It’s been a while since I’ve posted. There are a number of potentially large posts in the works, but those will write themselves… eventually. Summer has been a combination of busy, fruitful, and fun which is usually a good sign of something. There is much to be thankful for!
I wanted to briefly share some recent blessings that God in His grace, has bestowed upon me. Last week a friend asked me to speak for the Jr. High group this coming Friday from Galatians six. In order to reacquaint myself with the intricacies of the book and prepare, I decided to read the entirety of Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. Though dead, he still speaketh, and though I felt the translation was rather liberal, it has been very helpful for my soul and Galatians is fast becoming my favorite book in the Bible. The themes from all other books shine forth in the Apostle Paul’s defense of justification by faith, whether it is the superiority of Christ or contentment and joy in the Gospel. Perhaps it is because Luther is so adamant on distinguishing the clear borders between the law and Gospel – after all, it has been said that Galatians was his favorite book. It is a book that stretches the believer to strive to understand the Old Testament, in particular, the promises made to Abraham and how they are fulfilled in Christ. It also challenged some previous notions of the law for which I now see as good in its proper context. The themes of distinguishing between law and grace have a strong presence even in the application concerning our liberty and our love. I in no regard claim to have mastered the content in Galatians, but I had a lot of things cleared up.
Yesterday I dedicated another solid two hours preparing for the message. I stopped in the commentary at the end of chapter five to give myself a chance to examine it closely and draw some conclusions by myself based on what I knew about the rest of the book. It is amazing to see how the central theme of an epistle can manifest itself in the strangest places. My assigned passage is Galatians 6:1-10, and even in a discussion contrasting love and conceit, we find allusions to law and grace. Our support and giving to the church and its leaders are motivated by a better law ushered in by Christ. Anyway, I’ll put the transcript up later because I’m pretty sure no Jr. High kids read this blog anyway so it won’t be too redundant.
As a quick note, I want to add something that I’ve learned about myself in the process of preparing this message and perhaps it will be of service to you. Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians was the first book commentary I had ever read e-cover to e-cover (thank you iPad!). I’ve started and maybe gone halfway in a number of such books, such as jMac’s commentary through Hebrews my freshman year, but upon finishing Luther’s rendition, I have a strong desire to continue to endeavor in such reading.
Why? I believe it is important to think biblically. There are many good books out there, but it is not as helpful for me to think thematically on let’s say a book on prayer or discipline, as it is to think more ‘sola scriptura.’ Yes, there are still books I want to read for myself that are not along the lines of commentary (i.e. Thomas Watson’s Body of Divinity, finish Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology & Christopher Wright’s Mission of God, start John Calvin’s Institutes), but I found that I learn best as it concretely relates to Scripture. I might add that this does not exclude biographies … because I love seeing real truth lived out in real men. What I learned, not only through my month of reading the book of Galatians in its entirety and the commentary, is that it challenges me to live differently in places the book perhaps did not intentionally intend to go. This is the beauty of the authority of Scripture, that I would be challenged in areas of fellowship, evangelism, and prayer when the primary goal was to defend justification by faith and the freedom found in it. It is not the books on a certain theme that humble a man, but to be overwhelmed by the Word of God. Our calling is not to think Bridges-ly or Piper-ly, nor is it (dare I say!? Just kidding) to think Spurgeon-ly or Edwards-ly, but to think Biblically. However if these men can directly increase my affections and understanding of the Word, I’m all for it. I suppose this is why I always appreciated the writings Charles Spurgeon, because it seems like his whole sermon is quoting different parts of the Bible. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology is the same way. People have said that Bunyan would speak and bleed the Word of God and not even know it. If Bunyan could do it, perhaps there is a part of me that has a capacity to do the same.
Is this not also the same goal as expositional preaching, to help the church member to think biblically? I appreciated Luther’s commentary because it was technical, reflectional, and devotional. I found myself thinking more about what God wants me to think rather than what Luther found out and discerned thematically for me to think. It is because the Word of God was ever before me in the reading, which is rare to find in most books.
Anyway, I’m thinking to start reading through Matthew Henry’s commentaries, at least in part, because I appreciate how he has a similar style as Luther. I also read in a Whitefield biography that he used Matthew Henry as well, so I can’t really go wrong with the unintentional book recommendation. If anyone’s game to work with me, please let me know!
P.S. My quick notes always become long notes …
P.P.S. … and No, I am not planning on living in a cave with a candle the entire school year, though that doesn’t sound half bad.