Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It serves as King David’s magnum opus as he eloquently describes the incredible refuge God’s Word is for him. It isn’t certain what occasion in David’s life inspired these words, but whatever it was it must have been a truly terrifying circumstance to galvanize the kind of resolve on display here to trust in God’s Word alone. But the ending of Psalm 119 is the most telling, the most intriguing part as this glorious psalm seemingly ends with a fizzle.
There’s a fascinating scene that appears at the end of Matthew 19, in which Peter, speaking on behalf of the rest of the apostles, makes the same self-righteous claim that the “rich young ruler” made to Jesus’s face only a few moments prior. It’s this erroneous assertion by Christ’s disciples that leads him to tell, perhaps, the most intriguing and unsettling parable of the kingdom in all of Scripture.
We often misunderstand the concept of faith, which breeds all manner of harebrained schemes to define faith on new grounds. We’ve trained ourselves to stand in wonder at the heroic, patriarchal faith of the most prominent biblical figures and see their success as God blessing their faithfulness. This has become the bar for “victorious Christian living.” But I’d say that nothing could be further from the truth.
I am always leery of stories that publish that claim to corroborate Scripture. I’m conflicted when I read stories like these. On one hand, I’m intrigued by something ancient being found and “proving” Scripture. On the other hand, I’m saddened that stories like this garner so much attention and are gobbled up by Christians everywhere. We like stories like this because we think, “Aha, see, I told you so!” But the Bible never defends its veracity, it assumes it.
What happens when God says no? What’s your reaction to God’s denial? Do you throw a tantrum like a child? Or do you take it in stride trusting in his sovereignty? Your reaction to God’s negative replies reveals what you’re relying on and trusting in for your success, for you life. And learning from David’s response in 1 Chronicles 17, we are made to be encouraged, even when God says no.
We laud them and praise them and, sometimes, to a degree, worship them. We call them the “heroes of the faith,” yet if you were to really investigate the course of their life, you’d quickly find that they’re anything but heroes. More often than not, the figures that populate the “hall of faith” chapter in Hebrews 11 are just as conflicted, corrupted, and confused as you and me. That’s because they are just like you and me: they’re sinners.
Mark 8 records for us perhaps the strangest and most prescient healing performed by Christ. Taking the entire chapter into account, we are made to understand precisely what our Lord was doing and saying and showing about himself. It is through this odd occurrence that we are given a luminary portrait of Christ Jesus as Savior and King.
One of Christ’s most famous interactions is certainly his terse conversation with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. The young man who sought to justify himself was abruptly met with the inflexibility of God’s law, as Jesus exposes the frailty of the young man’s own righteousness. Notwithstanding the young ruler’s giftedness and spirituality, Christ makes plain that the only righteousness heaven accepts is that of heavenly origin.
One of the pervasive diseases that continues to infect and affect the church is the fallacy of justification by doing. The notion that I can save myself by my works is a dangerous, deadly lie with which we deceive ourselves. But as is clearly seen in Philippians 2, this notion is not only false but a complete misreading of what Scripture actually says. Trying to save yourself by your works is like trying to push open a pull door.