Infallibility?

Q. 1 Corinthians 2:15 But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. What does “judged of no man” mean? Is seems to be talking about the infallibility of clergy or the Catholic theory. It does not make any sense with Acts 17:11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

A. It is not talking about infallibility. The word “infallible” appears only once in the Bible:
Acts 1:3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (NKJV)

It means:
• that from which something is surely and plainly known,
• on unquestionable evidence, impossible to doubt.

Only God and His word are infallible in the sense of “incapable of being wrong, unable to err”. Paul knew he was a sinner, and even claimed to be chief:
1 Tim 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
By definition sinners are wrong and cannot be infallible. For any human to claim infallibility is foolishness.

As always, the meaning is determined by the context. The whole chapter 2 of 1 Co is talking about Paul’s reliance on the Spirit. In particular, the immediate context is 1 Co 2:14-16 (NASB):
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
• 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
• 16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

The natural man, the man who does not know God cannot understand spiritual things, because they must be spiritually evaluated or discerned with the mind of Christ. A spiritual person, one who is controlled by the Spirit, is able to judge all things, yet no one (the unbeliever) can understand him.

Let me quote from a few paraphrases to make it clearer:
AMPLIFIED BIBLE But the spiritual man [the spiritually mature Christian] judges all things [questions, examines and applies what the Holy Spirit reveals], yet is himself judged by no one [the unbeliever cannot judge and understand the believer’s spiritual nature].
• THE MESSAGE The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics.
• PHILLIP’S NT But the unspiritual man simply cannot accept the matters which the Spirit deals with—they just don’t make sense to him, for, after all, you must be spiritual to see spiritual things. The spiritual man, on the other hand, has an insight into the meaning of everything, though his insight may baffle the man of the world.

Hope this helps.

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Concealed versus Revealed

Q. How do you reconcile Deut 29:29 with Prov 25:2?

A. First, let’s examine what each verse says.
Deut 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

The “secret things” are contrasted with “the things revealed”. They are the things God chose to keep to Himself.
Acts 1:7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

The context of Deut 29 is the renewal of the covenant, about the blessings when Israel obeys and curses when Israel disobeys. So more specifically the “secret things” concern Israel’s future which is contingent upon her obedience.

The “things revealed” parallel “the words of this law” in the last part of v29. They belong to us & to our descendents forever, as God’s laws are abiding, so that we may observe them.

Prov 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

God gets glory when men realize their limitations in failing to understand His universe or the way He rules it:
Rom 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Kings get glory when they discern the truth & administer justice:
1 Kgs 3:9 So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?
Properly understood, I don’t see any contradiction between these verses. As God, He has a right to disclose some things to us and conceal others from us. Generally speaking, the concealed things He reserved for Himself concern the future, except in the case of prophecies He chose to reveal, as proof of His sovereignty:
Isa 21:43 Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods;

Within the subset of what He reveals, including His laws which reflect His nature, it is up to kings or rulers to understand His will, so that they can carry out His will & govern in accordance to His character. There is no conflict & perfect harmony between the 2 verses.

John the Baptist Shirking Responsibility?

Q. Why did John the Baptist go to live in the desert instead of with his parents? It seems like he had not observed the commandment to take care of his parents. Was he allowed to weasel out of his Levite duties? or maybe he left the priesthood because of the Pharisees.

A. I believe he lived in the wilderness to fulfill his calling as prophesied in:
Isa 40:3-5 A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

I think maybe you assumed too much. The word of God came to John in:
Lk 3:1-2 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.

Tiberius was the stepson of Augustus, whom he succeeded on the throne AD 14 according to Roman history. The 15th year of his reign was AD 29. Since John the Baptist was only about 6 months older than Jesus (Lk 1:26 ff), he was already a grown man at that time. His parents Zacharias and Elizabeth were not mentioned again in the NT after Luke 1. They might have already died by that time, after John had fulfilled his filial duties to care for his parents.

John did not weasel out of his duties as a priest. When God called him to be the Messiah’s herald, he obeyed, just as Samuel was raised by Eli to serve in the tabernacle, but responded to God’s call to become both a judge and a prophet. There is no evidence that John left the priesthood because of the Pharisees.

Legal Matters 2

1 Corinthians 6 1-11 a

Q. You said it was ok to take the dishonest contractor to court, but what about 1 Co 6? Didn’t Paul discourage lawsuits there?

A. First, let’s see what 1 Co 6:1-8 say:
1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?
3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church?
5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren,
6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?
8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

I did not quote 1 Co 6 because I did not think it applied to the inquirer’s case. Observe the following:
Who: neighbor (v 1), saints (v 1, 2), brethren (v 5, 8), brother (v 6 twice). Paul was talking about believers as plaintiff and defendant.
What: go to law (v 1, 6), lawsuits with one another (v 7), constitute law courts (v 2). This refers to Christians suing each other before unbeliever judges. It also refers to the lack of wise Christians competent to constitute law courts (v 2) and sit as judge to decide cases (v 5).
How: Avoid lawsuits and rather be wronged or defrauded (v 7).
Why: The testimony of the church is at stake, because we have been justified, sanctified and washed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God.

The inquirer’s case involved an unbeliever contractor defrauding a believer customer. This is a straight-forward tort case, in which a wrongful act by the contractor (substitution of inferior materials) caused harm to the customer (costly repairs and replacement), and led to civil legal liability. It has nothing to do with lawsuits between Christians, nor the unavailability of mature Christians judging such grievances. The issue does not involve the reputation of the church. That’s why I did not refer to this in the discussion. Simply because the passage is about lawsuits does not mean that it applies to the current situation. We must exercise caution in applying only relevant principles to the case in hand.