I’ve been reading Charles C. Ryrie’s Basic Theology over the last year with my fellow McLean Bible Church Residents (second year Future Leaders). We meet monthly to discuss different theological topics and gain a solid understanding of where MBC stands doctrinally. I really appreciate that I have the opportunity to learn and grow in my understanding of Scripture – and it’s part of my job!
As this year has progressed, I’ve found myself always eager to dive into the next section of Ryrie’s book. I don’t always agree with him, but I’ve enjoyed skimming the surface of a lot of doctrinal topics this year and it’s built great anticipation in my heart for the coming three years I’ll spend in seminary.
While some consider theology to be a boring, serious, and perhaps stodgy pursuit, I’ve found that study of doctrine and theology brings me great joy! It reminds me of what I believe and why I believe it. It teaches me about the character of the God I serve. It provides proof of His absolute sovereignty. It makes me thankful that I belong to Him and that He chose me before the world even began. It makes me feel like I’m sitting close to Him and I’m able to see all that is within His heart. It fills me with awe and wonder. More than anything, it reinforces the truth of His Word in my heart.
And almost every month, I learn something new. Something so awe-inspiring that I have to sit for a few moments and just let it soak in. And then after meditating on it for just a brief time, I find that my heart erupts into thanksgiving. That, my friends, is a productive study of doctrine!
A few months ago our topic of discussion was the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. This section, in particular, strirred such a great response in my heart, that I’ve thought about it often since then.
Ryrie said this regarding the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ –
“The Spirit’s ministry also enabled [Christ] to perform some of His miracles. Some of the Lord’s miracles were undebatably done in the power of the Spirit. This claim was what evoked the incident concerning the unpardonable sin (Matt. 12:28, 31). He also gave sight to the blind because the Spirit was upon Him (Luke 4:18). In the Old Testament giving sight to the blind was a prerogative of God (Exodus 4:11; Ps. 146:8) and something Messiah would do (Isa. 29:18; 35:5; 42:7).
Thus, when the Lord restored sight to blind people He was making a clear claim to be Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. One would expect the ministry of the Spirit (annointing and empowering) to be connected with this kind of miracle, which demonstrated that Jesus was the annointed Messiah” (Ryrie, 404-5 – bolded emphasis my own).
But wait, it gets even BETTER. He continues, saying:
“In all the Old Testament there is no account of any blind person receiving sight. None of the Lord’s disciples was involved in restoring sight to any blind person […] Thus when Christ came on the scene of history and gave sight to so many blind people, this was a strong claim to His messiahship” (Ryrie, 405 – emphasis my own).
Now, I’m not claiming that blind people aren’t healed today. I’ve seen just such a miracle happen in front of my own eyes. But think with me about the spiritual significance of this. Jesus, and only Jesus, in all of Scripture, was able to make blind people see. How amazing and incredible is our God? And how much more hope does that give us that He, and He alone is able to make those who are spiritually blind see?
I think several things strike me about this passage. Firstly, the cohesiveness and congruity of the Old and New Testaments. Jesus’ ability to heal the blind was something the Messiah would do, even though there was no precedent for it. Secondly, it was something that had NEVER happened before. I love that Jesus was able to do things that people believed were impossible. And thirdly, I believe that it was meant to increase our faith. When I ask the Lord to open the eyes of the spiritually (or physically) blind, I know that He can, because He already has. Nothing is impossible for our God. Pray with boldness for friends, family members, and the nations. Just as the Spirit enabled Christ to open blinded eyes during his earthly ministry, He has the ability to not only open the eyes of the blind, but also to turn their hearts toward Himself. Giving sight to the blind is still the prerogative of our great God!
And again, I find myself totally in awe of Him. I’m thankful for salvation. I’m thankful He chose me. And I’m thankful that I’m no longer without sight.