Spiritual Heritage; November 25, 2022

Matthew 13:52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

I like the way the Japanese puts this verse: “every scholar who has become a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven.” We don’t often think of discipleship and academics as going together, but it’s actually very important that theologians in particular, seen as “experts” by those not so involved in study, be disciples. Many aberrations in the Church, past and present, have come from academics who forgot they were supposed to be disciples. Bible study is good, but it must be on the basis of a heart that is committed to Christ as Lord. Failure in that area leads to the worst kinds of hubris. Perhaps the best Biblical example of someone who got it right is Apollos. As it records in Acts 18:24-28, he started with a firm foundation in the Old Testament, learned about and believed in Jesus, and then learned about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In other words, he kept growing both in knowledge and spiritually. If we do no more than pile up know­ledge in our heads, we are no more than noisy gongs and clanging cymbals, to use Paul’s turn of phrase. (1 Corinthians 13:1) For that matter, Paul himself was an Old Testament scholar before he encountered Christ, and as a result ended up writing half the New Testament. We are to value Biblical knowledge, but failing to apply it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is just deceiving ourselves, as James said. (James 1:22) Every believer should be adding daily to their store of the Word in their heart, as well as their head, and it must be with the desire and expectation of applying it as the Lord directs.

I know someone, a Christian, who says that they don’t need the Old Testament, because “The New Testament has supplanted it.” What a sad misunderstanding! He hasn’t thought that through properly. After all, the Old Testament was all the first believers had, and they thrived on it. We certainly aren’t better than they were! Isaiah is sometimes referred to as “The Gospel According to Isaiah,” just like the first four books of the New Testament. The Old Testament holds great riches, and indeed is essential for a full understanding of the New Testament. I am notorious for using many Scriptures in my messages, keeping my hearers busy turning from passage to passage. I am grateful for parents who instilled in me a love for the whole Bible, to the point that I read through it first by the time I was 10. Now, I can hardly read one passage without another popping into my head, and I am grateful. On a personal note, my grandfather W. O. Carver’s memoir, not completed at the time of his death, was published with the title, Out of His Treasure, from this verse. I have a magnificent heritage indeed, and I seek to pass it on to my physical and spiritual children.

Father, thank You for this reminder. My father before me loved Psalm 16:6, most often quoted from the King James: “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” I too have an incredible heritage, built on the one my father received. May I make the use of it that You intend, knowing that using it doesn’t diminish it, but rather strengthens and expands it, for the blessing of many. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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