If you’re in the mood for some masochism tonight, then I dare you to open God’s Word and begin reading. As unpopular as it may sound, the Scriptures call us to die to ourselves. A little different than what we’ve heard in Sunday School, eh?
Exodus 20:19, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die”
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Philippians 3:7-8, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”
Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'”
God’s word is a double-edged sword. It cuts us to our deepest core and lays bare all that we work so hard to keep hidden. It’s a deadly word, but a living word. Deadly to our sin, but life-giving to our spirit.
I really think this has been the greatest sermon he’s ever taught. And all he did was to recite Scripture from memory for the first 15 minutes. Talk about cut to the heart…
My head feels like it’s going to explode.
I only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester, but at the end of the day it’s like I’m on sensory overload. It’s kinda like the feeling after you’ve been strapped inside that virtual roller coaster ride at the amusement park for 8 hours and then you step back out into reality – it’s dizzying.
One thing I can be sure of is that the Word of God is so rich and deep and His realities are so majestic and huge that I can spend a lifetime learning and researching, but will only end up skimming the surface. It’s times like these that I just sit in my chair and am wow’ed by how big God really is.
But the application here is, where does that knowledge lead to. Does it lead to transform into more and more of His likeness or will I twist and delude it for my own gain? I want my mind to be set on high. For it to be held captive by Christ, who is Wisdom. I want not for my thoughts to be mere mental exercise, but fruit bearing work. Wow, I need Jesus.
It’s bone-numbingly cold today. Boston is Sunny with a high of 29 (Sunny and any number below 60 shouldn’t be in the same sentence).
I think when God created the world, he didn’t intend it to be cold. I suspect cold weather is a consequence of the fall of man. I might be wrong, but it sure does feel right. 🙂
N.T. Wright, a notable New Testament scholar, was preaching at a Pastor’s Forum this week at GCTS. It was the first time I ever had a chance to hear him speak. I’ve read some books and articles by him, but never heard him speak before. So like a good seminarian, I was giddy to hear a leading scholarly voice expound the New Testament. His focus that day was on the Gospel of John. Now I won’t go in to the particulars of what he preached, but I mainly wanted to emphasize something he got into and what I am learning more and more these days about Scripture, especially regarding the New Testament.
The normative background of the New Testament is the Old Testament. You may even benefit from reading that again, due to its simplicity. As I learn more about how to interpret the Bible, I’m learning that the NT (New Testament) is inextricably linked to the OT (Old Testament). It makes perfect sense even on the surface.
Any good writer knows that you write about what you already know. Even fictional writers will write in light of what they have experienced in real life (even sci-fi has parallels to one’s own understanding of life). Why do guys talk about sports? Because they’re always watching Sportscenter. Why do girls always talk about boys? Because men are awesome (ok, I just threw that in there to see if you were paying attention). Think about it. What comes out of us has correlation with what’s already in us. Now, transplant yourself to the age of the NT writers. What was most prominent on their minds? Duh. The OT. Their religion was rooted in this text and they would’ve known it inside and out, as was customary of teachers and scribes. So in writing the inspired texts of the NT, what would’ve naturally come out? The OT scriptures. It’s that simple.
Why do I even bring this up? Well, because I think in all my studying of the Scripture, up until now, I saw the two testaments as somewhat mutually exclusive. Yes, I did notice that the OT was quoted here and there by several NT authors, but never did I think the relationship went beyond that. What I’m seeing now, as I reread the NT scriptures, is the overwhelming presence of the OT. And in seeing this undeniable link, I’m beginning to gain such a depth of understanding of what the NT writers are actually wanting to communicate through their writing. Amazing stuff that probably only interests me at the moment, but amazing nonetheless.
I’ll give you a small tidbit of what I’m talking about. Look at John 1 and Genesis 1 in parallel. From the get go, do you see something similar? “In the beginning…” Now, I don’t have time nor the scholarship to expound this adequately, but suffice it to say that John is undoubtedly repeating this phrase from the well-known beginning parts of the creation account in Genesis. In the first book of the Pentateuch, God created the earth by His Word. Man destroyed the earth in his sin. But what John is doing here is introducing a New Creation. By referring back to Genesis, John is saying that Jesus is the Word by which God will recreate and reestablish His creation into right order. Jesus is the dawn of the New Creation. What we managed to destroy, Jesus is coming to reclaim and renew. God doesn’t just throw His tainted creation away, as if to give up on it and start all over. But He chooses to restore us back to the way things ought to have been. He saves us. That’s the amazing Gospel! And all of that from just the first three words in John’s Gospel. Trust me, there’s more where that came from, just look.
I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to begin reading your New Testament through the lens of the Old Testament. It will blow your mind. (hint: use those cross-references that you always neglected)
I guess it goes without say. What you believe will inevitably surface in your way of life. I guess I can relate it to something as simple as your choice in what you eat. When it comes to food there are generally three camps: Health Nuts, Gluttons, & the Indecisive. Health Nuts take careful consideration of what they intake, weighing all the nutritional contents, measuring out their daily caloric intake. Gluttons eat as they please and have a more hedonistic approach to food. The Indecisive are those people that can never make up their mind and thus, they never really like it nor do they ever hate it; it’s just whatever. Now for each group, their approach to food is different because of what each of them believes. The Health Nuts believe food is nutritious. Gluttons believe food is pleasure. The Indecisive believe food is…food. Our approach of food and what we actually eat is governed by what we believe to know about food. For if we really believed food to be detrimental to our lives, we’d never eat (and we all know where that will lead us). Truth matters.
If you think truth doesn’t matter. Then you’re gravely mistaken. It dictates nearly everything you do. You do nothing because you just feel like it. You do, because you know. And if there’s one thing I’m learning as I crawl back into the world of being the student again, I’m realizing that what you understand about this world to be true will undoubtedly shape how you will live in this world. For the first time in a long time, I’m being forced to formulate my understanding of what is true. And though it’s a laborious task, it’s rewarding to know that you’re pursuit of knowledge won’t just stop at the head, but will travel down to the hands and feet. Admittedly, it’s much easier to be spoon-fed truisms and ideals, but that will only lead you to live a life that you may or may not agree with. You must find truth, but not only find it; you must own it.
Lord, may I know the ultimate truth that comes only through your living and active voice, which is in the Word. May I clutch tightly to the Word of God, because it is my teacher when the winds of worldy influence are like shifting sand. May I know it, and let it govern the way I live.
Thinking about the ever growing voices of men who have influence over Evangelical Christianity, I’m soberly reminded that though their words and counsel are inspiring, the Word of God is to be primary & foundational. I need always to be fed from the spring, not the faucet.
Let us not build our understanding of God on the shifting sand of human influence, but solely on the immovable rock that is the Word of God.
Influence will wane, clout will change, power will crumble, popularity will shift, but only Your favor will last. God, not man. Him, not them.
I need only entertain an audience of One.
You ever hear a grown man talk about his Bible like this?!
In the meantime, I’ve been reading out of the Reformation Study Bible, edited by R.C. Sproul (check it out!!)
I’m going to be the first in line to get my hands on one of those ESV: Study Bibles. I’ll race you! 😉