Where do we spend our time as Christians, especially intellectually? What do we spend our time meditating on? Focusing on? And what should be our focus in our ever-shrinking time on this terrestrial ball? Is it enough to live our lives looking at Scripture, what about other books, theology, biographies and history; time is short and we know we are called to live hard for the glory of God (Eccl. 9.10; 1 Cor. 10.31). One more factor; we are also in this world and the weight of the world needs to have an impact. It follows then that as believers, in order for us to have a grip on things today, to be current and effective, we need to have a twofold pulse; the word and the world.
The greatest need of the hour is serious bible study and serious bible preaching. That has always been our greatest need and it will always be our greatest need in the church. When the church loses this vision, what we get in the wake is a wasteland of consumerism, seeker-sensitivism, emergent churches that are formless and void, ecclesiastical anarchy, and ultimately apostasy. One Pulse, means that we move from our worldview to a real interpretive view of this world, our world, the world of headlines and culture shaping political developments that arise in our times. Although not a call to conspiracy theory, political obsession, or theonomic ecstasy- Scripture calls for a common sense realism that means we cannot play the ostrich game with culture. We need to be aware, informed and prophetic! But this takes the canny ability to take and disseminate media information from a Biblical perspective in such a way that reveals how Scripture practically and really touches all things in our lives. School, parenting, work, community, politics, family; in every one of these areas, we need more than grammar we need theology in real time. When recently asked to give advise to young pastors today, David Wells calls for an expository-culture-connection where we do more that just look over surveys:
“Today the complexity of our rapidly changing culture often leaves people confused. They don’t always understand their world. Nor do they always know how to work out their discipleship in this world. They need a worldview but one that is a view of this world. This means that preachers cannot reduce biblical exposition simply to biblical exegesis. Exposition starts with exegesis, but it must then find a way to lodge that truth in people’s minds so that it enters their private worlds. It must make connections—saying either yes or no—in their understanding and to their lives. This is where many preachers are at their weakest. It seems some think reading Barna surveys is all they have to do. It is not. There are no shortcuts. They need to spend serious time gaining understanding themselves.”
Maybe an example would be to point out the cycles of history. This is current, needing almost no deconstruction or reconstruction. Of course, I’m referring to what is happening in the Muslim world especially in Syria. For example, when Islam is allowed to flower into violent expressions like ISIS, we can expect for humanity to suffer the loss of things which should be valuable to all- like treasures of antiquity. The ancient Muslims burned the great library of Alexandria. Today, the cycle is repeating. ISIS is now guilty of destroying valuable Manuscripts in Mosul where Christianity has been virtually extinguished! An observation like this means, precisely what Wells is says, “Exposition starts with exegesis, but it must then find a way to lodge that truth in people’s minds so that it enters their private worlds.”
So then, study hard, learn Greek and Hebrew, become conversant with the best of theology and theologians, but then our task is only half done. We also need to be able to bring this to bear in our sin-laden world. The point of it all is to unravel the confusion of culture with Christ. The path to do this begins with theology and terminates with piety. So we take our eschatology, our soteriology, our anthropology, and interpret it in the context of what our world believes in contrast to Scripture. Wisdom happens when we can take our gospel commitment and bring it to bear on our neighbors and magnify the exclusivity of Christianity as the hope of all the earth. Isn’t this what Isaiah did?:
Isaiah 45:22–25 22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. 23 “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 “They will say of Me, ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’ Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. 25 “In the Lord all the offspring of Israel Will be justified and will glory.”
Soli Deo Gloria
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.