Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. — Philippians 2:9-11 ESV
Thanks for joining me in reading “Name Above All Names,” by Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson. If you haven’t started yet, no worries. I won’t give too much away in this first post but I’m hopefully going to whet your appetite for reading. The book covers seven of the names for Jesus Christ in the Bible. As described by the authors, it is not exhaustive–there are more names for Christ, as well as much more that could be said about each name that the book covers. It is meant to be a starting point to enable us to learn of and meditate on the character of Christ, the work of Christ, and the person of Christ.
My first impression of this book:
W-O-W. This is going to be awesome.
As I read chapter one, my intention was to skim it, and then go back and read it again. But right away I ditched the skimming and began highlighting passages, and pretty soon I realized I was highlighting whole pages of information. My second read-through during last night’s gift of insomnia brought even more highlights. This book is packed so full that it is advisable to use the footnotes and follow some of the rabbit trails that they may take you on. Also, see the bottom of this post to download and print a Study Guide for some extra contemplation. If you do these things, you’ll have yourself an incredibly rich Bible study.
It is so rich, I’m thinking there will be more posts than I first anticipated (Only one for each chapter–what was I thinking?). Otherwise, I’ll end up with 3,000-word blog posts, which is not necessarily a bad thing, just too long to read when you only have a few minutes. My intention is to summarize a little, describe my “aha! moments,” and talk about some of my footnote-following and select answers to the questions in the Study Guide.
My first aha! from chapter one was along those lines that I just mentioned above – why don’t we know what it is to meditate any more? I agree with the authors: we are a society that has lost its patience. We refuse to spend any “down time” simply thinking about something. We feel guilty–like we should be doing something else. But what better thing is there to do than to sit and marvel at the person and work of Jesus Christ? So I beg you: do it! Set some time aside to read chapter one and just stop and think about Jesus as the Seed of the Woman. Think about Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden and what that means to you today. Would you have done things differently? I doubt it. We are so self-important, though, that we like to tell ourselves we would do better. Ha! Is all I have to say about that. I’ll have much more about chapter one in the coming days.
For now, a brief lesson on what meditation is, and what it is not. Please take heed, because we have so many mainstream teachers out there who teach very dangerous things about meditation.
First, the negative. Meditation is NOT:
Emptying your mind and asking God to fill it, or asking Him to speak to you. It is NOT any sort of mystical “experience” to be sought. There have been whole books written on this subject, and even some very beloved Christian authors teach this unbiblical practice. A very brief history of the practice reveals that at its heart is Eastern Mysticism, not the Bible. I will not delve into the specifics, but here is a short article you can read on the subject from GotQuestions.org, which is a great resource, and here’s one from CARM.org, a great apologetics site.
Now, the positive. Meditation IS:
Thinking deeply about something–one thing–so as not to be all over the map with your thoughts. Staying on topic; thinking about all facets of a thing, the blessings, implications, natural consequences, etc. A quick search of the ESV reports the following: every instance except one of the word, meditate, contains an object of meditation, not an empty mind. The odd verse out that doesn’t contain an object still does not contain the idea of an empty mind. If you click the ESV link, you will see each verse. Notice the theme. Minds full of God’s character, His Word, His precepts, His works, etc. (Plus one bad guy who meditates on treachery. I don’t recommend that.).
So, as you read chapter one, take some extra time to really think about Christ, His work on the cross, and the theme of the epic battle between good and evil. I can’t wait to write my next post!