Five Points Blog

Meditation in a Toolshed


Have you ever sat in a toolshed or old barn on a warm summer day and looked out across the room at the old tools, planting pots, or bales of hay and noticed the sunlight creeping in through the cracks and spaces in the walls? You can actually see the beam of light as it reflects off the dust in the air. It forms a streak of light that passes across the room and lands on the floor, forming a bright spot. The brightness of the beam illuminates the room, but at the same time can also obscure the contents behind the light. We are looking at the light from outside of it. This is one way to observe the light beam, to look at it. 
 
There is another way to observe the light and that is to move into the light beam itself, to look along the beam of light and not at it. Walk into the beam and place your eye in its path and look toward the source of light coming through the wall. Now you are in the beam itself, you are part of it. The objects in the room around you are much dimmer now, less distracting, but something new has appeared which was previously unseen. Now you can look up the beam of light out through the crack in the wall and into the meadow and the tree line beyond. A new world of the light has become known to you. What was once just observed is now experienced, as you stand in the light. A new appreciation and understanding of the beam of light is gained when we experience the light by looking along it and not just at it.
 
C. S. Lewis uses this illustration in his essay, “Meditation in a Toolshed,” to explain to his readers why story and myth can be such an effective way to communicate a truth. We can contemplate a thing but we do not know it deeply until we experience it. Isn’t this the very thing we find comforting concerning God? God did not just create and then comprehend us in our condition, but he became flesh and dwelt among us. He became our high priest and worthy unto death to bare our sins, since he was tempted in every way like us but without sin. In this we have hope. God knows us deeply and personally and we can trust him because he did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us. God has more than intellectual knowledge of us; he also came to us in human form.
 
Why do you suppose God has told us the way of salvation through the Bible in story form as opposed to a bulleted list of doctrinal requirements? Story engages our imagination, and our imagination touches our souls. Both reason and imagination are part of the human make-up. Likewise, God moves on us, through us, and in us by both reason and imagination. The use of stories and myths touch our passions and move our imaginations, and by them we can experience a truth more deeply. We do not just look at the light, we step into it.
 
Come join us the evening of Wednesday, May 28, to listen to Dr. Michael Ward bathe us in God’s light through Lewis’ story of Narnia and on Saturday, May 31, to hear Joe Rigney apply Lewis’ myth to the Christian life.

Being Raised to Heaven


The resurrection is naturally followed by the ascension into heaven. For although Christ, by rising again, began fully to display his glory and virtue, having laid aside the abject and ignoble condition of a mortal life, and the ignominy of the cross, yet it was only by his ascension to heaven that his reign truly commenced. This the Apostle shows, when he says he ascended “that he might fill all things,” (Eph. 4:10); thus reminding us, that under the appearance of contradiction, there is a beautiful harmony, inasmuch as though he departed from us, it was that his departure might be more useful to us than that presence which was confined in a humble tabernacle of flesh during his abode on the earth…

This our Lord himself also declared to his disciples, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you,” (John 16:7). To console them for his bodily absence, he tells them that he will not leave them comfortless, but will come again to them in a manner invisible indeed, but more to be desired, because they were then taught by a surer experience that the government which he had obtained, and the power which he exercises would enable his faithful followers not only to live well, but also to die happily. And, indeed we see how much more abundantly his Spirit was poured out, how much more gloriously his kingdom was advanced, how much greater power was employed in aiding his followers and discomfiting his enemies.

Being raised to heaven, he withdrew his bodily presence from our sight, not that he might cease to be with his followers, who are still pilgrims on the earth, but that he might rule both heaven and earth more immediately by his power; or rather, the promise which he made to be with us even to the end of the world, he fulfilled by this ascension, by which, as his body has been raised above all heavens, so his power and efficacy have been propagated and diffused beyond all the bounds of heaven and earth.

John Calvin, Institutes, Vol 2, 16.14


Holy Week Devotional: Sunday, April 20


Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” ...

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:1-2, 28-31

 

Because the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is so hard to believe for natural minds and because it is indispensible to the Christian faith—without it all we believe collapses into mere fancy—the Apostle John supplies many clear proofs of its reality.

For instance, he gives the exact day when the empty tomb was discovered, “Now on the first day of the week.” This was the third Hebrew day since his crucifixion, fulfilling Christ’s words exactly (John 2:19-20).

John gives the exact time of day, “Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark.” To come early in the morning lends a great air of specificity and concrete detail to the account, leading the reader to conclude the truth of Mary’s discovery.

John makes sure we know it was Mary Magdalene who first discovered the empty tomb. Why? It honors her and establishes her role in history forever, but it also lends great credibility to the resurrection account. A woman’s testimony was not admissible in a court of law. For God to make sure that a woman be the first to find Christ’s tomb empty reveals the authenticity of her word. The disciples would not have chosen a woman to be the first to see the risen Christ. It is so like God to use the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).

John also makes clear that Mary went to Peter and John to report her discovery. There is no guile in her, no manipulation, no careful use of the information for personal gain. Only humble truth telling, and this spurs our confidence that these things are so.

John tells us her first explanation was that the body was stolen. Grave stealing
was common in the first century, especially of notable or controversial figures, but Mary’s suggestion of it reveals that she was not wildly idealistic or gullible. She is a trustworthy witness.

No wonder doubting Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” when he touched Jesus’ side (John 20:28). Yet, hear the Lord’s word to us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v.29). Would you rather be Thomas, believing only after touching? Or as we must be, believing having touched him in the Spirit only? The greater blessing comes to us who simply believe.

John concludes, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Do you believe? Do you believe that Christ rose from the dead and so proved he is God and all that he taught and did is true? If you believe, you, even you have eternal life in his name. 

 


Holy Week Devotional: Saturday, April 19


After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body
of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

John 19:38-42

"There in the ground his body lay,
Light of the World, by darkness slain"
-Stuart Townend, "In Christ Alone"

Joseph of Arimethea asked Pilate for permission to take the dead body of Jesus to prepare it for burial. Jesus was truly dead. This was no illusion or sleight of hand. Jesus, the Son of God, died innocently at the hands of sinful men. He died according to the definite foreknowledge and plan of God. And he did not do it only out of obedience to the Father’s plan. Jesus died because he loved us. J.I. Packer writes, “Jesus Christ our Lord, moved by a love that was determined to do everything necessary to save us, endured and exhausted the destructive divine judgment, for which we were otherwise inescapably destined, and so won us forgiveness, adoption and glory.” Jesus was willing to do whatever it took to rescue us from sin and death. No matter what. Even if that meant he had to suffer and die himself. 

So Joseph is an example to us all. We all have to come to the cross. We all have to acknowledge what sin deserves. It deserves death. This Holy Week, if you have never looked upon your sin and what it deserves, come to the cross and look to him as the only one who can save you from destroying your life. Come to Jesus, the one who can take you off the path of sinful self-exaltation that only leads to death and eternal judgment. Come to the cross, where Jesus died in your place, and repent and believe that Jesus took it all.

As the hymn says, “Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned he stood; Sealed my pardon with his blood.” Come to Jesus and find forgiveness and love, for God laid upon him your iniquity and punished him in your place.

 

 

 


The Ultimate Focus Of The Cross


“God is the ultimate focus of Christ’s death on the cross. Yes, Jesus died for sins and for the unrighteous, but ultimately Jesus died for God and his glory. For when Christ brings us to God, he brings us into a right relationship with God. It’s as if the universe is set back where it should be - a relationship in which he is the center and we orbit around him in a safe proximity and nearness, a relationship in which his glory is the point and we find our joy and meaning in being a display of his worth rather than our own.”

~ Michael Lawrence, It Is Well, 215

When we find our joy and meaning in living as “a display of his worth rather than our own”, we finally live life as we were created to live it. We experience ultimate joy when we decrease and He increases because He is the ultimate focus of everything. Though everything around us and the sin within us tells us to put ourselves on display for all to see, Christ died so we could live for Our Father and His glory alone. When He is the center, everything is as it should be… even when thinking about the ultimate purpose of the cross.


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