Passing on Passivity

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Hebrews 2:1–4 (ESV)

One conversation I always bristle at, and have had often, goes a little something like this: “I still love Jesus and I know I am saved, but since it is all about grace I don’t NEED to study Scripture or talk to other Christians about my faith, I don’t NEED to come to church on Sundays…”

As you can imagine this conversation is usually with someone that has stopped attending the gathering of the saints, or refuses to participate in small groups, or is confounded by their lack of growth and hope when they have no “Scriptural diet.” And I get it, I feel the same pull toward passivity all the time.

But this is not what we are meant for when we respond to the glorious good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection for us. We are meant to press into it not be passive about it.

Calling it mining the depths of the gospel or whatever you prefer, just dive into it and keep going. As the author of Hebrews offers, “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

That’s the danger, drifting. Assuming and eventually losing the hope you have in the justification granted by Jesus, and certainly no experience of the sanctification promised. We even lose a sense of truth as we wander distracted by the lights and voices of our world.

If you find yourself tempted in this way, take up and read, see Christ in Scripture and in the community of believers around you. Find people that will stay on the journey with you. Pay attention to the gospel because you are prone to forget it. Do everything you can to prevent drifting away. Pass on the passivity.

GospelThread

Recently I had a new friend ask me if any of my recent sermons we “gospel-centered.” I internally chuckled and verbally responded that I think at least one of them is. Of course I hope all of my sermons highlight and show how the gospel is revealed in all of Scripture because frankly it “ain’t preachin’ if it ain’t Jesus.” I probably come up short regularly but to proclaim the biblical gospel is the goal each and every time I am in the pulpit. It also happens to be my goal in writing as well.

To that end I am excited to be part of a new online commentary that will help all of us discover the thread of the gospel in the whole of the Bible. GospelThread is an endeavor that desires to put helpful, concise, Jesus exalting commentary right where you spend most of your days anyway, the internet. Today they introduced me as a contributor and I hope you might follow along and see the thread for yourself in Scripture. You can read about it here.

Subscribe to the blog, follow the social links (facebook, twitter, insta, youtube) and drink deeply of Christ and his grace in all of the Bible. You can also support the ministry to help get it fully off the ground, or maybe into the cloud, this coming spring.

For your viewing pleasure, check out the guys behind GospelThread.

 

 

A Prayer for Sunday

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130

Lord as we pursue you in your words this morning we desire to bask in its light. The truth of who you are and how you have worked for your own glory to reconcile us to you through Christ. As pastors across the globe open scripture might they avoid talking of things other than you. Help us to become a people who have a passion for the work and reality of Jesus above all things. Holy Spirit as we venture to unfold scripture illuminate the truth and help us to see Christ on each page, in each story and in each command. Let us be a people empowered for ministry and new life.

As we respond to the amazing work of Christ, our atoning blood, let us live well. Differently then those around us. With love, passion, holiness. Set apart for you even as we are in the midst of our culture and communities. Be glorified in how we exist for the rest of the week, dwelling on the simple truth and light of your word.

Amen.

The Fullness of God: Lobbying for the Discipline of High-Volume Scripture Memorization

Today’s post is by Ben Todd, a mid-twenties married man living in Washington, D.C. Ben leads mens bible studies and serves at a 2,000 person multi-site church. He is in his groove when challenging men to pursue godliness.

In speaking of scripture memorization I must firstly confess a bias. I am an unashamed Presbyterian and lover of Puritan thought to such an extent that John Knox himself may have cause to blush. This being the case, my love for the structured, governed, orderly, purposeful and disciplined things of our Christian faith is such that I can hardly contain my joy at wrapping myself in a structured program of study and spiritual exercise.

Biases aside, my hope in memorizing scripture is that someday those who know me will speak of me as Charles Spurgeon spoke of John Bunyun:

“He had studied…till his whole being was saturated with Scripture…Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.”

In working out the discipline of scripture memorization I think there or some thoughts and fruits that can be shared with the hope that many more Christians might take up the Word as their own and come to know God as he presents Himself in his scriptures. Scripture memorization…

…Prevents Unfruitful and Likely Damaging Generalizations: Ranging anywhere from “[Insert famous theologian here] said that…” to “Doesn’t the Old Testament say that…”, this type of generalization is wholly unfruitful and is ultimately contributing to indistinct, unconvicting message that is commonly preached and believed today. Furthermore, inaccurate paraphrases of poorly remembered scriptures are not thoughts that are captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), but are more likely prideful, uncontrolled assertions that are not expressed in love. The Word can, should and will speak for itself if we submit ourselves to it.

…Convicts the Memorizer and Those with Whom the Memorizer Associates: When we submit ourselves to knowing God and His Law in its fullness we will naturally be convicted of our sin and be brought to our knees in repentance. Our response to God the Father, as known in the scriptures, can be nothing less. Our unavoidable humility in response to the Word will, in turn, infect those around us. They will know us by our fruits and by our truth, which will be completely distinct from the purported faith that we see around us.

…Reveals To Us the Fullness of God the Father and Dramatic Necessity of Christ the Son: Memorizing large portions of scripture shows us what traditional “memory verses” cannot. That is, the full and deliberate nature of God’s revelation of Himself in the scriptures and his story of redemptive history that defines our inevitable judgment by and reliance upon Christ Jesus for salvation. Our unfortunate tendency outside of the deliberate preaching, teaching and studying of the fullness of scripture is to twist the Gospel into many things that it is not. This can be traced to a misunderstanding of God himself and an intellectual and emotional disconnection from our desperate condition as sinners in light of His glory, which scripture desperately and clearly displays.

The specific method of memorization that I’ve begun using embraces and is inspired by the need to have our minds renewed by the fullness of the Word of God and I strongly recommend it. (Many thanks to Jeff for pointing it out to me and convicting me of its necessity) The method is described and justified more fully in “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture” by Dr. Andrew Davis. Get after it.