Category Archives: General

Reading Plan Round-Up

 

How’s your New Year’s Bible reading  resolution going?

It’s February and a notoriously difficult month for those of us who are attempting to read through the Bible from cover to cover or for those of us who are spending a large amount of time reading the first 5 books of the Old Testament.

It may be a good time to review the post, “How to Fail at your New Year’s Reading Plan” to keep an eye out for those areas where failure is most often rooted.

Here I want to offer some additional encouragement to point out some of the obstacles that you may face and help you navigate through them efficiently.  One primary principle that will help in the majority of these sections is the macro-view, or looking at the forest instead of the trees.  What I mean by this is that it may help to look at these books, chapters, sections as a whole and ask, “What is the big idea being communicated through all of the intricate details?”

For example, if you’ve finished Genesis and moved into Exodus, you’re likely to encounter some difficulty in the later chapters of Exodus, particularly as they relate to the instructions given to Moses for building the tabernacle and its appurtenances in chapters 26-40.  One way to approach this is to pair this up with the New Testament, particularly Hebrews, to see the purpose of the OT tabernacle, ordinances, and priesthood were to point to their greater fulfillment in Christ.

Second, you may note the intrinsic details of these chapters and meditate on the gifts that God bestowed upon His people to construct and fabricate all that He commanded.

Third, you may want to meditate on the fact that if God went to such extremes to construct this earthly tabernacle, how much more amazing is the incarnation of His Son Jesus Christ, the True Tabernacle?

Finally, understanding these chapters are descriptions of how God is ordering the worship of Himself, meditate on how God has ordered the worship of Himself under the New Covenant.  Has he just giving it up to Christian liberty?  Has He left us to our own devices to worship Him how we see fit?  Certainly if God was this prescriptive in the Old Covenant, there must be something for us to glean for our worship today.

A second obstacle may come from the book of Leviticus with its detailed descriptions of sacrifices and offerings.  This post on the correlation of Leviticus with Hebrews may be a helpful tool to navigate these chapters.  From the macro-view, highlight how often Leviticus (and Numbers) uses the phrase “the Lord spoke” or “the Lord said”.  What does this say about a God who speaks? (See also Hebrews 1:1)  What does it communicate about Moses?  Second, Leviticus is particularly concerned with the Principle of Separation, namely the clean from unclean, holy from unholy, and the sacred from profane.  Let this impact how you read and understand the necessity of all of these sacrifices and be overwhelmed at the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the EXTREME amount of blood and detailed sacrifices, and then let that carry you into worship of THE Sacrifice, THE Lamb without blemish, THE final sacrifice, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The third obstacle will most likely be the book of Numbers.  This is a difficult book for me.  There are genealogies, complaining, wilderness wanderings, sacrifices, rebellions, complaining, narratives, law, grace, prophecy, complaining, censuses, and more complaining.  One macro-view for reading Numbers is to dwell on the Wilderness, the reason why they are wandering, the oft “from one wilderness to the next”, how this is downstream from Adam and Eve’s exile, how this is upstream from Christ’s wilderness (See Matthew 4:1-11), and how the Church today may be in the wilderness like the Church of old (See Acts 7:38 and Hebrews 3&4).

Finally, if you’re looking for more help,  there is an excellent video series published by the folks at The Bible Project.  Below are two on the book of Numbers, but every book is available and provides and excellent big picture overview, much like an introduction.

By All Means, Let Grace be Grace!

Hopefully you read the post from earlier this week and were challenged by the truths to turn back to God, repent of your sins, and begin living for Him.  Maybe even God has been working on you and you’ve felt Him chasing after you.  Hebrews 12:5-6 NKJV says, “…My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”  It’s out of love that He pursues you and wants you back.  Don’t be discouraged, or continue to evade God, surrender to Him.  With that said, how then do we follow up on a message like backsliding, where we placed emphasis on producing fruit in our lives as evident of a true conversion and salvation in Christ?  We back that message up the same way that the Bible does by teaching that these works and “fruits” are meaningless if they are done from the flesh and not the Spirit.  No amount of works or fruit is going to get you anywhere, much less heaven, unless the Holy Spirit is working in your life to produce this fruit.  There is no such thing as “works salvation” or justification by faith + works.  There is grace and by all means, let grace be grace!

The Apostle Paul, writing about the divine sovereignty of God to bring those whom He’s called to salvation, says this in Romans 11:6 ESV regarding grace, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”  If we attempt to earn or work our way to salvation then it takes away the grace of God, resulting in grace no longer being grace.  Grace is a gift and by its definition is unmerited favor.  That means nothing you’ve done or could ever hope to do will earn you grace.  In this same manner, nothing can be done to pay back grace.  We can’t say, well God gave me grace, I’m a Christian, now I’m going to pay Him back by doing more and more.  Romans 3:23-24 ESV says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  It is a gift, through Christ Jesus, given through our faith.

What if our justification, or salvation came from works, meaning the more we did or felt we earned or deserved the more saved we are?  How would that look?  First it would be an absolute mess because who would determine the number of works that would need to be done in order to reach salvation?  What kind?  How would sin get addressed?  The more we would do the greater our sense of pride would well up inside and say, “Look at me!  I’m so great, I did all of this!  I helped all of these people, gave this amount of money, worked for this charity, I earned my salvation, I deserve to go to heaven.”  Well Paul specifically addresses this in Romans 3:27-28, “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”  There is no boasting with grace because it wasn’t yours to give and it’s not yours to get, apart from the redemptive work of Jesus.  God pours out grace on us when we believe, through faith, that He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins.  One final exhortation from the Apostle, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16 ESV

Apart from grace in our lives, we are not saved.  Without it we can do nothing.  We are at the sole mercy of God, but that’s what makes grace so amazing and marvelous.  We don’t deserve it, but if we trust Christ as Savior, He gives it to us anyway, and that’s when the Holy Spirit begins working in our lives to produce the fruits of the Spirit we read about in Galatians 5:22-23 ESV, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Trust Christ as Savior, let the Spirit do the work in you and through you and by all means, let Grace be Grace!

Marvelous Grace

Verse 1

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Chorus

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Verse 2

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,

Threaten the soul with infinite loss;

Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,

Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Chorus

Verse 3

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.

What can avail to wash it away?

Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,

Brighter than snow you may be today.

Chorus

Verse 4

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,

Freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see His face,

Will you this moment His grace receive?

Chorus