Christianity 201

February 20, 2019

God’s Plan and Purpose

About a year ago I noticed that one of the most frequent post tags here was “trials and tribulation.” I went back through past posts and created a scripture medley of all the verses which appeared in the various articles.

Another one which occurs in various forms is “God’s Plans and Purposes” or “God’s Plan and Purpose.” This can include God’s overall plan; the master story arc that he is writing. This can also include the purpose for which Christ came. Or we can also think of it in terms of what God is doing in my life; his plan for my life; his purpose for my life. Remember though, that his will for each of us individually must conform to that broader, master plan.

Today we’re doing the same thing as we did with “trials and tribulations” but this one is tagged several different ways, plus I wanted to be able to limit the number of verses.

As yourself, (a) what is specifically being referenced and (b) how do I live my life in the light of God’s greater plan; God’s master plan.


God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. Hebrews 2:10


But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir  Galatians 4:4-7


For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord, so as to guide and instruct (Him) and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ, the Messiah, and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. 1 Corinthians 2:16 Amp.


But he said to them, “It is necessary for me to proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.”
 – Luke 4:43  Christian Standard Bible


In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. Heb. 1:1-2 NIV


For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18-25 ESV


Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26 27 KJV


But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we all are the work of thy hand. Isaiah 64:8  KJV


When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. Acts 13:36


I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Phil. 1:6 The Passion Translation


…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13


For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 NLT


But as it is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 ISV


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. ESV Rev 21:3

 

 

December 22, 2013

Understanding Different Literary Forms in Scripture

Today’s thoughts are from the Bible In One Year (BiOY) page of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in England, the original home of The Alpha Course as taught by Nicky Gumbel, who also authored these thoughts.  What follows is excerpts, click through to read in full.

How to Read and Understand the Bible

How do we interpret the Bible and understand what it says about what we should believe and how we should live? In interpreting the Bible there are three main questions we need to ask:

  • What does it actually say? The Old Testament is written in Hebrew (and Aramaic), and the New Testament in Greek, but we are fortunate to have access to excellent translations. Obviously it can help if we can read it in the original language, but generally we can be confident that most modern translations are trustworthy and accurate. As we read we need to be asking what it actually says. It can be helpful to use extra notes, or compare different translations, to help us understand it better.
  • What does it mean? In order to answer this question we have to ask: What sort of literature is it? Is it historical writing? Poetry? Prophecy? Apocalyptic? Law? Wisdom? Gospel? The passages for today are each different types of literature, and therefore we read them in different ways.Next, we need to ask what it meant to the person who first wrote it and to those who first read or heard it. Then ask, ‘Has anything happened subsequently to alter our understanding of the text?’ For example, what difference does the coming of Jesus make to our understanding of Old Testament passages?
  • How does this apply to our lives? If we ignore this question, then our Bible reading becomes a mere intellectual exercise. Once we have worked out what it says and means, we must think through how it applies to our daily living.

Each day’s readings at BiOY involve three passages, you’ll have to click through to read these in full. There are also prayers at the end of each section. Again, click through to read.

In these passages, we see three different types of literature (poetic, apocalyptic and historical). We also see at least three ways in which to relate to God in our daily life.

1. Be real with God (poetry)

Psalm 144:9–15

God wants us to be real with him. The psalms are not prayers from nice people using polite language. They are often raw, earthy and rough. They are an honest, true and personal response to God. They are written in the language of poetry. We interpret poetry differently to prose…

Comparison is something that we often use in daily speech. It also comprises almost all the language of theology. When two things are compared it does not mean they are alike in all respects. Usually there is some intended point of comparison on which we are asked to concentrate.

The language of Psalm 144:12 is an example of such language: ‘Make our sons in their prime like sturdy oak trees, Our daughters as shapely and bright as fields of wildflowers’ (MSG)

…the psalmist inspires us to worship (v.9). He speaks of his longing for God’s blessing on his family, his work and the security of his nation. He ends, ‘Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the Lord’ (v.15).

2. Make a difference by your prayers (apocalyptic)

Revelation 8:1–9:12

Apocalyptic literature is the literature of dreams and visions, of divine mysteries and the end of history. It is full of symbols that need to be decoded. In it we are given glimpses of things that are often at the very limits of human understanding, and the complicated and fantastic imagery can help us begin to grasp things that are beyond comprehension.

Apocalyptic literature is notoriously difficult to interpret. Within the Bible it is found in several places – especially the books of Daniel and Revelation. Typically, the reading from the apocalyptic writing for today is not easy to understand. It appears to be Christ calling the world to repentance and his warning of the coming judgment…

…We live in the time between the first and the second coming of Christ. We see evidence of much of what is written about in these chapters happening in our world. Our response should be prayer and repentance.

3. Fulfill God’s purpose for your life (history)

Ezra 1:1–2:67

God has a purpose for your life. You are called to do something special for him. The book of Ezra shows us that even when it is God’s plan, there will be plenty of opposition and resistance. But God is with you (1:3) and God’s plans will ultimately succeed.

In the book of Ezra we find ourselves in the more familiar territory of history. The historical books of the Bible are not simply records of what happened, they also provide interpretations of the events they describe. Historical writing was seen as a prophetic activity, both recording the facts and explaining or revealing how God was at work through the events that are described.

The opening verse of Ezra is an excellent example of this bringing together of fact and interpretation: ‘In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing’ (v.1).

Contemporary inscriptions show that Cyrus king of Persia allowed other captive nations to return home as well, so we are on firm historical ground here. At the same time the writer explains the significance of these events. He highlights how they fulfilled the earlier prophecy of Jeremiah that the exile would last approximately seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12 and 29:10).

This is not just a lesson in ancient history; it is a revelation of God. It shows us God’s faithfulness to his people, it reminds us that he is a saving God, and it demonstrates how he is in command and control of history.

Before the judgment: ‘Heaven fell quiet – complete silence for about half an hour’ (8:1, MSG). During this period of trembling suspense all of heaven is silenced, possibly symbolizing the opportunity for the prayers of God’s people to be presented to and heard by God.

…We each have a unique purpose for our lives. We have different projects, depending on our different jobs and passions and giftings, but our underlying motives should be the same – a concern for God’s glory and God’s people. God will fulfill his purpose for you.