We have a wonderful opportunity to know the exquisite richness and beauty of God’s word and to share its bounty with others. To approach it without acknowledging Him reduces it to meaningless history or storytelling. To read and study it without honoring the Author’s intent risks burdening yourself and others with the shackles of legalism or moralism. It becomes irrelevant as soon as we dismiss the context God has determined for each passage and each word. We attempt to usurp His authorship when we insert ourselves into the text as the hero, stealing glory from God, who alone deserves praise.
This article first appeared at Servants of Grace on May 17, 2021, as part of the series, “Fighting Biblical Illiteracy Through Study and Discipleship”.
With him, we are crucified to this world. He didn’t die to make the world like paradise. He died to separate us for paradise, that better Eden.
(This post first appeared at Servants of Grace as part of the Hebrews devotional series.)
Despite the growing societal disdain for “evangelicals” as a loosely identified political class in America, evangelism (which, by default, is practiced by evangelicals) is a thing. A believer embraces the evangel, the good news, the gospel. To the one who believes, it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), by which we are saved, if we hold fast to it (1 Corinthians 15:2), a truth embedded in the Scriptures which gives eternal life to those who come in truth (John 5:39-40).
Most of the time, life’s reveals come to me in retrospect. “Oh, now I see why that had to happen that way!” But after many years of repeating that to myself over and over, now, in some moments, the images slide together in focus, and I comprehend that—Aha!—God is at this very moment providentially moving about in the world, through human action, to bring about his will for his glory and my good. I don’t know what he has planned as the outcome, but there are things he is doing today that are instrumental in accomplishing it.
So many cling to the culture’s fleeting valuations of power and influence when, to the King of the Universe, nothing is more beautiful or worthy than the glowing, affliction–ravaged face of his bride. More than a master sculptor chipping away at a hunk of concrete to create a masterpiece—that is power over the medium. This is love. Jesus tenderly prepares us for the heavenly wedding feast, converting the mud slung in reproach into a sanctifying beauty treatment that softens the heart and fortifies the soul. His glorious light shines through.
The passage of the ship through the harbor isn’t guaranteed to be turbulence-free, but it is guaranteed to be safe for all who hold on to hope. (This post originally appeared on September 1, 2020, at Servants of Grace, as part of the website’s Hebrews series.)
In this time of confusion, sorrow, and unrest, when many of us may have forgotten what it’s like to sing with the brethren in worship, there is one thing that binds believers together. We are all learning the same words of the song we will sing together on Mount Zion. Our study doesn’t include traditional methods of voice instruction—no scales or enunciation practice. When we serve one another in Christ through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we leave behind the distinctions that divide. We lay aside our prejudices and idols; we build harmonies and practice heavenly graces that rise up to God’s ears as ethereal melodies. (This post originally appeared at Servants of Grace.)
The world cannot dislodge our footing in Christ. He is steadfast and so are his promises, more than anything we could find from this present vapid and groundless age. He has said he will complete the work he has begun in us.
Don’t let conduct or conversation steal away opportunities to proclaim freedom to those enslaved to sin and life to the despairing. (originally published at Servants of Grace)
This is the divine recipe for the bride’s beauty treatment: otherworldly love that compelled a King to sacrifice himself on her behalf.