[From Part 1] I’m not the best at making sure that I read my Bible well every day. I’m not too bad at sitting down and reading a chapter or two; what I am bad at is actually taking it in and thinking about what I’ve read. This came up in last week’s small group as we focused on time management – what time do we have free in the day and are we using it well? As a challenge to myself in the wake of that I decided to try and get at least twenty minutes of good Bible reading in in a day and to make some notes on what I was reading (this is because I generally find that writing things down helps me to process them better). As a result of that, I now have a few notes on a few different Bible passages, so I thought I’d share them on here so that you can have a look and see what you think. If you have any comments or questions, as always, feel free to leave them and I’ll do my best to get back to you.
23/2/14 – 1 Timothy 2:1-7
- Verse 2: Encouragement to pray for kings and ‘those in authority’. Social revolution doesn’t seem too advocated; let God work and live in peace as far as possible. Praying for current rulers implies a desire to see God help them, not for them to be replaced by other flawed people. This seems to offer an alternative to living in dissatisfaction under a disliked ruler. This is all the more challenging to us, as compared to the pagan Roman government and pharisaic Jewish authorities Paul was living under, our government, however flawed, doesn’t seem so bad.
- Verse 4: God ‘wants all people to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth’. Does this mean that God doesn’t always get what he wants, or is this an endorsement of some sort of universalism? Well, if God always gets what he wants, did he want man to fall and turn away from him? God’s desire/wants here seem different from God’s will/foreknowledge/ordination. You can see why some theologians, like Calvin, suggested a difference between God’s revealed and secret wills (not saying I agree with this). That said, we possibly don’t need to read that far into this statement. What does it actually tell us? That Jesus’ death was for all of us. That God doesn’t want anyone to perish. That God cares for everyone. I think verses like this can be dangerous when removed from the context of verses about God’s wrath and the punishment for sin; it could otherwise be easy to take this in a universalist way.
- Verse 5: Jesus is the only mediator between man and God. Is this a warning? An encouragement? Both? It is pointless to appeal to anyone other than Jesus. He is the only one that can mediate between Man and God. He is the only one who can save us. He is the only one who can take away our sins. The ‘man Christ Jesus’. That title emphasises the duality of his humanity and the authority he has received from God. The perfect, anointed, human king.
- Paul’s purpose is to be a witness of this to the people (verse 7). This is a truth that they need to come to grips with. Jesus is the link between God and man and, importantly in a pagan world, there is only one God. This also removes the possibility of God and Jesus being separate deities.
24/2/12 – Psalm 19
- Verses 12-13 provide us with a great example of humility that we can all learn from. David admits that there are sins in his life that he will have missed; he also asks that God will keep him from ‘wilful sins’ so that he will be ‘blameless’. All the time he is keeping God involved in his life and recognising the role that God plays in keeping us away from sin.
- Verses 7-8 can seem challenging to modern Christians. We’re not used to thinking about the law of God as something good and capable of giving ‘joy to the heart’. But we can identify with the pleasure that David gets from following God – it’s that concept in Old Testament form, coming from a different covenant. For David, the law was God’s primary revelation to mankind and to love the law was to love the word of God, even though much of it was challenging. We can learn a lot from David’s love for God and let it challenge us to push on more in our own lives.
- Verse 1-6 is simply an example of great poetry in the praise of God. Cosmic imagery is pretty awesome anyway, but it also emphasises the size and power of a God who can control celestial bodies. For David, without the knowledge of space that we now have, the multitude of the stars was nonetheless mind-blowingly huge, expansive and beautiful; he saw it as a beautiful creation of God and so can we.