Friday, April 29, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
This post is adapted from a chapter entitled “How to Know God: Meditate on His Word” by Mark Dever in The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives edited by John MacArthur.
Living and Active
Since the Bible is the Word of the all-powerful God, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that it is active and accomplishes much. Perhaps it is better to say that God does much with it and through it.
Generally, what God’s Word does is bless. We read in Psalm 119:1–2: “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.” Also, note the kind of Aaronic benediction found in verse 135: “Make Your face shine upon Your servant.”
How does God do that? “Teach me Your statutes.” As Psalm 119 makes clear, God’s Word blesses individuals in five specific ways:
For Those Who Believe the Bible
God’s Word inspires awe. We see in Psalm 119:161, “My heart stands in awe of Your words.” And in the context of that verse, Your is emphasized. The psalmist is awed by God’s words as opposed to those of a persecuting prince.
Even when the psalmist could be preoccupied by other things—such as staying alive—he writes in verse 164, “Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous ordinances.” And verse 171 reads, “Let my lips utter praise, for You teach me Your statutes.” God’s Word inspires awe and causes us to pray and to praise him. It brings us into a relationship with him.
For Those Who Care about God and Others
God’s Word causes us to grieve over sin. Verse 136 says, “My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Your law.” Verse 53 reads, “Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.”
Studying God’s Word does not make us morally indifferent; instead, it educates our consciences, sharpens our minds, and causes us to see this world and the people in it more as God does.
For Those in Temptation
God’s Word also helps us stay pure. Verse 9 is well known: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word.” We read in verse 11, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” Do you have any doubt that God’s Word encourages holiness? Look at verse 101: “I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word.”
Remember how the Lord Jesus met temptation in the day of his flesh? He quoted the Bible to Satan. Why would you think that you stand in less need of knowing and using the Bible to help you with temptation than Jesus did? The Word of God is a storehouse of very practical helps for us as Christians.
For Those in Various Kinds of Need
Through his Word, God gives hope to the hopeless. Again and again, the psalmist writes, “I hope in Your Word” (vv. 43, 49, 81, 114, 147). To the afflicted, the Lord gives comfort (vv. 50, 52, 76), and to those undergoing trials, he gives joy. I’m encouraged by verse 111: “I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” And verse 162: “I rejoice at Your Word, as one who finds great spoil.”
To those enduring trials, he gives peace through his Word: “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (v. 165). To the young who read the Bible, he gives wisdom (v. 98) and understanding (vv. 99–100). We read in verse 104, “From Your precepts I get understanding.” This is why it makes sense to equate the Bible to a light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v. 105). Also, “The unfolding of Your words gives light” (v. 130).
For Those in Trouble
God promises to delivers us. The psalmist knew what it meant to be in trouble. So if you’re in trouble today, God’s Word promises deliverance (v. 170) and gives help (v. 175), strength (v. 28), protection (v. 165), and even salvation (v. 41). The Lord shows us so much about himself through his Word. What we see in Psalm 119 is just some of what God’s Word does.
The Source of Spiritual Life
Friend, why would you not spend your life getting to know the Bible better than you do today? I love how the psalmist puts it in verse 24: “Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors.” Is the Bible your counselor in your decisions and questions in life?
It’s significant that throughout this psalm, the psalmist both trusts God and asks God to help him trust even more. Would you listen to God if he spoke? He’s speaking to us in his Word. In fact, the most amazing thing God gives us through his Word is life! “Your word has revived me” (v. 50).
My Christian friend, how else could you have come to be interested in God’s Word? It is only by God’s grace! And his Word is the means he uses to give us spiritual life.
Mark Dever (PhD, Cambridge University) is senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and pastor of 9Marks Ministries. Dever has authored over a dozen books, including the best-selling Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, and speaks at conferences nationwide.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
This is a post adapted from A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness by John Piper.
It Was Holding Me, I Was Not Holding It
Whenever I read the Bible, it was never like a masterpiece hanging in a museum that I viewed this way and that. Rather, it was like a window. Or like binoculars. My view of the Bible was always a view through the Bible. So, all along the way, my view was getting clearer and brighter and deeper, I mean the reality seen through it was getting clearer and brighter and deeper. Clearer as the edges of things became less fuzzy, and I could see how things fit together rather than just smudging into each other. Brighter as the beauty and impact of the whole message was more and more attractive. And deeper in the sense of depth perspective—I suppose photographers would say “depth of field.” Things stretched off into eternity with breathtaking implications—in both directions past and future. You could sum this up with the phrase the glory of God. That’s what I was seeing.
This was not an intellectual effort. Seeing is not an effort the way thinking is. It happens. You may need to exert yourself to walk up to the edge of the Grand Canyon, but when you get there, seeing is not work. You may need to travel to the Alps or the Himalayas, but when you get there, seeing is not an effort. It is given to you.
I did my walking and my traveling. But I did not make myself see. And that is why I say it is not as though I was holding onto my view of the Bible, but rather that the view was holding onto me. Or God was holding onto me by making the view supremely compelling. If you are standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, or rafting down the Colorado River inside the canyon (as I did in the summer of 2012), it is proper to say you are held by the view, the sight, the vista. That is what the Bible was doing for me. It was holding me; I was not holding it.
A Living Parable
Here’s an analogy—a living parable—for how it worked.
One of those seven days rafting 190 miles down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, it began to rain. That didn’t matter much, since we were already wet from the rapids. We were dressed for it. The frustrating part was that it was lunchtime, and there are only so many small beaches where you can tie up and eat.
So we tied up and set up the tables and put up a large umbrella to keep the rain off our peanut butter sandwiches. But the rain was so hard and the wind so strong that the umbrella was useless, and we had to eat soggy sandwiches. We laughed about it, but it was unpleasant and frustrating. For a moment, my “view” was not so clear, and bright, and deep. Maybe being in the Grand Canyon is not so compelling after all. Maybe a dry seat in the hotel back in Las Vegas would be more compelling.
Little did we know what was about to happen. We boarded our two large, blue, motor-driven rafts and set out down river. The rain stopped and the sky started to clear, when suddenly, almost simultaneously, dozens of waterfalls burst out into the river in front of and behind us from the walls of the canyon. Some of these were gigantic, falling a thousand feet. The water coming out of the gorges was red. The guide explained what had happened.
He said that during a hard rain the water in the gorges comes down from the steep sides and builds and builds until it is a rushing river—a rain-made temporary river in a place where it almost never rains—dozens of temporary rivers looking for an outlet. When the water reaches a certain force, it breaks out over the precipice into the canyon as a waterfall. And the red color is owing to the soil it picked up on the way. It was stunning.
Then he said, we might not see the likes of this in the canyon for another hundred years.
That is a parable of how God held onto me by my view of the Bible—that is, my view through the Bible. Just when the view started to seem foggy and rainy and frustrating, and other views of life started to seem more attractive, God would clear the skies and cause even the rain to serve the irresistibly beautiful vista of his glory. He never let any other view of reality outshine the view of the Bible.
Here I Stand
This is where I stand with hope and joy and love. This is the window of the Word through which the vision of God has exerted its compelling power. I do not merely hold a view of Scripture. I am held. The glory of God shining through his Word has been an irresistible treasure. Nothing in this world comes close to the beauty and the value of God and his ways and his grace. After almost seven decades of seeing and savoring the glory of God in Scripture, the doxology of Jude 24–25 is very personal:
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In my case—and I think it is what Jude intends—the “glory, majesty, dominion, and authority” of God are ascribed to him here because this is what, in fact, did the keeping. He has kept me—held me—by his glory by revealing his glory to my heart year after year so that other glories would not lure me away. This he has done through his word. For me, the glory of God and the word of God are inseparable. I have no sure sight of God’s glory except through his word. The word mediates the glory, and the glory confirms the word.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Behlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including his most recent, A Peculiar Glory.