Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Scripture and Sanctification

Words are important. Words communicate. Communication is a matter of one person communicating to a person about something. It is not always another person, however: sometimes it is me communicating something to myself. We do talk to ourselves. Sometimes it is not clear who is communicating. Words say something about how the world is.

Habits are also important. Habits provide a structure to lives. On this structure, other things can hang. Without a structure, lives seem to float. Whether they are routines for getting up or going to bed, patterns of thought or speech, or ways of carrying oneself, habits form the basic framework of life.

Habits of thought provide the framework for thinking. Thought often occurs in words. Thus, effecting patterns of speech ends up effecting patterns of thought.

Consider how you think about things. Often, we have a background collection of stories which provide an idea of how things go in the world. You might also have phrases which come to mind when you consider what to do. I have heard people, in Bible studies and sermons, say, "what is the therefore there for?" Questions like that--words--provide a reminder of what to think about. So do the key parts of the stories we carry around with us. Another source for patterns of thought, which is harder for me to show, is music. I doubt I need to show that music is an excellent memory aid, but notice, too, that music provides some guidance as to how to feel. There is happy music and sad music. This happiness and sadness is linked with any words. The words then stick in the memory along with the way that the music is teaching you to feel about them. As in the previous two cases, the words are then available to structure thought.

Now, the point: Reading, praying, and singing Scripture imbeds it into our hearts so that we think in Scripture--so that we might have, more and more, the mind of Christ. This is part of why I want preaching to be a matter of pointing to Scripture. This is also why I care about what gets sung--despite having no real musical ability of my own. This is why we are to take ever thought captive, and to meditate on what is good: because that will change how we think and feel, and, thus, how we act.

Scripture is where God is present. If you love him: go, spend time with him! If you don't love him yet: go, meet him, he is awesome! (I preach to myself here)

But we are also dependent on the Spirit to give us the mind of Christ so that we may understand Scripture. Apart from God we won't so much as seek God. Go, read Scripture, for it is God who works in you, to teach you by the Spirit, to raise you up into Christ's likeness. So long as we depend on human understanding, Scripture will probably look absurd, unless God gives us grace (and we will continue to depend on our own understanding apart from his grace), and we will not understand, let alone begin to think as Christ does.

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