Monday Morning Humor

Nov 04, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

Very well done and very funny. (I apologize for the OMG at the end.)

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Moral Convictions Must Emerge Out in the Open

Nov 01, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

Some honest, thought provoking reflections from R. R. Reno on the pressure we face to deal politely with the erosion of moral truth:

A friend confides to me that he’s having an adulterous affair. I sigh inwardly over our sin-saturated condition as I remind him that the Ten Commandments are pretty clear about adultery. I counsel, but perhaps too sympathetically. I exhort, though often too gently. And even though he responds with self-justifying sophistries, it doesn’t affect our friendship very much. We go on as before, though maybe with a little more distance between us.

I have to a certain extent soft-pedaled moral truth because I’m weak and want to get along. Swimming against the current is exhausting and can be lonely. I reassure myself that at least I haven’t really condoned his transgression, haven’t affirmed as right that which is wrong. It’s an easy, thin, cowardly consolation, yes, but it’s also a crucial line of defense against the debilitating interior corruption of willingly and self-consciously betraying the truth.

Most of us who dissent from the sexual revolution do something similar, not just with friends but with society as a whole. We go to work socialize, and share public space with many people who reject the moral law’s authority over their lives, people who regard abortion as a fundamental right or who think sexual liberation an imperative. We do so in large part with civility and an appreciation for their good qualities. We accommodate ourselves to the moral realities of our time but don’t condone them. We do this because we can look away, not fixing on what is wrong because we are not forced to do so.

We can’t so easily accommodate when circumstances force the issue. If my married friend were to insist on bring his mistress to a dinner party, I’d be under tremendous social pressure to smile, shake her hand, and make her welcome, all of which would erode my defense against betraying the moral truth. I’ve done just that, or something similar. They are painful occasions. I feel myself bearing false witness, all but affirming out loud what I know to be wrong. As I struggle for moral survival, I try to reserve some moral space, deep within the privacy of my consciousness, where I’m saying  “no” even as I’m socially saying “yes.”

In this and moments like it, I find myself wishing I prized politeness less and had the interior freedom to kick out my friend and his mistress—or in some way to give the moral truth that has been jammed into a far corner of my conscience some purchase on reality, some public expression. For a purely internal commitment, a moral conviction that never emerges out in the open when confronted by its negation, can easily, perhaps inevitably, become spectral, inconsequential, and eventually lifeless. (“Marriage Matters” in First Things, November 2013, p. 4)

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The Glory of the Reformation: A Clean Conscience

Oct 31, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

Reformation Day commemorates Martin Luther’s action in nailing the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.

Just as consequential were the events that transpired a little over three years later.

In January 1521, Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther and called upon him to defend his beliefs before the Holy Roman Emperor at an Imperial Diet in Worms. When the Diet took place that April Luther, did not stroll into Worms a confident man. On the first day he was so intimidated his statements could hardly be understood. Luther had reason to be afraid, for there were plans to banish Luther from the empire (or worse) if he did not recant his books.

The interrogation was no short affair, but by the end Luther had summoned his courage, concluding with these famous words: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, for going against my conscience is neither safe nor salutary. I can do no other, here I stand, God help me. Amen.”

On May 26, 1521, the emperor rendered his decision. Luther was to be placed under “ban and double ban.” The Edict of Worms enjoined the men and women of the empire “not to take the aforementioned Martin Luther into your houses, not to receive him at court, to give him neither food nor drink, not to hide him, to afford him no help, following, support, or encouragement, either clandestinely or publicly, through words or works. Where you can get him, seize him and overpower him, you should capture him and send him to us under tightest security.”

Nevertheless Luther would live to see another day. . . .and another. . . .and another. . . .and another, managing escape from the imperial snare, sometimes quite dramatically. But Luther didn’t know any of that when he took his famous stand at Worms. What he did know was that he was willing to endure expulsion and face the gravest bodily harm for the sake of his conscience.

And not “conscience” as some liberated, self-directed, autonomous feeling. But conscience held “captive to the Word of God.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that the history of the Reformation, the history of Germany, the history of Europe, the history of the Church, and indeed the history of the world were changed because Martin Luther refused to do and say what he knew in his head and heart to be wrong.

As Christians, we don’t think about the significance of our consciences as much as we should. Of course, the conscience is not infallible. It can be evil (Heb. 10:22), seared (1 Tim. 4:2), defiled (Titus 1:15), or weak (1 Cor. 8:7). But that doesn’t allow us to ignore our conscience. There are more than a dozen occasions where the New Testament makes a positive reference to the testimony of the conscience.

For example:

  • Acts 23:1 “And looking intently at the council, Paul said, ‘Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.'”
  • Romans 9:1 “I am speaking the truth in Christ-I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:12a “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience.
  • 2 Timothy 1:3 “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience.”
  • Hebrews 13:18 “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.”

The conscience was not the final judge and jury in matters of the heart, but it is one of the most important witnesses to bring to the stand. Conscience-as the faculty within human beings that assesses what is right and what is wrong-is meant to be, as the Puritans put it, “God’s spy and man’s overseer.” It is our prosecuting attorney, bringing up offenses and producing guilty. And just as importantly, the conscience is our defense attorney, helping us face false accusations and slanders of the evil one (Rom. 2:14-15).

Having a conscience is a mark of being a sentient adult, as one (to use scriptural langauge) who knows his right hand from his left. The conscience is what separates us from the animals, which is why Pinocchio becomes a beast when he ignores his conscience and persists in deceit. Conscience is indispensable to being a human being that lives the good life, enjoys peace with God, and lives a life pleasing to God.

In a day where we are encouraged to do whatever feels good, in a day where a moral compass is thought to be prudish and narrow, in a day where the state thinks nothing of trampling on the liberty of consciences, we would do well to remember Luther’s example and remember what the Bible says.

  • Acts 24:16 “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”
  • 1 Tim. 1:5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
  • 1 Peter 3:16 – “Have a good conscience so that when you are slandered those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

If you are caught in sin and your conscience accuses you, turn from iniquity. If you are smitten with regret for past mistakes and offenses, run to the cross. And if you are faced with the choice to follow the world or obey your conscience, pray for the same courage that descended upon Luther at Worms.

“Conscience is either the greatest friend,” Richard Sibbes once remarked, “or the greatest enemy in the world.” Don’t ignore his wisdom. There is no friend like a clean conscience and no enemy like a conscience doing its God-given work. Turn from sin and turn to Christ. Stand your ground. Get on your knees. Be a captive to the Word of God and boast in your conscience.

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How To Have An Abortion

Oct 30, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

The latest issue of First Things (November 2013) contains a poem from Bryce A. Taylor entitled “How to Have an Abortion.” I found it startling, poignant, and moving.

Don’t think about the freckles he, or she,
Might have, or how much hair, how big a grin,
Or whether swimming would come naturally,
Or whether–it?–might play the violin.

Don’t think of prom, don’t think of puppy love
Or calculus, or snow, or spring in bloom,
Or anything that might remind you of
The future now contained within a womb.

Don’t feel anxiety, don’t feel regret,
Don’t fret about some otherworldly guilt.
Don’t feel the bond of parenthood, don’t let
Insane outmoded Don Quixotes tilt

At private windmills–don’t spill any ink
Examining yourself. Don’t feel. Don’t think.

As you should with all good poems, read this one through slowly, and a few more times.

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The Sufficiency of Christ and the Sufficiency of Scripture

Oct 29, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

The big idea in Hebrews 1 is the point of all of Hebrews: The Son is superior to all others because in him we have the fullness and finality of God’s redemption and revelation.

We do pretty well understanding the fullness piece. Everything in the days “long ago” was pointing to Christ, and everything was completed in Christ. He is the fulfillment of centuries of predications, prophecies, and types. That’s the fullness part of the equation.

But just as important is the finality of Christ’s work. God has definitively made himself known. Christ has once for all paid for our sins. He came to earth, lived among us, died on the cross, and cried out in the dying moments, “It is finished!” We are awaiting no other king to rule over us. We need no other prophet like Mohammed. There can be no further priest to atone for our sins. The work of redemption has been completed.

And we must not separate redemption from revelation. Both were finished and fulfilled in the Son. The word of God versus the Word of God, the Bible versus Jesus, the Scriptures versus the Son—Hebrews gives no room for these diabolical antitheses. True, the Bible is not Jesus; the Scripture is not the Son. The words of the Bible and the Word made flesh are distinct, but they are also inseparable. Every act of redemption—from the Exodus, to the return from exile, to the cross itself—is also a revelation. They tell us something about the nature of sin, the way of salvation, and the character of God. Likewise, the point of revelation is always to redeem. The words of the prophets and the apostles are not meant to make us smart, but to get us saved. Redemption reveals. Revelation redeems.

And Christ is both. He is God’s full and final act of redemption and God’s full and final revelation of himself. Even the later teachings of the apostles were simply the remembrances of what Christ said (John 14:26) and the further Spirit-wrought explanation of all that he was and all that he accomplished (John 16:13-15). “Nothing can be added to his redemptive work,” Frame argues, “and nothing can be added to the revelation of that redemptive work.”[1] If we say revelation is not complete, we must admit that somehow the work of redemption also remains unfinished.

A Silent God?

Does this mean God no longer speaks? Not all. But we must think carefully about how he speaks in these last days. God now speaks through his Son. Think about the three offices of Christ—prophet, priest, and king. In the tension of the already and not yet, Christ has finished his work in each office. And yet, he continues to work through that finished work.

As a king, Christ is already seated on the throne and already reigns from heaven, but the inauguration of his kingdom is not the same as the consummation of it. There are still enemies to subdue under his feet (Heb. 2:8).

As a priest, Christ has fully paid for all our sins with precious blood, once for all, never to be repeated again. And yet, this great salvation must still be freely offered and Christ must keep us in it (Heb. 2:3).

Finally, as a prophet, God has decisively spoken in his Son. He has shown us all we need to know, believe, and do. There is nothing more to say. And yet, God keeps speaking through what he has already said. The word of God is living and active (Heb. 4:12), and when the Scriptures are read the Holy Spirit still speaks (Heb. 3:7).

So, yes, God still speaks. He is not silent. He communicates with us personally and directly. But this ongoing speech is not ongoing revelation. “The Holy Spirit no longer reveals any new doctrines but takes everything from Christ (John 16:14),” Bavinck writes. “In Christ God’s revelation has been completed.”[2] In these last days, God speaks to us not by many and various ways, but in one way, through his Son. And he speaks through his Son by the revelation of the Son’s redeeming work that we find first predicted and prefigured in the Old Testament, then recorded in the gospels, and finally unpacked by the Spirit through the apostles in the rest of the New Testament.

Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together. The Son’s redemption and the Son’s revelation must both be sufficient. And as such, there is nothing more to be done and nothing more to be known for our salvation and for our Christian walk than what we see and know about Christ and through Christ in his Spirit’s book. Frame is right: “Scripture is God’s testimony to the redemption he has accomplished for us. Once that redemption is finished, and the apostolic testimony to it is finished, the Scriptures are complete, and we should expect no more additions to them.”[3] While God certainly illumines his word and may impress upon us direct applications from his word, he does not speak apart from the word. Or as Packer puts it, more tersely but no less truly, “There are no words of God spoken to us at all today except the words of Scripture.”[4]

[2] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena, gen ed. John Bolt, tr. John Vriend (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 491.

[3] Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, 227.

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Monday Morning Humor

Oct 28, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

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Trusting the Bible Even When It’s Hard

Oct 25, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

Honest and wise words from B. B. Warfield about how to approach the Scriptures when we encounter difficulties in the text:

The question is not, whether the doctrine of plenary inspiration has difficulties to face.

The question is, whether these difficulties are greater than the difficulty of believing that the whole church of God from the beginning has been deceived in her estimate of the Scriptures committed to her charge—are greater than the difficulty of believing that the whole college of the apostles, yes and Christ himself at their head, were themselves deceived as to the nature of those Scriptures which they gave the church as its precious possession, and have deceived with them twenty Christian centuries, and are likely to deceived twenty more before our boasted advancing light has corrected their error,—foundation for our faith and no certain warrant for our trust in Christ for salvation.

We believe this doctrine of the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures primarily because it is the doctrine which Christ and his apostles believed, and which they have taught us. It may sometimes seem difficult to take our stand frankly by the side of Christ and his apostles. It will always be found safe. (The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 128)

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How to Be Better Bereans (3 of 3)

Oct 24, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

8. Test Difficult Doctrines Against the Scriptures Before Simply Discarding Them

Christians from a broad church background may have a hard time accepting unfamiliar  doctrines that strike them as overly precise or controversial. Thinking through predestination, the roles of men and women, eternal punishment, or the uniqueness of Christ (to give but a few examples) can be challenging and confusing. But if we are like the Bereans we will not discard hard teachings just because they are hard. We will search the Scriptures to see if these things are so.

Be open to being surprised by the word of God. The Bereans must have been surprised to learn that the Christ would suffer, die, and be raised to life. But they accepted it because they saw it in the Bible. Don’t ditch difficult doctrines without testing them against the Scriptures.

9. Be Humble Enough To Take the Bible At Its Word No Matter Who You Are

If you read through the book of Acts you’ll notice that Luke often points out the high social standing of those who receive the word of God. We could be turned off by this, asking ourselves “Why is Luke making such a big deal about this? It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or famous.” And this is true. But part of what Luke is trying to show us (and Theophilus) is the humility of those in high standing who are humble enough to submit themselves to the word of God. He wants to underscore their complete submission to Scripture. Many of these individuals may have thought they were too important for the word. But real nobility, Luke reminds us, is being humble enough to listen to the word no matter who you are.

Calvin says, “We know how hardly men came down from their high degree, what a rare matter it is for those who are great in the world to undertake the reproach of the cross, laying away their pride, and rejoice in humility … And surely this is the first entrance into faith that we be ready to follow, and that abandoning the understanding and wisdom of the flesh, we submit ourselves to Christ, by him to be taught and to obey him.”

It is our pride that keeps us from believing. It is our pride that will not admit God’s word is the most important word we need to hear. It is our pride which imagines we know who we are and how to be saved and how to live apart from the Bible. It takes great humility to submit yourself unreservedly to the word of God.

10. Give the Bible the Final Say In Every Matter On Which It Means to Speak

I sometimes hear people say that Scripture is a conversation starter. And I suppose that’s true in one sense. There can be a lot of good conversations after you read the Bible or hear an expositional sermon. But if the Bible is a conversation starter, it is to start a conversation about the God of the Bible who has the final word in all our conversations. Let’s reason together. Let’s not be afraid of honest dialogue. And let’s be sure to test all our songs, our books, our creeds, our blogs, our lectures, our sermons, and our science against the Bible.

One of the reasons different professing Christians and different churches come to such wildly different understandings of the Christian faith is because we approach the Bible so differently. The question: What is our ultimate authority? Every Christian and every church will say, in some way, that our theology must accord with Scripture. But what is our ultimate authority? How do we make our closing arguments? Do we give the final word to reason and experience, to sacred Tradition, or to the holy Scriptures?

All religion rests on authority. For that matter, every academic discipline and every sphere of human inquiry rests on authority. Whether we realize it or not, we all give someone or something the last word. You may give it to your parents or to your culture or to your community or to your feelings or to the government or to peer review journals or to opinion polls or to a holy book. We all have someone or something we turn to as the final arbiter of truth claims. For Christians, that authority must be the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

When interpreted correctly, the Bible is never wrong in what it affirms. It must never be marginalized as anything less than the last word of everything it means to say.

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How to Be Better Bereans (2 of 3)

Oct 23, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

4. We Must Approach the Bible With Eager Expectation

The Bereans received the word with all eagerness. That was their posture to the word—readiness and expectation. Whether in a conversation or in an audience, your posture says something. It indicates whether you are leaning forward, ready to listen, ready to learn, or whether you are bored and distracted. The Bereans had good posture. They were at the edge of their seat—ready to receive the word, ready to believe.

Are you eager to come to the word? Are you eager to take advantage of opportunities to hear more of God’s word? Have you thought about trying Sunday school again, or a small group, or a Bible study, or Sunday evening, or a conference, or picking up a good book? I know we cannot say yes to every opportunity, but we should ask ourselves: Am I indifferent to these opportunities or am I eager for more of them?

There is no movement of the Spirit in the history of revival, and no genuine movement of the Spirit in the human heart, that does not result in a new hunger for God’s word. I’ve seen it many times. You probably have too, maybe in your life. When God grabs a hold of someone’s life, you can see in his newfound eagerness for the word. He is excited to read, to study, to learn, and to grow, ready to get into the word whenever he can.

5. Be Prepared to Study the Word Deeply

The Bereans examined the Scriptures. The word “examined” can refer to a legal process, like a trial. Acts 17:11, therefore, speaks of an in depth, detailed, intelligent examination of the Scriptures. Many of us work so hard in so many other areas. We work hard to learn a language, get a degree, practice an instrument, study for our boards, or train for sports. But how hard do we work to understand and examine the Scriptures?

You don’t have to be the smartest person. It does not say that the Bereans were more noble because they were all 4.0 students. It is not about being smarter, but about digging deeper.

There is a unique confidence that is acquired when you see something in the Scriptures for yourself. Not simply that you’ve heard this or somebody told you that, but you’ve seen it for yourself. You saw the connection in the word. You looked up the cross references. You checked your concordance. You thought it through. You prayed about it. You took notes. There is a new confidence that comes because you are not just accepting things secondhand, but (often with the aid of good teachers) you see it right in front of you in the pages of Scripture.

At the most basic level, anyone can do what pastors do. It requires hard work and training, but it does not require the world’s leading intellect. Normally, when I read through my text for the first few times I think “What in the world am I going to say?” It only comes through studying and searching and praying and reading that you begin to see things you hadn’t seen before. I need to study the word deeply as a pastor. And every church member need to do the same.

6. Be Confident That You Are Able to Study the Bible and Discover the Truth of God’s Word

There are things in the Bible that are hard to understand. We must be diligent with means. We need to learn good habits of study and exegesis. We need to learn from gifted teachers God puts in our midst. But none of this means the word of God is inaccessible to “ordinary” people. Far from it. The Bereans were Jews, so they would have been well steeped in the Scriptures—whereas we often have Biblical illiteracy to overcome—but just in terms of sheer education, opportunities, books read, and studies done, there is just no comparison. We are among the most highly educated people in this history of the planet. We have an embarrassment of riches at our disposal. Most people reading this blog are not lacking in the tools to think critically and search the Scriptures for themselves.

And yet, we can too easily give up.

One of the reasons we give up is because we think we will never be able to discover the truth because so many smart people disagree about what is true. You may think, “There are PhD’s over here that say one thing about a verse and another group that say just the opposite. What chance do I possible have to figure this out?” Don’t give up. If you get three PhD’s in a room you are bound to have fifteen opinions. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Bible or history or economics or entomology, you are going to get very smart people who see things differently. If we are going to toss up our hands every time a really smart person disagree, we are not going to know anything about anything.

The Bereans were ordinary people, two millennium ago, who believed they could hear what Paul said and discern whether or not his words were true to the Scripture. We can discover the truth. Don’t give up on it just because there are many ways to look at things.

7. Recognize That Some Things Which Claim to Be From the Bible Are Not

You have to admire the zeal of the Bereans. When they heard this new teaching from Paul, they undoubtedly understood that he was making his case about the Messiah from the Bible. They could see that he was reasoning from the Scriptures, but still they wanted to determine if what Paul was saying about the Bible actually came from the Bible.

Almost everyone who has ever cared about Christian theology or Christian ethics has claimed Scriptural warrant for their positions. Everyone in the church professes a desire to be biblical. And yet, we need to be like the Bereans and recognize that some ideas that come with a Bible verse attached may not actually be from the Bible. It is terribly frustrating to see churches, institutions, and denominations refuse to put certain teaching outside the pale, just because the teaching claims to be biblical. All the major heresies in the history of the church have claimed some Biblical support. When Augustine was arguing with Pelagius about the nature of grace and human inability, they were arguing about texts of Scripture. But only one of them was true to Scripture.

I understand that the Bible is not equally clear on every issue but on essential matters we have to simply say, “Look, I know you have a verse there that you think supports this position, but that is not what that verse means.” The Scriptures teach us that there are false teachings that false teachers try to peddle out of the Scriptures themselves. False teachers always have Bible verses, so we have to be discerning. That is what the Bereans were searching. They heard Paul argue from the Scriptures, but they needed to make sure for themselves the passage meant what Paul said it did.

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How to Be Better Bereans (1 of 3)

Oct 22, 2013 | Kevin DeYoung

The Jews in Berea, it is said, were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). How telling–for them and for us–that nobility is measured not by titles, land, parentage, wealth, or degrees, but by how we handle the word of God. Our approach to the Scriptures sets us apart as riff-raff or royalty.

So how do we become better Bereans?

That’s the question I recently posed to my congregation and the question I want to explore this week. How can we be more like the noble Bereans and less like the rabble from Thessalonica (Acts 17:5)?

Let me suggest ten ways: three for today, four for Wednesday, and a final three on Thursday.

1. Listen to the Sermon With an Open Bible

There is no authority we have in the pulpit except in so far as it is derived from the word of God. It worries me when I speak at different places and read through the Scripture text without hearing anyone opening their Bibles (or at least stare down at a screen). I want to say, “You don’t know me. You don’t know if you should listen to me. You don’t know if anything I have to say is worthwhile. I hope you didn’t come to hear me. God is the one worth listening to, and he only speaks by his word. So I’ll wait a few seconds while you grab a Bible.”

Incidentally, you do not want to be at a church where you can listen to sermon after sermon and it doesn’t even matter if your Bible is open. You want to be at a church where the preaching is pulling you in to the text—to see it, to listen to it, to find connections with it. The best stuff in every sermon should arise from the truth you see in the text, not from the illustrations, the stories, or the preacher’s own enlightenment.

In Nehemiah 8:8 it says about the leaders in Jerusalem who came and were teaching the word that “they read from the book, from the law of God clearly, and they gave this sense so people could understand the reading.” In a nutshell, that’s what preaching is. The preacher reads from the book and then explains it clearly so the people can get it.

Ultimately, the only reason to listen to any preacher is because he brings you back to the Scriptures. Hopefully you trust your pastors because you know them personally and can see evidences of grace in their lives. But just being a nice person or a good parent or a sincere teacher does not mean you have any real God-given authority. There are lots of people who are sincere and nice and fine people who do not teach what accords with Scripture. They speak without divine authority.

Test everything. Take your Bible with you. Open it up. Follow along. See for yourself whether everything being taught accords with Scripture.

2. Don’t Rush On From the Word of God to the Rest of Your Life

The Bereans saw Scripture as something that deserved their attention. It merited their time and effort. They examined it daily. They were not skimming; they were searching. And to do that, you have to give yourself unhurried time in the word.

It’s not an absolute rule, but in general careful time in the Bible is better than a large quantity of time. Better to have five to ten minutes of slow, digestive, meditative study than cruising through thirty minutes of not really paying attention.

One of the great dangers for all of us is that the seed of the word of God would be choked out by thorns. Remember the third soil in Jesus’ parable. It seemed to be good. The heart seemed to receive the word and bear fruit. That is, until the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth choked it out and the plant became unfruitful.

How common it is for people to go to church, hear something that speaks to them powerfully, and they will seem to be on fire for God for a few weeks or even a few months. But then what happens? It’s not like they make a conscious decision to stop believing what they once believed or to stop going to church like they once did. Their falling away is not a deliberate choice as much as a bad habit learned through busyness and distraction. These withering plants let their time in the word dry up, fade up, disappear. No more searching. No more lingering. No more unhurried time to see what things are so.

There is a great danger every Sunday that we would be stirred and not changed. We come to church, feel a little something, but it turns out to be nothing but a little Jesus inoculation–just enough of the virus to keep you from getting the real thing. If God is working on you next Sunday, don’t waste it. Don’t rush on from the word to the rest of life. Find someone to pray with you. Have that conversation you need to have. Don’t turn on the football game the second you walk back in the house.

The work of the Lord in our lives is more like a crock pot than a microwave. We want our spiritual growth to be obvious and immediate. But God’s work is often deliberate and imperceptible. Do you want Hot Pockets for lunch or a good, slow cooked, pot roast? Do you want to be mature in Christ? Get in the word and take it slow.

3. Get In the Word as a Way of Life

The Bereans examined the Scriptures daily. They came to the Bible and kept coming back. Is there a frequency and consistency to your spiritual consumption? We will not make progress in godliness without persistence in God’s word.

And why did the Bereans go every day? Presumably, because they wanted answers. They wanted to know the truth. They believed that they would learn something from the Scriptures that they could not learn anywhere else. They wanted to know if Paul’s message was true—that is why they searched daily.

If we are not going be in the word of God with consistency, we have to focus not just on discipline but on faith. Do you struggle to make the Bible a regular part of your routine? Consider what you are not believing about the word? Do we believe it has something relevant to say? Do you believe there are answers to life’s hardest questions in the Bible? Do you think you will find the comfort and presence of Christ in this book? The Bereans went to the Scriptures daily because they were eager to listen to God and they believed the Bible was the place to go to hear his voice.

Why do we check email compulsively? Or Facebook? Or Twitter? Or the old fashioned mailbox? Because we believe there is news for us—there’s something there. Someone may have just put up a sweet video of a cat or a status update about someone who made a nice lemonade. Really important stuff like that. We check because we believe we may hear something relevant and necessary. And yet, what could be more relevant or necessary than God’s word?

Let this truth be a diagnostic tool you and for me: Our behavior with the Scriptures is an indication of our belief about the Scriptures. The Bereans looked into the Bible every day because they expected to find something there. Do we?

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