Monday, June 16, 2008

How Can Cretans be Christians? (1)

I ask this, especially in light of Paul’s description to Titus of the society to which he was ministering, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” (Titus 1:12 ESV)

Cretans can become Christians because of the faith-knowledge that has taken hold of them (1:1). According to J.I. Packer, this is “a kind of knowledge of which God is both giver and content.” “It is a Spirit-given acquaintance with divine realities, given through acquaintance with God’s Word” (p. 57 of “What Did the Cross Achieve?” in In My Place Condemned He Stood, Packer and Dever, 2007.

It is the kind of faith that transformed Paul’s perspective in Galatians 2:20, where he says “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” It is the kind of knowledge that Paul aspires to in Philippians 3:10, where he says “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.”

People with this faith-knowledge, used together in Ephesians 4:13, will be marked by the priority of Christ in their lives, more so than by commitments to programs and personalities. They, in short, are enamored with Jesus. The two words are also used together in Philemon v.6, where it brings about counter-cultural behaviors that will surprise those who live around you, so much so that they will probably ask you the reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). In Titus 1:1, this faith-knowledge allows people to see and appreciate God who has an eternal plan and purpose.

Now, to avoid confusion, let’s try to define this faith-knowledge more finely:

What Faith-Knowledge Is Not:
1. it is not rationalism or unaided reason (divine realities are not merely higher thoughts that Cretans can sit down and figure out)
2. it is not experientialism or emotionalism (not just a hyped-up state, the result of a Cretan revival meeting)
3. it is not the exclusive property of either the intellectual elite; or the religious elite (this faith-knowledge did not belong merely to Paul, or Titus, or even just the appointed elders, but to the common, Cretan Christians)

What is Faith-Knowledge?
1. it is revealed insight, graciously unveiled by God
2. it is relational and covenantal, thus enduring and binding
3. it is spiritual and transformational, changing from the inside out

Based on the three points above (What is Faith-Knowledge?), here are corresponding practical implications:

Practical Implications:
1. do I demonstrate a practical dependence on God’s revealed truth? Do I read, study, discuss and apply God’s Word.
2. do I love God and His Word? Am I captivated by Christ?
3. am I a changed person? Am I a changing person? Am I committed to being shaped by God and His Word?

No comments: