I hope you have all enjoyed reading this week’s first chapter in Alistair Begg’s and Sinclair Ferguson’s new gem of a book on the person of Christ. It has been a blessing to me and I’ve been learning much from their study and have thrilled at their writing and teaching style.
How these weekly studies will go, for the next 7 weeks, is this: I hope you will come to each Monday having read the chapter for that week, but if you haven’t, feel free to join in anyway. I guarantee you will get more out of this blog each week if you have read the material. I won’t walk through the chapter, but more offer my gleanings and what I’ve learned in light of the author’s writings. In the comment section, you can either comment on what you’ve read in the book, on the blog, or something else you’ve read in pertaining to the subject matter at hand. Everyone will interact with each other.
Here are some of my reflections on Chapter 1:
1. Why study Jesus?
“They (the names of Jesus) express the incomparable character of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Reflecting on them better prepares us to respond to the exhortations of Scripture, to focus our gaze upon Him, and to meditate on how great He is.” (pg 15)
The study of Jesus greatly enhances our worship. True worship, if you remember John 4, has to be through Jesus. If you look at the hall of faith in Hebrews 11, they were worshiping the Yawheh God through the future faith in the coming and reign of Jesus. My husband has been reading a Dennis Johnson book in preparation for his DMin class on preaching – the entire book is on how the entire Bible points to Christ. The Old Testament, New Testament, the 400 years of silence in between. Jesus has everything to do with our yesterdays, todays, and forevers. According to Sinclair in another sermon, God is a speaking God – and through the person and work of Jesus is one of the primary ways God chose to speak.
There are many types of religious affiliations in the world, that is an understatement. However, one distinct person separates true Christian, gospel-centered worship from every other religion in the world: Jesus. Others have works, ladders, lists, and good deeds, but as a former pastor of mine said, Christianity doesn’t equal DO, it equals DONE. Does your worship, both daily and on Sunday among other believers, center on the person and work of Jesus? If not, something is most definitely missing.
This is what gets a lot of us women in trouble on a daily basis. We are seeking to do everything we need to do: whether our jobs, schooling, motherhood, being a wife, serving others, being a homemaker, etc. in our own strength. However, knowing Jesus and what He has done for us as believers, and daughters and co-heirs, will enable to us to free our minds from a perfectionist mindset and set our hope and our calling on Him.
2. Scripture is more than knowledge, it is doing.
As my husband and I studied the book of James for most of 2012, I read weekly or daily the verses about doing the Word of God, not just listening, reading or knowing it (James 1). This was so convicting. Often times we ourselves, or others in our presence, will spout Scripture, but often times we fail to do what we know.
As the authors talk about Jesus being the Seed of the Woman, the reason the Seed was needed was because of sin. And the action of sin in the garden was not listening and obeying the Word of God. God has spoken very clearly as to what Adam and Eve were to do and not do – however, they both chose to turn away from the spoken word of God and do their own thing. “The distinctive feature of this tree is what God had said about it.” (p 16).
Sweet friends, how do we fight this battle daily – the battle of our minds? We fight this battle daily with some of the following (and think for yourself what some of yours might be): putting our hope in status, a clean house, happy kids, a husband, a successful career, etc. (other than putting our hope in Jesus); worrying and being fearful (this only tends to get worse in our sinful nature once we have children); fighting our own battles (wanting to be the justifier instead of waiting for God to act on our behalf), etc. We need to memorize and act upon the Scriptures that God has so graciously spoken to us. We only do this by choosing to believe in the Gospel every minute of every day.
3. Conflict Resolution.
I once had the opportunity to hear Ken Sande speak at Southern Seminary. A gracious man, he taught his listeners about means of being a peacemaker. There are some helpful resources on his website, so if you aren’t familiar with his ministry, I would encourage you to “google” him.
We have conflict in our lives (between friends, church members, spouses, children, bosses, family) because of a great conflict that was started in the Garden of Eden. This ultimate conflict will eternally be won by Jesus, but there are daily ramifications of conflict for us in this world. “When Christ appeared, he came to undo what the Serpant had done. By His life and ministry and ultimately through his death and resurrection, he destroyed all the works of the Devil.” (p 20)
Oh, isn’t this a happy thought? When there is conflict in our lives, we can rest assured that we know who will be the Victor. I really don’t know anyone who loves conflict; I certainly don’t. In our marriage, we strive to resolve conflict as soon as possible. But this conflict between the Seed of the Woman and Satan has been going on for centuries. And the outcome is still secure – Jesus wil be victorious.
So dear one, when you find it hard to battle the conflict daily – that battle of sin and of the flesh and of the war that Paul speaks about in Romans 6-7 – please take heart that this is not an eternal battle – but one that Jesus has already won!
4. There will be pain.
Since everyone knows this…I can move on from this point. Wait. As I think about the ladies I know who are doing this book study with us here on the blog – I know their stories (most of them). I know the pain in their lives – pain today, pain yesterday, knowing that pain will certainly come in the future. Lost jobs, lost loved ones, unsaved loved ones, difficult family circumstances, family members with lifelong disabilities or illnesses, betrayal of friends, etc. – pain is so real in our lives.
I found much hope in this statement by the authors: “We must not allow ourselves to be tricked into thinking that if things are going well with us, then we can be sure of God’s love. For life can often seem dark and painful. Things do not always go well for us. Rather, we look to the sacrifice of the cross and the demonstration God gave there of His love. This is the proof I need. This is the truth I need to hear if the lie is to be dispelled” (p 33).
This last month of my life has been a very hurtful one. But, I’ve actually had much comfort that has come from friends speaking the Gospel truth into my life – words of hope and life that have dispelled (somewhat, honestly, at this stage in the game) lies. I’ve had a husband and close friends who point me to what God has said about me in His Word and that has given me much hope.
Ladies – there will be hurt. There will be pain. But, as the authors of this book and the glorious Bible has said, Jesus gets the victory. Pain will one day lose all of its sting. Pain can no longer have the victory if we believe in Jesus. That is a great HOPE! In your hurt – where do you find hope?
What have you gained from the book this week? What was your most applicable takeaway? What thoughts have you read here that have triggered some new thoughts in your understanding of this truth about Jesus?
Join us next week as we reflect on chapter 2!