Sometimes we look at all of the problems in the world, and it can become overwhelming. We see the darkness even in our own lives: broken & fractured relationships between husband & wife, parent & child, and family members; untrusting communities; dishonesty, greed and pride. So what is God doing about it now, and what are we to do?
The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus came as the “true light of the world” (1:9). The only way to combat the darkness of sin, injustice, violence, oppression and pride of this world was if God’s Light came fully human into our lives to chase away the shadows. And in Jesus, the Light of the World, we see the glory of God (John 1:14; II Corinthians 4:4 – 6).
By coming as the Light, Jesus went to war against darkness. Darkness is the absence of light, and darkness cannot remain where the true Light shines. Even in the Old Testament, God had promised He would send “a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6; cf. 42:6). So God began the Light when He spoke it into existence in Genesis 1. And in our rebellion; our divine treason; our sin against God – humanity had rejected the Light and lived in darkness. But God promised to send His light again, and Jesus is our “bright Morning star” (II Peter 1:19) and the “Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2). Continue reading →
Spirituality is still a huge topic with evangelical Christians, and increasingly practices such as lectio divina are encouraged even for Reformed Christians. But is this practice helpful? And how can it be used by Christians in the Reformed tradition?
Lectio divina (or, divine reading) as described by Kenneth Boa in his book Conformed to His Image, (Zondervan, 2001), 96-97.
The ancient art of lectio divina, or sacred reading, was introduced to the West by the Eastern desert father John Cassian early in the fifth century.
It consists of four elements.
Lectio (reading). Select a very short text and ingest it by reading it several times. Normally, one chooses a verse or a brief passage from the chapters read from the Old and New Testaments in morning Bible reading.
Meditatio (meditation). Take a few minutes to reflect on the words and phrases in the text you have read. Ponder the passage by asking questions and using your imagination.
Oratio (prayer). Having internalized the passage, offer it back to God in the form of personalized prayer.
Contemplatio (contemplation). For the most of us, this will be the most difficult part, since it consists of silence and yieldedness in the presence of God. Contemplation is the fruit of the dialogue of the first three elements; it is the communion that is born out of our reception of divine truth in our hearts.
I think there is much to appreciate about lectio divina, especially its Agassiz-like focus on a text. Further, that Scripture ought to bid us pray and that our prayers ought to be filled with Scripture is an axiom of this discipline, so to the extent that the lectio divina encourages this is a boon. I would even go so far as to say – due to the importance of prayer in the Christian life – that anything that encourages prayer in the life of believers is a good thing. But having said all of this, let me turn to a few concerns. Continue reading →
I’m working through sections of Sidney Greidanus’ Preaching Christ from Genesis: Foundations for Expository Sermons for a sermon series coming up on Abraham’s life in Genesis 12 – 25. I’ve looked at preaching Christ from the OT before, but never explicitly from Greidanus. He presents seven means by which we can see Christ in OT passages, and I’d like to list those below. Greidanus defines preaching Christ as “preaching sermons which authentically integrate the message of the text with the climax of God’s revelation in the person, work, and/or teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament” (Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, 10).
Greidanus presents seven avenues to get to Christ from a text, and this is necessary if the interpreter is seeking to understand the text first, as the writer intended for Israel (or the original audience) to hear the message; and secondly, as the message is understood in light of the completed canon of the Triune God’s self-revelation to His covenant people. When both are recognized as necessary, the interpreter realizes seeing Christ in light of a passage isn’t an add on, but necessary to understanding the fullest and truest meaning of a pericope.
7 Ways of Preaching Christ
The following comes from pp. 2-6.
Redemptive Historical Progression
Scripture is a narrative that begins with a good creation, is abruptly marred by the Fall, and then traces God’s redemptive purposes in human history to bring about redemption and the New Creation. First through Abraham, and then Israel, the story of redemption climaxes and is focused in the advent of Jesus Christ. This method seeks to understand a pericope in light of this “metanarrative.” Continue reading →
One concept that is so helpful to have when considering how to exhort God’s people from God’s Word is that our preaching must be Christ-centered. The idea that Scripture isn’t just a book of timeless truths, morality plays, or helpful advice for living, but is instead one grand narrative displaying the promise of, the coming of, and the rule of the Messiah Jesus, has been thoroughly covered by men much better than I, most notably Ed Clowney, Sidney Greidanus, Dennis Johnson, and Graeme Goldsworthy. Their articles and books are most helpful. But occasionally, just having a handy chart around can jog your mind in the specifics.
The above chart can be downloaded here. It is a rough adaption of what Dennis Johnson adapted from Ed Clowney. I’ll try to briefly explain what the chart says, as well as how to use it below. Continue reading →