Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.

                         

Saturday
May182019

Selected Reading 

I read these recently and recommend them to you.

Scripture

How Do I Evangelize Someone Who Says That They Don’t Trust the Bible?
“The only means by which people will repent is if in the kindness of God; He opens their eyes to their enslavement to sin and gives them new hearts that hate sin. He has one means that He will use to accomplish this: His Word” (Jordan Standridge).

So yes, you go ahead an use the Bible anyway.

Bible Study

Jesus’ Family Tree
What can we learn from the geneology of Jesus found in Matthew? More than you might think.

Theology

Why Good Theology Is Not Enough
“Orthodoxy—proper beliefs—is where we begin. But it’s not where we end. To be clear, we can’t grow much in our love for God without also growing in our beliefs about God. What we believe about God is vitally important. But it’s dangerously possible to grow in our knowledge of God without growing in our love for God. We can accumulate a lot of knowledge while our hearts remain far from him” (Dan DeWitt).

Paying Tribute

Be Wiersbe
“Warren wasn’t flashy, and he wasn’t about himself. He was real—what the kids call ‘authentic’—and he was funny. He knew who he was, and he loved Jesus in his normal, ordinary way. Warren was a very human saint, which is the best kind of saint” (Mike Wittmer). 

Spelling

‘Dilemma’ or ‘Dilemna’?
Did a teacher steer you wrong? I’m pretty sure someone somewhere taught me to spell this word incorrectly.

Thursday
May162019

Well Pleased, Beloved Son


[1] [C]onsider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, [2] who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. [3] For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. [4] (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) [5] Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, [6] but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. (Hebrews 3:1b–6a, ESV)

I love online house tours. Seeing how people arrange their homes is one of my guilty pleasures. Frequently, when I read the text that accompanies the photos of a home, I find out that the family who lived there when the photos were shot has since moved to another home—one that is bigger, or more conveniently located, or more desirable in another way. The house tour is their tribute to their former home—a house they loved but left behind for something better.

When I wrote about the faithfulness of Moses a couple of weeks ago, I did something similar. I was honoring someone who was truly great, but who was replaced by someone even better. The people to whom Hebrews was written were familiar with Moses, the Old Testament leader of the Israelites, so all the author had to do was mention Moses’s faithfulness “in all God’s house” and the readers remembered all of Moses’s work on behalf of God’s people. Most of us don’t know as much about Moses as they did, so we need the house tour, so to speak. We need to be reminded of the ways in which Moses was a faithful servant of God.

But the main point of the passage from Hebrews quoted above is not Moses’s greatness. These verses are an appeal to consider Jesus. Like Moses, Jesus was faithful to his calling as apostle and priest, but the two leaders are not equal. As good as Moses was, Jesus is better.

Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses because he is the one who builds God’s house. He fulfills God’s promise in Zechariah 6:12-13:

And say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. It is he who shall build the temple of the LORD and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”’ (ESV)

Jesus is the promised king and priest who builds God’s truest temple, because he establishes the people of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-22). He is the divine agent of creation, the one who built everything there is (Hebrews 1:2), including the house of God.

As God’s faithful servant and one of the prophets through whom God spoke in the previous era (Hebrews 1:1), Moses anticipated a future prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). He foretold and foreshadowed Jesus, God’s ultimate last days revelation (Hebrews 1:2). And for faithfully fulfilling the role God gave him, Moses deserves great honor. 

Still, as a faithful servant within the household, he was a member of God’s people. He may have been God’s chosen representative, but underneath everything, he was just a human being like every other Israelite. 

But Jesus, as the divine Son who reigns at God’s right hand, is inherently superior to those he leads. He rules the world and he rules God’s house. He is worthy of the highest glory because he “is faithful over God’s house as a son.”

Some of the original readers of Hebrews were tempted to return to Judaism, so the author compared Jesus to Moses to encourage them to not turn back, but to keep on following Jesus. Jesus, after all, is not just a faithful servant, but God’s faithful and beloved Son. He is not just a member of the people of God, but the creator of the people of God. He is not just a witness to better things to come, but is himself the better thing to come. Yes, Moses was great, but Jesus is greater. 

Why would anyone who carefully considered Jesus turn back from him? Who would leave the son to go back to the servant?

We may not be tempted to go turn from Jesus to return to Moses, but there are other things that can draw us away from him: loyalty to our families, for instance, or love of the finer things in life, or a desire for the approval of our community. And this is just the short list. 

For both the first readers of Hebrews and for us, the secret to staying true to Jesus is understanding who he is and what he has done. When we know for certain he is better than anyone or anything else, we can “hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Hebrews 3:6b).

The key to faithfulness is to consider Jesus, the faithful Son.

Tuesday
May142019

Theological Term of the Week: Apophatic Theology

 

 

apophatic theology
A method of describing God by saying what he is not. Also called via negationis.1

  • From None Greater by Matthew Barrett:

    This approach is sometimes referred to as the via negativa or via negationis, the way of negation, because it is asserting something true about God by denying something false about him. So when we want to say that God is not mutable or that he does not change, we simply say he is immutable. Essentially, we are identifying all that is creaturely and therefore cannot be in God.2

  • From The Christian Faith by Michael Horton:

    [T]he incommunicable attributes are especially identified by the way of negation (via negationis), by stating some of the respects in which God is not like us. Characteristically, these attributes are recognized by the alpha privative in Greek (the initial a of words such as apatheia (non-suffering) or a similarly negating prefix in Latin, which is taken over into English (for example, immortal, invisible, immutable).3

    [I]t is these attributes of the way of negation that are most frequently challenged as a supposedly later corruption of biblical theology by pagan (Greek) metaphysics. However, it is not only later theologians but the apostle Paul as well who use the alpha-privative prefix, referring to God, for example, as immortal (aphthartos) and invisible (aoratos) (1 Ti 1:17; cf. 6:15-16).4

Learn more:

  1. Got Questions: What is apophatic theology?
  2. Theopedia: Negative Theology

Related terms:

Filed under God’s Nature and His Work

1From None Greater, page 248.

2 From None Greater, page 37.

3 From The Christian Faith, page 225.

4 From The Christian Faith, page 226.


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