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Theology

Other Important 3:16 Verses

Many Christians have John 3:16 as their favorite verse. It is an important verse, to be sure. I wonder if so many pick that because they simply don’t know any others. I’m probably just being skeptical.

Whatever the case, there are other great “3:16” verses, besides the one in John’s gospel, in the New Testament:

  • Luke 3:16 – I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
  • Acts 3:16 – And his name–by faith in his name–has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
  • Galatians 3:16 – Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.”
  • Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
  • 1 Timothy 3:16 – Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
  • 2 Peter 3:16(b) – There are some things in them [that is, Paul’s letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do with the other Scriptures.
  • 1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
  • Revelation 3:16 – So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Categories
Theology

Morning Prayer

Here is a prayer I wrote that I will start to pray each morning to remind myself of the gospel.  It is a prayer that I’m sure will change slightly over time and it is not meant as a “be all, end all” prayer. It is also not meant to produce “religious gibberish” that is merely repeated with the mouth and not meant in the heart.  It is meant as a template, if you will, so that my mind and heart get into the daily (hourly?) rhythm of confessing Christ as my sole righteousness.

Please feel free to pass this along or re-post or even continue to add paragraphs in the comment section below.

Father in Heaven,

This new day I come not to ask that my slate would be “wiped clean,” for it was wiped clean when your Son cried, “It is finished.”  Today, I acknowledge and rejoice in the fact that my righteousness is solely based on the perfect person and work of Jesus Christ. I am accepted by you because of him. By grace through faith I look outside of myself to Jesus and wholly lay claim of the alien righteousness that he gives as the only ground for my acceptance.  Only this active faith in Christ will increase my sanctification today.  No amount of good works, kept disciplines, hallelujahs, prayers, sighs, or tears will improve my heart or get you on my side. For in Christ, you are already 100% for me.

I am perfectly loved in the gospel. Your grace has broken into my life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Only through the Spirit’s application of his redemptive work am I able to experience relationship with you and so become your child, your servant, and your friend, and am no longer a son of disobedience, a slave of sin, and your enemy.

You welcome me this morning not because I rise early to read your word and pray. You welcome me not because I try to love you, my family, and those around me. You welcome me not because I try to live purely and righteously in a broken world. You welcome me because you welcome your Son, with whom you are well pleased. Because your Son, who knew no sin, became sin on my behalf I have become your righteousness. This righteousness is not my own, but it is a righteousness from you that depends on faith. Now when you see me, an unworthy sinner, you see Jesus, for my life is hidden in him.

Thank you for the gospel, O glorious Father.  Thank you for Christ, my substitute Savior.  Thank you for the Spirit who gave life to my dead heart and is active in me as the guarantee of my inheritance. Thank you for your gracious love for and acceptance of me. Because of your love and acceptance, cause me to walk in a manner worthy of this calling that I might be fully pleasing to you and put Christ on display to show the world how marvelous he is.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Categories
Theology

Hear the Music, Don’t Learn the Steps

Part 5 in a 10 part series. View series intro and index.

If you are anything like me (let’s hope not), your bent is to read the Bible to get information. You want to mine the peaks and valleys of Scripture for intellectual ascent, to out-wit, out-smart, or out-argue someone else in a theological debate. You want information because filling your brain makes you feel enlightened, special, smart, or just plain better than others.

If you aren’t like me, I’m willing to be you are still a bit like me (too bad) in that you read the Bible for information, yet in a different way–it just might not be for theological prowess. Instead, you might have been raised on the American proverb, “Knowledge is power,” and “power” for you is that little nudge to initiate your self-help gears.  You bring that perspective to your devotional times, and as long as you find that little piece of history to remember or a short verse to memorize, your conscience will be appeased, at least until tomorrow morning.

If you read the Bible simply for information, you will learn the dance steps of Christianity. Anyone can learn dance steps. Even uncoordinated white men can learn the Macarena or the Electric Slide if a pretty girl invites them to the dance floor. It is much harder (impossible?) to hear the music as the writer and composer would without a complete internal transformation.

Isn’t that what we do when it comes to devotions? We look for dance steps. We simply want to know where our feet go. We search for a rule to follow or a sin to avoid. We want to know when to raise our hands in church, when to say “Amen,” and how to talk like church-folk. Sadly, this doesn’t only happen during devotions. At Sunday services, small groups, or Friday night hang-outs, people in the church are just looking for dance steps. Many Christians (and those who think they are) just want to know where their foot goes next.

Dance steps will get you by for a song or two. If you know the steps, you might even be able to fool your dance partner that you know what you are doing. But sooner or later a song will play that doesn’t have programmed moves. You will need to hear the music to show that you know what you are doing. Unfortunately, there are millions of people in America who can do the dance of Christianity, and reading the Bible for information–which is what you probably learned to do growing up–will only teach you steps. You must hear the music.

The Bible teaches this, just not in the same vocabulary.  The author of Hebrews writes, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (4:12-13).

That goes way deeper than simple dance steps.

Dance steps are akin to phony, external religion, but God wants us to hear the music. Dance steps make Christianity about me. Hearing the music makes it about God. Dance steps are a short cut that yield no eternal reward. Hearing the music means we enter into the story of God’s redemptive work and relish the fact that he has graciously broken into our lives to save us from the sin and brokenness we would not otherwise be able to overcome.

This is were true joy lies. Thus the Bible is meant for your spiritual transformation, not mere transfer of information.

Obviously no one can “hear the music of the gospel” unless the Spirit causes them to be born again (John 3:1-8). With that said, we still have responsibility for our spiritual lives. As I wrote last time, whether Christian or not, our greatest need is the gospel. Scriptures main point is to be “a speaker amplifying the music of the gospel.”[1] Here are some questions to help us hear the music when reading Scripture.

  • What is the big idea of this passage?
  • How does this passage fit into the big story of God’s redemptive work throughout the Bible?
  • How does this passage point to Christ (either implicitly or explicitly)?
  • What idols and counterfeit gods does this passage expose?
  • In what ways does this passage expose my unbelief in the gospel?
Answering these questions will not always be easy, but the process will always be worth it. In the end, only by God’s grace, you will be more gospel-sensitive, and less externally religious.

[1] I am indebted to Dr. Keith Johnson for the analogy of “hearing the music of the gospel.” Read his article for a much fuller and more helpful version of what I have written.

Categories
Theology

Edwards: Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open

Jonathan Edwards believed in the horrors of hell–that it is a place of eternal fiery torment and punishment, with no hope of relief, for all those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. But Edwards also believed in the beautiful mercy that Jesus gives to all who would come to him:

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.

How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

HT: via

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.