אהללה היהוה (Praise the Lord!). 100+ credit hours later, and I am complete. Yesterday marked the end of my graduate school journey. In a few days (Lord willing), I will be conferred as a Master of Divinity. That’s an extremely heavy title. I don’t claim to have mastered the divine, but I have been equipped to faithfully carry a message that has eternal implications. I feel the weight of the responsibility. Nevertheless, I believe God has and will continue to enable me to proclaim His truth. I am eternally grateful to all those who have supported me along the way. Special thanks to my parents who have been true blessings.
I have learned a lot over the last few years, and I would like to take a moment to share with you all some of the most significant lessons that have really impacted and shaped my view of scripture and life overall.
1. C-R-R-R (Creation-Rebellion-Redemption-Restoration)
Up until the last few years, I have always looked at the Bible as a book of random acts and occurrences that are seemingly disconnected from regular life. I have always reverenced the book, but it was hard for me to see how it was relevant or how it applied to life (outside of the gospel of course).
Post seminary, I understand the bible to be one story- God’s story! He is the main character. He creates, and he restores. It is a story of love and fellowship. God wants to dwell in his good creation, particularly among mankind for man is unique (created in His image) (Gen 1:26). He calls man to fill the entire world with His image (be fruitful and multiply).
But because man sinned and rebelled (Gen. 3:6-7), God could no longer be near to man in complete fellowship (1 Pet. 1:15-16). As we read through the story, we see the ways in which God makes it possible for man to be in His presence (The Law, Tabernacle, and Temple). And he establishes these covenants of which man is to obey (Gen 12:1-3; Gen. 17:9-11; 2 Samuel 7:5-9). Their obedience will guarantee blessings.
Alas, man did not keep the covenant and continued to break it. God then punished his people by sending them into exile. Yet he remained faithful to them- he sustains, and keeps them even in exile and will ultimately bring them back to their land (Isa. 14:1-3).
Jeremiah, who was a prophet during the exile of Judah, speaks about a new covenant that the Lord will establish between He and his people. A covenant that will not be broken by the sin of man, but, in fact forgives and forgets the sin of man. This covenant was established in the broken body of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:24-26). This is the gospel that we are all very familiar with. His death and his resurrection are the means of grace to all of his elect (Heb. 10:12-18).
It is through his blood, that we are redeemed. And as the redeemed covenant people of God in union with Christ, he calls us again to fill the world with His image by making disciples (Matt. 28:19-20) who will look to Jesus. The inaugurated Kingdom of Jesus has come and we can experience it, but it has not been fully revealed. We live in a tension of the already, but not yet. Christ’s eschatological Kingdom will be fully revealed on day, but we must wait and be ready in hopeful anticipation for his coming. He will restore all things.
What does this mean for you and me? The story is still being written with us!!! We play a role in bringing about God’s complete redemptive plan. God has not left us without encouragement though, for He has written that He will prevail in the end and we will join him in victory (Rev. 21:3-4). This is the story of the Bible (truncated of course).
2. Context Is King
Unfortunately, the Church has become a battle ground for doctrine wars. This is primarily due to the fact that untrained preachers read their presuppositions and assumptions into scripture, and regurgitate it as true interpretation. However, seminary has taught me to let scripture interpret itself. We do that by reading it in its context. Context is not limited to historical setting (a lot of preachers will do well if they only held to this one), but it involves the literary genre, audience, grammar and syntax (original languages), and the context of the Grand Story (C-R-R-R). Interpretation (exegesis) is an art, and the only way to perfect an art craft is to practice it over and over again. Yes, it does take time and effort. But we do it because we love the people who we minister to.
3. Secular- Sacred Distinction
I have been taught my entire life that I, as a Christian, must avoid “worldly” or secular things (i.e. movies, secular music, video games, art, certain jobs and employment, etc.). I agree that Christians need to avoid all things sinful, but not all secular things are sinful. In fact, this mentality has bled over into relationships. I have heard preachers says we need not make friends with non Christians- they are worldly (as if Christian are not worldly???). However seminary has taught me to enjoy all things (that are not sinful of course) because God has created all things. All things are to be received with thanksgiving for those who know the truth (1 Tim. 4:1-3). We are called to full the world with God’s image. We do this by engaging the culture and especially loving people. God calls some to the workplace. We are to serve him where ever he calls us. If you work at an office or a warehouse, that office or warehouse becomes your ministry and you are required to serve God well by doing your jobs well. We are called to love non Christians. Invite non Christians to your home, spend time with them, and develop a relationship. In so doing, you embody Christ and you invite an opportunity for the gospel to take root in their lives. This is engaging culture. There is no divide between the “sacred” and the “secular”.
Okay. enough for now. These are my top 3. I hope that you are encouraged by what I have written. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.