Sunday, March 4, 2007

Peter & Paul...

there's two peas in a pod--the apostles' pod that is. 

Let's look at the similarities.  Both their names start with the letter "P".  Both were apostles of Christ.  (Reference for Peter, Mt 10:2; for Paul, Rom 1:1).  Both had powerful ministries (see Acts for a starting point).  Both wrote well known letters now found in the New Testament of the Bible.  Both preached and taught the gospel of Christ and saw many people saved through their respective ministries.  Both encouraged the church for faithfulness.  Both criticized the church for error.

Whoa!  Both encouraged, that sounds nice, and both criticized, that sounds not so nice, the church?  That seems to be a contradictory truth.  Encouragement and criticism--do these two ideas really work in a church, the visible church nonetheless?  Certainly there are many voices clamoring for greater encouragment to be seen and felt amongst the church.  Encouragement makes people feel good while criticism, on the other hand, has a depressing effect.  No one likes being told his methods or his ideas are wrong or do not line up with the Word of God. 

But---if Peter and Paul, apostles of Christ, used both encouragement and criticism as tools of instruction, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are we of the visible church today, really more knowledgeable to only employ one aspect and wholly discount the other?

I don't think so.  I believe that the study of Peter and Paul's letters to the church regarding encouragement and criticism of error demonstrate the teaching and example of Christ and for those reasons were continued by these men set apart for His ministry.  For the visible church today to deviate from the apostolic example speaks more to man's arrogance rather than humility before the Lord and the tools He employed during His own earthly ministry.

For the sake of clarification, I'm defining the visible church as that which "consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion (1 Cor 1:2, 12:12) and of their children (1 Cor 7:14; Acts 2:39): and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mt 13:47; Isa 9:7), the house and family of God (Eph 2:19; 3:15), out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation (Acts 2:47)."  This definition is found in Chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession. 

I've taken the terms encouragement to be defined as "to impart courage or confidence to; to give support to; foster".  Contrariwise, criticism is defined as "the act of making judgments or evaluations."  Both of these definitions are found in Webster's New Dictionary.  So if everyone's on the same page now, Monday, I'll show support for my premise that Christ employed both methods.  Tuesday, I'll detail how Peter used both; and on Wednesday, I'll show how Paul used both.  I'll be taking my references from Scripture alone because how either you or I feel about it doesn't really matter.

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