So - do we ALL agree on the focus being JESUS - or have we allowed Pharisaism (or if you prefer Phariseeism) to control our mindset. Their directive was to focus on how to NOT BREAK the LAW - so it was a "human behavior focus" and they called that being faithful to the Law and thereby faithful to God. They called that the SAFE position - therefore MANY accepted that as VERY Biblical - if not the ONLY very Biblical position. (Their word was "sacrosanct" - and was nearly always equal to Scripture because they felt it was Scripturally derived and concluded.) As time went on, their interpretations became more authoritative than Scripture itself. (Sorry to say - that sounds like religion to me.)
Jesus came along and corrected their interpretations MANY times. The one which stands out to me is John 5:39 - "You search the Scriptures because you think that IN THEM you have Eternal Life - but THEY talk of ME and you will not come to ME for Eternal Life" - which reminds me that NT scriptures are even MORE the focus on Jesus - since HE should get total preeminence and be seen as THE way, THE truth, THE life - John 14:6. We may excuse the OT scholars to some extent - (and many do not) but how do we excuse OURSELVES?
We have used HUMAN reasoning to "interpret" the Bible - and that MANY times allows Jesus to be pushed to the side. BUT - both OT and NT is claimed by Jesus to focus on HIM to be THE focus of Scripture, so we do the "interpretations" at our own peril.
Another part which encouraged me to repent of this structure is Romans 5:1ff. which teaches us that "we have obtained ACCESS by faith into the grace in which we NOW STAND" - which claims a solid foundation for life in Christ. Especially true to our understanding if we've already studied Romans 3-4. That section claims to reveal the way God did things through "Faith IN CHRIST" apart from law (Romans 3:21)and the GUARANTEE of righteousness (Romans 4:16) with the result of our "standing in Grace" - and having "peace with God THROUGH our Lord Jesus Christ" chapter 5:1.
One concept which became very cogent to me was the powerful focus of Christ as the source - and our trusting HIM - not our interpretation of all Scripture. Please note that none of this is apart from Scripture - but the focus is JESUS and our faith in HIM - and that is our quandary - we allow some to put the focus on US - instead of our dependence on HIM - I repented of that due to plain scripture teaching.
All of that simply reinforced my focus on Jesus as the NEW Covenant - our focus of hope and salvation. But - the reason I did was sourced in the OT - from Deuteronomy and the Prophets (which Paul claims as one part of his reference in Romans 3:21ff.) Notice especially 3:24 - justification is a GIFT and Paul teaches this righteousness focuses on Jesus - verse 26 - result - OUR boasting is EXCLUDED. Why? Because it is total gift and we cannot boast of something which is a gift to us - it points back to the GIFT-GIVER. We do receive gifts - but that has no focus on US - except to rejoice in it. AND - that is ONE reason we live a life of continual rejoicing - even to the extent that is is commanded.
Rejoicing people are easy to talk to generally - so let's make our lifestyle with that focus. I rejoice in YOU - each of you who read these words - and I praise God for you - to the goal of fulfilling Jesus' goal - that WE would be known as HIS disciples IF we love one another. Join me in this wonderful goal - I have not seen it much - so we're breaking new ground here. More to come