Monday, August 6, 2007

Down to the goal I press

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8--11, NASB

In his excellent devotional commentary on Philippians, Sacrifices of Joy, G. C. Willis renders Philippians 3:14 as "Down to the goal I press." I've frequently had that phrase run through my head over the last decade or so, ever since I first read it in Willis' book. And one question that must arise from such a statement is this: what is the goal?

Right at the start of this blog, I wrote a post titled It's About Him. I want to revisit the ideas in there a little bit: especially in light of the recent discussions of dispensationalism.

Study of God's Word is necessary for the believer. I want to make that absolutely clear; I've been accused of anti-intellectualism far too many times. But I must insist that study is only a means to an end. Theology can be a very good thing, but as my good friend Chuck says, it becomes a black hole very quickly. Theology is a worthless end in itself; the only value in it is as it drives us to know God.

Paul, an Apostle, called by the ascended Christ, through whom so much of the New Testament was written, who received his doctrine by direct revelation; said "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord". Doctrine and theology are among the "all things": they have value if they drive you to Christ; but they are worthless in an of themselves.

Christianity is a revealed religion. That is, we base our faith on what God has said. If we're too lazy to figure out what that is, we have an empty faith. I am frankly appalled by the number of Christians who are thoroughly ignorant of their Bibles. Regardless of the excuses they give (and I've heard them all), you can't have a strong Christian life if you neglect the Word of God.

But on the other hand, a Christian life characterized by the academic study of the Bible is empty. A collection of facts is a poor substitute for a relationship.

So I want to try and keep perspective here. I didn't set out to write a theological blog (and I'm far too casual and informal to seriously be accused of that anyhow), but I wanted to put up a couple things about dispensationalism because people specifically asked.

Interestingly, the Dawg just made a similar statement on his blog. As much as I'm not trying to just imitate the Dawg, it seems he's been a step ahead of me for the last week or so. I suppose that's natural: I've looked up to him as a sort of "big brother" figure for the last ten years. Still, it's a little awkward...



1 comment:

Chuck said...

...and there is certainly no harm in discussing the issues. To steal a title from Richard Weaver, "Ideas Have Consequences," and the way we interpret and think about scripture has much to do with how we put it practical application.

The Ox has a brilliant mind and can put together extremely complex ideas very succinctly.

He has great conviction and is seeking after what the Lord had in mind. This is good reading, and a great place to discuss things that matter.