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The Importance of ‘Therefore’ March 12, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Joe,

As I think you know, I preached last night on Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:21-26. Last week I focused on the teaching about anger in verses 21-22, and last night I focused on the application that Christ makes in verses 23-26,

23So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

It’s funny, but what struck me the most in my preparation was the little word ‘so’ at the beginning of verse 23 (or ‘therefore’ in several translations). So before I actually got to the teaching of what Christ said, I took around 10 minutes and just tried to drive home the importance of this little conjunction. Here’s what I said,

Jesus has just set down a doctrine – a teaching – and now He tells you what to do in response to that doctrine. Anger endangers the soul, therefore, make decisions and take action that is consistent with that doctrine: seek reconciliation.

This is a common theme in Scripture…teaching, then a ‘therefore’ leading to practical application. Paul spends 11 chapters of Romans laying out glorious theology, and then the whole letter turns in 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. And the last five chapters go into a lot of practical issues like how to love others, submitting to authority, Christian liberty in food and drink, etc. The same thing happens in Ephesians 4:1.

We are a people who (I hope) are concerned about right doctrine. Our purpose is to equip the Church with Christlike servants whose heads are informed, and whose hearts are inflamed with a passion for the greatness of Jesus. But it is equally important, as we fill our minds with doctrinal truth, that we are taking care to make sure that we know what the ‘therefore’ is to each doctrine we study. What am I supposed to do with this doctrine? How is this teaching supposed to change me? Those are the questions we must ask as we study doctrine.

This group does not have a reputation for being a people committed to the ‘therefore’ of your doctrine. The word about this group is, “They have a lot of head knowledge, but they don’t do anything with all their knowledge.” I think it is a very uncharitable assessment, and I told this person so. There are a lot of you who are serving with your gifts. But does it bother you that that is what people think of this group? For Christ’s sake, do you want to live in such a way that shows people that not only do you know truth, but that you live it?

I gave them the example of election. What a great doctrine that is, one that is so dear to our hearts. But Paul gives us a big ‘therefore’ as to how the doctrine should change us in Colossians 3:12, ‘Put on then, as God’s chosen ones (that is, elect)…compassion, kindness, humility, meekness…” It gives the doctrine of election a bad name when people seek to defend it in a way that is arrogant and condescending. We have not learned our doctrine well unless we have earnestly sought out the ‘therefore’ to that particular doctrine and clothed ourselves with garments that are fitting for the doctrines we esteem.

May we all press on to know great truths, and therefore, because we know the truth, to live the truth,

Larry

PS — If anyone is interested, the sermon should be online within a couple of days.  Click on the Koinonia Sermons link on the sidebar of this blog, and look for the sermon preached on March 11.

 

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Comments»

1. Will Bausch - March 12, 2007

Larry,

I was stuck in what came after “therefore” for quite a while as a believer. The Lord has recently shown me that I often don’t understand much of what comes before the “therefore” — a knowledge of “Christ, and him crucified”.

For example:
“But that is not the way you learned Christ!– assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
Eph. 4:20-25

I’m desiring more and more that to learn about the Sovereignty, Glory, Meekness, and Grace of Jesus Christ. The more that Christ changes me in this regard, the more the “therefore”, in this example and others, is being taken care of by God.
It was painful to live six years of my Christian life trying to do these things (not be angry, be honest, etc.) without an understanding that I am wholly incapable of doing any of these things. It is Christ who takes care of the “therefore”. If that is not happening, the only solution rests in Christ, not in trying harder.

Will Bausch

2. larrylaz - March 12, 2007

Will,

That’s great stuff, and something I was actually planning to write about in a future post. The error many Christians make is to try to live out the stuff after the ‘therefore’s’, without having a sufficient grounding in the great and glorious gospel roots that come before ‘therefore’. To try to live after the ‘therefore’ without knowing and cherishing what grounds the ‘therefore’ can be, as you pointed out, so deadly to our souls.

Keep seeking Him,

Larry

3. Joe - March 12, 2007

Will,
That was definitely well said brother! I just wanted to give a hearty ‘Amen’.
Joe

4. larrylaz - March 12, 2007

Joe,

Stop giving Amen’s and make a post brother!

I know, your in-laws are in town so you do have a legitimate reason!

Larry


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