When I heard myself telling Big D the other night that I wanted to focus on God this time during my 90 day Bible challenge, I realized how ridiculous it sounded. The very idea of reading the Bible and not focusing on God! What I meant is this: I have so many questions about how God acts and interacts with His people. The trinity is a foundational theological concept that we learn about as preschoolers, but I haven't even scratched the surface in my understanding of it yet. And what is more important than who God is in terms of being able to rightly worship Him? I'll list a few of the questions I have that I'll be on the lookout for this time through the Bible. By the way, I think reading the Bible in a relatively short period of time like this is especially helpful when having a few questions in mind. If I were trying to answer them in the course of a year I fear I might lose my focus, but hopefully during the summer I'll remember during each reading what it is I'm reading for.
1. The inter-relationship of the three persons of the Trinity. How do the Father, Son, and Spirit relate to one another? Do they act separately or in conjunction with one another? For example, I remember learning as a child that God created the world. It was a bit confusing to me when I learned in John 1 and Colossians that the pre-incarnate Christ created the world. Then on closer inspection of Genesis I saw the Spirit was involved, as well. Is this always how they work- together? Do they each have a separate role within each cooperative act? The Bible is another example. It's God's Word. Yet, in the beginning was the Word and we know from John 1:14 that Word was the pre-incarnate Christ. And inspiration is accomplished by the Spirit. I know it's a bit of a mind-bender, but I think it's important to have an accurate picture of the Trinity in order to rightly worship God. These deep truths are not hidden from us, but revealed in Scripture, and it's my prayer that I will gain more insight about God this time through the Bible in order to be able to better praise and glorify Him.
2. How does God work through prayer? This is a biggie for me. I know we're supposed to pray and often told in the gospels that God will answer us and give us what we ask for. Yet, we also know we're called to suffer and have examples of God not answering in the way His children desired, even Christ. What is it we're supposed to pray for? See, I think I've been guilty of praying for the wrong things, but since Jesus never sinned, it cannot be wrong to ask God to "take the cup" of suffering from us if there is another way for Him to accomplish His purposes. And how are we supposed to pray? This might seem like a no-brainer. Just follow the example of Christ in the Lord's prayer, right? Yes, I think that is best. I hear many people today praying to Jesus, though. I've wondered about this. On the one hand, He is God, so surely it can't be wrong to pray to Him, but on the other hand, nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to pray to Jesus, but only "in His Name". (A whole separate issue- what does praying in Jesus' Name mean?) Jesus Himself prays to God the Father and I'm not aware of any example in Scripture of anyone praying to Jesus. People pray to the Holy Spirit, too. The same arguments against praying to the Son apply to praying to the Spirit. Anyway, you get the idea. I want to make sure I'm praying in the right way and not just asking for what I want.
3. How does the Spirit of God work in us? How is it different now than in the Old Testament? I realize theological books have been written about this, but I want to seek the Source. The pat answer I've always heard about the working of the Spirit then versus now is the difference between "on" and "in". It's not that I don't buy that, I just don't understand it. And we also have examples of the HS dwelling "in" specific OT saints. I want to look on every page of the Bible for how the Holy Spirit works. I just finished a year-long study of Acts and gained some insight there, but want to put it together with the whole counsel of God.
4. Then there's the pre-incarnate and glorified Christ. Interestingly enough when we see the second member of the Trinity appearing in the OT, He has some sort of body- like an angel (Christophany). This interests me. Then once glorified, He also has a glorified body. But He is also the Word. Somehow the Bible is a representation of Christ, or is Christ, who in turn is an exact representation of the Father. Another mind-bender. Also, does His relationship to us change? Is Christ one thing before and another after His incarnation, crucifixion, and glorification? What does He concern Himself with when He appears in the OT? I've never really paid special attention to this. You see, I was brought up (I use this loosely meaning it was taught in the churches I attended as a child, but not taught this way in my home) in the dispensational way of thinking. You know, that was the Old Testament, but now we have the New Testament, thank goodness, so that's how God works now. OT saints were under the law, but we're under grace. That was then, this is now type of thinking. I've come to seriously question this. If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, why would He work so differently then as now? I don't know that God's timeline is linear like ours is. Anyway, just another interesting issue. And I definitely don't believe in a plan B-type of explanation for the New Testament. I delve into this in my Advent series if you're interested. But I'm particularly interested in how the second member of the Trinity appears and works in the OT, before His incarnation and salvific work. Wrapped up in this question is the issue of annointing, or being set apart by God.
I think these are the main questions I want to seek answers to. I'm excited to embark on this adventure once again and praying that God will enlighten me by illuminating the Living Word to me through His Spirit (see what I mean). I encourage you to read along with me with your own set of questions. I'm confident that His Word will not return void, so He will work in us as we immerse ourselves in the Scriptures.