Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dialogue on the Lost Sheep, Luke 15

This discussion takes place under the topic, "99 +1" on MennoDiscuss:

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.
Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

So He told them this parable, saying,

"What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

"When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

"And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'

"I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.


Is it possible/beneficial to consider a passage in a context outside of its original context?

Jesus never says that we need to confess our sins before the mockers. We need to confess before God and before a brother or sister who is spiritual-- holy and gentle, according to Gal 6.

We can use a passage outside of the context to consider what God is speaking to us. We just can't use it for doctrine.

It is interesting that in the context, this passage is commanding the church to welcome sinners and the outcast into their churches, welcoming them and preparing them for repentance. So why don't we have more homosexuals, drug users, sex workers and alcoholics in our churches?

Steve K

Is it talking of receiving them into the churches or into our homes? The parable seems to me, to be speaking to the home.

Isn't the church is a place for those who are seeking or have found Christ, to worship, to be taught, to be "edified" per Eph 4? The ministry to the needy should be the "outreach". Can a person who is not in Christ really "worship"?

That is not to say that we should keep those folks out of the church, but the church meeting place is primarily for the saints, to prepare them to minister to the sinners, don't you think?

We have often opened our home to those in need, and brought them along with us to church as well, but is the meeting place really supposed to be an evangelistic meeting place?

In the first century, outsiders were welcome into the service, but asked to leave before the communion service, as it was only for the believers."Never be diverted from the truth by what you would like to believe."
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (Jn 8:31,32)

Why should it be an either/or decision? The welcome of the outcast is into our LIVES, not just a segment of it.

I am in agreement with the early believers that the Lord's Supper is only for those who are committed to the Lordship of Jesus, but we can discuss that more later.

But, as you quoted Ephesians 4, the term "edify" means "the building up toward" the telos, or "completion" in the Messiah. Well, different people are in different places in the building up process-- some need some basic repentance, others need deeper repentance.

And if we are going to exclude people from coming to church, then why don't we exclude the gossips, the porn watchers and the materialistic? These are also sins that keep one from God's kingdom, just as well as the ones above. The question is not whether we are sinners, the question is whether we are in the process of repentance.

Honestly, the only reason we would want to keep drug addicts out of church is because the middle class, who unfortunately runs the church, are uncomfortable with the cultural and moral choices of the outcast group. This has always been the case, and Jesus is asking-- nay, demanding-- that we overlook the cultural overlays of the outcast and welcome ANYONE who is repentant, fully forgiving them.

Steve K

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