This post features notes from Ryan Golias at the Children Desiring God Conference 2011. Click here to see all the sessions.
Your Testimonies are My Delight: Kempton Turner
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach. (Mark 3:13-14)
During His three-year ministry, Jesus’ Kingdom-bringing strategies involved calling twelve sinners. It was a call to listen to him, to love him, eat him, drink him, to be with him, look on him, to listen to him.
He called them to himself. The big purpose of calling the disciples was so that they might be with Jesus. He knew if they were to have a gospel influence on the world, the most important thing for His disciples was that they be with Him. Only after close fellowship with Jesus would the be ready to make disciples throughout the world.
So also, the effectiveness of your ministry to children and young people will be directly proportionate to your time being with Jesus. This message is about you and Jesus. God’s central strategy for impacting souls is always other people. He uses blood bought, redeemed people to impact the next generation. The Lord uses men and women in love with Jesus Christ to advance His kingdom
We must come to Jesus, follow Jesus, love Jesus, eat Jesus, drink Jesus, be with Jesus in intimate fellowship—in deep soul communion. We don’t do this because we want effective ministries—that is idolatry. We come to Jesus because he is the loveliest one of all.
How do we come to Jesus? If our ministry effectiveness is directly proportionate with our being with Jesus, how do we be with Him? We do that by holding fast to the Word of Truth. Above all else, this Bible is foundationally how I see and meet and eat and drink the savior of the world. Until we see him face to face in glory we are to meet him in this book. Between the two comings of Jesus we meet and commune with our king in the Bible.
However, because of our distracted hearts, we are always in danger of studying the written word without meeting the living word, Jesus Christ. May God mercifully bring together these together.
At the last Desiring God pastor’s conference John Piper spoke on one of my dead heroes, Robert Murray McCheyne. John Piper says of McCheyne: “He had also learned through much experience with the living Christ that you can read the Bible and not commune with Him.” Then he quotes McCheyne:
You may read your Bible, and pray over it till you die; you may wait on the preached Word every Sabbath-day, . . . [But] if you are not brought to cleave to him, to look to him, to believe in him, to cry out with inward adoration: “My Lord, and my God”—”How great is his goodness! How great is his beauty!”—then the outward observance of the ordinances is all in vain to you.
So the key to his holiness and his preaching was not merely stated times of meditation on God’s word. It was pressing into Christ through the word. The written word became the window through which he gazed on the glories of Christ—the beauties of the Rose. This was the key to his constant communion with Jesus, which was the key to his holiness and preaching.
Brothers and sisters, this will be your key. Look through the window of Scripture to behold Jesus. Be with Jesus in the Bible. The Bible is not just the mind or will of God. It is not just the revelation of God. It is not just sound doctrine and theology. Don’t get me wrong, sound theology is absolutely vital. If your window is dirty, you won’t see Jesus clearly. We need to get theology and doctrine right.
Don’t stop short at good doctrine and theology. Don’t park there. No one parks at the Holiday Inn sign that says “Holiday Inn five miles down the road.” They go from the sign to the actual structure. Go to Jesus through your bible reading. The written word is a window, not just to look to, but to look through.
This is good, but is it just something that McCheyne said, or Piper said, or Turner said? If that’s it, it doesn’t matter. Let’s look at Scripture itself:
- John 5:39: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about [Jesus].”
- Luke 24:27: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
- Luke 24:44: “Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’”
- In the transfiguration Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on the mountain. Then Jesus reveals his glory, and Moses and Elijah appear. Why do they also disappear so quickly. Because when Jesus shows up, the law and the prophets who point to Christ go away—something greater is here. Among the law and prophets, all the Scriptures point to Jesus.
Devour the scripture primarily that you might delight yourself in God’s beloved son, Jesus Christ.
The OT is a type of forerunner, like John the baptist, shouting: “Behold the coming lamb of God. run to Him”
The reason the Jews in John five missed Jesus in all the Scriptures was not because of an insufficiency in the Scriptures themselves. The Scriptures are all sufficient; they are clear. The problem is never with the Scriptures, but with the blinded heart of the reader. The Scripture always clearly testifies to Christ, but we need a supernatural, eye-opening miracle to see Christ in this book.
There are only two types of hearts here tonight: a dead heart and a dull heart. In Matthew seven a lot of workers come before the throne of judgement. Jesus will tell them to depart from him. There will be many children’s ministry workers in the lake of fire. Your heart may be dead, and that is why you don’t see Jesus’ glory in it. The good news is that Jesus opens eyes.
If your heart is dull, the God who initially gave you sight is here to open your eyes wider and wider to the glory of Jesus Christ. The sight of Jesus is so glorious and majestic and powerful that when you look at him, you get saved. We will also be glorified by seeing him (1 John 3:1-3). What an amazing being who changes your eternal state just by looking at Him!
Christian, because we live in a demonically driven world that is after our souls, and because there still is sin in us, we can make idols by gazing at other things and lesser things than beholding the glory of Jesus in the Bible. We can be attracted to these things because we are week. Because of this soul warfare, we need to pray daily, “Father turn my eyes away from worthless things. Open my eyes that I might behold wonders in your word.”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus in the entire bible! All of the Bible finds it central, glorious theme in Jesus Christ. Like a telescope: all the parts are designed to fit together to gaze upon the beauty of the universe. The ultimate purpose of the Bible is to meet Jesus in all glory and majesty.
May God give you and me the grace to open up our bibles every day. Is that legalistic? Would it be legalistic to say you must breathe everyday? The word is our oxygen, our food, and our drink.
So let me close with some exhortations:
- Open your bible and look at Jesus in the old testament everyday.
- Open your bible and look at Jesus in the gospels everyday. Look at Jesus heal lepers, and command storms to shut up, and tell watter to hold him up while he walk on it. Look at this man nailed on a tree for the forgiveness of your sins. Look at this man who hung and died between two criminals. Look at this Jesus rise from the dead.
- Open your bible and look at Jesus in Acts everyday.
- Open your bible and look at Jesus in the letters everyday.
- Open up your bible and look at Jesus in revelation everyday. Consider Revelation 5:6-14
When God opens your eyes to the light of the beauty of Jesus in the Old Testament, in the gospels, in Acts, in the letters, in Revelation, hearts are satisfied, and idols drop away. And you are equipped more than any school or seminar can equip you to minster to children.