Parables as Mirrors

What is a parable? Why did Jesus tell these stories? … He was using them in a way as mirrors. Every parable is a mirror that Jesus holds up before our eyes and asks us ‘What do you see in this mirror?’ And he judges and assess our spiritual condition by our ability to see the right things in the mirror. I have a friend who has been, over the years, a well-known Christian counselor, and I remember him saying on one occasion often when someone comes into see him, if a Christian comes in to see him, one of the first questions he will ask is, ‘Tell me which parable of Jesus you really don’t like.’ And you can understand why he says that, because if there’s something in a parable… that when you read it you’re irritated by it, then to that extent that parable has been a mirror that has revealed what is really in your heart.” -Sinclair Ferguson, sermon “The Waiting Father”

Just a Feeling?

“Pure feeling, if such a thing exists, is non-moral. That can be observed in the sphere of human relationships. What makes my affection for a human friend such an ennobling thing is the knowledge that I have of the character and the needs of my friend. Am I indifferent to such knowledge? Am I indifferent to base slanders which are directed against my friend’s reputation? Not if I am a friend worthy of the name. Human affection, apparently so simple, is in reality just bristling with doctrine; it depends upon a host of observations, stored up in the mind, regarding the object of affection.” -J. Gresham Machen, The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior

BTW NOTE: In other words, to make God a mere feeling is to make him, not more, but less than we are. And as with all things that are ‘less’ than us, a God who is just a feeling is easy to manipulate. One way we see this is in how God always seems to agree with our opinions. He’s gets fashioned in such a way that he always agrees with us.

‘Take it to the Lord’

“The Psalms are not only the longest book of the Bible; they are also the most varied. All life, in all its variety and complexity, is represented here. Yet all this multiplicity can be brought under one heading: ‘take it to the Lord.’ You know how you can take a mirror and so angle it to the sun that sunlight can be re-directed into a dark corner— or wherever? The Psalms teach us to set our lives at an angle, making sure our lives are so ‘angled’ that everything is at once transmitted into the Lord’s presence, and put into the context of what is true about him.” -Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament

Standing on Its Tip-Toes

“The Old Testament is, in many ways, a book standing on tiptoe, straining forward into the future. God gave Abraham a promise (Gen. 12: 1– 3; 22: 15– 17; cf., 26: 4) that he would be heir of the world, and bring back the blessing that the world had lost: he was looking forward to see the fulfilment of the promise, but fulfilment did not come in the Old Testament. Moses spoke of ‘a Prophet like unto me’ (Deut. 18: 14– 18), but Deuteronomy 34: 10 records that no such prophet has arisen. David was promised a kingship over all Creation, for all time (Ps. 89: 19– 29), but the Old Testament ends still waiting for the coming of that King. So where is it all going? Where is the other end of the line? The line from the Old Testament runs straight into the New Testament. Have you got that? Not anywhere else— straight into the New Testament.” -Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament

Inspiration is Not ‘Polish,’ but ‘Breath’

“The words ‘given by inspiration of God’ (v. 16) are (rightly) reduced in NIV, ESV to one word, ‘God-breathed’. Divine inspiration is not a subsequent ‘polish’ or ‘enhancement’ given to an originally human production. The Scriptures began as truth God himself ‘breathed out’ and which was then brought to the Church through his chosen agents, and through them received its genuine human colorations without losing anything of its divine origin and quality.” Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament

Illustration of Divine (and Organic) Inspiration

“Illustrations are possible; explanations are impossible. The simplest (and, I believe, the most effective) illustration is a stained glass window. Outside the window there is (for the purposes of the illustration) the pure sunlight; inside, that pure light is broken up into the colours and patterns introduced by the stained glass. Yet the light and the colorations are not at variance; each coloured panel or shard of glass is there by the design of the craftsman, and the fresh colours, the story, now imposed on the pure sunlight does not distort it, but enables it to be what the craftsman intended.” -Alec Motyer,  A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament