Tag Archives: authority

Behold Your God — Week Three, Day Three

14 Jun

“Israel’s measure of God was the measure of their hope — big God equals big hope.” 

How do you have real hope? You must have a real view of the greatness and goodness of God. It must be a view that gets beyond a tired cliche. How can this happen?

Recently I was reading a discussion about a moral issue and the comments were going back and forth and while the participants were all claiming to be Christians they were coming to vastly different conclusions. It was apparent to me that everyone in that discussion had an idea about who God was, but none of them claimed any authority for their ideas outside of their own thinking. Finally, a person far into the discussion entered with a reasonable view of the moral issue using the Bible as the authority. In other words, the person was trying to see what God said about the issue in His Word. Two comments later that person was chided for bringing in a comment from the “Flat Earth Society” (internet comments are not known for their civility). No one engaged the person who started with the Bible in a discussion. Instead, there was just an insult designed to marginalize a view that has been widely accepted for centuries. In our culture, it is becoming more and more common that a person looking to what God has said in the Bible as a basis for living is viewed as naive, stupid, and dangerous.

But apart from knowing God based on what God has revealed about Himself in the Scriptures, what basis for hope do we really have? Politics? Money? Seventy years of fun and then death? Some might say Jesus is our hope, and that is certainly true. But we should be careful even at this point to make sure we don’t make a Jesus of our own. We need to stay close to the revealed Jesus we see in the Bible.

True hope comes from a true view of God. A true view of God comes through giving ourselves to understanding what God’s self-revelation (the Bible) tells us about Him. That is why we are doing this study this summer. We want to see God through the lens of Scripture and be shaped by that, not by conventional wisdom or our own notions or tradition. So every day, when you go to the Bible, Behold Your God. Ask yourself first and foremost, “What does this passage teach me about God?”


Bible Reading Blog — January 11, 2016

11 Jan

Today’s Readings — Genesis 33-36 & Mark 2:1-12

One of my favorite stories in the gospel of Mark is the healing of the paralytic in chapter 2, verses 1-12. Of course, the imagery is so vivid. You can imagine the crowds and the persistence of the four friends and their digging through the roof and lowering the man down on the mat. I imagine seeing the chunks of roof fall to the ground and light opening up and the startled expressions of those gathered to hear Jesus. I imagine the  shocked expressions on the faces of the religious leaders when Jesus says to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven.” I imagine the amazement of all when the paralytic rises and walks.

The Sunday School teaching that arises from this story is that we should help our friends. Of course, it is good to help our friends but this is not the center of the story. The story hinges on Jesus’ pronouncement of forgiveness of sins to the paralytic. This is followed by the proof of His power through the healing of the paralytic. Jesus is establishing His authority to the religious leaders. He has already been received as having special authority in His teaching and healing by the crowds (see chapter 1) but now He is demonstrating this authority to the religious leaders. Of course, Jesus has a dual purpose in revealing His authority to them. Jesus’ demonstration of His authority is both an offer of mercy and an open door to conflict. There is mercy even for those religious leaders who, upon seeing Jesus’ authority, turn from their sin and are saved. On the other hand, Jesus knows many of the religious leaders will reject His authority and see it as a threat to their own authority. Thus, Jesus’ actions here in chapter 2 of forgiving sin and displaying His authority are the key actions which lead to His crucifixion.

Excellent Cultural Analysis from David Brooks

12 Jun

This is a different kind of post, one that is not directly tied to following Jesus or the Bible or life in the church. It is more of a cultural piece. David Brooks writes in the New York Times of “The Follower Problem.” I thought he made several astute observations about the state of our society. Here is the link if you are interested in reading the article.


Preaching as a Picture of the Gospel

3 Jan

We often hear the phrase “preaching the gospel” but have you ever thought that the act of preaching is itself a picture of the gospel? Ray Ortlund explains, from a recent interview . . .

“Preaching not only communicates the Gospel, it exemplifies the Gospel. A preacher stands up, who is just as needy as anyone else, but God has called him. And God has called the people to sit and do nothing, but just listen. Just receive it. That’s a metaphor of the gospel itself. We just listen, sit there listen and believe, just receive it. And that’s the big burner at the center of the church.”

In our culture, which chafes at the idea of sitting under authority, the idea Ortlund describes is not a popular one. People don’t like the idea that they should just sit there and let somebody else talk to them for 30 minutes or more. In our day, people want to be participants. Many people will check out of church if they are not really involved in a lot of things in the church. There are even some people who will come to a Sunday School class, where they can participate, but not to worship, where they are just called to listen.

I believe the unwillingness to hear preaching evident in some circles is deeply related to the above quote from Ortlund. We don’t see hearing the sermon as a picture of the Gospel, which we received with empty hands of faith. Further, there is a tendency to look at the preacher as the authority rather than the Scripture he preaches.

So this Sunday, and every Sunday you sit and listen to the sermon, you are not doing something useless. You are living a picture of the gospel, as God’s Word feeds you.

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