Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Michael Bird on Justification

One thing I love about Michael Bird is his balance of perspectives, old and new. I am currently reading (and loving) his book "A Bird's Eye View of Paul" published by IVP. It is a very concise book; yet I think it is one of my favorite books! Here is a quote on justification:

"First, justification is forensic: it refers to a status one has before God. A person who is justified is declared right or acquitted of wrong…God graciously justifies sinners, the wicked and the ungodly through the provision of setting forth Christ…Second, justification is also covenantal…Justification by faith implies fellowship by faith, as those who believe in Jesus are legitimated in their identity as members of the new-covenant community…Third, justification is eschatological, as the verdict anticipated on the Day of Judgment in Jewish thinking has been declared in the present…Fourth, justification is effective in that God’s transforming power to free believers from the power of sin is the logical result of the declaration of acquittal…In sum, justification is the act whereby God creates a new people, with a new status, in a new covenant, as a foretaste of the new age" (Boldface added).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Faith and Love Based on Hope

There are many ideas floating around as to what the church’s greatest need is today. Some camps insist that we need doctrinal purity; others press the need for social justice and other ministries of compassion. Perhaps it is a bit of a dead end to suggest ‘this is the greatest need of the church’. Christ’s church consists of ‘many’ local churches and all of them have their particular needs. With that said, there are some things that every church needs. Some have them and others don’t but all churches need them. I’m thinking particularly of faith and love that is based on hope.

The apostle Paul was a thankful guy. Whenever he prayed he gave thanks for what God was doing in His church. Perhaps we can learn from him in this regard. Many of us get our ‘kicks’ in complaining at what is wrong with the church. But Paul was ‘always’ thanking God for the churches that were planted and growing by the grace of God. Here’s what Paul says:

We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. (Col. 1.3-6a emphasis added).

The central thing for the apostle Paul was the gospel; the announcement that Jesus Christ died and rose again, is reigning at the right hand of God, and has accomplished forgiveness of sins for those who would believe. This is a gospel full of hope. It is the gospel of a good king who will one day put the world to rights. It is the gospel of a merciful lord who bore God’s wrath in our stead. The Christian has great hope because ‘in Christ’ he is buried, risen and will appear with him in glory. Just as Christ was declared to be in the right at his resurrection so will the Christian.

The results of this hope are continual faith in Jesus and love for all the saints. Christians who are gospel-centered will not sway in their beliefs about Jesus (i.e. that he is the crucified and risen lord of the world) but will discern between truth and error. Gospel-centered Christian’s will also love one another indiscriminately. Tom Wright says, “The solid facts about the future hope of Christians are a powerful motivation for constant faith and costly love in the present” (TNTC, Colossians and Philemon, 52).

So what is the greatest need of the church? I’m not sure. But what does the Church need? The answer is a focus on the gospel and the hope that it gives. This will give way to “constant faith” and “costly love”.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Taking a Week Off

I’m really looking forward to this week. I’ll be celebrating Christmas twice this year. And if I am so blessed perhaps by wife will join me in a little adventure to Niagara Falls. So I will not be blogging this week! Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

10 Things Part 7: The Scriptures part 2


We need story. Story explains what life means and how we are to get on in our world. Christians claims that the Bible contains the true story of humanity and it’s relation to God. It tells the story of God the creator. He made all things good and created human beings to be in special relationship with him and his created order. But Adam was deceived by the devil and sinned against God, pulling judgment down on himself and the entire human race. The fascinating thing is that although man descends deeper and deeper into rebellion God acts with mercy. He will put the world to rights. God will deal with the problem of sin and the evil where it originated.

God works within his creation by creating a covenant family through Abraham; this family will be a blessing to all nations and is promised the inheritance of a land. He shows his covenant love to his family by recuing them from slavery to evil and he gives them a law so that they can be a light to the nations. He gives them the temple as a meeting place with humanity and God and provides the sacrificial system so that a sinful people may approach a holy God.

Eventually, however, Israel is unfaithful to God. Instead of living in unique relationship with him they become just like everyone else and worship idols. The bearers of the solution became a part of the problem. This sin invokes the wrath of God and his people are sent into exile and God’s meeting place is destroyed. The people of God suffer under foreign rulers and they long for the day when they would be freed from evil, when evildoers would be judged, Israel would be given a King who would shepherd his people, they would receive God’s spirit, creation and humanity would be renewed, they would be able to meet with God again and their sins would be forgiven (and many more promises). Things ‘would’ happen. The prophets proclaimed that God had not utterly forsaken his people but that God would fulfill his promises to his people and to the whole world.

When John the Baptist came on the scene preaching that the Kingdom of God has drawn near God’s people, at least some, would have realized that God was finally fulfilling his promises. The true return from exile was happening. God was doing what he said he would do at last. Jesus came and exercised authority of all sorts of evil including demons, sickness and even ‘natural disasters’. Jesus was taking care of evil at its root. He was also forgiving sins apart from the temple and pronounced judgment on it, showing that he was himself the eschatological meeting place for God and his people. Sinner’s and outcasts were welcomed to be apart of the celebration showing that God was building his renewed people. Jesus was exiling people out of this evil age into the kingdom of God. He was at last becoming King.

Jesus didn’t meet the expectations of some, however. Many people were hostile towards Jesus because his kingdom agenda looked a lot different than what they expected. They expected fireworks but Jesus brought a mustard seed. Jesus knew that he would be killed because of his kingdom work. He was claiming that his kingdom way was the right way and that all other kingdom ways were wrong and would be judged by God. But his death was no accident. The very judgment that would fall on Israel, and the whole world, would be focused on Jesus himself on the cross. Jesus became a substitution for his people. Jesus would create a kingdom people.

Jesus did not stay dead. On the third day he rose again. Jesus is the leader of the church. He is the one who was raised ahead of the rest, thus, inaugurating God’s new creation. He ascended to the right hand of the Father and is exercising his messianic reign. This is good news because Jesus is the good King who brings justice, mercy, forgiveness and love. He will come again and complete the work of new creation fully establishing his kingdom on the new earth.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How did Satan make evil commit suicide at the cross?

John Piper explains how satan committed suicide at the cross of Jesus. I think that this is probably one of the best things I have ever heard in relation to the 'Christus Victor' metaphor of the atonement. It shows that 'Penal Substitution' and 'Christus Victor' arer not opposites but they are intertwined.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

10 Things Part 7: The Scriptures part 1

With so many ideas floating around in our world today how are we to know truth? Some would say that there is no such thing as objective truth and we ought to make up our own reality. Others think that there is ‘truth’ out there but we certainly can’t know it ourselves. Christians, on the other hand, claim that there is truth and it can be known (however, they certainly are not the only ‘group’ who believes this). But how is it to be known? The answer is ‘through the scriptures’.

The Scriptures function like a diamond. It gives us theology, instruction, and story. In other words, it tells us what God is like, how we are to live in relation to this God and answers the question, “what is God doing?” The Bible has all of these which is part of the reason why it is such an awesome book. Today one aspect of the diamond.


Where would we be if we were not told what God is truly like? How does the Bible tell us what God is like? Example: For all we know he could be an angry tyrant who punishes people just because he gets pleasure out of it. Or perhaps he doesn’t give a hoot about all the sin, evil and injustice in the world and just watches to see how we might get by on our own. No, the Bible tells us that God is a loving creator who is wrathful when we settle for less than him and is justly angry when his creation commits all sorts of injustice, sin and evil. We find in the Bible, then, a theology of the wrath of God. It is not set out in point form but it is there. The same is true of the love of God. Throughout the Bible God acts towards humanity, and his chosen people in particular, in a loving way. He does not choose to leave us to ourselves and our own destructive sinful ways but has set out to rescue humanity from its plight. The Bible tells us what God is like. So another reason why I love Christianity is because we are given the Bible which tells us the truth about God. Yea I realize this whole 10 things is a bit silly now that I am including a part 1 and part 2. Oh well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jesus, the Pharisees, and Michael Bird on 'Reformed' Christianity

This morning I was reading through Mark 7 where you will come across a story about Jesus, Pharisees and Purity Regulations. The question that hangs over this story seems to be, "What makes a good Jew?" The Pharisees thought that they were the ones who were 'righteous' and that Jesus and his disciples were 'un-righteous'. But as Jesus points out, they defined themselves with man made rules and ignored parts of the revealed will of God. They were hypocrites. God's plan for Israel was coming true right before their eyes; but they were so committed to their 'rules' that they were failing to see that scripture was being fulfilled in and through Jesus. I wonder how much of a danger this is today. What makes a good Christian in our minds? Is it according to tradition or according to scripture?

I consider myself to be a Calvinistic Baptist. Many people today are using the term 'reformed' to refer to people who believe in the 'doctrines of grace'. But I find Michael Bird's words sobering:

"But in all the recent talk about "evangelicals" and the "reformed" I am noticing another trend. To use the same analogy, there is a group of the "reformed" out there who have basically decided to go and sit in their room, lock the door, and do nothing but than rant and moan about how everybody in the evangelical hallway is a theologically defficient turnip and only those in the room with them are among the doctrinally righteous elect. This group is typified by several traits: (1) They are more excited about all the things that they are against than anything that they are for; (2) They preach justification by faith, but in actuality practice justification by polemics; (3) They appear to believe in the inerrancy of a confession over the suffiency of the gospel; (4) They believe in the doctrines of grace, but do not treat others with grace; (5) They believe that unity is overrated; (6) They like doctrines about Jesus more than Jesus himself (and always defer to the Epistles over the Gospels); (7) mission means importing their debates and factions to other churches; and (8) The word "adiaphora" is considered an almost expletive.

Trevin Wax: Favorite Books of the Year Giveaway

Blogger Trevin Wax is giving away his favorite reads of the year plus an ESV Study Bible. There are three ways to win.

#1. THE REASON FOR GOD - Tim Keller
#2. CULTURE MAKING - Andy Crouch
#4. WHY WE’RE NOT EMERGENT - Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
#5. HOW PEOPLE CHANGE - Timothy Lane & Paul David Tripp
#6. THE BIG PICTURE STORY BIBLE -David Helm & Gail Schoonmaker
#7. JESUS MADE IN AMERICA - Stephen Nichols
#8. RESIDENT ALIENS - Stanley Hauerwas & Will Willimon
#9. WORSHIP MATTERS - Bob Kauflin
#10. The Sermon on the Mount through the Centuries - Jeffrey Greenman, Timothy Larsen, and Stephen Spencer

Friday, December 12, 2008

10 Things Part 6: Christ Delivers His People from Slavery

In the book of Exodus we read of God’s people, the Israelites, and the terrible slavery they are facing by the Egyptians: “…The Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor…they made their lives bitter” (Exodus 1.11a, 14a). God had made a promise to Abraham that he would build a family and that through them the nations would be blessed (Genesis 12). God would remain faithful to his promises. So when the Israelites cried out to God, he heard them: “But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act” (Exodus 2.23-25).

So what did God do next? He sent them Moses, a redeemer of sorts. The Jews were promised that God would give them a land and Moses was the one who was to deliver them from slavery and lead them to the promise. They were delivered from their slavery as they passed through the waters of the Red Sea.

The story of the exodus is really a picture of an even greater act of God, a greater exodus. Baptism isn’t just a meaningless ritual (see Romans 6), on the contrary, it is a ‘symbol’ packed with rich theological truth. When a Christian passes through the water of baptism they stand parallel to the Jews, who in Moses’ day, passed through the Red Sea and were delivered from their slavery. All of humanity faces a greater enemy, an enemy greater than the Egyptians or the Romans; the enemy of evil, sin, and death. Now Jesus, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit (think the cloud in the wilderness), is leading his people to the true land of promise, the new earth. Jesus delivers his people from the ugliest slavery of all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

My wife and I are singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel at my parents church this sunday. This version has got really great words:

1. O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel

2. O come, Thou Rod of Jesse free
Thine own from Satan’s tyrrany
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave

3. O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of Peace

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

10 Things Part 5: Jesus Conquers Evil

D.A. Carson soberingly (I don’t think that’s a word) says that if you have not yet suffered then you will. Although people suffer in different capacities, as long as we are living in the present form of the world we will experience the hardship this fallen world brings. I myself have not suffered greatly in my life but I have seen others around me experience horrible things. As I read through the opening chapters of the gospel of Mark I am comforted as we are given a ‘sneak peak’ as to the identity of Jesus. He is the true Son of God with whom God the Father is well pleased. He will accomplish what this dying world truly needs, namely, rescue!

The term ‘Son of God’ can refer to a few different things but one idea is that which is found in the Old Testament in reference to God’s people. Sometimes Israel as a nation is referred to as ‘the son of God’. In Exodus we read, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is my firstborn son’ (Ex. 4.22) or, “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. The Lord saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters” (Deut. 32. 18-19). By referring the Jesus as the Son of God, Mark is pointing to Jesus as the one who will accomplish redemption. He will be faithful where Israel was unfaithful. Jesus can be trusted.

‘Son of God’ can also refer to Israel’s king. In 2 Sam we read, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men…” (2 Sam. 7.14) or, “I will tell you the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you” (Ps. 2.7). Jesus, in other words, is Israel’s true king. He is the one to whom the Law and the Prophets pointed. He will bring to fruition all the promises that God made to his people including the defeat of evil.

Jesus is the faithful Israelite and Israel’s, and thus the worlds, true King. After Jesus is declared to be the Father’s Son with whom he is well pleased, Jesus is sent into the wilderness to battle evil. Whereas Israel succumbed to the temptation in the wilderness in the 40 year period, Jesus is faithful and does not give in during the 40 day period. Jesus assures us that evil has been defeated when he goes to the cross. When evil thought that it was doing its worst, when it was all heaped onto Jesus as he hung pinned to the cross, it was actually, as John Piper says, committing suicide. It’s as if evil gave all that it had, invested all its energy, and focused it all on Christ. But then the tomb was empty. I love Christianity because Jesus conquers evil!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Gospel According to Acts 5

Philip Proclaims the Gospel (Acts 8.4-8, 12)

Today I will be skipping ahead a little bit in Acts to discuss the proclamation of Philip.

- The scattered church preaches the word (v. 4).
- Philip proclaims the Christ (v. 5).
- The crowd listens to Philip and is filled with joy because of the miracles beings performed (vv. 6-8).
- Philip proclaims the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (v.12).

The promise that the gospel would be preached to the ends of the earth is being fulfilled through the dispersion of the disciples due to persecution. Although to many the Samaritans were not considered real Jews, the gospel is proclaimed to them. The gospel is for all people. The message that Philip proclaims concerns the Christ. The gospel is a message about Jesus. The gospel is that Jesus is the messiah. Evidence is given for this (i.e. that Jesus is now reigning) through miraculous healings and exorcisms. The language of the Kingdom has not been lost in the early church. Preaching that Jesus is the Christ is preaching the Kingdom. Jesus is the true King of the world! The proper response to this message is baptism.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Saved for Community

I've heard it many times: “I don’t need to go to church. Jesus and I are alright!” Right now I am reading, for the third time, through Scot McKnight’s amazing book on the atonement titled A Community Called Atonement. One of the things I love about this book is how he reminds us of the many purposes the atonement accomplishes.

For McKnight the Kingdom of God is a society where the will of God is established. I think that Jesus’ proclamation is all about him becoming King and that through this all the ancient promises made to Israel are coming true. However, this kingdom is realized in the context of a society. It is good news that Jesus is becoming King because that means true peace and justice for all its subjects. What the atonement is intended to do then is create this society where Jesus reigns, where God’s will is established.

This isn’t the only reason for the atonement that McKnight provides (i.e. the save us from the wrath of God, to restore cracked eikons, etc.) but I think that it is a helpful one. Salvation, to be sure, is something that happens to individuals but it is never individualistic. Our sins are atoned for so that we may be part of something bigger. We are to participate in God’s grand redemption of the whole kosmos (i.e. Ephesians 1) within God’s new humanity, the church. The church is the foretaste of what is to come and the atonement brings us into this community. The next time you want to sleep in on Sunday morning remember this: “This is what you are saved for!”

Friday, December 5, 2008

10 Things Part 4: Jesus Christ Gives Marriage It's True Meaning

I love my wife. But I’m convinced the reason I love her the way I do is because of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ alone is what gives our marriage its true meaning. The book of Ephesians has been fundamental to shaping the way we think about marriage and relationship between husband and wife. The goal of our marriage isn’t simply that people may look at us and say, “They look happy.” Yes we want people to think that about us, but more importantly we want people to look at our relationship and see a parable of Jesus Christ and his people, the church. Marriage isn’t ultimately about my wife and I, it is a pointer away from us to a greater reality. When I lead and humbly serve my wife it demonstrates the work that Christ accomplished on the cross on behalf of his people. When Alicia submits to my leadership it pictures how Christ’s church submits to him as Lord. We are both equal in that we are made in the image of God but God has designed the roles of husband and wife in a way that will magnify his grace and bring him glory. I love Christianity because it brings true meaning to marriage and enables my wife and I to live for God’s glory.

I thought that I would post the vows that my wife and I made to each other on our wedding day in August. We formed ours vows from reading Richard Baxter’s memoirs of his wife.

Nick’s Vows

Alicia, I know that God has ordained marriage to be a picture of Christ and his bride, the church. On that basis I give you these promises:

I will love you fully and will strive to avoid all things that could quench our love.
I will seek to enjoy you above all of God’s creation.
I will respect you and be the defender of your name.
I will lead you in all things pertaining to godliness through the instruction of God’s Word.
I will aim to put sin to death in my life and humbly serve you just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
I reserve my body for you and you alone.
I will stand by you in all times, good or bad, and will help you bear your burdens.
I will never leave you but will forever be your delightful companion in Holy Love and heavenly hopes and duties when all other outward comforts fail.

I pledge you all these things before God.

Alicia’s Vows

Nick, I know that God has ordained marriage to be a picture of Christ and his bride, the church. On that basis I give you these promises:

I will love you fully and will strive to avoid all things that could quench our love.
I will seek to cherish you above all God’s creation, tending each day to our relationship so that the flame of our love does not diminish.
I will place myself under your leadership as your helper, as the church submits herself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ who redeemed her with His blood.
I will reserve my body for you and you alone, and seek to make you the happiest man on earth.
I will stand by you in all times, good or bad, and will help you bear your burdens.
I will never leave you but will forever be your delightful companion in Holy Love and heavenly hopes and duties when all other outward comforts fail.

I pledge you all these things before God.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

10 Things Part 3: God Creates a New Family Through Jesus Christ

In a sermon on the fulfilled family John MacArthur says, “[Family] is the place of intimacy. It is the place of joy. It is the place of memories that build the foundation of life. It is the place of love. It is the place of socialization. It is the place of morality. It is the place of security. It is where you build confidence.” Family is important. Humans were created not to live in isolation but to live in communion with fellow human beings.

When sin entered into the world the entire creation was put under a curse. God’s response? He creates a family. God would bring the nations to himself through the family of Abraham. But when this family fell into idolatry they went into exile and experienced God’s judgment firsthand. God promised his people that he would not utterly forsake them but they would one day return from exile, God would draw near to his people, he would forgive their sins and the nations would come to know the one and true living God.

When Jesus came on the scene summoning people to repent and believe in the gospel he was challenging them to become the new people of God, the returned from exiles ones. However, Jesus’ kingdom plans were different than other kingdom plans. Jesus’ way was the way of welcome. We see this clearly in Luke 15, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15.1-2). Jesus was welcoming the lowest of the low to be part of the reconstituted people, or family, of God and the Pharisees didn’t like it. Jesus responds by telling three parables. All of them speak of God’s grace in welcoming repentant sinner’s to himself.

The prodigal son, in particular, also contains hints that the return-from-exile is happening right under the Pharisees noses and they are missing out on it. Jesus tells a story about a rebellious son going into a far country and returning to his father. In Jesus’ welcoming of repentant sinner’s to himself, the ‘great return’ was taking place. He was building a family around himself.

All those who see their need of Jesus are welcomed to come. Christ builds the true family of God. So here we find true intimacy, love, socialization, morality, security, and confidence. Yet another reason why I love Christianity!

God’s Righteousness Creates God’s Renewed People

I was just reading a review of Michael Bird’s The Saving Righteousness of God and it gave me enough of a sneak peak to whet my appetite. Here is a quote from the review:

The phrase “righteousness of God” is no technical apocalyptic term (against Käsemann) but must be seen against the background of Judg 5:11; 1 Sam 12:7; Pss 51:14; 71:15–16; Isa 46:13; 56:1; CD 20:20 (14–15) as “denot[ing] the saving action of God now revealed and now manifested in the gospel of Jesus Christ” (15), whereas the verb “is strictly forensic” (17). Paul’s apocalyptic theology is based on his narrative world, that is, on the concept of God’s relationship with Abraham and Israel mediated through the covenantal promises, including the hope for the restoration of Israel and the salvation of the Gentiles (31). The unity of Jews and Christians in the body of Christ is not only an illustration of the effects of salvation but is constitutive in that God’s saving righteousness creates a new people (33).

Go here if you would like to read the rest of the review.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What I Asked For For Christmas

I think the books I am looking forward to the most are by Michael Bird. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite scholars. If you have the chance, search 'Michael F. Bird' on google and read some of his articles online. I greatly benefited from his article on the New Perspective.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Gospel According to Acts 4

Jesus, Our Leader and Savior (Acts. 5.27-32)

- The apostles are questioned before the council (vv.27, 28).
- Peter declares his faithfulness to God rather than men (v.29).
- Although these men put Jesus to death God has raised him to his right hand. Jesus is identified as Leader and Savior and Israel is now given the opportunity to repent to receive the forgiveness of sins (vv. 30, 31).
- Both the apostles and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to these things. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God’s message of the gospel (v. 32).

This section of Acts, again, confirms that the apostolic proclamation of the gospel centers on the fact that God raised Jesus after he was killed and exalted him to his right hand. Jesus is also identified as Leader and Savior. With his resurrection he leads his people into the new age. He is the one man who was raised in the middle of history before the general resurrection of all God’s people. He is also the Savior, delivering his people from this present evil age through the forgiveness of sins. Repentance is offered because the gospel is a message ‘about Christ’ that is ‘for us’ (although in this case it should be noted that the offer is given specifically to Israel). The apostles and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to all that has happened to Jesus. Those who obey the message of the gospel will receive the Holy Spirit; the gift of the new age.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Patiently Reading the Bible

Sometime as we read our Bibles we can bring our culture’s attitude of wanting things quick and easy. This manifest’s itself in different ways. First, we can start a Bible reading plan and soon enough it can become systematic. Although it is sometimes beneficial just to read quickly through the text we live in a world quite removed from the biblical authors and it can take time to place ourselves into the world they were writing in. Second, when we do finally get to the point where we are struggling with the text we can settle for easy answers. We can rush around trying to find immediate solutions to our problems; all the while forgetting that we need the Holy Spirit’s guidance if we are going to get to the true meaning of Scripture. In my own life, if I run into a difficult portion of Scripture I can actually lose sleep over it. My mind goes back and forth wondering which reading is correct; I even get anxious.

The Bible is a great book. There are simple truths that children can easily understand and yet the books that have been written to explain the Bible are too numerous to count. We need to keep this in mind as we come to the Scriptures. We need to be humble, recognizing that we are going to die, we will never exhaust the truth that can be found in this book, and we are not called to know ‘everything’. As long as we are human we will ‘know some’ but will never ‘know all’. We need to approach the word of God with patience.