You may remember a few months ago I told you that I was ceasing to post regularly on my “Two Edges of the Sword” blog, and that I may post occasionally, but don’t count on it!
That lasted about a week. After I had quit under the pressure of “ought to, need to and should,” I was free to do absolutely nothing if I so desired. Almost immediately, “naturally, spontaneously and unconsciously,” ideas began to fill my mind, and I literally could not keep quiet.
I didn’t realize until later that I was experiencing exactly what I had been talking about in my postings! When we quit trying to perform what we think we should do, the indwelling Holy Spirit rushes in and energizes us to do eagerly what He wants us to do. Jesus’ words, “Physician, heal thyself” (Luke 4:23), were for me!.
Before a posting goes out to you now via email, I am already thinking about the next one. I can’t wait to get them in print so they will be consumable.The joy I get from doing this is inexpressible!
I am sending this one to two mailing lists: my regular, weekly, blog list (many of you I don’t know but got your email address at a homeschool convention a decade ago), and my much smaller, personal, political list (a few of you are already on my blog list too, so you will get two of these emails). I want to give my personal list a chance to get my musings on a full range of biblical issues, rather than just political articles written by others.
With that as background information, I want to begin with a Bible verse that I believe is much misunderstood because of our addiction to the “forbidden fruit” of living by the law: our own self-conscious, “good” choices.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth“ (2 Timothy 2:15).
This verse in Paul’s letter to Timothy is often used today to encourage serious Christians to earnestly pursue Bible study, prayer, witnessing, obedience, etc. These disciplines, we are taught, if pursued diligently enough, will earn God’s approval as a Christian worker who then won’t ever have to be ashamed because he didn’t measure up. Such is the thrust of much teaching on this verse.
However, looking at this verse with a “renewed mind,” i.e. thinking “God’s way” (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 4:23), paints a totally different picture. Let’s look at this verse through the lens of the cross and what happened there. With my very rudimentary ability to look up Greek words, read interlinear New Testaments and use Greek lexicons, this paraphrase seems to be a very linguistically legitimate way to look at this verse:
“Always remember to view yourself as one for whom Christ died, and therefore one who is always viewed by God with 100% approval. This is only because Jesus’ perfect righteousness has been fully applied to you. There is no need to ever feel any shame for your conduct whatsoever, because God has completely “forgiven and forgotten” your sins, and you can do the same. You are able to do this only because you have ‘rightly divided the word of truth,’ i.e., clearly distinguished between the messages of ‘law and gospel’ in the Bible.”
The mind which is analyzing what is read in this verse makes all the difference. Is it a mind that is being renewed to think God’s way and view life through the cross, or one that is still addicted to the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, i.e., by “making good choices?”
The renewed mind that is learning to think God’s way is, as the above verse says, one who has learned to “rightly divide” the Scriptures. This means that we recognize, as Martin Luther taught, the clear distinction between God’s holy, righteous, perfect law (that God commands us to obey), and His gospel of grace, (what God did because we have failed so miserably to obey Him).
This makes no sense to the performance addict whatsoever. He sees nothing but striving to measure up; climbing the ladder of performance by faithfully exercising the Christian disciplines to get as close to perfection as possible. This is thinking man’s way, the very opposite of God’s way, the way of doing nothing but only trusting our Father—faith alone!. (Isaiah 55:8, 9).
Paul Tillich, the foremost Lutheran theologian of the early 20th century describes God’s way of faith as follows: “Faith means accepting that I am accepted, even while continuing to find myself unacceptable.”
Hallelujah! These two biblical messages, God’s law and His grace, form the two edges of the sword of the word of God (Hebrews 4:12, Revelation 1:16). In God’s plan for mankind, they are both absolutely crucial, both supplying a message the church must believe, stand firm upon, and then proclaim.
The sword of the word of God always has these two edges. Thus, The Two Edges of the Sword is the name of the final iteration of my 50 year ministry, because all I teach now is the outworking of wielding the sword of the word of God using both of those edges: the LAW to cut us open to expose our sin, and the GOSPEL to cut out and remove the sin that is exposed. When both are fully and fearlessly preached, Satan is defeated and victory assured. The Lord’s prayer will be answered. Jesus WILL reign over the earth, through us, just as He does in Heaven!
If you would like to be on my other mailing list (either the occasional, online, political article – from what I deem to be excellent authors, who stand for biblical truth, or my weekly Two Edges of the Sword blog posting – my reflections on gospel and kingdom), let me know and I will add you to either list. email@example.com