Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How Did Jesus See the Old Testament?

Are we as Christians missing out on much of the meaning of the New Testament because we don't understand the Old? Alec Motyer speaks on Jesus' and his disciples' view of the OT Scriptures:
"It would not have surprised his disciples that our Lord affirmed the enduring validity of the Old Testament (Matthew 5:18). They would have taken it for granted that God's word is imperishable. It is we who must candidly face the Lord's estimate of the Bible as he knew it and, out of reverence for him, adjust our misunderstandings until we see the beautiful wholeness of the word of God, the Old and New Testaments as divine revelation" (The Story of the Old Testament, p. 10).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Feelings Follow Behavior

Wow. Here's a truth that needs to be promoted with all seriousness in our churches. Psychology has introduced us to a failed model of therapeutic "truth" that has even permeated the church. But David M. Tyler in his book God's Funeral argues that ungodliness (idolatry) leads to unrighteousness (wrong behavior) and thus is the cause of much of our mental sufferings:

"'Feelings follow behavior' is a principle found first in Genesis 3 and throughout the whole Bible.

"The Bible teaches that there is a relationship between behavior and feelings. Ungodliness leads to unrighteousness which leads to guilt, depression, anxiety, fear, shame, etc. After they had eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve fled from the presence of God because they were "afraid" (Genesis 3:10). When God rejected Cain's offering he became angry and depressed. God asked Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?' God said to Cain, 'If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?' (Genesis 4:6-7). If Cain would change his behavior his feelings would change. God's rhetorical question to Cain sets forth the important principle that behavior determines feelings."

I'm convinced that this principle holds true for kiddies as well as their mommas and daddies.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Cost of Discipleship

"And they said to him, 'The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.' And Jesus said to them, 'Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days'" (Luke 5:33-35).

"When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed" (Acts 14:21-23).

"Jesus takes it for granted that his disciples will observe the pious custom of fasting. Strict exercise of self-control is an essential feature of the Christian's life. Such customs have only one purpose--to make the disciples more ready and cheerful to accomplish those things which God would have done" (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, quoted by John Piper in A Hunger for God).

Fasting is a lost discipline of Christ's church. May we recover it for his glory.