Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Time and a Place


My mind drifted to our away football trips. It actually drifted about something drifting, which you'll see. With everybody piled into the bus with equipment, luggage, and school books, it became rather claustrophobic. But then, these were guys, boys, big ones, from divergent socio-economic environments, and one that had stomach problems on a certain occasion. Those problems were obviously being relieved, and the interior of the bus became akin to closely confined cattle with their inherent scents. The other boys didn't like it. They reacted--moaned, laughed, ridiculed, and showed loud, general disfavor for the lingering smell. Our coach stepped into this fray and said with his low, New England accent, "Gentleman (an overstatement for sure), there's a time and a place." I've never forgotten that particular phrase: There's a time and a place. I've used it myself many times since then. Some of you can relate to having nicely scripted phrases available for special occasions. Sometimes I even say it just like he did, and, of course, only I get that particular inside joke.

Appropriateness. Context. Time and place. When we approach passages of Scripture, we must take into consideration a time and a place. We strive to understand it as people would have understood it in that day. This principle relates to prayer. I've heard people pray for the Spirit's filling. Should we be praying for Spirit filling now? Is this the time and place to pray for that? The locus classicus (to throw more Latin at you) for Spirit filling is Ephesians 5:18: "Be filled with the Spirit." "Be filled" is a command. That means we are to obey it. We don't pray for something God commanded us to do. We might pray that God would help us to be Spirit filled, but praying for God to do something that He commanded us to do is like asking your parents to make your bed after they told you to do it. The command is in the passive, meaning that we are allowing this to be accomplished. It is in the present tense, meaning that we are to keep on being filled (be ye being filled). The word for "filled" (plerao) has the understanding of "controlled." We are commanded to let the Holy Spirit control our lives. Romans 6 calls it "yielding to the Spirit."

So why do people pray for Spirit filling? I'm pretty sure that they pray for it because of a wrong view of Luke 11. In Luke 11, the Holy Spirit had not come yet, so Jesus taught the disciples that the Father would give the Spirit to them who asked. The disciples prayed for the Holy Spirit, and God answered that prayer on the Day of Pentecost. We pray for the kingdom to come, and God will answer that prayer at the second coming of Christ. Knowing the time and place of Luke 11, we don't pray for something that God commanded us to do. We just do it.

9 comments:

Jeff Voegtlin said...

I know this is a more serious post, and I think I am beginning to understand this truth some, but my question is...



Where do you get all your pictures from? This one is classicus.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Quiteus humorous on the use of classicus. Let's say that I know how to use the image function on my search engine, and then the word "bus."

Caleb said...

Isn't the believer already filled with the holy spirit? Does the verse mean that we are to be acting like a "spirit filled" believer and that we are not to quench the Holy Spirit? Also, you bring up an interesting point about Time and Place. When you say that we pray for "the kingdom to come" are you referring to The Lord's Prayer? In that prayer isn't Jesus talking to OT jews who were looking for the kingdom? As a NT believer we aren't to be looking for that kingdom, but for the return of the King, right?

Kent Brandenburg said...

We are indwelt by the Spirit, but filling requires us constantly yielding to Him. We manifest the fruit of the Spirit when we yield control to Him---we quench and resist Him when we don't obey Him or immediately. Yes, the Lord's model prayer---Lk. 11; Mt. 6. We pray for the kingdom to come too. The kingdom is for all the saved, Jews and Gentiles. We are grafted into Israel (Rom. 9-11). We look for the return of the King, who then sets up a kingdom on the earth. When we pray for the kingdom, we are letting God know we are in line with His program, and related praying would be for those things that would further His kingdom in the age in which we live.

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Wow, Bro. Brandenburg, I'd never really looked on this command in that light before. I like what you said about how we're not to pray for something God has commanded us to do - to do so, in any case, is akin to stalling, and being unfaithful, wouldn't it? We have a part to play - yielding, and God has a part to play - filling. A perfect outflowing of the command for us to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12) because "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (v. 13)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for your kind comments; you are the Mama Dip of blog commentators. More Gravy!!!

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

LOL! I've never (to my knowledge) been compared to a restaurant before. I think I'll take that as a compliment!

Jeff Voegtlin said...

Another note on humorous side. Some of the ensemble guys were talking about their dormroom "rules" (three from the ensemble are in one room - Marlowe is one of them). DRR#2 - you must laugh at your roomates jokes. DRR#1 - refused to discuss while at practice with everyone else. So I just kinda mentioned something about "a time and a place." It seemed to strike a familiar chord. I had to laugh.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I want What Is Truth to be to you what you are to it. The helpful usage of ordinarily useless phrases is permitted. Thanks for the comment.