Saturday, July 16, 2005

A Prerequisite for Revelation (John 14:22-24)

A young man sat in my office not too long ago. He was deeply troubled by questions and doubts about his relationship with God. He longed for God to be "real" in his life, but he feared yielding his life unreservedly to God for His total control.

I suggested two options to the young man: (1) Spend time reading Francis Schaeffer's The God Who is There and/or Escape from Reason. These works profoundly influenced my thinking as a late teenager, and I think they still contain a valuable message to those searching for God. My only warning was that he remember that God will not be found by the intellect alone. Without faith it is impossible to please God (or find Him). (2) The second option I suggested was that he simply yield himself totally to God and pursue relationship with Him, despite unanswered questions and unresolved doubts.

We prayed together and he left intending, I think, to pursue option 1. ...

This morning I sat on a porch swing and read John 14:22-24, which says,
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?"
23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.

Another one of Jesus' non-sequiturs! And then again, maybe it isn't. Judas asked why Jesus was not revealing himself to the world. Jesus replied that that the Father and Son make their abode with those who love Jesus and keep His word.

In other words, Jesus was revealing Himself to the disciples because they loved Him and were keeping His word. He was not revealing Himself to the world because they didnot love Him and were not keeping His word.

Is there a broader principle behind Jesus' statement?: Revelation hinges on loving obedience. If I want Christ to reveal Himself more fully to me, I must be in full obedience to all that He has already revealed. John 7:17 implies this, but this truth hit me anew in this passage.

Perhaps I gave that young man the wrong advice. Given Jesus' response to Judas, I should have said "God generally reveals Himself to those who love Him and are living in obedience to His Word. If you want God to be "real" to you, you have to be willing to trust Him enough to surrender fully to His control. Only when you are in that position of humility are you positioned to receive the grace of greater revelation."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Of Him all the prophets bear witness (Acts 10:43)

Acts 10:43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. (NASB)

I haven't been able to get away from the radical implications of this verse for the last 6-7 years. I keep coming back to it again and again. Our reading of the OT is very non-Petrine; at least mine has been.

Contextually, "Him" and "His name" refer to Jesus. So we can reword the verse this way, "Of Jesus, all the prophets bear witness that through Jesus' name everyone who believes on Jesus receives forgiveness of sins."

Does that sound as strange to you as it does me? Here are the questions that come to my mind:

1. All the prophets? Really?
2. The prophets talk about believing on Jesus? Where? I've never seen His name mentioned in any of the prophets.

So I went looking ... and what I found was that the prophets repeatedly call upon people to believe in the name of Yahweh (i.e., the LORD). See, for example, Isa. 50:10; Joel 2:32; Zeph. 3:12.

That means that Peter believes Yahweh is Jesus. In other words, Peter sees the prophetic call to turn to the LORD/Yahweh (Isa. 45:22), as a call to turn to Jesus.

Which leads to the questions ... When does Yahweh have reference to the Son and when does it refer to the Father? How often should we be reading Yahweh as Christ in the OT? What does Yahweh's existence as one in three, and three in one mean for understanding which person(s) of the Trinity are in view when His name Yahweh is used?

Bottom line: All the prophets talk about Jesus. Are we reading them the way Peter was? Yahweh must refer to Jesus in the OT much more than I am used to thinking.

Monday, July 04, 2005

An Independence Day Prayer from Daniel 9

Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keep Your covenant and lovingkindness for those who love You and keep Your commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances.

Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants, who spoke in Your name to our presidents, our congressmen, our judges and all the people of the land. Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day -- to the men of America, the inhabitants of Washington, D.C. and all the United States, those who are nearby and those who are far away -- because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our presidents, our congressmen, our judges, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against You; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in Your teachings which You set before us through Your servants.

Indeed all America has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse is being poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in Your word, for we have sinned against You. As it is written in Your word, all this calamity is coming on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.

And now, O Lord our God, who have brought us out of all the lands of the earth with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day -- we have sinned, we have been wicked. O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from this country, America; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, we have become a reproach and a blot on the earth. So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on this land.

O our God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our spiritual desolation; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, for your name’s sake.

Amen, and Amen.