A Chart of the Triune God
Job does not come to these crises unequipped. He knows God. Job’s stability is drawn from a lifetime of worshiping and walking with God. When Job’s nightmare day comes to an end and he finds himself stripped of everything he valued, his words are profound: “‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (job 1:20–22). It is impossible not to be moved by Job’s response. He makes no effort to choke off his emotions. Through tears, Job maintained his focus on the Lord. His response of worship is not empty ritual but the practiced response of a man who has learned to walk with his God.Job felt the storm in all its intensity, but he chose to focus on the Star, not the storm, to see above the horizon to the living God. He was deeply aware of God’s grace (“the Lord gave”) and his sovereignty (“the Lord has taken away”), and he chose to praise God, even in the midst of his pain. These are not trite words; they are not pious words he was expected to say. This was the resolve of his deepest being.
As chapters 3 to 31 in the book of Job reveal, Job had a passionate trust in God. But when he entered the crucible of grief, these chapters describe the depth of his struggle to maintain his confidence in both God’s goodness, as well as his control. If Job’s immediate recourse was confidence in God’s control, his ultimate resolution was trust in God’s character.
In the powerful conclusion of the book, Job meets the living God (job 38–42). He receives no explanations for what has happened. Instead, he meets God and is overpowered by his wisdom, his power, his grace, and his care. Job’s ultimate answer was not philosophical or theological but personal. He finds himself humbled and repentant before the God of glory and grace: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (job 42:5–6). In God’s presence, Job’s view of God and himself changed. There is much that has not taken place: God has not explained Job’s pain. He has not answered his questions. He didn’t defend himself or his actions. He has not unraveled the mystery of evil. But God did reveal himself and called for Job to trust God’s wisdom. The Lord was more concerned with Job’s trust than he was to satisfy Job’s curiosity.
The story of Job offers a powerful truth. We need to fill our minds with thoughts of God that are worthy of him.All unworthy ideas get us dangerously off course. At the heart of his ordeal, Job cried out in words of faith and hope: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (job 19:25–27). What a powerful example.
The God-given Navigational Tool: The Bible
Life in the modern world is like trying to navigate an uncharted, rapidly changing, unpredictable ocean. We have sailed off the edge of our best maps. The first need is to have a fixed, unchanging reference point. That North Star is our triune God, made known in the Lord Jesus Christ. Navigation, however, requires much more than a fixed reference point. We may know how to find the North Star in the night skies, but we don’t have the slightest idea how to find our location by using it. Even if we did, we would need the appropriate tool to enable us to bring the North Star down to our horizon.
A Christian knows that the Bible is the God-given navigational tool to enable us to reach our God‑intended destination, which is likeness to Jesus, for the glory of God and the good of others. But we need more than knowledge that the Bible is our spiritual sextant. We need to know how to use it properly. The great example of the proper attitude toward and use of Scripture is found in the Lord Jesus. Jesus’s approach to Scripture must shape our use of and attitude to the Bible. One of the constant themes of the Gospels is the centrality of Scripture in the life of the Lord. The Bible filled his teaching, directed his choices, and foretold his sufferings. He steered his life by Scripture, and that is never more clearly seen than in his encounter with Satan at the outset of his public ministry (luke 4:1–13).
The greatest privilege of life is to become a Christ-follower, a person living by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The greatest purpose in life is to become like Christ, living a fully developing, fully human life, imitating Christ.
The account of the Lord’s victory over Satan’s seduction (see matthew 4:1–11) is rich with lessons for every Christ‑follower. But three lessons have special significance when it comes to navigating life in an unpredictable world.
1. Navigating life requires a deep confidence in the Bible.
When the devil attempts to entice Jesus, his response is not defensive or philosophical; it is utterly scriptural. Jesus answers Satan’s temptations by quoting the Bible. It is significant that Satan makes no effort to dispute the Bible. He may misuse it, but he never counters the Lord’s response when Jesus stands upon the authority of the Bible.
The Lord Jesus obviously had an authority not possessed by any human being. In the Sermon on the Mount, he proclaims authoritatively, “You have heard that it was said . . . but I tell you . . .” (matthew 5:21–22). His is not the authority of a rabbi or the voice of tradition or official position. He speaks as the Son of God, possessing unique power and authority over every created being. But he does not argue his case or even declare the truth in his own name. Rather, his continued response is to quote Scripture. “It is written” (luke 4:4), he declared, repeating God’s revelation in simplicity and brevity. Nothing could be clearer than the fact that, for Jesus, Scripture is the final court of appeal.
Few things are more important for a Christ-follower to consider than the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Scriptures and his profound respect for its authority. At every major point in his ministry, the Scriptures are there. He defines his ministry by quoting the words of Isaiah 61 as his personal manifesto (luke 4:16–21). He builds his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, around a clarification of the true meaning of Scripture (matthew 5–7). He condemns the Jewish leaders, not because they value Scripture too highly but because they are ignorant of its clear message (john 5:39–40, 46) or because they have encrusted it with layers of tradition that cover its true meaning (matthew 15:1–9). He declares that the Bible is of enduring authority, an authority that reaches to its smallest part (matthew 5:17–20). Indeed, “Scripture cannot be set aside” (john 10:35).
The Lord Jesus lived, loved, and was loyal to God’s revelation in Scripture. It was his guidebook for life, his protection in spiritual warfare, his authority in teaching, and his directive for his ministry. He obeyed its commands, and he honored its meaning with his teaching. The implications are obvious and essential. If our Lord and Savior shaped his life by Scripture, how could we imagine we need it less than he did? If we call him Lord and Teacher, how can we have a lower view of Scripture than he did? If we are his followers, how can we rely on it less than he did? We are no match for the wiles and seductions of Satan, but Scripture retains its power as the sword of the Spirit, able to put our enemy on the defensive.
“Rely on your instruments” is one of the first lessons pilots learn. Christ‑followers need to learn the same lesson from the Lord Jesus. Our instincts, our intuitions, our desires speak to us loudly. It is tempting to do our own thing, to steer by the moral seat of our pants. But such a lifestyle is not only foolish; it is disloyal to our Lord.
2. Navigating life requires a working knowledge of the Bible.
The Lord Jesus not only valued Scripture, he also knew it and used it. The passages he quotes from the book of Deuteronomy show his deep familiarity with Scripture. His respect for the Bible is also shown by his refusal to allow Satan to misuse the Bible. Scripture has a meaning intended by its divine Author; therefore, the text must be handled properly, not manipulating it to speak our truths rather than God’s truth. Near the end of his earthly ministry, he prays for us as his people: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (john 17:17). The great need is for Christ‑followers to handle Scripture properly. It is impossible to be deeply affected by what you do not know.
We must handle the Bible with the respect it deserves. As Paul exhorts Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 timothy 2:15). A navigator who tries to manipulate his instruments into giving him a reading he desires rather than the reading that reflects reality is a fool. The first question we must ask when reading Scripture is, What does this passage mean? What is the author saying under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Then, and only then, when we are confident that we have faithfully understood the meaning of the text, should we ask, What does this then mean to me? The meaning of Scripture must always determine its significance to our lives. Otherwise we shift the authority to ourselves, and we merely use the Bible to validate our own opinions.
3. Navigating life requires a lifestyle of obedience.
The goal of confidence in the Bible as God’s revelation and of knowledge of the Bible is conformity to the truths of the Bible. It does no good to have accurate navigational instruments and readings that we don’t follow. The Lord Jesus declared his life principle in these pithy words: “My food . . . is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (john 4:34). “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (john 6:38). “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (john 17:4). At every point, Jesus’s life was shaped and directed by the will of his Father. He navigated life by his Father’s guidance.
The Bible is the Christian’s sextant. It takes the fixed point of the triune God, the North Star, and brings it down to the horizon to locate us in time and space. It spells out for us, sometimes in direct commands and sometimes in stories, but more often in overarching principles, what it means (and sometimes what it doesn’t mean) to live as a follower of Christ.It reveals where we are, often with painful precision, by convicting us of sin. It points us where we need to go by showing us the marriage to which we need to aspire, the character we need to pursue, the behaviors we need to avoid, the habits we need to develop. It holds before us our ultimate destination, which makes the whole journey worthwhile, and inspires us to keep on keeping on.
It is not enough to know the Bible or merely to be inspired by it; we need to steer by it. The Bible does its God-appointed work only as it becomes the active navigational tool in our lives. By revealing God to us, especially in the person of Jesus, it gives us the point by which we find our bearings and move forward. Only a fool would carefully calculate his headings and then throw them overboard and do what comes naturally. That is why James warns us: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (james 1:22). Some time ago the expression “Don’t leave home without it” was made famous by a certain credit card company. For Christians, intent on navigating a chaotic world successfully, the phrase takes on new meaning. The indispensable navigational tool for life is God’s Word, the Bible.