The LORD… should He not?

November 25, 2008

…”And should not I pity Ninevah, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know there right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

The book of Jonah ends with this rhetorical question. God asks Jonah, and He also asks the reader. The open-endedness forces us to answer the question. Are we too, like Jonah, going to be so consumed in God’s goodness to us that we are oblivious or indifferent to the fact that God’s goodness is to be tasted by those from all the nations? From all peoples?

The question that God asks is not to be filed under the “Foreign Missions” section in our brains. God asks this question about people we encounter everyday… the coworker that is hard to work with, the person you commonly pass by on the street that looks a little different than you, the kid who you just don’t feel like talking to right now.

Should He not pity? Should He not show mercy?

Advertisements

This has been a reoccurring question for me. If I settle on a method that is literary-canonical instead of grammatical-historical, why does it really matter? Authorial intent instead of sensus plenior, who cares?

What difference does it make to the congregation that one day I hope to shepherd?

The Apostle Peter says there is significance. 1 Peter 1:10-12 is about hermeneutics. He tells us something amazing about the prophets, and then he tells us “therefore…”

Peter writes that the prophets knew that they were writing for us about the “sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” He tells us that they were writing for us about the gospel message we have heard. And then he says, “Therefore… set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13). The OT authors intended what they wrote about Christ to be for you, so then (Aorist Active Imperative 2nd plural) “you set your hope fully” on Christ. You believe completely, unwaveringly. You exert a relentless faith in Jesus Christ and the grace that is yours in Him.

This is the pastoral application and its beautiful significance. This is the “so what?” described by the apostle… The authorial understanding of 1:10-12 enkindles our faith in Jesus Christ and all that He is for us.

Anselm is our brother

November 16, 2008

15. How He is greater than can be thought

Therefore, Lord, not only are You that than which a greater cannot be thought, but You are also something greater than can be thought. For since it is possible to think that there is such a one, then, if You are not this same being something greater than You could be thought–which cannot be.

Anselm, Proslogion, 15.1

Come now, insignificant man, fly for a moment from your affairs, escape for a little while from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside now your weighty cares and leave your wearisome toils. Abandon yourself for a little to God and rest for a little in Him. Enter into the inner chamber of your soul, shut out everything save God and what can be of help in your quest for Him and having locked the door seek Him out [Matt. 6:6]. Speak now, my whole heart, speak now to God: ‘I see Your countenance, O Lord, Your contenance I seek’ [Psalm 26:8].

Anselm, Proslogion, 1.1.

Getting to the so what…

November 16, 2008

Our admiration and hunger for the Scriptures is vastly disproportionate to the magnitude of the claims that our theology makes.

 

God, please bridge the gap. In Jesus’ name, amen.

For Christian worship…

November 12, 2008

And the full revelation of God is absolutely clear: if there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ, then faith in Jesus Christ is certainly the basis of worship (Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory, 419)

The conclusion of the matter is clear. Worship begins with the response to divine revelation. But if little time of attention is given to the revealed Word of God, read, proclaimed, or taught, then to what do people respond? The result is that worship becomes superficial or sentimental. If the church is truly interested in recapturing the spirit and nature of the prophetic and apostolic ministry of the Word in worship, then there will have to be a greater emphasis placed on reading, teaching, and preaching the Word of God, but it has to be with clarity, accuracy, power, and authority (Ross, 429).

I can imagine a plethora of pastors of who would amen this quote, but who are incognizant as to what changes that may mean to their bulletin. We really need Your help, Holy Spirit. And what more encouragement do we need than that You were sent to help us!

3. Develop new categories other than “white/non-white” and “rich/poor

2. Check that you are not economy-centric.

1. Consider the Third World… (And shut the hell up.)

“In the way of CONSOLATION to the godly… This may be a consolation to you, that you shall have a whole eternity in which to praise him. They earnestly desire to praise God better. This, therefore, may be your consolation, that in heaven your heart shall be enlarged, you shall be enabled to praise him in an immensely more perfect and exalted manner than you can do in this world. You shall not be troubled with such a dead, dull heart, with so much coldness, so many clogs and burdens from corruption, and from a earthly mind; with a wandering, unsteady heart; with so much darkness and so much hypocrisy. You shall be one of that vast assembly that praise God so fervently, that their voice is “as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings.”

Jonathan Edwards, Praise, One of the Chief Employments of Heaven, Nov. 7, 1734

Psalms 93-99 are beautifully composed to celebrate and pray for God’s kingly reign over all the earth. it is explicitly the OT notion of the kingdom of God, portrayed eschatalogically. Psalm 100 summarizes in praise and highlights the covenantal privilege of Israel as the “sheep of his pature.” The psalter focuses in from universal reign to gracious election and the Lord’s steadfast love (100:1 and then in the psalm of David, 101:1)! The psalm of David portrays a blameless man  who crushes wickedness (101:2; cf. 1:1-6). Then Psalm 102 is very eschatological–there is future hope when the Lord will have pity on Zion and rebuild her, “he appears in his glory” (102:13, 16). This is a day when nations and all the kings of the earth shall fear God’s glory (v. 15). Verses 21-22 show us a new Zion where the peoples and kingdoms gather to worship the Lord.

Psalm 103 is another psalm of David who blesses the Lord. Steadfast love (or “covenant faithfulness”) is mentioned in vv. 4, 8, 11, 17. David writes reminiscent of the Pentateuch… the Lord “great in steadfast love towards those who fear him” (v. 11). Explicit in 103:7-8 is David referring back to Exodus 34:6. He says to God, “this is who You are!”… “this is how You made Yourself known to Moses and back there, in Moses’ intercession, You gave grace and mercy!”

The Lord God is a faithful God who rules over all… David closes, “Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion!” (v. 22). And then Psalm 104 comes and shows God as the sovereign giver and sustainer of all creation.

“…these all look to you…” (v. 27)

Then eschatological hope: judge the wicked! i.e. come! Your kingdom come! Messiah reign!

Amen, come Lord Jesus!

       “So if God loves us enough to make our joy full, He must not only give us Himself; He must also win from us the praise of our hearts–not because He needs to shore up some weakness in Himself or compensate for some deficiency, but because He loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy that can be found only in knowing and praising Him, the most magnificent of all Beings. If He is truly for us, He must be for Himself!

     God is the only Being in the universe for whom seeking His own praise is the ultimately loving act. For Him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue…”         

(John Piper, Desiring God, 49).

 

This truth changed my life.