Another blog I follow is the Desiring God blog. There are different contributors to the blog, and it’s a pleasure to read all of them. Piper’s post today caught my attention, not just because of its title, “One of the Most Important Principles in Reading the Bible”, but because it’s particularly relevant to my study of the gospel of Mark at church with a bunch of other guys.
As Piper frames the issue:
Sometimes readers of the Bible see the conditions that God lays down for his blessing and they conclude from these conditions that our action is first and decisive, then God responds to bless us. That is not right.
If you’ve ever read the gospels, they are certainly full of commands and conditional promises, and it’s easy to misconstrue them as Jesus’ main point. But we fail to notice that God fulfills these conditions himself in Christ. Piper concludes:
This is one of the most basic things people need to see about the Bible. It is full of conditions we must meet for God’s blessings. But God does not leave us to meet them on our own. The first and decisive work before and in our willing is God’s prior grace. Without this insight, hundreds of conditional statements in the Bible will lead us astray.
Let this be the key to all Biblical conditions and commands: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). Yes, we work. But our work is not first or decisive. God’s is. “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
I recommend you read the whole post here.