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Some musings on the Spirit and the Chrisitan life

21/11/2011

Last night in our wee church we had our monthly ‘Forum’ on an issue related to the Christian faith. It was my turn to lead and I proposed 6 things and we had a really good discussion which continued over a pint afterwards. He’s a skeleton summary for what it’s worth.

CONTENTION 1; The blessing of the Spirit is the eschatological fulfillment of God’s promises and includes both Jews and Gentiles

CONTENTION 2: The Christian life begins and continues in and through the Spirit

1.   It is the Spirit who reveals the gospel

2.   The Spirit brings the believer into an objectively new position before God

3.   The Spirit brings the believer into an ongoing relational experience of God

CONTENTION 3 :The church is essentially a fellowship of the Spirit

CONTENTION 4. Christians belong to the new age of the Spirit as opposed to the old age of the flesh (which is not some sort of inner existential struggle between two natures within the believer)

CONTENTION 5: sanctification has  past, present and future aspects

i. A Finished Reality (‘This is who you are’)

ii. Ongoing spiritual and ethical transformation by the Spirit (‘Be who you are’)

iii. Future Glory (‘This is who you will be’)

CONTENTION 6: Perhaps the biggest differences among Christians is how much spiritual progress Christians should make through the empowering presence of the Spirit

And I have to bring in Gordon Fee here [note his wee dig at Luther's 'justified sinner' ( simil iustus et peccator)]

‘Paul expected people to exhibit changed behaviour … because the Spirit empowers this new life, Paul has little patience for the point of view that allows for people to be “justified sinners” without appropriate changes in attitudes and conduct … Nor would Paul understand an appeal to helplessness on the part of those who live in and walk by the Spirit … in which the “flesh” continually proves to be the greater power.’ Fee, Empowering Presence, 879-80

But the last word to Paul

‘And 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.’ (Colossians 1:10)

Comments, as ever, welcome.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 21/11/2011 11:54 pm

    I do appreciate the theological and exegetical work of Gordon Fee, but Luther is simply right on the beam with his ‘simil iustus et peccator’ ‘justified but a sinner’ – this is simply Pauline theology! (Rom. 7:13-25) Here Fee lets his pentecostalism get the best of him!

  2. 22/11/2011 2:52 pm

    And how Romans 7 is interpreted (Christian struggle or pre-Christian powerlessness?) goes right to the nub of the issue. Fee doesn’t see it as talking of the Christian life.
    And, for clarity, neither does he deny that Christians sin! But he would contend that the power of sin has been decisively broken.

    • 22/11/2011 3:14 pm

      Yeah, Fee is often wrong.. especially on some soteriological issues. He is not Reformed, even in the Barthian sense. The tension of the Christian ‘in the already but not yet’ is seen here. The power of sin is broken, but not the essence of sin living still in this fallen, sinful even “evil” age (Gal. 1:4). And the believer is still subject here! Yes, I am much more classic Reformed! :)

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