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Elders Represent the Knowledge of Christ in the Church-Conclusion

This brings us, finally, back to our beginning text, wherein is shown the manner in which those who preach and teach the church must regard those whom they teach; in other words, their example of living by the Spirit imparting the grace of God in Christ Jesus to their own lives, in various circumstances, demands that they see the results of that great sacrificial death in those they are preaching and teaching the doctrine of Christ too.

The proposition put forth is that of not seeing those who are bought by the death of Christ as if they were in their carnal estate, but as if they are already in their eternal estate. The second proposition put forth is that the first is done because they no longer look to Christ as He was before His glorification, but indeed, as having died and risen in glory. We might well reverse these propositions thusly: Since Christ has suffered death for those He purchased for God, and has risen in glory as the first to be resurrected, preceding all those encompassed in that propitiatory death, we do not look at Him as He was before that death, but as He is, sitting on the right hand of majesty; since all He died for are, indeed, encompassed in His death and resurrection, we view them according to the work of our Lord which was completed upon their behalf. These propositions necessarily entail our looking at one another according to the new creation God began in the resurrection of His Son, so that we all consider ourselves according to that new creation, and not in light of the old creation, which has commenced passing away, and which new creation will be fully realized at the eschaton, where we are given, of God, those new, glorified bodies which will be like our Lord’s glorified human body, to dwell in the perfection of God’s completed new creation eternally, per His glory in Christ Jesus.

 
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Elders Represent the Knowledge of Christ in the Church-Part 5

Now, we are up to chapter 5 of this second epistle to the Corinthians, and the theme of temporal loss, followed by the comfort God gives through His grace in Christ, as patterned by the elders for the sake of each member of the covenant community to emulate that pattern by the same grace, continues immediately.

The first four verses of this chapter reach all the way back to the apostle’s words in chapter one:

2 Cor. 5:1-4: For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life (cf. 2 Cor. 1:3ff.) Again, we see the thrust of the apostle in sharing his and his companions’ trials with the Corinthian believers, a further unfolding of the reason for these sufferings and the comfort that accompanies them in the lavishly bestowed grace of God our Lord Jesus Christ has earned for us; a grace that is bestowed so abundantly because it is of the eternal and infinite riches of God in Christ (Eph. 1:7-8). This is the grace that not only saved us, but is conforming us – even giving us the desire to be conformed – into that image of our Lord, and this transformation is proven not only by the shared sufferings of the shepherds of God’s churches, but among the saints, as they apprehend the meaning of the apostle’s words.

 
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Elders Represent the Knowledge of Christ in the Church – Part 4

Continuing our look at the pastoral perspective of these first five chapters of 2 Corinthians. as we go quickly through chapter 4, we see the apostle citing again the mercy of God as the reason for not losing hope, which would be a direct reference to what we were told in chapter 1 of this epistle, as well as similar statements in our current chapter.

Paul appeals to the conscience of the Corinthians by stating his doctrine is not by using the word of God in deception, trying to change that which God has revealed, and includes his companions’ pastoral endeavors in this appeal, again citing that such commendation is “in the sight of God.” (v. 2). Then, no doubt in consideration of those who denied that the apostle was, indeed, an apostle of Christ (and, by extension, the other apostles of Christ, as well as those who joined him in his ministerial endeavors were, indeed, God gifted evangelists and elders – 2 Corinthians 11:12-14), Paul speaks of those to whom his gospel is hidden, and how it is the god [1] of this world that has so hidden it from such false believers and false workers (vv. 3-4). This is followed again by the fact that they are proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ as His servants, and that God has shone the light of this gospel into the formerly darkened hearts of Paul and his companions (and, by extension, to all who are saved by His grace, such as the Corinthians reading this epistle, and future generations of believers, such as ourselves) to give the darkness dispelling light of His glorious knowledge in the face (person) of Jesus Christ.

 
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Elders Represent the Knowledge of Christ in the Church – Part 3

Chapter 3 of this second epistle to the Corinthian church gives Paul’s defense of his authority in and of from God further weight, as he stresses that not only is he not seeking to appeal to or please men by his words, but that God has written that upon the hearts of those he is writing to, so much so, that they are “our letter of recommendation,” and the weight of this letter of recommendation is not even their own testimony (although such is implicit in a secondary sense), but the fact that the law of God has been written on their hearts as surely and more effectually than it was on the tablets of the decalogue (vv. 1-4), and that is the entirety of the foundation for Paul and his companions confidence, which confidence has, as its sufficiency, God, and which confidence is communicated in all that they suffered, will suffer, are consoled in, and share with the Corinthians for the sake of their being built up in the grace of God.

 
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Elders Represent the Knowledge of Christ in the Church Pt 2

Continuing our observations of the ministry of Paul and his companions to the Corinthians, in chapter two, we immediately see the pastoral prerogative Paul exercises in his apostolic office continued from chapter one. He has said that he did not come that he might spare the Corinthians, and it is right to ask: from what is he sparing them?

 

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Elders Represent the Knowledge of Christ in the Church

March 31, 2014 1 comment

A Brief Forward

The title of this series of posts is “Elders Represent the Knowledge of Christ in the Church;” however, by this statement, we do not intend that there is no knowledge of Christ in the other members of the covenant communities that represent the catholic church in local assemblies of such members, but rather, we intend that there is an order to that deposit of knowledge of God in Christ Jesus by which He graciously communicates this knowledge to His church. We also do not intend, by the word “knowledge,” here, simply that which is able to be intellectually grasped, but also, by the same Spirit of Christ, experientially grasped and applied. This order and divine method is intended by the apostle Paul in such places as Ephesians 4:11-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:13-31, and is inherent (and often explicit) in all he writes in all his epistles, but these two texts touch upon it most explicitly, so the reader is invited to study them for further edification.

The overall text we will be concentrating on is that of the first five chapters of 2 Corinthians, to show how this went forth in the first elders (the apostles and their immediate contemporaries) of the church to the church in the area of Corinth. The key text from within this broader text will be given at the start of the exposition for consideration and meditation, which will be 2 Corinthians 5:16-17.

Introduction

The office of elders in the church is often not fully understood, overlooked by those who are taught, led and protected by these men who are gifts of Christ to His church, and often looked upon as a position of personal authority (sometimes by those who hold that office); in truth, it is sad, on the first two counts, due to a large scale, purposed ignorance, by those who are led, fed and protected by those elders (and this fault lies, first of all, with the bad teaching of such who ought not to be elders), of what the Scriptures teach about this most weighty position, and tragic on the last count, due to purposed abuse of that authority by those who are elders in some churches, when the authority is not theirs at all, but actually Christ’s, and the elders only hold, in stewardship, that which Christ has, through His Spirit, gifted them with for the feeding, leading and protection of the respective local churches of which they are to be examples of His excellencies.

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All of Grace—Faith, What is it?

Chapter seven

Faith, what is it?

WHAT IS THIS FAITH concerning which it is said, “By grace are ye saved, through faith?” There are many descriptions of faith; but almost all the definitions I have met with have made me understand it less than I did before I saw them. The Negro said, when he read the chapter, that he would confound it; and it is very likely that he did so, though he meant to expound it. We may explain faith till nobody understands it. I hope I shall not be guilty of that fault. Faith is the simplest of all things, and perhaps because of its simplicity it is the more difficult to explain.

What is faith? It is made up of three things — knowledge, belief, and trust. Knowledge comes first. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” I want to be informed of a fact before I can possibly believe it. “Faith cometh by hearing”; we must first hear, in order that we may know what is to be believed. “They that know thy name shall put their trust in thee.” A measure of knowledge is essential to faith; hence the importance of getting knowledge. “Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live.” Such was the word of the ancient prophet, and it is the word of the gospel still. Search the Scriptures and learn what the Holy Spirit teacheth concerning Christ and His salvation. Seek to know God: “For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” May the Holy Spirit give you the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord! Know the gospel: know what the good news is, how it talks of free forgiveness, and of change of heart, of adoption into the family of God, and of countless other blessings. Know especially Christ Jesus the Son of God, the Savior of men, united to us by His human nature, and yet one with God; and thus able to act as Mediator between God and man, able to lay His hand upon both, and to be the connecting link between the sinner and the Judge of all the earth. Endeavor to know more and more of Christ Jesus. Endeavor especially to know the doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ; for the point upon which saving faith mainly fixes itself is this — “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” Know that Jesus was “made a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Drink deep of the doctrine of the substitutionary work of Christ; for therein lies the sweetest possible comfort to the guilty sons of men, since the Lord “made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Faith begins with knowledge.

The mind goes on to believe that these things are true. The soul believes that God is, and that He hears the cries of sincere hearts; that the gospel is from God; that justification by faith is the grand truth which God hath revealed in these last days by His Spirit more clearly than before. Then the heart believes that Jesus is verily and in truth our God and Savior, the Redeemer of men, the Prophet, Priest, and King of His people. All this is accepted as sure truth, not to be called in question. I pray that you may at once come to this. Get firmly to believe that “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son, cleanseth us from all sin”; that His sacrifice is complete and fully accepted of God on man’s behalf, so that he that believeth on Jesus is not condemned. Believe these truths as you believe any other statements; for the difference between common faith and saving faith lies mainly in the subjects upon which it is exercised. Believe the witness of God just as you believe the testimony of your own father or friend. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.”

So far you have made an advance toward faith; only one more ingredient is needed to complete it, which is trust. Commit yourself to the merciful God; rest your hope on the gracious gospel; trust your soul on the dying and living Savior; wash away your sins in the atoning blood; accept His perfect righteousness, and all is well. Trust is the lifeblood of faith; there is no saving faith without it. The Puritans were accustomed to explain faith by the word “recumbency.” It meant leaning upon a thing. Lean with all your weight upon Christ. It would be a better illustration still if I said, fall at full length, and lie on the Rock of Ages. Cast yourself upon Jesus; rest in Him; commit yourself to Him. That done, you have exercised saving faith. Faith is not a blind thing; for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing; for faith trusts, and stakes its destiny upon the truth of revelation. That is one way of describing what faith is.

Let me try again. Faith is believing that Christ is what He is said to be, and that He will do what He has promised to do, and then to expect this of Him. The Scriptures speak of Jesus Christ as being God, God is human flesh; as being perfect in His character; as being made of a sin-offering on our behalf; as bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. The Scripture speaks of Him as having finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. The sacred records further tell us that He “rose again from the dead,” that He “ever liveth to make intercession for us,” that He has gone up into the glory, and has taken possession of Heaven on the behalf of His people, and that He will shortly come again “to judge the world in righteousness, and his people with equity.” We are most firmly to believe that it is even so; for this is the testimony of God the Father when He said, “This is my beloved Son; hear ye him.” This also is testified by God the Holy Spirit; for the Spirit has borne witness to Christ, both in the inspired Word and by divers miracles, and by His working in the hearts of men. We are to believe this testimony to be true.

Faith also believes that Christ will do what He has promised; that since He has promised to cast out none that come to Him, it is certain that He will not cast us out if we come to Him. Faith believes that since Jesus said, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life, it must be true; and if we get this living Water from Christ it will abide in us, and will well up within us in streams of holy life. Whatever Christ has promised to do He will do, and we must believe this, so as to look for pardon, justification, preservation, and eternal glory from His hands, according as He has promised them to believers in Him.

Then comes the next necessary step. Jesus is what He is said to be, Jesus will do what He says He will do; therefore we must each one trust Him, saying, “He will be to me what He says He is, and He will do to me what He has promised to do; I leave myself in the hands of Him who is appointed to save, that He may save me. I rest upon His promise that He will do even as He has said.” This is a saving faith, and he that hath it hath everlasting life. Whatever his dangers and difficulties, whatever his darkness and depression, whatever his infirmities and sins, he that believeth thus on Christ Jesus is not condemned, and shall never come into condemnation.

May that explanation be of some service! I trust it may be used by the Spirit of God to direct my reader into immediate peace. “Be not afraid; only believe.” Trust, and be at rest.

My fear is lest the reader should rest content with understanding what is to be done, and yet never do it. Better the poorest real faith actually at work, than the best ideal of it left in the region of speculation. The great matter is to believe on the Lord Jesus at once. Never mind distinctions and definitions. A hungry man eats though he does not understand the composition of his food, the anatomy of his mouth, or the process of digestion: he lives because he eats. Another far more clever person understands thoroughly the science of nutrition; but if he does not eat he will die, with all his knowledge. There are, no doubt, many at this hour in Hell who understood the doctrine of faith, but did not believe. On the other hand, not one who has trusted in the Lord Jesus has ever been cast out, though he may never have been able intelligently to define his faith. Oh dear reader, receive the Lord Jesus into your soul, and you shall live forever!

HE THAT BELIEVETH IN HIM HATH EVERLASTING LIFE”

Charles H. Spurgeon—All of Grace

Follow along as we read this short but marvelous book. Download your copy here. Next chapter will go out Monday May 23 at 8:00 AM. Central Standard Time.