Christ Church Ladies Fellowship presents a recording of Psalm 119, read by women around the world who have joined together to feast on God’s Word, for His “Word is settled in heaven” and His “faithfulness endures to all generations” (Ps. 119:89-90).
If theology flows out your fingertips, (and it does!) – what does a love of the Word look like in many thousands of women? This first of our BRC newsletter explores some of the overwhelmingly normal things that God has put within our reach that we might encourage one another in the Word. Contact paper? Cheap Bibles? Whoopie pies? A monthly menu for hosting a crowd? It’s a publishing potluck and we hope you enjoy it!
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Be sure to check out a free resource + book discount provided by Canon Press at the end of this post!
However, God in His grace deigned to give special revelation by speaking to mankind. He spoke in the Old Testament in diverse ways (dreams, Law, prophets), all of which was carried along by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration (Heb. 1:1, 2 Pt. 1:21). When Christ came, the fullness of God’s glory was revealed in the Son of Man who was the exact image of the one True God (Heb. 1:2-3). The Gospels and other writings of the New Testament are all a revelation of Christ, written by men who were eye-witnesses to the Lord Jesus.
Often, people ask a version of the “who made the Bible the Bible?” question. The reality is that Scripture is God’s Word, and, being such, is powerful and effective. A Dutch theologian, Wilhelmus á Brakel, offers an insightful story about an acquaintance of his who had never heard of the church, but found a Bible, read it, was converted and began living in accordance with God’s Word. This anecdote shows that it isn’t the Church that gives authority to Scripture, it is God’s Word that begets the Church. God made the Bible.
Without going into a long survey of how all the texts of Scripture, written by various authors, over millennia, came together, suffice it to say that it is nothing short of astonishing. God committed His Word unto the Jews, then the Apostles proclaimed the Gospels and epistles, and all of it reveals the only authoritative and infallible rule for how God intends us to live our life. Remember, as you read, it isn’t man that stitched a bunch of disparate documents together. God is the One who declared His Word, oversaw it as it was committed to writing, and has preserved it over the ages. Receiving the Word of God as the authoritative rule for life should compel us to search it diligently, and conform our lives according to it.
Our friends at Canon Press have graciously provided a free chapter from Douglas Wilson’s classic Mother Kirk for you to read this week. And as a special Bible Reading Challenge gift, they are offering Mother Kirk at 40% off through Dec. 19, 2018.
As you read the accounts of the Judges you can’t help but be saddened by what happens when God’s people descend into apathy, compromise the covenant which God gave, and delight in evil. While Judges is one of the saddest portions of Scripture, we should look for how God is behind even the darkest chapters, bringing about the happy endings. Notice that God never leaves His people long in their sins without raising up a judge. It is striking that when God sets about to reform His people He raises up servants who bring judgment. Judgement is one of the ways which God brings a people to cry out for His mercy. The promise in the book of judges is that God would one day send a Judge who would judge His people in righteousness and truth (Ps. 96:13).
While in the English Bible, as well as historically, the story of Ruth is nestled in the time of the judges, the Hebrew Bible arranges things a bit differently. Ruth follows Proverbs, and precedes the Song of Solomon. This produces an interesting rhetorical narrative arc. Proverbs warns against the strange woman, and ends with an admonition to King Lemuel to find a virtuous woman (Pro. 31). The story of Ruth uses this contrast to highlight the faithfulness of Ruth. Ruth is a “stranger” (Ruth 2:10), and thus every good Hebrew boy, Boaz included, should be wary. But at the climax of the story Boaz declares that she is a virtuous woman (Ruth 3:11). In fact, Ruth’s faith in the God of Israel leads her to lay claim to the promises and laws which God afforded a woman in her position: a redeemer to marry her and care for her. Because of her faith and persistence to cling to the God of Israel and His promises, she is joined to the lineage of the Messiah.
As always, when you commit to reading God’s word daily, don’t be surprised if you miss a day or two here or there. Business happens. However, always jump back in. As you read through the dark moments of Scripture, always remember that the brightest part of the story is actually the brightest: when Jesus died for our sins.
One of the benefits of reading the Old Testament alongside of the New Testament is illustrated in this week’s reading. As you work through Joshua in the Old and Acts in the New, a few similar threads should come up. First, while Israel is commissioned to go in and take possession of Canaan, the early Church is commission to go take possession of the ends of the whole world starting at Jerusalem and going out to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Where Joshua led God’s people in a victorious military conquest, Jesus leads His people in a victorious Gospel conquest.
What reading the two testaments in parallel does is highlight that God’s redemptive purposes have not altered throughout all of human history. The early chapters of the story lead us to the “aha!” moments of the later chapters. Joshua routes pagan enemy armies; but Jesus routes the enemy within us and sends us to conquer the world with the good news of His Gospel. Jesus is a fiercer conqueror, for all who refuse to submit to His Kingdom will, in the end, feel the full wrath of almighty God.
But while some question how a good God could send His people to kill and slaughter enemy nations, we shouldn’t forget one of the key hinges of the story of Joshua. Right in the thick of the first conquest we have a pagan woman, Rahab, who by faith saw that the God of Israel was the One True God, and because of that faith is joined to God’s covenant people. Rahab, who should have been destroyed, is shown mercy. Not only is she shown mercy, but she becomes an ancestor to King David, and ultimately to “great David’s greater son.” The conquest of Canaan shows us that God’s mission was always one of reconciling fallen man––His enemy––unto Himself. Those who refused to surrender to the armies of the living God felt the edge of His sword. But those who fled to His arms, found salvation.