Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Rev 5:6-9 NLT “Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. (7) He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne. (8) And when He took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God's people. (9) And they sang a new song with these words: "You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For You were slaughtered, and Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
There is a direct correlation between the above passage and the following one:
Luke 24:44-45 NLT “Then He said, "When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled." (45) Then He *opened their minds* to understand the Scriptures.”
Jesus had a specific way of looking at the scripture. He saw it as expressing his purpose and destiny. It is only in seeing the scripture as Jesus sees it that one can have the scripture opened. It is only opened when Jesus and the redemption that he brings is the sole focus of the scripture. All scripture must be viewed with the understanding that Jesus is Lord and Christ and the sole purpose of the scripture.
Paul puts it another way in this passage: 2Co 3:14-16 NRSV “But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. (15) Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; (16) but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Notice that the veil is only removed with a Christ-centered approach to reading and understanding the scripture.
That is one of the main obstructions to revelation knowledge today in the church. To really truly understand the scripture in the way that it was meant one must see the redemptive gospel focus. The passage that I quoted above from second Corinthians ends with an explanation of the ministry of reconciliation. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself not counting trespasses. He made Jesus who knew no sin to be made sin for sinful humanity so that reconciled humanity could be the righteousness of God in Christ and be at peace with God.
Peace with God is the most important aspect of truly loving God. The Shema, Deu 6:4-6 NRSV “Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. (5) You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. (6) Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.” Jesus said that this was the first and greatest commandment. i.e, loving God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might.
This commandment can only be fulfilled when one is set at peace with God because of the grace found in Jesus Christ. The scripture will only be opened when one understands the gospel of grace in its fullness and ties all the reading and teaching and preaching to it.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
What is the gospel? The question is based upon the observation that Jesus and his first century followers that wrote the New Testament redefined the phrase word of God to mean either the gospel or, Jesus the living gospel from the book of Acts forward. Assuming that the apostolic writings meant gospel in using the phrase word of God it is very reasonable to try to understand what they meant by that. I further believe that it is reasonable to see the gospel as being the reader’s digest version of the redemptive narrative.
Ephesians 1:4 states that this gospel purpose was birthed before the foundation of the world, and therefore, is the first consideration of God in creation. The wording of Paul in Ephesians 1:3-14 must lead to the conclusion that redemption was the first purpose of creation. There is nothing in the biblical narrative that predates this other than John 1:1-5. John 1:1 states in the beginning (en arche) and assumes that God, and His Word were there prior to Ephesians 1:4. However, Ephesians 1:4 et.al. explains the purpose set forth in creation.
With this in mind, one of the most concise statements of the biblical narrative is Paul’s in 2 Corinthians 5. (2Co 5:18-21 NRSV) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. (20) So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (21) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The thrust of the gospel narrative that we are responsible to deliver is simply that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, making the one who knew no sin to be made sin for us, that we in turn might become the righteousness of God in Him. We are to exhort people to be reconciled to God. The redemptive narrative is the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, we are to exhort people to understand they are at peace with God because of Christ (Rom 1:5.)
This peace with God exists so that we might love God with all our heart, soul, and might. The love for God will promote our ability to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are prompted in our minds to ask about whom our neighbor might be, we are given the parable of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbor may well be someone who hates us.
Likewise, peace with God will be the catalyst for obedience to God. All of the commandments are encapsulated in the idea that we will love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It will only flow from true peace with God which the writer of Hebrews expressed as the Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4:1-11.)
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