On the surface, “Jesus shows us what God is really like” language appears pious and even Jesus-exalting. In reality, it betrays a tragically truncated view of the Jesus of the Bible. We see God “as he is” by gazing with the eyes of faith on the pages of his Word—all of them.
Fascinating and a great reminder of the way God has preserved His Word throughout the ages . . .
Carefully encased within a climate-controlled cabinet in the John Rylands Library is Rylands Library Papyrus P52, the St. John’s fragment. Measuring only 8.9 by 6 centimeters at its widest points (3.5 by 2.5 inches), this is just the smallest fragment of a long-lost codex. But why would 53 square centimeters of papyrus merit such a display and a position in this list of 25 objects?
P52 may not be the most important of the ancient manuscripts, and certainly it is not the one most critical to assembling the original text of the Bible. Yet it is a significant link to the past, an object we can look at and as we look, see the providence of God in preserving his words. If faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word of God (Romans 10:17), you and I are Christians today only because God has preserved his Word, the Bible. He has preserved his Word through even small fragments of papyrus like this one.
I love Matt Smethurst’s 5th way not to read your Bible.
5. Don’t Turn a Means of Grace into a Means of Merit
Your Father’s love for you doesn’t rise and fall with your quiet times. If you are united to Jesus by faith, the verdict is out, and the court is dismissed. You’re as accepted and embraced as the Son himself. Period.
To be sure, you’ll desire to hear and follow his voice if you’re truly one of his sheep (John 10:1-30; cf. 8:47; 18:37). Not always and not perfectly, of course, but sincerely and increasingly.
So as another year dawns, commit yourself anew to becoming a man or woman of the Word. But don’t overextend, do it alone, just do it whenever, live as if Paul lied, or treat means of grace like means of merit.
Your Bible is one of God’s chief gifts to you in 2013. Open, read, ruminate, and obey. May you be ever transformed into the image of our incarnate King, and may he alone receive the acclaim.
If you are looking for some resources to help you read through the Scripture in 2013, check out this link from the esvbible.org. There are twelve different plans to choose from. Personally I follow the M’Cheyne reading plan which guides you through reading the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once. You can create an esvbible.org account to track the progress of your preferred plan or print out a copy of the plan to stick in your bible.
You may also want to use the podcast option, so that you can hear the day’s Scripture passages read. This is an option I use almost everyday. To use this option, you can search iTunes or your favorite podcasting app by the name of the reading plan. You can also manually add it by copying and pasting the “rss” link from the above page into your podcast app.
If these options are not enough, check out Justin Taylor’s listing of reading plans over at the Gospel Coalition website.
One last word . . . it seems almost inevitable that at times during the year one of two things will happen: pride that we are doing so well or guilt that we have failed to keep up. It is at those times that we must be reminded that as important as reading Scripture is (crucial in fact), it does not save. We are saved by Christ alone. He has paid the penalty for our pride and our neglect of his Word.
Tim Challies on idolatry:
“For what is idolatry if not this: to worship the gifts in place of the giver himself?” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.36) Calvin summarizes well what it means to commit idolatry. Idolatry may well be in full view in the days to come as so many of us make our New Year’s resolutions. Do we make these resolutions because we want to honor God? Or are we resolving to do things that make us feel better about the idols we worship? Losing weight may be a noble goal, but not if we want to lose weight for all the wrong reasons.
What we revere, we resemble, either for ruin or restoration. To commit ourselves to some part of the creation more than to the Creator is idolatry. And when we worship something in creation, we become like it, as spiritually lifeless and insensitive to God as a piece of wood, rock or stone. We become spiritually blind, deaf and dumb even though we have physical eyes and ears. If we commit ourselves to something that does not have God’s Spirit, to that degree we will be lacking the Spirit.
From G. K. Beale’s We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry
If you are looking for some resources to help you read through the Scripture in 2012, check out this link from the Gospel Coalition.
I would especially recommend the podcast option available from Crossway. And before you go making big plans to read through the Scripture, be reminded that Jesus died for our neglect of his word (along with all the rest of our sin). So when you inevitably find yourself behind in your reading, don’t get discouraged, but be reminded of the goodness of the grace of our great God.