Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love: Lesson 4, question 2

bdv4's picture

2. Recall from Lesson 3 and 4 that we discussed that everyone has some good in them. How does this compare to XVII.65?

Eli-Chile's picture

Hi Lawrence, First of all,

Hi Lawrence,
First of all, with all my respect I encourage you to spend more time reading and reading, and reading the Bible, so "The Word dwells in you", in your mind and heart. 2 Timothy 3:16 says:
16) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,.

This is the way the Holy Spirit works in our life, through the Word. Hebrews 4:12 says:
" For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13) Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

And we also need to have time alone with God. We need to "know His voice", as weird as it can sounds. Look at John 5:37-39 and 17:2-3!:

"37) And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard His voice nor seen His form, 38) nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not believe the One He sent. 39) ***You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life . These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40) yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
*** 17:2-3: 2) For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3) Now this is eternal life : that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

As you can see, it's not only how much you know about Him (His Word), but how much you know God Himself.

Back to the question of the study, I think that when Agustine says in XVII.65:
"times of repentance have been rightly established by those set over the churches
, that satisfaction may also be made in the Church, in which the sins are forgiven",
he is demonstrating that he lacked some knowledge of the Scriptures. Because that is "out of order", so to speak. The Church as a congregation of believers has not been called to forgive sins, nor her leadership. (e.g. Acts 5:29-31; Romans 11:21; Colossians 3:12-13)

(In the margin note of XVII.65 you can see this:
"135 In actione poenitentiae; cf. Luther's similar conception of poenitentiam agite in the 95 Theses and in De poenitentia."
I think those could be the "charges" Martin Luther did against the established church -from which he was a priest or something- and her anti-biblical rules and/or practices.)

Many things happen in "Christian Churches" when Scriptures are dismissed.
We have to realize that the Bible is The Eternal Word of God. Men have to have in mind His "opinion" about everything, which doesn't change, just because God is the same always. So the Bible must and need to be "the rule", the norm, the standard, the pattern.
The Bible clearly establishes how the Church have to work. The leadership in "The Church" is to minister (serve) and shepherd The Lord's Church. Every group of believers would have to have one leadership "risen" from among them, and everyone of them are responsible before the Lord, who sees them as "the Church" (Revelations 1:4 and 2-3).
The Bible even lists some "requirements" the leadership have to have. These requirements, as one can see, need to be "seen" by everyone not only in the church, but by the outsiders too. I think this only can be possible when the "pastor" knows personally "the flock", and they (the "flock") know each other, including the way they live. They have to have "communion", there must to be a relationship among them.
You can see this, for example, in the letters Paul wrote to Timothy.
In the book of Acts (of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles) you can see how things go when A Church is in its beginning. (See, for example: Acts 4:32; 6:1-6). You can see the results of this in verse 7!
Can you see something like this around you?

In my opinion, if a "constituted church" -no matter how big, ancient and acknowledged she can be- is not biblical, simply it's not a Church at all, just because The Church is to "represent" the Kingdom of God in this earth. And, in a kingdom, is the king who sets the rules.
God's rules are in the Bible. So, His servants are to live under those rules. As a Good and Faithful Master, He cares that His servants live under His rules. He is the One Who teaches and disciplines them.
The Church can see the Lord's work in progress in every person He has adopted as a son. If there aren't any changes at all in a person, then the Church is to realize that maybe that person is not a member of the Body of Christ, and has to confront that person. When that person refuses the help of the Church, or her discipline (care and confrontation with the Word of God) then they must be cut off and treated as an unbeliever.
This is to say that they are to be left out of the "communion (gathering) of the saints", until they prove they are true believers by their fruits of repentance and righteousness.

Excuse me Lawrence, I couldn't find some more Scriptures to validate all what I wrote. But here you have one: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
... 11) But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 12) What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13) God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you".

My thinking is that it's the responsibility of every true believer to know God's "patterns" through the Bible to "measure" what is presented before them as "churches", their theologies, doctrines and practices, over all in these times we live, when "churches" grow and spread as mushrooms, and when most of them are toadstool.
I can see everywhere so many "churches" and people claiming to be "Christians", but the Lord says in His Word that "the tree is known by its fruit", by its fruit! Not for what they say or claim.

I pray that the Lord sets in you such a hunger and thirst for His Word that you can't resist it (Him). As David said (Psalm 42):
1) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
2) My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

May the Lord bless you!