How often do different Bible doctrines seem a little too technical, to academic to be relevant to daily Christian life? My guess is more often than not. Sure, justification is by faith alone. Check. Got it. Now lets get to the interesting stuff. Sigh. Doctrines like the trinity, substitutionary atonement, justification by faith, et al., won’t exactly draw a crowd. Give us a challenging talk about discipleship instead. Give us a rousing discourse on love, or forgiveness. Now those really are glorious topics, don’t get me wrong. But only in so much as they are all built upon the firm foundations of their respective sound, “boring” doctrines. Case in point:
Recently I was catching up on my reading while I caught up on some yard work – audio books are great – listening to J.I. Packer explain the doctrine of the deity of the Holy Spirit. Frankly, part of me was like “yawn, yeah, I’m up to speed on that Jim. Good stuff for new believers I guess.” But since this is Packer, I thought I’d try not to tune out while I raked the leaves. Yes, the Spirit is fully God. Yes, I recall those proof texts. Wait a minute, the Holy Spirit is fully God! FULLY God. As in, when God the Son said “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (John 14:10) Jesus says that about Himself, yet He also says of the Holy Spirit “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13) Take that in for a second: the Spirit speaks for God the Father in the same way Jesus did while He walked the earth. God speaks.
Now those challenging talks about discipleship just might carry significantly more weight than a plain old challenging talk would. Now that rousing discourse on love or forgiveness just might have an imperative – through His word, God has spoken. And still speaks.