Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Scriptures and the New Year

I always become nostalgic, a bit sentimental, and do a whole lot of self-analysis as the end of the year approaches. As I near the beginning of a new year, I smell the fresh air of beginning over, and a newly minted vision is manufactured in my heart. All sorts of questions abound at a time like that: What will last? For what is worth giving my life? What is valuable in this life?

Pondering these type of thoughts, my meditations drift back to the preciousness of and the majesty in the divinely revealed Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. God has spoken! He has spoken in language, and as such, He has spoken perspicuously, authoritatively, sufficiently and with the energy of life. No wonder David wrote, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul (Psalm 19:7)." Again he would write, "Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day (Psalm 119:97)." Paul charged Timothy to "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2)." Jesus quoted the Scriptures to Satan when the evil one tempted the Master. Jesus gave the Scriptures the highest place of value and worth when He said, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4)." Paul urged Christians to take up the Word of God like a sword to fight off the evil one (Ephesians 6:17).

Thomas Cranmer extolled the Scripture when he said, "For the Scripture of God is the heavenly meat of our souls: the hearing and keeping of it makes us blessed, sanctifies us, and makes us holy: it turns our souls; it is a light to our feet: it is a sure, steadfast and everlasting instrument of salvation: it gives wisdom to the humble and lowly-hearted: it comforts, makes glad, cheers, and cherishes our consciences ("The First Part of the Exhortation to the Reading of Holy Scripture" found in "Certain Sermons or Homilies", 1864, p. 3)." God has not only spoken His mind and heart in the Scriptures, but God has also so empowered them as to accomplish His will in human hearts. Jesus spoke of the sanctification of His people when He said, "Sanctify them in truth; Your word is truth (John 17:17)." For, as Hebrews 4:12 states, "The Word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." John Calvin said, "God is true, not only because He is prepared to stand faithfully to His promises, but because He also really fulfills whatever He declares; for He so speaks, that His command becomes a reality ("Commentary upon the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans")." God's Word understood, affirmed, and believed is part of the divine power that causes the sinner to be born again (1 Peter 1:23), and it the Word of God that will cause us to grow in faith and grace throughout our lives. Paul declared, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17)."

As we approach a new year, let us recommit ourselves to the God of the Word by being committed to the Word of God. Let's pursue the Word of God with a holy passion, an authentic hunger, and a deep desire to glorify God in the understanding and application of His Word. May we who are preachers refresh out commitment to preaching exegetically and systematically the Word of the Lord, and may every Christian plan to regularly and meaningfully read and obey the Word of God. For God's Word will never pass away. The Psalmist wrote, "Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in heavens (Psalm 119:89)."

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