The Planks of the Faith: Remembering for Re-Membering, Part 2
As stated in Part 1 of this multi-course meal at the Training Table last week, for the next several gatherings we will be reviewing “the planks of the faith”. It is indeed a spiritual feast of the heart of the Christian to chew on and ingest the basic tenets of the faith on a regular basis.
Before we begin and seek to internalize other planks of the faith, allow me to preface with two ideas under two of the Bible’s most often used exhortations and encouragements, “Consider…” and “Remember…”.
“Consider…”: The Bible (God’s inspired word) treats humankind with the greatest of respect. Why? God’s ultimate creative act, all humankind, is made in the image of God. We are “Image Bearers”. (Fallen yes, but Image Bearers nonetheless, and have begun the reclamation process as soon as we’re born again, we’ve repented and beseeched Christ as our Savior and Lord .) When the Bible uses words like “consider”, it is treating our mind, heart, and soul (what we hold as true and value most), our spirit (our emotions), and our actions (life lived out) in the most deferential, loving, truthful and respectful way imaginable.
In God’s condescending and manifold mercies, He does not “love by exerting His power” or insult us by simply commanding we believe and leave it at that. He treats our ability to reason, and to reason out our faith, as commensurate to the most marvelous mind He created in us!
All other gods make no such offer, but rather insist we scratch and claw our way to merit the false god’s love—knowing full well such religion will lead to nothing except idolatry and utter despair. The one true God of the Bible gives us every chance and capacity imaginable to be freed by The Truth that He so graciously reached down and delivered to us as an offer of His love.
“Consider” might be said as a “plea” (not out of neediness or weakness but mercy) from God for the eternal and temporal good of His ultimate creation: You and me. The Bible is exhorting, encouraging, warning, hoping we… “look closely, observe carefully”, “stretch and extend ourselves to understand at a deeper level”, “survey True Truth from all sides”, “dwell long upon the Truth”, “contemplate, go deep”, “bite, chew, swallow, regurgitate, discuss, chew some more, ingest… be transformed”, “deliberate, be prudent, reflect, share between others… behold”…
Not only transfixed, but also transformed… for the work of transformation!
Please consider, in a world where pietistic platitudes, fleeting fancies, and living on the surface of life is the norm, we would do well to consider our lives more closely, more deeply, more truthfully than the world, the flesh, or the devil might condone.
Every “plank of the faith” is treated with such care because God loves us, because His Truth has a re-creative power (via the Holy Spirit and “heart-changing catharsis”) in those who embrace it, and because the entirety of God’s Redemptive Plan is based upon the assurance of God ultimately making all things new—or bringing the universe back to the True State in which it was made, “In the beginning…”
Please seek to bring to every encounter with the Bible your deepest, most focused consideration of its Truths, and of its main subject: Jesus Christ.
“Remember…”: In short, the Bible knows all too well that we are a forgetful lot. We are made in glory, but we’ve been gutted by the ravages of sin. We must constantly be reminded and remind ourselves of the glory in order to have the guts to carry out God’s plan. The most important attribute of sin to remember is our hard-wired habit of substituting ourselves for God—and only what God is qualified to accomplish.
Remember, the second oldest religion is humanism (Genesis 3). Remember, God is God, and we are not. So the Bible, God’s words written through men, is constantly (100’s of times) asking us to REMEMBER:
Who God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is. Who we are—created in glory, fallen by nature, redeemed by Christ’s atonement, sent to self-sacrificially serve, and bound for glory. Who our fellow man is. And, finally, how all (E.g., ALL) things work… after we’ve gotten the priorities back in order.
We must remember, not just once, but every moment of the day!
In closing of this preface section, please allow me to remind you of what remembering is rooted in, ASSURANCE. We are looking at “the planks of the faith” for our consideration (in all of its meanings), our remembrance, and for our assurances that God’s promises are as sure, trustworthy, and as reliable as God Himself.
In his classic book Holiness, J. C. Ryle expresses his deep concern for believers who constantly doubt, who have incessant anxieties of the past, and who have overwhelming worries of the future that control their lives to the extent that such persons hardly have the heart, the emotion, or the energy left to live in the PRESENT for God or neighbor:
J. C. Ryle says, “I heartily wish that assurance was more sought after than it is in the church today. Too many exist among those who believe, then begin doubting… and go on and on doubting… live doubting and die doubting… and go to heaven in a kind of mist of doubting. Doubts and fears have the power to spoil much of the happiness of a true believer in Jesus Christ. Uncertainty and suspense are bad enough in any condition—in the matter of our health, our property, our families, our affections, our earthly callings—but never so bad as in the affairs of our souls and our faith.”
Please consider… remembering… that our assurances in Christ propel us into the chaos of this broken world to be conformed and to be “co-redeemers”, light and salt, wounded healers, Christ’s compassion, love, and truth incarnate.
Planks of the Faith: The Means by Which We Know God and The Written Word of God
“We know Him by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God:
His eternal power and His divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20, “All these things are enough to convict men and to leave them without excuse”.
Second, He makes himself known to us more openly by His holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for His glory and for the salvation of His own.” (Article 2, The Belgic Confession of Faith, 1561—emphasis added)
The Written Word of God
“We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of men, but that holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit, as Peter says, ‘For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21).
Afterwards our God—because of the special care He has for us and our salvation—commanded His servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit this revealed Word to writing. He Himself wrote with His own finger the two tables of the law.
Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.” (Article 3, The Belgic Confession of Faith, 1561—emphasis added)
Amen and Amen: “Verily, truly… it is so… so be it.”