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Q. Must an Elder’s Children Be Believers?

Answer

Dear Friend,

Your question pertains to Paul’s words in Titus 1:6. Notice the different ways it is rendered by various translations:

NAU Titus 1:6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.

ESV Titus 1:6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

CSB17 Titus 1:6 An elder must be blameless: the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion.

NKJ Titus 1:6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.

NET Titus 1:6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who cannot be charged with dissipation or rebellion.

NIRV Titus 1:6 An elder must be without blame. He must be faithful to his wife. His children must be believers. They must not give anyone a reason to say that they are wild and don’t obey.

NIV Titus 1:6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.

KJV Titus 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

So, let us begin with several observations:

First, these translations offer two different ways of viewing this verse and its requirements. Either Paul requires that an elder’s children must be professing believers, or he requires that an elder’s children must be faithful children, who are obedient to their father.

Second, the differences in these translations reflect two different possible meanings for the Greek word pistos. This difference is indicated in Friberg’s Lexicon:

21988 πιστός, , όν (1) active; (a) of persons trusting, believing, full of faith, confiding (JN 20.27); (b) absolutely, as an adjective believing (in Christ) (AC 16.1); as a substantive believer (2C 6.15); οἱ πιστοί literally the believers, i.e. Christians (1T 4.3); πιστή female believer, Christian woman (1T 5.16); (2) passive; (a) of persons trustworthy, faithful, dependable (CO 4.7), opposite ἄδικος (dishonest); (b) of God trustworthy, faithful (HE 10.23); (c) of things, especially of what one says sure, reliable, trustworthy (1T 1.15)

When you look at the way the Gospels use this term, it more often is employed in the passive sense of faithfulness or dependability:

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? (Matt. 24:45 NAU)

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. (Lk. 16:10 NAU)

Although the term is also used of believing faith:

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (Jn. 20:27 NAU)

Paul uses this term in his epistles to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:12, 15; 3:1, 11; 4:3, 9, 10, 12; 5:16; 6:2; 2 Timothy 2:2, 11, 13) and Titus (Titus 1:6, 9, 3:8). We can see that Paul used the term with both meanings:

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. (1 Tim. 1:15 NAU)

It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. (1 Tim. 3:1 NAU)

Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. (1 Tim. 3:11 NAU)

men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Tim. 4:3 NAU)

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (1 Tim. 4:10 NAU)

This should bring us to the point where we recognize that the term pistos can mean either “dependable/faithful” or “believer”. So which of the two meanings is it in Titus 1:6? I believe several lines of evidence point us to the answer:

First, we have to look at the phrase Paul employed in the same verse to explain what he meant by the term pistos in our text:

namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. (Tit. 1:6 NAU)

It seems quite evident that Paul is saying that an elder’s children must be disciplined and obedient. This is something for which the father is responsible, and which is clearly stated elsewhere as an elder qualification:

He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (1 Tim. 3:4 NAU)

If the elder is to maintain discipline and order in the church, surely this should be evident in his own family (1 Timothy 3:5).

Second, to insist that an elder’s children (all of them) must be saved creates theological problems. A child’s salvation is not the choice of the father, although he should surely endeavor to lead his children to faith. But in the end, it is a decision which the child must make (and one which God must originate – John 6:37, 44, 65).

Third, to insist that all of the elder’s children must be saved creates serious practical problems. This requirement (were it legitimate) would put a lot of pressure on the parents, particularly the father, to press his children to make a premature profession of faith, one for which the child is not really ready or willing, a commitment that he or she does not really understand. Salvation is ultimately the work of the Spirit and the Word of God. Conviction of sin (John 16:8) and bringing one to faith is the Spirit’s task (John 3:5-8).

There is another problem as well. What happens if an existing elder’s wife bears a child? Does the elder step down until it is evident that this child has come to faith? And how long does one wait for this to happen?

Finally, let us consider the duration of this requirement. How responsible is the elder (the father) for the actions of his child after they have grown up and left the home? Well it should be clear that Paul’s requirements set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 (related to an elder’s children) should apply as long as the child lives under the parent’s roof, because they should live under the authority of the father.

My inclination is to say that the father is not nearly as accountable for the child’s life and lifestyle after they have grown up and left the parents’ home. It would be something like an elder’s responsibility to the conduct of a church member who has moved to a different place and is a member of another church (though Paul’s response to sin in Corinth – 1 Corinthians 5 – should not be ignored).

I should add that I had a friend (now with the Lord) who felt the role of an elder was so important that he needed to step down because of his daughter’s lifestyle choices, even though she was older and living far from home.

I hope this answers your question,

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Pastors

The Net Pastor's Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 32 Summer 2019

Summer 2019 Edition

A ministry of…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 519-620-2375

Part I: Strengthening Expository Preaching

“Strengthening Applications” (Pt. 1)

Introduction

Application of the biblical truths you have explained in your sermon is often the weakest area of most sermons. Unless the truth is concretized, visualized, personalized, and actualized the sermon is merely an exposition of abstract truth and remains in the realm of philosophy (ideas, concepts, truisms).

Perhaps Application Is Often Done So Poorly Because…

1) We spend so much time in exegesis that it is hard for us to make the switch from the theoretical to the practical.

2) We accumulate so much data from exegetical research that we don’t have time to communicate anything else.

3) We feel a tension between theory and practice.

4) We value the truth so highly as truth and enjoy it as such that to apply it seems to degrade it.

5) We are afraid of the response of our audience. When we become specific in application, we become personal and that sometimes generates negative responses because we touch nerves, expose sore spots, and activate consciences.

6) In order to apply the Scripture to others, we must first understand it and apply it to ourselves before applying it to others. That can be painful.

The tendency is to stress either exposition or application. Some preachers stay in explanation; others focus on application. On the one hand, for preachers who do their homework in sermon preparation and who spend a great deal of time figuring out what the text means, the tendency might be to focus on explanation (teaching) and neglect application. On the other hand, for preachers who spend little time studying the text, the tendency might be to focus on application (significance) and neglect explanation.

Preaching involves both exposition and application. If you do not apply the truths that you explain, then you fail to show how the truth is relevant to life. We must explain the meaning of the text and its relevance for daily living. People want and need the truth applied to where and how they live – their relationships, their thoughts, their habits, their beliefs, their problems etc.

To preach the explanation without the application is to leave the preaching task incomplete. To engage in exegesis without thinking about its application is to do only half the job. As you study the text to understand its meaning, you must also consider its significance to practical realities. You can’t study the Scriptures without relating them to contemporary life. That’s where the truth is lived out. That’s what the Scriptures are for – to be obeyed.

Unless we cross over from the biblical world to the contemporary world, we leave the truth and our hearers in its ancient context and of no useful purpose other than intellectual.

Biblical preaching must move from the “what” to the “so what” to “now what?” When we explain the truth, we deal with the “what” of the truth (i.e. what does the truth mean?). When we apply the truth, we address the “so what” of the truth (i.e. what difference does it make?). When we actualize the truth, we propose the “now what” demanded by the truth (i.e. what we must do now and how it should change us).

Some would argue that the Holy Spirit does the application, not us. Of course, without the application of the Word by the Holy Spirit to the heart, mind, conscience, and will, our preaching will have no effect. Ultimately, it is only the application of the Word by the Spirit that changes lives. But the same could be said of preaching the gospel – only the Holy Spirit can make it effective, so, some would ask, why preach it?

We preach it because preaching is the God-appointed means of communicating his Word to us (Rom. 10:14-15), both its meaning and its application. The Holy Spirit uses human instruments in delivering both the explanation and application of the text. The preacher has the responsibility to show the people how the Word applies to their lives in concrete terms.

Application Is An Indispensable Component Of Biblical Preaching Because…

1) It links together the truth of the text with the life situation of the hearers. Our job is to understand the context and purpose that the original author is addressing and determine how that message applies to our congregation today. In that way, you relate what you have just explained from the text to how it affects your people’s lives.

2) It bridges the gap between God’s instructions to his people in the past and his instructions for us today.

3) It connects the wise counsel of Scripture with the reality of each person’s life - their need for joy; for intimacy with God; for healed relationships; for obedience to the Word; for hope in Christ etc.

4) It overcomes the “so what” objection of the audience – i.e. “What does this have to do with me?” Or, “What must I do or change in response to the Scriptures?”

5) It moves from the “what” of biblical truth to the “how” of Christian practice.

6) It makes clear how the biblical truth that has been explained actually affects how a Christian should live in the marketplace, at home, at school, in the neighbourhood etc. So many of our people come to church on Sunday but live like non-Christians the rest of the time. That’s why application is so important.

7) It turns the principle that has been taught into a practice that is to be followed - a doctrine to be believed; an attitude to be adopted; a relationship to be changed etc.

In Application, We Urge People…

a) We urge people to “visualize” / “concretize” the truth they have heard. Acceptance is not merely mental assent but experiential change, life transformation. What good is it if they understand the truth but do nothing about it? Our task is to help them see (visualize) the truth (what it looks like in real life) by moving from the truth as abstract philosophy to a concrete, tangible, living reality.

Helping them to “concretize” the truth gets away from people’s subjective impressions about what “God is saying to me” - i.e. without trying to ascertain what the author of the text intended. It is this shift that is very hard for many preachers - how to demonstrate the biblical truth in tangible, experiential ways; how to relate the truth to people’s everyday lives.

We must show the people what the truth looks like so that they can see it and relate to it in their own lives. We want them to say: “Yes, that’s true in my life. I need that. I experience that.” We want them to incarnate the truth – i.e. to live the truth. After all, the entirety of Christian living is incarnational, isn’t it? It is about being like Christ and, thus, manifesting the truth of Christ in our lives.

The big question is: “How can we do that?” We can do that by giving “concrete” situations and examples that cover the spectrum of our audience (at their age, status, jobs, relationships, economy etc.). and that help them visualize what we have been talking about.

b) We urge people to “personalize” the truth they have heard. We want the people to say: “Yes. I need that. I want to be like that or do that or submit to that, or believe that” etc.

c) We urge people to “actualize” the truth they have heard. We want them to adopt it, practice it, make it real. We call people to subjection and obedience to the Word because truth is to be obeyed. We call for obedient response and practical action so that people’s lives conform to the truth. We help them “actualize” the truth by inviting them and challenging them to commit in practical ways to changing their lives in the way the message has impacted them.

A. Application Must Be True To The Biblical Text

Expository preaching is not a running commentary just to pass on information. Its focus is to apply to the believer’s life the principles that are explained from the text. You cannot apply principles without explaining the content of truth from which they are drawn. You cannot explain the “how” without the “what”. You cannot insist on duty without knowing the doctrine on which it is based. Therefore, application must be based on the biblical text from which you are preaching. This is probably one of the greatest flaws in preaching today. Preachers go off on a tangent into application without having satisfactorily, accurately, or clearly explained the meaning of the text. If the audience doesn’t understand the meaning of the text (which is the authority for what we preach), how can we expect them to obey it?

Further, not only must your application be “based on” the biblical text, your application must also be limited by the biblical text. In other words, your application is limited to the subject and scope of the text under consideration. Application has to be based on the truth of the text and then applied appropriately. You are not at liberty to make any application you want from any text. Just as your exposition is limited to the context and subject matter of the biblical text, so is your application. In other words, application has to flow out of your explanation of the text.

That said, I do believe that we are at liberty to “stretch” the application fairly extensively within the boundaries of the overall intent of the original author and the subject matter of the text. This gives us latitude to apply the text to many different situations and challenges that our congregations face while still being true to the text.

One of the ways we can legitimately “stretch” the application is by the use of deductive logic or inference. Thus, application includes “implication” which, by definition, gives you greater scope for application. We are made with the capacity to reason. Therefore…

1) Be logical about application. Show how your text leads you to the logical application you are making.

2) Be specific in application. Give examples.

In every sermon, the listener wants to know three things:

1) What are you preaching on? (the dominating theme of the text – i.e. its subject).

2) What’s your argument? (the integrating thoughts of the text – i.e. its main points and sub-points).

3) What do you want me to do? (the motivating thrust of the text – its application and purpose in my life).

Remember, you have no right to invite people to respond to the truth you have not explained and that they do not understand and, therefore, cannot visualize.

B. Application Must Be Intentional

As expository preachers, we must be very intentional both in the exposition and in the application of the text.

1. We Must Be “Personal” In Our Application

This requires us to be confrontational without being divisive or offensive. Application demands personal reception and obedience to the truth. Therefore, listeners must:

a) Receive the message.

b) Internalize the message – i.e. reflect on how this impacts their own life.

c) Identify what needs to be changed by asking what they need to do about it.

d) Decide to change and make a plan to do so. Perhaps this requires an accountability to someone, or a change of routine or habits etc.

In order to make your application personal, it is important that you try to address the broad spectrum of your audience in concrete and personal terms of where and how they live their lives. Think about how you can apply your sermon to their personal life, family life, work life, church life, community life. Also, try to apply the sermon to their minds and hearts – e.g. their attitudes, beliefs, relationships (with God and with others), behaviour, desires, motives, values, priorities, and character.

2. We Must Be “Practical” In Our Application

Here we are talking about “how” people should respond? It’s not enough to know only the “what” of the message. We have to tell them the “how” as well. The tendency is to stay with the “what”. While the “what” is very important it does not constitute the entirety of the sermon.

a) There must be a call to biblical repentance both of believers and unbelievers.

b) There must be a call to biblical renewal. Every preaching event must be a time of renewal and revival of the believer and regeneration of the unbeliever.

c) There must be a call to biblical reality. Because we are living in a day of cultural Christianity, not biblical Christianity, there is a tendency in our society towards artificial Christianity. Preachers need to call their people to biblical reality.

3. We Must Be “Purposeful” In Our Application

Our preaching must have a goal, a target. All texts lead to Christ (Col. 1:27-29). This is the ultimate and primary goal for preaching, so that when people leave they are more like Christ. That’s the primary reason for preaching.

C. Application Must Move People To Action

Every sermon needs a fourfold movement to activate personal application in the hearers in the form of obedience:

1. The “Mind” Must Be Educated By Our Preaching (Discernment)

Every sermon must educate - stretch the mind to think about and understand things that it had not considered or understood before. Solid food (i.e. “meat”) belongs to those of full age (Heb. 5:14). You have to progress beyond the ABC’s of Christianity. Shallow preaching produces shallow Christians.

2. The “Heart” Must Be Touched By Our Preaching (Desire)

You have to aim at the heart in order to “move” someone to action. The heart is the chief organ of physical life. The “heart” is the word that describes the hidden springs of human life and the sphere of divine influence.

The heart must be reached in order to effect “movement” (action) in the hearer. The mind alone will not do this. The heart is the great motivator.

Preaching to the heart enables the hearers to identify with characters and issues in the passage and make the principles of the passage their own. This involves, obviously, moving from the general to the specific.

The “heart” in Scripture describes the place where decisions are reached and where choices are made. It’s the place where the mind and the will meet. It’s not sufficient to only stretch the mind. You also need to touch the heart.

The emphasis here is on desire rather than discernment. Preach to motivate the heart to respond. The heart must be stirred. To do this, preaching must have passion.

3. The “Will” Must Be Directed By Our Preaching (Decision)

It is not sufficient to only educate the mind and touch the heart. You need to also guide, focus, and shape the will to surrender to the authority of the Word, to die to self and live for Christ, to put off the old self and put on the new (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:22-24).

If only the mind and heart are affected, that’s not good enough. There must be direction of the will to voluntarily submit to the truth of the Word and, thus, to live out its teaching.

4. The “Conscience” Must Be Pricked By Our Preaching (Detection)

The conscience is a powerful tool in application. It is a strong motivator to obey. It detects where people have failed in obedience to the truth. It reveals where there may be sin in a person’s life that needs to be judged.

Thus, biblical preaching will activate the conscience so that the people respond in obedience.

Conclusions

Application must be personal, practical, and purposeful to the end that it affects the entire personality – mind, heart, will, and conscience. While the heart is the great motivator to action, if you can combine the conviction of the mind with the desire of the heart, that is an even more powerful force to activate the conscience which, in turn, motivates a person to submit their will and obey the truth.

D. Application Is Best Done Throughout The Sermon

By applying the truth throughout the sermon, your hearers will not forget the principle which governs the application. It ties principle and practice tightly together. You connect the application tightly to the text you have just explained. This gives your application much greater authority as it is the text that is speaking, not you.

Some preachers do their application at the end of the sermon. This is permissible but it has several drawbacks:

1) If it is done routinely, your audience will figure it out quickly and then you lose the impact, because they are ready to tune you out (“Oh, here it comes again”). I would suggest that application at the end serve only as an intensification and reconfirmation of the application you have already done throughout the sermon.

2) It separates the explanation of the truth from the application of the truth such that your audience will not intuitively connect the one to the other.

I recommend that you apply the truth continuously from the introduction right through to the conclusion of the sermon.

1) In the “introduction”, you apply when you…

a) Establish the need to listen; the need for this message.

b) Make the link to the biblical text.

c) State your “sermon-in-a sentence” (i.e. your thesis, proposition).

2) In the “body”, you apply every truth principle…

a) In the wording of each of your main points and sub-points. They should be worded in applicational form – i.e. in such a way that your audience is included, sees themselves in the truth-principle.

b) During or at the end of your explanation of each main point.

c) In illustrations and examples.

3. In the “conclusion”, you apply the truth…

a) When you summarize the sermon.

b) When you actualize and personalize the sermon one last time.

E. Why Is Application So Hard?

1. Because Its Hard! It’s Hard Work Because:

a) It requires accuracy to Scripture.

b) It must be relevant to the people and their culture.

c) It demands personal introspection and honesty.

2. Because Preachers Think That The Application Is Intuitively Obvious

It’s easy to think that the connection between your explanation of the text and its practical application to the lives of your hearers is intuitively obvious, that it does not need to be stated, that your hearers can figure it out themselves. It’s easy to assume that our hearers “get” how the truth impacts their lives.

This, of course, is often just not true. Application does not automatically jump out at you any more than the truth principles jump out at you. Someone needs to point it out.

3. Because Preachers Misconstrue The Purpose Of Preaching.

The purpose of preaching is to change people’s lives to be more like Christ and we do that by explaining the truth and then pointing out how that should change us. That is application.

Application is the means by which we connect biblical truth to the everyday lives of the audience. That means giving examples of what it looks like in the lives of your people, exhorting the congregation to change, naming error, rebuking wrong attitudes and relationships etc.

Remember, all theology is eminently practical. Its purpose is to impact one’s behaviour, desires, priorities, values, goals, relationships etc.

Good sermons not only teach the truth but also show what it has to do with “me”. A carefully crafted and complete sermon leads to application. Truth is to be obeyed (Rom. 6:17). That’s what will change the lives of your people – not the clever wording of a few main points, but the life application of the truth that causes people to change.

4. Because Preachers Have To Think Through The Application Prior To Preaching.

Too many preachers think that they can wing the applications on the fly. You can’t. They need to be well thought out ahead of time because you have a diverse congregation with diverse life situations and they all need to be reached. You have…

a) Young people, middle aged, old people

b) Professionals, blue collar workers, office workers, factory workers etc.

c) Married people, singles, divorced and separated

d) Yuppies, retired people

e) Families, couples, singles.

f) Public school, high school, and college students

g) Rich, poor, and middle class people.

To effectively apply the word to such diversity requires careful thought before preaching.

F. Discovering The Applications

The question we face is, as you expose each principle in the text, how do you move to application? How do you discover the real life applications while remaining faithful to the subject of the text and the intent of the original author?

As a general principle, I would suggest that the application of the biblical principle must fall within the same scope of application as that in the text. This just emphasizes how important it is to discover accurately the subject of the text. You must make a direct link between the explanation of the principles that you preach and the application you make.

First, start by asking yourself the following questions:

a) What was the author writing about?

b) Why did the author write this to these people?

c) What were the circumstances in the life of the people that needed correction, encouragement, comfort, assurance, rebuke, guidance etc.?

d) How did the author apply the principles to the lives of his readers?

e) What response did the author expect and want from them?

The answers to these questions set the parameters for your application.

Second, uncover contemporary applications by asking yourself:

a) What universal, abiding truths in the text relate directly to life today?

b) What contemporary situations, challenges, questions etc. are similar in nature to that of the original audience? In what ways do our contemporary audiences experience the same situations as the original audience?

Third, move from general implications to specific and personal applications. General implications may speak to how the truth of the text speaks to the home, work, church etc. for everyone. This is good but I would encourage you to try to move even further than that to specific applications to life in your culture and circumstances. This is the hard part. So, how do you do that?

Again, you probe into the personal applications of the truth by asking questions:

a) What does this truth mean for my people in their everyday lives?

b) What challenges, needs, lifestyles, beliefs, and circumstances in the church need to be addressed - be it personal, economic, congregational, community, relational, spiritual, ethical etc.

c) Where in our lives could this truth be applied?

Fourth, consider the response you expect and want from your audience. How do you want them to change their values, priorities, relationships, beliefs, attitudes, practices, motives, desires, character etc.?

Finally, challenge your congregation to ask themselves:

a) What does God want me to do about this truth?

b) How can I achieve this change? What do I need to do?

c) How should I start?

G. Preaching The Applications You Discover

1. You Must Know Your People And Your Church

As you ask the above questions, you are asking them not only about your own life, but particularly about the lives of the people in your congregation.

So as you ask the questions (searching for relevant applications), you must keep in mind your people by visualizing them in the pew, or going through your church directory, while you recollect their life situation, needs, problems, challenges etc.

2. From That Exercise You Draw Up A List Of Suitable Applications

Now you are applying the passage to real needs which correspond with the needs addressed in the passage. These applications will not identify anyone in your congregation nor will they disclose confidences. They will still be a bit general in nature, but you are drawing the net tighter and making clear how the principles apply by giving examples of how they might apply to your people in particular situations.

So, you might say: “If you live a holy life, you’ll demonstrate this in your workplace by… (e.g. not crossing the line with opposite sex”) etc. etc. Then, you can suggest ways to put these applications into practice.

From the application examples you preach, your people will be prompted to make the transfer into their own specific life situation.

3. Try To Give Enough Examples To Cover The Entire Spectrum Of Your Church

You dot this by drawing in the different age groups, marital status, economic status etc. in their life situation. There are four situations that embrace everyone:

a) School

b) Workplace

c) Home

d) Community

4. Don’t forget to word your points as applications, if possible

There are several advantages to this:

a) Application will be a continuous process throughout your sermon not just in particular sections of it.

b) The principles you establish in your points will be personalized rather than remaining abstract truths.

c) Your points will have more impact.

Conclusions About Application

Theology, properly preached, is thoroughly practical. The Bible is not written just to fill our heads with knowledge but to also change the way we live and think and act. Specifically, every sermon should help us to become more like Christ by putting into practice the universal, timeless truths of Scripture. For that reason, we must explain the text clearly and accurately and apply it relevantly and personally.

Part II: Sermon Outlines

To listen to the audio version of these sermons in English, click on the these links: Link 1 - Jn. 21:15-17; Link 2 - Jn. 21:18-19; Link 3 - Jn. 21:19-25

Title: “Called To Serve”

Theme: Lessons in Christian service

Point #1: The pledge in serving the Lord is to love him (15-17)

a) Despite our feeble loyalty, Jesus still values our love

b) Despite our feeble loyalty, Jesus still wants our service

Point #2: The purpose in serving the Lord is to glorify him (18-19a)

a) We are to glorify him when we are younger (18a)

b) We are to glorify him when we are old (18b-19a)

Point #3: The pattern in serving the Lord is to follow him (19b-23)

a) We follow him by responding to his call (19b)

b) We follow him by keeping our eyes on him (20)

c) We follow him by minding our own business (21-23)

Related Topics: Pastors

La Revue Internet Des Pasteurs, Fre Ed 32, Edition du l’été 2019

Edition du l’été 2019

Un ministère de…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 519-620-2375

Partie I : Renforcer La Predication Par Expose

“Renforçer les Applications” (Pt. 1)

Introduction

L'application des vérités bibliques que vous avez expliquées dans votre sermon est souvent le domaine le plus faible de la plupart des sermons. À moins que la vérité ne soit concrétisée, visualisée, personnalisée et actualisée, le sermon est simplement un exposé de la vérité abstraite et reste dans le domaine de la philosophie (idées, concepts, truismes).

Peut-Etre Que L'application Est Souvent Si Mal Faite Parce Que…

1) Nous passons tellement de temps en exégèse qu'il nous est difficile de passer de la théorie à la pratique.

2) Nous accumulons tellement de données de recherche exégétique que nous n’avons pas le temps de communiquer autre chose.

3) Nous sentons une tension entre la théorie et la pratique.

4) Nous estimons la vérité si haut comme une vérité et l'apprécions comme telle que son application semble la dégrader.

5) Nous avons peur de la réponse de notre public. Lorsque nous devenons spécifiques dans l'application, nous devenons personnels et cela génère parfois des réponses négatives parce que nous touchons les nerfs, exposons des points sensibles et activons les consciences.

6) Pour appliquer les Ecritures aux autres, nous devons d'abord les comprendre et les appliquer à nous-mêmes avant de les appliquer aux autres. Cela peut être douloureux.

La tendance est de mettre l'accent sur l'exposition ou l'application. Certains prédicateurs restent dans l’explication ; d'autres se concentrent sur l'application. D'une part, pour les prédicateurs qui font leurs devoirs lors de la préparation d'un sermon et qui passent beaucoup de temps à comprendre ce que le texte signifie, la tendance pourrait être de se concentrer sur l'explication (enseignement) et de négliger l'application. D'autre part, pour les prédicateurs qui consacrent peu de temps à étudier le texte, la tendance pourrait être de se concentrer sur l'application (signification) et de la négliger l’explication.

La prédication implique à la fois une exposition et une application. Si vous n'appliquez pas les vérités que vous expliquez, vous omettez de montrer en quoi la vérité est pertinente pour la vie. Nous devons expliquer le sens du texte et sa pertinence pour la vie quotidienne. Les gens veulent et ont besoin de la vérité appliquée à l'endroit et à la façon dont ils vivent - leurs relations, leurs pensées, leurs habitudes, leurs croyances, leurs problèmes, etc.

Prêcher l'explication sans l'application, c'est laisser la tâche de prédication incomplète. S'engager dans l'exégèse sans réfléchir à son application, c'est ne faire que la moitié du travail. Lorsque vous étudiez le texte pour en comprendre le sens, vous devez également tenir compte de son importance pour les réalités pratiques. Vous ne pouvez pas étudier les Écritures sans les relier à la vie contemporaine. C’est là que la vérité est vécue. C’est ce à quoi les Écritures sont destinées-à être obéi.

À moins que nous passions du monde biblique au monde contemporain, nous laissons la vérité et nos auditeurs dans son contexte ancien et sans autre but utile qu'intellectuel.

La prédication biblique doit passer du « quoi » au « alors quoi » à « maintenant quoi ? ». Lorsque nous expliquons la vérité, nous traitons le « quoi » de la vérité (c'est-à-dire que veut dire la vérité ?). Lorsque nous appliquons la vérité, nous nous adressons au « alors quoi » de la vérité (c’est-à-dire quelle différence cela fait-il ?). Lorsque nous actualisons la vérité, nous proposons le « maintenant quoi » exige de la vérité (c’est-à-dire ce que nous devons faire maintenant et comment cela devrait nous changer).

Certains vont argumenter que c'est le Saint-Esprit qui fait l’application, pas nous. Bien sûr, sans l'application de la Parole par le Saint-Esprit au cœur, à l'esprit, à la conscience et à la volonté, notre prédication n'aura aucun effet. En définitive, c’est seule l’application de la Parole par l’Esprit qui change des vies. Mais on pourrait en dire autant de la prédication de l'Évangile - seul le Saint-Esprit peut la rendre efficace. Certains demanderaient pourquoi, pourquoi prêcher ?

Nous le prêchons parce que la prédication est le moyen désigné par Dieu pour nous communiquer sa Parole (Romains 10 :14-15), à la fois son sens et son application. Le Saint-Esprit utilise des instruments humains pour expliquer et appliquer le texte. Le prédicateur a la responsabilité de montrer aux gens comment la Parole s’applique concrètement à leur vie.

L’application Est Un Elément Indispensable De La Prédication Biblique Parce Que…

1) Il relie la vérité du texte à la situation de vie des auditeurs. Notre travail consiste à comprendre le contexte et le but de l'auteur d'origine et à déterminer comment ce message s'applique à notre congrégation aujourd'hui. De cette manière, vous établissez un lien entre ce que vous venez d’expliquer dans le texte et comment cela affecte la vie de votre peuple.

2) Il comble le fossé entre les instructions de Dieu à son peuple dans le passé et ses instructions pour nous aujourd'hui.

3) Il relie le sage conseil de l’Écriture à la réalité de la vie de chaque personne: son besoin de la joie; pour l'intimité avec Dieu; pour des relations restaurées; pour l'obéissance à la Parole; pour l’espérance en Christ etc.

4) Il surmonte l'objection "alors quoi" de l'audience - c'est-à-dire "qu'est-ce que cela a à voir avec moi?" Ou "Que dois-je faire ou changer en réponse aux Ecritures?"

5) Cela quite du «quoi» de la vérité biblique au «comment» de la pratique chrétienne.

6) Cela montre clairement comment la vérité biblique qui a été expliquée affecte réellement la manière dont un chrétien doit vivre sur le marché, à la maison, à l'école, dans le quartier, etc. Un grand nombre de nos gens viennent à l'église le dimanche, mais vivent comme des non-Chrétiens le reste du temps. C’est pourquoi l’application est si importante.

7) Cela transforme le principe enseigné en une pratique qui est à suivre - une doctrine à croire; une attitude à adopter; une relation à changer etc.

Dans L’application, Nous Encourageons Les Gens :

a) Nous exhortons les gens à “visualiser” / “concrétiser” la vérité qu'ils ont entendue. L'acceptation n'est pas simplement un consentement mental, mais un changement dont on a fait l’expérience, une transformation de vie. À quoi sert-il s'ils comprennent la vérité mais ne font rien à propos ? Notre tâche est de les aider à voir (visualiser) la vérité (à quoi cela ressemble dans la vie réelle) en passant de la vérité en tant que philosophie abstraite à une réalité concrète, tangible et vivante.

Les aider à «concrétiser» la vérité éloigne les impressions subjectives des gens sur ce que «Dieu me dit» - c’est-à-dire sans chercher à savoir ce que l’auteur du texte voulait dire. C’est ce changement qui est très difficile pour beaucoup de prédicateurs - comment démontrer la vérité biblique de manière tangible et expérientielle ; comment relier la vérité à la vie quotidienne des gens.

Nous devons montrer aux gens à quoi ressemble la vérité pour qu'ils puissent la voir et en établir un lien avec propre vie. Nous voulons qu’ils disent: «Oui, ça c’est vrai dans ma vie. J'ai besoin de ça. Je vis cela. » Nous voulons qu’ils incarnent la vérité, c’est-à-dire qu’ils vivent la vérité. Après tout, toute la vie chrétienne est une question d’incarnation, n’est-ce pas? Il s'agit d'être comme Christ et donc de manifester la vérité de Christ dans nos vies.

La grande question est: "Comment pouvons-nous faire cela?" Nous pouvons le faire en donnant des situations "concrètes" et des exemples qui couvrent le spectre de notre public (à leur âge, leur statut, leurs emplois, leurs relations, l'économie, etc.). et cela les aide à visualiser ce dont nous parlons.

b) Nous exhortons les gens à «personnaliser» la vérité qu'ils ont entendue. Nous voulons que les gens disent: «Oui. J'ai besoin de ça. Je veux être comme ça ou faire cela ou me soumettre à cela, ou croire cela ”etc.

c) Nous exhortons les gens à «actualiser» la vérité qu'ils ont entendue. Nous voulons qu'ils l'adoptent, la pratiquent, la rendent réelle. Nous appelons les gens à se soumettre et à obéir à la Parole parce que la vérité doit être obéie. Nous appelons à une réponse obéissante et à des actions concrètes pour que la vie des gens se conforme à la vérité. Nous les aidons à "actualiser" la vérité en les invitant et en leur demandant de s'engager de manière pratique pour changer leur vie de la manière dont le message les a touchés.

A. L’application Doit Etre Vrai Selon Text Biblique

La prédication par exposé n'est pas un commentaire en cours simplement pour transmettre des informations. Son objectif est d’appliquer à la vie du croyant les principes qui sont expliqués dans le texte. Vous ne pouvez pas appliquer des principes sans expliquer le contenu de la vérité dont ils sont tirés. Vous ne pouvez pas expliquer le "comment" sans le "quoi". Vous ne pouvez pas insister sur le devoir sans connaître la doctrine sur laquelle il est basé. Par conséquent, l'application doit être "basée sur" le texte biblique à partir duquel vous prêchez. C'est probablement l'un des plus grands défauts de la prédication aujourd'hui. Les prédicateurs entrent en application de manière tangible sans avoir expliqué de manière satisfaisante, précise ou claire le sens du texte. Si le public ne comprend pas le sens du texte (qui est l'autorité de ce que nous prêchons), comment pouvons-nous nous attendre à ce qu'ils y obéissent?

En outre, non seulement votre application doit être "basée sur" le texte biblique, mais elle doit également être "limitée par" le texte biblique. En d'autres termes, votre application est limitée au sujet et à la portée du texte en question. L'application doit être basée sur la vérité du texte, puis appliquée correctement. Vous n'êtes pas libre de faire n'importe quelle application que vous voulez à partir de n'importe quel texte. Tout comme votre exposé se limite au contexte et au sujet du texte biblique, il en va de même de votre application. En d'autres termes, l'application doit découler de votre explication du texte.

Cela dit, j’estime que nous avons la liberté d’étendre l’application assez largement dans les limites de l’intention générale de l’auteur original et de l’objet du texte. Cela nous donne la latitude d'appliquer le texte à plusieurs situations et défis différents auxquels nos congrégations sont confrontées tout en restant fidèles au texte.

L’un des moyens dont nous pouvons légitimement «étendre» l’application consiste à utiliser la logique déductive ou l’inférence. Ainsi, l’application inclut une «implication» qui, par définition, vous donne une plus grande marge pour l’application. Nous sommes faits avec la capacité de raisonner. Donc…

1) Soyez logique à propos de l'application. Montrez comment votre texte vous conduit à l'application logique que vous faites.

2) Soyez spécifique dans l'application. Donne des exemples.

Dans chaque sermon, l'auditeur veut savoir trois choses:

1) Sur quoi prêchez-vous? (le thème dominant du texte - c’est-à-dire son sujet/ thème).

2) Quel est votre argument? (les pensées intégrantes du texte - c’est-à-dire ses principaux points et sous-points).

3) Que veux-tu que je fasse? (la motivation du texte - son application et son but dans ma vie).

N'oubliez pas que vous n'avez pas le droit d'inviter les gens à répondre à la vérité que vous n'avez pas expliquée et qu'ils ne comprennent pas et, par conséquent, ne peuvent pas visualiser.

B. L’application Doit Etre Intentionnelle

En tant que prédicateurs en plénière, nous devons être très intentionnels à la fois dans la présentation et dans l’application du texte.

1. Nous Devons Etre “Personnel” Dans Notre Application

Cela exige que nous soyons ‘’agressif’’’ sans créer de division ou sans être offensif. L'application nécessite une réception et une obéissance personnelle à la vérité. Par conséquent, les auditeurs doivent :

a) Recevoir le message.

b) Intégrer le message - c’est-à-dire réfléchir à la manière dont cela influe sur leur propre vie.

c) Identifiez ce qui doit être changé en se demandant ce qu'ils doivent faire à ce sujet.

d) Décidez de changer et dressez un plan pour le faire. Cela nécessite peut-être d’être redevable envers quelqu'un, un changement de routine ou d'habitudes, etc.

Afin de personnaliser votre application, il est important que vous essayiez de vous adresser au large spectre de votre public de manière concrète et personnelle, en indiquant où et comment il vit. Réfléchissez à la manière dont vous pouvez appliquer votre sermon à leur vie personnelle, leur vie de famille, leur travail, leur vie d’église, leur vie en communauté. Essayez également d’appliquer le sermon à leur esprit et à leur cœur - par exemple. leurs attitudes, leurs croyances, leurs relations (avec Dieu et avec les autres), leur comportement, leurs désirs, leurs motivations, leurs valeurs, leurs priorités et leur caractère.

2. Nous Devons Etre "Pratiques" Dans Notre Application

Nous parlons ici de «comment» les gens devraient réagir? Il ne suffit pas de savoir seulement le «quoi» du message. Nous devons aussi leur dire le ‘’comment’’. La tendance est de rester avec le «quoi». Bien que le «quoi» soit très important, il ne constitue pas la totalité du sermon.

a) Il doit y avoir un appel à la repentance biblique à la fois des croyants et des non-croyants.

b) Il doit y avoir un appel au renouvellement biblique. Chaque événement de prédication doit être une période de renouvellement et de réveil du croyant et de régénération du non-croyant.

c) Il doit y avoir un appel à la réalité biblique. Parce que nous vivons à une époque de christianisme culturel, et non un christianisme biblique, notre société a tendance à adopter un christianisme artificiel. Les prédicateurs doivent appeler leur peuple à la réalité biblique.

3. Nous Devons Avoir Un "Objectif" Dans Notre Application

Notre prédication doit avoir un but, une cible. Tous les textes mènent à Christ (Col. 1: 27-29). C'est le but ultime et primordial de la prédication. Ainsi, lorsque les gens partent, ils ressemblent davantage à Christ. C’est la raison principale de la prédication.

C. L’application Doit Pousser Les Gens A L’action

Chaque sermon a besoin d'un mouvement quadruple pour activer l'application personnelle des auditeurs sous forme d'obéissance :

1. «L’esprit» Doit Etre Eduqué Par Notre Prédication (Discernement)

Chaque sermon doit éduquer - inciter l’esprit à penser et à comprendre des choses qu’il n’avait pas considérées ou comprises auparavant. Les aliments solides (c.-à-d. La «viande») appartiennent aux majeurs (Héb. 5:14). Vous devez progresser au-delà de l’ABC du christianisme. La prédication peu profonde produit des chrétiens peu profonds.

2. Le «Cœur» Doit Etre Touché Par Notre Prédication (Désir)

Il faut avoir pour objectif de toucher le cœur de quelqu'un pour le «pousser» à l'action. Le coeur est l'organe principal de la vie physique. Le «cœur» est le mot qui décrit les sources cachées de la vie humaine et la sphère d'influence divine.

Le cœur doit être atteint pour effectuer un «mouvement» (action) chez l'auditeur. L’esprit seul ne fera pas cela. Le coeur est le grand motivateur.

La prédication au cœur permet aux auditeurs de s'identifier aux personnages et aux problèmes du passage et de s'approprier les principes du passage. Cela implique évidemment de passer du général au particulier.

Le «cœur» dans les Ecritures décrit l'endroit où les décisions sont prises et où les choix sont faits. C’est le lieu où l’esprit et la volonté se rencontrent. Il ne suffit pas de relaxer l’esprit. Vous devez également toucher le coeur.

L'accent est mis ici sur le désir plutôt que sur le discernement. Prêchez pour motiver le cœur à réagir. Le coeur doit être agiter. Pour ce faire, la prédication doit avoir de la passion.

3. La "Volonté" Doit Etre Dirigée Par Notre Prédication (Décision)

Il ne suffit pas d’éduquer l’esprit et de toucher le cœur. Vous devez également guider, focaliser et façonner la volonté de vous soumettre à l'autorité de la Parole, de mourir de vous-même et de vivre pour le Christ, de remettre l'ancien et de revêtir le nouveau (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4: 22-24).

Si seulement l’esprit et le cœur sont touchés, cela ne suffit pas. La volonté doit être guidée de se soumettre volontairement à la vérité de la Parole et ainsi de vivre son enseignement.

Si seulement l’esprit et le cœur sont touchés, cela ne suffit pas. La volonté doit être guidée par la volonté de se soumettre volontairement à la vérité de la Parole et ainsi de vivre son enseignement.

4. La "Conscience" Doit Etre Piquée Par Notre Prédication (Détection)

La conscience est un puissant outil dans l’application. C'est un facteur de motivation important pour obéir. Elle détecte où les gens ont échoué dans leur obéissance à la vérité. Il révèle où il peut y avoir un péché dans la vie d’une personne qui doit être jugée.

Ainsi, la prédication biblique activera la conscience pour que les gens répondent avec obéissance.

Conclusions

L’application doit être personnelle, pratique et avoir pour but de toucher toute la personnalité - esprit, cœur, volonté et conscience. Si le cœur est le grand facteur de motivation pour agir, si vous pouvez associer la conviction de l’esprit au désir du cœur, c’est une force encore plus puissante pour activer la conscience qui, à son tour, incite une personne à soumettre sa volonté et obéir à la vérité.

D. L’application Est Mieux Faite Si Pendant Le Long Du Sermon

En appliquant la vérité tout au long du sermon, vos auditeurs n'oublieront pas le principe qui régit l'application. Cela lie le principe et la pratique étroitement ensemble. Vous connectez étroitement l'application au texte que vous venez d'expliquer. Cela donne à votre application beaucoup plus d'autorité car c'est le texte qui parle, pas vous.

Certains prédicateurs font leur application à la fin du sermon. C'est permis mais cela présente plusieurs inconvénients:

1) Si cela se fait régulièrement, votre public le comprendra rapidement et vous perdrez alors l'impact, car il est prêt à vous faire la sourde oreille (« Oh, ça revient encore »). Je suggérerais que l'application à la fin serve seulement d'intensification et de reconfirmation de l'application que vous avez déjà faite tout au long du sermon.

2) Il sépare l'explication de la vérité de l'application de la vérité de sorte que votre auditoire ne connectera pas intuitivement l'un à l'autre.

Je vous recommande d'appliquer la vérité continuellement, de l'introduction à la conclusion du sermon.

1) Dans “l'introduction”, vous appliquez quand vous…

a) établissez le besoin d'écouter; la nécessité de ce message.

b) Faites le lien avec le texte biblique.

c) Énoncez votre « sermon dans une phrase » (c'est-à-dire votre thèse, proposition).

2) Dans le «corps», vous appliquez tous les principes de vérité…

a) Dans la formulation de chacun de vos points et sous-points principaux. Ils doivent être formulés sous forme d'application, c'est-à-dire que de manière à ce que votre public soit inclus, se voit dans le principe de vérité.

b) Pendant ou à la fin de votre explication de chaque point principal.

c) Dans les illustrations et exemples.

3) Dans la «conclusion», vous appliquez la vérité…

a) Lorsque vous résumez le sermon.

b) Lorsque vous actualisez et personnalisez le sermon une dernière fois.

E. Pourquoi L’application Est-Elle Si Dure?

1. Parce Que C'est Dur ! C’est Un Travail Difficile Parce Que:

a) Cela nécessite une précision dans les Ecritures.

b) Cela doit être pertinent pour les gens et leur culture.

c) Cela demande une introspection personnelle et de l’honnêteté.

2. Parce Que Les Prédicateurs Pensent Que L'application Est Intuitivement Evidente

Il est facile de penser que le lien entre votre explication du texte et son application pratique dans la vie de vos auditeurs est intuitivement évident, qu’il n’est pas nécessaire de le préciser, que vos auditeurs peuvent le comprendre eux-mêmes. Il est facile de supposer que nos auditeurs «comprennent» l’impact de la vérité sur leur vie.

Ceci, bien sûr, est souvent tout simplement faux. L'application ne vous saute pas automatiquement dessus, encore moins les principes de vérité ne vous sautent pas aux yeux. Quelqu'un doit le signaler.

3. Parce Que Les Prédicateurs Interprètent Mal Le But De La Prédication.

Le but de la prédication est de changer la vie des gens pour qu’ils ressemblent davantage à Christ et nous le faisons en expliquant la vérité, puis en soulignant comment cela devrait nous changer. C'est l'application.

L'application est le moyen par lequel nous relions la vérité biblique à la vie quotidienne de l’audience. Cela signifie donner des exemples de ce à quoi cela ressemble dans la vie de votre peuple, exhortant la congrégation à changer, indiquant des erreurs, réprimant les mauvaises attitudes et relations, etc.

N'oubliez pas que toute théologie est éminemment pratique. Son but est d’avoir un impact sur le comportement, les désirs, les priorités, les valeurs, les objectifs, les relations, etc.

Les bons sermons n'enseignent pas seulement la vérité, mais montrent aussi ce que cela a à voir avec «moi». Un sermon soigneusement conçu et complet mène à l'application. La vérité doit être obéie (Romains 6:17). C’est ce qui va changer la vie de votre peuple - pas la formulation intelligente de quelques points principaux, mais l’application à la vie de la vérité qui amène les gens à changer.

4. Parce Que Les Prédicateurs Doivent Réfléchir A L’application Avant De Prêcher.

Trop de prédicateurs pensent pouvoir faire évoluer les applications à la volée. Vous ne pouvez pas. Elles ont besoin d’être bien réfléchies à l’avance, car vous avez une congrégation diversifiée avec des situations de vie différentes et ils doivent tous être atteints. Vous avez…

a) jeunes, personnes d'âge moyen, personnes âgées

b) Professionnels, cols bleus, employés de bureau, ouvriers d’usine, etc.

c) Personnes mariées, célibataires, divorcées et séparées

d) Yuppies, retraités

e) Familles, couples, célibataires.

f) Elèves d’écoles publiques, lycéens et des étudiants universitaires.

g) Les gens riches, pauvres et de la classe moyenne.

Appliquer efficacement le mot à une telle diversité nécessite une réflexion approfondie avant de prêcher.

F. Decouvrir Les Applications

La question à laquelle nous sommes confrontés est, au fur et à mesure que vous exposez chaque principe dans le texte, comment passez-vous à l’application ? Comment découvrir les applications de la vie réelle tout en restant fidèle au sujet du texte et à l'intention de l'auteur original ?

Comme principe général, je suggérerais que l'application du principe biblique soit dans le même champ d'application que celui du texte. Cela souligne à quel point il est important de découvrir avec précision le sujet du texte. Vous devez établir un lien direct entre l'explication des principes que vous prêchez et l'application que vous en faites.

Tout d'abord, commencez par vous poser les questions suivantes :

a) De quoi l’écrit de l'auteur était-il question ?

b) Pourquoi l'auteur a-t-il écrit ceci à ces personnes ?

c) Quelles étaient les circonstances dans la vie des personnes qui nécessitaient des corrections, des encouragements, du confort, de l'assurance, des reproches, des conseils, etc. ?

d) Comment l'auteur a-t-il appliqué les principes à la vie de ses lecteurs ?

e) Quelle réaction l'auteur attendait-il et souhaitait-il d’eux ?

Les réponses à ces questions définissent les paramètres de votre application.

Deuxièmement, découvrez les applications contemporaines en vous demandant :

a) Quelles vérités universelles et éternelles dans le texte ont un rapport direct avec la vie aujourd'hui ?

b) Quelles sont les situations, défis, questions contemporaines, etc. similaires à ceux du public d'origine ? De quelle manière notre public contemporain vit-il les mêmes situations que le public d'origine ?

Troisièmement, passer des implications générales aux applications spécifiques et personnelles. Les implications générales peuvent indiquer comment la vérité du texte parle de la vie à la maison, au travail, à l'église, etc. pour tout le monde. C’est bien, mais je vous encourage à essayer d’aller plus loin que cela pour des applications spécifiques à la vie dans votre culture et votre situation. C'est la partie difficile. Alors, comment faites-vous cela ?

Encore une fois, vous explorez les applications personnelles de la vérité en posant des questions :

a) Qu'est-ce que cette vérité signifie pour mon peuple dans leur vie quotidienne ?

b) Quels sont les défis, les besoins, les modes de vie, les croyances et les circonstances dans l'église qui doivent être abordés - qu'ils soient personnels, économiques, de congrégation, communautaires, relationnels, spirituels, éthiques, etc.

c) Où dans nos vies cette vérité pourrait-elle être appliquée ?

Quatrièmement, considérez la réponse que vous voulez et attendez de votre public. Comment voulez-vous qu'ils changent leurs valeurs, leurs priorités, leurs relations, leurs croyances, leurs attitudes, leurs pratiques, leurs motivations, leurs désirs, leur caractère, etc. ?

Enfin, défiez votre congrégation de se poser les questions :

a) Qu'est-ce que Dieu veut que je fasse à propos de cette vérité ?

b) Comment puis-je réaliser ce changement ? Qu'est-ce que je dois faire ?

c) Comment dois-je commencer ?

G. Precher Sur Les Applications Que Vous Decouvrez

1. Vous Devez Connaître Votre Peuple Et Votre Eglise

Lorsque vous posez les questions ci-dessus, vous ne leur posez pas seulement des questions sur votre propre vie, mais en particulier sur celles des membres de votre congrégation.

Ainsi, lorsque vous posez des questions (recherchant d’applications appropriées), vous devez garder à l’esprit vos collaborateurs en les visualisant sur le banc d’église ou en parcourant votre annuaire d’église, tout en vous rappelant leur situation, leurs besoins, leurs problèmes, leurs défis, etc.

2. À Partir De Cet Exercice, Vous Dressez Une Liste Des Applications Appropriées

Vous appliquez maintenant le passage à des besoins réels qui correspondent aux besoins abordés dans le passage. Ces applications n'identifieront personne dans votre congrégation et ne dévoileront pas de confidences. Elles seront toujours de nature un peu générales, mais vous resserrez le filet et expliquez clairement comment les principes s'appliquent, en donnant des exemples de la manière dont ils pourraient s’appliquer à votre peuple dans des situations particulières.

Ainsi, vous pourriez dire : « Si vous vivez une vie sainte, vous le montrerez sur votre lieu de travail en… (par exemple, en ne franchissant pas la frontière avec le sexe opposé »), etc. etc. Vous pourrez ensuite suggérer des moyens de mettre ces applications en pratique.

À partir des exemples d’application que vous prêchez, votre peuple sera invité à effectuer le transfert dans sa propre situation de vie.

3. Essayez De Donner Suffisamment D'exemples Pour Couvrir Tout Le Spectre De Votre Eglise.

Vous y parviendrez en faisant apparaître les différents groupes d’âge, l’état matrimonial, le statut économique, etc. dans leur situation de vie. Il y a quatre situations qui concernent tout le monde :

a) L’école

b) Le lieu de travail

c) La famille

d) La communauté

4. N'oubliez Pas De Formuler Vos Points En Applications, Si Possible

Il y a plusieurs avantages à cela :

a) L’application sera un processus continu tout au long de votre sermon et pas seulement dans certaines parties du sermon.

b) Les principes que vous établissez dans vos points seront personnalisés plutôt que de rester des vérités abstraites.

c) Vos points auront plus d'impact.

Conclusions Sur Application

La théologie, correctement prêchée, est tout à fait pratique. La Bible n’est pas écrite pour remplir notre tête de connaissances, mais aussi pour changer notre façon de vivre, de penser et d’agir. Plus précisément, chaque sermon devrait nous aider à ressembler davantage à Christ en mettant en pratique les vérités universelles et éternelles des des Écriture. Pour cette raison, nous devons expliquer le texte de manière claire et précise et l’appliquer de manière pertinente et personnelle.

Partie II : Plan Du Sermon

Pour écouter la version audio de ces sermons en anglais, cliquez sur les liens suivants: Link 1 - Jn. 21:15-17; Link 2 - Jn. 21:18-19; Link 3 - Jn. 21:19-25

Titre : “Appelé Pour Servir”

Thème : Des leçons dans le service Christian

Point #1: S’engager à server le Seigneur c’est de l’aimer (15-17)

a) Malgré notre faible loyauté, Jésus valorise toujours notre amour

b) Malgré notre faible loyauté, Jésus veut toujours notre service

Point #2: Le but de servir le Seigneur est de le glorifier (18-19a)

a) Nous devons le glorifier quand nous sommes plus jeunes (18a)

b) Nous devons le glorifier quand nous serons vieux (18b-19a)

Point #3: Le model de servir le Seigneur est de le suivre (19b-23)

a) Nous le suivons en répondant à son appel (19b)

b) Nous le suivons en gardant les yeux sur lui (20)

c) Nous le suivons en veillant sur nos propres affaires (21-23)

Related Topics: Pastors

Jurnalul Electronic Al Păstorilor, Rom Ed 32, Editia de Vară 2019

Ediția de Vară, 2019

“Întărind Biserica în Predicare biblică și conducere”

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 519-620-2375

Partea I: Consolidarea Predicării Expozitive

„Folosirea aplicațiilor” (Partea 1)

Introducere

Aplicarea adevărurilor biblice explicate în predică este adesea partea cea mai slabă a predicilor. Dacă adevărul nu este concretizat, vizualizat, personalizat și actualizat, predica nu este decât o expunere a unui adevăr abstract și rămâne în sfera filosofiei (idei, concepte, truisme).

Poate Că Aplicația Este Adesea Atât De Slabă Pentru Că…

1) Petrecem atât de mult timp făcând exegeză încât ne este greu să facem trecerea de la teoretic la practic.

2) Acumulăm atât de multe informații din studiul exegetic, încât nu ne mai rămâne timp să mai transmitem și altceva.

3) Simțim o tensiune între teorie și practică.

4) Prețuim atât de mult adevărul în sine și ne bucurăm de el ca atare, încât simțim că îl degradăm dacă îl aplicăm.

5) Ne este teamă de răspunsul ascultătorilor. Atunci când facem aplicații specifice, o facem într-un mod mai personal, ceea ce poate genera uneori răspunsuri negative, pentru că atingem nervi, scoatem răni la iveală și activăm conștiințe.

6) Pentru a aplica Scriptura altora, trebuie să o înțelegem mai întâi și să ne-o aplicăm nouă, înainte de a o aplica altora. Și lucrul acesta poate fi dureros.

Tendința este fie să accentuăm expunerea, fie aplicația. Unii predicatori stau prea mult la explicarea textului, pe când alții se concentrează pe aplicații. Pe de o parte, predicatorii care își fac temele în ce privește pregătirea predicii și care petrec foarte mult timp încercând să afle ce vrea să spună textul, pot avea tendința să se concentreze pe explicare (învățare) și să neglijeze aplicația. Pe de altă parte, predicatorii care petrec prea puțin timp studiind textul, pot fi înclinați să se concentreze pe aplicații (semnificație) și să neglijeze explicarea textului.

Predicarea presupune atât expunere, cât și aplicare. Dacă nu aplici adevărurile pe care le explici, atunci nu reușești să arăți în ce fel adevărul este relevant pentru viața ascultătorilor. Trebuie să explicăm semnificația textului și relevanța sa pentru viața de zi cu zi. Oamenii vor și au nevoie ca adevărul să fie aplicat la situațiile lor de viață – la relațiile lor, la gândurile, obiceiurile, credințele și problemele lor etc.

A prezenta doar explicația, fără aplicație, înseamnă a nu duce predica la bun sfârșit. A face exegeza fără a te gândi la aplicarea sa, înseamnă a face lucrul pe jumătate. Atunci când studiezi textul pentru a-i înțelege semnificația, trebuie să te gândești și la semnificația sa pentru realitățile practice. Nu poți studia Scriptura fără să o legi de viața contemporană, pentru că adevărul acolo este trăit. Pentru aceasta există Scriptura – ca să fie ascultată.

Dacă nu facem trecerea de la lumea biblică la lumea contemporană, îi lăsăm pe ascultători în contextul antic al textului biblic, fără vreun folos, decât cel intelectual.

Predicarea Biblică Trebuie Să Treacă De La „Ce” La „Și Ce”, Iar Apoi La „Acum Ce?”

Atunci când explicăm adevărul, ne ocupăm de conținutul său (ce înseamnă adevărul?). Atunci când aplicăm adevărul, arătăm care este relevanța sa (de ce contează lucrul acesta?). Atunci când aducem adevărul în actualitate, arătăm ce ne cere nouă acum adevărul (ce trebuie să facem noi acum și cum ar trebui să ne schimbe acest adevăr).

Unii vor spune că Duhul Sfânt face aplicația, nu noi. Sigur, dacă Duhul Sfânt nu aplică Cuvântul în inima, mintea, conștiința și voința ascultătorilor, predicarea noastră nu va avea nici un efect. În fond, doar aplicarea Cuvântului de către Duhul Sfânt poate schimba vieți. Însă același lucru poate fi spus despre predicarea evangheliei – numai Duhul Sfânt o poate face eficientă, așa că, unii ar putea întreba: de ce să mai predicăm evanghelia?

O predicăm pentru că predicarea este mijlocul ales de Dumnezeu pentru a ne transmite Cuvântul Său (Rom. 10:14-15), atât semnificația, cât și aplicația sa. Duhul Sfânt folosește instrumente umane pentru a transmite atât explicarea, cât și aplicarea textului. Predicatorul are responsabilitatea de a arăta oamenilor cum se aplică în mod concret Cuvântul în viața lor.

Aplicația Este O Componentă Indispensabilă A Predicării Biblice Pentru Că…

1) Leagă adevărul textului de situația de viață a ascultătorilor. Datoria noastră este să înțelegem contextul și scopul autorului și să găsim modul în care mesajul se aplică astăzi bisericii noastre. În felul acesta, legi ceea ce tocmai ai explicat din text de modul în care adevărul respectiv influențează viața ascultătorilor.

2) Face legătura între poruncile date de Dumnezeu poporului Său în trecut și poruncile Sale pentru noi astăzi.

3) Leagă sfatul înțelept al Scripturii cu realitatea vieții omului – nevoia lui de bucurie; de intimitate cu Dumnezeu; de relații vindecate; de ascultare față de Cuvânt; de speranță în Hristos etc.

4) Răspunde obiecțiilor de tipul „și ce?” – adică, „Ce are asta de-a face cu mine?” sau „Ce trebuie să fac sau să schimb ca răspuns la învățătura Scripturii?”

5) Face trecerea de la adevărul biblic la trăirea creștină.

6) Clarifică modul în care adevărul biblic ce a fost explicat influențează felul care creștinul se poartă la magazin, acasă, la școală, în cartier etc. Așa de mulți oameni vin duminica la biserică, însă în restul timpului trăiesc ca niște necreștini. De aceea este atât de importantă aplicația.

7) Transformă principiul învățat într-o practică ce trebuie urmată - o doctrină ce trebuie crezută; o atitudine ce trebuie însușită; o relație ce trebuie schimbată etc.

În Aplicație, Îi Îndemnăm Pe Oameni…

a) Îi îndemnăm pe oameni să „vizualizeze” / concretizeze adevărul pe care l-au auzit. Acceptarea adevărului nu înseamnă doar o aprobare rațională, ci o schimbare reală, o transformare a vieții. Cu ce îi ajută pe oameni dacă înțeleg adevărul, dar nu fac nimic în privința asta? Datoria noastră este să îi ajutăm să vadă (să vizualizeze) adevărul (cum arată el în viața reală), trecând de la adevăr ca filozofie abstractă la o realitate concretă, tangibilă din viața reală.

Ajutându-i pe oameni să „concretizeze” adevărul, îi ajuți, de fapt, să evite impresiile subiective cu privire la ceea ce „îmi vorbește Dumnezeu”, fără a încerca să determini ce aplicație concretă a intenționat să facă autorul textului. Lucrul acesta este foarte greu pentru mulți predicatori – să demonstreze adevărul biblic în moduri tangibile, care țin de experiența concretă; să lege adevărul de viața de zi cu zi a oamenilor.

Noi trebuie să arătăm oamenilor cum arată adevărul, pentru ca ei să îl vadă și să se poată raporta la el în viața lor personală. Vrem ca ei să poată spune: „Da, lucrul acesta se întâmplă în viața mea. Am nevoie de asta. Mă confrunt cu asta.” Vrem ca ei să întrupeze adevărul, adică să îl trăiască. În definitiv, trăirea creștină în totalitatea sa este o întrupare, nu-i așa? Trăirea creștină înseamnă a fi precum Hristos, ceea ce înseamnă ca adevărul lui Hristos să se manifeste în viața noastră.

Marea întrebare este: „Cum putem face asta?” Putem face lucrul acesta arătând situații „concrete” și exemple care să acopere spectrul de viață al ascultătorilor (ținând cont de vârsta lor, statutul lor, locurile lor de muncă, relațiile lor, economia etc.). Aceste exemple îi ajută să vizualizeze lucrurile despre care am vorbit.

b) Îi îndemnăm pe oameni să personalizeze adevărul pe care l-au auzit. Ne dorim ca ei să ajungă să spună: „Da. Eu am nevoie de asta. Eu vreau să fiu așa sau să fac asta ori să ascult, sau să cred asta” etc.

c) Îi îndemnăm pe oameni să actualizeze adevărul pe care l-au auzit. Vrem ca ei să îl primească, să îl practice, să îl transpună în realitate. Noi îi chemăm pe oameni să se supună Cuvântului și să îl asculte, pentru că adevărul trebuie ascultat. Îi chemăm pe oameni să răspundă cu ascultare și cu acțiune concretă, pentru ca viața lor să se conformeze adevărului. Noi îi ajutăm să „actualizeze” adevărul, invitându-i și provocându-i să se decidă într-un mod practic să își schimbe viața conform cu impactul pe care mesajul l-a avut asupra lor.

A. Aplicația Trebuie Să Fie În Conformitate Cu Textul Biblic

Predicarea expozitivă nu constă în prezentarea unui comentariu, cu scopul de a transmite informații. Scopul său este să aplice principiile explicate din text la viața credinciosului. Desigur, nu poți aplica principiile fără a explica mai întâi conținutul adevărului din care derivă aceste principii. Nu poți explica cum se aplică adevărul, fără a explica conținutul său. Nu poți insista pe ceea ce trebuie să facă creștinul, fără a cunoaște doctrina care stă la baza a ceea ce are el de făcut. Așadar, aplicația trebuie să se „bazeze pe” textul biblic din care predici. Probabil că aceasta este una din cele mai mari greșeli care se fac astăzi în predicare. Predicatorii schimbă brusc subiectul atunci când fac aplicația, fără a fi explicat mai întâi semnificația textului, într-un mod satisfăcător, corect și clar. Dacă ascultătorii nu înțeleg semnificația textului (acesta reprezentând autoritatea din spatele predicii noastre), cum ne putem aștepta să îl asculte?

Apoi, aplicația nu trebuie doar să se „bazeze pe” textul biblic, ci aplicația trebuie și să fie „limitată de” textul biblic. Cu alte cuvinte, aplicația este limitată la subiectul și sfera textului studiat. Aplicația trebuie să se bazeze pe adevărul textului biblic și trebuie făcută în mod corespunzător. Nu ai libertatea să faci orice aplicație vrei din orice text. Așa cum expunerea este limitată de contextul și subiectul textului biblic, tot așa este și aplicația. Altfel spus, aplicația trebuie să curgă din explicarea textului.

Acestea fiind spuse, cred că avem libertatea să „întindem” aplicația destul de mult în cadrul granițelor intenției generale a autorului și a subiectului textului. Astfel, avem libertatea să aplicăm textul la multe situații de viață și provocări cu care se confruntă ascultătorii, rămânând în același timp fideli textului.

Una din modalitățile prin care putem „întinde” aplicația în mod legitim este prin folosirea deducției logice. Astfel, aplicația include „implicația” care, prin definiție, îți oferă un orizont mai larg pentru aplicație. Noi am fost creați cu capacitatea de a raționa. Prin urmare…

1) Fă aplicații logice! Arată cum te conduce textul la aplicația logică pe care o faci.

2) Fă aplicații concrete! Dă exemple!

Când ascultă o predică, ascultătorul vrea să știe trei lucruri:

1) Despre ce predici? (tema dominantă a textului – i.e. subiectul textului).

2) Care este argumentarea ta? (ideile care alcătuiesc textul – i.e. punctele principale și secundare).

3) Ce vrei să fac? (ideea motivatoare a textului – aplicația și scopul său în viața mea).

Nu uita, nu ai niciun drept să îi inviți pe oameni să răspundă la un adevăr pe care nu l-ai explicat și pe care ei nu îl înțeleg și, prin urmare, nu îl pot vizualiza.

B. Aplicația Trebuie Să Fie Bine Gândită

Ca predicatori expozitivi, noi trebuie să gândim foarte bine atât expunerea textului, cât și aplicarea sa.

1. Aplicația Trebuie Să Fie „Personală”

Pentru asta trebuie să confruntăm, fără să divizăm sau să ofensăm. Aplicația cere acceptare personală și ascultare de adevăr. Prin urmare, ascultătorii trebuie:

a) Să primească mesajul.

b) Să-și însușească mesajul – i.e. să se gândească la impactul pe care acesta îl are în viața lor.

c) Să identifice lucrurile care trebuie schimbate, întrebându-se ce trebuie să facă în privința lor.

d) Să decidă să se schimbe și să-și planifice lucrul acesta. Poate că va fi nevoie să dea socoteală cuiva sau să-și schimbe programul ori obiceiurile etc.

Pentru ca aplicația să fie personală, este important să încerci să te adresezi tuturor ascultătorilor în termeni personali și concreți cu privire la viața lor. Gândește-te cum poți să aplici predica la viața lor personală, la viața de familie, la munca lor, la viața bisericii și a comunității. De asemenea, încearcă să aplici predica la mintea și inima ascultătorilor – de pildă, la atitudini, credințe, relații (cu Dumnezeu și cu semenii), comportament, dorințe, motivații, valori, priorități și caracter.

2. Aplicația Trebuie Să Fie „Practică”

Vorbim aici despre modul în care oamenii trebuie să răspundă. Nu este suficient să le transmitem doar ce au de făcut, ci trebuie să le spunem și cum să facă. Tendința este să rămânem la prima parte. Este foarte important să le spunem ce au de făcut, însă predica nu se rezumă la atât.

a) Trebuie să existe o chemare la pocăință biblică atât pentru credincioși, cât și pentru necredincioși.

b) Trebuie să existe o chemare la reînnoire biblică. Orice predicare trebuie să fie un timp de reînnoire și trezire a credinciosului și de regenerare a necredinciosului.

c) Trebuie să existe o chemare la realitatea biblică. Deoarece trăim în epoca creștinismului cultural, nu biblic, există o tendință în societatea noastră către un creștinism artificial. Predicatorii trebuie să îi cheme pe oameni la realitatea biblică.

3. Aplicația Trebuie Să „Aibă Un Scop”

Predicarea noastră trebuie să aibă un scop, o țintă. Toate textele biblice arată înspre Hristos (Col. 1:27-29). Acesta este scopul principal și fundamental al predicării, pentru ca atunci când oamenii pleacă, să se asemene mai mult cu Hristos. Acesta este scopul principal al predicării.

C. Aplicația Trebuie Să Îi Determine Pe Oameni Să Acționeze

Orice predică trebuie să acționeze în patru direcții pentru a activa aplicația personală în ascultători, determinându-i la ascultare:

1. Predicarea Trebuie Să Educe „Mintea” (Discernământul)

Orice predică trebuie să educe, să forțeze mintea să se gândească la lucruri pe care nu le-a înțeles până atunci sau la care nu s-a gândit mai înainte. Hrana tare („carnea”) este pentru cei maturi (Evr. 5:14). Trebuie să progresezi și să treci dincolo de ABC-ul creștinismului. Predicarea superficială produce creștini superficiali.

2. Predicarea Trebuie Să Atingă „Inima” (Dorința)

Pentru a „determina” pe cineva să acționeze, trebuie să îi atingi inima. Inima este organul principal al vieții fizice. „Inima” este termenul care descrie izvoarele ascunse ale vieții umane și sfera influenței divine.

Pentru a determina ascultătorul să se „miște” (să acționeze), trebuie să îi atingi inima. Mintea nu va face asta de una singură. Inima este marele motivator.

A predica inimii înseamnă a da ascultătorilor posibilitatea de a se identifica cu personajele și cu ideile din textul biblic și de a-și însuși principiile din text. Aceasta implică, evident, mutarea dinspre general înspre particular.

În Scriptură, „inima” reprezintă locul unde se iau decizii și unde se fac alegeri. Este locul unde se întâlnesc mintea și voința. Nu este suficient să forțăm mintea, ci trebuie să atingem și inima.

Accentul cade aici pe dorință mai degrabă decât pe discernământ. Predică pentru a motiva inima să răspundă! Inima trebuie stârnită și, pentru asta, trebuie să predici cu multă pasiune!

3. Predicarea Trebuie Să Îndrume „Voința” (Decizia)

Nu este suficient să educi mintea și să atingi inima. Trebuie, de asemenea, să îndrumi, să îndrepți atenția și să modelezi voința astfel încât să se supună autorității Cuvântului, să moară față de sine și să trăiască pentru Hristos, să renunțe la firea pământească și să se îmbrace cu natura cea nouă (Gal. 2:20; Efes. 4:22-24).

Dacă sunt atinse doar mintea și inima, nu este suficient. Trebuie ca voința să fie direcționată înspre supunere de bunăvoie față de adevărul Cuvântului și, implicit, înspre o trăire a adevărului său.

4. Predicarea Trebuie Să Stimuleze „Conștiința” (Identificare)

Conștiința este o unealtă puternică atunci când vine vorba de aplicație. Este un motivator puternic, care detectează unde au eșuat oamenii în ascultarea față de adevăr. De asemenea, arată unde ar putea exista un păcat ce trebuie judecat în viața unui om.

Astfel, predicarea biblică va activa conștiința, pentru ca oamenii să răspundă cu ascultare.

Concluzii

Aplicația trebuie să fie personală, practică și să își propună să atingă întreaga personalitate – mintea, inima, voința și conștiința. Inima este cea care motivează spre acțiune, însă dacă poți îmbina convingerea minții cu dorința inimii, atunci aceasta este o forță chiar mai puternică ce poate activa conștiința și care, la rândul ei, poate motiva o persoană să își supună voința pentru a asculta de adevăr.

D. Cel Mai Bine Este Ca Aplicațiile Să Fie Făcute Pe Parcursul Predicii

Aplicând adevărul de-a lungul predicii, ascultătorii nu vor uita principiul care guvernează aplicația. Principiul și practica sunt aduse astfel împreună. De asemenea, în felul acesta legi strâns aplicația de textul pe care tocmai l-ai explicat. Lucrul acesta conferă o mai mare autoritate aplicației, deoarece textul este cel care vorbește, nu tu.

Unii predicatori fac aplicația la sfârșitul predicii. Se poate și așa, însă lucrul acesta are câteva dezavantaje:

1) Dacă întotdeauna procedezi așa, ascultătorii își vor da seama repede de lucrul acesta și îți vei pierde impactul, pentru că ei își vor pierde interesul („O, din nou!”). Eu sugerez ca aplicația de la sfârșitul predicii să slujească doar ca o întărire și o reconfirmare a aplicațiilor făcute de-a lungul predicii.

2) Dacă procedezi așa, separi explicarea adevărului de aplicarea sa, iar ascultătorii nu le vor putea lega una de cealaltă în mod intuitiv.

Eu recomand să aplici adevărul în mod continuu, de la introducere până la încheierea predicii.

1) În „introducere”, faci aplicație atunci când…

a) Arăți nevoia de a asculta această predică; nevoia de a predica acest mesaj.

b) Faci legătura cu textul biblic.

c) Prezinți „ideea principală a predicii”.

2) În „cuprins”, faci aplicație la fiecare adevăr enunțat…

a) În redactarea fiecărui punct principal și punct secundar. Acestea ar trebui să fie redactate în formă aplicativă – i.e. în așa fel încât ascultătorii să fie incluși, să se vadă pe ei înșiși în adevărul enunțat.

b) Pe parcursul sau la sfârșitul explicării fiecărui punct principal.

c) În ilustrații și exemple.

3. În „încheiere”, faci aplicație…

a) Atunci când sumarizezi predica.

b) Atunci când aduci predica în actualitate și o pui într-un registru personal pentru ultima dată.

E. De Ce Este Atât De Dificilă Folosirea Aplicației?

1. Pentru Că Este Dificil! Este O Muncă Grea Pentru Că:

a) Cere acuratețe față de Scriptură.

b) Trebuie să fie relevantă pentru oameni și pentru cultura în care ei trăiesc.

c) Cere introspecție personală și onestitate.

2. Pentru Că Predicatorii Cred Că Aplicația Este Observată În Mod Intuitiv

Este ușor să te gândești că legătura dintre explicarea textului și aplicarea sa practică în viața ascultătorilor tăi va fi observată în mod intuitiv și nu trebuie, așadar, afirmată, pentru că ascultătorii o pot deduce și singuri. Este ușor să presupui că ascultătorii „pricep” impactul pe care adevărul îl are în viața lor.

Adesea, însă, lucrurile stau altfel. Aplicațiile nu îți sar în ochi, tot așa cum nici principiile nu o fac. Cineva trebuie să ți le scoată în evidență.

3. Pentru Că Predicatorii Înțeleg Greșit Scopul Predicării.

Scopul predicării este schimbarea vieților oamenilor pentru a se asemăna mai mult cu Hristos și facem lucrul acesta prin explicarea adevărului și prin indicarea modului în care acesta ar trebui să ne schimbe. Aceasta este aplicația.

Aplicația este mijlocul prin care legăm adevărul biblic de viața de zi cu zi a ascultătorilor. Aceasta înseamnă să indicăm prin exemple concrete cum arată adevărul în viața oamenilor noștri, să-i îndemnăm să se schimbe, să le arătăm greșelile, numindu-le concret, să mustrăm atitudinile și relațiile greșite etc.

Nu uita, întreaga teologie este extraordinar de practică. Scopul său este aibă impact asupra comportamentului omului, asupra dorințelor, priorităților, valorilor, scopurilor, relațiilor sale etc.

O predică bună nu explică doar adevărul, ci și arată ce are acesta de-a face cu „mine”. O predică atent construită și completă duce la aplicații. Adevărul trebuie să fie ascultat (Rom. 6:17). Aceasta este ceea ce va schimba viețile oamenilor – nu redactarea inteligentă a unor puncte principale, ci aplicarea la viața reală a adevărului care îi face pe oameni să se schimbe.

4. Pentru Că Predicatorii Trebuie Să Se Gândească La Aplicații Înainte De A Predica.

Prea mulți predicatori cred că pot face aplicațiile din zbor, însă nu se poate. Acestea trebuie să fie bine gândite dinainte, deoarece ai în față o mulțime de oameni aflați în diferite situații de viață și trebuie să te adresezi tuturor. În biserică se află…

a) Tineri, oameni de vârstă mijlocie, bătrâni

b) Profesioniști, muncitori, oameni care lucrează la birou sau în fabrică etc.

c) Căsătoriți, necăsătoriți, oameni divorțați sau despărțiți de partenerul de viață

d) Tineri în ascensiune, pensionari

e) Familii, cupluri, necăsătoriți.

f) Elevi de școală generală, elevi de liceu sau studenți

g) Bogați, săraci și oameni din clasa de mijloc.

Pentru a aplica în mod eficient Cuvântul la o asemenea diversitate de oameni este nevoie de o gândire atentă înainte de predicare.

F. Cum Descoperim Aplicațiile

Întrebarea la care ajungem acum este: Atunci când expui fiecare principiu din text, cum ajungi la aplicații? Cum descoperi aplicațiile la viața reală, rămânând în același timp fidel subiectului textului, precum și intenției autorului?

Ca principiu general, sugerez ca aplicarea principiului biblic să se încadreze în sfera aplicației textului original. Lucrul acesta arată cât de important este să descoperi cu exactitate subiectul textului. Trebuie să existe o legătură directă între explicarea principiilor pe care le predici și aplicațiile pe care le faci.

În primul rând, începe prin a-ți pune următoarele întrebări:

a) Despre ce a scris autorul?

b) De ce a scris autorul lucrul acesta oamenilor acelora?

c) În ce situații de viață se aflau oamenii care aveau nevoie să fie îndreptați, încurajați, mângâiați, încredințați, mustrați, îndrumați etc.?

e) Cum a aplicat autorul aceste principii la viața cititorilor săi?

f) La ce răspuns se aștepta autorul și ce voia de la ei?

Răspunsurile la aceste întrebări stabilesc parametrii aplicației tale.

În al doilea rând, descoperă aplicațiile contemporane întrebându-te:

a) Ce adevăruri universale, nepieritoare din text au legătură directă cu viața de astăzi?

b) Ce situații contemporane, provocări, întrebări etc. sunt de natură asemănătoare cu cele ale audienței originale? În ce fel ascultătorii noștri contemporani experimentează aceleași situații ca și destinatarii originali?

În al treilea rând, mergi de la implicațiile generale către aplicații specifice și personale. Poate că implicațiile generale ale adevărului prezentat vorbesc despre viața de acasă, de la serviciu sau de la biserică etc. a fiecăruia. Acesta este un lucru bun, însă te-aș încuraja să mergi chiar mai departe de-atât, încercând să găsești aplicații specifice la viața în cultura și în circumstanțele în care te găsești. Aceasta este partea mai grea; așadar, cum poți să faci asta?

Repet, studiezi aplicațiile personale ale adevărului, punând următoarele întrebări:

a) Ce înseamnă adevărul acesta pentru oamenii mei în viața lor de zi cu zi?

b) Ce provocări, nevoi, stiluri de viață, credințe și situații din biserică trebuie să fie tratate - fie personale, economice, congregaționale, spirituale, etice, legate de comunitate, relații, etc.

c) Unde poate fi aplicat acest adevăr în viețile noastre?

În al patrulea rând, gândește-te la răspunsul pe care îl aștepți și îl vrei de la ascultătorii tăi. Cum vrei să își schimbe valorile, prioritățile, relațiile, credințele, atitudinile, practicile, motivele, dorințele, caracterul etc.?

În cele din urmă, provoacă-ți ascultătorii să se întrebe:

a) Ce vrea Dumnezeu să fac cu privire la acest adevăr?

b) Cum pot să realizez această schimbare? Ce trebuie să fac?

c) Cum să încep?

G. Cum Să Predici Aplicațiile Pe Care Le Descoperi

1. Trebuie Să Îți Cunoști Oamenii Și Biserica

Când îți pui întrebările de mai sus, nu te gândești doar la viața ta, ci mai ales la viața oamenilor din biserica ta.

Așadar, atunci când îți pui întrebările (căutând aplicații relevante), trebuie să îi ai în minte pe oameni, imaginându-ți-i în biserică sau uitându-te în registrul membral, amintindu-ți situațiile lor de viață, nevoile, problemele, provocările lor etc.

2. În Urma Acestui Exercițiu, Îți Întocmești O Listă De Aplicații Potrivite

Acum aplici textul la nevoi reale, ce corespund cu nevoile la care face referire textul. Aceste aplicații nu vor identifica o persoană anume din biserică și nici nu vor divulga secrete încredințate. Ele vor avea tot un caracter mai general, însă cercul se restrânge mai mult, arătând cum se aplică principiile respective dând exemple de moduri în care acestea s-ar putea aplica la oamenii tăi în anumite situații.

De pildă, ai putea spune: „Dacă trăiești o viață sfântă, vei arăta lucrul acesta la locul de muncă… (de exemplu, având un comportament cuviincios față de persoanele de sex opus”) etc. etc. Apoi poți sugera câteva modalități de a pune în practică aceste aplicații.

Exemplele concrete folosite în aplicații îi vor îndemna pe ascultători să le transfere în propriile lor situații de viață.

3. Încearcă Să Dai Suficiente Exemple Pentru A Acoperi Întregul Spectru Al Bisericii

Lucrul acesta se realizează adresându-te tuturor, ținând cont de vârstă, stare civilă, statut economic etc. Există patru categorii care îi cuprind pe toți:

a) Școală

b) Loc de muncă

c) Acasă

d) Comunitate

4. Nu Uita Să Îți Formulezi Punctele Ca Aplicații, Dacă Este Posibil

Acest lucru prezintă câteva avantaje:

a) Folosirea aplicațiilor va fi un proces continuu de-a lungul predicii, nu doar în anumite părți ale acesteia.

b) Principiile stabilite în punctele principale vor fi personalizate și nu vor rămâne doar niște adevăruri abstracte.

c) Punctele tale principale vor avea mai mult impact.

Concluzii Cu Privire La Aplicații

Teologia, predicată în mod corect, este foarte practică. Biblia nu a fost scrisă doar pentru a ne umple capul de cunoștințe, ci și pentru a schimba felul în care trăim, gândim și acționăm. Cu alte cuvinte, fiecare predică ar trebui să ne ajute să ne asemănăm mai mult cu Hristos, urmând adevărurile universale și eterne ale Scripturii. De aceea, trebuie să explicăm textul în mod clar și corect și să îl aplicăm relevant și personal.

Partea A II-A: Schițe De Predici

Pentru versiunea audio a acestor predici în limba engleză, dați click pe următoarele link-uri: Link 1 - Jn. 21:15-17; Link 2 - Jn. 21:18-19; Link 3 - Jn. 21:19-25

Titlu: „Chemat la slujire”

Subiectul: Lecții în slujirea creștină

Punctul #1: Dovada slujirii creștine este dragostea față de Domnul (15-17)

a) În ciuda slabei noastre loialități, Isus prețuiește dragostea noastră

b) În ciuda slabei noastre loialități, Isus vrea ca noi să Îl slujim

Punctul #2: Scopul slujirii creștine este glorificarea Domnului (18-19a)

a) Noi trebuie să îl glorificăm pe El când suntem tineri (18a)

b) Noi trebuie să îl glorificăm pe El când suntem bătrâni (18b-19a)

Punctul #3: Modelul slujirii creștine este urmarea Lui (19b-23)

a) Îl urmăm pe El răspunzând chemării Lui (19b)

b) Îl urmăm pe El privind țintă la El (20)

c) Îl urmăm pe El văzându-ne de treaba noastră (21-23)

Related Topics: Pastors

The Net Pastors Journal, Rus Ed 32, Летнее издание 2019

Летнее Издание 2019

Служение Института Библейского Проповедования…

“Укреплять Церковь через библейскую проповедь и руководство”

Автор: Проф. Роджер Паскоу, Директор
Института Библейского Проповедования
Кембридж, Онтарио, Канада
Email: [email protected]
Тел.: 1-519-620-2375

Часть I: Усиливая Толкование Проповеди

“Усиливая применение” (Ч. 1)

Введение

Применение библейских истин, которые вы объясняете в своей проповеди, часто является самым слабым местом многих проповедей. Если истина не конкретизирована, не визуализирована, не персонализирована и не реализована, проповедь становится просто изложением абстрактной истины и остается в области философии (идеи, концепции, правды).

Возможно, Применение Часто Освещено Плохо, Потому Что ...

1) Мы тратим столько времени на толкование, что нам трудно перейти от теоретической части к практической.

2) Мы накапливаем так много толкований, что у нас нет времени на то, чтобы сообщить что-то еще.

3) Мы чувствуем напряжение между теорией и практикой.

4) Мы так высоко ценим истину, как истину вообще, и наслаждаемся ею чересчур, что ее применение, кажется, делает ее хуже.

5) Мы боимся реакции нашей аудитории. Когда мы становимся конкретными в применении, мы становимся личностными, и это иногда вызывает негативные реакции, потому что мы прикасаемся к нервам, выявляем больные места и активируем совесть.

6) Чтобы применять Писание к другим, мы должны сначала понять его и применить к себе, прежде чем применять его к другим. Это может быть больно.

Есть склонность делать упор либо на толковании, либо на применении. Некоторые проповедники придерживаются толкования; другие - сосредоточены на применении. С одной стороны, для проповедников, которые делают свою домашнюю работу по подготовке проповеди и которые тратят много времени на выяснение того, что означает текст, могут чересчур сосредотачиваться на толковании (обучении) и игнорировать применение. С другой стороны, те проповедники, которые тратят мало времени на изучение текста, тяготеют больше к применению (значимости) и пренебрегают толкованием (объяснением).

Проповедь включает в себя как толкование, так и применение. Если вы не применяете истину, которые вы объясняете, вы не сможете показать, как истину можно применить к жизни. Мы должны объяснить значение текста и его актуальность для повседневной жизни. Люди хотят знать истину и применить ее к своей жизни - в их отношениях, их мыслях, их привычках, их убеждениях, их проблемах и т. д.

Проповедовать толкование без применения означает оставить задачу проповеди незавершенной. Заниматься объяснением, не задумываясь о его применении, означает делать только половину работы. Изучая текст, чтобы понять его значение, вы также должны учитывать его значение для практической стороны жизни. Вы не можете изучать Писания, не связывая его с современной жизнью. Вот где истина применима сегодня. Вот для чего Священное Писание - чтобы быть ему послушным.

Если мы не перейдем из библейского мира в современный, мы оставим истину и своих слушателей в ее древнем контексте и не обеспечим их никакой полезной информацией, кроме интеллектуальной.

Библейская проповедь должна перейти от «что» к «ну и что» и к «а теперь что?». Когда мы объясняем истину, мы имеем дело с «что» истины (т.е. что означает истина?). Когда мы применяем истину, мы обращаемся к «ну и что» истины (т.е. какая разница?). Когда мы реализуем истину, мы предлагаем «а что теперь», требуемое истиной (то есть то, что мы должны сделать сейчас и как это должно изменить нас).

Некоторые утверждают, что это делает Святой Дух, а не мы. Конечно, без применения Слова Святым Духом к сердцу, уму, совести и воле наша проповедь не будет иметь никакого эффекта. В конечном счете, только применение Слова Духом меняет жизнь. Но то же самое можно сказать и о проповедовании Евангелия - только Святой Дух может сделать его эффективным, поэтому некоторые могут спросить, зачем проповедовать его?

Мы проповедуем это, потому что проповедь является назначенным Богом средством передачи нам Своего Слова (Рим. 10: 14-15), как в его значении, так и в его применении. Святой Дух использует людей для предоставления как толкования, так и применения текста. Проповедник обязан показать людям, как Слово применимо к их жизни в конкретных терминах.

Применение Является Обязательным Компонентом Библейской Проповеди, Потому Что ...

1) Оно связывает воедино правдивость текста с жизненной ситуацией слушателей. Наша работа состоит в том, чтобы понять контекст и цель, с которой обращается первоначальный автор, и определить, как это послание относится к нашему собранию сегодня. Таким образом, вы связываете то, что только что объяснили из текста, с тем, как это влияет на жизнь ваших людей.

2) Оно устраняет разрыв между наставлениями Бога Его народу в прошлом и Его наставлениями для нас сегодня.

3) Оно связывает мудрый совет Писания с реальностью жизни каждого человека - его потребность в радости; для близости с Богом; для исцеленных отношений; для послушание Слову; для надежды во Христе и т. д.

4) Оно преодолевает возражение аудитории «ну и что?», То есть «Какое отношение это имеет ко мне?» или «Что я должен делать или как отреагировать на Писание?»

5) Оно переходит от библейской истины «что» к христианской практике “как”.

6) Оно ясно показывает, как библейская истина, которая была объяснена, на самом деле влияет на то, как христианин должен жить... (в магазине, дома, в школе, по соседству и т. д.) Поэтому многие из наших людей приходят в церковь в воскресенье, но живут как неверующие в остальное время своей жизни. Вот почему применение так важно.

7) Превращает принцип, который там есть, в практику, которой необходимо следовать - доктрине, которой нужно верить; отношению, которое нужно принять; отношениям, которые должны быть изменены и т. д.

В Применении Мы Призываем Людей...

а) Мы призываем людей «визуализировать» / «конкретизировать» истину, которую они услышали. Принятие - это не просто умственное согласие, но и изменение опыта,преобразование жизни. Что хорошего, если они понимают истину, но ничего не делают с ней? Наша задача - помочь им увидеть (визуализировать) истину (как она выглядит в реальной жизни), перейдя от истины как абстрактной философии к конкретной, осязаемой, живой реальности.

Помогая им «конкретизировать» истину, поможет им избежать личностных впечатлений по поводу того, что «Бог говорит мне», т. е. даже не пытаться понять, что имеет ввиду автор текста. Именно этот сдвиг очень труден для многих проповедников - как продемонстрировать библейскую истину осязаемым, основанным на опыте образом; как связать истину с повседневной жизнью людей.

Мы должны показать людям, как выглядит истина, чтобы они могли увидеть ее и соотнести ее со своей жизнью. Мы хотим, чтобы они сказали: «Да, это именно так в моей жизни. Я нуждаюсь в этом. Я это переживаю ». Мы хотим, чтобы они воплотили истину, то есть жили ею. В конце концов, вся христианская жизнь является воплощением, не так ли? Речь идет о том, чтобы быть похожим на Христа и, таким образом, проявлять истину Христа в нашей жизни.

Большой вопрос: «Как мы можем это сделать?» Мы можем сделать это, предоставляя «конкретные» ситуации и примеры, которые охватывают весь спектр нашей аудитории (возраст, статус, работа, отношения, экономика и т. д.). и это помогает им увидеть то, о чем мы говорим.

б) Мы призываем людей «персонализировать» услышанную ими истину. Мы хотим, чтобы люди сказали: «Да. Я нуждаюсь в этом. Я хочу быть таким или делать то или подчиняться этому, или верить этому» и т. д.

в) Мы призываем людей «реализовать» истину, которую они услышали. Мы хотим, чтобы они приняли ее, практиковали, сделали ее реальностью в жизни. Мы призываем людей к подчинению и послушанию Слову, потому что истине нужно повиноваться. Мы призываем к послушному реагированию и практическим действиям, чтобы жизнь людей соответствовала истине. Мы помогаем им «актуализировать» истину, приглашая их практическими способами изменить свою жизнь так, как это повлияло на их послание.

A. Применение Должно Соотноситься С Библейским Текстом

Объяснительная проповедь - это не постоянный комментарий для передачи информации. Ее цель - применить к жизни верующего те принципы, которые объясняются в тексте. Вы не можете применять принципы без объяснения содержания истины, из которой они взяты. Вы не можете объяснить «как» без «что». Вы не можете настаивать на обязанности, не зная учения, на котором она зиждется. Следовательно, применение должно быть «основано» на библейском тексте, из которого вы проповедуете. Это, наверное, один из величайших недостатков в проповеди сегодня. Проповедники начинают понимать, что не имеют удовлетворительного, точного или четкого объяснения значения текста. Если аудитория не понимает значения текста (что является авторитетом для того, что мы проповедуем), как мы можем ожидать, что они послушаются его?

Кроме того, ваше применение должно быть не только «основана» на библейском тексте, оно также должно быть «ограничено» библейским текстом. Другими словами, ваше применение ограничивается предметом и объемом рассматриваемого текста. Применение должно основываться на истинности текста и затем применяться соответствующим образом. Вы не можете делать любое применение из любого текста. Как ваше толкование ограничено контекстом и темой библейского текста, так и ваше применение. Другими словами, применение должно вытекать из толкования текста.

Тем не менее, я считаю, что мы вправе достаточно «растягивать» применение в рамках общих намерений первоначального автора и темы текста. Это дает нам свободу применять текст ко многим различным ситуациям и проблемам, с которыми сталкиваются наши прихожане, оставаясь при этом верными тексту.

Одним из способов, которыми мы можем законно «растянуть» применение - это использование дедуктивной логики или логического вывода. Таким образом, применение включает в себя «смысл», который, по определению, дает вам больше возможностей для применения. Мы созданы с умом рассуждать. Следовательно…

1) Будьте логичны в применении. Покажите, как ваш текст приводит вас к логическому применению.

2) Будьте конкретны в применении. Приведите примеры.

В каждой проповеди слушатель хочет знать три вещи:

1) О чем вы проповедуете? (главная тема текста).

2) Какой у вас аргумент? (объединяющие мысли текста - т.е. его основные пункты и подпункты).

3) Что ты хочешь чтобы я сделал? (мотивирующая направленность текста - его применение и цель в моей жизни).

Помните, что вы не имеете права приглашать людей отвечать на истину, которую вы им не объяснили, и которую они не понимают и, следовательно, не могут визуализировать.

Б. Применение Должно Быть Намеренным

Как разъяснительные проповедники, мы должны быть очень преднамеренными как в изложении, так и в применении текста.

1. Мы Должны Быть «Личностными» В Нашем Применении

Важно быть обличающими, не вызывая разногласий или оскорблений. Применение требует личного приема и подчинения истине. Поэтому слушатели должны:

а) Получить послание.

б) усвоить послание - то есть подумать о том, как это влияет на их собственную жизнь.

в) Определить, что нужно изменить, спросив, что им нужно сделать в связи с этим.

г) Решите измениться и составьте план для этого. Возможно, это потребует ответственности перед кем-то, или смены рутины или привычек и т. д.

Чтобы сделать ваше применение личностным, важно, чтобы вы попытались обратиться к широкому спектру вашей аудитории в конкретных и личных терминах, где и как они живут в жизни. Подумайте, как вы можете применить свою проповедь к их личной жизни, к семейной жизни, к трудовой жизни, к церковной жизни, к общественной жизни. Кроме того, попытайтесь применить проповедь к их уму и сердцу - например, в их отношениях, в убеждениях, в отношениях (с Богом и с другими), в поведении, в желаниях, в мотивах, в ценностях, в приоритетах и в характере.

2. Мы Должны Быть «Практичными» В Нашем Применении

Здесь мы говорим о том, «как» люди должны реагировать? Недостаточно знать только «что» в послании. Мы также должны рассказать им «как». Тенденция состоит в том, чтобы остаться с «что». Хотя «что» очень важно, оно не составляет всей проповеди.

а) Должен быть призыв к библейскому покаянию как верующих, так и неверующих.

б) Должен быть призыв к библейскому обновлению. Каждое проповедническое событие должно быть временем обновления и возрождения верующего и возрождения неверующего.

в) Должен быть призыв к библейской реальности. Поскольку мы живем в день культурного христианства, а не библейского, в нашем обществе существует тенденция к искусственному христианству. Проповедники должны призывать своих людей к библейской реальности.

3. Мы Должны Быть «Целеустремленными» В Нашем Применении

У нашей проповеди должна быть цель. Все тексты ведут ко Христу (Кол. 1: 27-29). Это конечная и основная цель проповеди, поэтому, когда люди уходят, они больше похожи на Христа. Это основная причина проповеди.

В. Применение Должно Побудить Людей К Действию

Каждая проповедь нуждается в четырехгранном движении, чтобы активировать личное послушание слушателей:

1. «Ум» Должен Быть Воспитан Нашей Проповедью (Различением)

Каждая проповедь должна обучать - растягивать ум, чтобы размышлять и понимать вещи, которые человек не видел или не понимал раньше. Твердая пища (то есть «мясо») принадлежит тем, кто достиг совершеннолетия (Евр. 5:14). Вы должны выйти за рамки букваря в христианстве. Поверхностная проповедь рождает поверхностных христиан.

2. «Сердце» Должно Быть Затронуто Нашей Проповедью (Желанием)

Вы должны целиться в сердце, чтобы «подтолкнуть» кого-то к действию. Сердце - главный орган физической жизни. «Сердце» - это слово, которое описывает скрытые источники человеческой жизни и сферу божественного влияния.

Сердце должно быть достигнуто, чтобы произвести «движение» (действие) в слушателе. Один ум не сделает этого. Сердце - это великий мотиватор.

Проповедь в сердце позволяет слушателям соотнести себя с персонажами библии и проблемами в отрывке Писания и применить принципы этого отрывка. Это предполагает, очевидно, переход от общего к частному.

«Сердце» в Писании описывает место, где принимаются решения, и где принимаются решения. Это место, где встречаются ум и воля. Недостаточно только напрячь ум. Вы также должны прикоснуться к сердцу.

Упор здесь делается на желании, а не только на проницательности. Проповедуй, чтобы побудить сердце отвечать. Сердце должно быть затронуто. Для этого в проповеди должна быть страсть и эмоции.

3. «Воля» Должна Быть Направлена Нашей Проповедью (Решением)

Недостаточно только обучить ум и прикоснуться к сердцу. Вам также необходимо направлять, фокусировать и формировать волю, чтобы сдать все права власти Слова, умереть для себя и жить для Христа, отрешиться от старой природы и облечься в новую (Гал. 2:20; Еф. 4: 22-24).

Если затронуты только разум и сердце, этого недостаточно. Должна быть воля добровольно подчиненная истине Слова и, таким образом, живущая в соответствии с ним.

4. «Совесть» Должна Быть Проколота Нашей Проповедью (Обнаружением)

Совесть - мощный инструмент применения. Она - сильный мотиватор подчиняться. Он определяет, где люди потерпели неудачу в послушании истине. Она показывает, где может быть грех в жизни человека, о котором нужно судить.

Таким образом, библейская проповедь активирует совесть, чтобы люди отвечали послушанием.

Выводы.

Применение должно быть личностным, практичным и целенаправленным, чтобы оно затрагивало всю личность - разум, сердце, волю и совесть. В то время как сердце является великим мотиватором к действию, если вы сможете объединить ум с желанием сердца, это еще более мощная сила для активации совести, которая, в свою очередь, побудит человека подчинить свою волю и подчиниться истине.

Г. Применение Лучше Всего Раскрыть Во Всей Проповеди

Применяя истину в проповеди, ваши слушатели не забудут принцип, который управляет применением. Она тесно связывает принцип и практику. Вы тесно связываете применение с текстом, который вы только что объяснили. Это дает вашему применению гораздо больший авторитет, поскольку говорит текст, а не вы.

Некоторые проповедники делают свое применение в конце проповеди. Это допустимо, но имеет несколько недостатков:

1) Если делать так регулярно, ваша аудитория быстро это выяснит, и тогда вы потеряете влияние, потому что они готовы отстроить вас («О, вот он снова говорит это»). Я бы предложил, чтобы применение в конце служило только для усиления и повторного подтверждения послания, которое вы уже пытались донести на протяжении всей проповеди.

2) Они отделяют объяснение истины от применения истины так, что аудитория не будет интуитивно соединять одно с другим.

Я рекомендую вам применять истину постоянно, начиная с самого вступления вплоть до заключения проповеди.

1. Во «вступлении» вы даете применение, когда вы…

а) устанавливаете необходимость слушать; необходимость в этом послании.

б) делаете ссылку на библейский текст.

в) формулируете свою «проповедь в одном предложении» (тезисно).

2. В основной части (“теле”) проповеди вы применяете каждый принцип истины…

а) в формулировке каждого из ваших основных пунктов и подпунктов. Они должны быть сформулированы в применение - то есть таким образом, чтобы ваша аудитория была включена, видела себя в принципе истины.

б) во время или в конце вашего объяснения каждого основного момента.

в) в иллюстрациях и примерах.

3. В заключении вы применяете истину…

a) когда вы подводите итог проповеди.

б) когда вы выявляете и делаете проповедь личной

Д. Почему Применение Сложно?

1. Потому Что Это - Сложно! Это - Тяжелая Работа, Потому Что:

a) Оно требует точности к Писанию.

b) Оно должно быть актуально для людей и их культуры.

c) Оно требует личного самоанализа и честности.

2. Потому Что Проповедники Думают, Что Применение Интуитивно Очевидно

Легко представить, что связь между вашим объяснением текста и его практическим применением к жизни ваших слушателей интуитивно очевидна, что не нужно указывать, что ваши слушатели могут сами это понять. Легко предположить, что наши слушатели «понимают», как правда влияет на их жизнь.

Это, конечно, зачастую, неверно. Применение не выскакивает автоматически на вас больше, чем на вас выскакивают принципы истины. Кто-то должен указать на это.

3. Потому Что Проповедники Неправильно Истолковывают Цель Проповеди.

Цель проповеди состоит в том, чтобы изменить жизнь людей, чтобы они стали более похожими на Христа, и мы делаем это, объясняя истину, а затем указывая, как это должно изменить нас. Это - применение.

Применение - это средство, с помощью которого мы связываем библейскую истину с повседневной жизнью людей. Оно означает, что нужно давать примеры того, как это выглядит в жизни, призывать общество к переменам, называть ошибки, обличать неправильные взгляды и отношения и т. д.

Помните, все богословие в высшей степени практично. Его цель - повлиять на поведение, желания, приоритеты, ценности, цели, отношения и т. д.

Хорошие проповеди не только учат истине, но и показывают, как она связана со «мной». Тщательно продуманная и полная проповедь приводит к применению. Следует повиноваться истине (Рим. 6:17). Вот что изменит жизнь ваших людей - не умная формулировка нескольких основных моментов, а жизненное применение истины, которая заставляет людей меняться.

4. Потому Что Проповедники Должны Продумать Применение Еще До Того, Как Сделают Проповедь.

Слишком много проповедников думают, что они могут на лету подавать заявки. Вы не можете. Они должны быть хорошо продуманы заранее, потому что у вас разное собрание с различными жизненными ситуациями и нуждами, и все они должны быть отвечены. У вас есть…

а) Молодые люди, среднего возраста, пожилые люди

б) Профессионалы, рабочие, офисные работники, фабричные рабочие и т. д.

в) Женатые люди, одинокие, разведенные и разлученные

г) Яппи, пенсионеры

д) Семьи, пары, одинокие.

е) Государственная школа, старшая школа и студенты колледжа

ж) Богатые, бедные и люди среднего класса.

Чтобы эффективно применить это слово к такому разнообразию, необходимо тщательно обдумать его перед проповедью.

Е. Открывая Применение

Вопрос, с которым мы сталкиваемся, по мере того, как вы раскрываете каждый принцип в тексте, и как вы переходите к применению? Как вы находите настоящее применение, оставаясь верными теме текста и намерению исходного автора?

В качестве общего принципа я хотел бы предложить, чтобы применение библейского принципа относилось к той же сфере применения, что и текст. Это только подчеркивает, насколько важно точно определить предмет текста. Вы должны установить прямую связь между объяснением принципов, которые вы проповедуете, и применением, которое вы делаете.

Во-первых, начните задавать себе следующие вопросы:

а) О чем писал автор?

б) Почему автор написал этим людям?

в) Какие обстоятельства в жизни людей требуют исправления, ободрения, утешения, уверенности, упрека, руководства и т. д.?

г) Как автор применил принципы к жизни своих читателей?

д) Какой ответ автор ожидал и хотел от них?

Ответы на эти вопросы устанавливают параметры для вашего применения.

Во-вторых, откройте для себя современное применение, спросив себя:

а) Какие универсальные, неизменные истины в тексте имеют непосредственное отношение к сегодняшней жизни?

б) Какие современные ситуации, проблемы, вопросы и т. д. по своей природе похожи на исходную аудиторию? Каким образом наша современная аудитория испытывает те же ситуации, что и первоначальная аудитория?

В-третьих, перейдите от общих последствий к конкретным и личным применениям. Общие последствия могут говорить о том, как истина текста говорит с домом, работой, церковью и т. д. для всех. Это хорошо, но я бы посоветовал вам попытаться продвинуться еще дальше, чем к конкретным применениям, подходящим для вашей культуры и обстоятельств. Это сложная часть. Итак, как ты это делаешь?

Опять же, вы исследуете личное применение, задавая вопросы:

а) Что эта истина значит для моих людей в их повседневной жизни?

б) Какие проблемы, потребности, образ жизни, убеждения и обстоятельства в церкви необходимо решать - будь то личные, экономические, общественные, общественные, реляционные, духовные, этические и т. д.

в) Где в нашей жизни может быть применена эта истина?

В-четвертых, обдумайте, какой ответ вы ожидаете от своей аудитории.

Как вы хотите, чтобы они изменили свои ценности, приоритеты, отношения, убеждения, отношения, практику, мотивы, желания, характер и т. д.?

Наконец, бросьте вызов своим людям, чтобы они спросили себя:

а) Что Бог хочет, чтобы я сделал с этой истиной?

б) Как я могу добиться изменений? Что мне нужно сделать?

в) Как мне начать?

Ж. Проповедуя О Вашем Применении

1. Вы Должны Знать Своих Людей И Свою Церковь

Задавая вышеуказанные вопросы, вы спрашиваете их не только о своей собственной жизни, но особенно о жизни людей в вашем собрании.

Поэтому, задавая вопросы (ища соответствующее применение), вы должны помнить о своих людях, представляя их сидящими на стульях или просматривая церковное руководство, пока вы вспоминаете их жизненную ситуацию, потребности, проблемы, вызовы и т. д.

2. Из Этого Упражнения Вы Составите Список Подходящих Применений.

Теперь вы применяете отрывок к реальным нуждам, которые соответствуют потребностям, указанным в отрывке. Эти применения не будут идентифицировать кого-либо в вашей общине и не будут раскрывать их конфиденциальность. Они по-прежнему будут несколько общими по своей природе, но вы затягиваете узел сильнее и разъясняете, как применяются принципы, приводя примеры того, как они могут применяться к вашим людям в конкретных ситуациях.

Итак, вы можете сказать: «Если вы живете святой жизнью, вы продемонстрируете это на своем рабочем месте с помощью… (например, не переходите границу с противоположным полом») и т. д. и т. д. Затем вы можете предложить способы применения этих применений на практике.

Из примеров применения, которые вы проповедуете, ваши люди смогут перенестись в свою конкретную жизненную ситуацию.

3. Постарайтесь Привести Достаточно Примеров, Чтобы Охватить Все Сферы Вашей Церкви.

Вы указываете это, используя различные возрастные группы, семейное положение, экономическое положение и т. д. В их жизненной ситуации. Есть четыре ситуации, которые относятся ко всем

а) школа

б) работа

в) дом

г) община

4. Не Забывайте Дать Применение Вашим Пунктам, Если Это Возможно

Есть несколько преимуществ

а) Применение будет непрерывным процессом на протяжении всей вашей проповеди, а не только в отдельных ее разделах.

б) Принципы, которые вы устанавливаете в своих пунктах, будут персонализированы, а не останутся абстрактными истинами.

в) Ваши пункты будут иметь большее влияние.

Выводы О Применении.

Богословие, правильно проповедуемое, вполне практично. Библия написана не только для того, чтобы наполнить наши головы знаниями, но и для того, чтобы изменить то, как мы живем, думаем и действуем. В частности, каждая проповедь должна помочь нам стать более похожими на Христа, применяя на практике универсальные, вечные истины Писания. По этой причине мы должны четко и точно объяснить текст и применять его уместно и лично.

Часть II: План Проповеди

Чтобы прослушать аудиоверсию этих проповедей на английском языке, нажмите на следующие ссылки: Link 1 - Ин. 21:15-17; Link 2 - Ин. 21:18-19; Link 3 - Ин. 21:19-25

Название: «Призван к служению»

Тема: Уроки христианского служения

1. Залог служения Господу - любить Его (15-17)

а) Несмотря на нашу слабую верность, Иисус по-прежнему ценит нашу любовь

б) Несмотря на нашу слабую верность, Иисус все еще хочет нашего служения

2. Цель служения Господу - прославить Его (18-19а)

а) мы должны прославлять Его, когда мы молоды (18а)

б) мы должны прославлять Его, когда мы состаримся (18б-19а)

3. Образец служения Господу - следовать за Ним (19б-23)

а) Мы следуем за Ним, отвечая на Его призыв (19б)

б) Мы следуем за Ним, не спуская с Него глаз (20)

в) Мы следуем за Ним, занимаясь своим делом (21-23)

Related Topics: Pastors

Q. Why Is Honey Forbidden As An Offering In The Law?

Answer

Dear ******,

Thanks for your note. Several passages come to mind:

Secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29 NET)

It does not appear that the reason for prohibiting honey is important enough to explain, so perhaps we should not agonize about something we are not told. We should expect that some things in the Bible will not be explained to our satisfaction. But then we have all eternity to ask Jesus about them.

There are, however, some passages which could possibly give us hints which might shed some light on the matter:

16 Have you afound honey? Eat only 1what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it. (Prov. 25:16 NAU)

27 It is not good to eat much honey, Nor is it glory to asearch out 1one’s own glory. (Prov. 25:27 NAU)

I am a fellow who likes to help my wife cook, often by sampling the dough, or cleaning out the mixing bowl. I don’t sample things that are not tasty. It looks to me as though honey is a very tasty, and thus tempting, item to eat. Might this, if used frequently, be tempting.

Then I read that some of the priests misused/abused things related to Israel’s sacrificial worship:

The sons of Eli were wicked men. They did not recognize the LORD’s authority. 13 Now the priests would always treat the people in the following way: Whenever anyone was making a sacrifice, while the meat was boiling, the priest’s attendant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 14 He would jab it into the basin, kettle, caldron, or pot, and everything that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they used to do to all the Israelites when they came there to Shiloh. 15 Even before they burned the fat, the priest’s attendant would come and say to the person who was making the sacrifice, “Hand over some meat for the priest to roast! He won’t take boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 16 If the individual said to him, “First let the fat be burned away, and then take for yourself whatever you wish,” he would say, “No! Hand it over right now! If you don’t, I will take it forcibly!” 17 The sin of these young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they treated the LORD’s offering with contempt. (1 Sam. 2:12-17 NET)

Now Eli was very old when he heard about everything that his sons used to do to all the people of Israel and how they used to have sex with the women who were stationed at the entrance to the tent of meeting. (1 Sam. 2:22 NET)

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them– to the shepherds: ‘This is what the sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not shepherds feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the choice animals, but you do not feed the sheep! (Ezek. 34:2-3 NET)

This is from an external source, which I reluctantly use, but it may shed a little light on the question:

Mead or honey wine is the oldest alcoholic drinks known to man. It is made from honey and water via fermentation with yeast. It may be still, carbonated, or sparkling; it may be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. Unlike beers and cider, meads (being wines) are drunk in small quantities.1

Having said all of this, when it comes to the somewhat related matter of foods that are declared unclean, there are those who seek to provide a reason why God said the food was unclean. I think it is unclean just because God said so. No wonder God could declare the unclean foods which separated Jews and Gentiles to be clean in the New Testament (Mark 7:19; Acts 10-11; see also Galatians 2:11-14). Unclean foods are unclean, not because they are bad for our health, but because God said they were not to be eaten. It is no test of obedience for us to avoid eating what is repulsive to us. It is a test of obedience if God tells us not to eat ice cream (for example).

So, there may be a good reason why honey is not to be part of the grain offering, but God did not choose to make this a matter He explains to our satisfaction, so we must simply accept it as God’s Word.

Blessings,

Bob Deffinbaugh


1 https://www.google.com/search?q=does+fermented+honey+contain+alcohol&oq=Does+honey+ferment&aqs=chrome.3.0l6.15267j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Related Topics: Law

United We Stand: Living Together in Community (Eph. 4:1-6:20)

This is an 11 part series in Ephesians 4:1-6:20 on “Living Together in Community.” The epistle to the Ephesians is about unity in the church. In the first half of the epistle, the apostle Paul addresses the theological basis for Christian unity - a unity that has been established in Christ through our common roots, common transformation, and common relationship (ch. 1-3).

In the second half of this epistle,  the apostle Paul moves from the doctrinal instruction on church unity to the practical instruction on church unity - a unity that revolves around our personal, family, social, and church lives (ch. 4-6).

So, from the first half of the epistle, we learn what the unity of the church is (or should be), and from the second half of the epistle we learn how we should put that unity into practice.

In 4:1-6, we are exhorted to demonstrate certain Christian virtues - virtues that “keep the unity of the Spirit” (3), virtues that are listed in verse 4-6 and developed throughout the rest of the epistle. We are called to a “Live Together in Unity” through our common calling, our common character, and our common confession.

The first half of this series on Ephesians 1:1-3:21 may be viewed here.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Ecclesiology (The Church)

1. Walking Together In Unity (Eph. 4:1-6)

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Introduction

This is part 1 of a series in Ephesians 4:1-6:20 on “Living Together in Community.” The epistle to the Ephesians is about unity in the church. In the first half of the epistle, the apostle Paul addresses the theological basis for Christian unity - a unity that has been established in Christ through our common roots, common transformation, and common relationship (ch. 1-3).

In the second half of this epistle,  the apostle Paul moves from the doctrinal instruction on church unity to the practical instruction on church unity - a unity that revolves around our personal, family, social, and church lives (ch. 4-6).

So, from the first half of the epistle, we learn what the unity of the church is (or should be), and from the second half of the epistle we learn how we should put that unity into practice.

In 4:1-6, we are exhorted to demonstrate certain Christian virtues - virtues that “keep the unity of the Spirit” (3), virtues that are listed in verse 4-6 and developed throughout the rest of the epistle. We are called to a “Live Together in Unity” through our common calling, our common character, and our common confession.

I. Walking In Unity Is Demanded By… Our Common Calling (Eph. 4:1)

1. We Have Been Summoned To A “Calling” That Is Heavenly

…the calling to which you have been called (1b)

Together with all Christian believers, we have been called to a common position in Christ, in which we enjoy our common blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3-14), our common transformation in Christ (2:1-10), and our common relationship in Christ (2:11-22).

Just as the disciples had been called (Mk. 1:20) and the apostle Paul had been called (1 Cor. 1:1), so all believers have been called by God. We’ve been called to everything that God has created us to be - his people, his children, his inheritance.

We’ve been called to a life in Christ - a holy and blameless life (1:4), a life of redemption (1:7), a life of future inheritance (1:14), a life of hope (2:12-13), a life in God’s family (2:19-22). We’ve been called to a life of unity with all other believers, a new unity, which we manifest in our practice.

We have been summoned to a calling that is heavenly, and…

2. We Have Been Urged To A “Walk” That Is Worthy

Therefore, (Paul says) I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling (1a)

Paul urges us to put into practice what we know in theory. We know in theory our position in Christ (ch. 1-3). Now our practice is to reflect that position (ch. 4-6). We are to live in such a way as to support, demonstrate, and enhance the glorious position that is ours in Christ and to which we have been called.

Paul himself was an example of this kind of life, a life that had rendered him figuratively and literally a prisoner of the Lord. That is what it means to walk worthy of the calling.

A worthy walk is a walk that is appropriate to our calling - a walk that conforms to our new position in Christ and not our old position in the world (2:2); a walk that reflects our blessings in Christ, our transformation in Christ, and our relationship in Christ; a walk that is consistent with the unity of the body of Christ. A person’s conduct must be consistent with their position in life.

The story is told that Alexander the Great once met a disreputable character whose name was also Alexander. Alexander the Great said to him: “Either change your way of life or change your name.” That’s what we are called to as Christians - to change our way of life to one that is consistent with our name and position; to walk worthy of our calling; to conduct ourselves in such a way that it adds weight to the gospel and the cause of Christ. We are his representatives on earth and our lives must show it.

So, first, walking in unity is demanded by our common calling. Notice also…

II. Walking In Unity Is Displayed In… Our Common Character (Eph. 4:2-3)

When we come to faith in Christ, our character is reshaped; our thinking changes (Rom 12:2); our opinions, values, and attitudes are radically changed to comport with the nature and character of Christ. Character is both internal and external:

1. The Character Of Christian Unity Is… Produced Internally (2)

John Stott calls “internal character” the “foundation stones of Christian unity.” 1

The 1st Foundation Stone Of Christian Unity Is… “Humility” (2a)

Humility is that lowliness of mind that enables us to respect others as better than ourselves. It is that lowering of self just as Christ “humbled himself” (Phil. 2:5-11). We are to duplicate Paul’s own example among the Ephesians of one who “served the Lord with all humility” (Acts 20:19).

The 2nd Foundation Stone Of Christian Unity Is… “Gentleness” (2b)

Gentleness (or, meekness) goes hand in glove with humility. Gentleness is consideration towards others; not insisting on our own rights (meekness); not asserting ourselves at the expense of others. This is not so much outward behaviour (or natural disposition) but an inward grace of the soul. 2

The 3rd Foundation Stone Of Christian Unity Is… “Patience” (2c)

To be “patient” is to be willing to wait, to be “longsuffering”, just as God waits in patience, holding back his judgement on this world, waiting for people to turn to him.

Our patience is to be expressed by bearing with one another in love (2d), by tolerating one another’s foibles out of love for one another. Love is the underlying virtue upon which both “patience” and “forbearance” are based, as mothers of small children well know. Patience is something we must be zealous to demonstrate to one another. It is fundamental to maintaining unity in our interpersonal relationships.

The character of Christian unity, then, is produced internally and…

2. The Character Of Christian Unity Is… Practiced Externally (3)

… endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (3a)

We are not instructed to “create” this unity. If that were the case, we would fly apart at the seams. Rather, we are to keep the unity that already has been created. We are to put into practice the unity of the Spirit – that unity created by the Holy Spirit that indwells every Christian, binding us inseparably to each other.

This is a unity that exists in principle whether we live like it or not. If the character of Christian unity has been produced internally in us, then we will express it practically by living like those who are bound together by cords that cannot be broken; then we will take great pains to guard carefully the unity that is ours.

Since we did not create this unity we can claim no merit in forming it. The unity of the Church exists entirely apart from any effort on our part but we can do a lot to “maintain / keep the unity of the Spirit” - i.e. we can put into practice the unity that exists in principle.

What Paul is urging us to do is to guard our spiritual unity; to do everything we can to forge a strong bond between ourselves; to manifest the unity that the Holy Spirit has formed among us by practicing these Christian virtues.

If we truly keep the unity of the Spirit we will be at peace (3b). God has established peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has reconciled us to himself and to each other through the cross (2:14-17). Peace is the overriding character of the unity between Christians. It is the glue that binds us together - the bond of peace.

The foundation stones of Christian character are essential for unity but they aren’t always easy for us to practice; they don’t come naturally to us. When was the last time you heard about or practised humility? You weren’t taught it in school. You wouldn’t read about it in the corporate ethics of the place where you work. It isn’t considered a positive character trait by the world.

What about gentleness? What you learn in the world is to push your way to the top, tread on others to make it up the corporate ladder, look out for #1.

And who has sufficient patience these days? Did you know that they figure that in your lifetime you’ll spend six months waiting at traffic lights? No wonder people run red lights!

But humility, gentleness, and patience are key for unity in the church. For the church to work right, we need internal character and attitude that isn’t natural to us, that only comes from God.

Walking in unity, then, is demanded by our common calling, displayed in our common character, and…

III. Walking In Unity Is Driven By… Our Common Confession (4:4-6)

There can be no unity in practice without unity in belief. Our confession of faith is formulated around the seven “ones” of unity…

#1 And #2. Unity Of Formation:  “One Body” And “One Spirit” (4a)

The one body is formed and sustained by the one Spirit who indwells all believers, thus rendering us collectively one body (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13). Therefore, Paul can say definitively there is one body and one Spirit regardless of whether or not our practice demonstrates the unity of the Spirit or the truth of the one body.

In this sense, the body of Christ is like a necklace. A necklace is composed of many individual beads joined together by a single common cord. Separately, they exist as beads, but when they are joined together by a common cord they exist as a single necklace. Just so, individual Christians are bound together by the indwelling of the Spirit to form a single body, the church.

The Holy Spirit constitutes the church and is the basis of its oneness. There are not numerous bodies, even though it may seem that way when you look around. There isn’t one for Jews and one for Gentiles, one for blacks and one for whites, one for rich and one for poor. There is one body, the church, which is comprised of all believers.

Just as there is unity of formation in one body through one Spirit, so there is…

#3. Unity Of Destiny:  “One Hope Of Your Calling” (4b)

The amplified version reads: There is also one hope that belongs to the calling you received (4b). We have been called, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and given one hope.

The Spirit constitutes “the body” and its unity and He fills its members with a common hope – namely, the hope of being with and like Christ. And we live in the truth and consciousness of this glorious hope. It is the “hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:23); the “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27); the “hope of salvation” (1 Th. 5:8); the “hope of eternal life” (Tit. 1:2); the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2;13); a “living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3).

The fourth “one” of unity is…

#4. Unity Of Headship:  “One Lord” (5a)

The body enjoys a unity of headship because there is one Lord, just as it enjoys unity of formation because there is one Spirit. The church’s primary confession is that Jesus Christ is the sovereign Lord, the head of the body (see 1 Cor. 8:6; 12:3; Phil. 2:11).

#5. Unity Of Belief:  “One Faith”

The body of Christ confesses only one faith (5b), a confession that is both subjective and objective. The fundamental subjective expression of “one faith” is the confession with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and the belief in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead. The objective expression of “one faith” is the belief in the fundamental doctrines of the New Testament, those doctrines which are necessary for salvation, about which all true believers are united.

Just as all believers are united in their confession of “one Lord” so they are united in their confession of one faith - one faith in the one Lord who alone saves us through his work of atonement. (Cf. Gal. 1:23; Phil. 1:27; 1 Tim. 3:9; 4:1, 6; Tit. 1:4; Jude 3).

Unity of formation (one body and one Spirit). Unity of destiny. Unity of headship. Unity of belief. And…

#6. Unity Of Ordinance:  “One Baptism”

Christians differ as to the form of baptism but there is only one baptism in the sense that true baptism expresses one truth – namely, faith in, and union with, Christ.

By submitting to this ordinance every believer expresses their unity - unity of one faith and one Lord (1 Cor. 12:13). “For the Lord Jesus Christ is the one object of the faith, hope and baptism of all Christian people. It is Jesus Christ in whom we have believed, Jesus Christ into whom we have been baptized, and Jesus Christ for whose coming we wait with expectant hope.” 3

Lastly there is…

#7. Unity Of Godhead:  “One God And Father” (6)

This is the apex of unity. This is the ultimate expression of all that the church ought to reflect here on earth – that there is one God and Father of all.

The unity of the church is most fully expressed in the unity of God himself. It is through our relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that Christians participate in this unity.

The various religions and philosophies of the world claim different gods. Some religions have several gods. In fact, some religions now claim that we ourselves are gods or that the ultimate goal is to become God. The truth is that there is only one God and it is that one true God whom the true church confesses and worships.

The one God is above all because He is transcendent over the church and all creation; he is sovereign over all. He is through all because He is omnipresent, pervading all things. And the one God is in you all because He is immanent, near. He does not live within all people, but within you all (believers). And we manifest his presence in us by our relationships, our compassion, our attitudes etc. Thus, God is the Father “above,” “through,” and “in” all who are his people.

Conclusions

We have been called to “Walk in Unity” through our common calling, common character, and common confession. There are no stars or soloists or lone rangers in the church. There are no stars because we are called to walk together in unity, on the same level with one another, in step with one another; united in Christ-like character (humility, gentleness, patience); united in theological confession.

Francis Schaeffer once said, “We cannot expect the world to believe that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians” – i.e. the external expression of the indwelling Christ. When non-Christians look at the church they should see people who walk together, united in Christ.

What do non-Christians think about the church? Do they think of slick television evangelists like they see on TV? Do they think of fundraising drives to line the pockets of the leaders? Do they think that we’re some sort of cult – private, even weird? Or, do they see consistency in our behaviour and caring in our attitude? Do they see a community of happy united people “in honour preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10); “esteeming one another better than ourselves” (Phil. 2:5); confident in who we are and what we believe; wanting to share what we have with others? Do they see in us the character of Christ - humility, gentleness, patience?

To walk worthy of our calling means (1) to live by what is demanded of our position in Christ; (2) to display our new character in Christ; and (3) to be driven by the one true confession of faith. May this be true in our churches. Not that we merely agree on a common confession of faith but that we mirror that confession in our practice by living as those who are chosen in Christ, redeemed, and are looking forward to entering into our heavenly inheritance.


1 John Stott, The Message of Ephesians (IVP, 1979), 149.

2 W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 727.

3 Stott, 150.

Related Topics: Christian Life

2. Growing Together In Maturity (Eph. 4:7-16)

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Introduction

When your children stop asking you where they came from and stop telling you where they’re going you know they’re growing up! 1 As Christians in the body of Christ, we are growing up. As we grow up, we mature. We grow up because we feed on healthy spiritual food and we mature because we gain deeper knowledge of God and Christ.

As we mature, we change. We’re not all alike; we each have various gifts and talents. Even though we all enjoy the same position in Christ and have all responded to the same calling of God, we aren’t clones. We aren’t produced with a cookie cutter; we aren’t a cult in which all members dress the same, speak the same, and act the same.

The church is not a military organization that finds its unity in a uniform or language, but it is just as well organized, trained, and equipped.

Our maturity in the body of Christ is a process. It is a maturing process that is nourished by the spiritual gifts given to the body in which we are becoming more and more like Christ.

In this article, we continue our study of Ephesians 4 to 6, “Living Together in Community”. Our communal practice as believers in Christ finds its expression in “Walking together in unity” (4:1-6) that we studied in the previous article, and now in this article, “Growing together in maturity” (4:7-16).

How do we grow spiritually? How do we become what God wants us to be in the body of Christ? How do we mature in our Christ-likeness?

The church is the place where we grow in maturity:

1. We grow in our maturity through Christ’s servants (7-11)

2. We grow in maturity for Christ’s service (12)

3. We grow in our maturity in Christ’s likeness (13-16)

Firstly, the church is the place where…

I. We Grow In Our Maturity… Through Christ’s Servants (7-11)

To each of you grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift (7a)

Each of us are given spiritual gifts by Christ to use for the edification of his body. No one person has all the gifts that the body needs. It is a co-operative effort through which the body maintains its unity and growth.

Christ has apportioned these gifts to the members of his body. When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts to men (8). This quote from Psalm 68:18 pictures the triumphant monarch who returns home with gifts to distribute from the spoils of battle. Paul applies this allusion to Christ’s ascension to heaven. He is our triumphant King who now has gifts to bestow upon us, his people.

Two difficult parenthetical verses follow (9-10), which expand on the implications of Christ’s ascension to heaven. Before he ascended to heaven in power, exaltation, and glory, he had to first descend to earth in humiliation, rejection, and death (9-10a). But both his descent and his ascent had one purpose - the supremacy of Christ over all the powers of heaven and earth. Now He reigns supreme over the strongest power on earth (death) and over the highest echelons of heaven, far above all the heavens (10b).

The result of his descent to the “bowels” of Calvary was his exaltation to the heights of glory from where he fills all things (10c) through his Spirit. In no place is the supremacy of Christ more clearly attested than in his church, to which he, the victorious King, has given gifts.

The gifts that Christ has given to his church are, in fact, people. And he himself gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (11). Christ has given these people to the church for the specific purpose of assisting the church to its full maturity in him. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are ministers of the church, who, in this context, use their gifts to help others use theirs.

1. The Church Was Established By “The Apostles And Prophets”

He himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets (11a)

The apostles were first in time and importance:

  1. Because they had seen the risen Lord.
  2. Because they had been sent out by Christ to establish and organize the church.
  3. Because their works were accompanied by signs and wonders as evidence that they had the power of Christ operating in and through them. (Cf. 1 Cor. 9:1-2; Acts 1:21-23; Eph. 2:20; 1 Cor. 12:12).

The prophets founded the church with the apostles. They were important to the founding of the church because they made known the mind of God to the people, either by direct communication from God or indirectly through the interpretation of God’s Word. Their gift was not primarily “foretelling” (prophesying, predicting) the future, although that was part of it (see Acts 11:28; 21:9, 11), but it was primarily “forth-telling” (proclaiming) the Word, by convicting the people in their hearts and consciences (1 Cor. 14:24-25) and by strengthening and encouraging these new Christians (Acts 15:32).

So, firstly we learn from this passage that the church was built by the apostles and prophets. Second…

2. The Church Expands Through The Work Of “Evangelists”

He himself gave some to be… evangelists (11b)

Evangelists are Christians who are specially gifted in explaining the Gospel (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2). They preach to those who have never heard it or who cannot understand it. Now, we may not all have the gift of evangelism, but we do all have the responsibility to witness for Christ. When was the last time you told someone about Christ? Do you know how to explain the Gospel in a few words and in a way that people can understand? We cannot all do the work of a prophet, or pastor, or teacher, but we can all do the work of an evangelist in some way (2 Tim. 4:5). Let’s pray to God that he will give us a burden for souls.

The church was established by the apostles and prophets; it grows through the work of evangelists, and…

3. The Church Matures Through The Ministry Of “Pastors And Teachers”

He himself gave some to be… pastors and teachers (11c)

Pastors and teachers are probably two related functions that go hand in hand. Pastors are “shepherds”. They care for the flock of the Good Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28) by supplying spiritual leadership and protection from spiritual danger.

Teachers work hand-in-hand with pastors by providing the flock of God with spiritual food through instruction. It has been well said that every pastor must be a teacher, but every teacher is not necessarily a pastor. There are many teachers of the Word who don’t function as pastors (such as teachers at Bible colleges and seminaries).

Christ’s servants, then, are gifts to the church for the benefit of the entire body of believers (1 Cor. 12:7). Through the exercise of their gifts, the body of Christ grows and matures. That’s why the church is the place where “We Grow in our Maturity through Christ’s Servants”. It is also the place where …

II. We Grow In Our Maturity… For Christ’s Service (12)

1. We Mature For Christ’s Service As... We Are Trained For Ministry

Church leaders are to equip (train) the saints (12a). They are to train and prepare the members of the body for constructive and unified service, by each member carrying out his or her appointed function (2 Tim. 3:17). Equipping means to make each member fit for carrying out their function. It means that those in leadership must feed the members with nutritious spiritual food and train them in the proper use of their gifts in the church.

When we are properly equipped for our God-given task in the body of Christ, the church will work right - it will be healthy and it will grow. It will work together in harmony as we complement one another in the use of our gifts.

No one person’s gift dominates the others. “Arms,” for example, do not grow while “legs” stay paralyzed. One member does not mature while another remains stunted. Rather, the body grows together and matures as we are trained for ministry.

We mature for Christ’s service as we are trained for ministry. And…

2. We Mature For Christ’s Service As… We Work In Ministry

Our gifts are to be used for the work of the ministry (12b). Every Christian has a role to play in the ministry of the church. Ministry is not the sole responsibility of the pastoral staff, “but the privileged calling of all the people of God.” 2 That’s why it’s so important to identify each person’s gift and to train them in the use of their gift. Everyone has something to contribute to the church’s ministry. Everyone has been gifted by God to contribute to the work of the ministry.

The task of church leaders is to help each person identify their spiritual gift, train them in the use of that gift, give them opportunity to use that gift, and then affirm them in their gift. There is no such thing as a non-serving Christian. We have all been called to salvation and thus also to service.

So, we mature for Christ’s service (1) as we are trained for ministry, (2) as we work in ministry, and…

3. We Mature For Christ’s Service As… We Edify Others In Ministry

Each person’s spiritual gift is to be used for the benefit of all in the church, for the edifying of the body of Christ (12c). The end result of using our gifts for God is that the body of Christ is edified – i.e. built up and strengthened spiritually and numerically.

If every member’s gift is to be used for the benefit of all, then you can see the dire consequences that result when that gift is not used - the body won’t function properly, just as our physical bodies don’t function properly if one part is out of order.

A few years ago I had a medical condition called a “frozen shoulder”. Before it occurred, I didn’t notice all the work my shoulder did, but now, I have the utmost respect for it. As soon as it stopped working properly, I suddenly realized how much I depended on it and needed it. Just so in the church, when one member fails to use his or her gift for the work of the ministry the body can’t function properly because it is not edified properly.

As we work together, the body of Christ is edified. No one person can properly build up the church on their own, neither does any one person have all the gifts to do so. But when we have been trained and do the work of the ministry, when all of us do our part by exercising our God-given gift, then the body of Christ is built up and nourished so that it grows and flourishes.

The church is the place where we “grow together in maturity”. It is the place where (1) we grow in our maturity through Christ’s Servants; (2) we grow in our maturity for Christ’s service, and it’s the place where…

III. We Grow In Our Maturity… In Christ’s Likeness (13-16)

The real evidence of spiritual maturity is “Christ-likeness”. As each person is trained in the use of their gift and puts their gift to use in the work of the ministry, so the church is built up and each person matures in Christ-likeness.

The First Level Of Maturity In Christ-Likeness Is… Doctrinal Maturity

Until we all come to the unity of the faith (13a)

This refers to unity in our understanding of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. Spiritual maturity comes through the accurate teaching and application of the Word by pastors and teachers. As this takes place, the results become apparent by the common confession of one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (4:5-6).

As the Word is taught and applied properly, the church is united. We all come to the unity of the faith. When the church is working properly there is a general spiritual maturity. It’s not that everyone has the same spiritual or intellectual capacity but that there are no schisms in the body over these central doctrines.

The Second Level Of Maturity In Christ-Likeness Is… Relational Maturity

Until we all come to… the knowledge of the Son of God” (13b).

Relational maturity comes with doctrinal maturity. Just as we all come to the unity of the faith, so we all come to the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God. Spiritual maturity is not only doctrinal (it’s not just about the faith), but spiritual maturity is also relational.

Unity of the faith leads to unity of the knowledge of the Son of God. In other words, as we mature in our knowledge of God and his Word, so we mature in our knowledge of Christ. Then, that knowledge moves from our heads to our hearts and our relationship with him deepens. As our relationship with Christ deepens so our unity intensifies because he is the centre of our faith and the focus of our knowledge.

If the first level of maturity in Christ-likeness is doctrinal and the second level is relational, then…

The Third And Final Level Of Maturity In Christ-Likeness Is … Perfect Maturity

Like physical maturity, spiritual maturity is progressive. Spiritual maturity progresses from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood until we all come… to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (13c).

Full grown, adult maturity represents full development. So, the spiritually mature person is in the prime of spiritual life, full of spiritual vigor and vitality, strong in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.

The final step in our walk together in maturity is when we are so like Christ that it fills us to overflowing; when we, to some degree, measure up to him; and when our completeness is found in him, nothing lacking. Then we have arrived at the fullness of Christ. Whether we ever attain the stature of the fullness of Christ in this world is not made clear, but that is where we are to aim.

The objective of this maturity process is stability: …that we should no longer be infants tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (14).

Spiritually immature Christians are easily persuaded by others. Like children, they are unstable in their convictions, susceptible to false teachings, easily slipped up by craftiness and trickery. But full grown, mature Christians are stable in their convictions. They leave behind their spiritual immaturity with its instability, gullibility, and impressionability, and they stand firm in their doctrinal convictions and Christian relationships.

So, How Do Fully Mature Christians Act?

1. Fully mature Christians do not mimic deceitful men with their craftiness (14) but they communicate the truth in love (15a).

Sometimes people say: “I was just being honest” as though that was adequate justification for saying something unkind. But there is never justification for saying something which, although it may be true, is not wrapped in love. Someone has said, to speak the truth without love is cruel; to love without truth is irresponsible; to speak the truth in love is spiritual.

How would you characterize your speech? Do you communicate the truth in love?

Or, do you love without proclaiming the truth?

2. Fully mature Christians are united in their growth toward Christ-likeness. They grow up in all things into him who is the head – Christ (15b). They are like a plant that pushes through the soil, reaching for the light.

3. Fully mature Christians act like a human body. They take their direction from their Head who is Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth for the body for the edifying of itself in love (16).

They are controlled by their Head who gives them direction. Then the individual parts of the body of Christ act in unity with one another: every part does its share. Each limb, muscle, and joint does its assigned task so that the whole body acts in unison, which, in turn, causes growth for the body for the edifying of itself in love. Love is the lubrication that oils the machinery (cf. 1 Cor. 13); it is the soil out of which…growth in unity takes place. 3

Conclusions

This is how Christians are to mature progressively. This is the goal to which we must aim. Now lets ask ourselves some searching questions:

Are we progressing in our spiritual maturity as we walk together? Are we growing up to maturity in Christ? Or, is our growth stunted? Are our leaders training the members for work in the ministry? Do we give opportunity for people to edify others through their ministry? Are we as individuals and as a church becoming more Christ-like? Do we manifest that by acting in unity with one another, harmoniously going about our ministry, taking our instructions from our Head?

These are hard questions. To some of these we would have to respond that we fall short of the standard. What Christian would claim to have achieved the level of a perfect man? Or, the full measure of the stature of Christ?

Though the standard is hard to reach, that does not excuse us for not trying. If we fail to strive toward this goal, we are admitting that not only are we not mature, but we don’t think we can be. Even the apostle Paul said that he had not already attained the relationship or identification with Christ that he desired: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect; but I press on (Phil. 3:12). Not having arrived is no reason to fail to strive for it: I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things that are ahead, I press toward the mark (Phil. 3:13-14).

Let us press toward the mark as a body of believers, united in our resolve to become fully Christ-like even if that is not attained until our glorification. Let us resolve to encourage one another, learn from one another, build up each other, esteem each other highly in love for their works sake.

Let us ensure that our church is a mature church, one that is fully equipped so that (1) all the members are exercising their gift, (2) the entire body is growing and becoming more Christ-like, (3) the truth is communicated lovingly, and (4) all our component parts are acting in harmony with each other and with the Lord.


1 1001 Humorous Illustrations, # 918.

2 John R. W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979), 167.

3 Arthur G. Patzia, Ephesians, New International Biblical Commentary, ed. W. Ward Gasque (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), 247.

Related Topics: Christian Life

3. Pursuing Purity Together, Pt. 1: Contrasting Principles Of Living (4:17-24)

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Introduction

The basis of Christian community is to “walk together in unity” (see article 1 in this series, Eph. 4:1-6). We have all heard and responded to the same call of God on our lives, a call that is to be exhibited in our common attitudes and our common confession. We must also “grow together in maturity” (see article 2 in this series, Eph. 4:7-16). We were spiritual infants in Christ when we responded to the call of God but infants cannot stay infants – we grow. We grow in our maturity (1) through Christ’s servants who teach and lead us; (2) for Christ’s service by working in ministry and edifying others; (3) in Christ-likeness as we grow up in him.

In addition, we must also “pursue purity together” (Eph. 4:17-24). That’s our subject in this article. This is the new principle for living that God expects of his people. This is the ethical change that takes place in our lives, one that is not merely inward and spiritual but outward and visible.

The conversion experience precipitates this radical change. We have been called to be one people, so we must cultivate unity (1-6). We have been called to be spiritual people, so we must cultivate maturity (7-16). We have been called to be holy people (4:24), so we must cultivate purity.

Purity is demanded by God of his people. This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord (17a). It’s the Lord’s authority that demands a new way of living. This radical change of living is described by a series of contrasts: (1) contrasting principles for living; (2) contrasting practices for living; and (3) contrasting programs for living. In this article, we will cover contrasting principles for living (4:17-24). The thesis of this passage is: Dont live like unbelievers but live like Jesus.

This involves a radical change in the way we live. The radical change in the life of a believer is described by two contrasting principles for living – one negative and one positive. First the negative…

I. Don’t Live Like The Ungodly… In Corruption That Stems From Deceit (17-19)

You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk (17b)

We must make a clean break from our former way of life. If there is to be unity in the church, we must separate ourselves from the rest of the Gentiles and their ungodly way of life which we once followed. We must be distinct from the rest of our society by not living like them because their lifestyle is totally contrary to the Christian life. We are radically different now and our thinking and behaviour must show it.

This whole new way of life is what unites the church. It brings together Jews and Gentiles, blacks and whites, rich and poor, by adopting a whole new set of principles for living. Our new way of living bears no resemblance to the way the ungodly live…

1. The Ungodly Live… In “Intellectual Darkness” (17c-18a)

… in the futility of their minds, having their understanding darkened.

Their thinking is futile and their understanding is darkened. At best their thinking is shallow and at worst empty, purposeless and vain. Their minds are spiritually darkened because the light of God has no entrance there; they refuse him who speaks from heaven.

In contrast, our minds have been spiritually illuminated. Our clouded understanding has been clarified by the Spirit of God so that we can see and understand the things of God. The eyes of (our) understanding (have been) enlightened (Eph. 1:18). For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6)

2. The Ungodly Live… In “Spiritual Deadness” (18b)

… being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.

This is their inward, unregenerate condition, estranged from God, separated from the life of God, unreconciled and at enmity with him because of the ignorance and hardness of their hearts.

Ignorance isn’t bliss in spiritual matters. Those who are ignorant are still guilty before God because their ignorance stems from the sin of a hardened heart. They obstinately reject the truth of God and harden themselves to God and to the knowledge of him.

The ungodly are intellectually and morally blind which is the end result of a progressive, downward, spiritual spiral. Their hardness of heart and darkness of mind sweeps them into a vortex of spiritual alienation from God so that they are spiritually dead.

So, the ungodly live (1) in intellectual darkness, (2) in spiritual deadness, and…

3. The Ungodly Live… In “Moral Depravity” (19)

… being past feeling, (they) have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Intellectual darkness, spiritual deadness, and moral depravity are the results of hard heartedness. “Hardness of heart leads first to darkness of mind, then to deadness of soul under the judgment of God, and finally to recklessness of life.” 1 Such is the quicksand of spiritual depravity.

To harden your heart to God is the beginning of a course that sucks you irresistibly downward. To harden your heart to God and close your mind to the truth of God produces callousness toward God, that inability to feel, the loss of sensitivity to God.

The ganglia nerves are the tiny nerve branches which go out from the main nerves. They cover our body so that we cannot stick a pin in the body without a message flashing to the mind to warn us of an invasion into our body. This is a fantastic warning system that protects our very life. Spiritually, we must have the same sensitivity which warns us of harmful spiritual danger. 2 Once the conscience is seared and the feelings have become deadened there is no end to the kinds of sensuality and debauchery that you may give way to.

When spiritual constraint is thrown off so is moral constraint. Deadness of soul leads to recklessness of life. The soul that is past feeling gives itself up to immorality and an insatiable appetite for uncleanness – coarseness, vulgarity, profanity. “Having lost all sensitivity, people lose all self-control”.3

If you engage in indecent conduct, it soon becomes all-consuming. There is a continual urge for more and the activities desired become more and more perverted. That’s the way of the ungodly.

What is, arguably, the most powerful, most readily available and most addictive source of evil today? I believe it is internet-based pornography. The internet has single-handedly promoted sexual perversion and pornography probably more than any other means of communication in the history of the world. In fact, the revenue generated from pornography is greater now than the revenue from the entire alcohol and tobacco industries combined!

There is nothing that the human heart is incapable of! Let this be a warning to us as believers. Don’t be deceived by curiosity about things which may consume you. Don’t be deceived by things that corrupt your mind and soil your spirit! Don’t be deceived by uncleanness that mars your fellowship with God and taints your soul!

The negative principle for living is: “Don’t live like the ungodly in corruption that stems from deceit!” In contrast, the positive principle for living is…

II. Live Like Jesus… In Purity That Stems From The Truth (20-24)

The ungodly live in corruption but as for you, you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard him and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus (20-21). Paul says: “That’s how the ungodly live. But you left that way of life when you were saved. Christians have no part in that lifestyle. That’s the way of the ungodly! But as for you, that’s another matter. That’s not what you have learned or been taught.”

The Ephesians had to learn an entirely different way of life. “Your life in Christ is not like your life before you knew Christ,” Paul says. “Before you knew Christ, you walked in intellectual darkness, in spiritual deadness, and in moral depravity. But now as Christians, you know the moral teaching of Christ. You know the truth as it is in Jesus and your life is changed.”

They had learned about Christ; they had heard him and been taught by him. Through the teaching of the apostles, it was just as though Christ himself had spoken to them and taught them. They had learned what it is to imitate Christ and to live Christ. They had learned and been taught the truth as it is in Jesus.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize Winner, once said, “One word of truth shall outweigh the world.” That’s true. The word of truth that is in Jesus far outweighs anything that the deceit of the ungodly can offer. The truth that Jesus embodied is the truth by which we are to walk. We are to walk just as he walked (1 Jn. 2:6). Jesus said, You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (Jn. 8:32). Just as ignorance binds the ungodly in darkness and produces in them unrighteousness, so the truth sets Christians free and produces in us righteousness and holiness.

What is the truth that is in Jesus? How do we live like Jesus?

1. You Live Like Jesus… By Changing Your Identity (22, 24)

… concerning your former conduct, putting off the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts… and putting on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (22, 24).

When Paul uses the term “man” he is referring to our “self” - either what we were in the flesh prior to our conversion (the “old man”), or what we are in Christ after conversion (the “new man”).

The truth is that becoming a Christian demands a radical change of life, a total break with the past way of life. It’s described here in terms of a change of clothing. The old clothes are taken off and the new put on.

Becoming a Christian signifies a complete change of identity. It’s an exchange of our old humanity for a new creation of God. It’s putting off our old nature, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (22b) and putting on a new nature, which was created according to God (24b).

We repudiate our old self, that old nature, which characterized our former way of life without God, which was deformed and spiritually ruined, and which was dominated by its lusts and uncontrolled passions. And we adopt a new self, new nature, which is full of fresh spiritual life, created after God’s likeness.

The old and the new are completely incompatible. The old is what we were in Adam; the new is what we are in Christ.

A London businessman told the story of a warehouse property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash around the interior. As he showed a prospective buyer the property, the businessman took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out garbage. “Forget about the repairs,” the buyer said. “When I buy this place, I’m going to build something completely different. I don’t want the building; I want the site.” 4

Compared with the renovation God has in mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God’s, the old life is over (2 Cor. 5:17). He makes all things new.

Such is the exchanged life that conversion produces. What was corrupt is exchanged for a new creation. What was driven by its passions is exchanged for holiness. What was marked by deceit is exchanged for truth.

This radical transformation is a continual process in our lives. We don’t repeat the event but we “continue to live out its significance by giving up on that old person that (we) no longer are.” 5 As new people of God we must put into practice what God has already done in principle in us. In this sense there is a continual “putting off” and a “putting on.”

But we cannot effect this change on our own. It only comes about through the “new man” which is created in Gods likeness (24b). The new man is, literally, “created like God.” The image of God in us that was marred at the Fall has been recreated. We are new creatures in Christ, for old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). The old man walked in the lust of the flesh but the new man is created according to God to live in purity (cf. Col. 3:10). The new man has a life that is patterned after God’s life (cf. 5:1) and, therefore, the new man has a new principle of living that is according to God.

What God has created must be appropriated by us. At conversion, God sovereignly gives us a new nature that is suited to, and participates in, his divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Now it’s our responsibility to live as those who have an entirely new order of being, an entirely new frame of reference, an entirely new mode of operation.

This new life is known by purity that stems from the truth, by righteousness and holiness which come from the truth (24c). This is its stamp of identification in stark contrast to the old life. The life of the old man was identified by lewdness and uncleanness (4:19) but the life of the new man, God’s new creation, is plainly identified by righteousness and holiness - those good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (2:10). The life of the new man is the very life of God so much so that God’s righteousness and holiness are duplicated in us and by us.

God has provided the means for us to live lives that are according to God. It is our responsibility to “put on” that new life by practicing his righteousness and his holiness. This is the ethical principle for our whole manner of life. This is the sum and substance of Christian living. By following this principle for living, we display those qualities that are most like God.

We are to practice his righteousness because we are created to be righteous just like him: He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (1 Jn. 3:7). We are to practice his holiness because we are created to be holy just like him. Be holy as I am holy (1 Pet. 2:16). This is the truth of the new life that we have in Christ, a life that necessitates a radical change in who we are, how we live, and how we think.

To be a Christian means not only that Christ has revealed himself to us and we know him as Saviour and Lord, but also that we begin to live according to these contrasting principles for living because we are new people now.

Do you know this radically changed way of life? If you profess to be a Christian, is your life different now from what it was before? If you are truly born again, it must be! Is your life characterized by purity based on the truth as it is in Jesus?

You live like Jesus by “changing your identity” and…

2. You Live Like Jesus By… Changing Your Thinking (23)

… renewed in the spirit of your mind

Christian conversion involves inner renewal. The change that takes place at conversion is both internal and external. Our behaviour changes externally (by putting off the old and putting on the new) and our thinking changes internally. We think differently as well as act differently. We are transformed in our behaviour as well as in our thinking.

We are renewed inwardly through a change in our minds. Mind renewal is the first and foremost characteristic of being a Christian. Be transformed by the renewing of your minds (Rom. 12:2). The ungodly are known by the “futility” of their minds: Christians are known by the “renewal” of their minds. Like the exchange of the old man for the new, mind renewal is a continuous process that begins at conversion.

We must discipline our minds, set them on things above not on things on the earth (Col. 3:2). We must reject those things that would pollute our minds, the obscenities and vanities of the world. The whole spirit of our mind must be regenerated so that it is consistent with who we are.

What you think about is only known by you and God. I cannot determine what you are thinking about (cf. 1 Cor. 2:11), what you are lusting after, what you are contemplating. Because it’s so private, it’s an area that is often not under control. But remember, what you think about shapes how you act and who you are (Prov. 23:7; Matt. 15:19). Our minds that were tainted by sin have been renewed so that we can think clearly and spiritually. Our new creation gives us a new mind and our new mind causes us to act in conformity with the life of God. That’s the sequence.

Conclusions

These, then, are the contrasting principles for Christian living. This is the way of living that is fundamental to the radical change that takes place as we seek to live together in purity. Corruption and deceit separate; truth and purity unite.

Often, it’s not easy to adopt thiese new principles for living. Our old nature likes the way we were and it tries to draw us back there. It’s difficult to leave the old life.

For 11 years Merham Karimi Nasseri was a man without a country. For 11 years he lived in a Paris airport. He had no passport. He had no citizenship. He had no papers to permit him to leave the airport or fly to another country. He had been expelled from his native country of Iran. Then was sent away from Paris because he lacked documentation. He said his Belgian-issued refugee document had been stolen. He flew to England but was denied entry and sent back to Paris. When he was returned to the Paris airport in 1988, airport authorities allowed him to live in Terminal 1, and there he stayed for 11 years, writing a diary, living off handouts from airport employees, cleaning up in the airport bathroom.

Then in September, 1999, the situation reversed. French authorities presented Nasseri with an international travel card and a French residency permit. Suddenly he was free to go anywhere he wanted. But when airport officials handed him his walking papers, to everyone’s surprise, he simply smiled, tucked the documents in his folder, and resumed writing his diary. They found he was afraid to leave the bench and table that had been his home for 11 years. As the days passed and Nasseri refused to leave, airport officials said they would not throw him out of the airport, but they would have to gently and patiently coax him to find a new home.

An airport isn’t the kind of place anyone would normally choose to live. It’s bustling and interesting but not home. But that was Nasseri’s life and changing that way of life was more threatening than staying.

When we come to Christ, we are called to make dramatic changes to our way of life. We are called from our old way of life (the way of the ungodly; the way of corruption and deceit) to a new way of life (a life of purity and truth; a life that was modelled by Christ). We’re different now. 6

The truth that is found in Jesus has made all the difference. It’s the line of demarcation between the old life and the new life. It isn’t a matter of turning over a new leaf, or of making a New Year’s resolution, or of any merit in ourselves. It’s a matter of what God has done in Christ on our behalf in redeeming us; in giving us a new nature that delights to please him; and in illuminating us with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit so that we can understand the truth as it is in Jesus. That’s what has made the difference in our lives.

That’s what has made us different from the rest of the Gentiles (17). That’s what enables us to live together in community by exchanging a life of impurity for a life of purity. We have learned the truth and the truth has set us free - free from the bondage of sin - and brought us into the glorious liberty of Christ. We have been freed by the truth and we must live by the truth as Jesus did in righteousness and holiness.

Is this contrasting principle for living true of you? Do you, through the knowledge of the truth, pursue purity with God’s people? Do you practice the righteousness and holiness that come from the truth? Do you live as those who are no longer slaves to sin but servants to righteousness (Rom. 6:6 and 18)?

Note: In this article I have covered “Pursuing Purity Together, Part 1: Contrasting Principles of Living” (Eph. 4:17-24). See also subsequent articles: “Pursuing Purity Together, Part 2: Contrasting Practices of Living” (Eph. 4:25-32) and “Pursuing Purity Together, Part 3: Contrasting Programs for Living” (Eph. 5:1-21).


1 John R. W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 177.

2 Floyd Strater, Sermon Outlines on Ephesians, 36.

3 Stott, 177.

4 Cited by Ian L. Wilson, in Leadership, vol. 4, no. 3.

5 Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians (Word Biblical Commentary), 285.

6 Adapted from Ray Mosely, At Last, Airport Prisoner Gets His Walking Paper, Chicago Tribune,(9-21-99); Suzanne Daley, 11 Years Caged in an Airport: Now He Fears to Fly, N.Y. Time, 9-27-99.

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