Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Book to Consider

Anyone who reads Christian authors should be familiar with the late D. Martin-Lloyd Jones. Crossway has re-released his book on the kingdom. Here's the link if you're interested.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Deal of a Lifetime

In Pilgrim's Progress there is a scene where Christian is confronted by Satan, who offers to "double" his wages if he will return to the City of Destruction and his old way of life. Christian says that he cannot live on Satan's wages, for "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 3: 23).

Now, as a general rule I'm opposed to any evangelistic approach that speaks of salvation in "salesman" terms, but this is worth thinking about. The deal each of us has coming into the world is that we can work for all our lifetimes doing whatever we want, and at the end as a reward we will get an eternity of pain and loneliness beyond description. That's the "default" deal we have. And God is justified in that deal for two reasons. First, in ourselves we carry the defaced and deformed image of God as a result of the fall. God finds this deformed image worthy of judgment and condemnation. Secondly, as a result of the fall we freely choose sin and selfishness over obedience and love, and so God justly condemns us for our actions as well.

At the same time God is also loving and merciful. He, of his own initiative and not because of any merit in us, provided a way of escape from this sad condition. He sent his own Son, born of the virgin, to live the perfect life we could not and bear the eternal punishment we were due as a substitute for any and all who repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation. He offers peace and forgiveness in this life and eternal happiness in his presence in the hereafter. What does he require of you? Look to him for life. "That if you confess with  your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." "For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom 10: 9, 13, NASB).

So will you stick with the deal you already have or take the free offer of mercy God extends? Where will you stand?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hearing the Word

In Romans 10: 17 Paul says, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." In our highly literate society, where reading is prized above all else (it seems), we've forgotten how to listen to the word. We do word studies, read commentaries, and some of us learn to study the Scriptures in Greek and Hebrew. We read and analyze the text ad infinitum. But do we hear the text? Can listening to the Bible bring insights that reading may overlook due to mental/input familiarity? I wonder.

So this year I'm not reading my Bible through. I'm hearing my Bible through. Some time back we bought the entire Bible on CD-ROM in the NIV. Now, I know that for serious study the NIV is not the best version to use. I prefer something more literal, like the New American Standard Bible or the English Standard Version; however, I don't have either of those in audio edition, and I've not worked through the NIV in several years. So I'm listening to the Scriptures every day. I'm getting some Old Testament and some New Testament. Right now, as might be expected, I'm working through Genesis and Matthew.

Here are my initial thoughts. The Bible was originally intended to be heard. In the days in which the biblical writers were living most people couldn't read and access to written materials was limited due to the expense involved in producing them. For thousands of years God's people listened as a handful of learned people read the text or recite it from memory. Listening to the Bible is a discipline that has to be learned. You don't just pick it up. I'm finding that in our day learning just to sit and listen takes a lot of effort. But this morning as I listened to the Sermon on the Mount I noticed things I'd never noticed before. Chapter 5: 1--20 is a kind of prologue to the rest of the message, and introduction if you will. The rest of chapter five is "stitched" together by means of the phrase "You have heard" (NASB). These become the connecting seams that hold that section together. In reading I never noticed that. It took hearing the text for me recognize the connecting flow of the Sermon at this point.

Try listening to the Bible and see what God shows you. You might find it challenging at first, but I thing you'll find it reward in the end.