Bible reading for weekend October 31 -- Nov 1.
2 Kings 13-14.
"Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them." (2 Kings 13:4)
MIXED REVIEWS. We continue reading the alternating accounts of kings, north and south, most of whom do poorly. (The King Joash of 13:10-13 is a different Joash than the king of Judah, btw.) And those rulers who did better still get a mixed review. King Amaziah of Judah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (14:3), but he did not remove the high places, and his pride got the better of him by inciting a battle with Israel. Yet the Lord still had mercy on his people and answered their prayer (13:4). There is an ongoing reminder in these chapters that God preserves his people: "But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now" (13:23; 2 Kings 14:27). This is God's preserving grace. Despite the sordidness of history, and the necessity of humbling God's people, the Lord maintains his plan and purposes toward his people from beginning to end.
GRACE WHICH PRESERVES. In grace God not only elects, calls, justifies, and sanctifies his people, but he also preserves them: "And as Isaiah predicted, 'If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah'" (Rom 9:29). Imagine how many times God could have cast you or me off from his presence forever! How many times have you made foolish decisions and the Lord has remained with you, shown you compassion, and answered your prayers? Have you thanked God today for preserving you in his grace?
2 Timothy 3-4.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE. A prominent theme in this last letter from the Apostle Paul is the importance of God's word. It is to be proclaimed, taught, explained, defended, applied, and used in every aspect of life and ministry. Especially pastors, elders, teachers: "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching" (4:1-2).
SOLA SCRIPTURA. On October 31 many Protestants around the world celebrate the launch of the Reformation in Germany by remembering Martin Luther's posting of the 95 theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg. Much of the revival that followed is due not only to the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification by faith, but at a deeper level, a rediscovery of the sole and absolute authority of Scripture (Latin, sola scriptura). Church councils and leaders may help us understand the Word, as does tradition and scholarship, but Scripture carries its own unique authority within itself. It is inspired ("breathed out, spoken") by God himself (3:16; cf 2 Pet 1:21). And it is sufficient for all of our needs. Author and pastor Kevin DeYoung writes,
"We do not follow myths. We are not interested in stories with a nice moral to them. We are not helped by hoping in spiritual possibilities which we know to be historically impossible. These things in the gospel story happened. God predicted them. He fulfilled them. He inspired the written record of them. Therefore we ought to believe them. Nothing in all of the Bible was produced solely by the human will. God used men to write the words, but these men did their work carried along by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is an utterly reliable book, an unerring book, a holy book, a divine book." (Taking God At His Word, Crossway, 2016) [This is an excellent little book!]
REFLECT. Do you have this high view of God's word? Are you thankful for God's communication, and are you drinking deeply from his word daily? Think about the words of the following hymn, which are attributed to Martin Luther...
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God –
Naught else is worth believing.
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.
‘Til soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,
His Word shall stand forever!
Image credit. Painting of Martin Luther posting the 95 theses on the castle church door, by Belgian artist Ferdinand Pauwels, on Wikimedia Commons. We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.