Enabled to Understand

christ-on-the-road-to-emmaus-fragment-1311.jpg!Blog

I’m currently reading Alan J. Thomson’s The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus: Luke’s account of God’s unfolding plan. It’s been a great read so far, as are most of the books from the excellent New Studies in Biblical Theology series.

In his chapter on the importance of the resurrection, shortly after showing that “Luke not only affirms significance of the physical resurrection, but also highlights its meaning and significance.”

We see as Jesus walks along the road with his disciples in 24:36 his teaching “is all about reminding them of what [he] had told them and their understanding of the Scriptures.” He reveals to them the words that he had spoken have now been fulfilled according to God’s plan as written in the Scripture. “When the Scriptures are referred to in Luke 24, the emphasis is not on a particular verse or two. Rather, the emphasis is repeatedly on the totality of Scripture.”

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! (24:25)

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (24:27)

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (24:32)

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (24:44)

Then what do we read happened?

“The disciples are then enabled to understand the Scriptures.”

Isn’t it interesting that only after Jesus explained the whole of the Scriptures that they were enabled to understand?

This should be a huge challenge to us.

People must understand the totality of the Scriptures.

How can we expect people to know the hope [the resurrection of the dead in Christ the first fruits] to which they have been called if they do not understand the foundation of that hope? The fulfillment of God’s promises in Jesus Christ and his continuing work to this day provide us with assurance.

We must teach the whole counsel of the Word of God. Only then will people see the beauty of the King and be truly transformed. Only then will our churches start to understand that it is the church that God has blessed to reach the nations. Only then will the nations understand as well. Only after they understand the Scriptures.

God’s Word

God’s Word, the Word of the Lord, &c. Are these descriptions of the Bible familiar to you? Have they maybe become too familiar? I came across a few passages today that speak to the danger of this familiarity. The first is from Lloyd-Jones’s Preaching & Preachers where he is giving counsel on personal Bible reading for the preacher. He begins, “Do not read the Bible to find texts for your sermon,

read it because it is the food that God has provided for your soul, because it is the Word of God, because it is the means whereby you can get to know God. Read it because it is the bread of life, the manna provided for your soul’s nourishment and well-being (184).

It seems we have lost sight of the reality that we hold the words of the eternal, creator God in our hands when we read our Bibles.  Gabe Fluhrer lamenting on this fact in a recent Reformed Forum on Inerrancy said,

“It was the opinion of our Puritan forefathers that it was one of the greatest and grossest sins to disavow the truthfulness of God’s word.” [read Jeremiah Burroughs wonderful book Gospel Fear]

When God speaks, I think it is just one of the unfortunate problems we have in the modern day, is that when God speaks we are so used to it, so to speak. We’re so used to having Bibles and going to hear preaching in this country that it’s just not wonderful to us anymore. It doesn’t cause us wonder, and it should. Every time you pick up your Bible God is speaking to you and I wonder how many Christians reflect on that, and I wonder how many Christians become dull to that, that God is speaking to us.

If God speaks, he speaks truth because he is the God of truth, it is impossible for Him to lie to us.

This is something that should shape us. It should define us. It should be all that we are as Christians. So, may we continually marvel that God chose to reveal himself to us through his Word, the Bible. And if we are Christians, we should not only marvel that we have his Word, but that he chose to open our eyes to it’s saving message, while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8).

Book Review: Reverberation

The title of Jonathan Leeman’s new book, Reverberation, makes use of a vivid word-picture to aid the reader in conceptualizing the path of God’s Word in our world. The centrality of the Word of God in our churches is, “the one necessary thing.” It’s his hope that “Christians and church leaders from every polity will be strengthened in faith in the sufficiency of God’s Word.” Let’s follow this path of the reverberation of God’s word with Leeman as our guide.

Jonathan Leeman. Reverberation. (Moody Books, 2011), 197 pages.

The book is organized into three parts: 1. the word, 2. the sermon, and 3. the reverberation.

Leeman uses the first few chapters to show us the role of the Word in the world, that is, how it functions in the life of believers and unbelievers. Leeman pleads with us that words, though they are often abused and overused and distrusted in our society, still matter. Ultimately, God’s Word, because His Word is truth. And these are the only words that can give life. But how? I’ll let the author speak.

“Trusting God’s Word to build our churches is an act of faith. Faith in God. Faith in His Word. And such faith is not natural, even for the Christian. It’s supernatural. God must give it.”

Amazing. And this high view of Scripture is the foundation that Leeman builds on for the remainder of the book.

Next, we’re taken to where the Word is preached and the importance of the sermon. I thought it was interesting that the second part of the book is dedicated completely to the sermon, but it’s really a great section. Leeman emphasizes expository preaching all because of the central role of the Word of God.

Don’t be mistaken that this chapter is written specifically for pastors. It is that, pleading with them to lift up the Scriptures, but it’s also to the church as an example of how we can hold our pastors accountable. It’s to help us realize and understand what we should be hearing as a Christian, and that this is important stuff! Wake up!

Finally, Leeman traces the path of the Word in the congregation after it has been preached. It reverberates through singing, praying and discipleship, all things that occur within the church. Though, this reverberation is much more than what occur within the church. Leeman emphasizes that it’s a message that reverberates outward, beyond the walls of the church, to the world.

The last chapter is a picture of God’s ultimate plan and how the church exists in this world to fulfill it. We gather as his people, but we have to go out, “God’s word must reverberate out the church building door and into the world” to spread the good news of Christ and then return and join together once again, bringing those who heard and accepted the word.

And finally, a great line that speaks much truth, “serve your church and go read your Bible.”

Conclusion

Leeman shares a glimpse of many of his personal experiences in the church in this book, and he writes openly and transparently. I am grateful for his honestly. I pray it will encourage us to be bold and assume the roles that God has given us in the church. It will be a great help for pastors and church members.

I would commend this book to the church that we may once again reclaim a vision for God’s Word and the path that it should travel and reverberate through the life of the church. Let us return God’s Word to center of all we do as God’s people.

wtsbooks_logo.gifamazon.png


*This book was provided by Moody Publishers as a free review copy. I am under no obligation to write a favorable review.*

The Weight of Scripture

[16] For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [17] For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” [18] we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. [19] And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, [20] knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. [21] For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21 ESV)

———
This is an amazing section of verses. Peter is talking about the prophetic word of Scripture. Notice the event that he recalls in verse 17. The Transfiguration (Matt. 17:5) when the 3 disciples saw Jesus transformed before their eyes. What an amazing experience it must have been for Peter to see that with his own eyes.

But, read the section in bold above, verse 19. Peter says, “and we have something more sure”. What could have been more sure than what Peter had seen on the mountain with Jesus? The prophetic word. The Word of God.

This is the confidence we have.

Book Review: Scripture Alone

The question of the sufficiency of Scripture has been asked time and time again, almost as long as the Bible has been in written form. James White attempts an introduction to the doctrine in his book:

James White. Scripture Alone, (Bethany House, 2004), 217 pages

I found this book to be very helpful in addressing the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. It’s written in straightforward language which allows it to be accessible to all believers.

White also uses mock dialogue throughout the book to not only address the issues in clearly understandable terms, but also to give people examples of how to refute the claims against the sufficiency of Scripture. He shows us how to use sound biblical defense to respond to others who teach false doctrine against the Bible. He argues that most who constantly try to pick the Bible apart don’t have a wide enough view of Scripture. Typically they pull verses out of context and use historical arguments that don’t give a complete picture of the citation, only what they want to prove. Most often their claims are refuted simply by engaging context.

The dialogue sections are helpful because White uses Scripture to help defend Scripture. He gives examples of historical theories and focuses on other religions that claim the Bible is false.

Every Christian should pick up this book to grow in knowledge of the Scriptures. We need to cultivate a passion for God’s word. White’s passion for Scriptures is written into every page of this book. Let us learn from his wisdom and the years of study that he has devoted to this topic.

amazon.png