I’ve had my exegetical feathers ruffled lately.
Sorry, that’s another BIG word. The process of exegesis is that of investigating a text for the purpose of understanding its intended meaning. It’s a beautiful thing when the text being studied is the Bible. On the other hand, eisogesis is the process of taking to the text rather than taking from the text. I have seen countless examples of this since becoming a Christian, even in an otherwise very good Sunday School class at a local church.
Several weeks ago, I heard a teacher state that Nathanael was “surely thinking of…” [he completed the sentence]. This morning I heard someone else say that the Apostle John was clearly implying that Nicodemus had witnessed Jesus’ cleansing the temple.
What’s the problem?
We don’t know. We don’t have proof. We simply have no idea what Nathanael was thinking as he sat under the fig tree (John 1:45-51). We also have no evidence within the text that Nicodemus was in the temple when Jesus drove out the money changers (John 2:13-21).
Someone told me a story last week which relates to this topic. His friend was visiting an Anglican church in England recently. The female pastor stood up to read her text for that particular Sunday. After doing so, she commented that since no one really knows what the passage means, she did not want to waste time offering her two cents. Instead, she ascended her social issue soapbox and began “sharing.”
It’s a BIG word, but I love the truth it conveys when applied to the Bible. The perspicuity of Scripture means that the Bible is clear in its intended meaning. The passage that the lazy woman refused to put forth the effort to study has a meaning. Every book, section, passage, verse, sentence, phrase and word has meaning. Most are clearly understood with very little labor. I guess that is why I become irritated when pastors, teachers and writers either knowingly or unknowingly communicate what isn’t there rather than to draw our attention to what actually is there.
There is so much there!
I love this historic assertion from the Westminster Confession of Faith:
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2 Pet. 3:16); yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Ps. 119:105, 130).
You do not have to be a seminary graduate to understand God’s Word! Admittedly, there are a few challenging passages of Scripture. However, the overwhelming majority of the biblical text can be read and understood by “the unlearned.” In other words, it is clear!
How thankful we should be for such a gift!
Beware of mishandling the Bible. And repent when you do so (we’ve all done it)!
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Just found this story as link on Fox News. I can hear the distant jeering of “the enlightened” –those educated by the establishment, individuals who have rejected the faith of their fathers or grandfathers. But not everyone denies the supernatural amidst the natural. This account mentions two believers who encountered the hand of God at a state park. Be encouraged by their belief. Worship the glorious God who is intimately involved in the creation of diamonds and the changing colors of the leaves on the trees!
MURFREESBORO, Ark. – A 14-year-old Oklahoma City girl unearthed a 3.85-carat diamond during a family visit to Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park.
Tana Clymer discovered the canary gem Saturday at the park, which is the only diamond-producing site in the United States that is open to the public.
Tana told News9.com she noticed something on the surface of the ground after sifting through the search field for about two hours.
“I thought it was a piece of paper or foil from a candy wrapper,” Tana said. “Then, when I touched it, I thought it was a marble. I think God pointed me to it. I was about to sprint to join my family, and God told me to slow down and look. Then, I found the diamond!”
The yellow diamond is teardrop-shaped and about the size of a jellybean.
“This canary diamond is very similar to the gem-quality, 4.21-carat canary diamond found at the Crater of Diamonds by Oklahoma State Trooper Marvin Culver of Nowata, Oklahoma, on March 12, 2006, a gem he named the Okie Dokie Diamond,” said Bill Henderson, assistant park superintendent.
Tana named the diamond “God’s Jewel,” park officials said.
“Tana told me that she was so excited, she couldn’t sleep last night,” Henderson said Sunday. “She’s either going to keep the diamond for a ring, or, if it’s worth a lot, she’ll want that for college.”
Many diamonds have been found close to the surface so far this year, Henderson said, noting that heavy rainfall pushes dirt away, leaving the diamond exposed.
In July, a 12-year-old North Carolina boy unearthed a 5.16 carat diamond while on vacation with his family at the park. He named it “God’s Glory Diamond.”
Her gem is the 396th diamond found so far this year at the park in southern Arkansas. Other gems discovered at the state park include amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite, and quartz.
More than 75,000 diamonds have been found at the site since the first discovery in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who owned the land at the time.
The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed at the site in 1924 and weighed 40.23 carats.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Link to the article:
While we were on vacation recently, I heard a song by Alan Jackson playing on the radio. One line in particular caught my attention. In the song Where I’m From, Jackson states that he/they are “workin’ hard to get to heaven.” I don’t know if anyone was listening, but I said out loud, “One thing is sure; you don’t understand the gospel.”
The gospel isn’t about our “workin’ hard.” It’s really about God’s “workin’ hard” for us. Or to put it another way: I do not work hard to get to heaven, I work hard because I am going to heaven. I do not labor to earn my heavenly citizenship. I labor because I already possess heavenly citizenship. Yep–you may have guessed it–I am a protestant. I am a child of the reformation, and I appreciate the reformers’ stress that salvation is sola gratia–by grace alone.
I came across this quote from theologian John Frame recently: “Grace is not like a box of candy that you can send back if you don’t want it. Grace is divine favor, an attitude of God’s own heart. We cannot stop him from loving us, if he chooses to do so. Nor can we stop him from giving us blessings of salvation: regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, glorification. His purpose in us will certainly be fulfilled, Phil. 1:6, Eph. 1:11.” (www.monergism.org).
God gives. We receive. It isn’t much more complicated than that.
I recently watched a fascinating five-part documentary on the Star Trek captains. Canadian television icon William Shatner produced the series of interviews with the actors who were privileged to play the role of captain of the starship Enterprise. The first interviewee was Avery Brooks. Brooks played Benjamin Sisko on the series Deep Space Nine. The man is complex and eccentric (if not permanently stoned). It was entertaining watching Shatner attempt to communicate and understand Brooks. The following two interviews, however, were the ones which I found particularly interesting. Shatner sat down with Kate Mulgrew and Patrick Stewart. Mulgrew was Captain Janeway on Star Trek Voyager. Stewart is famous for his portrayal of Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Both Mulgrew and Stewart were successful in their careers before putting on their uniforms. They brought years of experience with them to the Paramount lots. But they also brought something else with them.
Each brought regret.
Some regret at age 58 (Mulgrew) and 73 (Stewart) is expected. None of us live perfect lives. We make mistakes. Sin mars many of our decisions. More than likely, you and I will have a couple of regrets when we begin “looking back” upon our years. But I do not want that inevitability to make me less vigilant during these days when regrets are created.
You might be wondering the nature of the regrets mentioned by these famous actors. It won’t surprise you to hear that both mentioned their failures within their family. Mulgrew talked about putting career above her children from time-to-time. Stewart expressed even more remorse over his two failed marriages. Their confessions reminded me to be careful that I do not lose what I currently possess–my marriage and my children.
It isn’t by chance tonight that I am wearing a tee-shirt which reads, STAND on the front. I don’t recall where I purchased the shirt. It’s comfortable for sleeping. But tonight I thought I’d read the verse printed on the back. It is a passage most Christians cherish. 1 Corinthians 10:13 contains a precious promise to all believers. God will provide a way of escape when we are tempted. And–I have been tempted. And–I will be tempted yet again. So will you. I will be lured away from my responsibilities. I will be tempted to believe the lie that the grass is greener. So will you.
What must we do? STAND! Stand firm and look for the God-provided way of escape. Shatner, who also made unwise decisions in his personal life, described regret as the worse of all emotions. Mulgrew contested that assertion. I would probably do the same. Regret is part of the human experience. It is also a constant reminder to remain faithful to our present callings.
In the final interview of the series, the camera was turned on the producer–William Shatner. While he was answering a question about what he sacrificed for his career, he mentioned his current wife of ten years. He admitted to finally reaching a point in his relationships where he could truly love just one woman. When asked what matters most to her, Kate Mulgrew replied, “Love.” Both were striving to live without regrets.
That’s how I am striving to live today. Yes, I have regrets. There are things I would definitely do over. But I do not want that to be true in my relationship with Jodi and my role as a father. Pray that I STAND. Pray that I will balance my priorities correctly, living for what matters–the glory of God and the blessing of others.
May God enable you to do the same.