Monday, January 03, 2011

January 3, 2011 – From Doctrine To Duty

Passage of the Day [NIV]: Ephesians 4: 1 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

My Journal for Today: Again Dr. MacArthur has me in Eph. 4: 1a, with our focus as Christians always being on how we can live this Christian life, continually, moving toward Christlikeness, … that life WORTHY of [i.e., coming into conformity with – see my devotional entry for yesterday] the calling we have received now that we walk as “Christians” rather than as non-believers or unsaved seekers.

John MacArthur in Strength For Today teaches that Paul was emphasizing to the churches at Ephesus and Colossians (see Col 1: 9-10 below) that, as disciples of Christ, there will never be right living (i.e., a worthy Christian walk) without an understanding and application of right principles. In other words, as Dr. Mac’s title for today summarizes, duty follows doctrine.

SCRIPTURE: Col. 1: 9-10: 9…since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, …

Here in Col. 1 above, we read Paul praying that the knowledge of God [i.e., sound Christian DOCTRINE], pursued and understood by the Colossian believers would lead them to spiritual understanding and lives worthy of God [i.e., fruitful Christian DUTY]. And that’s what Paul was doing to/for the believers at Ephesus as well – and by extension for you and me. He understood this truth of human nature, brought out in Prov. 23: 7, that “…as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” [NKJV] Understanding always precedes behavior. Right thinking comes before right living. If one reads through the Apostle Paul’s discussion of right Christian doctrine in Ephesians, chapters 1 – 3, one can see that he was merely setting the table for his discussion of right Christian living in Ephesians, chapters 4 – 6 [I’ll leave that more dedicated study to you].

Paul wanted nothing but God’s best for the believers to whom he preached and taught and for whom he prayed. He knew that God would bless those who believed God’s promises, trusted in God’s will, and followed His way, found in His word. It is nothing less than God’s blessing that motivated Paul to write so forcefully to the Ephesians and the Colossians … and I say again, to you and me. In these passages from God’s word, summarized today, Paul wrote about living by following right Christian doctrine. And Paul knew that God’s people would never be fully blessed by God unless they fully understood that God’s way (i.e., His doctrine) must be trusted and obeyed in their lives.

The chain goes like this: … to KNOW God is to LOVE God … to love God is to TRUST God … to trust God is to OBEY God … to obey God is to SERVE God … and to serve God is to RECEIVE THE ENABLING GRACE [i.e., the blessings] of God. This all begins by knowing God’s way/will through His word. That’s why effective Christian preachers/teachers are those who prioritize and emphasize doctrine over emotions or experiences. Feelings, and even experiences, can be deceiving; but God’s word is always truth for the Christian who desires to live in a many worthy of God’s true doctrine. You may already be thinking of the following passage, which fits perfectly here.

SCRIPTURE: 2nd Timothy 3: 16-17:16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

It is the preacher’s or pastor’s responsibility to expose God’s truth, i.e., the full Gospel of Christ; and it’s our responsibility as Christians to hear it, study it, test it against God’s word (as in 1John 4: 1), to fully understand it, to trust it, and then … to live it. As MacArthur closes his devotional for this date, he writes, “As we think about our worthy walk, let’s avoid emotionalism or legalism, and instead focus on living what we learn from a thorough and personal study of God’ word.”

My Prayer Today: That is my desire, Lord, ... to know Your will and Your way from Your word and to always walk worthy of Your Name. Amen

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