Mixing It Up

If there was one thing I wish I was taking more time to do, it would be to keep pressing forward faster on this site. In the meantime, you get a post on a completely unpredictable schedule. So, enjoy this one while you can.

There have been numerous conversations provoked so far, and brothers are treating disagreeing brothers as brothers, even if one brother (temporarily) thinks the other brother is an idiot, which is as brothers do. It is good to drag our thinking through Bible verses, and also to put our thinking out in public for examination and sharpening. We are not snowflakes who need trigger warnings and safe spaces. We are living sacrifices of God who come to the Word for it to cut us up into acceptable pieces. We want to please God, and that includes submitting our thoughts to His.

That’s is what the series is for, to put on the table what we believe God wants us to believe and do. Our church is a kind of theological mutt, holding and practicing some things in tension because we think that’s what Scripture teaches even if that means we don’t conform neatly into one denominational purebred. All the elders at our church believe this, and I’m not saying it to distance ourselves or draw a line in the sand across which everyone else must come in order to keep fellowship. The main reason I say it is to make myself feel better that I am not the only crazy one. I recall a meeting our elders had almost ten years ago at Carl’s Jr. when we crossed a threshold, knowing that we were headed in a different direction than any of us had preciously traveled. This series is an attempt to explain why, and sure, it’d be great to persuade a throng to see these connections. We’re getting close to being done with the series, but the crescendo is still coming.

We’ve asked, What is a Kuyperian? A Kuyperian is a Christian who acknowledges God’s sovereignty over, and interest in, both spiritual and physical life. Christ is Lord who gives grace for salvation and who gives purpose for work on earth. “Kuyperian” is just a tag for that way of looking at the world. In the most recent posts we’ve been working on, What is a Dispensationalist? Based on a certain approach to Bible reading, a Dispensationalist acknowledges similarities, overlap, and differences between the Church and the nation of Israel. We considered the New Covenant promises in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36, promises of new hearts to the household of Israel and also a return to the land of their fathers. I said that the New Testament itself does not allow us to read Gentiles into that promise in a way that makes the Jews irrelevant. The apostle Paul had even more to say about that.

Before getting to that, though, I want to deal with a phrase that is approaching the level of misreading that “judge not” in Matthew 7 gets. The phrase is found a couple places in Paul’s letters, including Galatians 3:27-29.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:27–29)

What is Paul’s concern here? It is how to be justified with God. By faith in Jesus we are part of God’s family. Everyone who is in Christ is Christ’s by faith, not according to nationality, economic status, or gender. And praise the Lord! Amen! Yet it is a category mistake to say that because everyone is saved the same way that they are the same in every way. Male and female are God-ordained, biological categories of sex that are not mixed by faith into androgyny. There is not a separate Christ for men and Christ for women, but men and women are still differentiated while both being in Christ. Slave and free are a different sort of category, a civil identification. It is a category line that a man could cross, but not by default because of being “in Christ.” So also whether one is a Jew or a Greek depends on one’s parents. God can be your Father regardless of your father. But that doesn’t negate who your earthly father is and what belongs to you because of it. We are not gender, economic, or national egalitarians.

In Christ we have great things, great promises. As the Lord told Abram, all the families of the world would be blessed in him, and all of us who believe are receiving that blessing.

Paul wrote about this good news and these promises received by faith in the first half of his letter to the Romans. He demonstrated that Gentiles and Jews were guilty, that Christ’s work enabled Jews first and also Gentiles to be declared righteous in Christ.

What promises! There is no condemnation for those in Christ! His righteousness is credited to our account! Sin and the law no longer have dominion over us! We have peace with God and access to His throne of grace! All things work together for good to those He calls! All who are justified will be glorified! Be it physical suffering and death, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!

These are astounding promises that depend on God, not us. All we do is receive them by faith and reckon them to be true. We are conquerors through Him who loved us, and it would be an obvious transition from the end of Romans 8:39 to Romans 12:1 – “therefore,” present our bodies as living sacrifices. The doctrine of the gospel of righteousness in chapters 1-8 leads to a life of righteousness in chapter 12 and following. But there are three chapters in between, chapters about Israel, election, a remnant, hardening, Gentiles, grafting, and it all ends in a doxology. Why?

Up next it’s time to talk about Romans 9-11.

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