yes, Christ's blood washes those sins away - but you must abide in Him - repenting of such temptations quickly - to keep them clean here.

Believers especially should be wary of sneering - for fear of becoming the subject of prideful taunts in the near future. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom for everyone!

I think everyone knows the kind of trials that *can* be corrections (like losing a job, major illness, effects from natural disasters, company problems, loss of position or health) - or not. Anytime troubles do start real believers tend to start with an internal examination of their walk before God. If they don't see anything they regard as 'that bad' then they often assume its all the work of the enemy. But its a better idea to seriously pursue God on the matter. He will answer you if you do. Either you will suddenly remember an issue or a way you've been treating somebody that you've excused to yourself (but He hasn't) or - if you are living as right as you can - you will be comforted.

Discipline begins in the house of God.

We need to remember this with fear and trembling for how we treat one another. What we do to each other we do unto Christ - and this is a very serious matter when we sin!

1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
4 In which they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the living and the dead.
6 For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch to prayer.
8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity will cover a multitude of sins.
9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 If any man speaketh let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man ministereth let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ; to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
13 But rejoice, seeing ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busy-body in other men's matters.
16 Yet if any man suffereth as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first beginneth at us, what will be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as to a faithful Creator.

2 comments:

BookTestOnline/Elizabeth said...

Hi Shushan,

Thanks for visiting my blog.
Enjoyed reading this post.
Great information about God and his blessings. Thank you.
Also, enjoyed the verses that you included.

Elizabeth G.
http://booktestonlinecom.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

amen!