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Theology

This I Believe: The Gospel

The Gospel
I believe that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, utter folly to the world but the power of God to those who are being saved. God first spoke the gospel to Adam and Eve in the Garden after they had sinned. The gospel is of “first importance,” for it states that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures. The gospel is to be spread throughout world and it commands everyone to repent and believe in Jesus. The gospel is God’s appointed way for humans to be reconciled to himself so that they may glorify and enjoy him forever.

Gen 3:15; Ps. 16:5-11; Matt. 28:19-20; 13:44; Mark 1:15; Luke 2:10; Rom. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 1:18; 15:1-5; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 1:3-17; Phil. 4:4; Col. 1:22; 1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 14:6

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Life

Proverbs: Christ the Wisdom of God

Part 2 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

For the longest time, I thought most of the Proverbs were pithy fortune cookie sayings.  Really thought provoking, but not very practical.  As I’m reading through the book now, I’m creating categories, and it’s helping me to think the way Solomon did and contextualize his advice so I can practically apply my life to it.

One category that stands alone from the rest of the book is Christ Personified. In chapter 8, Solomon writes of wisdom saying,

The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.  Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.  When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water…When he established the heavens, I was there…then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always (vv. 22-24, 27a, 30).

If wisdom here seems like a person, it’s because wisdom in Proverbs is a personification of Christ.  Christ was “set up” as God’s wisdom before the earth was created.  He was there at the beginning, as the “master workman” through whom God created the world (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).

In John 1, John writes about “the Word”  being God and becoming flesh.  This “Word” is the Greek word logos which means “wisdom.”  Christ literally is “the Wisdom of God.”  Paul confirms this in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24, “We preach Christ crucified…to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Before we read any of the Proverbs and try to understand Solomon’s wisdom, we must believe that Christ is where our wisdom begins.  In him is the fullness God’s wisdom (see Col. 1:19).  Remember that Solomon started his book with, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7).  This LORD is the same Lord who worked as a carpenter, taught us the Scriptures, healed people, fed thousands, died on a cross, rose from the dead, and lives and reigns as supreme King today.

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Life

Time With the Lord, Part 2: Key Elements of Study

In the previous post, we discussed why it is important to study the Bible and make it a daily discipline.  The Bible is the very words of God given to his people so that we can have everything we need that pertains to life and godliness.  Jesus is worthy to be treasured.  The way to treasure him is to know his word.  To know it, we must be serious in our study of it.  The word “theology” simply means the study of God.  We all do theology, whether we are pastors, lay-people, or agnostics.  We all study God in some way, shape, or form.  For Christians, we study God through the only true way: his word.  And, I will say, for Christians, some have good theology; others, not so good.  To be quality students of God, we must think rightly about God and in order to do that, we must study Scripture.

During this post, I want to address some key elements of a quality time with God in his word.  These are not the only things that are necessary in a time with the Lord, but these are the essential elements of study.  This list may surprise you.  The overarching theme of this list is holiness.  Our holiness is more important than our note taking ability.  In the next post, I will discuss how we actually sit down and study a passage, but for our purposes here, holiness permeates throughout.

  • Be filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who reveals true interpretation of Scripture.  “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from Gos as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21).  If the Holy Spirit is the divine author of Scripture, then it is necessary that we believe that he is the only one who reveals its truth to us.  If Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), how much more should we be filled when we go before the Lord in his word?
  • Strive for humility. It takes a humble person to come before God’s word and submit to and follow it.  Why?  God’s word so often requires that we think and act differently than our sinful nature tells us to.  We must humble ourselves and come to God’s word on his terms.  We must ask, “Lord, I know you are high and lofty and I am not.  Humble me so that I can see where you want me to change my thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and actions so that they are in line with your word.”
  • Be Repentant. As we read God’s read from Genesis to Revelation it does one thing, among others: it shows the holiness of God and our sinfulness.  One of the many goals of Scripture is to show our total depravity.  When we read passages that talk about the grossness of sin, the point is that we would grow to hate our own sin and confess and repent.  We should be like the man in the temple, who could not even raise his face to heaven while he cried, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13).
  • Pray. Martin Luther said, “Pray hard, for you are quite a sinner.”  How true is that statement!  We must prayer fervently and with conviction.  We must trust that through our prayers, God will change us to become more like him, and that the ground for change is the Scriptures (1 Thes. 2:13).  We must pray to apply God’s word into our lives.  James 1:23-24 says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he looks like.”  The word without application and without prayer for the Spirit to work will do no good for anybody.  That person will be no better than a Pharisee.
Categories
Life

How George Müller Started His Day

This is in the same vein as my earlier post on why we study the Bible.  I hope you’ll find this autobiographical piece from Müller to be edifying.

While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now . . . more than forty years have since passed away.

The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.

Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed in the morning. Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental, communion with the Lord. I began therefore, to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning, early in the morning.

The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer.

When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, very soon after, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.

The difference between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or a,!most all the time. At a,l events I almost invariably began with prayer…. But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray.

I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it! ) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.

It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is to obtain food for his inner man.

As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now what is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God: and here again not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.

I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it my self, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow-believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials in various ways than I had ever had before; and after having now above forty years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it. How different when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials and the temptations of the day come upon one!