David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: Community


Clement on the Necessity of Community for Believers

“The great cannot subsist without the small, nor the small without the great. There is a kind of mixture in all things, and thence arises mutual advantage. Let us take our body for an example. The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head; yea, the very smallest members of our body are necessary and useful to the whole body. But all work harmoniously together, and are under one common rule for the preservation of the whole body.”

Clement to the Corinithans

Legalism Light

Legalism is quite a charge. When someone is imposing a legalistic vision upon others, they are saying that unless they do certain things, they are out of God’s salvific favor. Christ + something = justification. So when a person is charged with this, it is serious business. You’re stating that they are preaching a false gospel. Galatians is a case study.

Many times, however, believers who are like-minded on many core, essential things, yet butt heads, sometimes vigorously, over what Christians should or shouldn’t be doing as a result of their salvation, lay this charge of legalism against the other. In all fairness, legalism is probably not always the right term to use. You can usually discern what they’re trying to get at when using the term, overstated though it may be, but legalism is a high charge and doesn’t necessarily fit. The problem though is that there is some truth to the charge, but not exactly in the same way. It needs some redefining.

Whereas legalism puts the “offending” persons’ relation to God in question, legalism light puts the offending persons’ relation to the community in question. In other words, if you don’t do X, well, this isn’t the place for you. Or, since we’re with these people now, doing X, we can’t hang out together. It may not be so overt, just implicit in action. I have a hard time seeing how this squares with what I’ve been reading from Paul on unity among believers in 1 Cor 1:10-17 and 1 Cor 3:1-15.

Stirring Each Other Up By Way of Reminder

Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
>2 Peter 1:12-15

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.
> 2 Peter 3:1

Man naturally has no inclination or will to have anything to do with God. Man is a rebel against God by nature. Once a natural, sinful, wicked man is converted by God’s grace through the cross of Christ, there are then within the man two competing wills, one that wills to sin still, and the other which wills to have Christ as his all. Living in a day to day reality where the winds of the world, the grind of our daily lives, or sin, wickedness, and all forms of unrighteousness (some our own, some the sin of others) all comes over us like constant waves in an ocean. Nothing can stop the movement of the water that overwhelms us, almost to the point of drowning. If you do not make an effort to stay above the waves, you will indeed be carried away by them and covered up.

As believers, we have been called out of the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. Because the waves of life come over us constantly, if we neglect time in His word (actually studying them and ever learning them), in prayer, and fellowship with other believers, we will surely forget all of God’s grace’s to us in Christ and inevitably fall back into the sin which so easily entangles us, and we thus become miserable. What I love about the verse above is that it’s such a great illustration of genuine fellowship. “I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.” Peter’s intent was to not tell them anything they did not already know, but to give them a reiteration of those Gospel-truths that are the source of their life in Christ. Peter knew that the minds of his readers were inclined naturally toward evil, that worldliness and loathsome sin is constantly washing over their souls, like all men. And so, in love, he reminds them of those truths that are so precious to all of God’s people, that Christ, the King, has purchased their souls with His own blood and is now alive in heaven reigning over all things. Peter’s intent was to prod them on in their faith so as to give them encouragement that whatever evil befalls them, they are rich in Christ.

The only reason I bring this up is because there are many times I have personally had this thought in dealing with a fellow brother in Christ (attempting to stir them up “by way of reminder”), and when I attempt to remind them of core truths they may be forgetting in the midst of their despairing, they are offended and think I think they don’t know those things at all. That’s not the point. I need reminders of these truths on a constant basis, and the only reason I reiterate them to them is for encouragement. We all need to remind ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ of Gospel-truths over and over again, on a moment by moment basis because we are all so prone to falling into sin and forgetting the grace given us in Christ. I believe Peter has left a great example for us here, in that his main goal was to prod his fellow brothers on to Christ, that they may be full in Him, treasuring Him, and that they may not fall by the way side in sin.

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