A Stable Rock under Your Reality?
We know it is a gargantuan claim because of the way he introduced it. ‘…I am a King…for this reason I was born…for this I came into the world…’ Verbal drumrolls don’t get any louder than that!
‘…to testify to the truth.’ (John 18:37)
With the jelly-like strength that the word truth has been reduced to nowadays the word reality helps us better. Jesus has come to witness to reality.
Not realism = the way things are.
Not idealism = the way things could be, according to us.
But rightism = the way things are meant to be.
Not our notional, imagined, or idealistic perception of things, but the actual way things are meant to be. Jesus came to show us that.
‘Those on the side of [realty] listen to me.’ (John 18:37)
Jesus’ words, which he confirmed as the Old Testament (John 5:39) and commissioned in the New Testament (John 15:26-27; 16:12-14) bring us to the side of reality. That is why Jesus is able to say ‘everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock’ (Matthew 7:24). Storms will come and batter us but the house built on rock survives. Houses build elsewhere the same storm leaves crumbled and crushed.
Is a stable rock under your reality?
Hears these words of mine and puts them into practice means what?
Regularly responding to good preaching!
The Bible is a big book. If you have set ideas you want to impose on it you will be able do so. What characterises good preaching is it is not imposition of opinions but exposition of reality. Does the one who preaches to you expose the Bible to your life or impose their thoughts into the Bible?
W.A. Criswell who pastored First Baptist Dallas for 40 years is right: “When a man goes to church he often hears a preacher in the pulpit rehash everything that he has read in the editorials, the newspapers, and the magazines…When a man comes to church, actually what he is saying to you is this, “Preacher, I know what the TV commentator has to say; I hear him every day. I know what the editorial writer has to say; I read it every day. I know what the magazines have to say; I read them every week. Preacher, what I want to know is, does God have anything to say? If God has anything to say, tell us what it is.”
Donald Coggan (Archbishop 1976-1980) is right. “The Christian preacher has a boundary set for him. When he enters the pulpit, he is not an entirely free man. There is a very real sense in which it may be said of him that the Almighty has set him his bounds that he shall not pass. He is not at liberty to invent or choose his message: it has been committed to him, and it is for him to declare, expound, and commend it to his hearers . . . It is a great thing to come under the magnificent tyranny of the Gospel!”
John Piper recently retired after 33 years from Bethlehem Baptist Church, Min, USA (quoted from his first sermon in 1980) is right: “…the source of my authority in this pulpit is not . . . my wisdom; nor is it a private revelation…My words have authority only insofar as they are the repetition, unfolding and proper application of the words of Scripture…My deep conviction about preaching is that a pastor must show the people that what he is saying was already said or implied in the Bible. If it cannot be shown it has no special authority…I have nothing of abiding worth to say to you. But God does. And of that word I hope and pray that I never tire of speaking. The life of the church depends on it.”
Being part of a smaller group of family or friends who help you act on what you have learnt.
If you have them this is first your spouse and children. Then a couple of good mates. Maybe an organised group within the church. The point is a smaller group around you are constantly asking: what have you learnt and how can I help you act on it?
For those who can, regularly reading the Bible yourself.
Ability and capacity mean not all of us can manage this. It’s suggested as a good idea in the Bible but not an essential (like listening to preaching is). But if you are able it is a great and valuable thing to do. As is reading good books about the Bible and living it out.
Above all it means doing what it says, especially when you don’t want to.
It is never a problem that we don’t know enough (there is always more to know and understand). The problem is we don’t act on what we do know. Each week listen to a talk on the Bible and do at least one thing you learn.