All of Christ for All of Life
Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

1 April 2021 – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

What were you before you became a self-conscious follower of Jesus Christ? Some people, like the Apostle Paul, have very dramatic testimonies about how they were transformed from being notorious sinners into children of God. Thankfully, most of us were graciously preserved from those sorts of notorious sins even before we became Christians. Indeed, some of us never knew a time when we didn’t think of Jesus as our own personal Lord and Savior. That is a wonderful blessing that we should be thankful for. Nevertheless, just as there is a danger of thinking that becoming a Christian requires us to have had a dramatic conversion story there is also the opposite danger of vainly imagining that it is possible to become a Christian without being transformed. Gordon Fee helpfully explains:

For Paul there is to be the closest possible relationship between the experience of grace and one’s behavior that evidences that experience of grace. Paul himself is as concerned as anyone that the later (right behavior) should not be perceived as coming first or leading to the former (the experience of grace). But those who concern themselves with grace without equal concern for behavior have missed Paul’s own theological urgencies. It is precisely for these reasons that the warning texts in Paul must be taken with real seriousness. Security in Christ there is, to be sure, but it is a false security that would justify sinners who have never taken seriously “but such were some of you.” That is to whitewash the sinner without regeneration or transformation; Paul would simply not understand such theology.

What is most often missing in such theologies is the central ingredient in Paul, the transforming work of the Spirit. And in his case that is not simply to be understood as theological jargon. It is rather predicated on the Spirit’s coming into the world, signifying the turning of the ages, so that the realities of the future are already at work in power in the present age. The Corinthian problem was not with their experience of the Spirit, but with their misunderstanding of what it meant to be Spirit people. Our problems are usually of another kind. The Spirit belongs to the creed and to our theology; but he is all too often left there, so that his genuinely transforming and empowering work is often left until {after the Second Coming}, rather than experienced in the present.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 100
Q. 100. What doth the preface of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The preface of the Lord’s prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.