This morning, I visited Briarwood Presbyterian Church, the founding church of the PCA denomination. It was a bit too big for my taste, but it was a wonderful church. I was privileged to see the sign of the New Covenant given to three more covenant infants, and, for the first time in my life, I sang the Gloria Patri (I’m 22 years old–how sad is it that I’ve never sung that before now?).
The sermon was on Psalm 1:4: “The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.” Of course, the pastor preached that verse in the context of the entire psalm. He mainly emphasized, though, the utter foolishness of living a life that amounts to being the chaff that will be blown away and burned.
I thought the sermon was a wonderful example of what I urged in my last post, because he did not merely preach that Christianity is correct (though it certainly is that), but that it is wise. Those who delight in the law of the LORD are firmly planted like trees by a river, whose leaves and fruit are constantly in season, prospering in all they do. With the five short words “The wicked are not so” (three words in the Hebrew) the psalmist declares that the wicked will never know the joy and abundance and prosperity of the righteousness; rather, the wicked will be worthless, fruitless, desolate, and blown away.
The pastor did not appeal to pithy apologetics, nor did he attempt to lay out an elaborate, precisely accurate theological explanation for what he was saying. He simply commended the utter wisdom of living a life according to the fear of the LORD, meditating constantly on the law (the Hebrew word “torah” = instruction) of the LORD. Then, he exposed the depraved foolishness of living a life of seeking the council of the wicked, of standing in the way of sinners, and of sitting among scoffers. One way of living leads to a truly abundant and prosperous life; the other leads to worthlessness and death.
Please do not misunderstand me–apologetics and theology have their place, and a very important place at that. Their place, though, should propel us to live wholeheartedly in the fear of the LORD, delighting fully in the instruction for living that God gives us. Unless the intellectual aspect of our studies pushes us into virtuous, wise living, it is worthless.
My point is not that we should quit studying, but that we should be ever aware of God’s goal for our studying: wise, fruitful, and prosperous living. What we study should convince us further of our great need for Jesus Christ and make it all the easier for us to entrust our lives to him more completely.