Thursday, April 8, 2010

Running Ahead of God?

“Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”

~2 John 9 (NIV).

What is progress and what is progressive? In our contemporary lives we ‘go on’ with God and make our progress, allowing the discipleship process to take its course. This is our hope. This is not running ahead of God, and of the teaching of Christ—it’s very much in keeping and in time with both those.

“There is true progress in the Christian life, but it is progress based on a deeper knowledge of the historical, biblical Christ.”[1]

There are two things to take hold of here:

The Historical Christ

This is the person of Jesus Christ, what he came for, what he did, how he lived, the testimony of others, the miracles, the teaching, and finally his Passion—the cross—and his resurrection from the dead before ascending into heaven, sending forth the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The Biblical Christ

Swept past the gospels in Acts and the letters of the apostles, and henceforth, swept before the gospels into the Old Testament, the shimmer and echoes of the biblical Christ resound for all to see and hear. Indeed, I’m not sure we can get to the entire ‘biblical Christ’ without considering the whole canon that is the Holy Bible.

When we care for our journeys in discipleship with God that much that Jesus becomes the absolute centre of our devoted candour, the historical, personal Jesus and the biblical Jesus step forth into our lives.

Progress is therefore on his terms and entirely consistent with his teaching. We cannot make up our own rules as far as salvation and discipleship is concerned. And the still, almost-silent voice of God is there in us when we experience something visceral that says to us, in our “progress,” ‘Christ is being left out of this Christianity.’[2]

Let us always be on our guard to ensure there is a consistent thread of the historical, biblical Jesus in our Christian murmurings and Christian-sprung actions.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] James Montgomery Boice, The Epistles of John – An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1979), p. 164.

[2] I think it’s wise and cautionary to note that this means that Christ need not always be “credited,” but that any progress and teaching should be consistent with the historical and biblical Jesus i.e. his Spiritual way (cf. John 3:16; 14:6 etc), the Fruit of the Spirit, the Golden Rule, repentance and the forgiveness of sin etc. There are some genuine cases where the Spirit must be allowed to, and indeed does in any event, work covertly.

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