Maps, Rules, and Directions

Mar 8, 2023 | Articles, by Guest Writers, Marrow Ministries Free Content

Humans were made for a destination, a goal, and an end. We were created by God to naturally tend back to glorifying and enjoying Him. It is the man of vanity that misses this end, serving himself instead of his Creator. Furthermore, God has offered man restoration to his true and proper end in the glorious mystery of Christ and Him crucified. However, looks can be deceiving.

A Destination requires Directions

Man has an end, but he must pursue it rationally. You are to pursue it “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). But how do we attain our end? Do the ends justify the means, so as long as somebody is sincere they can glorify and enjoy God however they want? Some may say that one doesn’t need to go to church to worship God in the congregation of the saints. Can’t an enjoyable car ride with a friend also bring glory to God?

Except maybe the Zoomers, most people remember that in a land and time not so far away, road maps or MapQuest sheets were the tools of road trips. If you did not have these, you did not know where to go. Every journey has its rules and directions, and a life of glorifying and enjoying God is no exception. If God made us for an end, it is fitting that He would give us a directory or rule. Not only is it fitting, but it couldn’t be any other way. Nobody can invent the rules for a journey that God has designed. That is God’s kingly and sovereign prerogative, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). He who designs the end also provides the means.

What are the Rules?

Similar to the analogy of a road trip is that of a game. If we are going to play a game, we should play by the rules. Otherwise, what is the point? Naturally, we must ask ourselves, what are the rules for glorifying God and enjoying Him? God’s rulebook prior to the fall was, in large measure, reason itself. God made man in His image, in all holiness, righteousness, and true knowledge (Genesis 1:27). If he followed the guiding star of his nature, glorifying God was the natural result. Additionally, He provided a rule in the form of revelation. God offered the promise of life and enjoyment to Adam if he obeyed, and threatened him with death should he not follow a simple rule: Do not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17). God’s rules for Adam were a covenant of works: “Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them’” (Romans 10:5).

Man, however, fell from the attainment of his end, and the former rules cannot bring him back. The law only excites evil and wickedness, and reason in man has become horribly defaced. The law demands perfect and perpetual obedience, and fallen man holds “the truth in unrighteousness” (Roman 1:18). Whereas you might somehow get to the end of the game or the car ride after a process of trial and error, there is no such fortuitous coincidence with the journey of our life before God. The former way is broken, and our internal directions are ill-suited to the task.

Every journey has its rules and directions, and a life of glorifying and enjoying God is no exception. Click To Tweet

The Word of God is the Rule

God must now reveal a new directory, a set of rules, and a map that guides us back to our destination and end. He needs to show us a new way back; a way in which man is made right with God and brought back to the way of holiness. Thankfully, the God of all mercy and love is just so disposed. He has given man a new rulebook and map.

The Word of God is that new rulebook that gives us directions on how to reach our end. By the phrase Word of God, we should understand it in the fullest sense as all those revelations of the mind and will of God given from Adam through the Apostles. This is found in the Holy Scriptures, and as Paul affirms, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

This Word of God finds its center in Him who is known as the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. It reveals that Christ has shed his blood for sinners, and has offered up His obedience and righteousness for man who does not have his own. It was the Lord Jesus Himself who proclaimed in absolute truth that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Not only does the Bible declare this glorious fact, but it also points out the way of gaining an interest in this blessed Savior. It is “He who believes in the Son that has everlasting life” (John 3:36). Faith alone is the instrument that apprehends the Redeemer and appropriates Him and his salvific benefits to oneself. But justification is never without sanctification, so the Word of God provides the rules of the Christian life. It gives us the moral and natural law, divinely revealed as a directory of our Christian conduct that explains the habits and dispositions that ought to characterize Christians.

The Word of God includes both the Old and New Testaments. Contrary to many modern Christians who disregard the Old Testament as an ancient relic, worthy of veneration perhaps, but useless to our life here and now, the Old Testament is part of the rulebook for Christians. After all, it reveals the same Savior under types and shadows, prescribes the same moral law, and offers many illustrations of God’s wonderful providence, faithful lives lived in godliness, and cautionary tales of men who have rejected the way of life. The Apostle Paul sums up the matter: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

What of the Matter?

If this is the new rulebook, and the only map that gets us back on the straight and narrow, then we ought to reverence it with devoted hearts. Not only so, but we ought also to aim all our endeavors in rightly interpreting it, for a mistakenly interpreted map leads to confusion and error in attaining an end. We are not to look at the Word of God as a rulebook that prescribes a legal way of salvation, but rather as a directory that reveals a wholly gracious and merciful directory that finds its center and reason in Christ alone. His righteousness alone invests sinners with a right to attain their end. Christians ought to be diligent in framing our lives according to it, seeking the help of God’s Spirit in growing in all grace and holiness, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

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