Monday, December 16, 2013

Jason Meyer on the Word

I have recently reviewed an excellent book on preaching by Jason C. Meyer titled Preaching: A Biblical Theology. I appreciate so much of what Meyer wrote including his high view of Scripture and how he articulates the grandeur of God and of God's Word. Consider:
Scripture is a story in which (1) God rules (what he does) (2) by his word (how he does it) (3) for his glory (why he does it). All three of these points shine as dazzling aspects of God’s unparalleled greatness. A greater King exists than the human mind could even imagine. He is self—existent. He rules over everything that he brought into existence (the what of Scripture). This greatest of all kings has a greater weapon than any has ever invented, called the word of God. This word is the  means by which God administers his reign (the how of Scripture). This great King has a greater cause than any ever conceived: the cause of filling the earth with the knowledge of his glory (the why of Scripture) (44).
The "why," "what," and "how" of Scripture that Meyer highlights makes God and His Word bold and beautiful. The Scriptures are inextricably linked to God as it should be; the two cannot be separated. Meyer goes on to describe the powerful efficacy of the Word:
Notice the role of the word in this drama. Its life-giving power is unparalleled because it brought all into being out of nothing. Its power to kill is also unrivaled. God brings judgment upon humanity through his word. It is often presented in Scripture as a weapon or a sword. This sword is more powerful than a ring of power, an atomic bomb, or any weapon that anyone could invent. The word is the instrument God uses to create the world (2 Pet. 3:5), rule over his world (3:6), and bring final judgment upon the world (3:7) (44).
But then Meyer introduces a grander and even more glorious aspect of God's Word. He speaks of the incarnation as the focal point of all history and all that God has done:
But there is even more! The word of God has a hinge point that changes everything. Indeed, we could call it the hinge of all history. There comes a point when the great weapon is revealed as a person! In other words, the how (the word of God) becomes the Who (Jesus as the Word of God incarnate). God administers his rule and reign through 1 the word of God in the Old Testament, and then God’s Son comes to reign as the incarnate Word of God that brings God’s kingdom to bear in the New Testament (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13) (44-45). 
The Word has become flesh. And this Person is powerful and his potency is seen in all He has done and all He will do. This is beauty. This is glory. This is the apex of adoration and adulation and it is God's Word bringing all things to fulfillment:
Jesus Will bring the story to a dramatic conclusion with his second coming. The ending is so great that We do not yet have categories to comprehend what it will be like. We have some pictures drawn from our present categories. The Bible says that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the Waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). Talk about a thriller! Imagine standing in the middle of the sea. All you see in every direction is Water. God Wrote a story that will come to its climax when that happens: the filling up of all creation with God’s glory. Our joy will be unspeakably great and full of glory (45)!
I find this type of writing encouraging and edifying; it builds up my faith and motivates me to get into the Word and get into worship. And it is not hard to see why this perspective would help a preacher preach, and help a preacher preach the Word.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Divine grace alone prevails against sin

I highly recommend the series of theological books that fall under Crossway's collection labelled Theology In Community. I have read a couple of them and you can read my reviews of those volumes here and here. I also have their title The Kingdom of God on my Kindle, ready for reading. The most recent text from this series that I have read is Fallen: A Theology of Sin. It is an excellent resource that I have already made use of in my preaching and one that I am sure to revisit.

From this book comes the substance of this post. In a chapter entitled Sin in the Former and Latter Prophets and Writings, Paul R. House concludes his chapter by presenting a few summative statements about sin:

  1. Sin is perversion - Sin "distorts the people whom God made and thus the world over which they exercise stewardship" and it "harms people's relationship with God" (80).
  2. Sin is active - Sin is "thinking, planning, and doing" things god has prohibited as well as "not doing the good"  that God has prescribed and thus "the wrath of god is directed at people, not to sin in the abstract" (80).
  3. Sin is relational - "Sins committed by people harm people; sins committed by nations harm other nations" (81).
  4. Sin is pervasive - "Sin scars every person and portion of life" which is evident because "the scope of God's teaching indicates the multitude of ways one may sin" (81). Sin has its origin in the hearts and minds of humans and therefore "the types and effects of sin are as varied and creative as the human mind can conceive, and they are as dangerous as human opportunity allows" (81).
  5. Sin is deadly - "It harms what it touches, and it can kill wherever it goes" (81). 

And though these statements might cause one to despair and doubt, House reminds of the gospel which is neither despairing nor does it give reasons for doubting:
Because these principles are so sobering, the magnify God's redemptive work in Jesus Christ. Christians cannot really fathom all that it means to have forgiveness through the saving blood of Jesus. There is no way to fully comprehend how much each person sins and how those sins harm life. So, there is no way to thank God fully for what he has provided. Once again, only by faith can one respond to God's promises, covenants, and teaching. Sheer divine grace alone prevails against sin (81, emphasis mine).