Good morning, Musers,
We have a conundrum. Paul keeps telling us that our salvation is complete in Christ — and that we cannot (and should not try to) add anything to it (Eph. 2:8; Gal.). But now I’m reading where Christ’s afflictions are somehow lacking. What’s up with this?
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:24, NIV)
This is messy… and for two opposing groups. First, the prosperity preachers hate it when people like Paul — who really knew what was going on with God and the Bible — suffered anyway, and who gratefully accepted their “daily bread” as their portion. Second, we who understand that salvation is all “on Christ”… and who make a big deal out of the fact that it occurs apart from any works that we have done… are confronted with a reference to a lack on Christ’s part. — and a supplementing on Paul’s part. Yikes! That sounds a little ungospelly to me! So we will explore this today.
Although I’ve referenced a few commentators in this response, my personal solution tracks best with my typical emphasis: if you read the Bible with the assumption that the omniscient God who inspired Scripture would never contradict himself — that is, if you postulate a God who is at least minimally competent at communicating and protecting his word — the problems disappear. But whichever tack you prefer, we will vindicate Paul and the salvation model that we know so well. The prosperity preachers? They’re on their own.
In other news the Mainsail website just popped over 400,000 words — which is a five-novel equivalent. Although the average book length is about 64,000 words (e.g. Brave New World), 80,000 is more the full-sized norm with Catcher in the Rye at 73,404 and Ann Frank at 82,762. Some are longer, of course, like War and Peace at 587,287… which is simply a pile of words.
So Tolstoy, I’m coming for you. Everyone else, enjoy the musing.
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