Saturday, March 10, 2007

Books of the Bible

This week the Blogging Chicks Carnival theme is books. I love books and was a ferocious reader before I got my laptop, now I struggle not to let it consume all my reading time. Blogging may have been a boon to my writing (notice I said, "may have been" :-) but it's been a bane to my reading. I don't read nearly as much as I should. Case in point, I should be reading for my Acts and Paul class because I have a midterm next week, yet here I am blogging instead!

I thought I would write about my favorite book of the Bible but it's really hard for me to pick just one. When I prepare to teach a book of the Bible, I fall in love with the book I'm teaching. Even though it might not have been a favorite before, it becomes one. I loved the book of Ecclesiastes after I taught it, it's so rich and has an incredible depth and speaks so forcefully about the human condition and man's need for fellowship with God. It speaks in a way that no other book of the Bible does. It's incredibly unique.

I decided to teach Revelation so that it would force me to face what it was really about. When I first became a Christian, I thought the focus of the book was on the Antichrist and what would happen in the end-times. But as I grew in my Christianity and started listening and reading other positions, I realized that the focus really was on Christ and his triumph over Satan and the kingdoms of this world. Christ's death on the cross and what that wrought is really the focus of the book. I learned to love Revelation because it was filled with the majesty of Christ and of the promises that are ours in Him. I loved the pictures at the end of the book of the new heaven and the new earth where righteousness will dwell:

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Revelation 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
And I love the way Revelation ties the end to the beginning and we see the promise of the Garden of Eden fulfilled.

I love the Christocentric nature of the Epistle to the Colossians. We learn so much about Christ in it:
Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
And when I read that we are in the heavens with Christ it made me realize that my focus here in this world should be Christocentric, not bound by the things of this world but focused on where I'm seated in the heavens in Christ:
Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The Gospel of John helps us to understand the connection between what was promised in the Old Testament and what was fulfilled in Christ. John wrote his Gospel so that the reader would understand that Jesus was the Christ:
John 20:31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
He was the Messiah that was promised in the Old Testament and John proves that by the things that Jesus said and did.

But if I were really honest, I would admit that there's a special place in my heart for Romans. It's so rich and deep and filled with theology: the believer's union with Christ, the federal headship of Adam, God's care of His people, justification, sanctification, glorification, election, etc. God has revealed so much about Himself and His plan of redemption in this book and it helps us to understand things that would have been unclear without it. So, many questions are answered in it:

Why are there atheists? The answer is in chapter 1.
What is expected from a righteous God? The answer is in chapter 2.
How can a righteous God accept the unrighteous as His people? The answer is in chapter 3-4.
How did we get into the mess we're in and how do we get out of it? The answer is in chapter 5.
How is redemption applied and how do we live now that we are saved? The answer is in chapter 6.
If I'm saved, why do I struggle with sin? The answer (depending on your interpretation :-) is in chapter 7.
How do I really know that I'm saved and can I lose my salvation? The answer is in chapter 8.
What about the covenant with Israel? And why are some saved and others are not? The answer is in chapters 9-11.
What is required of the believer? The answer is in chapters 12-16.

This is, of course, not the extent of the questions that could be asked of Romans, these are just the obvious. With a book this rich, is it any wonder that it's probably my favorite book of the Bible?

Now, I want to know what's your favorite and why?

BTW, if you have a favorite post that you've read recently and want to share it with others or if you've written something that you like, go over to the brilliant Kevin Stilley's blog and link to it there.

6 Comments:

  1. Laurel Wreath said...
    I agree with your Romans thoughts totally. But I have to say the whole book of Ruth, I just love. It seems I learn some thing new each time.

    blessings.
    michele said...
    I feel that way about Romans and John :-)
    Gattina said...
    I personally prefer the first testament, you can read it like a book and there is a lot of history in there. The second was written by the apostles and each of them had another interpretation of the Christ.
    CyberCelt said...
    I would have to say the book of Ecclesiastes. My husband and I used parts of this book in our marriage ceremony.

    I have tried to delve into Revelations, but did not have any luck. I even started a chart about the 1st angel, 2nd angel ... but I could not get through it.

    Here from BCs. Missed the carnival, I was traveling and no wi-fi.
    Moonshadow said...
    You know my favorites:

    Matthew for its ecclesiology,

    Revelation for its drama,

    and believe it or not, the whitewashed Books of Chronicles,

    as well as the admirable piety in Daniel.

    In those latter two, I enjoy the moralizing. The former two, their heavy Jewish style.

    I've learned an appreciation for the quiet power of Mark. And found a fascination with the staunch devotion of 4 Maccabees.

    Sorry if my reasons sound like "Bible as Literature". They really, truly aren't that, I don't think.
    michele said...
    I have a new appreciation for the Bible as literature since I started Westminster.

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