LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Positions: They Are a Changin'

I've been doing a lot of thinking on 2 Cor. 13:5 lately. "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you are disqualified."

I have Read MacArthur's "The Gospel According to Jesus" and "The Gospel According to the Apostles" as well as "Hard to Believe". I am familiar with his take on this verse, that Christians should examine themselves to see that they are genuinely regenerate. I once held this position too. I no longer do.

Throughout this epistle Paul's apostleship is challenged. He answers those challenges in several places in this letter. Note, for example, chapter 3, where he asks the Corinthians if he needs to commend himself or does he need letters of commendation to them or from them. His answer: "clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart."

Note he says "ministered by us". Note also the Spirit's work on their hearts as a result of Paul's ministry. The work of the Spirit on the hearts of the Corinthian's was proof of Paul's apostleship. So it is in chapter 13:5. The evidence of Paul's apostleship is to be seen in the fact that the Corinthians have exhibited spiritual life. It isn't so much a test for them as it is a testament to his apostleship.

Mark

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15 Comments:

Blogger Daniel said...

They were suggesting that Paul was not an inspired teacher, and his response was that they ought to look to their own history, to see that Paul laid that foundation, and to examine that foundation and know that it was laid by Christ - a foundation that could be examined by simply examining their own faith - the legitimacy of their own faith would demonstrate the legitimacy of Paul's apostolic authority. I think that aspect of this command is often eclipsed by the pericopic focus on the thought of determining whether or not you are indeed in the faith - rather than determining whether or not you are in the faith so that you can see that I am indeed Christ's apostle to you.

The thought that we are to know whether or not we are in the faith is a good one, and ought not to be tossed out with the bathwater - but I think you are on to something in drawing our attention to the fullest context here - "in order that you may recognize my authority"...

Let me know if that makes sense.

August 18, 2007 12:45 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Makes perfect sense, sir.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God - 1 John 5:1a. May faith in Christ is the result of being born of God. Before, in my unregenerate state, I cared not for the things of God, I cared not for His gospel. Now His life is in me through the Holy Spirit. I am now a habitation of God through the Spirit. This came about as God used a human vessel to provide the Spirit to me. Gal.3:5. My faith is the testament to that person's faithful witness for Christ.

August 18, 2007 1:00 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew Henry mentions this same thing. He says that in testing themselves to be in the faith it validates Paul's apostleship.

August 18, 2007 3:23 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

But isn't Paul's apostleship (or question thereof) different from our own examination of our own lives?

In other words, I see the verse of 2 Corinthians 13:5 as an encouragement to continually be on guard against feeding the old man. To continually examine ourselves and exhort ourselves to walk in the Spirit, closer with the Lord.

What else could "examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith" mean? Why would it only apply to the immediate readers of the epistle? In other words, I can see where there would be applicability to Paul's initial audience as it may relate to his own proof of apostleship, but is there not applicability to us today with respect to our own walking out of the faith (not walking away from, but the living out of)?

August 18, 2007 8:00 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, sister in Christ, good friend -

What you say here, "In other words, I see the verse of 2 Corinthians 13:5 as an encouragement to continually be on guard against feeding the old man. To continually examine ourselves and exhort ourselves to walk in the Spirit, closer with the Lord." the context no where invites that interpretation. In fact, I do not see anywhere in scripture where believers are to test themselves for the purpose of concluding whether they are regenerate or not, as MacArthur contends. We ARE to press on in sanctification, 2 Peter 1:3-11. Again, the desire to do so comes as a result of being "born of God".

August 18, 2007 8:16 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I appreciate that, Mark. I really do. I need to read the context of 2 Corinthians more. Reading the verse in isolation makes me just up and apply to myself without thinking more fully on it. I appreciate the exhortation and encouragement to do so.

August 18, 2007 8:20 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, you are most gracious.

When a regenerate person examines themself they will see signs of eternal life. God is the One Who supplies the Spirit,that Communicator of that life, but He does so through human instrumentation. Look carefully at Galatians 3:5 to see what I mean. My faith, therefore, is a testament to the faithfullness of that person who led me to Christ. Now look at 2 Cor. 13:6. Paul was confident that the Corinthians would see evidence of eternal life within and therefore he would be vindicated.

August 18, 2007 8:35 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Mark,

Y'know, when I first came to know the doctrines of grace and embrace them, after a time, I too wondered - gasp, what if I'm not one of the elect?

But it didn't take long to sense God's continual chastisement, correction, and so forth - moving me along down the path of sanctification. He never leaves me alone - especially all the more as I plead with Him pretty much daily anymore to not leave me to myself! And He doesn't. And thereby I know I am His. I want to die to self for Him and would be honored beyond measure to die physically for His sake. I know I'm His and I don't need to trouble myself over it.

Still, these kinds of reminders, exhortations, and encouragement such as you provided are much needed.

I was in a Family Christian bookstore today and was reminded of how sad a state Christianity is in the US. So much "Christian self-help" - now there's an oxymoron! Not to mention pithy love stories, novels, me me me memorabilia and novelties. The last time I was in the store, I asked for Kenneth Gentry's "Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation," to which the cashier replied, "Oh! We have an entire section on dating!"

August 18, 2007 8:54 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

The warrant for our faith is First John 3:23, where we are commanded to believe on the name of His Son.

The promise is that all who do believe have eternal life, First John 5:11-12.

Those who believe do so because they have been born of God. First John 5:1.

August 18, 2007 9:16 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I was thinking more on this last night, Mark, and in so doing, thought more about how when I was attending man-centered churches, I was taught to learn many memory verses (not in and of itself a bad thing to hide Scripture in one's heart), BUT what this does is isolate many Scriptures out of their original context. I think what I may have learned then is that Scriptures such as what you cited in this post all apply to the believer today (in any way we may choose to interpret and apply them).

At that time, I was increasingly uncomfortable with many verses lifted out of the OT and used in various Bible studies as dynamic applications for today's believers. The verses may indeed have such applications, but the original context was never ever cited or given. I didn't understand then why I was uncomfortable with such lifting out of verses, and never even considered that the same discomfort would apply to the NT, but since coming to Reformed theology, I am learning the importance of rightly dividing the Word of Truth and proper exegesis.

Your post reminds me of that.

August 19, 2007 9:08 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Interesting development in your theology, Mark.

August 19, 2007 12:32 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew,
I do not mean this unkind at all, but is your theology open to change.

I know mine has changed away from infant baptism and more and more away from the way covenant theology seems to not recognize a major difference in the new covenant.

However, the movement is not toward dispensationalism as I find it illogical.

August 19, 2007 12:47 PM

 
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Excellent Mark, admirable.

The original context and audience, is indeed determinative of the meaning of this text. Clearly this passage is a rhetorical device used by Paul to complete his elaborate defense against the pseudo-apostles.

August 19, 2007 6:01 PM

 
Blogger only1way said...

Greetings all. Apologies fot the extended absence. Mark and I have discussed this issue before. Will try to unfold more later. Mark, if you want to get together this week, e-mail me.

August 20, 2007 12:41 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wayne, lets see:

I moved towards infant baptism in the last year, so I dare say my theology could change in other ways. I certainly modify my theology in small ways occasionally.

Probably the biggest change since I became a firm Biblicist back in 2000 was becoming a Cessasionist in 2005. As my parents are firm Charismatics, that was a development I resisted for a long time.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

August 20, 2007 4:45 AM

 

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