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Land: Blessing of God comes through relationship with Him

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–“Ezra made it the settled goal and purpose of his life to seek the law of the Lord, to do the law of the Lord and then to teach the law of the Lord,” Richard Land said in a chapel message at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Those who desire to be God’s people and receive His blessing in their lives must do the same, said Land, a graduate of NOBTS who serves as the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s president.

In a message from Ezra 7, Land asked, “Do we want to be … God’s people, knowing what it is to have the power and the blessing of God’s hand on our lives, directing our paths, blessing our efforts, heightening and deepening our understanding, giving us the power and the blessing to be God’s man or God’s woman, on God’s business, in God’s time with God’s power and God’s purpose?”

If so: “Then we have to make it the settled goal and purpose of our lives as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to seek and know the law of the Lord, to know God’s Word and to do it … to be obedient to what He is teaching us,” Land said in his Nov. 11 visit to the New Orleans campus.

Recalling his undergraduate days at Princeton University, Land said his professors in the religious studies department were world-class scholars and considered to be among the foremost experts in their fields, but despite all of their knowledge, they lacked a key relationship.

“We are to study … but never leave any doubt that it is God who gives the understanding,” Land said. “On occasion, I found that my grandmother from east Texas, who never finished high school, knew more about what the Bible was saying than those world-renowned experts because it was clear: she knew the author and they didn’t.”

Although Land said he values the religious education he spent half of his life completing, he warned that it is possible to begin treating the Bible with irreverent familiarity.

“Don’t ever let Bible study devolve into mere school work,” he said. “It should always be more. We should never approach God’s Word without asking Him to show us something new…. If we were given three lifetimes, we could never understand all that God has for us in His Holy Word. It is an infinite revelation, and we have finite and fallen minds.”

Different from Ezra, New Testament believers have a living Word – Jesus — to provide the settled goal and purpose for their lives, Land said.

“He is the living Word behind the written Word. The written Word is a guide and a pathway to Jesus,” he said. “Don’t let anything interrupt, don’t let anything interfere, don’t let anything take precedence over your relationship with Jesus.”

Land cited Revelation 2 as an example of New Testament believers at the church at Ephesus who had forsaken their first love and were at risk of losing God’s blessing.

“The church today is like the church at Ephesus,” Land said. “We have a work to be done, we have a fight to be fought, we have a confession to be championed, but first and foremost, always, we have a Savior to be loved. Don’t ever let anything take priority over that.”

Land concluded by reminding that when it comes to accomplishing His purposes, God means business.

“God doesn’t negotiate. God doesn’t compromise. If we’re going to experience the power of the hand of God’s power and blessing on our lives, we’re going to have to go to the place where the blessing is,” Land said. “That place is where we have made it the settled goal and purpose of our lives to know God’s Word, to do God’s Word, to seek and teach the statutes and the judgments because we love Jesus and we want to please Him. And we want to hear, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.'”

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  • Katherine Albers