Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
"The holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." - Paul, to his disciple Timothy
"I adore the fullness of the Scriptures." - Tertullian
"We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the word." - Charles Spurgeon
Long have I romanticized the picture of the old sage pouring over the cracked and ancient pages filled with some words of old. There is something mysterious and attractive about it to me. Something wise.
Gandalf, in the first of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, upon the discovery that the magic ring of invisibility of his old friend Bilbo was actually the famous, long lost and evil "Ring of Power", rode urgently off to the the old city of Gondor to a basement in the White Castle filled with volumes and volumes of old leather bound books and stacks of dusty-but-preserved parchments and scrolls. Records of history and stories of old. He went to diligently find out about the past so that he might understand the present, and also the future that was constantly rolling towards him. He needed guidance. He needed more information. He needed context for the story he and the cast of characters around him found themselves in.
Something in me likes this kind of scene best when much is at stake. Not mere academic exercise. Not just the practice of increasing knowledge as if knowledge has value in the mere having of it. I like it best when much is at stake, and the careful and diligent "study of things" is going to help shape things, people, and actions in a story where life and death is at stake.
The Bible is the centerpiece of a library that I have created. I have invested in quite a few old books, parchments, and papyrus that give me the "feel" (superficial as it may be) of that romantic picture as I long for deeper wisdom that can only come from the knowledge and stories and experiences of many men's lifetimes combined, which can be found abundantly in those men's books. I dare say the most influential stories and men and experiences, at least for me, are recorded in the Bible...I would not ever be without it for as long as it is in my power to choose.
The Bible is saturated with layers and layers of wisdom and profound, life-giving truth. It claims it to be true itself, which would in and of itself not be proof, by my experience has verified it. One simple verse from the wealth of it's thousands can contain dozens of different, profound lessons, each hidden one becoming accessible to a man only when he takes a new step of personal growth. With maturation, another layer of ancient truth may come surging forth from the same familiar verse that he has read hundred's of times. And this experience can happen dozens of times in his lifetime.
The Bible requires reading, of course. But it also requires searching's. Not mere researching, but searching's. The sort of searching's you would expect from a hunter tracking his prey, a mother looking for her lost child, a buyer looking for the best price, a drug addict looking for his next fix, a lawyer looking for precedent, a pilgrim looking for a homeland, a woman looking for a husband, a teenager looking for an adrenaline rush, an activist looking for a worthy cause, the hungry looking for a survival meal, a batter looking for a hit, a failure looking for consolation, a child playing hide-and-seek with his dad at home, and like a soldier looking for his enemy, or for his comrade, or for his backup, or for his weapon, or for a medic after being wounded, or for his chopper-ride out of enemy territory. All of these and more are samplings of the "searching's" that would reap great and varied rewards out of the Good Book.
There are countless ways to approach and search scripture. And we should dedicate our lives to exhausting them all. The Bible has milk for the maturing and meat for the mature. It's fullness will never be exhausted by the comprehensive study of all mankind who have and will invest in it. The Bible will repay the searcher. And when a man leaves the simple and rational study of it (appropriate for the beginner) and opens his heart to being guided by the Spirit as he reads, hold on! That man, who knows the Scriptures, and then is instilled with the power of God behind him as he reads will identify truer truths than he has yet been allowed. Did not Jesus distinguish this when he said, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." The Scriptures are but one glorious thing - knowable to man through study, and the power of God quite another glorious thing - knowable to man only through the Spirit of God. This man will start encountering new treasures and not just old. As Jesus said, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." The study of the Law as law renders great treasures of old, but when he is then reading it from the perspective of Christ's Kingdom (let the hearer understand)...he will see dimensions and levels of truth unseeable to him before!
Do you think smartest among the Jews of old read the Law of Moses and understood that he was writing about Jesus Christ? I fear not, for even when Jesus showed up right in front of the Jews he had to instruct them,"If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me."
Sad are the days when people try to read the Bible and only see great stories, guiding principles, convicting rebukes, or paths to salvation (all treasures, make no mistake) and miss the person of Jesus Christ (the Treasure that all treasures endeavor to point us to). Sad indeed are the people who only find salvation for their souls upon their death through Jesus' blood and miss out on the friendship of Jesus Christ available in this life.
Jesus is a sweet friend. A powerful lord. A compassionate forgiver. An exacting King. An intimidating presence. A disarming servant. A brother-at-arms and mighty in battle. A smiling companion. A sincere guide. A disciplining father. And a right-in-the-nick-of-time savior.
The Bible tells me so.
The Greek word here rendered search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, such as men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in earnest after game. We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the word. Holy Scripture requires searching--much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babes, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, yea, upon every title of Scripture. No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure. The door of the word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures claim searching. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur-- who shall dare to treat them with levity? He who despises them despises the God who wrote them. God forbid that any of us should leave our Bibles to become swift witnesses against us in the great day of account. The word of God will repay searching. God does not bid us sift a mountain of chaff with here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is winnowed corn--we have but to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with wrought gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. No merchandise like the merchandise of Scripture truth. Lastly, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: "They are they which testify of Me." No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: he who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, all things. Happy he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Savior.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." - St. James