the weblog of Alan Knox

Accept and Admonish…

Posted by on May 23, 2007 in community, edification, fellowship | 29 comments

A few days ago, I posted a blog called “Accept one another…” I was talking about this subject with some friends last weekend, and we realized that there are two mistakes that believers generally make when it comes to accepting one another. In fact, I think these two mistakes tend to demonstrate either a failure to accept one another, or a failure to admonish one another. Either failure is destructive to relationships, fellowship, and community.

As we meet new brothers and sisters in Christ, we should accept them as they are in their walk with Christ. At the same time, we also should recognize that God may use us to mature them in their walk with Christ. Thus, our relationship should be one of both acceptance and admonishment – one of both love and discipleship – one of both mercy and teaching.

The first type of failure occurs when believers accept one another, but fail to admonish one another. This usually occurs when we view (either intentionally or unintentionally) the other believer’s sins as trivial – that is, these sins are not as serious as other sins. In this case, we allow brothers and sisters to continue in their sins without admonishing them or encouraging them toward maturity in Christ.

The second type of failure occurs when believers fail to accept one another because the other believer struggles with “serious” or “unacceptable” sins (i.e. many times sexual sins are included in this category). Note, I am not talking about unrepentant people in this scenario. Assume that the other believer recognizes the sin and repents of the sin, but continues to struggle with sinful habits and temptations. Based on Jesus’ instructions to Peter, we should also continue to forgive this brother or sister. But, instead of forgiving, we do not even accept them as brothers or sisters. We distance ourselves from those brothers and sisters who do not have “acceptable” sins.

For example, assume a sister is struggling with greed or covetousness. This sister buys the latest electronic gadgets, a new car every year or so, fashionable and trendy clothing, etc. However, besides these quirks, she is great friend. Do we approach her about her sin? Do we help her grow past her need to be satisfied by other things instead of finding satisfaction in God? If we recognize the sin in this sister’s life, but fail to help her mature, then we have erred on the side of acceptance with admonishment. This is disastrous for fellowship and community.

As another example, assume a brother is struggling with lust and adultery. The brother has had several affairs, but consistently repents of his sin. Do we accept this brother in spite of his struggles with sin? Do we welcome him as Christ welcomed us and then help him grow in maturity in Christ? If we do not accept this brother, then we have erred on the side of not accepting someone who Christ has accepted. This is also disastrous for fellowship and community.

Honestly, I think I fail in both ways. At times, and with certain sins, I fail by accepting the brother or sister, but failing to encouraging them toward maturity in Christ. At other times, and with certain other sins, I fail because I never accept the brother or sister in the first place.

Instead of failing in either of these areas, we must learn to walk in the tension between these two mistakes. We accept one another as Christ accepted us – recognizing that we are not perfect yet. We also teach and admonish one another, encouraging one another toward maturity in Christ. It may not always be pretty. It may sometimes get “messy“. But this is necessary for real relationships, fellowship, and community.

This is something that we cannot do on our own. Instead, this type of life can only be lived out in the power and presence of the Spirit. It can only be lived out in the love of God which demonstrates itself in our love for God and our love for others. When we are living this type of life, we will love people enough to accept them just as they are (just as God does), and we will love people enough to desire to see them grow in maturity in Christ (just as God does).


29 Comments

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  1. 5-24-2007

    Thanks Alan, for these words. I couldn’t agree more about the two mistakes. Maybe this means we are confused about the relation and distinction between love and justice – their application, first to ourselves, and then to others?

    I like the notion of “release”, on your second type of failure.

    Good points about the “tension’ and messiness here. Chrsians are to be living lives of tension, I think, across the board. To be a Christian is to be “in tension.”

    Having lived in Christian community for over twenty years, I try to address these realities in my work on spirituality, and can attest to and agree with your perspective that we can only live this life through the illuminating power and presence of the Spirit.

  2. 5-24-2007

    You’re right. What a tension we face as we attempt to live as Jesus would! As small group leaders, we need to be able to walk this way well.
    Pat at http://www.whydidntyouwarnme.com

  3. 5-24-2007

    Good words Alan. I think that one of the things that make this issue tough is that our communities are already sick. If a brother stumbles in a way I don’t like I can get rid of him without any loss to myself. If I challenge a brother over something I think he should correct he can become defensive and tell me to mind my own business. But if we are working toward a goal together- if we are on a mission together then we NEED each other. Then we will do what it takes to challenge each other to spiritual health and maturity. My latest post addresses this somewhat so that is why I see this issue through that lens.

  4. 5-24-2007

    Alan,
    You said,
    “The first type of failure occurs when believers accept one another, but fail to admonish one another.”

    This can occur when we recognize a sin in someone else that we ourselves struggle with. We sometimes find ourselves winking at their sin…even finding “comfort” in the fact that they struggle with it too. After all, how bad can this sin be if they struggle with it too? If we’re not careful, we can use the failures of others to justify our own. Or conversely, we can allow our sin to justify similar sins in others.

    That also might prevent us from confronting them. (speck in their eye, plank in mine)

    Blessings to you…
    Brandon

  5. 5-24-2007

    Greg,

    I think you are right about the confusion between love and justice. I think that as long as we try to live by precepts and propositions, we will continue to fail. When we live according to the Spirit, He will teach us how to both accept and teach.

    Pat,

    Yes, we need to live in that tension, not run away from it. The great thing is that we also live in the grace and righteousness of Christ.

    Strider,

    Yes, I think your story is a great example of this. It is easy to discuss things when they are concepts or ideas. Things change completely when we are dealing with them face to face.

    Brandon,

    Good thoughts about finding comfort in other people’s sins. Scary… but I do think it happens often.

    -Alan

  6. 5-24-2007

    Really thought provoking post, as per usual.

    On “acceptable” sins, I’ve always liked what Lewis wrote in Book III of Mere Christianity that temperance had come to mean only regulating or abstaining from “strong drink”, thus allowing Christendom to go on being intemperate about innumerable other things. The sister who struggles with materialism has just an ugly sin as the drunkard, it’s just that iPods and digital cameras don’t cause one to stumble around public.

  7. 5-24-2007

    Josh,

    This is an interesting thought. Do we consider sins more significant when they are public? I’ll have to think about that.

    -Alan

  8. 5-24-2007

    Alan-
    Good post again. I think you are right about the two mistakes that believers make in accepting one another and also about the destructive outcome of those failures.
    I do have a question, though.
    One of your examples states that another believer is “struggling with greed or covetousness. This sister buys the latest electronic gadgets, a new car every year or so, fashionable and trendy clothing, etc. However, besides these quirks, she is great friend.” (Whether or not she is a great friend seemes irrelevant, but that isn’t the question.)
    If we are to admonish one another when we see sin, how do we decide how many ipods constitute greed? How many upgrades does a computer need? Was Jesus kidding when He sent out the 70 without an extra pair of shoes, or when He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had? Is an IRA a form of greed? Is it sin for a Christian to own more than one house? car? tv set? Can I accept a Christian millionaire in my church without judging him? Must he sell all that he has so that I can quit admonishing him and begin accepting him?
    My point is that it isn’t always so easy to define some sin.
    Perhaps that’s why we are often reluctant to confront brothers and sisters. Admonishment done in our own flesh can be really destructive, so we often make the mistake of non-confrontation, even when sin is pretty evident to everybody.
    As you say, this is something we cannot do on our own.
    The key, I think, is to pray continually for the discernment that only God’s Spirit can give us. And then, God can love, accept and admonish others through us. And He will give us the grace to accept admonishment ourselves when it is needed.
    Kat
    BTW-I was serious about my question. How do you quantify greed? Does it always show on the outside? Can’t the man with no shoes be just as greedy as the man with many?

  9. 5-24-2007

    Alan-
    Good post again. I think you are right about the two mistakes that believers make in accepting one another and also about the destructive outcome of those failures.
    I do have a question, though.
    One of your examples states that another believer is “struggling with greed or covetousness. This sister buys the latest electronic gadgets, a new car every year or so, fashionable and trendy clothing, etc. However, besides these quirks, she is great friend.” (Whether or not she is a great friend seemes irrelevant, but that isn’t the question.)
    If we are to admonish one another when we see sin, how do we decide how many ipods constitute greed? How many upgrades does a computer need? Was Jesus kidding when He sent out the 70 without an extra pair of shoes, or when He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had? Is an IRA a form of greed? Is it sin for a Christian to own more than one house? car? tv set? Can I accept a Christian millionaire in my church without judging him? Must he sell all that he has so that I can quit admonishing him and begin accepting him?
    My point is that it isn’t always so easy to define some sin.
    Perhaps that’s why we are often reluctant to confront brothers and sisters. Admonishment done in our own flesh can be really destructive, so we often make the mistake of non-confrontation, even when sin is pretty evident to everybody.
    As you say, this is something we cannot do on our own.
    The key, I think, is to pray continually for the discernment that only God’s Spirit can give us. And then, God can love, accept and admonish others through us. And He will give us the grace to accept admonishment ourselves when it is needed.
    Kat
    BTW-I was serious about my question. How do you quantify greed? Does it always show on the outside? Can’t the man with no shoes be just as greedy as the man with many?

  10. 5-24-2007

    Alan-
    Good post again. I think you are right about the two mistakes that believers make in accepting one another and also about the destructive outcome of those failures.
    I do have a question, though.
    One of your examples states that another believer is “struggling with greed or covetousness. This sister buys the latest electronic gadgets, a new car every year or so, fashionable and trendy clothing, etc. However, besides these quirks, she is great friend.” (Whether or not she is a great friend seemes irrelevant, but that isn’t the question.)
    If we are to admonish one another when we see sin, how do we decide how many ipods constitute greed? How many upgrades does a computer need? Was Jesus kidding when He sent out the 70 without an extra pair of shoes, or when He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had? Is an IRA a form of greed? Is it sin for a Christian to own more than one house? car? tv set? Can I accept a Christian millionaire in my church without judging him? Must he sell all that he has so that I can quit admonishing him and begin accepting him?
    My point is that it isn’t always so easy to define some sin.
    Perhaps that’s why we are often reluctant to confront brothers and sisters. Admonishment done in our own flesh can be really destructive, so we often make the mistake of non-confrontation, even when sin is pretty evident to everybody.
    As you say, this is something we cannot do on our own.
    The key, I think, is to pray continually for the discernment that only God’s Spirit can give us. And then, God can love, accept and admonish others through us. And He will give us the grace to accept admonishment ourselves when it is needed.
    Kat
    BTW-I was serious about my question. How do you quantify greed? Does it always show on the outside? Can’t the man with no shoes be just as greedy as the man with many?

  11. 5-24-2007

    Alan-
    Good post again. I think you are right about the two mistakes that believers make in accepting one another and also about the destructive outcome of those failures.
    I do have a question, though.
    One of your examples states that another believer is “struggling with greed or covetousness. This sister buys the latest electronic gadgets, a new car every year or so, fashionable and trendy clothing, etc. However, besides these quirks, she is great friend.” (Whether or not she is a great friend seemes irrelevant, but that isn’t the question.)
    If we are to admonish one another when we see sin, how do we decide how many ipods constitute greed? How many upgrades does a computer need? Was Jesus kidding when He sent out the 70 without an extra pair of shoes, or when He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had? Is an IRA a form of greed? Is it sin for a Christian to own more than one house? car? tv set? Can I accept a Christian millionaire in my church without judging him? Must he sell all that he has so that I can quit admonishing him and begin accepting him?
    My point is that it isn’t always so easy to define some sin.
    Perhaps that’s why we are often reluctant to confront brothers and sisters. Admonishment done in our own flesh can be really destructive, so we often make the mistake of non-confrontation, even when sin is pretty evident to everybody.
    As you say, this is something we cannot do on our own.
    The key, I think, is to pray continually for the discernment that only God’s Spirit can give us. And then, God can love, accept and admonish others through us. And He will give us the grace to accept admonishment ourselves when it is needed.
    Kat
    BTW-I was serious about my question. How do you quantify greed? Does it always show on the outside? Can’t the man with no shoes be just as greedy as the man with many?

  12. 5-24-2007

    Alan-
    Good post again. I think you are right about the two mistakes that believers make in accepting one another and also about the destructive outcome of those failures.
    I do have a question, though.
    One of your examples states that another believer is “struggling with greed or covetousness. This sister buys the latest electronic gadgets, a new car every year or so, fashionable and trendy clothing, etc. However, besides these quirks, she is great friend.” (Whether or not she is a great friend seemes irrelevant, but that isn’t the question.)
    If we are to admonish one another when we see sin, how do we decide how many ipods constitute greed? How many upgrades does a computer need? Was Jesus kidding when He sent out the 70 without an extra pair of shoes, or when He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had? Is an IRA a form of greed? Is it sin for a Christian to own more than one house? car? tv set? Can I accept a Christian millionaire in my church without judging him? Must he sell all that he has so that I can quit admonishing him and begin accepting him?
    My point is that it isn’t always so easy to define some sin.
    Perhaps that’s why we are often reluctant to confront brothers and sisters. Admonishment done in our own flesh can be really destructive, so we often make the mistake of non-confrontation, even when sin is pretty evident to everybody.
    As you say, this is something we cannot do on our own.
    The key, I think, is to pray continually for the discernment that only God’s Spirit can give us. And then, God can love, accept and admonish others through us. And He will give us the grace to accept admonishment ourselves when it is needed.
    Kat
    BTW-I was serious about my question. How do you quantify greed? Does it always show on the outside? Can’t the man with no shoes be just as greedy as the man with many?

  13. 5-24-2007

    Alan-
    Good post again. I think you are right about the two mistakes that believers make in accepting one another and also about the destructive outcome of those failures.
    I do have a question, though.
    One of your examples states that another believer is “struggling with greed or covetousness. This sister buys the latest electronic gadgets, a new car every year or so, fashionable and trendy clothing, etc. However, besides these quirks, she is great friend.” (Whether or not she is a great friend seemes irrelevant, but that isn’t the question.)
    If we are to admonish one another when we see sin, how do we decide how many ipods constitute greed? How many upgrades does a computer need? Was Jesus kidding when He sent out the 70 without an extra pair of shoes, or when He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had? Is an IRA a form of greed? Is it sin for a Christian to own more than one house? car? tv set? Can I accept a Christian millionaire in my church without judging him? Must he sell all that he has so that I can quit admonishing him and begin accepting him?
    My point is that it isn’t always so easy to define some sin.
    Perhaps that’s why we are often reluctant to confront brothers and sisters. Admonishment done in our own flesh can be really destructive, so we often make the mistake of non-confrontation, even when sin is pretty evident to everybody.
    As you say, this is something we cannot do on our own.
    The key, I think, is to pray continually for the discernment that only God’s Spirit can give us. And then, God can love, accept and admonish others through us. And He will give us the grace to accept admonishment ourselves when it is needed.
    Kat
    BTW-I was serious about my question. How do you quantify greed? Does it always show on the outside? Can’t the man with no shoes be just as greedy as the man with many?

  14. 5-24-2007

    Alan-
    Good post again. I think you are right about the two mistakes that believers make in accepting one another and also about the destructive outcome of those failures.
    I do have a question, though.
    One of your examples states that another believer is “struggling with greed or covetousness. This sister buys the latest electronic gadgets, a new car every year or so, fashionable and trendy clothing, etc. However, besides these quirks, she is great friend.” (Whether or not she is a great friend seemes irrelevant, but that isn’t the question.)
    If we are to admonish one another when we see sin, how do we decide how many ipods constitute greed? How many upgrades does a computer need? Was Jesus kidding when He sent out the 70 without an extra pair of shoes, or when He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had? Is an IRA a form of greed? Is it sin for a Christian to own more than one house? car? tv set? Can I accept a Christian millionaire in my church without judging him? Must he sell all that he has so that I can quit admonishing him and begin accepting him?
    My point is that it isn’t always so easy to define some sin.
    Perhaps that’s why we are often reluctant to confront brothers and sisters. Admonishment done in our own flesh can be really destructive, so we often make the mistake of non-confrontation, even when sin is pretty evident to everybody.
    As you say, this is something we cannot do on our own.
    The key, I think, is to pray continually for the discernment that only God’s Spirit can give us. And then, God can love, accept and admonish others through us. And He will give us the grace to accept admonishment ourselves when it is needed.
    Kat
    BTW-I was serious about my question. How do you quantify greed? Does it always show on the outside? Can’t the man with no shoes be just as greedy as the man with many?

  15. 5-24-2007

    I do believe that people rich and poor alike live lives oppressed by spirits of greed and/or poverty, Grace. Good questions but there are no easy answers because once we make a rule, then we have become legalistic and, importantly, the rule can’t comply with the principles in God’s word. I think an individual is in sin with material when the material is more important to them than God. If God tells someone to give and they do not do so, then they have greed in their lives, but the amount of stuff a person has isn’t an indication of sin/greed/materialism. God looks at their heart, not the material blessings.

  16. 5-24-2007

    Kat,

    You are correct. Sometimes it is difficult to know if someone is walking outside of God’s will or not… especially with some sins such as greed. The good thing about this post is that since I was writing the scenario, I could easily name the sin. :) It is certainly not so easy in person. This means that we must know one another… truly know one another.

    Bryan,

    Good, balanced approach on greed. This is not easy for us, so we must learn to rely on the Spirit. We also must know one another, and be willing to ask difficult questions – and, we must be willing for others to ask difficult questions of us.

    -Alan

  17. 5-24-2007

    Bryan-
    I agree that only God can “read” a heart…so it seems that only He has the right to determine when an action is sin and when it is not. Some actions are clearly sin–murder, theft, lying, adultery, bowing down to an idol. God specifically identified them in His Law, and even we can identify those.
    It’s the intent of the heart, though, that causes us more difficulty. When does a natural enjoyment of food become an obsession…gluttony? At what point does frustration become uncontrollable anger? Who determines when greed takes control…when stuff/money/power are loved more than God? If only God can read the heart, we’d better make sure that we are submitted to Him before we point out what we perceive to be sin in someone else.
    Gal. 6:1,2 tell us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
    If we speak for God, we have to speak in meekness and love. That’s the only we we can both accept and admonish another believer.
    Kat

  18. 5-24-2007

    Bryan-
    I agree that only God can “read” a heart…so it seems that only He has the right to determine when an action is sin and when it is not. Some actions are clearly sin–murder, theft, lying, adultery, bowing down to an idol. God specifically identified them in His Law, and even we can identify those.
    It’s the intent of the heart, though, that causes us more difficulty. When does a natural enjoyment of food become an obsession…gluttony? At what point does frustration become uncontrollable anger? Who determines when greed takes control…when stuff/money/power are loved more than God? If only God can read the heart, we’d better make sure that we are submitted to Him before we point out what we perceive to be sin in someone else.
    Gal. 6:1,2 tell us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
    If we speak for God, we have to speak in meekness and love. That’s the only we we can both accept and admonish another believer.
    Kat

  19. 5-24-2007

    Bryan-
    I agree that only God can “read” a heart…so it seems that only He has the right to determine when an action is sin and when it is not. Some actions are clearly sin–murder, theft, lying, adultery, bowing down to an idol. God specifically identified them in His Law, and even we can identify those.
    It’s the intent of the heart, though, that causes us more difficulty. When does a natural enjoyment of food become an obsession…gluttony? At what point does frustration become uncontrollable anger? Who determines when greed takes control…when stuff/money/power are loved more than God? If only God can read the heart, we’d better make sure that we are submitted to Him before we point out what we perceive to be sin in someone else.
    Gal. 6:1,2 tell us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
    If we speak for God, we have to speak in meekness and love. That’s the only we we can both accept and admonish another believer.
    Kat

  20. 5-24-2007

    Bryan-
    I agree that only God can “read” a heart…so it seems that only He has the right to determine when an action is sin and when it is not. Some actions are clearly sin–murder, theft, lying, adultery, bowing down to an idol. God specifically identified them in His Law, and even we can identify those.
    It’s the intent of the heart, though, that causes us more difficulty. When does a natural enjoyment of food become an obsession…gluttony? At what point does frustration become uncontrollable anger? Who determines when greed takes control…when stuff/money/power are loved more than God? If only God can read the heart, we’d better make sure that we are submitted to Him before we point out what we perceive to be sin in someone else.
    Gal. 6:1,2 tell us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
    If we speak for God, we have to speak in meekness and love. That’s the only we we can both accept and admonish another believer.
    Kat

  21. 5-24-2007

    Bryan-
    I agree that only God can “read” a heart…so it seems that only He has the right to determine when an action is sin and when it is not. Some actions are clearly sin–murder, theft, lying, adultery, bowing down to an idol. God specifically identified them in His Law, and even we can identify those.
    It’s the intent of the heart, though, that causes us more difficulty. When does a natural enjoyment of food become an obsession…gluttony? At what point does frustration become uncontrollable anger? Who determines when greed takes control…when stuff/money/power are loved more than God? If only God can read the heart, we’d better make sure that we are submitted to Him before we point out what we perceive to be sin in someone else.
    Gal. 6:1,2 tell us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
    If we speak for God, we have to speak in meekness and love. That’s the only we we can both accept and admonish another believer.
    Kat

  22. 5-24-2007

    Bryan-
    I agree that only God can “read” a heart…so it seems that only He has the right to determine when an action is sin and when it is not. Some actions are clearly sin–murder, theft, lying, adultery, bowing down to an idol. God specifically identified them in His Law, and even we can identify those.
    It’s the intent of the heart, though, that causes us more difficulty. When does a natural enjoyment of food become an obsession…gluttony? At what point does frustration become uncontrollable anger? Who determines when greed takes control…when stuff/money/power are loved more than God? If only God can read the heart, we’d better make sure that we are submitted to Him before we point out what we perceive to be sin in someone else.
    Gal. 6:1,2 tell us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
    If we speak for God, we have to speak in meekness and love. That’s the only we we can both accept and admonish another believer.
    Kat

  23. 5-24-2007

    Bryan-
    I agree that only God can “read” a heart…so it seems that only He has the right to determine when an action is sin and when it is not. Some actions are clearly sin–murder, theft, lying, adultery, bowing down to an idol. God specifically identified them in His Law, and even we can identify those.
    It’s the intent of the heart, though, that causes us more difficulty. When does a natural enjoyment of food become an obsession…gluttony? At what point does frustration become uncontrollable anger? Who determines when greed takes control…when stuff/money/power are loved more than God? If only God can read the heart, we’d better make sure that we are submitted to Him before we point out what we perceive to be sin in someone else.
    Gal. 6:1,2 tell us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
    If we speak for God, we have to speak in meekness and love. That’s the only we we can both accept and admonish another believer.
    Kat

  24. 5-25-2007

    Once again, relationships, real relationships with one another is a vital key in the Christian life.

  25. 5-25-2007

    Kat,

    You are right again. We do not decide if someone is sinning or not, God does. There are some sins that are not obvious, unless you truly know someone. But if we do know someone and if we love them, then we will want to see them walking in God’s will, regardless of what the sin is – how little or insignificant.

    Brandon,

    Yes, we keep coming back to that. It’s almost as if loving God and loving others is the foundation for everything. I think someone else said something similar once. ;)

    -Alan

  26. 5-25-2007

    Your newest post, the one above, provides no opportunity for comment! It’s a good one, too!

    Relationship. Wow. In addition to what you already said, Alan, and Brandon, too, it seems the more one consumes the Word the more one realizes that it is all about restoring relationship. Ending separation.

    Doesn’t this verse just capture that? “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3.

  27. 5-25-2007

    Bryan,

    Thank you for the “heads up” about the comments on my post. I’ve enabled comments on that post now.

    Knowing Jesus is definitely key. I think this is key for almost everything – perhaps everything. Even when we find that we are not living in his will. The answer is not for us to do better. The answer is to walk closer to Jesus – to know Him.

    -Alan

  28. 5-25-2007

    Hello Alan,

    I have been reading your post for the past couple weeks. This is my first post to a blog ever.
    I would say that I agree with the overall assesment of “accept and admonish..”
    But I do have a question or two.
    First, is all sin equal in God’s eyes. All sin that is not covered by the blood of Jesus will be punished, but is it all seen the same. I am thinking of the passage in Matt. 11

    Mat 11:21 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the powerful acts which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes!
    Mat 11:22 But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

    Each representive city sinned but for one group the judgment is less severe. This less severe judgment, does it not indicate that thier sin is seen as less severe?
    If this is accurate and not all sins are of equal weight, how would you see that represented in our relationships/fellowship. To press the point a little. Jesus commanded that divorce was only permisible in the case of sexual immorality. The question then is is it sin to divorce a repentent spouse who has commited several affairs. Would that not be in violation of accepting one another?
    I must end by saying I am not trying to be an antagonist. I must say that walking in the tension is difficult.
    God Bless,
    Jason

  29. 5-26-2007

    Jason,

    First of all, I’m honored that you would choose to comment on my blog as your first ever. Second, are you one of the many Jason’s that I know?

    I think that you have asked some very good questions. I have heard others suggest that there are different types (levels?) of eternal punishment. I’m not exactly sure where I stand on this, because I haven’t really studied it.

    However, for this particular post, I was talking about believers. My understanding is that believers will not face eternal punishment. Instead, they are accepted by Christ regardless of their sin – in fact, in spite of any and all sins. Since Rom. 15:7 says that we are to accept other as Christ accepted them, that was the basis for this post.

    Thanks again, and I look forward to interacting further with you here on the blog.

    -Alan