I hope this is not some kind of record. I seem to have stretched out a three part post to about three months now. By now all of you lovely readers have completely forgotten what the “Responding to God’s Word” post was all about. Ahh, but this only enhances our opportunity to revel in the blessings of technology (which we all love even more than Kip loved Lafawnduh). So if you have forgotten the gist of it all, just scroll down and reread. It’s all there on the website. In the words of the Rev. Al Sharpton, it makes one “jiddy.”
Okay the text is Deuteronomy 31:11-12. Here it is:
when all Israel assembles in the presence of the Lord your God at the place He chooses, you are to read this law aloud before all Israel. Gather the people – men, women, children, and foreigners living within your gates – so that they may listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and be careful to follow all the words of this law.
With the proclamation of the Word of God, the people were to LISTEN. Their listening was so that they could LEARN, and learning specifically about God – His nature, attributes, purposes – so they would FEAR Him. Now we come to the last phrase. The experiential result of fearing Him is that they would “be careful to follow all the words of this law.” In other words, fearing God, as a result of learning about Him from His self revelation in Scripture would necessarily lead them to obedience. The idea of obeying the Word of God seems self explanatory. You all know what it means to obey. My issue is rarely found in not knowing what to do or not do. My issue is rarely found in knowing that I am to obey my Creator and Savior. My issue is almost always a matter of rebellion. We know we should obey. It is clear. Crystal. (Movie quote!) So, allow me to make three observations.
One: the order is vitally important. Too often we begin with obedience because we are trying to somehow justify ourselves by our own goodness. That is, of course, utterly futile. And, thank God, unnecessary. We are not justified by works. The call to obey is given to the people as a result of their relationship with God which is by grace. We obey because we see the value, worth, and glory of who God is and what He has done. We obey as an expression of of our gratitude, love, and respect for the One who loves us more than we can ever imagine. Keep the order straight: Guilt, Grace, Gratitude. Gratitude which is manifested through obedience.
Two: the obedience is vitally important. Too often we completely neglect a call to obey for fear of sounding legalistic. But the Lord who saved us calls us to obedience. We love to quote Ephesians 2:8-9 (and well we should!): “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast.” But keep reading verse 10: “For we are His creation-created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Obedience unto good works is the inevitable result of salvation by grace through faith. Too often the message that “God loves you no matter what” is perverted from “God’s love is not based on your performance” to an unbiblical “God doesn’t care how you live.” Salvation is not the result of works but salvation results in works of obedience. There are moral imperatives associated with following Jesus.
Three: in Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can actually begin to obey. Obedience is not something we simply ignore because we are sinners. In our strength we cannot obey. In our best moments we fall short. Yes. But as we grow in Christ, learning more and more about Him, we learn to rely on Him, depend on Him, and trust in Him. He empowers us to obey. And this honors the Lord. In our weakness He is made strong.
This is a good challenge for me. It gives me something to think about. My reading and hearing the Word is not just to be casually encouraged and comforted. It’s not ultimately to learn about myself and my felt needs. No, when I come to the Word, I want to listen so that my heart, mind, emotions, and will will be drawn to the greatness and glory of God. There I learn about Him and in Him I find the greatest of treasures. Out of that knowledge of the Holy One who loves me comes a God given desire to thank and honor Him with a life of loving submission and obedience. My life is then in focus because it is focused on and rooted in Him who alone is worthy of all my lie. So, Go to the Word. Ask, “what does this teach me about God?” “What does this teach me about the Gospel?” Learn that and let it lead you to then ask “how do I live in light of the greatness and goodness of this Wonderful God?”
Now, I just had another thought. Since we already made a three part series go way beyond three weeks, could we just go ahead and make a three part series have four parts? I mean it’s kind of a post truth world in which we live where 2+2=well whatever makes you feel good. Great because I want to explore one other item. Next week. Maybe if I feel like it. Until then,
Thanks for reading and Peace Out!