December 13, 2017

An Idea Central to What the Bible Teaches about Itself

Steve Hankins

Featured from the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of FrontLine

Most would agree that, while by no means a complete list of important Christian ideas, the Biblical concepts of love, grace, and wisdom are primary, expansive, and magnificently intertwined ideas in Scripture. They capture in many respects the essence of the Faith, as the believer abides in Christ. And they are all rooted in the concept of the application of Scripture to life—putting the Truth to work in us and through us.

First, consider the concept of love. The believer is first called upon to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:36–40; Luke 10:27). The second great command is to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. Love in a Biblical sense is unconditional, generous, selfless, sacrificial living and proclaiming for God’s redemptive purposes in Christ, for His glory alone.

The submission of our will to His desires demonstrated by joyful obedience to His commands is the ideal expression of this love we are to demonstrate for God as we live and proclaim the gospel. John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). Doing what God says, acting upon His precepts is what obedience is. It is Truth applied to life in everyday circumstances by responding appropriately to His commands.

Second, think about the concept of grace. Grace is God’s undeserved power administered by His Spirit on the merits of our Savior’s work for us in our insufficiency. Without His grace we are insufficient to save ourselves, to serve Him, or to suffer in a manner that glorifies God (2 Cor. 12:7–10). By grace, however, we are remade and we are empowered as the “word of grace” flows into our hearts (Acts 20:32) so that we may accomplish the unimaginable for His glory. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work,” Paul said to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 9:8). How does that happen? It is Truth applied to life that makes all this difference, as the believer faces ever-changing challenges daily.

Third, reflect for a moment on the concept of wisdom. Wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective and making right choices in your own spiritual best interest and for the glory of God. To be wise, in the Biblical sense, is an attainment for which we strive, a treasure for which we search, and a gift directly from God in answer to our prayers.

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), Christ presented a well-known parable. The striking fact about this parable is that there was only one thing that distinguished the wise man in the parable who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. One’s home survived the storm, and the other’s collapsed. As Christ applied the parable, the wise man hears the Word and does it, while the foolish man hears the word and does not do it. What is the distinguishing characteristic between the two of them? It is Truth applied to life by obedience. One put the truth to work in his life and the other did not (Matt. 7:24–27).

Perhaps there is no person more foolish than the self-deceived man, who thinks his spiritual condition is far better than it really is. Wisdom is contrasted with this utter foolishness by our Lord’s brother in his exhortation which says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). There is a particularly powerful application in this context since James uses a metaphor of a mirror to describe the Word, which reveals what we are that needs to be changed. It is only the fool who turns away oblivious to what he has seen of his true nature that needs changing. The value of the Word, like the mirror, is in its use (James 1:23–25). It is Truth applied to life that makes the difference between the life unchanged and the life transformed for the glory of God.

From Genesis to Revelation, from Old Testament stories to her detailed laws, from the descriptions of our Master’s life in the Gospels to the narrative of the bold advances of the gospel in the Acts, from the New Testament mandates that fill the Epistles to the visions of glory given to us by John—how do we put the Truth of the Word to work in our lives? God willing, what you read in this issue of FrontLine from the faculty at Bob Jones University Seminary will help you meet that challenge. Read on, and put the Truth to work in your life today for His glory!

Steve Hankins serves as the dean and professor of New Testament Interpretation and Preaching at Bob Jones University Seminary.

(Originally published in FrontLine • January/February 2014. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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