Everybody has got to live for something

Tim Keller

Everybody has got to live for something, but Jesus is arguing that, if he is not that thing, it will fail you.

First, it will enslave you. Whatever that thing is, you will tell yourself that you have to have it or there is no tomorrow. That means that if anything threatens it, you will become inordinately scared; if anyone blocks it, you will become inordinately angry; and if you fail to achieve it, you will never be able to forgive yourself.

But second, if you do achieve it, it will fail to deliver the fulfillment you expected.

Let me give you an eloquent contemporary expression of what Jesus is saying. Nobody put this better than the American writer and intellectual David Foster Wallace. He got to the top of his profession. He was an award-winning, best-selling postmodern novelist known around the world for his fierce and boundary-pushing storytelling. He once wrote a sentence that was more than a thousand words long. And, tragically, he committed suicide. But a few years before that, he gave a now-famous commencement speech at Kenyon College. He said to the graduating class,

Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god . . . to worship . . . is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before [your loved ones] finally plant you. . . . Worship power, and you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they are evil or sinful; it is that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

Wallace was by no means a religious person, but he understood that everyone worships, everyone trusts in something for their salvation, everyone bases their lives on something that requires faith. A couple of years after giving that speech, Wallace killed himself. And this non-religious man’s parting words to us are pretty terrifying: “Something will eat you alive.”

Because even though you might never call it worship, you can be absolutely sure you are worshiping and you are seeking. And Jesus says, unless you’re worshiping me, unless I’m the center of your life, unless you’re trying to get your spiritual thirst quenched through me and not through these other things, unless you see that the solution must come inside rather than just pass by outside, then whatever you worship will abandon you in the end.

~  Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions (Dutton; 2013), 28–30:

Proving Jesus By Doing

from Cerulean Sanctum

'Sermon on the Mount' by Henrik OlrikSo Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”
—John 7:16-17 ESV

The above passage has been stirring in me all weekend. It bothers me. A lot.

Jesus had a validity issue. When He tried to teach in the temple, the learned questioned how He knew what He knew. Jesus sought to tell them, but they weren’t responsive.

We live in an age that has made the mind the arbiter of all truth. We are rabid rationalists. Even when someone tries to stick a label of “emotional” on us, it peels off soon enough.

For many people, Christianity is all in their head or it is nowhere at all.

Clever arguments, a Ph.D. in biblical hermeneutics, and an iPod filled with Ravi Zacharias podcasts are the base material needed for being an apologist for Jesus today. The person who cannot tie together every last passage is seen as not qualified to talk Bible with anyone. An inability to look at Paul’s Letter to Philemon in light of the Hebrew captivity in Egypt or to spout every last occurrence of the concept of a hardened heart or to detail the finer points of New Testament infralapsarianism proves a person is not up to the task of living as a Christian and certainly cannot be trusted to be an evangelist or teacher.

But what does Jesus say will prove His words true in a person’s life?

Doing them. Not thinking. Doing.

Perhaps the reason we live in such a godless age is not because people don’t know the words of God but because so few do them. Jesus said that if people do the things God wills through His word, the validity will be self-evident.

Imagine if our evangelism of the lost and teaching to the found consisted more of telling people, “Here are the words of Jesus. Do them and you will know Him.” Imagine if our measure of the maturity of the believer was not how many Bible passages he or she had memorized but how many he or she actually practiced in real life.

We think we must construct systems of biblical logic to make a cage that cannot be escaped, a sort of ultra-secure fortress of rationalistic thought. But Jesus said that our proof is in doing what He says. That’s how the words are justified, because they are life and truth when lived.

All this teaching yet the proof is in the doing.

What if our Sunday Schools were more about doing the words of God? Would our understanding and retention of truth improve? Jesus says it will. Do we trust Him in this?

I don’t know when the Faith migrated from all parts of the whole person to reside solely in the head, with a trickle down into the heart when we’re really “feeling it.” But Jesus Himself says that’s not the way we should be. Instead, truth is in the living out of what He says.

That’s a paradigm shift of the highest order. I hope to see more of it in my lifetime.

The problem with the church today

by John Piper

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. (Colossians 1:3–5)

The problem with the church today is not that there are too many people who are passionately in love with heaven. The problem is not that professing Christians are retreating from the world, spending half their days reading Scripture and the other half singing about their pleasures in God all the while indifferent to the needs of the world.

The problem is that professing Christians are spending ten minutes reading Scripture and then half their day making money and the other half enjoying and repairing what they spend it on.

It is not heavenly-mindedness that hinders love. It is worldly-mindedness that hinders love, even when it is disguised by a religious routine on the weekend.

Where is the person whose heart is so passionately in love with the promised glory of heaven that he feels like an exile and a sojourner on the earth? Where is the person who has so tasted the beauty of the age to come that the diamonds of the world look like marbles, and the entertainment of the world is empty, and the moral causes of the world are too small because they have no view to eternity? Where is this person?

He is not in bondage to the Internet or eating or sleeping or drinking or partying or fishing or sailing or putzing around. He is a free man in a foreign land. And his one question is this: How can I maximize my enjoyment of God for all eternity while I am an exile on this earth? And his answer is always the same: by doing the labors of love.

Only one thing satisfies the heart whose treasure is in heaven: doing the works of heaven. And heaven is a world of love!

It is not the cords of heaven that bind the hands of love. It is the love of money and leisure and comfort and praise — these are the cords that bind the hands of love. And the power to sever these cords is Christian hope.

I say it again with all the conviction that lies within me: it is not heavenly-mindedness that hinders love on this earth. It is worldly-mindedness. And therefore the great fountain of love is the powerful, freeing confidence of Christian hope.

Why I DON’T Use King James

I love the re-post from Don Merritt of Life Reference on the King James. He is even easier on the KJV  than I. The New Testament is written in Koine – the trade, street language of the day. It was not anywhere near the quality and sophistication of the classical Greek I studied in college. It was so much simpler, smaller vocabulary, with less complicated sentence structure that the classical. It was the everyday language of the people. God did not make it a “special” Bible language. He used the common language of the trade community that was used all over the area. The KJV was not even that when it came out, let alone now. That is the reason I teach classes using the NLT, but encourage my students to use the NIV or ESV to get a broader idea of what we are discussing. 

Now, I freely admit, that in my devotions, as I try to refresh my Greek NT skills, I find the vocabulary of Acts much more challenging than going through John. That is not the koine Greek – that is my loss of memory and skill as the years go by.

Don’t article:

Long ago I grew accustomed to receiving “hate” emails from KJV fans.  I should have kept them, because I’m sure you would be greatly amused if I posted a list of the names I’ve been called because I use the NIV in this blog most of the time. The first few times I received these emails, I thought that maybe I should reconsider, then I began to find them amusing and even hilarious, but now I’m just bored!

Dear reader, I do not use the KJV because it is written in a language that nobody speaks; it’s just that simple.  In that sense, it has much in common with things that are written in Latin, it’s a dead language that isn’t spoken anywhere, with the possible exception of Ivory Tower professors somewhere.

With that out of the way, I will agree with those who would say that the King James English is beautiful and poetic.  Why should that surprise anyone? After all, it is the language of Shakespeare! Yet ask any freshman student about studying Shakespeare: they have to translate it into modern English before they can follow it! Many of my detractors claim that the KJV is the only accurate translation of the Bible.  While it is my view that the KJV is a fine translation, it is very far from perfect!  The other day, I saw a post that consisted of a list of words and the number of times they were used in the KJV and the NIV.  They were words like “hell” “damnation” and so on, all dealing with judgment and punishment.  The KJV had these word more than the NIV, and judging from the fact that the same blog had another post attacking the NIV for being “politically correct” I’m going to assume that the blogger was trying to show that the NIV is soft of judgment and condemnation.  (I apologize for not having the links here for you to verify this, but this morning I couldn’t find the post again…)

To be honest and fair, however, the KJV would have the word “hell” more often than the NIV because the KJV renders five different words “hell” even though the five different words mean five different things. This is an example of a KJV weakness, not a KJV strength!  Of course the NIV doesn’t have the word “damnation” a single time, it is a word that is no longer in use in the English language, but it means “condemnation, judgment, punishment” and those are the words the NIV uses, depending on context. Here’s a KJV weakness that you might not even want to know about:  The Greek word baptiso is a verb which means “to immerse.” King James was translated in a rough time in history, during the time of the English Reformation.  Those poor translators couldn’t be sure who was going to win out, and the way they handled this word could spell either life or death, so they transliterated it rather than translating it, thus creating a new English word: Baptize.  Now you figure out what it means!  Can you translate “immerse” into “sprinkle”?  We still can’t all agree on that question, can we?

The KJV has its problems, the NIV has its problems; they all have their problems! That’s why many of us study in Greek and Hebrew and then look at the English; KJV fans, the original language is the best, not the KJV.  Still, I like the KJV, I learned this stuff in KJV, I can even speak King James English, but I don’t teach in it because few can fully understand it today.

Over 20 years ago, I was teaching in a church where several of the older members complained about the NIV, saying that they prefer the KJV. “If it isn’t King James, it isn’t the Bible” was the rallying cry.  So being young and eager to please, I announced one Sunday in church that I would be starting a new class that would be all King James.  We would use the KJV exclusively, all teaching would be in King James English, and all questions and comments by participants would be in King James English. ” There is a sign up sheet on the table outside, so be sure and sign up so I will know how many class handouts we will need; and they too will be written in King James English!”

Well of course nobody signed up!  They wanted to hear King James, but they wanted it explained in language they would understand…

In conclusion, if you prefer the King James, by all means use it.  As I have said, it is a fine translation.  But if another person uses a different translation, it really isn’t your place to order them to switch!  It really doesn’t mean they are the “devil’s blogger”!

Yes, that is by far the most hilarious thing I’ve been called for using NIV! 🙂

A Prayer for Bringing Our Weary Friends to Jesus

SCOTTY SMITH at Hevenward

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is lightMatt. 11:28-30

(As I pray for hurting friends and real situations, ask the Holy Spirit to show you who to bring the throne of grace today.)

Dear Lord Jesus, though I slept really well last night, I begin today quite restless with concern. I’m burdened for a few friends who are dangerously depleted, emotionally on edge, and spiritually numb. I could not be more grateful for your call to the heavy-laden and promise of soul rest.

One friend can no longer fight the strong undertow of rage she faces every single day in her home. She’d rather “pull in her oars” and drift down stream, rather than continue to fight the cruel current.

Another brother lives in a vortex of shame—either unable or unwilling to believe you won’t crush him if he comes to you. Satan has convinced him he’s hopeless and irredeemable. Then there’s the married couple, who’ve lost sight of the issues, and, now, are simply trying to out-maneuver and “out-mean” each other. They seem oblivious to the ways their bitterness and bickering impact their children.

Jesus, I am weary and burdened for my friends, and I bring them to you right now. Out of the strength of your gentleness and the power of your humility, give me what I need to love well in messy places. Show me how to pray and wrestle in the Holy Spirit for them. I take on your yoke because it unites me to you.

Free me to be comfortable with not being able to fix anything and anyone. More than anything, I want you to receive glory in each of these broken stories.

Write stories of redemption for your name’s sake. Bring your resurrection power to bear in each of these three situations, I pray. The things that are impossible with us are more than possible with you.

Keep me restless for my friends, Jesus, but keep me fully resting in you. So very Amen I pray, in your gentle, humble-hearted name.

 

Check out other prayers at http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2014/03/31/a-prayer-for-bringing-our-weary-friends-to-jesus/

 

Better yet, get his book http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Prayers-Days-Gospel-Centered-Faith-ebook/dp/B005GMYADU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396281947&sr=8-1&keywords=scotty+smith+everyday+prayers

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus: What does “Firstborn” Mean?

from Come Reason’s Apologetic Notes by Lenny Esposito

One of the main problems with Jehovah’s Witnesses is their denial of the deity of Jesus.  They claim that the Bible teaches that Jesus is a created being and point to passages like Colossians 1:15 and Proverbs 8:22 to make their point.

In this video, Lenny dispels those teachings by showing what the word firstborn really means and why Jesus must be more than someone who is created.

9 Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah

Some fun facts and thoughts from The Gospel Coalition by Joe arter

noahDarren’s Aronofksy’s new film Noah, which opens in theaters tomorrow, has been criticized for not being faithful to the biblical narrative. But how much of the story do most people remember? Here are nine things you should know about the story of Noah:

1. The story of Noah is told is chiastic parallelism (or chiasmus), a figure of speech in which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. If you assign the letters A and B to the first appearance of the key words or phrases and A’ and B’ to their subsequent appearance, they follow what is commonly referred to as an A-B-B-A pattern.

A chiasm in the story of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6.10-9.19):

A   Noah (10a)
B      Shem, Ham, and Japheth (10b)
C         Ark to be built (14-16)
D            Flood announced (17)
E               Covenant with Noah (18-20)
F                  Food in the Ark (21)
G                   Command to enter the Ark (7.1-3)
H                      7 days waiting for flood (4-5)
I                         7 days waiting for flood (7-10)
J                            Entry to ark (11-15)
K                             Yahweh shuts Noah in (16)
L                                40 days flood (17a)
M                                 Waters increase (17b-18)
N                                     Mountains covered (18-20)
O                                        150 days waters prevail (21-24)
P                                       GOD REMEMBERS NOAH (8.1)
O’                                       150 days waters abate (3)
N’                                    Mountain tops become visible (4-5)
M’                                Waters abate (6)
L’                             40 days (end of) (6a)
K’                            Noah opens window of ark (6b)
J’                           Raven and dove leave ark (7-9)
I’                        7 days waiting for waters to subside (10-11)
H’                    7 days waiting for waters to subside (12-13)
G’                 Command to leave the ark (15-17)
F’                Food outside the ark (9.1-4)
E’             Covenant with all flesh (8-10)
D’          No flood in future (11-17)
C’        Ark (18a)
B’      Shem, Ham, Japheth (18b)
A’  Noah (19)

2. Based on 18 inches to a cubit, the total cubic volume of Noah’s ark would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet, the equivalent to 250 single-deck railroad stock cars. Since the average stock car can carry 80 180 lb. sheep or to 160 50 lb. sheep per deck (2.5 – 5 sq ft per animal), it’s estimated the ark could carry 20,000-40,000 sheep size animals.

3. From Ancient Near Eastern records to nautical practices as recent as the 19th century, sailors the world over used doves, ravens, and other birds to help them find and navigate toward land. A raven will fly directly toward land, so it’s line of flight can be used as a guide. Doves have a limited ability for sustained flight, so they can be used to determine the location of a landing site. As long as the dove returns, no landing site is in close range.

4. Noah and his family were on the ark for a total of 370 days. Noah’s first recorded act on leaving the ark is building an altar to the Lord (Gen. 8:20).

5. The Bible says the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (a mountain range in Turkey) but does not specify which mountain.

6. Noah became the first drunk recorded in Scripture, resulting in immoral behavior and family troubles (Genesis 9:20-26).

7. The only time Noah is recorded as speaking is when he curses his grandson Canaan and blesses his sons Shem and Japeth. At all other points in his story, God does the talking and Noah does the listening.

8. At 950 years of age, Noah had the third longest life recorded in the Bible (after Methuselah (969) and Jared (962)).

9. Besides the book of Genesis, Noah is also mentioned in eight other books of the Bible (1st Chronicles 1:4Isaiah 54:9Ezekiel 14:1420Matthew 24:37-38Luke 3:3617:26-27,Hebrews 11:71 Peter 3:20, and 2 Peter 2:5) as well as in the Book of Enoch (10:1-3) and the Qur’an (Sura 71).

 

He posted other lists at the bottom of his blog page at http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2014/03/27/9-things-you-should-know-about-the-story-of-noah/

Bible Difficulties

from Evidence Unseen By James M. Rochford

Picture1There are various principles in harmonizing Bible difficulties—particularly the four gospels. These principles can help the interpreter to handle the vast majority of Bible difficulties.

PRINCIPLE #1: Context, context, context!

We hate to be taken out of context when we speak. Often, enemies can do this on purpose to make you look cruel or insensitive or stupid. Well, if we hate to be taken out of context, imagine how God feels when we do this with his word!

Context is the primary rule of interpretation, trumping all others. If we believe that there is a break of context, then the full burden of proof rests on us to demonstrate this. For instance, imagine if someone told you, “I saw your wife kissing a man in bed this week.” When you call your wife, you find out that the context was that she was kissing her elderly father on the forehead in his hospital bed. Likewise, when people misconstrue Scripture, we have to ask, “Was this an accident, or were they intentionally violating the context?” For instance, imagine if someone said that the Bible teaches, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). If we read this in isolation, we might believe that the Bible is an atheistic text! However, when we read the context, we find that David writes, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” This context changes the message considerably.

PRINCIPLE #2: Harmonizing Scripture with Scripture

If we allow Scripture to contradict itself, then we will have absolutely no restraint on our interpretation. Not only is this logically fallacious (violating the law of non-contradiction), but this would also lead to absurd conclusions. For instance, the Bible teaches that God has an “arm” (Deut. 7:19), “wings” (Ps. 91:4), “nostrils” (2 Sam. 22:9), “mouth” (2 Sam. 22:9), and “eyes” (Heb. 4:13). But it also teaches that “God is spirit” (Jn. 4:24). Without a basic conviction to harmonize these concept, we might conceive of God as a humanoid monster! But when we allow Scripture to harmonize with Scripture, we can discern metaphor from didactic teaching. Moreover, since God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2), he therefore cannot contradict himself. We find it to be theologically disturbing to think of God contradicting himself all over the Bible.

To practice this principle, the interpreter needs to discover the allowable range of meaning for each passage, and then choose the interpretation that doesn’t contradict other scriptures.

When critical scholars find difficulties in Scripture, they automatically assume that these are contradictions. But compare this with other academic disciplines. When a scientist comes across a scientific abnormality, it encourages her to investigate more—not less. If she found a difficulty in the scientific data, she would never throw up her hands in defeat and say, “Well, I guess there’s no way to harmonize this contradiction. I guess it’s time to go back to school for business…” Instead, these scientific difficulties would lead her to further theories and discoveries. In the same way, difficulties in the four gospels should lead us to more investigation, rather than less. Conservative scholars are more intellectual in this sense, because their commitment to the truth of the text causes them to investigate further, rather than just throwing their hands up and calling for contradictions in the text.

Take a classic example of this: The apostle James writes, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (Jas. 2:24). However, the rest of the epistles teach faith apart from works. Since Scripture cannot contradict Scripture, we need to find another possible way to understand James’ words. In this case, building from the context, we see that James is referring to justification before men, whereas Paul is referring to justification before God (see comments on James 2:14-26).

We see secular parallels to this methodology in atheist Richard Carrier’s book Sense and Goodness Without God. In his book, Carrier implores his readers to give him “interpretive charity.” He writes, “If what I say anywhere in this book appears to contradict, directly or indirectly, something else I say here, the principle of interpretive charity should be applied: assume you are misreading the meaning of what I said in each or either case.”[1] If atheist books can be misunderstood, then can’t the Bible? If we should give a modern author like Carrier “interpretive charity,” how much more should we give an ancient text like the Bible the benefit of the doubt? Ironically (or should I say hypocritically?), Carrier extends no such generosity to the Bible.

Apologist Norman Geisler tells a story about one of his colleagues, whose mother had died in a car accident.[2] The man received two phone calls about his mother. The first call told him that his mother was in a car accident, and she was being driven to the hospital in critical condition. The second call told him that his mother was in a car accident, and she was killed on impact. The man was confused, because they were both trustworthy people. He knew that neither person would lie to him, but at the same time, they appeared to completely contradict each other.

As it turned out, the man’s mother had been in two accidents. The first accident left her in critical condition. The ambulance picked her up and drove her to the hospital. As she was being rushed to the hospital, the ambulance got in a second accident, and she was killed on impact. Of course, if a Bible commentator offered a solution like this for a biblical difficulty, he would probably be laughed at. And yet experience demonstrates that these sorts of events are certainly possible.

Furthermore, we have good reason to give the NT authors the benefit of the doubt. As the science of archaeology has progressed, the NT has been repeatedly confirmed over and over. For example, Colin J. Hemer has recorded over 180 historical details that the book of Acts has recorded accurately.[3] This is why the great skeptic Sir William Ramsey came to faith in Christ through his 30 year study of archaeology.[4] A classic example is the pool of Bathesda. For years, critics believed that the pool of Bethesda was fictitious, until it was discovered in 1890 with exactly five colonnades—exactly as the Bible records (Jn. 5:2).[5] Such discoveries have happened so frequently that in his book Archaeology and Bible History, Joseph Free writes, “Archaeology has confirmed countless passages which have been rejected by the critics as unhistorical or contradictory to known facts.”[6]

Continue reading http://www.evidenceunseen.com/bible-difficulties-2/

John 4:10 (With Water So Close)

from  BJ Richardson at The River Walk

Ardoukoba Edit

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” (John 4:10)

Relate: In National Geographic there was an article about Paul Salopek. He has embarked on the out of Eden walk. Basically, starting in the Great Rift Valley in East Africa, where the oldest bones believed to be human have been found, he is traveling all the way across Asia and the Americas to Tierra Del Fuego in South America. He is following the journey of humanity as it has spread to every corner of the earth.

On this journey he writes of how he is walking across the Ardoukoba lava fields in Djibouti, Africa. He has been on this year long global journey only six weeks when in these fields he begins to see the bodies. Water is scarce and in this area it is even worse than it was for the length of Ethiopia and in Dibouti up to this point. But he is also travelling an area where many others, far more desperate than he is, have traveled before. It is at the coast ahead that many poor and desperate Africans ferry across to work of a pittance in the Middle East. To get to that coast you must first cross these lava fields and Salopek comes across plenty of evidence that hundreds, thousands, do not make it. He says that there are so many bodies that the few predators haven’t even bothered to feed on the bodies. He is wondering about one of the last of these victims he came across as he finishes this leg of his journey when he writes, “Brave, foolish, desperate travelers. You almost made it. You fell three miles from the coast.”

The rule of thumb is that a person can live only three days without water but it is actually a bit more than that. If a person remains completely sedentary they might make it up to 8-10. These desperate travelers probably lost their gamble to the coast somewhere between the two. Slowly their diminishing supply would run out. Their rations would become smaller and smaller and the length between each would grow longer and longer until, finally there is no more to have. For a while the already desperate and delirious traveler would push on until they could do so no more. Finally, they would lay down to rest, never again to rise.

React: How many have died when the water was right there within reach. As desperate as these travelers were, there are many others on a spiritual journey of even greater import. They are on a hard and weary journey looking for the hope of a better tomorrow. There is the longing for something more. There is a need for something greater. But they grow tired and weary along the way. They stop to rest… never to rise again. The water they need for life. The hope they are desperate and searching for is much closer than three miles away. It is as close as their next heartbeat. We as Christians have an overflowing abundance flowing out of us, but how often have we been withholding it from those in need?

Respond: 

God, I thank You that You have given to me that living water when I was desperate and thirsty. You are the living water. You have promised that out of me would flow these same streams but my foolish fear and pride and uncertainty has kept me all to often from sharing. Forgive me for this. Let me hoard it no longer. There are those around me who are desperate and dying. Let them come to You and drink.

Jesus: God’s Word

Follow Don’s thoughts on Hebrews. I really enjoy reading and studying this book and look forward to Don’s thoughts. From Don Merritt at Life Reference –  Comments

Aug 115-1

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. Hebrews 1:1-4

Here we are at the beginning of a tour of a new book from the New Testament, my very favorite book of all, a book that will show you how the Old and New Covenants come together, a book that will both challenge and encourage each one of us.  I sure hope that you will have the time and inclination to be fed and encouraged on out tour.  I have previously posted my class notes for Hebrews, and will plan on linking them as we go, for those of you who desire a more academic study than this informal one.  Here we go!

The book begins with a bang in these four verses!  Take a minute to drink them in… they are simply amazing!  Look first of all at the contrast between God’s former ways, and His ways now.  In the past, He spoke through the prophets.  Now, He speaks directly by His Son.  Can you see the difference?  In the Old Testament, there is always an intermediary, but in the New Testament, God speaks directly to us by His Son; this is a paradigm shift of massive proportions.  This Son by whom God speaks is not just some kid. He is not only heir of all things, He is also the one by and through whom God created the entire universe;  When God spoke the words “let there be light” it was the Son’s lips that were moving! Just let that sink in… This is a huge statement. There’s more coming, catch this one:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. The “radiance” of God’s glory!  Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory, and God sent Him to be with us, to teach us, to have relationships with us… and to die for us.  It’s one thing to be amazed at God’s unending love for us is sending His Son to die for us, but when you combine that kind of love with just exactly who this Jesus is… WOW!

Jesus is also the “exact representation of His being.”  Jesus is in fact God. This is what Jesus meant when He said “the Father and I are one.”  WOW! If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. If you want to know what God thinks, look at Jesus. If you want to know if God loves you, look at Jesus on the cross.

“…sustaining all things by his powerful word.”  Ever wonder why the planets don’t just fly off into space?  Ever wonder why the season keep coming at the right time after all of these years?  Ever wonder who made up the laws of physics, of nature, of right and wrong? Ever wonder why your head doesn’t explode?  The entire universe is sustained by His Word!  Ever wonder why so many people seek to denigrate the Bible? Now you know why, it is His Word, it is so powerful that it could call the universe into existence.  It is nothing to be trifled with, as so many philosophers have found out! It is a force that we cannot even begin to fathom, and God sent Him to give us direct access to Him.  If this does not inspire you, then maybe you need to see if you can still fog a mirror!

After He finished His work on the earth, He was returned to the glory from whence He had come, superior to the angels, yes. Superior to all living beings everywhere? Yes.This is our Savior, with whom we have a relationship.  I wonder, do we value that relationship as we ought?

Hebrews is simply an awesome book. I think you’ll see as we continue going through it, that it is like no other!

 

Class Notes Links:

Introduction to Hebrews

Hebrews 1:1-4