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1 Timothy 1:6 April 17, 2009

Posted by Tim in Life in Christ.
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Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion

I find it curious Paul’s use of ‘certain persons’. It is much more specific than, say, ‘some’. And yet he names no names. I see a double effect to this. One, as this is ultimately a public letter, it singles out people without shaming. As is already clear, Paul is meaning to correct and focus them, not punish or evict them. There is a sharp tenderness to this approach. The other effect is to carry a sense of warning. It is as if he says, “Certain persons, Timothy, have wandered away… don’t you be one of them.” It invites self-reflection, not accusation.

And what has happened? They have wandered into vain discussion. Translation: they are no longer relevant. They have placed their faith in One who cleanses their conscience and purifies their heart – but all for naught. They’d rather debate Numbers.

Paul, a Pharisee, knew the tendency of religious leaders to vainly discuss things. In the end it must have been unbearable, that those with God’s revealed word used it not for transformation but argumentation.

How little we have changed. How vain are our discussions. A sincere faith. A clear conscience. A pure heart. Love. These are universal, fundamental. These things, when true, truly are the opposite of vain: they change the world.

1 Timothy 1:1 April 14, 2009

Posted by Tim in Life in Christ.
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I’ve been crawling through the book of 1 Timothy lately, taking a verse and journaling. Then yesterday I was reading some old blogs from college and was encouraged by what I had written then. So I’m going to try to put down my thoughts here, too. Pomp over. Let’s begin.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

Christ Jesus, our hope.

I see two things in Christ Jesus to find hope in. Perhaps they are best summed up as “Christ” and “Jesus”.

Christ – he is God, and our deliverance. In this world of temptation, attack, and despair, he is Lord and the provider of ways out. And in the ultimate, he will deliver us from our enemies with finality, as he returns and conquers all and makes a new heaven and a new earth.

But the second is more profound for me. He is Jesus – the perfect man. John expressed such hope like this: “When he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” That secure promise of absolute redemption is the foundational hope of the life of the believer: the quest for righteousness will not be in vain, and in fact will be achieved by God himself.

Yet that hope applies today, as inwardly we are renewed day by day. Jesus is more than a Savior: he is our example, our big brother. Through love the Father is disciplining us to take on that perfection, replacing and renewing the fallen Adam with the abundant life of the new Adam. And the goal – the hope – is not some arbitrary or relative righteousness. It is the Son.

Transfigured September 10, 2008

Posted by Tim in Life in Christ.
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My parents were recently given a collection of writings by Kenneth Wuest, a New Testament Greek scholar who, among other things, helped compose the much-respected NASB.  I thought I’d share one of his brief studies.  His language is a tad dated, and certainly academic, but well, well worth the effort.

Transfigured Saints

We read in Matthew 17:2 that our Lord “was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”  The word “transfigured” is from a Greek word made up of two words, one word referring to the outward expression one gives to his inmost true nature, the other, signifying a change of activity.  (more…)

Hope April 24, 2008

Posted by Tim in Life in Christ.
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There are a few moments in my life when I’ve wrestled with a concept so huge it threatened – no, succeeded – to restructure my fundamental understanding of myself, faith, and God. The first was sophomore year of college, when I finally internalized the truth that I as a believer am a participant in the righteousness of God by faith; no longer am I mercy-delivered sinner, but instead a grace-transformed saint. The second was the revelation that Christ dwells in the fellowship of believers. The clearest scriptural expression of that I did not find until long after I had laid claim to it: Paul’s description of the church” as “the fullness of him who fills all in all.” In the course of a few weeks, the trite concept of “a personal relationship with Jesus” was radically infused with new life.

In a sense, God has taught me anew about faith (in the first case) and love (in the second). Of the three that remain, one is left: hope. Guess what God’s teaching me? (more…)

A Mere Christian October 19, 2006

Posted by Tim in Life in Christ.
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I’ve been toying in my head with what it truly means to be a believer. Several days ago I was talking to one of my friends about the law versus grace, and starting there I started again reevaluating Christianity from the law-based and grace-based perspectives. I certainly am still a convinced believer in grace, but I think that the law creeps in in ways I do not detect.

Paul says to the licenteous Corinthians: But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.”

I am not aware of anything against myself.

How can that be true? (more…)