Thursday, August 09, 2007
Knowing Christ Jesus-Reprise
Some time when I was a teenager, my father, a men's Sunday School teacher, said to me, "Everybody wants to study Revelation. But they don't even know their Bibles! If they don't know the prophets and the gospels, how are they going to understand Revelation?" Evidently God filed that away in my memory banks, to retrieve it later when it was needed. It was finally needed when I became a preacher in 2002.
In my first year and a half of preaching, I waded through Nehemiah and 1 Corinthians, which had great practical lessons for the church and for me as a new preacher. As I neared the end of 1 Corinthians, I wanted to dive into Romans, which had fascinated me for years. But, thinking of Dad's advice, I considered what material from the scriptures I should study first. I listened to Dr. Tom Nelson (Denton Bible Church) introducing Romans to a Bible study class. He said that to understand Romans, we have to understand the material in Genesis. Agreeing with that concept, in 2004 I studied and preached through the first half of Genesis, up to the death of Abraham. It was very rewarding, and has helped my understanding of original sin, marriage, and a number of other doctrines.
Near the end of that study, I realized that I did not have a very good understanding of Jesus Himself. So, in the Fall of 2004, I embarked on a sermon series called "Knowing Christ Jesus," in which I intended to cover a few highlights of the life of Jesus, lasting a few months. Once into the study, however, I realized that I could not skip anything! What is not important from the life and sayings of Jesus?!
So, I changed my preaching plan, and determined to study and preach on every event and saying of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. As a guide, I had A.T. Robertson's classic harmony of the gospels. Over the course of two years, I preached almost every Sunday morning on the life and sayings of Jesus. How rich! How convicting! How compelling! I had never before known the Savior like I was learning to know Him during these years.
In the late summer of 2006, I reached what I think of as the half-way mark---Peter's great confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Just a few weeks later, I had to make an abrupt exit from that church, and began a six-month sojourn, which God used as a sabbatical for me. He led me to study the partial preterist interpretation of Revelation, the reformed view of The Ten Commandments (especially the sabbath), and the first three chapters of Romans.
Since I have been preaching here at Grace Community Bible Church, I have been neck-deep in The Ten Commandments. (As I mentioned in a previous article, if you have not yet studied and/or preached the commandments, get hold of A.W. Pink's book, and the appropriate section of Calvin's Institutes, along with just about any old commentaries, and be ready for a life-changing experience.) But this past Sunday was the end. In God's grace, I was able to preach on "You shall not covet your neighbor's house," and it was over.
I have wondered for quite a while, but now am certain that I will endeavor to preach the rest of the way through all the life and sayings of Jesus. God willing, I will return to Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi and declare to all listening that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." I will then teach that the Son of Man had to be crucified, and to rise from the dead. I will teach that to be His disciple, you must take up your cross and follow Him. If the Lord allows, I will spend roughly the next two years unfolding before the eyes of men, women, and children the great righteousness, teachings, sacrifice, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Here is the key passage that drives me to this goal:
Philippians 3:7-11 NKJV But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. (8) Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, (11) if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Father, please help me to know Christ Jesus, and to preach Him in Your church, of which He is the glorious head. Amen.
Love in Christ,
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