Faith Honors Him Whom It Trusts
By John Piper
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith giving glory to God. (Romans 4:20)
Oh, how I long for God to be glorified in our pursuit of holiness and love. But God is not glorified unless our pursuit is empowered by faith in his promises.
And the God who revealed himself most fully in Jesus Christ, who was crucified for our sins and raised for our justification (Romans 4:25), is most glorified when we embrace his promises with joyful firmness because they are bought by the blood of his Son.
God is honored when we are humbled for our feebleness and failure, and when he is trusted for future grace. That’s the point of Romans 4:20 where Paul describes Abraham’s faith, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith giving glory to God.”
He grew strong in his faith, thus giving glory to God. Faith in God’s promises glorifies him as supremely wise and strong and good and trustworthy. So, unless we learn how to live by faith in the promises of God’s future grace, we may perform remarkable religious rigors, but not for God’s glory.
He is glorified when the power to be holy comes through humble faith in future grace.
Martin Luther said, “[Faith] honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard, since it considers him truthful and trustworthy.” The trusted Giver gets the glory.
My great desire is that we learn how to live for God’s honor. And that means living by faith in future grace, which, in turn, means battling unbelief in all the ways it rears its head.
The Mystery of Q
An interview with Craig L. Blomberg, PhD.
In addition to the four gospels, scholars often refer to what they call Q, which stands for the German word Quelle, or “source.” Because of similarities in language and content, it has traditionally been assumed that Matthew and Luke drew upon Mark’s earlier gospel in writing their own. In addition, scholars have said that Matthew and Luke also incorporated some material from this mysterious Q, material that is absent from Mark. “What exactly is Q?” I asked Blomberg.
“It’s nothing more than a hypothesis,” he replied, again leaning back comfortably in his chair. “With few exceptions, it’s just sayings or teachings of Jesus, which once may have formed an independent, separate document. “You see, it was a common literary genre to collect the sayings of respected teachers, sort of as we compile the top music of a singer and put it into a ‘best of’ album. Q may have been something like that. At least that’s the theory.”
But if Q existed before Matthew and Luke, it would constitute early material about Jesus. Perhaps, I thought, it can shed some fresh light on what Jesus was really like.
“Let me ask this,” I said. “If you isolate just the material from Q, what kind of picture of Jesus do you get?” Blomberg stroked his beard and stared at the ceiling for a moment as he pondered the question. “Well, you have to keep in mind that Q was a collection of sayings, and therefore it didn’t have the narrative material that would have given us a more fully orbed picture of Jesus,” he replied, speaking slowly as he chose each word with care.
“Even so, you find Jesus making some very strong claims—for instance, that he was wisdom personified and that he was the one by whom God will judge all humanity, whether they confess him or disavow him. A significant scholarly book has argued recently that if you isolate all the Q sayings, one actually gets the same kind of picture of Jesus—of someone who made audacious claims about himself—as you find in the gospels more generally.”
I wanted to push him further on this point. “Would he be seen as a miracle worker?” I inquired.
“Again,” he replied, “you have to remember that you wouldn’t get many miracle stories per se, because they’re normally found in the narrative, and Q is primarily a list of sayings.” He stopped to reach over to his desk, pick up a leather-bound Bible, and rustle through its well-worn pages. “But, for example, Luke 7:18–23 and Matthew 11:2–6 say that John the Baptist sent his messengers to ask Jesus if he really was the Christ, the Messiah they were waiting for. Jesus replied in essence, ‘Tell him to consider my miracles. Tell him what you’ve seen: the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the poor have good news preached to them.’ “So even in Q,” he concluded, “there is clearly an awareness of Jesus’ ministry of miracles.”
Blomberg’s mention of Matthew brought to mind another question concerning how the gospels were put together. “Why,” I asked, “would Matthew—purported to be an eyewitness to Jesus—incorporate part of a gospel written by Mark, who everybody agrees was not an eyewitness? If Matthew’s gospel was really written by an eyewitness, you would think he would have relied on his own observations.”
Blomberg smiled. “It only makes sense if Mark was indeed basing his account on the recollections of the eyewitness Peter,” he said. “As you’ve said yourself, Peter was among the inner circle of Jesus and was privy to seeing and hearing things that other disciples didn’t. So it would make sense for Matthew, even though he was an eyewitness, to rely on Peter’s version of events as transmitted through Mark.”
This week's essay is drawn from "The Case for Christmas" by Lee Strobel.
What a sheer joy Father’s Day brings to me as I fondly remember the treasure we “kids” call Dad. Dad has been with the Lord now for twenty years, but the legacy he left behind can hardly be overstated: 1) Dad was a Biblical scholar and an extraordinary exegete well recognized by those he taught in college, seminary and in the church. He wedded passionate preaching with detailed explanation of the text, and he stood strongly unmovable on convictions birthed during his daily hours of prayer and study. But Dad differed from those around him in that he welcomed the insight of other evangelicals even if their theological systems differed from his. He taught us to be widely read as He was, a student of Wesley, Chafer, Calvin, Spurgeon, Barnhouse, Stott, Ellicott, Eadie, Godet, Berkhof, Strong, Sproul, Lloyd-Jones, Boice and a host of others. 2) He had a strong missionary mindset cultivated through many years working in home missions, bible camps and culminating in a trip to Africa where he ministered to thousands at a time, preaching for as long as three hours. 3) At home he taught us boys by example to honor women and on countless occasions we found him cooking, cleaning and ironing. 4) But perhaps his greatest legacy was to teach how to endure years of suffering with a smile and witness that could not go unnoticed. Two phrases he lived by ever live in my mind: “This Book will keep you from sin, but sin will keep you from this book; As the dear pants for the water-brooks, so my soul pants for God. Perhaps now you understand why none of us feel that we could ever fill those shoes. To God and God alone be the glory!!
In a world where it is often a badge of honor to be ashamed and to shame most everything Christian, I am called to a higher commitment, to a dogged determination to live out and stand true to the good news of the gospel. I boldly stand unashamed and unafraid in an increasingly unfriendly hostile world.
The Blame Game
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
It’s a terrible argument: “If God didn’t want me to leave my wife and fall in love with (name) and marry her, why did He bring her into my life?” Given the number of complex situations we encounter in life, blaming God for all of them would become a full-time job.
Recommended Reading: Ecclesiastes 5:1-3
The Bible is clear that God doesn’t tempt anyone to sin. If we respond sinfully to any temptation it is our problem, not God’s (James 1:13-15). God is a giver of good gifts, not tempting or evil gifts (James 1:16-17). In fact, Solomon warns us we should be careful about being “rash” with our mouth, about uttering “anything hastily before God” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)—such as, “God, why did You...?” “Therefore,” Solomon writes, “let your words be few” (verse 2). Words of accusation or blame, that is. If you have a question for God about your circumstances, ask Him. Then let His peace guard your heart and mind in Christ (Philippians 4:6-7).
There is no peace in playing the blame game with God.
God doesn’t want to keep changing your circumstances; he wants to change you.
J. Sidlow Baxter
Read through the Bible: Psalms 50 – 55
How Much God Wants to Bless You
By John Piper
“The Lord will again take delight in prospering you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9)
God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
God loves to show mercy. Let me say it again. God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. That’s what he meant when he came down on Mount Sinai and said to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). It’s what he meant when he said in Jeremiah 9:24, “I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
God is never irritable or edgy. His anger never has a short fuse. Instead he is infinitely energetic with absolutely unbounded and unending enthusiasm for the fulfillment of his delights.
This is hard for us to comprehend, because we have to sleep every day just to cope, not to mention thrive. Our emotions go up and down. We get bored and discouraged one day and feel hopeful and excited another.
We are like little geysers that gurgle and sputter and pop erratically. But God is like a great Niagara Falls — you look at 186,000 tons of water crashing over the precipice every minute, and think: Surely this can’t keep going at this force year after year after year. Yet it does.
That’s the way God is about doing us good. He never grows weary of it. It never gets boring to him. The Niagara of his grace has no end