Love for God & Knowledge about God (Laura)

With the beginning of the Lenten season, I decided to read through the Gospel of John. Thanks to the library of books I have inherited through my husband, I have a copy of The NIV Application Commentary, by Gary M. Burge. I highly recommend it, but with a little caution. While I really enjoy it, there can be a temptation to immediately read what Burge says about Scripture rather than give time for the Holy Spirit to reveal more to you personally. I combat this temptation by reading a passage of Scripture, spending time journaling observations and reflections, and then reading the commentary. Burge’s book gives historical background for the passage, bridges the context for Scripture during that time until now, and provides commentary on the contemporary significance of the passage.
I started right at the beginning of John and read chapter 1. It is the story of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ disciples following Him. (Now would be a good time to take a minute or two and read John 1 in your Bible). What stood out to me the most was how each person experienced Jesus on their own.  Each person is invited to “come and see” Jesus and through their experience, know Him. What often helps me to stand firm in my faith is the confidence I have in my own experience of Christ, making it easy for me to relate to this part of Scripture. I believe others must also experience Christ themselves to know Him. As Burge said, people “must have a personal experience that completely reorients who they are” (p 81).  However, this was only half of Burge’s observation and I am so grateful for the challenge in the other half. 
The point I missed is the knowledge the disciples had in addition to their experience. Burge makes a list of all the names associated with Jesus in the first chapter:

– Messiah (v 20,41)
– the Prophet (v 21)
– Jesus (v 29)
– Lamb of God (v 29, 36)
– one who baptizes with the Spirit (v 33)
– chosen [Son] of God (v 34)
– rabbi/teacher (v 38, 49)
– Christ/anointed one (v 41)
– son of Joseph (v 45)
– Nazarene (v 45)
– Son of God (v 49)
– King of Israel (v 49)
– Son of Man (v 51) 

Isn’t that crazy? It puts me in awe of how Jesus filled each of those roles so perfectly and how He relates to us in so many different ways. What challenges me is how the disciples had scholastic insight into Jesus. When asked “Who is Jesus?” they had their experience to help answer as well as knowledge. I am called to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind(Luke 10:27). But how well do I really love the Lord with my mind? When people ask what my belief as a Christian is on dating, drinking, sex, or other things, do I know how to respond with the truth that Scripture teaches? Is there substance behind my love of God? My experiences can certainly play a role in my response, but the truth must be grounded in God’s Word.
“John the Baptist is not only experiencing personal self-effacement and an overwhelming desire to glorify Jesus, he can also give a correct theological explanation of who Jesus is. There is a theological substratum beneath his commitment. The same is true of the four men who follow in the story” (Burge p 85)

So the challenge I am facing is this: Is loving God a “spiritual mantra”(as Burge refers to it) or do I have and continue to seek more of the depth in understanding and knowing who I love?

One Comment


    What are the terms for pardon under the New Covenant? Did Jesus give us the terms of forgiveness from sin before He died or after His death and resurrection?


    1. Luke 18:18-22 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? …..20 "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' Do not murder,' Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' ' Honor your father and your mother.'" 21 And he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth." 22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, "you still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; come, follow Me."(NKJV)

    Would the rich ruler have been saved had he obey Jesus? Yes. Was Jesus giving the terms for pardon under the New Covenant. No, He was not.

    2. Mark 2:1-5….5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic,"Son, your sins are forgiven you."(NKJV)

    Were the sins of the paralytic forgiven? Yes. Was Jesus saying that under the New Covenant men will have their sins forgiven because of the faith of friends? No. He was not.

    3. John 8:3-11….10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the women, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."(NKJV)

    Was the woman condemned by Jesus? No, she was not. Was Jesus saying that under the New Covenant if no man condemns you that I will not condemn you? No, He was not.

    4. Luke 23 39-43 …..Then one of the criminals who was hanged blasphemed Him, saying , "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us". 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying , "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds ; but this Man has done nothing wrong."42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom." 43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."(NKJV)

    Was the thief saved? Yes. Was Jesus giving the terms for pardon under the New Covenant? No, He was not.


    Mark 16:14-16 After He appeared to the eleven…16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.(NKJV)

    Jesus gave the terms for pardon, under the New Covenant, after He was resurrected.

    Luke 24:36-47 ….."and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.(NKJV)

    Peter gave us the terms for pardon under the New Covenant at Jerusalem on 33AD. Acts 2:22-41
    Peter preached the terms for pardon under the New Covenant.

    Faith: John 3:16
    Confession: Romans 10:9
    Repentance: Acts 2:38
    Water Immersion: Acts 2:38

    Jesus never told one person that under the New Covenant they did not have to be baptized in order to be saved.

    Jesus never told one person that under the New Covenant they did not have to repent to have their sins washed away.

    Acts 2:38 And Peter replied, "Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift , the Holy Spirit. (The Living Bible -Paraphrased)


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