In a very real way, we, the orthodox have been set free to truly follow Christ:
Finally, brethren whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise , dwell on these things.
This is my final posting on Philippians and thoughts about the future regarding the orthodox in the PCUSA as the denomination has just now moved into greater disobedience. After looking at 4:8-9 I will summarize my thoughts about the future.
In verse eight Paul gives a list of virtues that Christians should meditate on. Several modern commentators point out that the list resembles ancient pagan lists of virtues, yet all of the virtues have to do with biblical virtue. Ralph Martin explains that all of them can be found in the Greek Old Testament.
But there is something far deeper than a set of virtues here. All that we as Christians know of each virtue flows out of God’s revelation of himself in Holy Scripture. We know from Psalms that the foundation of God's throne, his authority, is righteousness and justice. (See Psalm 89 & 97) Psalm 89 adds that loving kindness and truth go before God. Likewise, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. (John 14:16-17)
In Christ we are inhabited by the Holy Spirit and united to our Lord. Our very life, as believers, is connected to the God who reveals all of the virtues. Therefore, reading, meditating on Scripture and then walking in the light of the lamp that is God’s word is the right order for Christian faithfulness.
With verse nine Paul sets his own life and words as an example. “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” All Christians who come to faith after the closing of the canon of Scripture, who read Paul, can take this as an exhortation to follow Scripture, not just Paul but all apostolic teaching.
Additionally, as others of the faith have followed Christ and been faithful to Scriptures they too become examples of those we may follow, but always as they allow Scripture to speak to them and shape them.
But the beginning of the future occurred with the passing of amendment 10-A this afternoon. (5/10/11) And so it seems to me, In a very real way, we, the orthodox have been set free to truly follow Christ. What I mean by that is that while others are constraining themselves with rules that cover inclusivity, one of the definitions being “including many things or everything,” the orthodox are free to include nothing but what is in Jesus Christ.
What is true? The ultimate truth is the living Word of God and the written word of God. We are free to ignore what is not true or truthful. We do not have to agree that sin is not sin. In Jesus Christ we are freed from listening to lies. In fact, we are called to expose lies. (Eph 5:11)
What is honorable? Martin gives several definitions of this word from the text including elevated or dignified. We are free, to uphold the honorableness of marriage between a man and a woman and to lift up the dignified position of the single person who lives in chastity. Others are burdened with all kinds of crass positions on sex; they are not free to offer the freedom that is in Christ. They now, if in agreement with the majority, can only offer bondage. We are free to open our hearts and mouths with a holy proclamation that God has given us. We can call the burdened sinner, which includes ourselves, to the freedom of forgiveness and transformation.
What is pure? The innocent Lamb of God is pure and we are hid in him. In his righteousness we are freed from establishing our own righteousness and are now in a place where we know only the purity of Jesus Christ- all else is foreign and unnecessary baggage. While many must continually sink further and further downward in their redefinition of purity we are held in Christ - we need not descend into cultural decadence but stand on the established ground of Christ’s unchanging word.
What is of good repute? The holy universal Church is of good repute and no one can remove us from Christ’s Church. We are free as forgiven sinners to have sweet fellowship without hindrance. We are free to establish our reputation as those who love Jesus and follow him no matter how offensive we might seem to the prevailing culture.
What is excellent and worthy of praise? Martin gives one definition of excellence which is “’anything which calls down the approval of God’.” We are free to ignore the opinions of others about ourselves and seek to please only God-for in that seeking we will follow his word and strive to do his will.
Today, 5/10/11, with the passage of 10-A the One who suffered on the cross for the sins of humanity has drawn some in the PCUSA into the fellowship of his suffering which is a place of amazing freedom and joy.