Very few people cared about the tiny town of Bethlehem—much less the birth of a Jewish infant named Jesus. However, God saw things differently. This small baby would one day die on a cross for the sins of all humankind. So God inspired a physician named Luke to record the facts about Jesus' birth and His purposes for coming to earth.
We all have an intuitive sense of justice and that wrong must be atoned for. But because of our sin nature we are prone to self-atonement and false guilt, a sense and thought that we must somehow pay the penalty ourselves.
Knowing God calls for a response that includes trusting Him, relying on Him, worshipping Him—in a word, loving Him. Scripture is filled with accounts of the God of heaven, reaching out to His people in grace and mercy, showing Himself to be strong and compassionate. Each one is a reason to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Puritans used to speak of “following hard after God” and “setting our faces like a flint toward God.”—Strange-sounding phrases in today’s fast-paced world! But these words need to be remembered, especially in our generation.
On this our 29th anniversary, we've been reflecting on the words theologian Rod Stewart sings, “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.” Here are a few things we know now.
“You can prove anything you want to from the Bible!” Have you ever heard someone make that claim? Probably so. For the most part, it is true. If a person really wants to find biblical “justification” for some belief or activity and is willing to use half-verses, to take passages out of context, and to twist the meaning of various terms, then he or she can “prove” just about anything from Scripture.
Have you ever stopped to think about the benefits of having a copy of the Scriptures in your own language? Have you pondered the thought: What if the Bible never existed? In our overabundant, more-than-enough world, such thoughts are foreign…too impossible to imagine.
Without love, knowledge can be a source of pride. Without humility, knowledge can lead us into a judgmental attitude. Without wisdom, knowledge can result in idealism and a perfectionist spirit. Knowledge needs a buffer…something to soften it, to give it perspective, to make it workable and real. Perhaps the very best companion for knowledge is discernment.
Encouraging the disheartened is important for a body of Christians. Enduring tough times is too. And worshipping is equally essential. A church needs all three…but a ministry is incomplete unless there is also the presence of learning. Healthy, vibrant flocks are kept in that condition by a continual emphasis on the discovery of new truth as well as the review of old truths. Such emphases give our faith stability and substance.