Monday, December 14, 2009

high and lifted up

"The Vision of Isaiah"
--Luke Allsbrook, 2006

The Word for today:
Isaiah 6

mark this:
Isaiah 6:1 --
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

I've been to Bible classes where a bunch of people who don't know shinola about the Bible sit around and weigh in with unstudied, unprepared anecdotes and reflections which touch on scripture tangentially if at all.  Faux piety abounds.  It's funny how people can fill twenty minutes with delarations and examples of how humble they happen to be.

I've heard salvation testimonies which are long on "a wretch like me," but short on the Savior.  I've heard myself give testimonies like that.

I wish that we could all meet "1800."


Kent Hughes is one of my favorite preachers.  I've listened to perhaps 200 of his sermons via the internet.  In fact, between old J. Vernon McGee ("Thru the Bible") and Kent Hughes, you could take all the bad stuff on the internet and it wouldn't add up to all of the good stuff I've heard from just two guys.

Hughes tells this story:
I once heard E. V. Hill, the pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, tell of the ministry of an elderly woman in his church whom they all called 1800 because no one new how old she was.  1800 was hard on unsuspecting preachers because she would sit in the front row, and as soon as the preacher began she would say, "Get him up!" (referring to Christ).  After a few minutes, if she did not think there was enough of Christ in the sermon, she would again shout, "Get him up!"  If a preacher did not "Get him up" he was in for a long hard day!
Another of my favorite Bible expositors is Tim Keller.  Whereas Doc McGee is a homespun genius; and Kent Hughes is studious and refined, like dynamite is refined!; Keller is urbane, cutting through the spirit of this age with the sword of the Spirit of God.

Keller teaches this principle:
If we ever tell a particular Bible story without putting it into the overarching Bible story (about Christ), we actually change the meaning of the particular event for us. It becomes a moralistic exhortation to 'try harder' rather than a call to live by faith in the work of Christ.
There are, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: is it basically about me or basically about Jesus? In other words. is it basically about what I must do, or basically about what he has done?
If I read David and Goliath as basically giving me an example, then the story is really about me: I must summon up the faith and courage to fight the giants in my life. But if I read David and Goliath as basically showing me salvation through Jesus, then the story is really about him.
Until I see that Jesus fought the real giants (sin, law, death) for me, I will never have the courage to be able to fight ordinary giants in life (suffering, disappointment.failure, criticism. hardship).
The Bible is not a collection of "Aesop's Fables", it is not a book of virtues. It is a story about how God saves us.

I've just introduced you to three of my favorite Bible teacher/preachers--J. Vernon McGee, Kent Hughes, and Tim Keller.

But the person I want you to remember is 1800:  "Get him up!"

If the sermon or the teaching or this blog degenerates into mere lecturing about what you should do, then find another teacher who makes it all about what Jesus has done.

And if your own Bible reading has degenerated into lifeless moralizing about what you should do, instead of being about the resurrection power of the living Christ, then may 1800 haunt your every dream and leave you sleepless until you get it right--

until you "Get him up!"

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