Monday, June 15, 2009

denying our Lord

When we read of Peter's denial of Jesus during Jesus' trial, at a younger age we may have shaken our heads in wonder. How could Peter, who had been three years with Jesus day in and day out, how could he have turned around during Jesus' darkest hour, and betrayed him?

As we get older, and sadly wiser about ourselves, we begin to understand firsthand Peter's denials. And we also understand Scripture's teaching more thoroughly, how we need to live by the Spirit, and how also we need to remain in the word and in prayer. So that Peter's denials more and more ring true when we reflect on life, and indeed on our own lives.

What ways in our lives do we deny our Lord?

Sometimes in our lives we may deny Jesus in big ways. In ways that are public. But sometimes in big ways that are private. In our innermost thoughts. Or with some secret practice we know is wrong. Or more often, perhaps, we do so in subtle ways, whenever we sin knowingly, in thought, attitude, word or deed.

I deny Jesus whenever I don't keep a short account with God over my sin. If I sin, and then don't immediately repent of my wrong, I in effect am denying our Lord. I'm saying, "I don't know the Man!"

Of course the direct application of this is to refuse to confess Jesus before others. But instead fall in with the crowd, and though ashamed of it, also ashamed of Jesus. To what extent are we ever ashamed of our Lord before others? To that extent we are denying him just as Peter did. Jesus promises to confess our name before his Father, if we confess his name before the world. But he warns us that if we fail to do so, then he won't do so to the Father.

Like Peter, the Lord in love will work on us his brothers, and sisters, to bring us back to him. God works in our lives, so that in love we will want to follow, and in so doing by our words and actions point others, in love to him.

What comes to your mind on this, which you'd like to share with us?

14 comments:

Deb said...

Good points,Sweets,to ponder and apply! May we not only know Him, but seek to make Him known!!

nAncY said...

encouraging.

Andrew said...

"I deny Jesus whenever I don't keep a short account with God over my sin. If I sin, and then don't immediately repent of my wrong, I in effect am denying our Lord. I'm saying, 'I don't know the Man!'"

Yes, not owning up to our sin, acknowledging ourselves as sinners--this shows that we are rebelling against the Rabbi's own Truth. The Sermon on the Mount, e.g., proclaims everyone short of the righteousness greater than the Pharisees'.

But what you wrote in this sentence also struck me: When we refuse to confess our sins and repent, we're denying Christ by refusing to acknowledge that mercy and redeeming grace are found in him. When we do not come to him to receive the gifts he offers, we're spurning his free gifts. And since he is by nature the Giver ("The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many"), we're denying his very nature.

By the way, those Daniel Kirk posts are very provoking. I think he pushes the Presbyterian law-framework too far, but he's keen and knowledgeable about it, too. His point about how Reformed theology has a hard time figuring out the role of Israel and why the Gospels contain the gospel is well-taken. The J. G. Dunn quote you posted about justification was awesome, too. My question is: Is there a way to synthesize Wright and Reformed soteriology so that the baby need not be thrown out with the bathwater? I read through Romans 3-4 this evening, and I just cannot yet make entire sense of it if "works" are not some sort of human action or achievement which merits a compensation of some kind.

Maalie said...

> If I sin, and then don't immediately repent of my wrong, I in effect am denying our Lord. I'm saying, "I don't know the Man!".

Ted, can you understand why some people think this equates with superstition? For example, my dear late mother might have said: "If I spill the salt, and then don't immediately throw a pinch over my left shoulder, bad luck will befall me!

My mother was brought up C of E and converted to Catholicism when she married my father and so I was brought up as a Catholic. I don't know what she was in later years, but I fear she died rather cynical and sceptical.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Honey. Indeed!

Ted M. Gossard said...

nAncY,
Good!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Andrew,
Excellent thought there on what it means to deny our Lord. I really am going to ponder that one for awhile!

Yes, I need to keep working on that, as well, and between your good challenge, and N.T. Wright's new book, I'm going to be doing just that. I will say that Scot McKnight (Jimmy Dunn was a professor of his, while Scot was studying in England) does synthesize the two, but exegetically he stands more in "the New Perspective." But from that exegesis, he for example holds to double imputation, and more. "Community Called Atonement" by him, is maybe the best of his books to see not only how he views atonement, but how he incorporates the Reformation with the New Perspective, along with whatever else from the Church seems to reflect the witness of Scripture.

Thanks! And yes, it will be interesting to keep reading more, along with attempts to keep working at exegesis of Scripture both in its parts, and in its entirety, though I hardly know here of what I speak!

Thanks for your earilier challenge, and for your stimulating thoughts. No matter where you come out, I'm sure it will have been done thoughtfully, all the way around.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Maalie,
Thanks!

To try to answer your question, I'd say I can indeed understand if what one holds to is just a religion or a means so to speak, of "appeasing the gods."

Christianity says that God in Christ has done it all, and for all, as well as for the entire cosmos. And how this plays out in our lives is both personal and in relation to mission, including the kind of work you do!

But I'll stress here the personal. We confess our sins because our faith is indeed a personal one between us and God. And from there between us and all people. And between us and everything else.

But I confess my sins, not so I'll feel good, or fulfill some religious duty. But in response to a person, and this person's word and work in my life. And at the heart of that, and what plays out from that, is love. A love that is from God in Jesus.

Thanks, Maalie, for your good question. And hope you continue to enjoy your travels and work around the UK and Europe. Your photos and thoughts on your blog are really marvellous. I wish you could give us all a tour of whatever place. It would be fun and a great learning experience, as well!

Maalie said...

Thanks for your reply and your good wishes Ted. I am going north to the Shetland Isles this week, not quite in the Arctic, so not quite midnight sun, but it doesn't actually get dark around the Solstice.

I wish you and your family a happy Solstice.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Maalie, and same to you! Can't wait to see any pics you might choose to share on your blog. Must be quite interesting.

Halfmom said...

It reminds me of the comforting passage that it is God who works in me to both want to and to also do His good pleasure - surely my want to and my ability to do are sadly lacking so I find great comfort knowing that the same Holy Spirit that leads me to repentance and confession leads me to do what is right and good.

Andrew said...

"Ted, can you understand why some people think this equates with superstition? For example, my dear late mother might have said: 'If I spill the salt, and then don't immediately throw a pinch over my left shoulder, bad luck will befall me!'"

Maalie, I know that you addressed this to Ted, but if I may add a few thoughts:

I can see how this may be misconstrued as "superstition." But from our perspective as Christians, we believe that God is a living Person. To sin is not necessarily to break some "cosmic principle" or invoke some sort of hocus-pocus; it is breaking fellowship and damaging a RELATIONSHIP. Hence the Christian message speaks of our RECONCILIATION to God, a restored relationship with him, and becoming part of his FAMILY as his beloved children. These are all very relational things.

It's not that we believe our relationship with God to be just like that of human-to-human relationships, of course. But there are many ways in which our human relationships echo a degree of the way we relate to God: love, obedience, trust, delight, kindness, forgiveness; or on the flip side, betrayal, rebellion, hatred, distrust, disobedience, alienation, bitterness, etc.

So when Ted speaks of denying Jesus, it's like being a man who takes off his wedding ring while on vacation so that he can court other, more seemingly pleasurable lovers for a time. That husband may love his spouse and intend to go back to her, but he's an unfaithful and selfish betrayer nonetheless. He says by his actions, "I'm not married! I don't know her!"

Thanks for your patience with this long comment.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Halfmom, Susan,
Good point. Without God's ongoing work of grace we're all sunk, in ourselves. We certainly our always weak in ourselves, but that's most certainly when we can find God's strength- the Lord's strength made perfect in our weakness!

Thanks.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Andrew,
Thanks for adding that good, excellent, and helpful comment!