Monday, May 3, 2010

Always the Scriptures

How we need to do away with false divisions in our thinking between the work of the Spirit and the use of the Scriptures. The Lord Jesus elevated the Scriptures! Here's one example; here's how he partnered the most shivery, spine-tingling, exciting spiritual experience of all history (his resurrection!) with the use of his written testimony, the Scriptures.

After he was raised from the dead, the Lord met up with two sad and disturbed disciples of his on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-49). He asked them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" (as if he didn't know). As they sadly explained, he had a firm plan and purpose; he was about to open their minds and hearts to the very thing they had lacked in their understanding all the events they had seen so far. He was about to open up the Scriptures to them.

"Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" he began. Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them "in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." Later, after he had broken bread with them and had revealed to them who he was, they exclaimed to one another, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" Tumbling over themselves with excitement they hurried to Jerusalem and Peter and the other disciples to report all these things, and when Jesus appeared to them there, their fearful disbelief melted into (ahem) joyous disbelief as they touched his real body and watched him eat real food. And these observable proofs were not what convinced. The Lord Jesus told them as their eyes were taking all this in:

"These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then, the text says, "he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written...'" (Luke 24:44-46a). This was the the thing they had lacked.

It is always the Scriptures.

What our eyes have seen will never be enough. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Abraham tells the rich man, suffering torment in hell, that sending Lazarus from Paradise to warn his brothers would not convince them. "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them... if they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead" (Luke 17:29, 31). Jesus told doubtful Thomas after he had touched his resurrected body, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

Always the Scriptures.

"Faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). The Lord Jesus had disclosed that the Holy Spirit would glorify him because he would "take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:14). He had told them that this Holy Spirit would "not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak" (John 16:13). He told them that the Holy Spirit will be the Helper sent by the Father in Jesus' name who will "bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." And this is just what happened after the Lord ascended; the Holy Spirit came and powerfully opened up the truth and the interpretation of Jesus' words to his disciples, so that they wrote them down into living, life-giving words. Now the Spirit does the work done by the Lord Jesus himself on the Emmaus road and with the gathered disciples: he opens up the minds and hearts of those who read and hear to understand.

Always the Scriptures!

"You have exalted above all things your name and your word" (Psalm 138:2).

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