Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Liberating Free-will - The Instructor and the Compendious Word of Scripture

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"What has to be observed at home, and how our life is to be regulated, the Instructor has abundantly declared. And the things which He is wont to say to children by the way, while He conducts them to the Master, these He suggests, and adduces the Scriptures themselves in a compendious form, setting forth bare injunctions, accommodating them to the period of guidance, and assigning the interpretation of them to the Master. For the intention of His law is to dissipate fear, emancipating free-will in order to faith. 'Hear,' He says, 'O child,' who art rightly instructed, the principal points of salvation. For I will disclose my ways, and lay before thee good commandments; by which thou wilt reach salvation. And I lead thee by the way of salvation. Depart from the paths of deceit." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 12)
The goal of God's Word is not our static obedience but rather our dynamic interaction with Him. The Word of God is not a checklist that, once checking of an area of compliance or conformity, we no longer have to return to it for wisdom. The Word of God is meant for our guidance and our guidance is needed day by day. Everyday we have need to return to God's Word for the guidance our lives need for that day. Each day, our Instructor accommodates the Word of God for our daily needs and in accordance to where we are in our walk with the Lord. For example, we start out with "Honor your mother and father," yet as we grow we learn to "love our neighbors as ourselves," and even later to "love our wives as Christ loves the church." A fit word for a fit point in time.

Jesus promised us, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32) The Word of God not only guides us but also sets us free; free from fear and free from our former manor of life. While it is true that we all have free-will, often our free-will has become enslaved to habits, patterns, and behaviors that have been "inherited from your forefathers." (1 Peter 1:18) We claim freedom but we are salves to our sin and our futile way of living. We need an instructor to liberate us, to free our free-will, from an empty and sinful life to a life of faith. This freedom comes "in order," step-by-step as our Instructor leads us through life. Each day, as our wisdom and revelation increase, so does our freedom.
"And the treasures of wisdom are unfailing, in admiration of which the apostle says, 'O the depth of the riches and the wisdom!” And by one God are many treasures dispensed; some disclosed by the law, others by the prophets; some to the divine mouth, and others to the heptad of the spirit singing accordant. And the Lord being one, is the same Instructor by all these." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 12)
God speaks to us in many ways: through His Law, His prophets, Jesus and His apostles, and even by His spirit. The "heptad of the spirit" refers to the seven spirits that are in heaven as John saw, "the seven Spirits who are before His throne." (Revelation 1:4) To each of us God speaks independently and in a distinctive manor. One day using His word, another speaking through a brother or sister in Christ, but what ever the mode it is the same God who is our instructor and desires to guide us into abundant life. All measures should be sought by us and none should be rejected. All modes of communication open, that in whatever form, we might hear God and, by hearing Him, might grow in God. We need our instructor for His words are life to us.

David Robison

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