Categories
Theology

Let Light Shine!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)

1. God has given light.
2. Light to see what?
3. Knowledge.
4. What kind of knowledge?
5. Knowledge that reveals God’s glory.
6. Where is that glory seen most fully?
7. In the face of Jesus Christ.

Categories
Theology

Jesus, the Lamb of God Who Never Went Astray

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments. (Psalm 119:176)

This verse ends the longest chapter in the Bible.  Psalm 119 is all about God’s word and the psalmist’s desire to follow it. Often he makes bold statements, as he does in verse 176, petitioning God to “seek his servant” because he “does not forget God’s commandments.”

If you read the whole chapter, however, you will notice that this is rooted in repeated requests from the psalmist for God to teach, open eyes, give mercy, give understanding, and be gracious. Our “remembrance” of God’s commands is rooted in one thing: God sovereignly and generously granting it. Thankfully, God does grant it to some.

This psalm looks forward to the Messiah, because the ability to remember God’s word and rejoice in it “like one who finds great spoil” (v. 162) was ultimately purchased by Jesus, the great treasure (Matt. 13:44) and the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He is not just God’s servant like the psalmist; he is the Suffering Servant who took the iniquity of the sheep who have gone astray (Isa. 53:6), and he becomes our Good Shepherd and gives life to God’s flock (John 10:10). He does not simply “not forget” God’s commandments, he is the only one who has perfectly communicated God’s word, being, and character to the world (John 1:1-5; 14:5; 15:15; 17:8, 14; Heb. 1:1-3).

If you want to know, remember, and rejoice in God’s word, you must know Jesus, and all of your failures to do what God demands must be cast upon him. Run, silly sheep, and embrace your Good Shepherd.

Categories
Life

I Want to Love Jesus, Not Just Know Stuff About Him

I just finished reading Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis again, making it only the second book, along with Don’t Waste Your Life, that I have read twice.

At the end of the book, the authors made the point that what they are really after is not a church method that will sell books or put butts in pews, but to spread a passion for God.  They write:

Have you noticed how possible it is to speak about doctrine and yet remain reluctant to speak of the Savior in intimate terms? I find it easy to speak with other Christians about mission or church. I can talk all day about the exegetical complexities of Romans 7. I enjoy nothing more than a lengthy discussion of some point of doctrine. But I find myself stumbling when conversation drifts toward Jesus! I suspect I am not alone. I have been attending conferences for more than twenty-five years; yet rarely have conversations in those meetings turned toward the loveliness of the Savior. What a tragic irony! One of the great glories of the new covenant is that it consists of personal possessive pronouns: Jesus is my Savior and my Lord; to me he is the all-together lovely one and the fairest of ten-thousand! Consider Paul’s great boast: “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

It is so easy for me to slip into this trap. Theology and doctrine are good things. But they are only good so long as we see Jesus first and foremost. If doctrine leads to anything else other than love for God, it is, as Paul would say, worth nothing (see 1 Cor. 13).

Lately, I have been praying more and more that the aroma of Christ would ooze from my being, and that God would rescue me from the stench of puffed-up knowledge about Jesus. Having Christ’s aroma only comes from being near him — close enough that his scent rubs off on me. Oh how I long to intimately and intensely love Jesus, rather than simply know pithy trivia about him.

Lord, help my theology and knowledge to lead to love for you.

Categories
Life

Growing in grace and knowledge is easier said than done.

Early this morning, a friend texted me and asked a question about 2 Peter 3:18: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”  His question boiled down to: “How do you grow in grace?”

I gave him an answer you’ll read below, and then he asked, “How do you keep from getting puffed up with knowledge.”  My answer?  I haven’t figured that out yet, other than begging God for mercy. It is so easy for me to think theoretically and conceptually about the Bible. It is much harder for me to think practically — that actually requires effort and action.

What does it mean to grow in grace? From the immediate context of 2 Peter 2:14-18, it means taking caution, by God’s grace, to not be carried away with doctrinal error and losing your spiritual stability by believing man-made philosophy. It means studying, knowing, and loving what the Scriptures say, particularly the hard parts of Scripture (like what Paul writes, says Peter). It means not distorting those hard parts of Scripture, but instead, with the power of the Spirit, staying faithful to what the text says. It means means being found by Christ “without spot, or blemish, and at peace” (v. 14).

We know from Philippians 2:12-15 that being blameless before God is ultimately rooted in God’s work in us for his good pleasure. So to grow in grace also means that we come to a deeper love that God is in control of our lives and our sanctification. We are not the ultimate cause of anything good that happens in and through us. God is.

How does this, in fact, play out practically? It means begging God for mercy to constantly have this on our minds. It means laboring over Scripture (especially the hard parts) and memorizing it so that God’s words — not ours — consume our thoughts when we are tempted to doubt our sanctification or take credit for it. So often the epistles begin with “grace to you” and end with “grace be with you.”  We must be in God’s word if we want grace!  Finally, it means confessing sin and looking at the person and work of Jesus, because he is the only one who can present us blameless, without spot or blemish, to God so that we might have peace with him.

Father, help your people grow in grace, and we need grace even to do that. Make us people who love your word, take it seriously, trust in your sovereignty, and look to your Son as our perfect righteousness.

Categories
Theology

Who in the Skies is Like the Lord?

In my morning worship with the Lord today, I am in 2 Peter 1:3-4.  Verse 3 says,

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.

God has a goal: that his people obtain eternal life and be godly.  God has a source: his own glorious, divine power.  God has a means: the deep, intimate knowledge of his own Son Jesus Christ.  Notice the language in this verse; it’s utterly unavoidable.  In short, we can say that no one can earn what only God can give.  God has granted what we need to know him.  He has called us to inherit it.  He has done it for his own glory and excellence.

God came to us and initiated with us so that we could have that initial knowledge of Son — saving knowledge.  Paul shows us this in 2 Timothy 1:9 says, “[God] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works bet because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” But not only did he do it once, at the time of salvation, but he does it continually as well.  Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:12 says, “We exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”  God calls us to eternal life and godliness everyday.  He calls us to knowledge — to know his Son every day.  He is calling us to his glory in these things.

Life is about God’s glory; we are invited to come and delight in it.  It is as if a great king sends an invitation to the citizens of his kingdom for a party.  He asks them to come and enjoy a banquet in his own honor.  “Come, you children of the king and enjoy his presence and marvel at his majesty!  Come and delight in his splendor!”  God has called us to a great party in his honor.  He called us to his own glory and excellence.

This really connects with my heart today.  There is no other glory that is worth being called to. There is no other glory that can even compare to the God of the Bible.  Meditating on this lead me to this passage in the Psalms: “For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who area around him?” (Ps. 89:6-7).

God has invited us.  He has given us all we need.  He has provided a means and that means is a true, genuine, special knowledge of Jesus Christ.  God is good.  Truly, there is no one like him.