August 17, Wednesday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 3, 2015.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Pre-Gospel Before Giving the Gospel” 

Lk. 10:25-9 (ESV) 

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” [26] He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” [27] And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” [28] And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”[29] But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

We read many conversations between Jesus and individuals in the Gospels; and, no doubt, similar conversations continue to take place today.  Consider the conversation found in today’s text. 

Jesus, when asked by this lawyer, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” did he answer, “You’re asking the wrong question; everlasting life is not earned through good deeds; it is ‘by believing you may have life in [my] name’?” (Jn. 20:31).  This should have been the response, right?  That, however, is not what Christ said; rather, he asked, “What is written in the Law?”  Seeing that the lawyer responded correctly (“Love God and your neighbors”), Jesus then said him, “Do this and you will live.”  

But isn’t that a wrong response?  Didn’t the apostle Paul say, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith . . . not by works” (Eph. 2:8-9)? Yes, while that is very true, to a self-righteous individual who sees no need for grace, something else must proceed and that’s what Jesus was doing here.  That is to say, Jesus wasn’t giving the lawyer the gospel; rather, Christ was helping him to recognize the spiritual blindness that was undermining his need for the gospel.  I am calling that the pre-gospel. 

To do that, Jesus went along with this man’s thinking based on the Law of Moses: “Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them” (Lev. 18:5), that is, obtain eternal life.  Therefore, “Do this and you will live” implies that the lawyer had failed to keep God’s law perfectly, and as a result didn’t have eternal life.   Feeling slighted—since he thought otherwise—the lawyer, “want[ing] to justify himself,” asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”  This is when the parable of the Good Samaritan is given, not necessarily because Jesus wanted to emphasize a lesson on loving our neighbors, but to help the lawyer see that “there is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom. 3:10a))  Once the lawyer truly understands that, he will be ready, not only to hear the gospel, but to believe it as well. 

Too many of us believe the right facts about Jesus and stop there.  While that is a necessary start, it may not be tantamount to a genuine faith that saves us from hell.  Therefore, Christ continues to engage in probing dialogues with us through the Holy Spirit so that we can own up to our mistaken assumptions about life, God, and us.  Listen to him: believe and live.

Prayer: O God, we eagerly keep up with our Facebook, posting that one photo out of 100 that makes us look attractive and having fun, as if our significance depends how many likes we get.  But seeing that the Son of God desires to have dialogues with me as if I matter to him, I feel very significant.  Thank you!  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 11


Lunch Break Study

Jesus said that his “sheep listen to his voice” (Jn. 10:3).  That means Christ continues to speak, but in what sense?  Since the voice isn’t referring to a new revelation apart from the Scripture, what is it? 

Read Rom. 8:16 (NIV): The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Jn. 16:13 (NASB): “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. [14] He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Acts 16:19 (NIV): “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’”; 17:11: “For [the Bereans] received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

Question to Consider

1. How does Christ continue to speak to us today?

2. What is the basis for the voice of Christ spoken through the Spirit to our spirit?

3. What do we need to do in order to hear and discern what Christ is saying to us?  If you were to do that today, what would you hear?

Notes

1. He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit who is in communication with our own spirit, making it possible for us to hear what Christ wants us to know and/or do at a given moment.  This doesn’t just happen; or even if He speaks, we may not hear due to allowing too many noises in our lives. Nevertheless, Jesus himself told us that we will be guided to all truths through the Spirit.  

2. Whether it is an image, vision, word or impression that we believe came from the Spirit, it must correspond to what is plainly stated in the Scriptures.   That’s what the Bereans did with Paul’s teaching, and we should do the same as well.  For example, I know of a person who felt that the Spirit told him to divorce his wife and marry this other woman to become a missionary.   That cannot be from God.

3. Any measures taken to improve our physical hearing would apply to our spiritual hearing as well: get rid of noise (e.g., too much entertainment); lower the volume of other sounds (e.g., perhaps reading too many theological books), pay attention to what is being said (e.g., praying in a quiet place); if not clear, ask questions (e.g., staying in prayer); jot down what you hear.   


Evening Reflection

We began the day thinking about how Christ, who, while on earth, conversed literally with people, continues to speak to us today in our spirit.  Let’s tune out any noise and stand before “the council of the LORD to see and hear his word” (Jer. 23:18).   His sheep listen to the Shepherd’s voice. 

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