En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘authority’

Interpreting Scripture!

Posted by Scott on March 5, 2008

Interpreting Scripture (Hermeneutics)

Hermeneutics is defined in one dictionary as “the art of finding the meaning of an author’s words and phrases, and of explaining it to others.” When applied to Scripture, accurate hermeneutics would require the scholar to:

  • Study the context of the passage and the theme of the book.
  • Look up the actual meaning of each word in the original languages.
  • Note the verb tenses, the cases, and other grammatical determinants.
  • Learn the cultural setting of the passage.
  • Determine what the original readers understood it to mean.
  • Check out cross-references to see how the words are used in other contexts.
  • See how the first mention of the word or topic is presented in the Bible.
  • Confirm an interpretation with two or three similar passages.

These are all proven study methods. However, it has always puzzled me how Bible scholars who claim to follow all of them arrive at totally opposite interpretations of the same passage.

For example, in a seminary in the Northwest, two professors wrote on the topic of divorce and remarriage. Each one assured his readers that he was following sound rules of Biblical interpretation. Yet, each one arrived at a view that was opposite of the other.

One day, I called up my former Greek professor at Wheaton Graduate School. He had written on the subject of hermeneutics, and I asked him if he could summarize the rules of hermeneutics in a concise list. His answer startled me. He said, “Bill, there is no such list.” I asked how we would know if we are breaking hermeneutical rules if there are no rules. He explained that there are certainly guidelines of interpretation. However, they cannot be confined to one set of rules.

So, what are the additional factors of correct Biblical hermeneutics?

1. Spiritual Perception Over Intellectual Understanding

The first factor of interpreting Scripture is to approach it as an exercise in spiritual discernment rather than just an intellectual pursuit. Paul emphasized this in his letter to the Corinthian believers. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14). Jesus Himself confirmed that Biblical understanding does not come from human reasoning but from spiritual enlightenment. He said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25).

The Holy Spirit is the One Who inspired the writing of Scripture, and He is the most qualified One to interpret its meaning to each reader. Jesus assured us that the Holy Spirit would indeed guide us into all truth. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

This being the case, it is also reasonable to conclude that if a person who wants to interpret Scripture has sinful habits or practices in his life that grieve the Holy Spirit and quench His power, the Holy Spirit will not reveal the truth of Scripture to such a person. In fact, God warns that such individuals will take Scripture out of context to their own destruction. (See II Peter 3:16.) This result supports the axiom that a man’s morality will dictate his theology and his philosophy.

2. God’s Revelation Over Human Reasoning

In the final analysis, accurate Biblical interpretation is based on the revelation of Jesus Christ throughout the Scriptures. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than on that walk on the road to Emmaus. The disciples had been personally taught by Jesus for three years. However, they still did not understand the Scriptures from which He taught. They were distracted by the conflicting interpretations of contemporary scholars. It was not until Jesus began with Moses and all the prophets and explained how they revealed Him that they understood the true meaning of Scripture. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). They later recalled, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).

The scholars of Jesus’ day carried out heated debates over the correct interpretation of Scripture, but Jesus counseled them to search the Scriptures on the basis that they testified of Him. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

3. Genuine Love Rather Than Justification of Selfishness

Since the Scriptures reveal the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, it also follows that the primary theme of the Bible is the love of God and how we are to live out His love in our daily words and actions.

When a clever lawyer tried to involve Jesus in a wordy battle, He began his forensic sparring with the question “Which is the greatest commandment?” The reply that Jesus gave is a profound principle for Biblical interpretation. All the Law and prophets are based on the command to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Therefore, we must interpret Scripture on the basis of how it teaches us to love God and to love others. Love is the theme of the Bible. All good character qualities are simply practical expressions of genuine love. When the Pharisees used the Law of Moses to justify their harsh and unloving treatment of wives, Jesus reproved them for hardness of heart and took them back to the Creation design of one man and one woman becoming one flesh for the rest of their lives.

The lawyer who tried to engage Jesus in debate then tried to justify himself by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” to which Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

4. Christ’s Commands Over Man’s Theology

Every interpretation of Scripture is based on some foundational structure of reasoning. Jesus provides the structure of truth in the commands that He gave to His disciples during His earthly ministry, and they are the guiding lights for correct Biblical interpretation. They clarify what was written in the Old Testament and are further explained in New Testament teaching. Jesus promises that if we keep His commands before our eyes, He will reveal more of Himself to us. This was the great goal of Paul: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Jesus further promises, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).

It is customary for a Bible scholar to base his interpretation of a passage on the theological position that he has accepted. The problem with this approach is that no theological system is totally without some human error, because it is not inspired. It is man’s explanation of Biblical truth.

This is not to say that theology is unimportant. Wrong doctrine leads to wrong behavior. No one was more concerned about false doctrine than the Apostle Paul. He maintained a continual battle against false teaching. However, he did not base sound doctrine on the theological views of his day but on the words of Jesus Christ and that which leads to Christlike living.

He explains this in his epistle to Timothy. “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (I Timothy 6:3–5).

5. One Interpretation and Many Applications

The Bible makes it clear that there is only one interpretation of Scripture. However, there can be many applications. It is the Holy Spirit Who guides us not only to the right interpretation of a passage but also to the precise application of Scripture to our daily lives. If our lives are in harmony with the Lord, we can expect the Holy Spirit to illuminate certain passages of Scripture for our personal application. When this happens, it is God giving us a “rhema” of Scripture.

In the New Testament, the Word of God is generally referred to by the Greek word logos. Jesus is identified as the Living Word (logos). However, there are many references that use the Greek word rhema to define the Word of God. A rhema is a precise direction of Scripture for a particular person or circumstance. When Jesus told Peter to cast his net on the other side of the boat, Peter replied, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word [rhema] I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5). Jesus did not tell every one to cast their nets on the other side of the boat—only Peter.

It is on the point of the Holy Spirit applying a passage of Scripture to a decision that critics often rise up and claim that this is not acceptable hermeneutics. Their quarrel is not with believers who know in their spirits that God is directing them by the witness of two or three rhemas, but with the Holy Spirit Who confirms the application of rhemas.

Jesus used rhemas in overcoming Satan’s temptations, and one of the passages He used affirms rhemas. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

6. Correct Divisions of Truth Versus Truth Out of Balance

Paul gave Timothy wise instruction in hermeneutics when he wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

Scripture is a living, powerful instrument in the hand of God. It functions on what appears to us to be paradoxes. In a similar fashion, the muscles in our bodies are only able to function by opposing tensions.

On the one hand, Scripture presents the Law of God, but then it contrasts this with the grace of God. Scripture teaches the need for justice, but then it counters this with mercy. We are told to cease from our own labor and enter the rest that is in Christ. At the same time, we are commanded to work for the night is coming when no man can work and to labor for the Lord. We have freedom in Christ. However, we are to make ourselves servants to all people.

If we emphasize only one side of God’s Biblical equation, we can certainly support it with verses of Scripture, but we will come out with the wrong answer. Truth out of balance leads to heresy. For example, if we emphasize the “rest” that a believer has and fail to give equal and primary emphasis to the “labor” of a believer, we will view any emphasis on working for the Lord as legalism.

Paul put labor and rest together when he wrote, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:9–11). Similarly, there is certainly freedom in Christ. However, if we focus on freedom, we will react to God-ordained authority as being oppressive and cultish.

Proper hermeneutics requires diligent use of all the above factors under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Copyright © 2002–2006, William (Bill) Gothard. All Rights Reserved.

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Parents Acting Like Teenagers!

Posted by Scott on November 21, 2007

Dr. Mohler’s Blog

“Freak Dancing” — When Parents Advocate Misbehavior

The Wall Street Journal is out with one of the those eye-opening stories that defies common moral sense. It seems that Jason Ceyanes, the 35-year-old superintendent of schools in Argyle, Texas, decided to crack down on sexually-suggestive dancing at the local high school. But, when the superintendent banned “freak dancing,” he got into trouble with some of Argyle’s parents.

Here is how The Wall Street Journal introduced its account of the controversy:

A new resolve by school officials in this booming Dallas suburb to crack down on sexually suggestive dancing — and skimpy clothing — has sparked a rancorous debate over what boundaries should be set for teenagers’ self-expression. Argyle joins a long list of other schools around the country that have banned the hip-hop inspired dancing known as “grinding” or “freak dancing.”

But in Argyle, a once-sleepy farming community strained by explosive growth from an influx of well-to-do suburbanites, the controversy has gotten vicious. Some parents blame the newly installed school superintendent, Jason Ceyanes, 35, for ruining their children’s October homecoming dance by enforcing a strict dress code and making provocative dancing off-limits. Disgusted, a lot of kids left, and the dance ended early.

Mr. Ceyanes says he fears current cleavage-baring dress styles combined with sexually charged dancing could lead to an unsafe environment for students.

“This is not just shaking your booty,” he said. “This is pelvis-to-pelvis physical contact in the private areas…and then moving around.”

“Freak dancing” is well known throughout the nation, and it involves what can only be described as “sexually charged” physical contact and movement. But many of the kids in Argyle were “disgusted” that freak dancing was banned at the homecoming dance, so they left. That might be fairly easy to understand. After all, adolescents are expected to exhibit adolescent patterns of misbehavior. What makes this story so interesting is that so many parents responded by joining their adolescents in immature response. In fact, their protest of the superintendent’s policy is shocking.

As the paper explained, “Many parents support Mr. Ceyanes’s actions. But another vocal faction has been harshly critical of the new superintendent, creating a deep rift in the community. These parents defend the children of Argyle as ‘good kids,’ and say they should be trusted to dance and dress the way they want.”

Here is one of the moral hallmarks of our confused age. Parents defy authority and propriety and justify the misbehavior of their own children while calling them “good kids.” In this case, they argue that these “good kids” should be allowed “to dance and dress the way they want” — even if that means sexually suggestive dress and sexually charged dancing.

Mr. Ceyanes held a public meeting for parents and played a video of freak dancing. “I cannot imagine that there is a father in this room who could watch this video and be all right with a young man dancing with his daughter in that fashion,” he told the parents.

This is further evidence of a trend long in coming. Fashion styles for adult women now mimic those of adolescent girls. Why? So many moms want to act like teenagers and dress as provocatively as their offspring. Far too many parents want to act like their teenagers’ friends and peers, not like parents. Parents, after all, are expected to act like adults, and this is a society that depreciates adulthood and valorizes adolescence.

When a story like this makes the front page of The Wall Street Journal, something significant has shifted on the moral landscape. When parents demand that their “good kids” be allowed to freak dance at school events, the real story shifts from the kids to the parents.

___________________

The Wall Street Journal also features this video coverage of the story [go here].  We discussed this issue on Tuesday’s edition of The Albert Mohler Program [listen here].

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Kindling for Christian Hedonism by John Piper!

Posted by Scott on October 20, 2007


By John Piper October 30, 1983


Psalm 19:7-11

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Christian Hedonism is very much aware that every day with Jesus is not “sweeter than the day before.” Some days with Jesus our disposition is as sour as raw persimmons. Some days with Jesus we are so sad we feel our heart will break open. Some days with Jesus fear turns us into a knot of nerve ends. Some days with Jesus we are so depressed and discouraged that between the garage and the house we just want to sit down on the grass and cry. Every day with Jesus is not sweeter than the day before. We know it from experience and we know it from Scripture. For the text says (Psalm 19:7), “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” If every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before, we wouldn’t need to be revived.

The Bible Kindles Joy

The reason David praised God with the words, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” is because he had bad days. There were days when his soul needed to be restored. It’s the same phrase used in Psalm 19:7—”the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” Normal Christian life is a repeated process of restoration and renewal. Our joy is not static. It fluctuates with real life. It is as vulnerable to Satan’s attacks as a Lebanese marine compound to a suicide bomber. When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:24, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy,” we should emphasize it this way: “We are workers with you for your joy.” The preservation of our joy in God takes work. It is a fight. Our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, and he has an insatiable appetite to destroy one thing: the joy of faith. But the Holy Spirit has given us a shield called faith and a sword called the Word of God and a power called prayer to defend and extend our joy. Or, to change the image, when Satan huffs and puffs and tries to blow out the flame of your joy, you have an endless supply of kindling in the Word of God. And even though there are days when we feel that every cinder in our soul is cold, yet if we crawl to the Word of God and cry out for ears to hear, the cold ashes will be lifted and the tiny spark of life will be fanned, because, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” The Bible is the kindling of Christian Hedonism.

My aim this morning is to motivate you to wear the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and to wield it for the preservation of your joy in God. There are three steps we need to climb together. First, we need to know why we accept the Bible as the word of God. Almost everybody in the world would agree that if the one and true God has spoken, then there will be no lasting happiness for people who ignore his word. But very few people really believe that the Bible is the word of the living God. Nor should they believe it without sufficient reasons. Second, we need to see some encouraging examples of how the Bible kindles and preserves our joy. Finally, we need to hear a practical challenge to renew our daily meditation in the Word of God, and to bind that sword so close around our waist that we are never without it.

Jesus—The Foundation for Confidence in the Bible

1) In the limitations of time that we have, perhaps the best way to take the first step is for me to commend to you why I accept the Bible as the word of God. The foundation of my confidence is Jesus Christ. You don’t need to believe first that the Bible is infallible in order to know that it presents you with a historical person of incomparable qualities. The possibility that the historical Jesus was a con artist or a lunatic is to me so remote that I am drawn to confess that he is true. His claims are not the propaganda of a deceiver or the presumption of a schizophrenic. He speaks with authority, forgives sin, heals the sick, casts out demons, penetrates the hearts of his opponents, loves his enemies, dies for sinners, and leaves behind an empty grave, not because he pulled the wool over the eyes of the world but because he is the ever-living Son of God who came to save the world. He has won my trust through his words and deeds.

From Jesus I move backward to the Old Testament and forward to the New Testament. All four gospels present different evidence that Jesus considered the Old Testament to be the word of God. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says he came not to abolish but to fulfill the law and the prophets, and in Matthew 22:29 he says that the Sadducees err because they don’t know the Scriptures. In Mark 7:8–9 Jesus contrasts man-made traditions with the commandment of God in the Old Testament. In Luke 24:44 he tells the disciples that everything written about him in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled. And in John 10:35 he said simply, “Scripture cannot be broken.” Therefore, I read the Old Testament as the word of God because Jesus did.

Six Observations on the New Testament as God’s Word

But Jesus did not stay on earth to endorse the New Testament. My confidence in the New Testament as God’s word rests on a group of observations which taken together provide a reasonable ground of confidence.

1) Jesus chose twelve apostles to be his authoritative representatives in founding the church. He promised them at the end of his life, “The Holy Spirit . . . will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said” (John 14:26; 16:13). 2) Then the apostle Paul, whose stunning conversion from a life of murdering Christians to making Christians demands some special explanation, explains that he (and the other apostles) have been commissioned by the risen Christ to preach “in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Christ’s prediction is being fulfilled through this inspiration. 3) Peter confirms this in 2 Peter 3:16 by putting Paul’s writings in the same category with the inspired (2 Peter 1:21) Old Testament writings. 4) All the New Testament writings come from those earliest days of promised special revelation and were written by the apostles and their close associates. 5) The message of these books has the ring of truth because it makes sense out of so much reality. The message of God’s holiness and our guilt on the one hand, and Christ’s death and resurrection as our only hope on the other hand—that message fits the reality we see and the hope we long for and don’t see. 6) Finally, as the Baptist Catechism says, “The Bible evidences itself to be God’s word by . . . its power to convert sinners and edify saints.”

For these reasons, when I read the Old and New Testaments, I read them as the word of God. God is not silent in my life. He is uncomfortably vocal and precise about all kinds of things. I count it as a singular act of grace on his part that he has appointed for me that my life work is to understand his word and teach his church. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. Which means that the things said about the word of God in the Bible apply to the Bible. And I have been simply overwhelmed in preparing for this message by how much the Bible has to say about the value of the word of God. What a treasure we have in the very words of God! “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

The Word of God Is Your Life

2) That leads us to the second step this morning, namely, some examples of how the Bible has so much value for us. Why is a life of meditation on Holy Scripture a life of joy? Most of the specifics I want to give you may soon be forgotten, but I hope the total impact of the Bible’s value will make you want to read it more regularly, more deeply, and more joyfully. Consider these benefits.

In Deuteronomy 32:46–47 Moses says, “Lay to heart all the words which I enjoin upon you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no trifle for you, but it is your life.” The Bible is not a trifle; it is a matter of life and death. If you treat the Word of God as a trifle, you forfeit life. Our physical life depends on God’s Word because by his word we were created (Psalm 33:9; Hebrews 11:3), and “he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Our spiritual life begins by the Word of God: James 1:18, “By his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.” “You have been born anew . . . through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). And not only do we begin to live by God’s Word, we go on living by God’s Word: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). Our physical life is created and upheld by the word of God, and our personal-spiritual life is born anew and lived by the word of God. Therefore, the Bible is “no trifle for you, it is your life!”

The Word of God Begets Faith and Hope

The Word of Christ begets and sustains life because it begets and sustains faith. “These things are written,” John says, “that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). “Faith comes by hearing,” writes the apostle Paul, “and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The faith that starts our life in Christ and the faith by which we go on living come from hearing the Word of God. If faith is of eternal importance for your daily life, so is the Bible.

Sometimes faith and hope are virtually synonyms in Scripture. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). Without this hope for the future we get discouraged and depressed and our joy drains away. Hope is absolutely essential to Christian joy (Romans 15:13). And how do we maintain hope? The psalmist puts it like this (78:5–7), “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children . . . so that they might set their hope in God.” Paul puts it so plainly: “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The whole Bible has this aim and this power: to create hope in the hearts of God’s people.

The Word of God Sets Free and Provides Wisdom

Another essential element of life is freedom. None of us would be happy if we were not free from what we hate and free for what we love. And where do we find true freedom? Psalm 119:45 says, “I shall walk in freedom, for I sought thy precepts.” And Jesus says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). And lest we miss the point, he says later in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth.” The word of God is divine truth that frees us from deception. It breaks the power of counterfeit pleasures, and keeps us free from stumbling into the stupidity of sin. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “I have laid up thy word in my heart that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11; cf. v. 9). The promises of God are the liberating, guiding power of godliness: “Through his precious and very great promises you escape from the corruption that is in the world . . . and become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4; cf. John 15:3). Freedom, guidance, likeness to God—all these come to us as we meditate upon and trust the Word of God, the Bible.

Of course, the Bible does not answer every question about life. Every fork in the road does not have a biblical arrow. We have need of wisdom in ourselves. But that, too, is a gift of Scripture. As the text says, “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple . . . the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7–8; cf. 119:98). People whose minds are saturated with God’s Word and submissive to his thoughts have a wisdom that eternity will prove to be superior to all the secular wisdom in the world.

The Word of God Restores and Comforts

Nevertheless, our bent will and imperfect perceptions lead us time and again into foolish acts and harmful situations. That day is not sweeter than the day before, and we need restoration and comfort. Where can we turn for comfort? We can follow the psalmist again: “This is my comfort in my affliction, that thy promise gives me life . . . When I think of thy ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O Lord” (Psalm 119:50, 52). And when our failures and our afflictions threaten our assurance of faith, where do we turn to rebuild our confidence? John invites us to turn to the Word of God: “I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). The Bible is written to give us assurance of eternal life.

Satan’s number one objective is to destroy your joy of faith. You have one offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). But what many Christians fail to realize is that you can’t draw the sword from someone else’s scabbard. If you don’t wear it, if the Word of God does not abide in you (John 15:7), you will reach for it in vain. If you don’t wear it, you can’t wield it. But if you do, what a mighty warrior you will be! “I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14).

Devote Yourselves to the Word of God

3) So the Bible is the Word of God, and the Word of God is no trifle. It is the source of life and faith and hope and freedom and guidance and wisdom and comfort and assurance and victory over our greatest enemy. Is it any wonder, then, that those who knew best said, “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:8)? “I will delight in thy statutes, I will not forget thy word” (Psalm 119:16). “Oh, how I love thy law, it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). “Thy testimonies are my heritage for ever, yea, they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111). “Thy words were found, and I ate them, and thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by thy name” (Jeremiah 15:16). But are we to pursue this joy like Christian Hedonists? Are we to throw the kindling of God’s Word on the fire of joy? Are we to pursue our holy pleasure by meditating on the Word of Christ? Indeed, we are. For the Lord himself has said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

On this Reformation Sunday I beseech you not to let the blood of the martyrs be spilled in vain. Don’t let the labors of Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Zwingli be spent out in vain. God raised them up to free the Holy Scriptures for us. We despise God and insult his saints if we treat the Bible as a trifle in our lives. Martin Luther knew as well as any man who ever lived that every day with Jesus is not sweeter than the day before. And according to Roland Bainton, he wrote these words in the year of his deepest depression:

And though this world with devils filled
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God has willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him—
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure:
One little word shall fell him.


© Desiring God

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

-Scott Bailey 2007

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