God’s law is a gift

John Webster, on Psalm 119:1-16:

The point of all this is to try to say that God’s law is not just a graceless source of boligation. It’s a good gift, something which leads to joy, blessing, and praise. Properly speaking, law is about the fact that God comes to his people with his own kind of merciful majesty, showing us what we must be if we ar eto be truly human, setting the law between us and our limitless capacity for self-destruction. God’s law is God interposing himself between us adn our headlong rush into self-destruction, God nurturing us by educating us into the true form of human flourishing. If we would be, and if we would flourish, this is what it means to live joyfully from, with, and under God.

Christ Our Salvation, 21

Two quotes on reading and questions

Dan Fuller:

Whenever someone is imparting understanding, or insight, or a new way of looking at things, he will always say things which seem strange and, at the outset, incoherent with other things that he is saying.

Mortmer Adler:

Perhaps you are beginning to see how essential a part of reading it is to be perplexed and know it. Wonder is the beginning of wisdom in learning from books as well as from nature. If you never ask yourself any questions about the meaning of a passage, you cannot expect the book to give you any insight you do not already possess.

How to Read a Book, 123

Poor Reading, Therefore Poor Preaching

T. David Gordon identifies one issue with many sermons: the man preaching the sermon does not know how to read.

It’s almost as though a version of Microsoft Word were built into [preachers’] brains that causes them to see some of the words in a biblical paragraph in boldface, as the theologically, spiritually, or morally important words stand out in bold from the rest of the paragraph. They read John 3:16 the same way they read Romans 5:8; each is “about” the love of God, but they don’t notice much more than that, and their sermon on God’s love from John 3:16 is probably not different from their sermon on God’s love from Romans 5:8. Thus, they never really notice (and therefore do not and cannot preach) the distinctive thing affirmed about God’s love in John 3 or Romans 5. All of [page break] their sermons are about Christian truth or theology in general, and the particular text they read ahead of time merely prompts their memory or calls their attention to one of Christianity’s important realities (insofar as they perceive it). Their reading does not stimulate them to rethink anthing, and since the text doesn’t stimulate them particularly (but serves merely as a reminder of what they already know), their sermon is not particularly stimulating to their hearers.

T. David Gordon, Why Johnny Can’t Preach (46-47)

The man preaching the sermon does not know how to read the passage he intends to preach. Instead, he treats the passage as though it were a memory-recall device. The “important” words remind him of concepts he already knows, and these concepts form the basis of his sermon. In doing this, the man fails to allow this passage to say its distinctive thing to him, and thus fails to preach this distinctive passage.