Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why My Blog is Called "Born of the Word"

Every so often I re-post a post I wrote in 2006 about why I named this blog “Born of the Word.” Since I’ve recently decided to fire this blog back up, and since I’ve just given it a facelift, I thought it might be good to re-post it again. I have updated it a bit, but the sum and substance of what follows remains the same as it was eight years ago.

I took the name “Born of the Word” from the 1528 document entitled, The Ten Conclusions of Berne. It was written by the Swiss reformers Berthold Haller, Francis Kold, and Ulrich Zwingli. Here is the full text of the first of their conclusions:

“The holy Christian Church, whose only Head is Christ, is born of the Word of God, and abides in the same, and listens not to the voice of a stranger” (Creeds of the Church, John H. Leith, ed., John Knox Press, 1982, pg. 129). This sentence sets my heart to worship for at least three reasons.

First, I came to believe in Jesus Christ as I read a little letter of the Bible entitled “1 John.” First John 1:5-6 and 3:4-10 in particular pierced my heart. John wrote, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth…

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

Since I came to know Jesus while reading these precious words, since I was “born of the Word,” the theological formulation of the Ten Conclusions of Berne is more than a formulation to me. It is a concise description of my life’s story, and therefore it sets my heart to worship!

Second, my life in Christ has ever been sustained and nourished by the Word of God. In fact, when the Word has been more prominent, the growth has been more pronounced. For instance, I will never be able to express how these words from Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5 spoke me when my mother died and it seemed that my world had fallen apart: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Or how these words put a foundation under my feet in the midst of a severe intellectual crisis: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Or how Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:20 have humbled and emboldened me in the fires of church planting: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Indeed, my journals testify abundantly to the fact that, by the mercies of God, I have been sustained and nourished by the Word of God in triumph and trial, in health and sickness, in strength and weakness. And this sets my heart to worship!

Finally, I love living in that truth that “The holy Christian Church…listens not to the voice of a stranger.” Consider the wisdom expressed in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

A few years ago I spent a week with a group of church planters in Dallas, Texas. During a “paradigm stretching exercise,” a few of the pastors expressed that they would love to expose their church planting protégés to the greatest leaders in the world, one of whom was Donald Trump.

I must admit that I did not handle myself as well as I could have in that moment, but rather blurted out, “Who in the world is Donald Trump when we have access to God Almighty, through Jesus Christ?” I cannot imagine Jesus or the apostles or the early church consulting the likes of Donald Trump concerning corporate growth or leadership development.

There is great joy and freedom and power in forsaking the wisdom and ways of the world in favor of the wisdom and ways of God, and therefore I delight to embrace the language and spirit of the early reformers: “The holy Christian Church…listens not to the voice of a stranger.” And this truth sets my heart to worship!

My hope for this lengthy explanation is not primarily that you’ll understand why I named this blog “Born of the Word,” but that your heart will, like mine, be set to worship as you ponder the mercies and wisdom and power of God displayed in his Word. May the Lord grant the desire of my heart!

With hope and joy in Jesus alone,

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