Posts tagged ‘Tullian Tchividjian’

The Bible Is All About ___________

Bible 1The Bible is all about __________.

How you fill in this blank makes a big difference in how you approach not only the Bible, but your life as a believer in Christ.

I have no doubt that most Christians would fill in the blank with “Christ.”  After all, a respectably orthodox theology demands no other answer.  “The Scriptures…testify about Me,” Jesus declares (John 5:39).  But what we say about the Bible and what we want to know from the Bible are often two very different things.

I once had a lady who felt the need to give me some preaching advice following one of my sermons.  “The problem with you,” she began, “is that you always end your sermons the same way:  by talking about Jesus.  I already know what Jesus did,” she continued. “I want to hear about what I need to do to live a better and successful life!”  She expressed publicly the way a lot of people feel secretly.  To learn about Jesus is fine and good, but what we really want is to learn about ourselves – how we can be successful.

Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, calls such a desire “reading the Bible narcissistically.”  He explains:

We often read the Bible as if it were fundamentally about us: our improvement, our life, our triumph, our victory, our faith, our holiness, our godliness. We treat it like a book of timeless principles that will give us our best life now if we simply apply those principles. We treat it, in other words, like it’s a heaven-sent self-help manual…Even our devout Bible reading can become fuel for our own narcissistic self-improvement plans, the place we go for the help we need to “conquer today’s challenges and take control of our lives.”[1]

But this is not the purpose of the Good Book.  The Bible is not about us being better.  It’s about Jesus being perfect.

“But what about me?” someone may protest.  “I have concerns I need answered!  And they’re not just concerns about how I can go to heaven after I die, they’re concerns about how to deal with things while I’m still alive!”

This is where we can modify how we fill in the blank a little bit.  Because the Bible is indeed all about Jesus.  But Jesus came for us.  Jesus lived for us.  Jesus died for us.  And Jesus rose for us.  The Bible is all about Jesus who just happens to be for us.

Tchividjian continues:

The Bible is one long story of God meeting our rebellion with His rescue; our sin with His salvation; our failure with His favor; our guilt with His grace; our badness with His goodness.

The problem with the way so many people approach the Bible is that they skip over Jesus to get to themselves.  The Bible is indeed about us, but it’s about us in light of Jesus.   And it is when we read the Bible in light of Jesus that we discover that we are more deeply sinful than we ever thought, unable to improve our lives under our own power and will, and Jesus is more magnificently gracious than we ever imagined, able to save us from our sin and our selves.  You see, Jesus is not only the key to reading the Bible correctly, He is the key to reading ourselves correctly – as sinners in need of a Savior.  It is when we see Him as the center of the Scriptures that we find we need Him as the Savior of our lives.

[1] Tullian Tchividjian, “Reading The Bible Narcissistically,” The Gospel Coalition (6.10.2013).

June 17, 2013 at 5:15 am 2 comments

ABC Extra – Christ Alone

Human beings tend to be attracted to either legalism or antinomianism.   Legalism describes when a person adds to the Law of God, creating rules, regulations, and stipulations which God has neither commanded nor forbidden.  Antinomianism is when a person subtracts from the Law of God, claiming autonomy to do whatever he wants.  In the Bible, the Pharisees are legalists.  They continuously add their own laws to God’s law (e.g., Mark 7:3-4), creating “heavy loads and putting them on men’s shoulders” (Matthew 23:4).  Satan, on the other hand, is an antinomian.  In the Garden of Eden, he calls into question the veracity and gravity of God’s law.  After God warns Adam not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil under penalty of death, Satan declares,  “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4)!  Satan seeks to subtract from what God has said.

Interestingly, legalism and antinomianism often go hand in hand.  The legalist Pharisees, at the same time they add to God’s law, also “let go of the commands of God and hold on to the traditions of men” (Mark 7:8).  In other words, given the choice between holding to their own legalist traditions and letting go of the true law of God, they always choose their own legalist traditions.  They subtract from God’s law at the same time they add to it.  The antinomian devil, at the same time he rejects God’s law, also initially tempts Adam and Eve with a question:  “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’” (Genesis 3:1)?  God did not say this.  He only forbid eating from one tree in the garden, not every tree.  Satan adds to God’s law at the same time he subtracts from it.

Ultimately, legalism and antinomianism make the same mistake – they trade the law of God for the will of men.  And this is the problem in Philippians 3, our text from past weekend in worship and ABC.  In this chapter, Paul addresses a group known as the Judaizers, who, while being believers in Christ, nevertheless insist that a person must be circumcised according to Jewish tradition in order to be saved.  They fall into the error of legalism.  And Paul has a harsh word of warning to the Philippians and against the Judaizers:  “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh” (Philippians 3:2).  Paul describes legalism as “dogged” and “evil.”  And he says that an insistence on circumcision for salvation is nothing less than a mutualizing of the flesh and of no value to the soul.  Legalistically insisting on regulations and stipulations, no matter how pious or holy they may sound or seem, is wicked and heinous.  It harms faith rather than helping it, for it seeks to add the work of men to Christ’s work on the cross.

Tullian Tchividjian, the senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, preached a sermon series a couple of years back with a title that succinctly explains the glory of the gospel while countering every specter of legalism.  It was titled, “Jesus plus nothing equals everything.”  Legalism tries to add something to Jesus.  Antinomianism seeks to subtract something from Jesus.  But Jesus will not be added to or subtracted from.  He alone is sufficient.  Thus, we are to find our joy, our hope, our meaning, our purpose, and our salvation in Him alone.  He is to be our everything because He has given us all that we have and promises to provide all that we need – even our eternal lives.

Do you add to Jesus with your own pious rules and regulations?  Do you seek to subtract from Jesus with, engaging in what he forbids and chasing after the own sinful lusts of your heart?  If you answered “no” to either of these questions, you’re not being truthful with yourself.  We all do these things.  But by God’s grace, we are continually called back to Christ and Christ alone.  Today, thank God that you have everything in one thing – Jesus Christ.

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November 21, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

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