Good questions! This is the kind of thing I would love to do more regularly here on the OTC list -- discuss the specifics of certain passages. This will help all of us answer others when asked. So thanks for bringing this up, Steve! And I hope the other men and women on this list will bring up certain Scripture that they would like to see discussed! And I also hope the other men will get involved in saying what these Scriptures mean, since I'm not a cult leader who just hands down interpretations of Scripture ex cathedra while everyone oohs and aahs. We might have the same interpretation, but I always appreciate the different ways brothers say the same thing and come at it from a little different angle, so we can get the full truth of a passage!
First of all, Steve, please don't call me "Mr. Carpenter." Call me Marc. I'm on the same level you are - a brother in Christ. Okay?
Now let's get into the passages you mentioned. I'll go over each one.
"But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and let him drink of the cup; for he eating and drinking unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." (1Co 11:28-29)
It's interesting you should mention this passage, because I preached on the Lord's Supper not long ago (and am planning to re-preach it, since it didn't get recorded), and I mentioned this passage and talked about this passage after the sermon with our assembly.
Most of the self-righteous religionists say that examination of one's self here means seeing if you have any unrepentant sin or if you are holding something against another brother. They say that you cannot partake unless you take care of these things first, because if you do, you're eating and drinking unworthily. But look at what "eating and drinking unworthily" really means -- it means eating and drinking JUDGMENT to himself, and in verse 30, it says that the eating and drinking unworthily is the cause of weakness and even DEATH! How could it be that this would be talking about believers who haven't repented of all their sins? It can't be.
Examining one's self means making sure one is a believer. Consider that the one who eats and drinks unworthily is "not discerning the body of the Lord." This is talking about belief of the gospel. What does the broken body and poured-out blood mean? It is Christ's efficacious atoning death that ensures and demands the salvation of everyone for whom He died. If someone does not believe in efficacious atonement, he is not discerning the body of the Lord. To take the bread and cup while believing in universal atonement is to have no clue as to what the bread and cup symbolize. It is to eat and drink DAMNATION to himself.
So is this command to examine one's self to believers as well as unbelievers? Yes it is. Believers are to examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith. This is what 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, so let's go right into that one:
"Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Or do you not yourselves perceive that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are disapproved?" (2Co 13:5)
All professing believers (which includes true believers and professing believers who are really unbelievers) are to examine and test themselves. They are to scrutinize themselves, prove themselves, inspect themselves, analyze themselves.
I'll again put in here what self-righteous religionists like to say about this passage. They say that this passage proves that believers can doubt their salvation. Their reasoning is along these lines: "How can God command those who have no doubt that they are believers to examine themselves to see whether or not they are believers? This is to make the doubters sure of their salvation." But wait a minute. This would be to say that this command is NOT for people who have full assurance, and most of these people would admit that there are some believers who do have full assurance. So they believe that once a person has full assurance, this command is not for them. That's absurd, of course.
All believers, ALL of whom have full assurance of salvation, are to examine, test, scrutinize, prove, inspect, analyze themselves. Thus, it obviously does not mean sitting down and saying, "Am I really saved? I don't know. Let me examine and scrutinize my beliefs and my life so I can find out." It means to think about what I believe and how I conduct my life -- to confirm that the Spirit witnesses with my Spirit that I am a child of God:
"For if you live according to flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again to fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God." (Rom 8:13-16)
Of course, when every believer examines himself, he finds himself to be a child of God. There was never a doubt.
The last passage you mentioned is Philippians 2:12:
"So, then, my beloved, even as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much rather in my absence, cultivate your salvation with fear and trembling,"
But that's not the end of the sentence! The end of the sentence is in verse 13:
"for it is God who is working in you both to will and to work for the sake of His good pleasure."
So the whole sentence goes like this:
"So, then, my beloved, even as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much rather in my absence, cultivate your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is working in you both to will and to work for the sake of His good pleasure." (Phi 2:12-13)
The last part of the sentence is key in understanding the first part of the sentence.
Again, the self-righteous religionists will use this to either promote works salvation or doubt (or both, since doubt is ultimately works salvation).
What does it mean for a believer to work out (LITV says "cultivate") your salvation with fear and trembling?
The Greek word for "to cultivate" or "to work out" is "katergazomai", which comes from "kata," which means "fully, thoroughly," and "ergazomai," which means "to toil, to effect, to be engaged in."
Believers are to be fully engaged in their salvation. They are to be zealous to do good works, contend for the faith, grow in knowledge -- all the things that Christians are commanded to engage in.
What about the "fear and trembling"? It certainly isn't a fear of wrath or punishment, and it does not stem from doubt. This is a reverence, a respect, an awe, a humility. Our engaging in our salvation, our doing good works, is not out of any sense of pride that our works form any part of our acceptance or favor before God. And it is with the realization that it is God who is working in us to will and work for the sake of His good pleasure! This is why we are fully engaged in our salvation with reverence, respect, awe, and humility -- because it is all of God.
You asked if these passages were related to each other or are making separate points. Of course, all passages are related to each other, but I think I know what you mean. The first two passages (in 1 and 2 Corinthians) are making the same point, with the passage in 1 Corinthians making the point specifically in the context of taking the Lord's Supper. The third passage is making somewhat of a different point, because it is not specifically talking about examination -- it is an exhortation to do something.
I hope this helps, Steve! And I hope this helps others who have wanted to know how to articulate what these passages mean. And I welcome the other brothers to add their comments to my comments on these passages!
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