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Your Bible Is a Mine, Not a Museum

Jon Bloom / July 30, 2015
Your Bible Is a Mine, Not a Museum

The more we wonder over the Bible, the more wonder-full we discover it is. That’s why we must think of the Bible more as a mine than a museum.

Museums Are Interesting

A museum is a very interesting place — assuming you’re interested in what’s on exhibit. All sorts of fascinating things are on display. You move from one artifact to another and read the plaques. It can be a beneficial, knowledge-broadening experience.

But for most people, a museum visit provides mainly a superficial understanding of history, science, technology, art, athletics, or whatever else. Even if they enlist a tour guide, the increased understanding is still relatively modest, as understanding goes. The amount of time spent at each exhibit is limited. Most visitors view a display for a short time and for the most part are content taking what they see and read at face value.

Repeat visits help. Regular museum visitors can become quite familiar with exhibits and even be able to converse fairly intelligently about the displays. To those less familiar with the subjects, veteran museumgoers might seem to be lay experts in the field. They may even consider themselves to be such. And yet, really, the knowledge base remains for the most part superficial.

Mines Are Enriching

Miners observe and gather with a different mindset than a museumgoer. To miners, the knowledge they acquire is not merely interesting; it’s vital. They aren’t merely enhancing their education; they are hunting for treasure. When they seek out expert knowledge, it is for a focused reason: such knowledge leads to fortune.

Miners are trying to unearth wealth. They dig. They probe. They poke around. They pick up rocks and turn them over, looking intently. Mining isn’t a leisurely afternoon’s recreation. Mining is a diligent, persistent, and even tedious examination. Hours are spent carefully combing through a small area, because if looking is not done carefully, a gem might be missed.

Treasures for Those Who Dig

The Bible is as fascinating as the best museum. There is a lot glean from it at face value. But it is enriching as a mine. Begin to dig, poke around, and examine, and it yields wonderful things that you didn’t notice at first.

Take the narrative portions, for instance. Why does the Bible contain so many stories? And why do they contain, and leave out, the details they do?

In the story of Joseph and his brothers and their father, Jacob, in Genesis, why is there so much family conflict in the story? What does God want us to see in their sinful dysfunction?

Why was Moses’s leadership experience so consistently hard and painful for almost his entire tenure?

When Nehemiah and his crew were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, why did God allow that process to be so inefficient and fraught with opposition?

In Luke 8, why did Jesus command the parents of the little girl he raised from the dead not to say anything, and yet made the hemorrhaging woman, who desperately didn’t want to say anything, announce her condition to the whole crowd?

Why in the world did the writer of Hebrews 11 list Samson, in all of his unfaithfulness, among the models of faith?

Why is the crucial link between of the healing of Naaman, the great Syrian general, by Elisha, the great Hebrew prophet, a little Hebrew servant girl who had suffered the trauma of being ripped from her family by the Syrian military?

Why, in Judges 4–5, did God remove honor from Barak when all he seemingly wanted was just to have God’s prophetess close by during a crucial battle?

Why, in God’s name, did Jesus allow Judas to carry the ministry moneybag when he knew Judas was a devil?

If we read Bible stories like museum exhibits, always viewing them fairly quickly and then moving to the next display, our grasp tends to remain rather superficial. We might think that we’ve seen pretty much all that there is to see.

But when we really start sifting through them — when we mine them — we find that these stories are laced with treasures. We see that there is more than initially meets the eye. God buries riches in the Bible that a miner will find and a museumgoer will not.

Things Not Seen

Too often I’ve been a museumgoer in my Bible reading. But the gift of God-granted desperation can make a miner out of museumgoer. And the new book Things Not Seen: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Trusting God’s Promises is one result of my desperate mining for the treasures of God in the Bible that I need in order to live — in order to live by faith.

Like Not By Sight from two years ago, Things Not Seen is 35 brief narrative meditations — narrative diggings — seeking to unearth the gems of faith from familiar Bible stories that may have become like familiar museum exhibits — things we think we know that still may hide things we’ve not yet seen. And like Not By Sight, and most of the books at the Desiring God site, Things Not Seen is available as a free PDF, as well as for purchase.

But you don’t need this book to be a miner. You need the Bible and a desperate desire to find all the treasure that God has buried in the field of his Word (Matthew 13:44). But maybe the book will be an encouragement to get the pick and shovel out again.

I’m not knocking museums for being what they are. But when it comes to the Bible, let’s approach it more like miners than museumgoers. There is life-transforming, sin-eradicating, hope-birthing, despair-destroying, eternal-life giving, love-fueling gold there for those who dig.

Things Not Seen by Jon Bloom Book Cover

Bloom’s new book Things Not Seen is now available in paperback and as a free PDF.

Don’t Waste Death

Phillip Holmes / July 30, 2015
Don’t Waste Death

For a while, I’ve dreaded the inevitable — that time when a family member calls with bad news. It happened last Saturday. I missed the first call from mom, but when she called back immediately, I feared it was trouble. “What’s wrong?”

Honestly, I expected the call to be about one of the senior members of our family. But this caught me totally off guard. It was my 28-year-old cousin. He was killed in a car accident. This Saturday, we’re burying DeAndre — a father, brother, uncle, and cousin. He will be greatly missed.

Death hurts. Even though we know, if Christ tarries, we will die one day, we avoid thinking about it. This is especially true for teens and young adults. We feel invincible and take life for granted. Which is why we need to be cautioned about trying to move past tragedies involving death too quickly. We need to process death and ponder eternity.

My cousin’s death reminded me of a hard truth: Death shouldn’t be wasted.

Death Is a Cruel Teacher

When death comes knocking, we’re tempted to suppress the pain. We numb the pain with drugs, sex, entertainment, and alcohol. But when the smoke clears and the buzz fades, the fact remains that we’ve lost someone we dearly care about, and we can’t escape this sobering reality.

We can’t ignore death’s implications for our own life. Death is a cruel teacher, but a teacher nonetheless. Satan would rather we not contemplate death. If our minds think about eternal things, it’s less likely we will waste the temporal. If we pause to contemplate what the death of another means for us, we’re faced with questions like: “How long will I live?” “What happens after we die?” “Is there a heaven, and if so, am I going?” “Does God really exist? If so, is he pleased with me?”

We avoid these questions by making up stories about what we want to be true. We trust what we’ve heard from a parent or childhood preacher, or what we feel in our hearts should be true. “I’m a good person.” “I walked down the aisle and prayed a prayer.” “I go to church when I can.” These thoughts provide a false security. Only in Scripture can we find real assurance about our eternal destiny. When we reflect on death absent of Scripture, we’re left with clichés, anecdotes, and false hope.

Answers to Death’s Questions

As we pause to ponder death, we must turn to the Scriptures for answers to questions that death poses. The Bibles teaches:

  • Only foolish, corrupt people believe there is no God. (Psalm 14:1)
  • We should not fear those who can kill the body, but the one who can throw body and soul into hell. (Matthew 10:28)
  • Everyone will die and face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
  • If our names aren’t in the book of life, we will be thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
  • The only thing that sin produces is death, but God has offered the free gift of life through Jesus. (Romans 6:23)
  • On judgment day, many will approach Jesus with false security. (Matthew 7:21–23)
  • Those who practice sin will not inherit the kingdom of God, but will suffer eternal damnation. (Galatians 5:19–21)
  • Those who are thrown into the lake of fire will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the Lord and his glory. (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
  • Those who trust in Christ have no need to fear death. (John 14:1–3; 2 Corinthians 5:6–8)
  • The Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, and Christ will transform us after this life to be like him. (Philippians 3:20–21)
  • Those who die in the Lord are blessed. (Revelation 14:13)

Millions of people base their eternal destination on false hopes. We gamble with our souls, even though Christ offers us surety. The Scriptures paint a vivid picture of how we are saved. We’re not saved because we’re good people. We’re saved by grace (God’s unmerited favor) through faith (our trust and reliance) in Christ, which is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). We can’t do anything to earn this gift, which is why we can’t boast about being good people.

Charles Spurgeon warned, “Any kind of faith in Christ which does not change your life is the faith of devils, and will take you where devils are, but will never take you to heaven.” It does us no eternal good to base our eternal security on anything short of true conversion. It’s a costly mistake that we will spend eternity paying for.

Jesus, Our Death Slayer

The Christian life is full of repenting of sin and trusting solely in the gospel of Christ, against money, sex, power, and other earthly comforts. Christ paid the ultimate price on the cross by paying for all the bad that Christians will ever think, feel, and do. Christ was punished for our evil, and we were rewarded for his perfect life. If we want to escape eternal death, we must become true disciples of Jesus.

When death comes knocking, don’t waste it. Ponder its implications and allow your heart to long for the time and place when all wrongs will be made right. The true Christian longs to be with Jesus. Christ has defeated death, and he’s able to comfort us in the pain. Cry out to Jesus — our death slayer.

When death strikes, don’t waste it. You will only find true rest when you rest in Jesus.

Jonathan Edwards and His Angry God

John Piper / July 30, 2015
Jonathan Edwards and His Angry God

If people’s hearts are ultimately governed by God, how can God find fault with their hardness and rejection? In this lab, John Piper looks to Jonathan Edwards to understand why the judgment of God is essential for our fullest knowledge of him, and therefore our fullest enjoyment of him.

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