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Monday, August 15, 2016

Facinating Quote from James White

Though it may seem surprising to some, in many aspects the Christian scholar of today is “closer” to the original writings of the apostles than people who lived as little as two centuries later. Why? For one thing, we not only have ready access to the entire Bible but also many of the secular writings of the day that give us important historical, cultural, and/ or linguistic information. We have the Bible available to us in the original tongues as well as in many excellent translations. We also have access to a vast amount of writing from generations between then and now; we can read the works of men like Spurgeon, Warfield, Hodge, and Machen, and can glean insights unavailable to many over the centuries. While a person living in the sixth century might have been chronologically nearer to the time of Paul, he would not have had nearly as much opportunity to study the Pauline writings as we have today. We can include in our studies the historical backgrounds of the cities to which Paul was writing; we can read his letters in their original language. These days we can sit at a computer and ask it to provide us with all the aorist passive participles in his letter to the Romans. These considerations allow us to be far more biblical in our teaching and doctrine than the person who had to live his life in hiding due to persecution, resulting in limited access to the Scriptures and also to those able to teach him.

 – James White, Scripture Alone: Exploring the Bible's Accuracy, Authority and Authenticity Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

What an encouragement to pick up our Bibles!

Reflection on Marriage

God created marriage with the purpose of displaying His glory and His gospel.  God is displayed as a single-minded pursuer, a single-minded covenant maker, and a single-minded vow keeper.  Even from the beginning, God has always been the pursuer.  Adam in the garden, Noah and his family before the flood and afterward in a drunken stupor, Abraham in his sojourning, the people of God in the desert.  In fact, of the people of God, God speaks through Amos that He “knew” them more than all the nations of the earth.  Even in the New Testament we see the Father lovingly pursuing a particular people for His glory.  Even before creation, Ephesians 1 tells us, God has had His eye on His bride.

Even when Jesus comes on the scene, we see God as a single-minded covenant maker.  Jesus himself spoke of the “ones the Father gave Him” saying, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”  The Father had given Jesus a particular job- redeem the Bride.  He did not waver from this mission, in John 17 we see Jesus praying, on the night before His death “not for the world, but for those given to Him out of the world.”  He said that He had sanctified Himself for that particular people, and His mission would be accomplished. At the last supper He said His blood would make a covenant with His disciples.  As Landon’s wedding ring will adorn the finger of Megan- and Megan alone- so Christ, the wedding ring of redemption, has been placed on the finger of God’s People.  For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.  He paid the debt due sinners, he rose again, all to win His bride to Himself.

God’s pursuit and His promise will not be in vein.  Just as Landon will stand up and seal his vows to Megan, so the Holy Spirit comes and does that in the life of believers, through the vows of His promises.  The Spirit seeks, the Spirit seals, the Spirit secures.  God keeps His vow to His particular people.  He woos and wins His Bride gladly to Himself.  We love because God first loved us.
Now, there are 5 possible applications I feel need to be emphasized from this. 

First, just as God loves His Bride and does not wavor or look to any other, so a man must do in marriage.  “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church…” we are told.  Just as God has seen all that we are, and all that we will be, but has sought us, bought us, and secured us in His unwavering love.  God’s eyes do not wander, so we must be reminded as ours are tempted to.  God humbled Himself to win His woman, may Landon (and all of us men) follow suit.
Second, God pursued imperfect people, with the purpose of perfecting them.  Ephesians 5 tells us that the purpose of marriage is sanctification.  You are a sinner marrying another sinner- just as your perfection is a process- show grace toward one another.

Third, God’s bride is called to submit to her Bridegroom.  We do this happily for such a bridegroom as ours!  The point of John 2, the Wedding at Cana, is not to tell us that Jesus liked to party (though He did), but to show that He supplies what the other bridegroom failed to.  Megan, Landon is an imperfect bridegroom, but hallelujah our eternal bridegroom is not!

Fourth, recognized the assurance of being both fully known and yet fully loved.  Tim Keller wonderfully said, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”  Find comfort in the single-mindedness is our pursuer, covenant maker, and vow keeper.

Fifth, let this ignite us each to mission, both in our marriages and our singleness.  May our passion be single-minded, just as God’s!  May we recognize that our mission is won, our hope is secure, may we rise up on mission and proclaim the gospel of grace to our families, neighbors, classmates, and to the nations.  God has won a Bride for Himself out of all the nations- may we go with confidence knowing He has promised for us to be means of accomplishing this mission.  Paul knew this assurance.  In Acts 18 as He was discouraged from preaching to the Corinthians, we read, “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”  May give ourselves to this single-minded cause: for the glory of our God.