Friday, March 12, 2010

Know the Scriptures

Well, this is my second post for the day. I'm tempted not to do this, because my tendency is to use something like this a ton at the beginning and then for it to quickly fade out, but I'll just try to make sure that doesn't happen.

So tonight I was reading Matthew 22:23-33. I read the whole chapter last night, but something jumped out at me that I wanted to spend more time thinking/praying over, or just in general meditating on. I'll give the context a little first and then jump right in. So this is in a series of tests that religious people of the day bring to Jesus. First the Pharisees came and asked whether people should pay taxes. Then the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, came and asked Jesus who would be married to whom if a woman had a husband who died and she remarried. Lastly the Pharisees come back and ask what the greatest commandment is.

The one that I'm looking at is the Sadducees. So they tell this story and ask Jesus the question in order to stump him, but he turns it back on them and says, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." Jesus then goes on to answer their question, but this really stuck out to me. What it must have been like to have Jesus right there with you, to be able to ask him any question and he can just give you the answer from Scripture. It makes me think of James 1 where we are told to ask for wisdom and God will give it to us. I've tried this from time to time, God actually will do it, sometimes I've even gotten a direct, immediate response to a question, but often times He answers in ways we don't expect.

Even today I found myself coming before Him with the question, "Why don't you save all people? Why would you come and die only to still have some perish?" (If you don't believe this then look back a couple of verses to Matt 22:14) There was no answer. There wasn't a voice from above that shouted the answer to me, "BECAUSE I LIKE IT THAT WAY NATHAN!!!". No, the only thing was a small voice inside of me that said, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." All of these questions, "How important is obedience in the process of our sanctification, does God sanctify us no matter what or do we need to respond?" "Is justification a once and done thing or are there two parts to it?" (a current topic in reformed circles) "Will the world get better until Christ returns or will it get worse and worse?" "Will there be any believers when Christ returns?" All of these questions that are asked so often, and we just wish Jesus were here, but if he were I would imagine he would say "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God".

But Jesus is not talking here of the New Testament Scriptures that we so often read. The New Testament is precious and inspired by God, but it is also narrow in scope. I have so many thoughts here that go in so many different directions but all weave together to come to a common end, so I am going to try to get them down without being confusing.

We look at Jesus teaching, where else does he teach such heavy things as he does here about the resurrection? Jesus teaching is better summed up in the future test where he says "Love the Lord your God and love you neighbor as yourself." But what we see here, in this glimpse into Jesus' knowledge of the Scriptures, we see that his knowledge of God was much deeper than his teachings to the everyday people. And this knowledge was not somehow just imputed to him, it came from a study of the Old Testament.

I wonder if our watered down theology is somewhat based on our propensity to read and preach through the New Testament over and over while leaving the Old Testament untouched. If we have a slim understanding of faith because we read Hebrews 11 instead of reading Genesis-Leviticus. If our understanding of repentance is hindered because it is based almost entirely on the definition of the word (to turn from something) rather than an understanding of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the minor prophets. I wonder if I don't understand why God has not chosen to save everyone because I am in chapter 22 of Matthew after only 2 months but still only half way through Isaiah after 2 1/2 years (and not because I'm digging that much more into Isaiah...)

Right now I have markers in 2 New Testament books that I am regularly working through and 4 Old Testament books that I have grown weary of and sometimes stopped reading. So I am going to heed the words of Jesus and tomorrow night, rather than reading Matthew again, I am going to head back to 1 Kings.

Oh, the other thought that I chased around earlier but never said was this. We see here that what Jesus was studying in Scripture and knew of Scripture was much deeper than what he regularly taught about God. I know that I have a tendency to only look as deep into Scripture as I would go in a Sunday morning sermon, but another thing that this passage says to me is that it is ok to look past just what the passage says about the gospel and think of what it says regarding the resurrection, or election, or atonement, or demons, or magic, or education, or family, and the list goes on and on.

These are things that I feel all of us know, but we often forget.

As you read the Word of God may the Scriptures be opened before you, the veils fall off, and may you see the glory of God plainly displayed before you. May you be filled with all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may know the will of God, and discern truth from untruth, right from wrong.

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