Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just Believe (pt. 5)

John 5:17-24 But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." (18) This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (19) So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (21) For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (22) The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, (23) that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. (24) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Galatians 3:22-26 (KJV) But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (23) But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. (24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (26) For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Scripture often teaches of things beyond our knowledge, but that’s the point of all true teaching. We didn’t walk into seventh grade Algebra 1 with an innate knowledge of algebra that needed to be simply reinforced; no, we needed to be taught algebra to understand it. The Bible was meant to do that; it was given to feed our lack of innate & intimate knowledge of the nature of God & the true nature of man. Some hear these teachings & dismiss them as untrue because this is not what they think to be true. But the good student does not allow his personal opinions to bulwark the wisdom of his teacher. He may have a contrasting belief, but that belief must be set aside to gain the wisdom of his master. The student who arrogantly defends an erstwhile understanding cannot receive the new understanding set before him. He cannot be taught difficult firsthand truths from his master while tenaciously defending what he thinks is true- his own beliefs- that come merely secondhand.

Paul (in the KJV) uses the term “schoolmaster” to speak of the OT Law that men of God were “kept… shut up” under until the revelation of Jesus Christ comes to their heart. He is counterattacking Galatian tendencies to exalt the works of OT Law as significant, therein supposedly reducing the need for Christ. Paul rightly teaches the “schoolmaster” of the Law is dead upon our belief in the completely substitutional righteousness of Christ as salvific. Slavish adherence to the 613 commands of the Torah belies understanding of what is the whole of righteousness. The Law’s role is to bring us to despair of ever saving ourselves; it brings us to the point of worshipping the Law-giver & Judge as the real source of true righteousness.

But what I am analogizing as our ongoingschoolmaster”, the “guardian” (ESV) that should not be ignored as we take hold of faith in Christ, is the full corpus of God’s Word. This master can never be left behind in our pressing on towards greater understanding & faith in Christ, for it is the very source of what can be concretely known of things unseen. We all thought things about the true natures of God & man before studying Scripture, but those mere secondhand opinions must be set aside, if not completely dismissed, to take in the superior firsthand account of the Creator of all things.

Faith in the veracity of difficult truths can be challenging indeed. Some truths are difficult because of the obstinacy of the proud old nature buttressing the confines of the heart & mind against the testimony of God‘s Word. Nonetheless, God shows His sovereignty by breaking down the barricades that would impede faith in such hard teachings as the universal depravity of man. As Gal 3:22 states, He gives faith “to them that believe”. Their faith is not unlike the grace of God; it is given in full by God alone so we would have no place for boast.

But we do feed the faith that God planted in our soul through embracing the fullness of His Word.

The Trinity is hard for us to comprehend; even the best theologians grapple with explaining the nature of a monotheistic, but triune God. Jesus taught of the Father, the Son, & the Spirit as all equally being God, yet He also demanded that God is One. Some dismiss the Trinity based on the difficulty of marrying these two teachings, as if they must be able to comprehend something in order for it to be true.

Faith is necessary for that portion of truth that extends beyond our comprehension.

Matthew 19:11-12 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. (12) For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Do not be dismayed as others around you do not receive the truth of God as you have. Do not be discouraged as your faith in things somewhat unfathomable to your mind, like the omniscience of God throughout His grand creation, are dismissed by unbelievers as preposterous. Know that they simply have not, as yet, been given the faith to believe in the fantastic. Counter their obstinacy with the query “Do you fully understand all that you believe in? Did you have to study the science of electricity before turning on a light switch? Did you have to learn the laws of motion before learning to walk?” No, you believed the simple truths first; possibly deeper understanding came later to help further in your quest to be an electrician, or an Olympic runner. Nevertheless, the greater comprehension must come on the back of the basic instruction. Likewise, our faith in the fantastic morphs into knowledge as we continue to faithfully receive the schoolmaster of God’s corpus Word.

"Do not fear; just believe..." Jesus (Luke 8:50)

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