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Archive for May, 2009


Jesus vs. Paul – Scandalous Grace

Today I’m going to take time to respond to DH’s comment on my last blog, “Does the “casting out” of the indignant sinners not go against the scandalous grace of God?” It’s a great question.

Often I think we confuse acceptance with grace.  While acceptance is involved in God’s grace it is not without condition.  God’s acceptance of us is tempered by our being washed in the blood of Christ.  In order to experience that washing God must see us as willing, repentant, submitted souls.  When we are covered in Christ’s blood we can come before God in the presence of His full glory because we are made sinless, but we must adopt a lifestyle that practices continual acts of repentance and forgiveness to continue to be seen as sinless in the presence of God.
Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5:9 is related to those who have experienced that washing and so have experienced the acceptance of God through the grace of God, but have turned and knowingly rebelled against God through the sins, “sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people.” In a way Paul is writing to the new Pharisees, and the primary way to discipline someone who has experienced the Grace of God through Christ is to remove the privileges of being someone who has had that experience.  This break in fellowship is not forever, but only until the time comes that the person is led to repentance, see 2 Corinthians 2:5.  Actually the discipline that Paul instructs the church to employ is in reality a product of God’s Grace.  Otherwise, you might expect Paul to instruct that they be put to death, or expect God to just wipe them out; however, they are given time through the experience of loss to be brought to repentance.

If there were no consequences for our sin – especially sexual sin, greed, idol worship, abuse, drunkenness, and dishonest business – then what would cause us to desire to quit.  By losing the privilege of fellowship God’s ultimate desire is that this loss leads the someone who has experienced God’s redeeming grace to repentance.

Jesus had the same problem with the Pharisees and Jewish leaders.  They had failed to lead lives of repentance, and Jesus would have nothing to do with them.
So, there is no disconnect between Paul’s instruction and Jesus’ instruction and action.  In reality they are the same thing.
It’s the same teaching.
Now For those outside of Christ we should expect nothing else but “sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people.” They are outside of Christ so why would they be compelled to do anything else.  Paul clarifies that the rules are much different with these people. In order to show them Jesus we must befriend them, see 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.


I’m a scientist by occupation.  We use filters for all kids of things.  Sometimes it’s to keep what get’s trapped on the filter, and sometimes it’s to get rid of what you don’t want.

Filters come in all different shapes, sizes, and can be made to filter light or nanoparticles.  It’s amazing what can happen to an experiment if a sample sees the wrong wavelength of light, or what happens to a material’s properties if some bad stuff isn’t removed.  In short it can litterally fall apart or blow up.

In the church I often wonder if we forget just how valuable the filter can be.  In our hurry to make as many people as we can “citizens of heaven” we forget to check their passports and visas.  We fail to ask them hard questions, and demand lifestyle changes.  We fail to follow up on failure and success.  And as long as the numbers get bigger we excuse it all because surely God wouldn’t let us grow if we were doing it the wrong way.

Of course if we’re running the church more like GM then why wouldn’t he let it become a completely dysfunctional monumental failure.

Now, I fully believe that the church is meant to grow…and yes by the thousands in a day. However, I also believe that in many instances the church should be pruning 10 and 20 at a time as people who claim to be Christian become sexually immoral, greedy…”I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. (1 Corinthians 5:9, New Living Translation)

Our filters at the front end should be asking people tough questions to ensure that they aren’t going to be standing in a Matthew 7 line.  On the back end we need to have filters that help the church to continue to purify herself. When people choose to indulge in the sins mentioned it will be their casting out of the church that leads them to repentance. It’s a hard teaching, but in reality we are loving them by casting them out in hopes that they return repentant.  Only then should we grant them the gift of fellowship.  By letting them continue to fellowship without repentance could end up having eternal impact on them and on others within the body of Christ.

I think it is why we see such dramatic commands to deal with some sins in the nation of Israel.  It’s also why God commands to kill every human.  God knew that a little sin left without repentance could lead a whole nation astray.

We have a responsibility as leaders to make sure we are as devoting to growing the body as we are to protecting her.