Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

Theology Corner

COULD THE PROCESS BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE OBJECTIVE?

Christians are fond of embracing the great objectives of Scripture [Great Commandment (Mat 22:36-40), Great Commission (Mat 28:18-20), Healing (Luke 9:2, 10:9)] but we give lip service to following the Biblical processes for achieving these objectives.  Most Christians believe God places great importance on accomplishing objectives but much less importance on following Biblical processes.

Defining objectives is the easy part, usually a matter of writing down a few sentences. Defining and executing processes is hard. Our first inclination is to grow impatient with God, forgo Biblical process and seek to do His work by the power of the flesh rather than by the power of the Holy Spirit. We ape the world's wisdom, trust its forms of publicity and imitate its ways of manipulating men. We say, "Stand over here on the sidelines God and we will show You how it's done."  If a particular objective is not met, we don’t even change the process.  We simply do it all over again with twice the effort and hope we don’t get what we always got!  We double down on failure!

Oswald Chambers astutely observed that we may have misunderstood the true Biblical instruction.  In other words, executing the process may well be more important than accomplishing the objective.  Oswald Chambers wrote:

 

“We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite.  We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not.  The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident.  What we call the process, God calls the end.

What is my dream of God’s purpose?  His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now…It is the process, not the end which is glorifying to God.

…We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get it wrong when we think of the afterward.  What men call training and preparation, God calls the end.

God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now.  If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.”

 

Given that the process is at least as important as the objective, we must turn to Scripture for Biblical processes.  If we turn to pastors and other powerful leaders, propped-up by Seminaries and Bible Colleges, we may only get a clever twist on the wisdom of the world.

 Here are a few of the processes identified in Scripture.

 

UNITED CORPORATE PRAYER

 

R. A. Torrey summarizes the place of prayer as a Biblical process: "Prayer is God's appointed way for obtaining things and the great secret of all lack in our experience, in our life and in our work is neglect of prayer…Those men whom God set forth as a pattern of what He expected Christians to be – the apostles – regarded prayer as the most important business of their lives…The words pray and prayer are used at least 25 times in connection with Jesus in the brief record of his life set forth in the four Gospels and His praying is also mentioned in places where the words are not used."

Church prayer has become a tired ritual which is performed with no real expectation even though Scripture teaches the unlimited power of united corporate prayer. Where there is real agreement, where the Holy Spirit brings believers into perfect harmony concerning that which they ask of God, where the Holy Spirit lays the same burden on all hearts, in such prayer there is great power. What if all the church ritual prayer, musical entertainment and baby food lessons were replaced by congregational united corporate prayer from men and women yearning to be led by the Holy Spirit down a path of confession, remorse, repentance, faith, obedience, humility, forgiveness, sincerity, purity, persistence, restoration, truth and worship? Could such prayer have an impact on Kingdom work?

 

 

RESTORATION

 

G. A. Boyd masterfully portrays the great war of the forces of God against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness: "Jesus' entire ministry, as we have seen, reflects the belief that the world had been seized by a hostile, sinister lord. Jesus had come to take it back. Contrary to any view suggesting that everything has a divine purpose behind it, Jesus' ministry indicated that God's purposes for the world had to be fought for and won. Jesus taught his disciples to pray that God's will would bedone on earth as it is in heaven. This presupposes that, to a significant extent at least, God's will is not now being done on earth."

The world, at every level, is at war. We are on the front lines of this Great War whether we like it or not. The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ began a new phase of warfare. God the Son began the process of taking back his creation. The outcome of the war was decided completely by the substitutionary atonement but the process of repair, reconstruction, restoration and repossession of creation only began. Jesus expects his people to engage the enemy and be soldiers in His army.

We are commanded in Chapters 9 and 10 of Luke to not only preach the kingdom of God but also to heal the sick. This limited and localized form of restoration serves as a process to thwart the prince of darkness and the forces of evil. Mainline Christian churches have all but abandoned the healing ministry.

 

 

TRUTH

 

Classical logic deals with propositions that are either true or false. Historic Christianity stands on the beliefs that classical logic represents the truth of God and sound reason is the foundation of the Christian faith. The Christian God is a God of absolutes and one of His attributes is truth. God cannot lie (Heb 6:18; Titus 1:2; II Tim 2:13). God's truth is never personal, situational, relative or unknowable; it is absolute.

On contentious issues (e.g. Calvinism vs. Arminianism, abortion for convenience, homosexuality, etc.), some churches invoke the concept of Positive Tolerance. This means that Christians not only have the right to disagree with one another, but all the various views must be regarded as equally valid by the yardstick of God's truth. Other churches simply ban the study and discussion of contentious issues. Excessive knowledge invites division; an ignorant congregation is a manageable congregation.

But Jesus said:

 

  • "If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)

 

  • "Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth." (John 17:17)

 

  • "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37)

 

Furthermore …the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). If the church would go about the process of separating truth from lie, would that not honor God?

 

 

MAGNIFICATION

 

God does not need us to worship Him. He is secure in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth without ego reinforcement from created beings. But He knows we need to worship Him for our own good! He knows we are born with a sin nature and embrace sinful behavior as soon as we are able. He knows sin is like the great black hole at the center of our galaxy, ever drawing its neighbors closer to oblivion. If I neglect asking the Holy Spirit to: (1) occupy and purify my heart, (2) help my will become aligned with the will of God, (3) help me discern the truth and (4) be Lord of my life, then I will gradually begin to spiral toward the black hole of evil. I will be weighed down by my own

 

  • Concupiscence
  • Bad judgment
  • Inconsistent will
  • Weariness caused by the constant struggle against temptation

 

and, at the very least, become a soldier overwhelmed by the battle. God initiates, advances and perfects everything that can be called good in man. He leads the sinner from one step to another in proportion as He finds response in the heart and disposition to obedience. We must constantly enlarge the influence of God in our lives and in our Church. We must constantly engage in the process of magnifying the influence of God.