God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I want you to know that you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole off you, brains and all. C. S. Lewis
Think on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. 2 Tim 2:6-7
We do our Lord and his glory a great disservice by failing to challenge our people to think great thoughts about God. Certainly a God whose name is majestic through out the earth [Ps. 8:1], whose glory fills heavens [Ps. 19:1]; in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Colossians 2:3]: whose holiness is surrounded by splendor [Ps 29:1-2] should evoke in us great and awesome thoughts.
What does it say about our leadership when we resort to sky divers dropping in on a sermon or muscle men breaking cement blocks over their heads to impact our community? What does it say about our confidence in the power of truth, when we elevate experience over doctrine on Sunday morning; when the goal seems to be more on making the gathering exciting rather than informative; when feeling is placed above thinking; when the beat of the music overrides the beauty of the lyrics? It seems like we have lost confidence in the power of God’s Word to stimulate the mind and delight the heart.
For whatever reason, we no longer see the Bible as a place of awesome revelation. It is too dry or hard or boring for the average believer. So, we must spice up religion in order to compete with our entertainment world. That is a terrible and tragic mistake. Jonathon Edwards is absolutely correct when he says, “I think the Word of God teaches us more things concerning it…than has been generally believed, and that it exhibits many things concerning it exceeding glorious and wonderful than have been taken notice of.” The Church of Jesus Christ needs to rediscover those glorious and wonderful things. Without them she will shrivel and die. She will not only lose her joy, she will lose the foundation for her joy.
Within the Word God is speaking. In the Scriptures he is revealing his glory. In the Scriptures we discover the unsearchable riches of Christ [Ephesians 3:8]. In the Scriptures we discover truth that sets us free [John 8:31-32]. In the Scriptures we see the glory of God in the face of Christ [2 Corinthians 4:4]. In the Scriptures we see the wonderful things of the law. [Psalm 119:18] When we open the Bible in faith with prayer, we find it neither boring nor tasteless. Like Jeremiah we will declare, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” [Jeremiah 15:16].
We need to be reminded that God has chosen to communicate his awesome glory to our minds and hearts through his Word. He opens our eyes so that we can see the glory of God. He softens our hearts so that we want the glory of God. But he does not do that without our involvement. He will not reveal that glory without our reading and studying his Word. We will not discover his glory with out serious and deliberate reading and thinking.
This should not be a surprise to us. Ten times in the first three gospels Jesus asks, “Have you not read?” Ten times in 1 Corinthians, Paul asks, “Do you not know?” We are commanded to love God with all of our minds. [Matthew 22:37] Paul admonishes us to be mature in our thinking. [1 Cor. 14:20] In 2 Timothy 2:7, Paul writes, “Think on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” The command to think is accompanied by God’s promise to grant us understanding. As we study and think and wrestle with the truth of God’s Word, he gives us insight into the awesome riches he has hidden in his Word.
So, understanding is not our problem. Our problem is laziness. We don’t want to think great thoughts. It takes too much energy. The preacher would rather depend upon proven marketing techniques rather than having to prepare doctrinal messages of life changing truth. The congregation would rather be entertained and comforted than enlightened and confronted. In other words, we neglect the study of God’s Word because we just don’t want to work at it. Here is how theologian R. C. Sproul has stated it: “Here then, the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”
Someone may protest: “All you are concerned with is the head. What really matters is the heart.” My response is to point out that the way to the heart is through the head. Deep doctrine produces deep delight. The more you study God with your mind the more reasons you have to rejoice with your heart. Worship that depends upon beat and sound may stir the emotions of the moment, but it won’t satisfy the deep hunger of the soul for God’s glory. When we think great thoughts about the glory of God revealed in God’s Word we will say with the Psalmist, “My heart grew hot within me, as I meditated.” [Ps 39:3]
Someone has said that sin is devotion to the wrong god, or worshipping the right God with less devotion than he deserves. If Jesus Christ is the most holy, awesome, beautiful, priceless, satisfying, glorious treasure in the universe, to think about him with any thing less than our whole mind is sin. But to pursue him with all of our strength, to think about him with all of our mind, to love him with all of our heart, will bring great delight to our souls and display his awesome glory to the world.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. Gary Rieben. © Give Me That Book. Email: Grieben@aol.com. Website: www.GiveMeThatBook.org. Postal: GMTB | P.O. Box 1045| La Quinta, CA 92247 USA | 619.829.2390
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