Let’s refuse to be those who only know what the Bible doesn’t mean, and let’s find out what it actually means. God’s word is profitable, even those verses that are misunderstood and abused. I’m glad I dug in to learn what Philippians 4:13 meant. It is incredibly encouraging, and I want more to be strengthened and satisfied in Christ alone through it. So let’s be a people who love to know our God and live on every word that comes from His mouth.
In our study of Philippians, I got a chance to teach Philippians 4:10-13. As it is when you dig into God’s word, I was very encouraged to consider Paul’s Christian contentment in every circumstance. And then… there was that verse. You know… the one. The verse that makes it into every pre-game speech and every pre-test declaration. The one that makes you roll your eyes. Even without saying it, you know which one I’m talking about. And you definitely know what it doesn’t mean. And as I was studying it, I had a list of about ten things that it didn’t mean. But here’s the problem: I had to teach that verse. I couldn’t just be an expert in what it didn’t mean. I needed to know what it actually meant.
It is really easy to be an expert in what things don’t mean. I hear that verse, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13), and I immediately have my defenses up. My mind says, “That’s not what that means!” But unfortunately, that’s normally where it stops. All I’ve done is to discard a false idea, while failing to replace it with a true one. That’s the danger of only being an expert in what things don’t mean.
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By Stephen Kneale — 11 months ago
Indeed, when it comes to analysing everything to death, Paul is quite clear in that section: ‘eat everything that is sold in the meat market, without raising questions for the sake of conscience, since the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it.’ His answer seems to actively shy away from analysing everything to death and instead towards just getting on with your life. Paul is saying it is okay to just enjoy stuff and not suck the joy out of life by analysing everything to death.
Christians are pretty expert at sucking the joy out of everything. You name it, we can find problems with it. Even if we can’t nail a specific issue to make you feel guilty for enjoying something, you can bet we’ll insist on a full introspective analysis of motives before you can even consider enjoying the thing. Then, if you do determine to enjoy it and go on to do so, you better make sure you don’t enjoy it too much!
We seem to often have a problem with joy. Even Lloyd-Jones’ book – Joy Unspeakable – features a picture of him looking miserable as sin on the back of it. In every way, that book title is a misnomer. How can you write a book about something which is apparently unspeakable? How can you then speak about that unspeakable joy next to a picture of you with a face like a wet weekend? That isn’t to knock the book at all; just to illustrate the fact we can have something of a problem with joy. If it is unspeakable, we are often certain it’s unshowable and, let’s be honest, potentially unreal.
A lot of this instinct comes out at Christmas. The festive period is fine, so long as we don’t enjoy it too much. Or, enjoying it is fine, but we have to analyse it to death before we can confidently just enjoy it. Anything we may think, say or do have to be pored over before we can legitimately enjoy anything. That isn’t to say we should never be introspective, aware of potential sin, and keen to honour the Lord in what we say, think or do, it’s just I don’t think analysing everything to death in the pursuit of that leads to the evident joy Jesus came to bring. Indeed, it is something of a joy-killer.
Someone will inevitably say, ‘whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ That surely warrants some introspection and consideration about ‘whatever you do’. Doesn’t that warrant asking whether this actually brings glory to God? Whilst I think that question is valid, it seems to miss the wider context into which Paul made that comment. Paul’s concern seems to be about not giving or taking offence. You have no need to judge another before the Lord and try your best not to do what is going to cause offence. The solution he comes to is to neither rule out or in the eating of meat offered to idols (the question under consideration). He essentially says, ‘whatever you do’ i.e. eat or don’t eat, do it with a clean conscience and try not to give or take offence over it.
By Drew Gordon — 11 months ago
When [Rev.] Williams…returned to the church basement to gather his belongings, he could look up and see nothing but air where a tall church structure had once stood. When he entered the area of the basement that had protected him and two others, he found the Bible he had been using still open to the same page in First John that they had been studying when the EF2 tornado blew through.
There’s nothing left standing of the Selma Reformed Presbyterian Church building except a portion of the basement. That’s where three people were studying the Bible and praying on Jan. 12 when a tornado struck.
Rev. Winston Williams, a supply preacher for the congregation for the past five years, had heard a forecast for severe weather but decided not to cancel the prayer meeting because a new couple had come the previous week, and he knew they would be there at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday looking for him. Some members of the church decided not to leave their houses after hearing the forecast.
So it was just the three of them, and they opened the Bibles to the book of First John. Just after noon, there was a sudden quiet that was quickly followed by a sound like a rushing train. Rev. Williams’ first impulse was to lead the group to a room he thought would be safer. “We tried to get into the room and couldn’t. The suction wouldn’t let me open the door.” It all happened fast, he said.
They hit the floor as the building rumbled. Dust circulated in the air, and papers flew around. But their senses didn’t fathom the gravity of the tornado’s impact.
Before long, they heard voices outside, and the sound of chain saws. They left the building and saw for the first time that the building above them had been flattened. “I was shocked when I went outside and saw the destruction.”
“At no time did I ever feel any fear or that I would die,” Williams said. “I put that to our confidence in Christ.”
The woman who had been in the church building injured her leg as she hit the floor, but otherwise the three were OK.
Rev. Williams’ next thought was for the children at the school next door—the school that the Reformed Presbyterian Church had founded to provide education for children of freed slaves. Later, Knox Academy became a public school and is now known as School of Discovery. Williams said there were over 300 children in the building when the tornado struck.
He found the children all safe, but scared. Some cried. Three trees had been toppled, and large air conditioning units had been picked up by the storm, but the classrooms were intact. Williams and the other adults stayed with the children a long time until parents came for them.
By Thomas R. Schreiner — 12 months ago
Written by Thomas R. Schreiner |
Sunday, December 25, 2022
Jesus shares the very nature and being of God, sharing the same divine essence. Thus, we are not surprised to read in his citation of Hebrews 1:8 that Jesus is identified as God, and since he is God the angels worship him (Heb. 1:6). We know that only God is to be worshiped (Rev. 19:10; 22:9), and thus the worship of Jesus also confirms his full deity.
While Christmas often directs our thoughts to the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke, we should not limit ourselves to the Gospels. In fact, the christology of Hebrews stands out for its beauty, power, and theological profundity. In this brief article I want to consider the christology of Hebrews and the way that book teaches us to see Christ as the fulfillment of the three key Psalms and the divine priest-king who deserves all true worship.
Jesus, Our Melchizedekian Priest-King: A Meditation on Psalm 110
The author unfolds for us in this first chapter both the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ, though we should add immediately that the humanity of Jesus is tied particularly to his kingship and priesthood. Perhaps the best point of entry for our reflection is Hebrews 1:3, where the author declares that Jesus sat down at God’s right hand after he had made a full cleansing for sin.
In saying this he alludes to Psalm 110:1, and we know that this psalm is a favorite of the author since he cites or alludes to it often (see Heb. 1:13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). David, in the first verse of the psalm, affirms that there is a Lord greater than he, declaring that this greater Lord will sit at Yahweh’s right hand. In Matthew 22:41–46 Jesus himself taught that this verse pointed to him, and the author of Hebrews, along with other New Testament writers, picks up on Jesus’s exposition of the psalm. We have already noticed in Hebrews 1:3 that the author alludes to Psalm 110:1, but in Hebrews 1:13 he doesn’t merely allude to the verse, he quotes it, which certifies afresh how important the psalm is.
Another allusion to Psalm 110:1 surfaces in Hebrews 8:1 where we are told that the main point (kephalaion) being established is that Jesus has sat down at the right hand of God. In saying that this is the main point he points back to Hebrews 7, where we find a substantive treatment of Jesus’s Melchizedekian priesthood. Such a priesthood fulfills Old Testament promises in a typological manner since Jesus fulfills Psalm 110:4, which declares that the Lord who is greater than David (Ps. 110:1) is also “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4, ESV).
What we are told about Jesus’s Melchizedekian priesthood is tied to the cleansing of sins accomplished by Jesus (Heb. 1:3). In fact, we have another allusion to Psalm 110:1 in Hebrews 10:12 that makes this very point. Jesus, as our priest and king, has sat down at God’s right hand because his work is finished, because he has purified believers once for all. His one sacrifice has brought complete and final forgiveness forever.
We should pick up here the final allusion to Psalm 110:1 in the letter. Since Jesus has sat down at God’s right hand and since he ran the race faithfully, believers should also run the race to the end and look to Jesus as they do so (Heb. 12:1–2). Jesus atones for our sins as our priest and as our king—as our Melchizedekian priest and Davidic king. The christology of Hebrews has a pastoral purpose and soteriological aim; believers have confidence to enter the most holy place through the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19–22). Therefore it would be foolish and fatal to turn back to Jewish sacrifices and to abandon Jesus.
Jesus, Our Davidic King: A Meditation on Psalm 2
The kingship of Jesus isn’t restricted to the citation and allusions to Psalm 110 in the letter. The author also draws on Psalm 2, which is a messianic psalm that plays a vital role in the thinking of the writers of the New Testament, though here we must confine ourselves to Hebrews 1.
The psalm was originally written by David (see Acts 4:25), but it ultimately points to and is fulfilled in Jesus, in that David’s kingship functions as a type of the rule of Jesus.