Journal John 15 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)

Scripture: “Remember the word that I said to you: “A servant is not greater than his master.”  John 15:20

Observation:  What is a precept?  What I am looking at is a precept, a principle, that I should imbed in my thinking, so I do not go astray.

Analysis:  Precept (noun): A general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.  Synonyms are principle; rule; tenet; canon; code; doctrine; guideline; working principle, law, ordinance…

Learning precepts or principles is a biblically recommended mode of study.  Isaiah says: “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to who will he explain the message?  (To) those who are weaned from the milk…those taken from the breast?  For it (learning) is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little….” Is 28:9-10

The Psalmist says: “I will delight in your statutes (rule); I will not forget your word.” (Ps 119:16); and “Make me understand the way of your precepts and I will meditate on your wondrous works.” (Ps 119:27) There is way more the Psalmist says about learning in Chapter 119.

I know of “hiding Your Word in my heart…” (Ps 119:11), but the continued point that is being made here is not just memorizing verses, but finding out the precept, the principle to be learn behind it.  When I remember John 3:16, do I know and begin to understand the precepts to be gleaned from it? How does it lead me to the Doctrine of Salvation; of God; of Christ?  What other principles can be unpacked?

“A servant is not greater than his master…” is only one of those precepts.  The identified precept of the initial scripture reference folds nicely into the admonition of “…not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” (Ro 12:3a; another precept).

I use it to remember what my expectations in life should be.  If things go south, what was it like for Jesus?  Am I expecting my lot in life to be better than Jesus or the disciples?  What about the church fathers on whose shoulders we stand upon?

To be sure, there is a lot of stuff “out there” that is being offered up as church doctrine, as precepts of the church.  It takes being a Berean to dig in the scriptures and, like Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly (or accurately) handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15) Check out the Letters to Timothy for the summary admonitions to pay attention to Doctrine.

Memorizing scripture is invaluable, hiding (or, as I tell myself, stuffing) the Word in my heart.  At some point, I have to organize Scripture into precepts and finally into doctrine so that I am able to, like Priscilla and Aquila did to Paul, explain the ways of God more accurately (Acts 18:26)

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, you are our Teacher.  You open the Word for us and help us, permit us, to understand the Father’s ways.  You have given us oodles of men through the ages that we can stand on the shoulders of.  Their work can assist us to see Your Ways more clearly, and to explain them accurately with clarity.

Help me to think that way, avoiding any puffing up of myself or my thoughts and imaginations.  Help me to use the precepts, principles, and generally accepted, historical doctrine to establish my roots, organize my mind, and speak/write clearly.


Ricky Two Shoes