Drinking Deeply

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 at 6:31 PM

One plank at a time

So I managed to talk to my pastor yesterday, among the topics we talked about (which I won't divulge on this blog, but may share if you ask), I got a chance to ask him about the Mark 16:15-18 passage, which I will reproduce for your viewing pleasure.

15And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Basically he said there are 2 plausible answers:

1) Examining the footnotes, it states that some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20, but the Masoretic text, (the text that first added vowels to the Hebrew Bible) which most translations are based off of, does, there exists an inherent possibility that this part of the text was not really "Scripture," but that's a scary line to walk down. If we throw out parts of the Bible on grounds that there are texts that disagree, what do we do with the multitudes of translations? Additionally even if we restrict it to down to "early" texts, it's still dangerous when we play fast and free with Scripture.

***edit***

So I'm somewhat annoyed at myself for doing this, but I referenced the Masoretic text... but that text was the OT... so I was wrong about that, but I believe he did mention an old "source" text that includes it whereas most do not or something like that

***end edit***

2) A second possibility is the fact that with many cases, scripture records something that may not be "normative" literally. It may be true that leading up to and with belief come miracles (for example read the post below on just the sheer number of miracles that Mike is going through), and it is definitely within God's power to perform miracles as such, but thus far there have only been 3 periods in which miracles were really common: Moses, Elijah, Jesus. Additionally the anti-Christ will come with false miracles, so we cannot make "miracles" a test for salvation. Test all the spirits, be like the Bereans, who were commended for their faithfulness to Scripture. Even great spiritual leaders go wrong. Paul even rebuked Peter for requiring circumcision.

I don't feel like it's a completely satisfactory answer, but am I about to seek out poisonous snakes? Of course not.

Onto the questions from the day...

1 Cor. 3:10-15

10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- 13each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

If we follow Paul's reasoning, he seems to be saying Christ is the only foundation, additionally that we can have our home built out of different "materials", but it will be revealed by fire on "the Day." If the work survives (ie built of the right material), we will receive a reward, but if it does not, we will suffer loss, but "himself will be saved." What?

Ok, so #1 the foundation must be on Christ. #2 there are "better" or "more durable" material we can build a home out of. In context, this chapter Paul is talking about divisions in the church... So is he talking about differing doctrines... Which seems to answer the question I posed in my previous post which was : what matters? Calvin, Luther, Pope, Arimus? ... So forth.

Is Paul saying "as long as the foundation is on Christ"? But then the argument goes that some of the "opposing" stances deny Christ's work in belief but not in words. What matters? Should I be arguing at all? It seems like here it's saying no... but I don't feel like it's cut and dried.

At the same time Piper posted a new "Fresh Words" about the importance of doctrine. I definitely see the truth of this in my own life and the lives around me. There are a lot of people who are "marginal" Christians, and they are just as much part of the world as everyone else, but for those who hold to strong doctrine, there is a difference. I think the greatest example of this would be my roommate, whom, I've said before and I'll say again, if I were a girl I'd have married him last month. There is something more than meets the eye with people like him... Yet our salvation isn't based on doctrine... Otherwise that would be works based. What a conundrum!

Lord grant the insight and wisdom that only you can give. Grant us discernment and let us see that "the wisdom of this world is folly with God." Let us boast only in our weakness, in the cross, not of our works, for we fall short, but in you alone. Build upon us a home for you, one that will survive to eternity. Knock down the walls and open the doors. Let the light in and chase the night out.

John Piper calls himself a "7-point Calvinist," not to be adding to the sufficiency of the 5 (which I would all say were an "all or nothing" preposition), but just two extension points: 6. Double predestination, God chooses some for life, chooses some for death. 7. Best-of-all-possible-worlds, God has planned everything perfectly such that every moment is exactly what is the best for everyone in the long run. Just something I definitely agree with and hold onto, no matter the circumstances.

Additional reading on Piper's 7-point Calvinism


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