Category Archives: Smith

For the Love of the Gospel

In my home at any given time there are perhaps twenty copies of the Bible distributed among the seven members of my family. Each of us owns one or two with invaluable study notes, and three or four are written in the original languages. On top of this, at least half the books on my family’s floor-to-ceiling bookshelf are dedicated to helping believers interpret and apply Scripture – all this not to mention that two of our computers connect to the internet, which in itself is a source of truly inexhaustible information.

But how do I respond to the immediacy of the Gospel in my daily life? How do we, as 21st century American Christians, react to a privilege virtually unknown throughout the scope of human history and in many parts of the world even today?

During the weekend I watched this ten-minute video that captured the consummation of a lifelong dream for Indonesia’s remote Kimyal tribe: the translation of the complete New Testament into the Kimyal language. The video is a little long, but well worth the time.

This video shocked me because I am utterly unable to relate to the delight these people displayed at receiving the Word of God. The constant presence of Scripture in my life has hardened my heart to the wonder of a transcendent God condescending that we might share in His perfect joy, and to my shame I often find it difficult to regard studying these life-giving words as more than a tedious Christian obligation.  

I suspect that many of us regard the Bible as mundane simply because we’ve forgotten what it really is that’s written in these sixty-six familiar books. Because I was home sick on Sunday morning, I was able to spend some time rediscovering the unique and infinite value of God’s Word through what it testifies about itself. In the order that I first wrote them down, here are seven aspects of the Bible that most renew my love and appreciation for it.

1. Scripture sustains and directs spiritual life.   

  • Deuteronomy 8:3 – “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
  • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…”
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
  • Romans 15:4 – “For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

 2. Scripture reveals truth.

  • Psalm 12:6 – The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
  • Psalm 33:4 – “For the Word of the Lord is upright…”
  • Proverbs 30:5 – “Every word of God proves true…”
  •  2 Peter 1:20-21 – …no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God.”

 3. Scripture is eternal.

  • Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”
  • Matthew 24:35 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
  • John 1:1-2 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

 4. Scripture is unified.

  • Luke 22:37 – “For I tell you Scripture must be fulfilled in me.”
  • John 5:46 – “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.”
  • Romans 1:1-2 – “… the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.”
  • Galatians 3:8 – And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham.”

5. Scripture effects the will of God.

  • Is. 55:11 – “…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it will accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”
  • Ephesians 6:17 – “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

6. Scripture effects salvation.

  • 1. Corinthians 15:2 – “…you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.”
  • 1. Peter 1:23 – “…you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God.”
  • John 6:68 – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
  • John 7:38 – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘out of his heart will flow streams of living water.’”

For more information about the Kimyal tribe and the Bible translation effort, visit www.kimyaltribe.com

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Ordo Amoris and the Love of God

In 2008, I attended a summer camp event hosted by my local church. The topic for the week, around which all teaching and discussion were centered, was the supreme goodness of God as described in Psalm 34. While I learned quite a bit during my time there, one of the most valuable “take-home” lessons of the week came  from Saint Augustine, a favorite church father of our speaker, Perry Garrett.

Perry outlined for us Augustine’s philosophy of ordo amoris, or “the order of loves.” This idea, which is expressed most clearly in Augustine’s The City of God, refers to a divinely ordained hierarchy of human loves and pleasures. God sits at the pinnacle as the primary object of human satisfaction, and the single pleasure that is able to provide fulfillment proportionate to and beyond our  my desire for it.

In 1 Timothy 4:4, Paul writes, “everything created by God is good.” One of God’s blessings to His creatures is that He has ordained all things for our use, benefit, and enjoyment. Money, sex, food, and other people are good gifts, but they were not designed to provide our lives with ultimate meaning. Ironically, our capacity to enjoy these things properly actually rests on whether or not God is central in our affections. Whatever we exalt above our Creator can only enslave us. As C.S. Lewis poignantly expressed in his treatise The Four Loves, anything other than God, “having become a god, becomes a demon.” Inordinate desire is never met in full; it is born of sin binds us to sin.   

Once God is seated in his rightful place in our affections, our love for Him will sanctify our hearts and passions, leading us to value the things of this world appropriately. We will view God’s gifts not as ends in themselves, but as rays of light that draw our eyes up to the great and glorious Source of all that is good, of whom all earthly joys are mere shadows. God’s status as chief of our desires is not arbitrary; in 2008 I came to understand that He is in fact worthy of all my heart, all my soul and all my strength. His excellencies far outweigh, and His glories far outshine, all else that is offered. As Augustine prayed at the opening of his Confessions, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

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Introducing… Ian Smith

Hey everyone,

Since my friend Gabe was kind enough to invite me to become the third grace-saved sinner on his blog (yes, there are three. Grace still abounds, Mueller, but don’t push it!) the appropriate thing to do would be to introduce myself.

My name is Ian Smith. Since I’m feeling a little apologetic about my age right now in relation to the honor of contributing to this site, you might as well know that I’m seventeen years old, in my first semester of community college in particular and public school in general (I never had a senior year of high school), and hoping that you read any theological foibles not as conscious unorthodoxy but as a lack of the training and understanding that I hope come my way in the future. So, if anyone takes issue with a point or implication I make in my writing and tells me as much, I would not be offended but rather grateful for your gracious correction.

My twin brother and I are the oldest of five children under the stewardship of two godly parents. We live near the outer edge of beautiful Geneva, Illinois, one of Chicago’s westernmost suburbs. God has filled our home with His gospel for as long as I have been alive, and in His grace has always provided us faithful churches (currently Grace Covenant Church in Elgin, IL) committed to ministering biblical truth. If natural revelation alone leaves all men without excuse, how much more so am I if I fail to heed what I have received from the very Word of God? Though there are times when my heart’s loyalty to the Lord who bought me wavers, and seasons of faith and hope grown dim, He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. I look forward to the day when no created thing or rebel thought will distract my heart from the King of Glory; the day when faith at last will be sight.

Other things you might want to know about me: in my spare time you’ll typically find me reading, sleeping or (unfortunately) on Facebook. Yes, I’m a teenager. I’d say that I’d rather read than anything else, but dedication as a measure of love would find me falling very short here since I haven’t actually read to the end of a book in months. C.S. Lewis, John Owen, George Macdonald, J.R.R. Tolkien, R.C. Sproul and Saint Augustine are my favorites. And though I’m from Chicago, don’t ask me whether I root for the Sox or Cubs. Sports can be fun, but they’ve never been the slightest part of my life. I can, however, play tennis, volleyball, and a pretty mean mini golf.

Hopefully you’ll be seeing more from me in the coming months, provided Mr. Tribbett doesn’t realize his mistake and boot me off! 🙂

Grace and peace,

Ian Smith

ianfullnessofjoy.wordpress.com

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