Mysterious Gifts

“Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough…

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“But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see and yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them” (Matthew 13:11-12, 16-17 HCSB).

Matthew 13 and its parallels (Mark 4, Luke 8) record Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom in parables. In the middle of teaching the parable of the sower, He explains to His disciples why He teaches “indirectly” through parables instead of “plainly.” His answer is, “It’s a secret.”

The word translated secret is mysterion, which is where we get the word “mystery.” The mysteries of the Kingdom are not puzzles that have to be solved, but truth that can only be revealed. Mysteries are truths that are behind the curtain, in a sense, and God graciously invites His people to take a look.

The fact that we have an entire, thick, book of God’s inspired, authoritative, inerrant word is itself an immeasurable kindness from God to us. The problem is, it’s often hard to understand, and it’s not clear how it’s supposed to benefit us.

But notice where Jesus goes next: “For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough” (13:12 HCSB, emphasis added).

What do we have, and what are we getting more of? What will we have more than enough of?

Understanding. Wisdom. Insight. Truth.

If you have been born again, you have been given eyes to see and ears to hear (see Matthew 13:16-17). That means you already have, and more will be given to you. In fact, you’ll have “more than enough” truth from God’s word to ponder, to marvel at, to praise Him for, to convict you, to teach you, to lead you, to mature you, to…everything.

In fact, you have more than even the Old Testament prophets and saints did: “Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them” (13:17 HCSB, emphasis added).

You’re the envy of the entire Old Testament Church!

What this means is that every one of us who has been born again has the promise, the guarantee, from Jesus Himself, that your time in the Word is not wasted. Everyone who has, more will be given to him.

And the Kingdom of God will grow in your heart, and it will yield a bountiful harvest. Jesus promises to give the gift of His secrets, His mysteries, His truth.

In other words, He promises to give Himself (John 14:6).

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The Forever Word

Holy Pages by Spirit giv’n
Eternal word which will not end;
Apostles, prophets by Him moved
To speak and write what is from above

The grass will wither, the flowers fade
But the word of God will remain
Not a dot, not a stroke of pen
Will pass away, but forever stand

A sharper sword can no man find
Exposing heart, desire, and mind
The glass in which we see our face
Shows our sin and reveals His grace

The grass will wither, the flowers fade
But the word of God will remain
Not a dot, not a stroke of pen
Will pass away, but forever stand

Like a fertile springtime rain
His word will not go forth in vain
But will produce a great harvest
Of souls who are finding Jesus’ rest

The grass will wither, the flowers fade
But the word of God will remain
Not a dot, not a stroke of pen
Will pass away, but forever stand

3-30-2015, rev. 6-18-2015

Jonah Knew His Psalms

Jonah 2 resonates with beauty and aches with honesty. Where the Writings have Psalm 51, the Prophets have Jonah 2. And its absolutely filled to the brim with Psalms.

Psalm 139 had to be on his mind and in his heart:

LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways (Psalm 139:1-3 HCSB).

I wonder if Jonah chuckled in his repentance at Psalm 139:3–“You observe my travels and my rest.” The Psalm continues its parallels:

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
even there Your hand will lead me;
Your right hand will hold on to me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”–
even the darkness is not dark to You.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to You. (Psalm 139:7-12 HCSB)

Jonah had certainly made his bed in Sheol (139:8). Then verse 9 his close to home as well: Nineveh was to the east, and Tarshish was as far west as you could go. The HCSB Study Bible notes that the most likely location is the “Phoenician colony of Tartessus, located on the Guadalquivir River on the southwestern coast of Spain about 2,000 miles west of Palestine. This is about as far in the opposite direction from Nineveh that Jonah could have gone” (1517).

Jonah went to the “lowest part of the vessel” en route to Tarshish, and may have even thought something along the lines of 139:11-12.

Jonah also draws from Psalm 42:7, “All You breakers and Your billows have swept over me.”

Then Psalms 31:22 and 138:2: “In my alarm I had said, ‘I am cut off from Your sight'” and “I will bow down toward Your holy temple.”

He finishes with Psalm 26:7-type language: “…raising my voice in thanksgiving and telling about your wonderful works.”

In all, the HCSB cites a total of 31 cross-references to the Psalms.

This encourages me to know and love the Psalms more, because the Holy Spirit keeps bringing them up in the rest of Scripture in beautiful and powerful ways.

2015 Reading Log: Taking God at His Word

DeYoung, Kevin. Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough and What That Means for You and Me.

Taking God at His Word defends the four major attributes of Scripture (using the helpful acronym SCAN): sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity. It’s a brief book (129 pages, including an appendix of recommended reading and general and scripture indices), and it’s one I will no doubt be recommending to others in the future.

The middle chapters of the book explain those four characteristics, using key passages of Scripture in each. DeYoung writes with a helpful clarity; he writes without the condescending atmosphere of big words and theological weight-throwing. These four chapters are followed by a chapter showing us what Jesus’ view of the Scriptures was (and is).

These chapters are a treasure trove of truth, but for me the beginning and ending chapters are the real treasure of this book. A common approach to the doctrine of Scripture is to move from head to heart–that is, to unload a barrage of theology and truth about the Bible and then say, “Here, love this!” Taking God at His Word takes the opposite approach: DeYoung begins with Psalm 119, which is a celebration of how wonderful God’s Word is, and each chapter becomes another entry in a heartfelt expression of “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”

I want all that is in Psalm 119 to be an expression of all that is in our heads and in our hearts. … Psalm 119 is the explosion of praise made possible by an orthodox and evangelical doctrine of Scripture (15-16).

Every expression of the psalmist’s delight in the word of God, desire for the word of God, and dependence on the word of God [in Psalm 119] presupposes that every word of the word of God, whether spoken or written, is breathed out by God Himself. If the view of inspiration taught in 2 Timothy 3:16 were not already assumed, Psalm 119 would be tantamount to idolatry (111).

I’ve often told the story of a friend who went on a field trip during high school in which inclement weather changed their plans from going to a park to the bowling alley. Before disembarking from the bus, the chaperone told them, “You will bowl, and you will like it, too!” This is the way we teach doctrines all too often: “You will know this, and you will love it, too!” Kevin DeYoung gives us a compelling model for teaching and loving doctrine in this book; he says, “Come with me, and let me show you why I love this, and why you can, too.”