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The Bible is not enough

Hotels and motels in America used to share one thing in common: A Bible from the Gideons.  If you consider why people go to a motel, you’ll begin to understand why the Bibles are there, too.

Of course, I think this is a good thing.  But, is it enough?

Even Jesus didn’t think so:

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”  -Luke 24:27

What’s the point?  Jesus needed to point out (to His own disciples, nonetheless) that the trajectory of the Old Testament was Himself, Jesus of Nazareth.

John 5:39 states:

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me …”

Even Jesus’ disciples interpreted the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus, from Acts 8:

34The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus

This means that the individual who doesn’t understand scripture needs a teacher to interpret it Christologically for them.  It is the most critical part of evangelism.  Christians who view the Scripture as mainly about something other than Jesus Christ are not capable of seeing a conversion like the Ethiopian Eunuch’s.

This is a good one-page article by Horace Hummel on understanding the Old Testament Christologically: http://www.mtio.com/articles/aissar5.htm

May God lead us into opportunities to do just this.

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Psalm 19:1:

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Romans 1:20:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

These verses would seem to imply that Scripture is not necessary to know God.  Additionally, it calls into question the need for church, not to mention the sacraments. In fact, any intermediary could be perceived as an obstacle to seeing God for who He is.

But, what is perceived about God?  His Glory, His eternal power, and His divine nature.  Can you and I find comfort in these things?  We might be awed by this creation, feeling very small and insignificant, but not comforted.

The God perceived in nature never leads us to Jesus.  It never leads us to a justifying God.  It never leads us to forgiveness.  For that matter, it never leads us to seeing our sins for what they are.

Where does one learn of these things?  Where does one find salvation from a Glorious, eternally powerful, divine God?  Only in the church where Christ is rightly proclaimed, where the law and Gospel are rightly divided, and where the sacraments are given for you.  Now, that’s Glorious!

May 25th sermon

Sermon from May 25:

Rotted roots

Everyone who has ever read the Bible has come to it with a prior belief about it (presupposition).  Those who say, “I just believe what the Bible says”, live in denial.  The fact is that everyone comes to the Bible with a point of view on what it is for.

Here is a brief analysis of a couple:

Moralists: This sect reads the Bible literalistically.  That is, they read the Bible and reduce it to achievable works.  Confessional Evangelicals see them as anti-nomians, because they minimize the impact of the law.  They tame the lion and make it a kitty.

Mystics: This group reads the Bible analogically.  That is, even portions of Scripture that are not written as analogies are analogized.  The following is a good explanation of this error:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/introduction/the-rise-of-allegorical-interpretation.html

In both of the above errors, the belief is that the scripture serves as a means to receive God’s approval or have an ecstatic connection with God.

Confessional Evangelical: Not to be confused with Modern Evangelical.  The assumption is that Scripture is about Jesus.  This is founded in Jesus speaking to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), and Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40).  In these two sections of Scripture, the Old Testament is interpreted through the lens of Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.  That is to say, the Bible is not about you, it’s not about God, it’s about God the Son saving sinners.  The second Adam has come to reverse the curse of the first Adam.  Seeing Scripture as primarily about Jesus is truly evangelical doctrine.

Sermon on John 11

Jesus talks with Martha in John 11 (15 minutes):

 

 

-John

Sermon from March 16

Here is the sermon I preached last weekend:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsxXbMTtWO0

-John

 

Devotional: Psalm 78

Devotional Psalm 78

This Psalm is a Maskil, which is a Psalm of instruction.  Some Psalms were prayers, others had liturgical applications.  Psalm 78 refers to the importance of instruction by instructing.

In our world, students are taught by rote memorization.  The better you memorize and can regurgitate facts, the better you will do in school.  This model begins in preschool and continues all the way through college.  By contrast, this method is not used past the 6th grade in Great Britain.

In ancient Israel, the Torah, or first five books of Moses, was the foundation for all of life in this world.

The Psalmist states that this is important stuff; that we should listen.  He tells us what he is going to teach starting in verse 2:

2I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will utter dark sayings from of old

Nothing is so intriguing as the unveiling of a mystery.  When I was a kid, we all watched while Geraldo Rivera opened a vault owned by Al Capone on live t.v.  There was nothing inside, but it was great television because of the anticipation from revealing a mystery.

Contrast the revelation of mystery to verse 3:

3things that we have heard and known,

that our fathers have told us.

Doesn’t it seem strange that the speaker in verse 2 is telling us he is going to reveal a mystery, and in verse 3 that we have heard and known it, and it is common knowledge?  Yet, this is the work of Philip as he speaks to the Ethiopian eunuch.  He reveals that Jesus is the Christ through Isaiah’s book.

We, too are called as future ministers of the Gospel to reveal the Christ hidden in the pages of the Old Testament.  We are called to teach as Christ did after his resurrection when he walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”.

Luther once said that Christ can be found on every page of Scripture.  That may be stretching it a little, but it is the Holy Spirit’s work to reveal Christ in the Old Testament.  Additionally, we have the New Testament, much of which is a commentary on the Old.  It helps us to see Christ as the New Adam.  Christ as Melchizedek.  Christ as a new Moses, leading us out of captivity.

And this is how the Old Testament is used as parable: The account of Moses leading Israel out of Egypt is not merely historical record.  It is a parable of how we have been rescued from the slavery of sin into the promised land through the waters of Baptism by Jesus.

My brothers and sister, we have been called to do this for God’s people.  To find Jesus, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the Old Testament.

And, likewise, we can find the Torah in the New Testament.  Consider Hebrews.  The meaning of this book is greatly deepened by understanding the roles of a prophet, a priest and a king in the Old Testament.

There is an ongoing dialogue between these two testaments.  The thread that runs through both is Jesus Christ.

Begin with Moses.  Begin by reading the accounts of creation, promise to Abraham, exodus and David’s reign.  Read Hebrews simultaneously.  Draw comparisons.  See the contrasts.  Discover what Luther discovered, that there is more gospel in the Old Testament than in the New.  If and when you do, your sermons will fill the listeners with faith and rescue them from rote learning.

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