Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Do You Desire to be Told Your Faults?

Early in the 18th century, Samuel Wesley (brother of John Wesley) formed a religious society with regular small-group meetings. Called “Band Societies,” these single-sex groups were designed to facilitate mutual accountability. All who wished to join were required to answer the following questions as evidence of justification and an accompanying desire to grow in God:

Have you peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ?

Do you desire to be told you faults?

Do you desire that each one of us should tell you, from time to time, whatsoever is in his heart concerning you?

Consider! Do you desire that we should tell you whatsoever we think, whatsoever we fear, whatsoever we hear, concerning you?

Do you desire that, in doing this, we should come as close as possible, that we should cut to the quick, and search your heart to the bottom?

Is it your desire and design to be on this, and all other occasions, entirely open, so as to speak everything that is in your heart without exception, without disguise, and without reserve?

After joining, group members could be asked the preceding questions “as often as occasion offers,” while the following questions were asked at every meeting:

What known sin have you committed since our last meeting?

What temptations have you met with?

How were you delivered?

What have you thought, said, or done, which you doubt whether it be sin or not?

(quoted in Why Small Groups? by C.J. Mahaney).

Serious about sanctification indeed.

Evan May.

7 comments:

  1. Since we're talking about santification and mutual accountability here, let me pose a problem for you to wrangle about and to seriously consider.

    Paul Manata admitted to randomly beating people with a baseball bat before becoming a Christian.

    What do you think? Now that he's a Christian should he turn himself into the police or not? I am personally appalled by that kind of hatred and that kind of behavior, and I am not convinced he wouldn't do it again. I mean, after all, every week on www.ex-christian.net there are stories of abused people by Christians and ministers.

    I'm sure the people he beat up reported these things to the police, so if he turned himself in and supplied the details of any particular attacks he can remember (what street, the make of the car, the month or week and day, what he was wearing) he could prove he was the one who did them, and in a line-up the victims could identify him.

    Many Christian converts have done this down through the centuries, based on the reasoning that they should simply own up to what they did, and tell the truth. It shows a real level of remorse and it offers comfort to those whom they assaulted, because then the victims may no longer be scared to go outside in the dark anymore, especially if they knew which particular person it was who beat them up and that he's not doing it anymore.

    Do not take this as a personal attack on Paul. It is merely a theological question between mutually accountable Christians. I'm just very interested in what counsel you'd offer to Paul, that's all.

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  2. Salvation is both regeneration and Justification. Regeneration enables believers to believe. It also enables the believer to obey God. Justification is a legal declaration by God that the sinner is now righteous in His sight and at that moment He imputes Jesus Christ's righteousness to the new believer. None of that automatically enables a sinner saved by grace to be perfect. However, sanctification is ongoing and lasts the rest of the believer's life.

    No one will ever be perfect, however, we should continue to mature in Christ for the rest of our lives. Anyone who has committed reprehensible acts prior to salvation are declared righteous at salvation, but are still accountable to the law of the society they live in.

    Not every one who is called "Christian" really is. If there has been no regeneration then there is no salvation. Many are religious Christians, but are those whom Christ will say to, "I never knew you." Christians who sin to the level of those you mention probably are in this boat.

    Christians should always seek to live by the godly standards of Matthew 5,6 and 7 and Romans 12:9-21, but only in the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians can act in the flesh just like a lost person. Only by walking in the spirit can the flesh be crucified and the sin which lives in us all mortified.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  3. What do you think? Now that he's a Christian should he turn himself into the police or not?

    Turn himself in for past crimes? I believe there is a statute of limitations for that. If the state held him guilty for a past crime, then he would need to not run from the state. But if the state no longer considers him guilty, and if he has sought forgiveness from God, he is free.

    Turn himself in for future crimes? That would simply be ridiculous. What local police station is going to arrest someone for what they might do in the future?

    No, there is a much better answer here than being arrested.

    I believe the transforming work of Christ in the life of Paul to be genuine. That means he is a different man.

    Now perhaps he still does have tendencies for anger (I have no idea. All I know is what he has graciously let us know...a privilege that some have abused). If this is the case, then he must watch himself and continually confess his anger to those with whom he is accountable. He must seek reconciliation with all who anger him. John, there is a Biblical process for this, and you know it. The Bible did not get all scared that the Apostle Paul would go out killing Christians after his conversion.

    Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

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  4. Mike Ratliff:
    Anyone who has committed reprehensible acts prior to salvation are declared righteous at salvation, but are still accountable to the law of the society they live in.

    This was my sentiment as a Christian to. When someone received salvation I always told them to confess their wrongs and try to make things right with the people who they wronged, including the state, which is known in criminal trials as "the people."

    And if there is a statute of limitations for Paul's particular crimes, then he could at least do the right thing by confessing to those involved, including the state. By doing so, he'd find out, if he doesn't already know.

    Wouldn't you advise him that this is what he should do?

    But about the Apostle Paul, all of the disciples were initially afraid of him (Acts 9:26), and even though Barnabas believed in him, I am sure that it took many in some parts of the church some time to believe him. Surely they wanted to see behavior evidence in keeping with his claimed regeneration.

    Now, do you actually know Paul, or do you know people who know him who can say he's changed? Or is it that you just like the way he argues? Anyone can argue what he does without a regenerated life and the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

    I think I have pointed out that the way he treats those whom he disagrees with is in keeping with his former hateful lifestyle. For me this is indicative that he hasn't shanged as much as you may think he has.

    That's why it would be good for him to go to the police, confess, and do right by God, his victims, and himself.

    Again, I am the one telling the truth here. I am the one offering helpful advice. And I'll probably be the one attacked for doing so.

    So be it.

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  5. I have found that my children are the best at telling me the truth about myself. Holding me accountable. And they do so in love because I ask and they know I really want to know.

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  6. Perhaps I am simplistic or naive, but doesn't "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12) - apply here? Would I really want others to never have an apology from me?

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  7. Loftus- actually, the statute of limitations on assault and battery is only one year here in California (pre-2003, when it was changed to 2 years). But nice try, John.

    Loftus said: "after all, every week on www.ex-christian.net there are stories of abused people by Christians and ministers"

    Um, how does this have any bearing on Paul M.? The atheist logic train derails once again.

    "Anyone can argue what he does without a regenerated life and the fruits of the Holy Spirit."

    The obvious point you miss is that Paul M. is arguing against his former way of life - just as St. Paul did. He is not just arguing an abstract point or self-serving self-justification. That is certainly a sign of regeneration. Paul M. has devoted himself to the study of the Word, and the defense of the faith. I could be wrong, but I think that this is, um, a slight contrast to a life of heavy drug use and hate-fueled violence. If this doesn't qualify as evidence, what on earth could ever conceivably qualify as evidence?

    Oh - and there are more than a few "Barnabases" who can testify to Paul M.'s changed life.

    "I think I have pointed out that the way he treats those whom he disagrees with is in keeping with his former hateful lifestyle."
    It is hardly obvious that Paul is "hateful" in ridiculing atheistic foolishness. Such foolishness is indeed worthy of ridicule. Jesus himself ridiculed the fools of his day all through the Gospels.

    I could be wrong, but I don't think that this can really be compared to hitting random people w/ baseball bats. John, you do realize how stupid you look when you say things like this? Secularist moral equivalence strikes again.

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