Old Testament Survey Students:
Greetings. Attached you should find the Bible Reading Plan for class.
A Few Thoughts on Time, Using Time Well, Relaxing Well, and a Few Other Various Thoughts
1. Paul can teach that we should be “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil”. This can also be translated “redeem” the time. Time is fleeting, and you must be intentional about redeeming the time that has been given you
2. We should think about time as a gift from God which is the backdrop given to us, against which we can fulfill our callings.
3. Do everything in the fifteen minutes, for the hours never come (Albert Schweitzer).
4. In terms of getting things done, do not think you are above setting goals. Set some goals and go for it. You might ask: “How do I envision myself different in five or ten years from now?” Is there an author you want to be more familiar with? Is there a field of study you want to spend time reading in?
5. As you think about setting goals, consider setting some daily disciplines—even if these are not “big” or time consuming. For example, I try to work on all the languages I want to improve at. Most days I meet this goal.
6. Consider ways to disconnect from the internet and from social media. I just read about a 16 year old Australian gal—famous for some reason, with hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers. She has just gone off Twitter. My. This may mean simply breaks from the internet. Whatever the details of your regimen, I would strongly encourage you to do the following:
· Have some sort of regular time when you are not online (perhaps when you leave work, go off-line until the next day?).
· If you are married, do not develop the habit of always being online “together” for you leisure time. Talk together, read a book together, go for a walk together, etc.
Some of the things I have done:
· Get off Facebook.
· Have a work computer that is not hooked up to the internet.
· When on vacation I sometimes decide to go long stretches of internet activity whatsoever.
7. When you read, sometimes it is nice to have relaxing music on. Fine. But I am convinced the brain needs some extend time of quiet in order to process what one is thinking, and to grow intellectually. See A. G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life
8. Develop some hobbies that stretch you in certain ways. For example, I live a sedentary life, so I try . . .
· To exercise regularly
· To go for walks with my wife
· To work on projects around the house with the children
9. As you look ahead a few years, you might think: Is God calling me to something? We already know we are called to: Love God, love neighbor, pray without ceasing, do not get drunk on wine but be filled with the Spirit, love your spouse, raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, etc. If you do those, you have done well. I would also encourage you to dream some big dreams, and to pray to the Lord, asking what He would do with your life.
10. Whether you are a true-blue Sabbatarian or not, you would do well to have regular times of rest in your life.
In doing some work this morning, I re-read this by Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575), commenting on 1 Thessalonians 4:8. The English text reads:
"Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who give his Holy Spirit to you." Paul has, in 4:1, referred to what the Thessalonians had received from Paul and his co-workers, that is, teaching on: "how you ought to walk and to please God . . ." And Paul speaks in 4:1-7, in general, of our sanctification (4:3), and in particular sexual holiness.
Then Paul says: "Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who give his Holy Spirit to you." Bullinger's comments are interesting, for he wants to emphasize that Christ himself is the one who is doing the teaching in the Christian church. My mind went to passages like Jeremiah 31, where the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah says: "And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each is brother, saying 'Know the LORD"; and 1 John 2:27: "But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you . . ."
Here is what Bullinger says:
"For he as the only teacher and mater in the Church, teaches his disciples, that is, the Church, or congregation of the faithful, inducing them with the holy ghost, regenerating and drawing them, sanctifying and making them free from their sins. Which thing the Scripture in every place plainly teaches." (Of the Ministry and the Ministers of God)
That is, it is ultimately Christ who teaches in the Church. I am uncertain if Bullinger elsewhere links this to passages like Jeremiah 31 and 1 John 2, but it would not be surprising if he did. It is interesting that it is Bullinger who writes this, given that it was in and around Zurich you had more radical reformers, who would undoubtedly have seen in this kind of teaching something to their liking. But to muddy the waters a bit, one can also see how Rome could offer her own take on Bullinger's general thesis. Rome could say (and does say, and one finds this in Augustine), that one of the reasons for the efficacy of the (Roman Catholic) church's ministry is that it is actually Christ who is ministering to people in and through the ministry of the Church. No doubt Bullinger meant what he meant in a very different sense!
Protestants would be happy to say that Christ dwells, through the Holy Spirit, in God's people. But when one ties too closely (1) this or that act of the Church (e.g., the sacraments/ordinances) with (2) the ministry of Christ, things can get messy.
A friend, who shall remain nameless, once asked me: "Do you think one can be a Baptist, and believe in the possibility of Christendom?" It is a good question, deserving of a thoughtful answer. However one ultimately answers such a question, I think one certainly should say that when a person becomes a Christian, this conversion should effect every aspect of one's existence--whether be it more traditionally "personal" things, or more "public" things--including: one's job, one's marriage, how one raises children, how one relates to neighbors, etc.,
In short: to be changed by the gospel changes everything. So, when Christ is Lord of one's life, he is Lord of every facet of existence--down to the last detail.
So, I was intrigued to see the way J.H. Bavinck treated this general type of issue--the way conversion changes everything--in his An Introduction to the Science of Missions (pages 55-56). Here is what Bavinck writes:
"The whole of human life is touched by the epistles . . . . Not only is the inner life renewed, but every relationship in which we stand is also fundamentally altered and as a consequence the whole of society is reborn. Nothing in human life is indifferent, nothing lies outside the power of sin, but also there is nothing which is excluded from the salvation of God. God will rebuild our whole existence from the ground up. Then it is indeed true that he who is in Christ is a new creature, in every respect."
The whole society is reborn. I suspect the proper way to think about how the Christian faith changes every aspect of reality should be centered in these words. When a person comes to faith, when he or she is born again from above, this changes everything, and ultimately the conversion of persons leads to the rebirth of the whole society. There may be a certain eschatology lurking in the background here, but that can be pursued later.