Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ps 84

84:11. This verse may serve as an apt illustration of a very common confusion: we often turn an accompaniment of an attribute into a statement of conditionality -- as if the accompaniment of an attribute is conditional, based on the attribute. Got that? Then you don't need to read the rest! You are a rara avis, a rare bird. Let me try to explain, since I can't understand all that abstraction either.

Reading the verse "no good thing does he [God] withhold from those who walk uprightly," don't add to the verse! Don't add -- "because they walk uprightly."

Even worse, don't add to that some "only's", as if the verse said 'no good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly, because they walk uprightly and only to those, only because they do, and only as long as they do." And finally, don't add, "and if they aren't doing so right now, he'll do this and that."

So how about it? Do you understand the abstraction better now, not to turn attributes into conditions for obtaining that which accompanies an attribute? In terms of the verse, that means we read into this verse. We think it is saying that walking uprightly is a condition for obtaining any good thing.

Another side effect of looking at our religion as a set of conditions we must fulfill in order to be blessed -- besides it being wrong, and restricting us to the blessings of our actions, is often also unnoticed. I haven't mentioned this yet: it is a false starting point! In other words, to start with a set of conditions we must fulfill -- ignores the past! God, in publicly displaying Jesus as a propitiation in his blood through faith (Rm 3:25) -- pointedly -- does not ignore our past. God, and only He, accomplished in Christ what was necessary -- and sufficient -- to prevent our past from securing our condemnation.

Now -- we are done with the caveats -- let's, by all means, believe the verse! Namely, that innumerable good things accompany those who walk uprightly. When you stop trying to take control of these good things, stop claiming them to be yours by you meeting a condition for them, the real verse shines through the clouds! You're walking uprightly? Good things come down from the clouds, i.e., from the Lord. Cause for rejoicing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey--one of my favorite verses just got better! :-)Thanks Larry for this post and for your note.

Grace and peace,
Jim

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