I came across this question recently, “What Bible doctrine gives you the most joy?”. We don’t usually think of doctrine as something which gives us joy. Many doctrines of God are deep and keep our minds occupied trying to discover the truth of the matter. We think of the doctrine of the Trinity. How can God be one and yet three? The doctrine of the atonement is controversial even now. What exactly did Jesus do on Calvary? How did Jesus accomplish what he did? For whom did he die? These questions can leave us baffled and humbled. But what about joy?
What doctrines give us joy? I hope that all the doctrines of God can give us joy in some way. When we consider the incomprehensible unity in diversity of our Triune God, we should find joy in the community they share and the community which they share with us. When we consider the incredible work of the atonement, we should be overjoyed that all our needs are supplied and all our debts are paid. Even though we don’t understand all God has done for us nor all that was needed to be done, we can rejoice that God is victorious over sin for his people.
But which doctrine gives the most joy? Maybe the doctrine of the church is the one which gives the most joy. When we think of the doctrine of Heaven, we can only imagine what will be. When we consider the doctrine of the church, we behold the glory that is now. Ephesians 3:10-11 says, “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Look at what Christians enjoy in the church now. We get to enjoy and proclaim the wisdom of God. We get to be a part of God’s eternal purpose. We get to enjoy being the result of God’s work accomplished in Christ for us.
Let us rejoice in Bible doctrine. Let us rejoice in the application of Bible doctrine. Let us rejoice in God.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defined the word “insight”as, “the power or act of seeing into a situation.” Wise living requires insight. Otherwise suffering will be multiplied. The book of Proverbs is devoted to sharing wisdom or insight for living. In chapter nine of that book we read, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” Wisdom is pictured as a woman trying to help those who hear the call. She is rivaled by folly who calls for our attention as well. Which way will we turn? Certainly we should seek wisdom and run from foolishness. Where is wisdom to be found? Who can provide true insight for living? The Bible says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Turn to God and see how your life will be blessed. How do we turn to God for insight? First, the Bible says we must fear the Lord. It is a fearful thing to stand in the presence of God who is the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all the earth. Sinful man. Is nothing and totally unworthy of this privilege. As we seek God, we should do so with fear and reverence. When we thus appropriately fear God, then we may seek to know him. To know God we must go to the Bible. This is how God has spoken and revealed himself to us–Romans 10:17. Knowing the Bible leads to knowing God and the insightful living which comes from that relationship. Two grand examples of insightful living shine in the Old Testament. I can not help but be reminded of both Jacob and Daniel. Both were exiled from their home yet they remained faithful to God. Their faithfulness to God was richly rewarded. Through trials and adversity both, became leading men in the most powerful governments of their times. Why? They were blessed by God and lived by his insight. Let us do the same.
That God is the source of life is presented in the creation of the heavens and the earth. That life given by God to man was rejected as sin was accepted. From that point forward sinfulness increased on the earth till “God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:12).
What are Covenants?
Despite the contamination of sin and death which filled the earth, God pointed the world back to life. The Old Testament revolves around God’s promise for the restoration of life. This promise is highlighted in a series of covenants made between God and mankind. The word “covenant” refers either to an agreement between two parties, a suzerainty-vassal arrangement in which God places conditions upon his people, or a royal grant from God which depends entirely on God’s faithfulness.
What are the Major Old Testament Covenants?
The major covenants in the Old Testament are the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 9:11. There God promised that he would never again destroy the earth with water. This is an example of a Royal Grant. Next, God’s Covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. This Covenant guaranteed that God would provide an heir for Abraham through whom the whole world would be blessed. This is an example of a suzerain-vassal agreement because Abraham is commanded to go as part of the arrangement. Perhaps the most famous covenant is the Mosaic covenant revealed in Exodus 19-24. There again God promised great blessings for the people if they would keep his covenant. The Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7:12-17 promised that a “house”or family line of kings would be established for David. This is the line of Kong’s from which Jesus descended. Finally, there is a promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31. The failure of the people had highlighted the need for grace and a new way of being in God’s presence.
Despite all our frailties and sin, God has made a way for us to live. That life was promised in Jeremiah 31. The New Covenant would give the people a new heart and new hope. The Covenant was enacted as Christ died and opened as Christ was preached. Hebrews 8 reminds us to be faithful to God through this covenant. Thanks be to God for giving us this new covenAnt whereby we have fellowship with him.
“There shall be showers of blessing: This is the promise of love; There shall be seasons refreshing, Sent from the Savior above. Showers of blessing, Showers of blessing we need; Mercy-drops round us are falling, But for the showers we plead.”
God’s promises are showers of blessings. This doesn’t mean that there will not be hard and terrible times. Ezekiel 34 begins with a harsh word of condemnation to the shepherds of Israel. They had been taking care of themselves and neglecting God’s people. They had become so selfish that they often even robbed the people so that they could be extra comfortable. Even when the people went astray, the leaders did not behave as good shepherds. God said, “My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them” (Ezekiel 34:6).
The neglect of the shepherds was to be replaced by the zeal of the Good Shepherd. God promised the new day which Jesus would usher in for the people. God said, “I will establish over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will shepherd them. He will tend them himself and will be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among them. I the LORD have spoken” (Ezekiel 34:24). The new Good Shepherd also brought with him the New Covenant of peace–Ezekiel 34:25.
Finally, look at the life described for God’s people as they are led by the Good Shepherd. God said, “I will make them and the area around my hill a blessing: I will send down showers in their season; they will be showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26). This is the life we can live in Christ because of Christ. When we yield to Christ and are blessed by him, then we must praise him. God said, “Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people. This is the declaration of the Lord GOD. You are my flock, the human flock of my pasture, and I am your God. This is the declaration of the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 34:30-31).
God blesses and blesses again. Let be thankful for Jesus, the Good Shepherd and follow him every day.
What Is Immutability?
You may have heard this phrase or description of God all your life but never really understood what it means. The immutability of God refers to his unchanging nature. He does not change in his character, his nature, his purposes, or his will. “It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises.” (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 58).
Does the Bible Teach Immutability?
The unchanging nature or immutability of God is taught in Exodus 3:14 with the revelation of His divine name “I AM.” He is. He is unchanging. Psalm 102:27 says, “you are the same, and your years have no end.” Isaiah 41:4 says, I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.” Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Romans 1:23 describes God as “the immortal God.” The most famous passage is perhaps James 1:17 which describes God as “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
How Does this Impact Me?
The unchanging nature of God may not seem impactful at first, but there are some very powerful implications.
First, because God does not change we see that he is perfect and always is/has been perfect. Our God is not improving. Our God is not falling apart. Rather our God is always as great as could possibly be, he always has been, and always will be. Isn’t that a God you want to worship?
Secondly, we can be thankful that we know what to expect from God. Because God is unchanging, then is Word is unchanging (2 Peter 1:19). We do not serve a temperamental God. We serve the God we can depend upon and the God who has revealed his “once and for all” will to us (Jude 3).
Finally, since God is unchanging and has revealed himself to us in the Scripture, we can know something of his character. In reading the Scriptures, we can “behold the goodness and severity of God.” We can see how God is gracious. We can also see how God punishes the rebellion of sin. In seeing these things, we can know how God will relate to us in Christ.
When we think of this wonderful doctrine, we can exclaim, “my God how great Thou art!”