“Christian Wholeness 109”:
God willing, next week’s summary of some applications will complete this series on being whole in the Lord Jesus Christ. This week we consider the significance that “all of the Prophets hang on these two commands”: love God and our neighbors. (Matthew 22:40) But many of those books (Isaiah through Malachi) can be long, symbolic, and focused on ancient history or end times. Are they really relevant to us? Yes. In fact, their message is simple and crucial: in this life we’re in constant need of turning away from sinfulness and turning to hope in Jesus. So, it may be helpful to begin by addressing two common but distorted views of the Prophets: 1) skipping them altogether or 2) overly focusing on them and neglecting the rest of God’s Word. For if we are guilty of either, we’ll miss the true gospel.
If you’ve read any of the previous articles, you may remember that being whole in Christ does not mean being wholly satisfied here. Everything in this life – our bodies, brains, possessions, and even the universe itself – is dying. (Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8, Romans 8:21-22, 2 Peter 3:10, 1 John 2:15-17, etc.) But that’s not bad news when we hear God’s Word telling His people that this world is not their home – our eternal home is with God in His physical, spiritual, and relational paradise. (John 14-17, Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 11:13-16 and 13:14, 1 Peter 2:11-12, Revelation 21-22, etc.) However…
Many selectively read God’s comforts and promises but skip the tough love of the Prophets. They cling not to Christ for eternal joy with Him but to this world for happiness here and now in whatever. (Matthew 6:24, Luke 11:42-43, 1 Timothy 6:3-10, 2 Timothy 4:10, 1 John 2:15, etc.) This demand for immediate satisfaction and the illusion of avoiding all hardship in this world is the same self-focus that leads to entitlement mentalities, marital unfaithfulness, excessive debt, obesity, and other abuses and neglects. Real love in Christ doesn’t seek to be whole here. It is self-disciplined to please the Lord (Proverbs 25:28, Acts 24:25, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Galatians 5:23, 1 Timothy 4:7, 2 Timothy 1:6-7, Titus 1:8, etc.); it employs godly discipline with those whom we love (Deuteronomy 8:5, Job 5:17, Proverbs 13:24, Ephesians 6:4, Revelation 3:19, etc.); and it receives discipline. (Proverbs 12:1 and 19:20-21, Isaiah 1:19, Jeremiah 29:4:23, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Hebrews 12:5-11, etc.) Love serves Christ.
Others camp out in the Prophets for a narrow focus. One such agenda is social justice. Although the concern is legitimate, real change comes from the inside-out. The Bible’s good news is God’s gift of relationship with Him by trusting and obeying His Son, Jesus. But it shouldn’t surprise us that some today misrepresent the Prophets (just as false prophets represented themselves) for mere social changes that glory in man. The same happened in biblical times. (1 Kings 22:1-40, Jeremiah 14:13-16, Ezekiel 13:1-23, Matthew 23:29-31, etc.) The gospel is supernatural, so love honors Christ.
Watch this week’s video on the Prophets and wholeness, and discuss the following with a friend.
- Why were the Prophets so often killed or persecuted? (Matthew 23:29-37)
- Describe the 5 references to prophets (people and books) in Acts 13:4-52.
- Matthew 4:1-11 reveals that even Satan tries to confront us with Scripture. How did they discern the true prophets in the Bible? (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)