If there is one theological concept that has been pounded into my head over and over, it’s the Trinity–one God in three persons. So when last Sunday’s sermon was about the Triune God, I wasn’t exactly groaning, but I was not expecting to learn something new.
And then we got to point three: Scripture and Experience, at which the minister said something about some people not liking Christianity to be so abstract. I realized I do like it to be abstract. Talk to me about the relationship between the truths of the Trinity and my Christian experiences, and I have to take a deep breath. I could hardly take notes because it’s not really something you take notes on (and I like taking notes).
I don’t have much to report about the sermon itself. I’m just saying there are profound, breath-taking ways of looking at normal Christian topics. We’re never finished learning about God.
After studying the book of Ecclesiastes, I spent a day shrugging my shoulders and sighing, “It’s all meaningless.” But really I did learn something about this strange book of the Bible. I learned that the Preacher (who may or may not be Solomon) was sometimes right and sometimes wrong, a realistic human being in a fallen world. I learned how difficult and confusing it must have been to live in Old Testament times, when God’s people lived without the benefit of the New Testament and the life of Christ. I even came up with an art analogy about the book of Ecclesiastes: in a picture of a Christian’s life, where Christ and the gospel message are the central figure, Ecclesiastes is the negative space. Perhaps that is why we hardly know how to study this book. It requires a different mind-set, seeing God’s Word from a strange perspective.
The ladies’ Bible study at my church met today. The ladies had done their homework, and the discussion was lively and deep. At one point, we were discussing Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” That is the ESV version. The NKJV reads a little differently. We read the last half as meaning the Lord has a willing spirit (as in attitude), the Lord’s Spirit is willing and generous, OR the psalmist (David) wants to have a willing spirit. We consulted the pastor because he can read the original Hebrew. We thought that he would give us a definitive answer. Come to find out… he couldn’t give us a definitive answer because it could be interpreted differently in the Hebrew as well.
So why am I mentioning this? I don’t think it really matters how I read Psalm 51:12. All of our variations hold truth. I do find it striking that we can dig so deep into one line of Scripture and never hit bottom. I can see how that might be frustrating at some point. But it is also amazing. God’s Word is so full of meaning and wisdom. There is no end to our learning. The Holy Spirit can open up door after door when we read the Bible, and there will still be more and more doors to open. I hope I remember this the next time I open the Bible and think “same old, same old…”