4. An Urgent Call to Shepherd God’s Flock
Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com
Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com
Part 4 of 5
III. Peter’s Call to Shepherd God’s Flock in God’s Way (vv. 2-3) (cont.)
C. “Not Domineering over Those in Your Charge, but Being Examples to the Flock”
The third unworthy motive for an elder is a far more subtle and widespread temptation than that of greed. It is the desire to rule over others.
1. The verb for “domineering over” (katakyrieuo) means “ruling over” or “lording it over.” This term is used here in a negative sense. The idea is seeking to control people.
2. Jesus, on the other hand, in what has been called the “great reversal,” taught servant leadership and modeled it for his disciples:
“I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27b ESV).
a) He taught that leaders are to serve one another, to act humbly toward one another, and to live in loving brotherly community. It is others-oriented leadership, not self-oriented leadership. It is giving one’s life for the building up and advancing of others.
b) Jesus Christ, thus, taught a style of leadership that emphasized service and humility. This does not mean people do not have authority to shepherd and oversee people. It means they are to exercise their authority in a way that builds up other people and is not abusive.
3. The clause, “those in your charge,” further strengthens the concept that the people are not the elders’ possessions to be ruled over. The people do not belong to the elders; they belong to the One who assigned them to the elders’ care, that is, to God.
a) Kleros means an “allotment” or “portion assigned to someone” (Acts 1:17; 8:21). Kleros, then, is something given, not earned. In this context, it is not land, money, or responsibility that is allotted, it is God’s people. Thus the elders are prohibited from ruling over them as a lord rules over his subjects. The people are not the slaves of the elders.
b) Peter is saying that God has allotted portions of the whole flock of God to various groups of elders (John 10:16; 1 Peter 5:9). In a similar way, Peter refers to the specific flock of God in which the respective elders function as “the flock of God among you [in your care]” (1 Peter 5:2; italics added). The elders, then, are not to rule over their allotted portions of God’s flock. Peter’s warning against ruling over others certainly demonstrates that elders had authority to govern.
4. In contrast to ruling over others, elders are to be examples or models of godly living.
a) Much of the Bible is biographical, demonstrating by example how and how not to live for God. Jesus is the greatest example of all and the chief example to follow (1 Peter 2:21).
b) So in the church, the elders’ primary style of leadership is to model Christ. They are to be role models. Ultimately in the end, people follow those they respect and love. People don’t care what your title is. They care about how you live and minister to others.
5. Throughout this epistle, Peter emphasizes the importance of humility and submission (1 Peter 2:13-3:12; 5:5). If elders are petty rulers over the local church, others will follow their example, fighting one another to gain power and recognition. This is the wrong role model, as we will see in the next verse.
5. An Urgent Call to Shepherd God’s Flock
Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com
Part 5 of 5
“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” (1 Peter 5:4-5 ESV)
IV. Peter’s Promise of Future Rewards for Elders (v. 4)
A. The Chief Shepherd
Peter appropriately calls Jesus Christ the “Chief Shepherd.” According to the New Testament there is only “one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:16) and Jesus Christ is that one, incomparable, irreplaceable Shepherd. Someday he will return in all his glory to take his flock to be with him forever. At that time, the “Chief Shepherd” will fully reward his under-shepherds.
1. The imagery of the “Chief Shepherd” or “Arch Shepherd” (archipoimenos) emphasizes Christ’s relationship to all other shepherds. Because he is “Chief,” all other shepherds are his under-shepherds.
2. As under-shepherds, all elders are under the authority and rule of the Chief Shepherd. Thus, the elders’ shepherding work must be done in complete agreement with his ways and teaching. And that is just what we learned in the above verses.
a) Like their loving Chief Shepherd, shepherding elders must shepherd the flock eagerly and willingly, as models of godly disposition.
b) Shepherding elders are not free to speak or lead the people in any way they wish, for they must answer to the Chief Shepherd. “Christian leadership is thus a sharing in the leadership of Christ under his direction.”
3. What could be more encouraging to faithful shepherds who face many heartaches, problems, trials, and persecutions than to look forward to Christ’s return as the “Chief Shepherd” and to share in his divine glory? When elders think of Christ as “Chief Shepherd,” their present work is enhanced and his return becomes even more personal.
B. The Unfading Crown of Glory
1. Peter states that upon Christ’s return the faithful elders will receive an “unfading crown of glory.”
a) In this context, “crown” is used symbolically to represent reward or special honor. The reward is for faithful, honorable achievement as under-shepherds of God’s flock.
b) This crown is unlike any earthly crown made of precious metal or ivy because it is “unfading.” It will never wither like a laurel wreath or tarnish like gold.
2. The reason for this crown’s unfading quality is that the material used to make this crown is divine, heavenly glory. The adjective “glory” tells us of what the crown consists.
a) In Greek, “glory” is a genitive of apposition, meaning that the crown consists of glory. The glory is the reality, and the crown is the metaphor.
b) This glory is Christ’s glory that will be displayed at his appearing. He will give the “crown of glory” to his under-shepherds.
3. What a time of victory, vindication, and joy Christ’s appearance will bring to lowly, unnoticed elders who have faithfully shepherded God’s flock!
a) Hard-working, selfless shepherds may not have many earthly goods to show for a lifetime of toil, but some day the Chief Shepherd will come and fully reward his under-shepherds.
b) Their work will no longer go unnoticed or unappreciated, for he will reward them publicly before the hosts of heaven. He will bestow on them heavenly honor and glory. All elders are to keep their eyes steadfastly fixed on his appearing, for reward day is coming!
V. Peter’s Exhortation for Mutual Humility (v. 5)
A. The Call to Submission
1. Peter has just exhorted the elders not to lord it over the flock. Now he feels compelled to instruct the younger members to subject themselves to the elders.
2. The younger adult members who are diligently working – eager for change and further service – are the ones who are most likely to conflict with the church elders.
a) If the eldership is stagnant or ineffective, the younger adult members are the ones who are most likely to be discontent.
b) Such younger people are often (but not necessarily) junior leaders, ready to learn from and assist those directing the church. But their very readiness for service and commitment can make them impatient with the leaders, who either due to pastoral wisdom or the conservatism that often comes with age are not ready to move as quickly or as radically as they are.
c) It would be quite fitting to address such people with an admonition to be subject to their elders. Indeed, particularly in a time of persecution their willingness to take radical stands without considering the consequences could endanger the church.
3. The best training a Christian young person can have in preparation for church leadership is to first learn to submit to those in spiritual leadership. A spiritually keen young man can gain invaluable wisdom and leadership skills through the experience of older, godly men, even if they are not paragons of leadership excellence (which most are not).
B. The Call to Humility
1. Knowing the ever-lurking potential for disagreement, fighting, and division between all parties in the local church, accentuated by the pressures of a hostile society, Peter offers the best possible counsel. This counsel is both for the junior leaders and for the elders. Elders are included in the command to wear the proper “clothing” when gathering together with others:
“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” (1 Peter 5:5)
2. Only when everyone wears the garments of humility--elders, young men, women, and deacons--will peace and unity prevail.
3. This is excellent advice for all churches, for all elders, all younger, junior leaders. It is not possible to live and work together without humility. And we should be very concerned about the attitude of humility because of the frightening statement, that God opposes and resists the proud and his grace comes to the humble.
“What a blessed influence is the holy character and conduct of Christian elders calculated to diffuse through the church.” – John Brown
The Importance of the Shepherd’s Presence (1 Peter 5:2)
“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” (1 Peter 5:2 ESV)
A. Peter exhorts the Asian elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2).
B. One of the most amazing aspects of shepherding sheep is the presence of the shepherd among the sheep.
C. In his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Philip Keller writes:
“In the course of time I came to realize that nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field. The presence of their master and owner and protector put them at east as nothing else could do. Continuous conflict and jealousy within the flock can be a most detrimental thing. The sheep become edgy, tense, discontented, and restless. They lose weight and become irritable. But one point that always interested me very much was that whenever I came into view and my presence attracted their attention, the sheep quickly forgot their foolish rivalries and stopped their fighting. The shepherd’s presence made all the difference in their behavior.” – Philip Keller
D. Of course this applies supremely to Christ’s presence among his people.
1. He promises us his continual presence. He is the shepherd and we are his sheep. We know he is always with us. And this is comforting and reassuring to the troubled believer.
2. In John 10, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. And it says, the sheep know his voice (10:4) and he knows their names (10:3). There is a wonderful intimacy between Christ and his people.
E. In a similar way, the elders’ presence makes a big difference to the flock.
You need to know and understand, that your presence is important to the people and it makes a big difference in how they act and feel. This is a true reality.
I remember once we had an all-church picnic. A number of the elders did not show up. Others showed up late. As I was circulating among the people, I was asked by almost everyone, “Where are the elders?” They were not saying that to be critical. They really wanted to know where they were. They love the elders. I don’t even think they realized they were saying what they did.
I. Invisible Shepherds
A. They have a title and an office, but they have no presence among the people.
B. They come to church on Sunday morning, and see their friends and relatives, but do not understand the importance of their presence among the entire flock.
1. In a church near ours, the pastor was caught for the second time in an adulterous relationship with someone from within the church. The elders said, “This is too much. We are going to fire the pastor.” The pastor on a Sunday morning told the congregation that the elders were dismissing him from his job, even though he had fully repented of his sin. The people became very angry. They said, “We don’t know who these elders even are. They are not our pastor. You will stay and they will leave.”
2. You see, these men were elders, but they were invisible elders. They were not present among the people. They were just there, like any other church attendee.
3. Maybe they had some legal or formal position in the church, but that’s all it was. They weren’t biblical shepherds.
II. Suggestions for Making Your Presence Known and Felt
A. Greet the people as they come and as they leave.
1. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of you elders being present when people come into the assembly to be greeted by you and of course others.
2. One of the most important things is for all the elders to be at the door as people leave. Many important encounters happen at the door. People want to tell you about their problems or needs. For some of us, this is the only time we even see these people.
3. See the one-minute shepherding article by Church Gianotti.
B. Reach out to the people with friendly gestures, a smile and warm Christian greetings.
1. It is important that the elders display friendliness to the people, joy in gathering together, and true brotherly and sisterly relationships. If the elders are cold and aloof, the people will become that way.
2. Friendliness and greeting are very important in the family marked by Christ’s love. Yet many churches are not friendly to new people. People are standoffish or afraid to reach out to new people.
3. Learning people’s names is part of being friendly and loving church. John says, “The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name” (3 John 14).
4. Five times in the New Testament, believers are told to greet one another with the holy kiss. Paul loves to send greetings.
5. I believe we should have a strong greeting ministry. I am not talking about handing out bulletins, but greeting people and directing them.
C. Circulate among the people on Sunday morning.
1. I call it “circulate and percolate” among the people.
2. See those who are alone. The seniors love to be kissed and hugged, especially widows and people of advanced age.
3. Before the meetings start, people may be sitting alone and need a greeting.
D. Have people over to your home.
We will talk about this in another section, but if you really want to get to know the people, have them at your table to eat and talk about your lives. Elders are to be hospitable!!
E. Visit people.
Another way to get to be in the presence of the people is to visit them in their homes. You will see them differently after you have been in their home.
F. Ministering to people when they are suffering is an important way that we all connect.
People when they are hurting are most touched by their shepherds. This is when the relationship is built into deeper sheep-shepherd relations.
III. Some Principles Regarding the Shepherd’s Presence
A. When you love the people, you will want to be with them.
1. Shepherding means being with people. Your life revolves around them.
2. A real shepherd begins to smell like the sheep because he is around them. The same should be true of spiritual shepherds.
B. When you love the people, you will feel a deep sense of responsibility for them.
1. You think about them, you wonder how they are doing. You miss them if they are not around.
2. You can’t rest if one is not showing up to church. When they are facing an operation you call or visit. When they hurt you hurt.
3. Seeking lost sheep –This is something we are all bad at. We give up too easily.
C. When you love the people, you will feel compassion for them.
1. The great scholar B.B. Warfield said that the key emotional word describing Jesus Christ is compassion, and shepherd must have compassion for people: blind, lepers, outcast women, poor people, children, and the multitudes.
2. We need to be continually helping our congregation to reach out to new people, to be friendly and genuinely concerned, and not just in a holy huddle. This is something you must model and exhort continually.
The point of all this is for you to understand your influence in the flock. Your presence is vitally important to God’s people. God has called you a steward of his household (Titus 1:7). The steward must be present in the household.
So I am calling upon you to have a renewed understanding of your presence among the sheep. They can tell if you love to be with them or if you just do things out of rote habit.
The Net Pastor's Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 10 Winter 2014
Winter 2014 Edition
Produced by ...
Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
“Strengthening the Church in Biblical Preaching and Leadership”
Part I: Preparing For Preaching
“Selecting Texts And Topics”
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe
The Institute for Biblical Preaching,
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
One of the questions that is often asked by preachers is, “How do you select the text you are going to preach on?” The other question is, “When should you select the text you are going to preach on – well in advance, just a few days before you preach, or when you stand up to speak?”
Text selection is a very important part of preparing to preach. First, let me point out two dangers to avoid:
1. Too short a text – a single verse or sentence. If the text is shorter than the author’s unit of thought (which we would usually call a paragraph), you must be aware of its immediate context in order to properly understand and preach its meaning. That is the danger of preaching from a single verse or sentence – you run the risk of wrongly interpreting and applying it by missing the particular emphasis in the text.
2. Too long a text. If the text is too long you run the risk of just giving an overview by generalizing a large text without due regard to the flow of thought.
Selecting your text forces you to think through what preaching is all about:
- What it is supposed to do - how it meets the needs of your congregation.
- What the role of the Holy Spirit is in planning sermon texts and topics.
- How God sovereignly uses your preaching to minister to situations that you know nothing about and didn’t plan the sermon to address.
Ultimately our responsibility is to preach what the Holy Spirit directs us to preach, but how does this work in practice? How do you decide what to preach on? What is the right text? Which comes first, text or topic? How do you respond to a crisis (e.g. in world events or in your church) that does not fit with the series of sermons you are currently preaching? When do you decide what to preach on? Do you decide each week what to preach on next Sunday or do you plan a preaching calendar? If a preaching calendar, for how far in advance?
The Debate About Preaching Plans
The value and rightness of planning your sermon topics and texts in advance has been debated down through the years. The question is, “How do you plan a sermon series in advance and at the same time be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit concerning what you should preach on? Is there a conflict between pre-planning a sermon series and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you as to what to preach on?”
Some preachers would say, “Yes, there is a conflict.” They would argue that you should not pre-plan your preaching series and texts, and that the preacher must daily and weekly seek the leading of the Holy Spirit as to the text to preach. If that assertion is true, that would mean you could never plan on preaching a series through a book of the Bible or a particular theme.
I would say: “No, there is no conflict.” Those who oppose pre-planning your sermon series assume that the Holy Spirit only leads you from week to week and not month to month, or year to year. But there is no reason why the leading of the Holy Spirit is restricted to a certain time frame - i.e. that the Holy Spirit will only lead you from week to week in your text selection and not for a longer period of time in advance. I believe that the Holy Spirit can and does direct preachers to a specific text for a particular need for this week and that He directs preachers to a book of the Bible or theme from the Bible for a sermon series over a longer period of time.
A pre-planned preaching series does not mean that you are not sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, nor does it mean that you would not deviate from your series in order to address a certain crisis or need in your church or in the world. For this reason, if you decide to preach a series, I would recommend that you not publish the passages and titles of your sermons in advance, so that you are at liberty to change your preaching plans as you sense the leading of the Holy Spirit.
I agree with Martin Lloyd-Jones who said: “Having asserted that we are subject to the Spirit, and that we must be careful to make sure that we really are subject to Him, I argue that He may lead us at one time to preach on odd texts and at another time to preach a series of sermons” (Preaching and Preachers, 188-189).
The important principle concerning text selection is:
- that you always be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit
- that the freedom of the Spirit to lead you to preach from a different text than the pre-selected passage be preserved
- that you always select your preaching texts and topics prayerfully, being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
From a practical viewpoint, I would argue that preaching demands as much planning as it does study in order to be as effective for God as you can be. Since we would not think of approaching any other organizational task with no planning, how much more should we plan our preaching. Why should we approach such a serious task as preaching and think that we can do it without any planning?
A preacher who preaches without planning is guilty of:
- not taking his preaching task seriously
- not serving his congregation well
- approaching it haphazardly
- confusing his congregation who will not know from one week to the next what he is going to preach on
- failing to teach his people systematically.
The Advantages Of Preaching Plans
Here are four advantages and good reasons to adopt preaching plans:
1. Planning will help keep your preaching balanced and intentional. It will be balanced in that it will take into account the biblical priorities for preaching and not dwell on your pet themes or popular topics. It will be intentional in that your sermons will cover the full scope of Scripture, exposing your people to Scriptural truth that will build them up in their knowledge of the Scriptures, their relationship with God, and their spiritual maturity.
2. Planning will help your efficiency in preparing sermons. It helps your efficiency because:
- you will know where you are going in advance and not have to spend time figuring out what to preach on each week
- you will only have to prepare background material once for the whole series
- you will gain more insight and material for preaching because you are concentrating on a particular series.
3. Planning will help you meet ministry needs. When you plan your sermon series in advance, you can take into account the long term and short term ministry and spiritual needs of the church.
4. Planning will help you assess your ministry progress. Whether you are in a church ministry, para-church, or mission, you will have a yardstick to measure yourself by and you will be able to say that you have proclaimed the full scope and balance of Scriptural truth – i.e. that you have fed your people balanced and nutritious spiritual food; that your preaching is Christ-centered; and that you have not been negligent.
Part II. Leadership: Being A Godly Role Model
“Your Personal Devotional Practices”
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
As we have seen in the last few issues of The NET Pastors Journal, being a godly role model extends to every aspect of our lives. We have looked at “your personal holiness” and how it impacts your ability and effectiveness as a godly role model. Holiness cannot be properly maintained or pursued without disciplined spiritual practices in your life. Spiritual disciplines are vital for us to become more like Christ - for our own relationship with God; for personal spiritual growth; for personal purity and for personal spiritual power and vitality.
Godly character stems from spending time with God. Disciples spend time with their leader (cf. Mk. 3:13-14). Our character is to be an expression of Christ’s character (Gal. 4:19) and our conduct is to be an expression of Christ’s conduct. How we live, what we do, and who we are must reflect how Christ lived and who He is. We can only reflect Christ’s character and conduct if we know him intimately. And we can only know him intimately if we spend time with him.
We talk about “doing” our devotions. In one sense we shouldn’t “do” devotions – rather, we should live in a constant state of devotion, so that “doing” devotions does not become merely a mechanical act or duty, but a delight.
1 Timothy 4:7 instructs us “to discipline (ourselves) for the purpose of godliness.” Spiritual disciplines are the means by which spiritual growth is developed in us through (1) reading, memorizing, and meditating on the Word; (2) prayer; (3) worship; (4) evangelism; (5) and service.
It is vitally important to set aside a certain time and place for a daily quiet time with God – a daily routine for reading, meditating, praying. For most of us, this is a difficult practice because so many other things that seem to be more important constantly compete for our time and attention. I find that if I don’t spend a quiet time with the Lord first thing every day, the chances of doing it later in the day dwindle as the day wears on. This is probably true for you as well.
If you are like most Christians, you probably find prayer specifically to be a difficult daily, consistent practice. Satan does not want us engaged in daily quiet times, particularly prayer. So, let me outline what I think are the basic components of a daily quiet time with the Lord. You may vary this to suit your own practice, but these are the main items.
1. Waiting quietly on God - in solitude. This is where we truly get to know God. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” In those times when God forces us to wait (particularly in the dark, hard times of our lives), I believe that we learn more about God and ourselves than we do during the good times. We need quietness, stillness, a time apart from the routine and rush of life in order to meet with God. You need a place where you can shut yourself away, and you need a time that you schedule for this purpose.
2. Listening attentively to God – in silence. Talk as little as possible and listen for God to speak through his Word. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He influences your mind, heart, conscience.
3. Reading meditatively – in Scripture. Take time every day to read, meditate, and pray through the Scriptures. Eastern meditation requires the emptying of the mind, but Christian meditation requires the filling of the mind with the thoughts of God as he has revealed them to us in his Word.
This is not studying Scripture. This isn’t preparing a sermon or a Sunday School lesson - that focuses on how you are going to explain it and apply it to others. But this is a different form of reading that focuses on your own spiritual life and personal application. This is the time when you allow Scripture to speak to you, when God nourishes your heart and soul in the Word, when you become saturated in the Word, such that it prompts you to praise to Him, to understand Him better, to love Him more.
The daily reading of the Scripture was one of the ingredients that gave George Mueller such a powerful life. He knew the truth that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
Be systematic, purposeful, and sequential in your reading. Plan your reading schedule. Try to read from various parts of the Bible: from Proverbs or Psalms; from an O.T. book; and from a N. T. book.
Think through what you read. As you read, ask yourself some questions to stimulate your response:
- Is there a command you need to obey?
- Are there connections with other Scriptures you hadn’t noticed before?
- Is there a lesson you need to learn?
- Is there a new teaching you need to believe or adopt?
- Is there a blessing for you to enjoy?
- Is there a practice, attitude, or relationship you need to change?
- Is there a blessing for you to embrace?
- Is there an encouragement for you to take heart in?
- Is there an error you need to avoid? It’s very comforting to know that if I have unknowingly stepped in a wrong direction or made an unwise decision, God’s word can reveal that to me. It’s easy to see mistakes others make, but much harder to see our own mistakes. This is where the Word of God becomes like a mirror (James 1:23-25).
- Is there an example for you to follow? Does something jump off the page and prompt you to say, “I want to be more like that!”
- Is there a duty for you to perform? Is God’s word calling you to act? Are you neglecting something in your home or where you work or in your personal life? If so, you want to know what it is so you can work on it.
- Is there a promise you can claim? As you study the Bible, you will hear the Lord committing himself to certain things or to act in certain ways. As you come to those promises, you acknowledge, “Yes, God! You are like this and you’ve promised to be this way for all my life, and I trust you.” Your faith will be strengthened as you learn and review the promises of God.
- Is there a sin you need to confess? You won’t read the Bible long until you come across passages that reveal the error of your ways. One promise that helps me with this is, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9).
Let the words “abide in you” (Jn. 15:7). From your reading, pray your thoughts back to God in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication. Memorize Scripture as you read it. “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11).
Let the words produce fruit in you. Share what you have learned at the appropriate time with others.
Be obedient to the word you have read. Throughout the day, put into practice what you have read that morning.
4. Drinking deeply – from devotional books. I find devotional books to be very helpful in nourishing and stimulating my heart toward God. Examples of books that I have found helpful in my quiet times are:
- John Piper: “Hunger for God”; “Desiring God”; “A Godward Life”.
- A. W. Tozer: “Knowledge of the Holy”; “Pursuit of God”.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The Cost of Discipleship”.
- R. C. Sproul: “The Soul’s Quest for God”.
- Oswald Chambers: “My Utmost for his Highest”.
- John MacArthur: “Truth for Today”; “Drawing Near”.
- Ken Gire: “Intense Moments with the Saviour”.
- Tricia Rhodes: “Contemplating the Cross”.
- V. Raymond Edman: “They Found the Secret”.
- Walter Walker: “Extraordinary Encounters with God”.
- James G. Lawson: “Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians”.
- C. H. Spurgeon: “Morning and Evening”.
These kinds of books stir you to a deeper relationship with God. They generate in you a deeper knowledge of Him.
1. Repenting contritely - in confession…to God, to your wife, to an accountability partner, or perhaps a pastoral colleague.
2. Conversing intimately - in prayer. Your prayer life is fundamental to spiritual power and vitality. It’s mandatory for a meaningful, relevant, powerful, Christian life. And yet, it is one of the most difficult practices in which to be consistent and it is one of the most lacking in the lives of Christian leaders.
Most of us find it hard to be disciplined in prayer. There are so many other things we would rather do and that crowd in on us. Martin Luther prayed more when he was burdened down with extra duties. He said: “Work, work from early to late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” When Jesus was very busy and preoccupied, he spent whole nights in prayer (Lk. 6:12).
Prayer is the channel through which we converse with God. We can’t know him without conversing with him; we can’t speak well of him publicly to others if we don’t extol him privately ourselves. Discipline yourself to pray. Get into a habit. Always try to combine Scripture reading with prayer.
Pray intentionally – e.g. at a specific time each day. First thing in the morning is usually best before you get absorbed with other things. You can’t be powerful in public prayer if you aren’t committed to regular, intentional, private prayer.
Pray unceasingly – i.e. throughout the day (1 Thess. 5:17). Pray whenever something or someone comes to mind - in your car or while you’re walking. Pray out loud or silently.
Pray methodically by using a prayer journal or list of prayer items. My prayer journal is broken down as follows:
- Prayer verses – verses that magnify God; prayer passages. Pray through special verses that are meaningful to you. Pray Scripture back to God.
- Permanent prayers to pray every day – for family, missions, special people etc.
- Temporary prayers - issues, situations that come and go.
- Daily prayers. I assign a different prayer topic to each day:
- Sunday – Sunday church services and pastors I know; salvation for various people and relatives.
- Monday – missions and missionaries.
- Tuesday – thanksgiving, answers to prayer, encouragement, our government and authorities, our Bible study group.
- Wednesday – ministries and ministry workers.
- Thursday – my own ministry, my supporters, upcoming ministry commitments.
- Friday – families, marriage relationships, people with health issues.
- Saturday – young adults, young married couples, and young families who have been a significant part of our lives.
Pray mutually – i.e. with a partner. Pray with your wife or with a colleague or a friend.
Pray responsibly. Pray as though you are the one responsible, but knowing that God is the only One who can bring it about. Wrestle in prayer (Col. 4:12; Eph. 1;16). Intercede on behalf of other people (e.g. pray through your church directory). Supplicate God for needs. Adore God for who He is. Pray in the energy and power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18).
Pray attentively. Listen to God. Let him speak to you through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26-27).
Part III. Devotional Thoughts
“The Ministry of Earthen Vessels, Pt. 2: The Motivation for Ministry” (2 Cor. 5:10-13)
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
In 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, the apostle Paul points out three motivations for ministry:
- the motivation of future transformation (4:16-5:9)
- the motivation of accountability to God (5:10-13)
- the motivation of Christ’s love (5:14-17).
We discussed the motivation of future transformation in the fall 2013 edition of this journal. Now we are going to look at the second motivation for ministry: THE MOTIVATION OF ACCOUNTABILITY TO GOD (5:10-13). Here Paul has two sources of motivation...
1. The accountability of believers at the judgement seat of Christ (5:10)
The motivation of our future transformation reminds us of our present responsibility to be conformed to Christ’s nature and character even now on earth, “for” (9) our motivation to be well-pleasing to him is that “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (5:10). We are responsible for how we live. The present expectation of being with the Lord ought to heighten our desire to please him now and our awareness of the future judgement seat of Christ.
Christians face a day of accounting. In that day, everything we have done down here will be exposed. “All things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). This prospect of future accountability ought to motivate us to holy living, so that our outward actions are consistent with our inner thoughts and beliefs. We are not exempt from the standard and scrutiny of God's moral law. We have been justified (Acts 13:39; Rom. 8:1) and cleansed, and now we are responsible to glorify God in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20). Hence, the evaluation by God of everything we have done here on earth, whether good or bad.
As one commentator puts it, this is an “assessment of worth” not a “declaration of doom”, in order for Christ to assign or withhold rewards. This has nothing to do with condemnation but everything to do with commendation. Every Christian is responsible not for earning salvation (for we cannot), but for building on that foundation that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor. 3:10-15). Our foundation is absolutely secure: if we are true believers we cannot lose our salvation. But we are accountable to God for what we have built on that foundation – whether it is “gold, silver, precious stones” or “wood, hay, straw.” Every believer will stand before Christ’s judgement seat, not to determine one’s salvation or condemnation, but to receive either rewards for deeds done for Christ or to have burned up those things not done for Christ – i.e. bad things. For “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26) and our works will be exposed for what they truly are. Only now in this life do we have the opportunity to glorify God in word and deed, in our bodies which are his (1 Cor. 6:20).
This surely should be a great motivation for our ministry – the accountability of believers at the judgement seat of Christ. Then, secondly, there is...
2. The accountability of unbelievers at the Great White Throne (5:11-12)
“Therefore” (in the light of the judgement seat of Christ before which all believers will stand), “knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men” (11a). This motivation of future accountability to God motivates Paul to do his ministry of persuading men (unbelievers) of the truth of the gospel. The prospect for believers of the judgement seat of Christ where our deeds done in the body will be assessed as to whether they were good or bad is serious enough. But how much more serious is it for unbelievers to stand before God in the final judgement at the Great White Throne? That will be abject terror. No wonder Paul says, knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men. That is a serious motivation for our ministry of preaching the gospel.
Nonetheless, Paul is not trying to justify himself and his ministry activities for, he says, “we are well known to God and I also trust are well known in your consciences” (11b). God knows Paul’s genuine motivation for ministry, so he does not need to justify what he does and why he does it. And, he hopes that his motivation for ministry is equally well known in (the Corinthians’) consciences also. He hopes that his labours among them will convince them in their consciences of the validity and purity of his calling, as they consider his life and ministry in the light of all the accusations brought against him by false apostles.
“For we do not commend ourselves again to you” (cf. 3:1) “but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart” (12). He isn’t trying to convince them of his trustworthiness all over again, but rather to give them an opportunity to come to his defence and to actually boast about him. He doesn’t just want them persuaded in their consciences as to his authenticity as a minister of the gospel, but rather that they will actually speak up for him against those who are the exact opposite of himself - viz. those who “boast in appearance and not in heart”. That is the quintessential definition of false ministers – hypocrites who look good on the outside but in their innermost being are corrupt; who care more about show, money, and power than they do about “persuading men” or shepherding God's people.
This is exactly the opposite of Paul who counted all those things rubbish (money, power, heritage, religious lineage etc.) for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ (see Phil. 3:1-11). “Most gladly, therefore, will I boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul boasted in the cross (Gal. 6:14). He didn’t try to impress others with high-sounding intellectual speech but he came to them in fear and weakness (2 Cor. 5:1-5). Thus, the genuine minister of Christ glories in heart and not in appearance. His values are spiritual and internal, not material and external.
Conclusion: “For (because) if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you” (13). Paul says, “If I am out of my mind as my accusers say (Acts 26:24; 2 Cor. 11:1,16;12:11) – i.e. a religious extremist who takes risks and hardships that a sane person would not - it is to serve God. But if I am sane, I use it for your benefit in the preaching of the gospel.” May we also use all the abilities and opportunities God gives us for his service. May our future accountability to God motivate us to minister for God out of the pure motive of benefitting others.
Part IV. Sermon Outlines
John 8:1-11, Jesus’ Dialogue with the Pharisees
Title: A Confrontation with Hypocrisy
Point #1: The accusers defy Jesus (8:3-6a)
1. The set-up of the woman (3)
2. The show-down with Jesus (4-5)
Point #2: Jesus discredits the accusers (8:6b-9a)
1. Jesus refuses their demand (6b, 8)
2. Jesus reveals his divine wisdom (7)
3. Jesus reaches their consciences (9a)
Point #3: Jesus deals with the accused woman (8:9b-11)
1. Jesus deals with her personally (9b-10a)
2. Jesus deal with her protectively (10b-11a)
3. Jesus deals with her pastorally (11b)
Related Topics: Pastors
La Revue Internet Des Pasteurs, Fre Ed 10, Edition de l’hiver 2014
Edition de l’hiver 2014
Sous la direction du
Dr Roger Pascoe, Président de
l’Institut pour la Prédication Biblique
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Renforcer les capacités de l’Eglise
dans la prédication biblique et le leadership
1ère Partie: La Préparation De La Prédication
“Le choix du texte et du thème”
Par: Dr. Roger Pascoe,
Président de l'Institut pour la prédication biblique,
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Une des questions que les prédicateurs posent le plus souvent c’est : «Comment choisissez-vous le texte sur lequel prêcher?» Ou encore cette question: «A quel moment choisissez-vous le texte sur lequel prêcher - longtemps à l'avance, quelques jours avant votre prédication, ou lorsque vous vous levez pour prendre la parole? »
La sélection du texte est une partie très importante de la préparation de la prédication. Tout d'abord, permettez-moi de souligner deux dangers à éviter:
1. Un texte trop court - un seul verset ou une seule phrase. Si le texte est plus court que l’unité de pensée de l'auteur (ce que nous appelons habituellement un paragraphe), vous devez garder à l’esprit son contexte immédiat afin de bien comprendre et prêcher sa signification. C'est le risque que comporte le fait de prêcher sur un seul verset ou une seule phrase - celui de mal l’interpréter et de mal faire son application en passant à coté de la substance du texte.
2. Un texte trop long. Si le texte est trop long, vous courez le risque de faire un simple survol en disant des généralités sur le texte sans prêter suffisamment d’attention à la progression dans la pensée de l’auteur.
Le choix du texte vous oblige à bien réfléchir sur ce que ce qu’est la prédication :
- Ce qu'elle est censé faire - comment elle répond aux besoins de votre assemblée.
- Ce qu’est le rôle du Saint-Esprit dans la programmation des textes et des sujets sur lesquels prêcher.
- Comment Dieu utilise souverainement votre prédication pour résoudre à des situations qui vous sont inconnues et dont vous n’imaginiez pas que votre prédication pouvait solutionner.
En fin de compte, notre responsabilité c’est de prêcher ce que le Saint Esprit nous conduit à prêcher. Mais comment cela fonctionne t-il dans la pratique? Comment décidez-vous sur quoi prêcher? Quel est le texte approprié? Qu’est-ce qui vient en premier : le texte ou le sujet? Comment vous adressez-vous à une situation de crise (par exemple dans les événements qui surviennent dans le monde ou dans votre église) qui ne cadrent pas avec la série de prédications que vous êtes en train de développer? Quand décidez-vous sur quoi prêcher? Est-ce que vous décidez chaque semaine sur quoi prêcher le dimanche suivant, ou est-ce que vous établissez un programme de prédication? Si vous suivez un programme de prédication, combien de temps à l'avance l’établissez-vous?
Les Programmes De Prédication
Le Débat Sur Les Programmes De Prédication
La programmation à l'avance des sujets et des textes sur lesquels prêcher est une pratique dont l’importance et la pertinence ont été longtemps débattue. La question c’est: «Comment programmer une série de prédications tout en étant soumis à la direction de l'Esprit Saint quant à ce que vous devez prêcher? Y a t-il une contradiction entre le fait de programmer une série de prédications bien à l’avance et le fait se laisser guider par le Saint-Esprit sur ce qu'il faut prêcher? »
Certains prédicateurs disent: «Oui, il ya contradiction.» Ils disent que l’on ne devrait pas planifier à l'avance une série de sujets de prédication et de textes, et que le prédicateur doit chaque jour et chaque semaine chercher la direction du Saint-Esprit quant au texte sur lequel prêcher. Si cette affirmation est juste, cela signifie que vous ne pourrez jamais planifier de prêcher une série à travers un livre de la Bible ou sur un thème particulier.
Moi je dirais: «Non, il n'y a pas de contradiction. » Ceux qui s'opposent à une planification bien à l’avance de vos séries de prédications supposent que le Saint-Esprit ne vous conduit qu’une semaine après l’autre et non mois après mois, ou année après année. Cependant il n'y a aucune raison de penser que le Saint-Esprit ne puisse vous conduire que sur un certain laps de temps – en occurrence que l'Esprit Saint ne vous conduira que de semaine en semaine dans le choix des textes et pas pour une période plus longue. Je crois que le Saint-Esprit peut conduire un prédicateur vers un texte particulier pour un besoin particulier de cette semaine, et qu’aussi il peut le diriger vers un livre de la Bible ou un thème de la Bible pour une série de prédications sur une période de temps plus longue.
Une série de prédications planifiées à l’avance ne signifie pas que vous n'êtes pas sensible à la direction de l'Esprit Saint, et cela ne signifie pas non plus que vous n’allez pas sortir de votre série pour répondre à une crise particulière ou un besoin particulier dans votre église ou dans le monde. C’est pourquoi si vous décidez de prêcher en série, je vous recommande de ne pas publier les passages et les titres de vos prédications à l'avance, de sorte que vous soyez libre de changer vos programmes de prédication selon la direction du Saint-Esprit.
Je suis d'accord avec Martin Lloyd-Jones, qui a dit: «Etant entendu que nous sommes soumis à l'Esprit, et que nous devons nous assurer d’être vraiment soumis à Lui, je soutiens qu'Il peut parfois nous conduire à prêcher sur des textes hétéroclites et à un autre moment à prêcher en série» (Prédication et Prédicateurs, 188-189).
Le plus important au sujet du choix du texte c’est que:
- vous soyez toujours sensible à la direction de l'Esprit
- l'Esprit soit toujours libre de vous conduire vers un texte différent de celui que vous avez présélectionné
- vous choisissez toujours vos textes et sujets de prédication dans un esprit de prière et de sensibilité à la direction du Saint-Esprit.
D'un point de vue pratique, je dirais que la prédication exige autant de planification que d’effort dans l'étude si nous voulons être aussi efficaces que possible entre les mains de Dieu. De même que nous n’imaginons même pas aborder des tâches organisationnelles sans une certaine planification, nous ne pouvons pas non plus manquer de planifier notre prédication. Pourquoi devrions-nous aborder une tâche aussi grave que la prédication sans aucune planification?
Un prédicateur qui prêche sans aucune planification est coupable de:
- ne pas prendre sa tâche de prédication au sérieux
- ne pas bien servir son assemblée
- faire son travail avec grand amateurisme
- semer la confusion dans son assemblée qui ne sait pas sur quoi il va prêcher d'une semaine à l'autre
- ne pas enseigner les fidèles de façon systématique.
Les Avantages Des Programmes De Prédication
Voici quatre avantages et de bonnes raisons pour établir des programmes de prédication:
1. Planifier aidera à garder votre prédication équilibrée et intentionnelle. Elle sera équilibrée parce qu'elle tient compte des priorités bibliques pour la prédication et ne s'attardera pas sur vos thèmes de prédilection ou sur des sujets populaires. Elle sera intentionnelle parce que vos prédications couvriront l'ensemble de l'Écriture, exposant vos fidèles à l’ensemble de la vérité biblique ; ce qui consolidera leur connaissance des Écritures, leur relation avec Dieu, et leur maturité spirituelle.
2. Planifier augmentera votre efficacité dans la préparation des prédications. Cela augmentera votre efficacité, car:
- vous saurez à l'avance où vous allez et vous n’aurez pas à perdre du temps pour déterminer sur quoi prêcher chaque semaine
- vous n'aurez qu'à préparer les informations sur l’arrière plan du texte une seule fois pour toute la série
- vous aurez plus de perspicacité et d’arguments pour la prédication parce que vous vous concentrez sur une série particulière.
3. Planifier vous aidera à répondre aux besoins du ministère. Lorsque vous planifiez votre série de prédication à l'avance, vous pouvez prendre en compte le ministère et les besoins spirituels à long et court terme de l'église.
4. Planifier vous aidera à évaluer les progrès dans votre ministère. Que vous soyez dans un ministère d'église, un ministère para-ecclésiastique ou une mission, vous aurez un point de référence pour vous évaluer vous-même, et vous serez en mesure de dire si vous avez proclamé de façon systématique et équilibré l’ensemble de la vérité biblique – en occurrence que vous avez donné à vos gens de la nourriture spirituelle équilibrée et bien nutritive; que votre prédication est centrée sur le Christ, et que vous n'avez pas fait preuve de négligence.
2eme Partie: Le Leadership - Etre Un Modele Selon Le Cœur De Dieu
«Votre pratique de la méditation personnelle»
Par: Dr Roger Pascoe
L'Institut pour la prédication biblique
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Comme nous l'avons vu dans les précédents numéros de la Revue Internet des Pasteurs, être un modèle selon le cœur de Dieu couvre tous les aspects de notre vie. Nous avons parlé de «votre sainteté personnelle » et de la manière dont elle affecte votre capacité et votre efficacité en tant que leader spirituel. La sainteté ne peut être correctement entretenue ou recherchée sans une pratique soutenue des disciplines spirituelles dans votre vie. Les disciplines spirituelles sont essentielles pour vous amener davantage à la ressemblance de Christ - pour votre propre relation avec Dieu, pour votre croissance spirituelle personnelle ; pour votre pureté personnelle et pour votre force et votre vitalité spirituelle.
Un caractère pieux provient du fait de passer du temps avec Dieu. Les disciples passent du temps avec leur maitre (cf. Mc. 3:13-14). Notre caractère doit être une expression du caractère de Christ (Galates 4:19) et notre conduite une expression de celle du Christ. Notre manière de vivre, ce que nous faisons, et qui nous sommes doivent refléter comment le Christ a vécu et qui Il est. Nous ne pouvons refléter le caractère et la conduite du Christ que si nous le connaissons intimement. Et nous ne pouvons le connaître intimement que si nous passons du temps avec lui.
Nous parlons de «faire» notre méditation. Dans un sens, nous ne devrions pas «faire» notre méditation – mais plutôt vivre dans un état constant de méditation, de sorte que «méditer » ne soit pas simplement un acte mécanique ou un devoir, mais un plaisir.
1 Timothée 4:7 nous demande de nous « exercer à la piété ». Les disciplines spirituelles sont les moyens par lesquels la croissance spirituelle se produit en nous par (1) la lecture, la mémorisation, et la méditation de la Parole; (2) la prière; (3) la louange (4) l'évangélisation; (5) et le service.
Il est extrêmement important de réserver un temps et un lieu précis pour une rencontre quotidienne avec Dieu - une routine quotidienne de lecture, de méditation, de prière. Pour la plupart d'entre nous, cette pratique est difficile parce que beaucoup d'autres choses en apparence plus importantes nous disputent constamment notre temps et notre attention. Je constate que lorsque la première chose que je fais dans la journée n’est pas d’avoir ma méditation avec le Seigneur, alors les chances de pouvoir le faire par la suite s’amenuisent à mesure que la journée s’épuise. Cela est probablement vrai pour vous également.
Si vous êtes comme la plupart des chrétiens, vous trouverez probablement que la prière est particulièrement difficile à pratiquer de façon quotidienne et constante. Satan ne veut pas nous voir engagés dans la méditation quotidienne, particulièrement la prière. Alors, permettez-moi de décrire ce que je pense être les composantes de base d'une méditation quotidienne avec le Seigneur. Vous pouvez modifier cela en fonction de vos propres habitudes, mais je vous donne ci-après les principaux éléments.
La Meditation Personnelle
1. Attendre Dieu tranquillement - dans la solitude. C'est là que nous avons véritablement l’occasion de connaitre Dieu. Il est écrit dans le psaume 46:10: «Arrêtez, et sachez que je suis Dieu ». Ce sont des moments où Dieu nous oblige à attendre (en particulier pendant les temps obscurs et difficiles de notre vie). Je crois qu’à ce moment nous en apprenons davantage sur Dieu et sur nous-mêmes que pendant les moments agréables. Nous avons besoin de calme, de sérénité, d’un temps en dehors de la routine et du stress de la vie pour rencontrer Dieu. Vous avez besoin d'un endroit où vous pouvez vous enfermer, et vous avez besoin de planifier un temps à cet effet.
2. Ecouter Dieu attentivement - dans le silence. Parlez très peu et écoutez Dieu vous parler à travers sa Parole. Soyez sensible à l'Esprit Saint pendant qu’il touche votre esprit, votre cœur, votre conscience.
3. Lire de façon méditative - dans les Écritures. Prenez du temps chaque jour pour lire, méditer, et prier à travers les Ecritures. La méditation orientale nécessite que l’on vide son esprit, mais la méditation chrétienne demande plutôt que nous remplissions notre esprit des pensées de Dieu - telles qu’il nous les a révélées dans sa Parole.
Il ne s’agit pas d’étudier les Écritures. Il ne s’agit pas de préparer une prédication ou une leçon d'école du dimanche – ces choses consistent à se concentrer sur comment vous allez l'expliquer et de l'appliquer à d'autres personnes. Mais il s’agit ici d’une autre forme de lecture de la bible qui met l'accent sur votre propre vie spirituelle et l’application de la parole à votre cas personnel. C'est le moment où vous permettez à l'Écriture de vous parler, où vous laissez Dieu nourrir votre cœur et votre âme dans la Parole, où vous devenez saturé de sa Parole au point d’être incité à le louer, à mieux le comprendre, à l'aimer davantage.
La lecture quotidienne des Écritures est l'un des ingrédients qui ont donné à George Mueller une telle puissante dans sa vie. Il savait la vérité selon laquelle «l'homme ne vivra pas de pain seulement, mais de toute parole qui sort de la bouche de Dieu» (Matthieu 4:4).
Soyez systématique, intentionnel, et séquentielle dans votre lecture. Etablissez un plan de lecture. Essayez de lire dans différentes parties de la Bible: dans les Proverbes ou les Psaumes; dans un livre de l’ancien testament, et dans un livre du nouveau testament.
Réfléchissez à ce que vous lisez. Pendant que vous lisez, posez-vous quelques questions pour stimuler votre réponse à la parole:
- y a t-il un commandement auquel vous devez obéir?
- y a-t-il des liens avec d'autres passages des écritures que vous n'aviez pas remarqués auparavant?
- y a t-il une leçon à apprendre?
- y a t-il un nouvel enseignement que vous avez besoin de croire ou d’adopter?
- y a t-il une bénédiction dont vous devez jouir?
- y a t-il une pratique, une attitude, ou une relation que vous avez besoin de changer?
- y a t-il une bénédiction que vous devez saisir?
- y a t-il un domaine dans lequel prendre courage?
- y a t-il une erreur à éviter? Il est très réconfortant de savoir que lorsqu’inconsciemment je prends une mauvaise direction ou lorsque je prends une décision insensée, la parole de Dieu peut me le révéler. Il est facile de voir les erreurs des autres, mais il est beaucoup plus difficile de voir nos propres erreurs. C'est là que la Parole de Dieu devient comme un miroir pour nous (Jacques 1:23-25).
- y a t-il un exemple à suivre? Est-ce qu’il ya quelque chose dans la page que vous lisez qui vous invite à dire: «Je veux être davantage comme cela!»
- y a t-il une tache ou une responsabilité que vous devez accomplir? Est-ce que la parole de Dieu vous pousse à agir? Êtes-vous en train de négliger quelque chose dans votre foyer ou votre lieu de travail ou dans votre vie personnelle? Si oui, vous devez en prendre conscience et le corriger.
- y a t-il une promesse que vous pouvez réclamer? En étudiant la Bible, vous entendrez le Seigneur lui-même s'engager à certaines choses ou à agir d’une certaine façon. Lorsque vous abordez ces promesses, vous devez reconnaitre: «Oui, Dieu! Tu es ainsi et tu as promis d'être ainsi tout au long de ma vie, et je te fais confiance ». Votre foi sera renforcée à mesure que vous assimilez et examinez les promesses de Dieu.
- y a t-il un péché que vous devez confesser? Vous ne pouvez pas lire la bible assez longtemps sans tomber sur des passages qui exposent des erreurs dans votre vie. La promesse qui m'aide est la suivante : «Si nous confessons nos péchés, il est fidèle et juste pour nous pardonner nos péchés et nous purifier de toute iniquité.» (1 Jean 1:9).
Laissez les mots «demeurer en vous» (Jean 15:7). À partir de votre lecture, servez-vous des pensées que cela vous inspire pour répondre à Dieu dans l’adoration, la confession, l'action de grâce, l'intercession, et la supplication. Mémorisez l'Écriture pendant que la lisez. «Je serre ta parole dans mon cœur afin de ne pas pécher contre toi» (Ps. 119:11).
Laissez les mots produire des fruits en vous. Partagez ce que vous avez appris avec d’autres personnes à un moment opportun.
Obéissez à la parole que vous avez lue. Tout au long de la journée, mettez en pratique ce que vous avez lu ce matin-là.
4. Rafraichissez-vous abondamment – dans les livres de méditation. Je trouve les livres de méditation très utiles pour nourrir et stimuler mon cœur vers Dieu. Ce genre de livres vous incitent à une relation plus profonde avec Dieu. Ils génèrent en vous une connaissance plus profonde de sa personne.
La Priere Personnelle
1. Repentez-vous avec contrition - dans la confession ... à Dieu, à votre femme, à la personne à qui vous rendez compte de votre vie, ou peut-être un collègue, un pasteur, etc.
2. Conversez intimement - dans la prière. Votre vie de prière est fondamentale pour garder votre vitalité spirituelle. Elle est indispensable pour une vie chrétienne consistante, pertinente, et puissante. Et pourtant, elle est l'une des pratiques les plus difficiles à maintenir, et l'une des choses qui font le plus défaut dans la vie des leaders chrétiens.
La plupart d'entre nous avons du mal à être disciplinés dans la prière. Il ya tellement d'autres choses que nous préférerons faire et qui nous absorbent tant. Martin Luther avait l’habitude de prier plus lorsqu’il avait des responsabilités supplémentaires plus lourdes. Il a dit: «Du travail, du travail tôt le matin et tard le soir. En fait, j'ai tellement à faire que je dois passer les trois premières heures de la journée dans la prière. » Quand Jésus était très occupé et préoccupé, il passait des nuits entières à prier. (Luc 06:12).
La prière est le canal par lequel nous conversons avec Dieu. Nous ne pouvons pas le connaître sans converser avec lui ; nous ne pouvons pas dire du bien de lui publiquement aux autres si nous ne le louons pas nous-mêmes en privé. Disciplinez-vous à prier. Faites en une habitude. Essayer toujours de combiner la lecture des Écritures à la prière.
Priez intentionnellement - par exemple à un moment précis chaque jour. Il est préférable que ce soit la première chose que vous faites le matin avant que vous ne soyez absorbé par d'autres choses. Vous ne pouvez pas être puissant dans la prière en publique tant que vous n'êtes pas engagé dans la prière de façon régulière et intentionnelle en privé.
Priez sans cesse - c'est à dire tout au long de la journée (1 Thess 5:17). Priez chaque fois que quelque chose ou quelqu'un vous vient à l'esprit - dans votre voiture ou pendant que vous marchez. Priez à haute voix ou en silence.
Priez méthodiquement en utilisant un canevas de prière ou une liste de sujets de prière. Mon canevas de prière se présente ainsi qu’il suit:
- Des versets sur la prière – des versets qui magnifient Dieu; des passages sur la prière. Priez à l’aide de versets particuliers qui sont importants pour vous. Inspirez-vous de l’Écriture pour vous adresser à Dieu dans la prière.
- Les sujets de prière permanents pour chaque jour - pour la famille, les missions, des gens particuliers, etc.
- Les sujets de prière temporaires - des questions, des situations qui vont et viennent.
- Les prières quotidiennes. J’affecte à chaque jour un sujet de prière différent:
- Dimanche – le culte du dimanche et les pasteurs que je connais; le salut pour différentes personnes et pour des gens de la famille.
- Lundi - les missions et les missionnaires.
- Mardi - action de grâce, les réponses à la prière, les sujets d’encouragements, notre gouvernement et nos autorités, notre groupe d'étude de la Bible.
- Mercredi – les ministères et les serviteurs dans ces ministères.
- Jeudi - mon propre ministère, ceux qui me soutiennent, les engagements à venir du ministère.
- Vendredi – les familles, les relations dans les foyers, les gens ayant des problèmes de santé.
- Samedi - les jeunes adultes, les jeunes couples mariés et les jeunes familles qui ont occupé une place importante dans notre vie.
Priez mutuellement - c'est à dire avec un partenaire. Priez avec votre femme ou avec un collègue ou un ami.
Priez de façon responsable. Priez comme si vous en êtes seul responsable (comme si tout dépendait de vous), mais en sachant que Dieu seul peut le réaliser. Luttez dans la prière (Col. 4:12; Ep. 1, 16). Intercédez en faveur d'autres personnes (par exemple, priez en suivant l’annuaire de votre église). Suppliez Dieu pour leurs besoins. Adorez Dieu pour qui Il est. Priez dans l'énergie et la puissance du Saint-Esprit (Eph. 6:18).
Priez de façon attentive. Écoutez Dieu. Laissez-le vous parler par le Saint Esprit (Romains 8:26-27).
3ème Partie: Meditation
«Le ministère des vases de terre (2ème partie): La motivation pour le ministère » (2 Cor.5 :10-13)
Par: Dr Roger Pascoe
Institut pour la prédication biblique
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Dans 2 Corinthiens 4 et 5, l'apôtre Paul souligne trois motivations pour le ministère:
- la motivation de la transformation future (4:16-5:9)
- la motivation du jugement de Dieu (5:10-13)
- la motivation de l'amour du Christ (5:14-17).
Nous avons discuté de la motivation de la transformation future dans le numéro de l'automne 2013 de cette Revue. Maintenant, nous allons examiner la deuxième motivation pour le ministère: LA MOTIVATION DU JUGEMENT DE DIEU (5:10-13). Ici, Paul a deux sources de motivation ...
1. Les Chrétiens Rendront Compte Devant Le Tribunal De Christ (5:10)
La motivation de notre future transformation nous rappelle notre responsabilité présente d’être conformes à la nature et au caractère de Christ, dès à présent sur la terre, «car» (10) ce qui nous motive à lui être agréable, c'est que nous devons « tous comparaître devant le tribunal de Christ, afin que chacun reçoive selon le bien ou le mal qu’il aura fait, étant dans son corps.»(5:10). Nous sommes responsables de la façon dont nous vivons. Notre espoir actuel d'être avec le Seigneur doit renforcer notre désir de lui être agréable maintenant, et aussi nous rendre conscient du tribunal à venir de Christ.
Les chrétiens rendront compte un jour. En ce jour-là, tout ce que nous avons fait ici-bas sera exposé. «Tout est à nu et à découvert aux yeux de celui à qui nous devons rendre compte » (Hébreux 04:13). La perspective de ce compte rendu à venir devrait nous inciter à une vie sainte, de sorte à ce que nos actions extérieures soient conformes à ce que nous pensons et croyons au fond de nous. Nous ne sommes pas exemptés des exigences de la loi morale de Dieu. Nous avons été justifiés (Actes 13:39; Rom 8:1) et purifiés, et maintenant la responsabilité nous incombe de glorifier Dieu dans notre corps (1 Cor 6:20). C’est pourquoi Dieu nous évaluera sur de tout ce que nous avons fait ici bas, que ce soit en bien ou en mal.
Comme un commentateur l’a souligné, il s'agit non pas d’une «sentence de condamnation» mais d'une «évaluation de la valeur» afin que Christ puisse attribuer ou refuser des récompenses. Cela n'a rien à voir avec la condamnation, mais tout à voir avec les félicitations. Chaque chrétien est tenu responsable non pas de l’obtention de son salut (car nous en sommes incapables par nous mêmes) mais de la manière de construire sur cette fondation qui a été posée, à savoir Jésus-Christ (voir 1 Cor. 3:10-15). Notre fondation est complètement sécurisée: si nous sommes de vrais croyants, nous ne pouvons pas perdre notre salut. Mais nous serons tenus responsables devant Dieu pour ce que nous aurons construit sur ce fondement - si c’est « avec de l’or, de l’argent, des pierres précieuses » ou plutôt avec « du bois, du foin ou du chaume ». Chaque croyant se tiendra devant le tribunal de Christ, pas pour savoir s’il sera sauvé ou pas, mais pour recevoir soit des récompenses pour les actes qu’il a accomplis pour le Christ, ou rien pour avoir mis le feu par ces choses qu’il n’a pas faites pour le Christ - c'est à dire les mauvaises choses. Car «la foi sans les œuvres est morte» (Jacques 2:26) et nos œuvres seront exposés pour ce qu'ils sont vraiment. C’est seulement maintenant, dans cette vie que nous avons l'occasion de glorifier Dieu en paroles et en actes, dans notre corps qui est le sien. (1 Cor. 6:20).
Cela devrait certainement être une grande motivation pour notre ministère - Les chrétiens rendront compte devant le tribunal de Christ. Ensuite, d'autre part, il y a le fait que ...
2. Les Incroyants Rendront Compte Devant Le Grand Trône Blanc (5:11-12)
« Donc » (à la lumière du tribunal de Christ devant lequel tous les croyants se tiendront), « connaissant la crainte du Seigneur, nous cherchons à convaincre les hommes » (11a). Cette motivation de la responsabilité future devant Dieu motive Paul à faire son ministère qui consiste à convaincre les hommes (incroyants) de la vérité de l'Évangile. C’est une perspective suffisamment grave de savoir que les chrétiens se tiendront devant le tribunal de Christ où les actes accomplis dans le corps seront évalués pour déterminer s’ils étaient bons ou mauvais. Mais c’est une perspective bien pire de savoir que les incroyants devront se tenir devant le Grand Trône Blanc de Dieu. Ce sera une terreur abjecte. Pas étonnant que Paul dise, connaissant la crainte du Seigneur, nous cherchons à convaincre les hommes. Cela est une motivation sérieuse pour notre ministère de prédication de l'Évangile.
Néanmoins, Paul ne cherche pas à se justifier lui-même et ses activités du ministère car il dit : « Dieu nous connaît, et j’espère que dans vos consciences vous nous connaissez aussi » (11b). Dieu connaît la véritable motivation de Paul pour le ministère, de sorte qu'il n'a pas besoin de justifier ce qu'il fait et pourquoi il le fait. Et, il espère que sa motivation pour le ministère est également bien connue dans les consciences des Corinthiens. Il espère que son œuvre parmi eux les convaincra dans leur conscience de la validité et de la pureté de son appel, car ils considèrent la vie et le ministère de Paul à la lumière de toutes les accusations portées contre lui par les faux enseignants.
«Nous ne nous recommandons pas de nouveau nous-mêmes auprès de vous (voir 3:1); mais nous vous donnons occasion de vous glorifier à notre sujet, afin que vous puissiez répondre à ceux qui tirent gloire de ce qui est dans les apparences et non dans le cœur. » (12). Paul ne cherche pas à les convaincre de sa crédibilité, mais plutôt de leur donner l'occasion de le défendre et de se féliciter à son sujet. Il ne veut pas seulement les convaincre dans leur conscience quant à son authenticité en tant que ministre de l'Évangile, mais il veut aussi qu'ils parlent de sa part contre ceux qui sont son exact opposé – c'est-à-dire «ceux qui tirent gloire de ce qui est dans les apparences et non dans le cœur». C'est la définition par excellence des faux enseignants - des hypocrites qui semblent bons à l'extérieur mais qui sont corrompus dans leur être profond; ils se soucient plus de spectacles, d'argent et de pouvoir que de «convaincre les hommes » ou de nourrir le peuple de Dieu.
C'est exactement le contraire de Paul qui a compté toutes ces choses comme de la boue (l’argent, le pouvoir, l’héritage, la position religieuse, etc.) pour l'excellence de la connaissance du Christ (voir Phil. 3:1-11). « Je me glorifierai donc bien plus volontiers de mes faiblesses, afin que la puissance de Christ repose sur moi. » (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul se glorifiait dans la croix (Galates 6:14). Il n'a pas essayé d'impressionner les autres avec des discours intellectuels ronflants, mais il est venu à eux dans la crainte et la faiblesse (2 Cor. 5:1-5). Ainsi, le véritable serviteur de Dieu glorifie Christ dans son cœur et non dans les apparences. Ses valeurs sont spirituelles et internes - pas matérielles et externes.
Conclusion: «En effet (parce que), si je suis hors de sens, c’est pour Dieu ; si je suis de bon sens, c’est pour vous.» (13). Paul dit: «Si je suis ne suis pas sain d’esprit comme mes accusateurs le disent (Actes 26:24; 2 Cor 11:1,16; 12:11) - c'est à dire un extrémiste religieux qui prend des risques et des épreuves qu'une personne saine d'esprit n’accepterait pas – c’est pour servir Dieu. Mais si je suis sain d'esprit, je l'utilise pour votre bénéfice dans la prédication de l'Evangile». Puissions-nous aussi utiliser toutes les capacités et les opportunités que Dieu nous donne pour son service. Que la perspective de rendre des comptes à Dieu nous motive à servir Dieu avec le pur motif de faire du bien aux autres.
4ème Partie: Plans De Predication
Jean 8:1-11 / Le Dialogue De Jésus Avec Les Pharisiens
Titre: L'hypocrisie confrontée
Point n°1: Les accusateurs défient Jésus (8:3-6a)
1. La femme est amenée (3)
2. Jésus est interpellé (4-5)
Point n°2: Jésus discrédite les accusateurs (8:6b-9a)
1. Jésus ignore leur demande (6b, 8)
2. Jésus révèle sa sagesse divine (7)
3. Jésus touche leur conscience (9a)
Point n°3: Jésus s’occupe de la femme accusée (8:9b-11)
1. Jésus s’occupe d’elle de façon personnelle (9b-10a)
2. Jésus s’occupe d’elle de façon protective (10b-11a)
3. Jésus s’occupe d’elle de façon pastorale (11b)
Related Topics: Pastors
Jurnalul Electronic Al Păstorilor, Rom Ed 10, Ediția de Iarnă 2014
Ediția de Iarnă 2014
Produs de ...
Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
“Îmbărbătând biserica în predicare și lidership biblic”
Part I: Pregătirea Predicii
“Alegerea textului și subiectului”
De: Dr. Roger Pascoe
Institutul Biblic de Predicare, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Una dintre întrebările care este adesea ridicată de către predicatori este "Cum se poate selecta textul din care urmează să îl predice ?" Cealaltă întrebare este "Când ar trebui să fie selectat textul din care urmează să se predice - este bine în avans, doar câteva zile înainte de a predica, sau când te ridici să vorbești? "
Selecția de text este o parte foarte importantă de pregătire în predicare. În primul rând, permiteți-mi să subliniez două pericole care pot să apară:
1. Un text prea scurt - un singur verset sau o propoziție. Dacă textul este mai scurt decât unitatea de autor de gândire (pe care am putea să o numim, de obicei, un paragraf), trebuie să fie conștienți de contextul său imediat, în scopul de a înțelege în mod corespunzător și să predice sensul său. Acesta este pericolul de a predica dintr-un singur verset sau o propoziție - aveți riscul de a interpreta greșit și aplicare suferă lipsa accentului special în text.
2. Un text prea lung. În cazul în care textul este prea lung va rula riscul de a da doar o imagine de ansamblu prin generalizarea unui text mare, fără a ține seama de urmarea fluxului de gândire.
Selectarea ideilor transmise cu putere din text te ajută să crezi ce se poate realiza prin predicare:
- Ce ar trebui să facă - cum se satisfac nevoile congregației dumneavoastră.
- Ce rol are Duhului Sfânt - în planificare texte predică și subiecte.
- Cum folosește Dumnezeu în mod suveran predica să slujească la situații pe care nu le cunoașteți și pe care nu le-ați planificat în a le predica.
În cele din urmă responsabilitatea noastră este de a predica ceea ce ne îndrumă Duhul Sfânt să predicăm, dar cum se face acest lucru în practică? Cum vă decideți ce să predicați? Care este textul corect? Care este ordinea, textul sau subiectul? Cum vă răspunde la o criză (de exemplu, în evenimentele lumii sau în biserică) care nu se potrivește cu seria de predici în prezent inspirația Duhului? Când vă decideți ce să predicați? Vă decideți în fiecare săptămână pentru duminica viitoare sau aveți de gând să faceți un calendar de predicare? În cazul în care aveți un calendar de predicare, pentru cât timp îl aveți?
Planuri De Predicare
Dezbaterea Cu Privire La Planurile De Predicare
Valoarea și corectitudinea planificării subiectelor de predică și a textelor în avans a fost îndelung dezbătută de-a lungul anilor. Întrebarea este "Cum poți planifica o serie de predici în avans, și în același timp să rămâneți ascultători față de șoapta Duhului Sfânt? Există un conflict între pre-planificarea unor serii de predici și îngăduirea Duhului Sfânt în a vă ghida cu privire la ceea ce veți predicați?”
Unii predicatori ar spune, "Da, există un conflict." Ei ar putea argumenta că seria de predici și textele nu ar trebui să fie pre-planificate, și că predicatorul trebuie să caute zilnic și săptămânal călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt cu privire la textul de predică. Dacă această afirmație este adevărată, ar însemna că nu se poate planifica o predică sau o serie de predici dintr-o carte a Bibliei sau o anumită temă.
Aș spune: " Nu , nu există niciun conflict . " Cei care se opun pre-planificării și seriilor de predici presupun că Duhul Sfânt îi va călăuzi de la o săptămână la alta și nu de la o lună la alta , sau de la an la an. Dar nu există nici un motiv pentru care călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt este limitată la un anumit interval de timp - și anume că Duhul Sfânt te va duce călăuzi de la o săptămână la alta , în alegerea textului și nu pentru o perioadă mai lungă de timp în avans. Eu cred că Duhul Sfânt poate și influențează predicatorii direct pentru folosirea unui anumit text care să trateze o nevoie specială din această săptămână și că El îndrumă predicatorii la o carte anume din Biblie sau o temă din Biblie pentru o serie de predici pe o perioadă mai lungă de timp.
O serie de predici pre-planificate nu înseamnă că nu sunt sensibile la călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt, și nici nu înseamnă că nu vă puteți abate de la seria dvs. , în scopul de a aborda o anumită criză sau nevoie din biserica dvs. sau din lume. Din acest motiv , în cazul în care vă decideți să predicați o serie, aș recomanda să nu prezentați pasajele și titlurile de predici în avans, astfel încât să puteți avea posibilitatea de a schimba planurile dvs. de predicare în timp ce simțiți călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt.
Sunt de acord cu Martin Lloyd - Jones, care a spus: "După ce am stabilit că noi suntem supuși Duhului, și că trebuie vigilenți pentru a ne asigura că într-adevăr suntem supuși Lui, eu susțin că El poate să ne conducă la un moment dat să predicăm pe texte neobișnuite și într-un alt moment pentru a predica o serie de predici " (Predicare și predicatori, 188-189).
Cele mai importante principii cu privire la selecția de text sunt:
- trebuie să fiți sensibili la călăuzirea Duhului.
- libertatea Duhului să vă călăuzească să predicați dintr-un text diferit de cel pe care l-ați pregătit pentru a fi folosit mai târziu.
- textele selectate pentru a fi predicate și temele să fie alese prin rugăciune, fiind sensibil la călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt .
Dintr-un punct de vedere practic , aș spune că predicarea cere la fel de multă planificare așa cum solicită un timp de studiu pentru a fi la fel de eficientă pentru Dumnezeu. Din moment ce nu ne gândim în a aborda orice alte sarcini organizatorice fără o planificare, cu cât mai mult ar trebui să ne planificăm propovăduirea noastră. De ce ar trebui să ne apropiem de o slujbă atât de importantă ca predicarea și să gândim că putem să facem aceasta fără o planificare în prealabil?
Un predicator care predică fără o planificare se face vinovat de:
- faptul că nu ia în serios sarcina sa de propovăduire.
- de faptul că nu servește bine congregației sale.
- faptul că se apropie de ea la întâmplare.
- producerea confuziei în congregația sa, care nu va ști de la o săptămână la alta, ceea ce el are de gând să predice.
- faptul că nu a învățat poporul în mod sistematic.
A Vantajele Planurilor De Predică
Sunt prezentate 4 avantaje și motive pentru a adopta planurile de predicare:
1. Planificarea va ajuta la menținerea unei predicări echilibrate și intenționate. Acesta va fi echilibrată în predicarea prioritățile biblice și vă va ajuta să nu insistați pe temele dvs. obișnuite sau pe cele cunoscute. Predicarea va fi intenționată în sensul că predicile tale vor acoperi întregul domeniu de aplicare a Scripturii, va expune oamenii tăi la adevărul biblic care le va consolida cunoștințele lor Scripturale, relația lor cu Dumnezeu, și maturitatea lor spirituală.
2 . Planificarea va ajuta eficiența în pregătirea predicii.
- veți ști unde aveți de gând în avans să ajungeți și nu trebuie să-ți petreci timp gândindu-te de unde o să predici în fiecare săptămână.
- va trebui doar să se pregătească contextul o dată pentru întreaga serie.
- veți obține o perspectivă mai mare și materiale mai multe pentru a predica, deoarece predicarea se concentrează pe o anumită serie.
3 . Planificarea va ajuta la îndeplinirea nevoilor de slujire. Când aveți de gând să pregătiți serii de predici în avans, puteți lua în considerare pe termen lung și pe termen scurt predicarea și nevoile spirituale ale bisericii .
4 . Planificare va ajuta să se evalueze progresul lucrării. Fie că sunteți într-o biserică, para-biserică sau misiune, va avea un etalon pentru a vă măsura și veți fi în măsură să spuneți dacă ați proclamat întregul adevăr scriptural într-un mod corect și echilibrat – gândindu-vă de exemplu, că i-ați dăruit congregației dvs. hrană spirituală echilibrată și nutritivă; și că predicarea dvs este centrată pe Hristos și că nu ați fost neglijent.
Partea a-II-a. Leadership: Being A Godly Role Model
“Practicarea timpului devoțional”
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Așa cum am văzut câteva probleme de predicare și organizare a predicilor, fiind un model după voia lui Dumnezeu se extinde la fiecare aspect al vieții noastre. Ne-am uitat la "sfințenia dumneavoastră personală" și modul în care aceasta influențează capacitatea și eficacitatea noastră ca om după voia lui Dumnezeu. Sfințenia nu poate fi menținută sau urmărită fără practici spirituale disciplinate corespunzătoare în viața ta. Disciplinele spirituale sunt vitale pentru noi, pentru a deveni mai mult ca Hristos - pentru propria noastră relație cu Dumnezeu, pentru creșterea spirituală personală, pentru puritatea personală, pentru puterea spirituală personală și vitalitate.
Caracterul evlavios provine de la petrecerea timpului cu Dumnezeu . Discipolii petreceau timp cu liderul lor ( Marcu 3:13-14) . Caracterul nostru trebuie să fie o expresie a caracterului lui Hristos (Galateni 4:19) și conduita noastră este trebuie să fie o expresie a comportamentului lui Hristos. Modul în care trăim , ceea ce facem, trebuie să reflecte modul în care Hristos a trăit și cine este El. Putem reflecta doar caracterul lui Hristos și să ne testăm, dacă Îl cunoaștem într-un mod profund, mai intim. Și noi îl putem cunoaște doar dacă petrecem timp singuri cu El.
Noi vorbim despre "a face" devoțiunile noastre. Într- un sens, noi nu ar trebui să "facem" devoțiuni - mai degrabă, ar trebui să trăim într-o stare constantă de devotament, astfel că "a face" devoțiuni nu devine pur și simplu un act mecanic sau datorie, ci o plăcere.
1 Timotei 4:7 ne învață "să ne disciplinăm cu scopul de a fi evlavioși." Discipline spirituale sunt mijloacele prin care creșterea spirituală este dezvoltat în noi prin (1) citirea, memorarea și meditarea asupra Cuvântului, (2) rugăciunea, (3) închinarea, (4), evanghelizarea, (5) și slujirea.
Este extrem de important să punem deoparte un anumit timp și un anumit loc pentru avea un timp liniștit cu Dumnezeu - o rutină zilnică pentru a citi, medita, și rugăciune. Pentru majoritatea dintre noi, aceasta este o practică dificilă, deoarece atât de multe alte lucruri care par, în mod constant, a fi mai importante, concurează pentru timpul și atenția noastră. Consider că dacă primul lucru pe care îl fac în fiecare zi nu este să-mi petrec un timp liniștit cu Domnul, șansele ca eu să mai am acel timp mai târziu în acea zi se diminuează cu trecerea acesteia. Acest lucru este probabil adevărat și în cazul dvs.
Dacă sunteți ca majoritatea creștinilor, probabil că ați aflat că rugăciunea zilnică este o practică grea și consistentă. Satana nu vrea să ne luăm angajamentul de a petrece un timp liniștit în fiecare zi, în special pentru rugăciune. Deci, permiteți-mi să evidențiez ceea ce cred că sunt componentele de bază ale unei perioade de liniște zilnică cu Domnul. S-ar putea ca acestea să varieze puțin pentru a se potrivi propriei dvs. practici, dar acestea sunt principalele elemente.
1. Așteaptă-L în liniște pe Dumnezeu - în singurătate. Acest lucru este adevărat în cazul în care vom ajunge să - L cunoaștem pe Dumnezeu. Psalmul 46:10 spune: "Opriți-vă și știți că Eu sunt Dumnezeu." În acele momente când Dumnezeu ne obligă să așteptăm (în special în întuneric, în vremuri grele ale vieții noastre), eu cred că vom afla mai multe despre Dumnezeu și despre noi înșine decât ne-am făcut timp în vremurile bune. Avem nevoie de liniște, feriți de rutina și graba vieții, cu scopul de a ne întâlni cu Dumnezeu. Ai nevoie de un loc unde să poți să te închizi - departe, și ai nevoie de un timp pe care să îl programezi în acest scop.
2. Ascultă cu atenție de Dumnezeu - în tăcere. Vorbește cât mai puțin posibil lasă-L pe Dumnezeu să vorbească prin Cuvântul Său. Fii sensibil la Duhul Sfânt că El influențează mintea , inima, conștiința.
3. Meditează citind din Scriptură. Fă-ți timp în fiecare zi pentru a citi, medita, și a te ruga cu ajutorul Scripturii. Meditația orientală, necesită golirea minții, dar meditația creștină necesită umplerea minții cu gândurile lui Dumnezeu, așa cum le-a revelat în Cuvântul Său .
Acest lucru nu este un mod de a studia Scriptura. Acest lucru nu pregătește o predică sau o lecție de Școală Duminicală - care se concentrează pe modul în care aveți de gând să-l explicați și să o aplicați la alții. Dar aceasta este o altă formă de lectură care se concentrează pe viața voastră spirituală și de aplicare personală. Acesta este momentul în care Scriptura vă vorbește vouă, atunci când Dumnezeu hrănește inima și sufletul vostru în Cuvânt, atunci când devii saturat în Cuvânt, astfel încât să te solicite să îl lauzi pe El, să-L înțelegi mai bine, să-L iubești mai mult.
Citirea zilnică a Scripturii a fost unul dintre ingredientele pe care le-a dat George Mueller pentru o viață puternică. El știa adevărul că "omul nu va trăi numai cu pâine, ci cu orice cuvânt care iese din gura lui Dumnezeu." (Matei 4:4).
Citește Scripturea în mod sistematic, cu scop și consecvență. Încercați să citiți din diferite părți ale Bibliei: Proverbe sau din Psalmi, de la un VT carte și dintr-o carte din NT. Cred că prin ceea ce ai citit după ce ai citit, întreabă-te pentru a stimula răspunsul tău:
- Există o poruncă de care aveți nevoie pentru a asculta?
- Există legături cu alte pasaje din Scriptură care nu au fost observate mai înainte?
- Există o lecție de care aveți nevoie pentru a o învăța?
- Există o nouă învățătură care aveți nevoie a crede sau de a adopta?
- Există o binecuvântare pentru a vă bucura?
- Există o practică, atitudine, sau o relație pe care trebuie să o schimbați?
- Există o binecuvântare pentru tine pe care să o îmbrățișezi?
- Există o încurajare pentru tine care să-ți îmbărbăteze inima?
- Există o eroare pe care aveți nevoie de a o evita ? Este foarte reconfortant să știi că, dacă am pășit în necunoștință într-o direcție greșită sau am făcut o decizie neînțeleaptă, Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu poate să îmi dezvăluie acest lucru. Este ușor de a vedea greșelile altora, dar mult mai greu este de a vedea greșelile noastre. Acest lucru se poate realiza când privim în Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu care devine pentru noi ca o oglindă (Iacov 1:23-25).
- Există un exemplu pentru tine să îl urmezi? Există ceva ce te motivează astfel încât să poți exclama: "Vreau să fiu mai mult ca acesta!"
- Există o slujbă pe care trebuie să o efectuezi? Este Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu care te cheamă să acționezi? Ești neglijent cu ceva în casa ta, locul de muncă sau în viața personală? Dacă este așa, vei dori să ști ce este astfel încât să poți lucra la aspectul acesta.
- Există o promisiune care vă poate garanta ceva? Pe măsură ce studiezi Biblia, veți vedea pe Domnul angajându-se la anumite lucruri sau acționând într-un anumit mod. Când ajungi la acele promisiuni, conștientizezi:"Da , Doamne! Tu ești așa si ai promis că vei fi la fel în tot timpul vieții mele și mă încred în Tine. Credința ta va fi astfel consolidată în timp ce înveți și îți reamintești promisiunile lui Dumnezeu.
- Există un păcat ce trebuie să mărturisești? Dacă citiți Biblia mult, aceasta arată căile voastre. O promisiune care mă ajută cu acest lucru este, "Dacă ne mărturisim păcatele, El este credincios și drept ca să ne ierte păcatele și să ne curățească de orice nelegiuire." (1 Ioan . 1:09).
Cuvintele să "rămână în voi" (Ioan 15:7). Din lectura dvs., rugați-vă ca gândurile voastre să se ducă înapoi la Dumnezeu în adorare, mărturisire, mulțumire, mijlocire, și implorare. Memorează Scriptura așa cum ai citit. "Strâng Cuvântul Tău în inima mea ca să nu păcătuiesc împotriva Ta" (Ps. 119:11).
Cuvintele să producă rod în tine. Împărtășește ceea ce ai învățat la timpul potrivit cu alții.
Ascultă de Cuvântul pe care l-ai citit. Pe parcursul zilei, pune în practică ceea ce ați citit în acea dimineață.
4. Studiu profund - al cărților devoționale. Am descoperit că, cărțile devoționale pot fi foarte utile, hrănitoare în stimularea inimi mele față de Dumnezeu. Aceste tipuri de cărți se amestecă pentru o relație mai profundă cu Dumnezeu. Acestea pot genera o cunoaștere mai profundă a Lui.
1. Pocăind-vă dintr-o inimă zdrobită înaintea lui Dumnezeu, a soției dvs. sau a unui coleg de slujire pastorală.
2. Conversând intim - în rugăciune. Viața ta de rugăciune este fundamentală pentru putere și vitalitate spirituală. Este obligatoriu pentru o viață ca cea de slujitor plină de sens. Și totuși, aceasta este una dintre cele mai dificile practici în care să fi consecvent și este una dintre cele mai mari lipsuri în viața de lideri creștini.
Celor mai mulți dintre noi le este greu să fie disciplinați în rugăciune. Există atât de multe alte lucruri pe care le-ar face mai degrabă. Martin Luther sa ruga mult, atunci când a fost împovărat cu taxe suplimentare el a spus: ”Muncă, muncă de la începutul anului până la sfârșitul anului. De fapt, am atât de mult de făcut încât voi petrece primele trei ore în rugăciune." Când Isus a fost foarte ocupat și preocupat, El a petrecut nopți întregi în rugăciune (Luca 6:12).
Rugăciunea este canalul prin care am conversa prezența lui Dumnezeu. Nu-l putem cunoaște fără vorbă cu el, nu putem vorbi de bine despre El public pentru alții, dacă nu-l preamărim noi în privat. Disciplinează -te pentru a te ruga. Ajunge cu obiceiul. Încerca întotdeauna să combini lectura cu Scriptura și rugăciune.
Rugați-vă în mod intenționat - de exemplu, la o anumită oră în fiecare zi. Primul lucru de dimineața este de obicei cel mai bine înainte de a te absorbi cu alte lucruri. Nu poți fi puternic în rugăciune publică, dacă nu sunt săvârșite rugăciuni regulate, intenționate, private.
Rugați-vă neîncetat - adică pe tot parcursul zilei (1 Tesaloniceni 5:17). Rugați-vă de fiecare dată când ceva sau cineva vine în minte - în mașină sau în timp ce sunteți pe jos. Rugați-vă cu voce tare sau în tăcere.
Rugați-vă metodic prin utilizarea unui jurnal de rugăciune sau o listă de elemente de rugăciune. Jurnalul meu de rugăciune este defalcat după cum urmează:
- versete de Rugăciune - versurile care măresc pe Dumnezeu; pasaje de rugăciune. Rugați-vă prin versuri speciale, care sunt semnificative pentru voi. Rugați-vă cu Scriptura către Dumnezeu.
- rugăciuni permanente pentru a se ruga în fiecare zi - pentru familie, misiuni, oameni speciali, etc.
- rugăciunile temporare - probleme, situații care vin și pleacă.
- rugăciuni zilnice - Am atribui un subiect de rugăciune diferit de fiecare zi:
- Duminica - duminică la slujbele bisericii și pastorii pe care îi cunosc, mântuirea pentru diferite persoane si rude.
- Luni - misiuni și misionari.
- Marți - Ziua Recunoștinței, răspunsuri la rugăciune, încurajare, guvernul și autoritățile noastre, grupul nostru de studiu biblic.
- Miercuri – slujirea
- Joi - propria mea lucrare de slujire, susținătorii mei, angajamentele lucrării viitoare.
- Vineri - familii, relațiile de căsătorie, persoanele cu probleme de sănătate.
- Sâmbătă – adolescenți, tineri, cupluri căsătorite și familiile tinere care au fost o parte importantă din viața noastră.
Rugați-vă reciproc - adică cu un partener. Rugați-vă împreună cu soția sau cu un coleg sau un prieten.
Rugați-vă în mod responsabil. Rugați-vă ca și cum tu ești cel responsabil, dar știind că Dumnezeu este singurul care o poate face. Lupta în rugăciune (Col. 4:12;. Efeseni 1, 16). Intervine în numele altor persoane (de exemplu, roagă-te pentru directorul de biserica ta). Ruga înaintea lui Dumnezeu pentru nevoi. Adoră pe Dumnezeu pentru cine este El. Rugați-vă în energia și puterea Duhului Sfânt (Efeseni 6:18).
Rugați-vă cu atenție. Dumnezeu ascultă. Lasă-l să vorbescă cu tine prin Duhul Sfânt (Rom. 8:26-27).
Partea a-III-a. Gânduri Devoționale
“Slujirea vaselor de lut, Partea a-2-a: Motivarea Slujirii” (2 Cor. 5:10-13)
De: Dr. Roger Pascoe
Institutul pentru Predicare Biblică, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
În 2 Corinteni 4 și 5, apostolul Pavel subliniază trei motivații pentru misiune:
- motivația de transformare viitoare (4:16 - 5:09)
- motivația de responsabilitate față de Dumnezeu (5:10-13)
- motivația dragostei lui Hristos (5:14-17).
Am discutat despre motivația de transformare viitoare în toamna 2013 ediție a acestui jurnal. Acum ne vom uita la cea de a doua motivație pentru lucrarea: MOTIVAREA - responsabilitate față de Dumnezeu (5:10-13). Aici Paul are două surse de motivație:
1. Responsabilitatea credincioșilor la scaunul de judecată al lui Hristos (5:10)
Motivația de transformare a noastră viitoare ne amintește de responsabilitatea noastră față de conformare și luarea chipului lui Hristos chiar de pe acest pământ, "pentru" (9), motivația noastră de a fi plăcuți pentru El este că "trebuie să ne înfățișăm înaintea hotărârii scaunului al lui Hristos, pentru ca fiecare să-și primească lucrurile făcute în trup în conformitate cu ceea ce a făcut, fie bun sau rău " (05:10). Noi suntem responsabili de modul în care trăim. Prezenta speranță de a fi cu Domnul, ar trebui să sporească dorința noastră de a îi mulțumi acum și conștientizarea noastră a viitorului scaun de judecată al lui Hristos.
Creștinii se confruntă cu o zi de contabilitate. În ziua aceea, tot ceea ce am făcut aici va fi expus. "Toate lucrurile sunt goale și descoperite înaintea ochilor Aceluia înaintea căruia trebuie să dăm socoteală " (Evrei 4:13). Această perspectivă de responsabilitate în viitor ar trebui să ne motiveze pentru o viață sfântă, astfel încât acțiunile noastre exterioare să fie în concordanță cu gândurile noastre interioare și credințele noastre. Noi nu suntem scutiți de la standardul și controlul legii morale a lui Dumnezeu. Am fost justificați (Fapte 13:39; Romani 8:1) și curățați, iar acum suntem responsabili să-L slăvim pe Dumnezeu în trupurile noastre (1 Corinteni 6:20). Prin urmare, Dumnezeu evaluează tot ceea ce am făcut aici, pe pământ, fie bun sau rău.
Un comentator spune, aceasta este o "evaluare de valoare" nu o "declarație de iad", pentru ca Hristos a atribuit sau de a refuzat recompense. Acest lucru nu are nimic de-a face cu condamnarea, dar tot ceea ce se face se face cu laudă. Fiecare creștin nu este responsabil pentru a câștiga mântuirea (pentru că nu se poate), dar pentru a construi pe acest fundament care este pus, și care este Isus Hristos (1 Corinteni 3:10-15). Fundația noastră este absolut sigură: dacă suntem credincioși adevărați nu ne putem pierde mântuirea noastră. Dar noi suntem răspunzători față de Dumnezeu pentru ceea ce am construit pe această temelie - fie că este vorba "de aur, argint, pietre prețioase", sau fiecare credincios va sta în fața scaunului de judecată al lui Hristos, nu pentru a determina mântuirea. "Nu Condamnare”, ci pentru a primi fie recompense pentru faptele făcute ca Hristos sau de a fi ars aceste lucruri care nu au fost făcute ca Hristos - adică lucruri rele. Pentru că "credința fără fapte este moartă" (Iacov 2:26) și faptele noastre vor fi expuse pentru ceea ce sunt cu adevărat. Abia acum, în această viață avem posibilitatea să-L slăvim pe Dumnezeu prin cuvânt și faptă, în corpurile noastre, care sunt rele (1 Corinteni 6:20).
Acest lucru cu siguranță ar trebui să fie o motivație mare pentru lucrarea noastră - responsabilitatea credincioșilor la scaunul de judecată al lui Hristos.
2 . Responsabilitatea necredincioșilor la Marele Tron Alb ( 5:11-12 )
"De aceea" (în lumina scaunului de judecată al lui Hristos, înainte căruia toți credincioșii vor sta. Această motivație de responsabilitate față de Dumnezeu în viitor motivează pe Pavel să facă lucrarea lui de a convinge oameni (necredincioși) la adevărul Evangheliei. Perspectiva pentru credincioșii din fața scaunului de judecată al lui Hristos, unde faptele noastre făcute în trup vor fi evaluate pentru a stabili dacă acestea au fost bune sau rele este suficient de gravă. Dar cât de grav este pentru cei necredincioși să stea înaintea lui Dumnezeu în judecata finală de la Marele Tron Alb? Va fi teroare cumplită. Nu este de mirare că Pavel spune, cunoscând frica de Domnul am convinge pe oameni. Care este o motivație serioasă pentru lucrarea noastră de predicare a Evangheliei.
Dumnezeu cunoaște motivația reală a lui Pavel pentru slujire, așa că nu are nevoie de a justifica ceea ce face și de ce o face. El speră că motivația lui pentru slujire este la fel de bine cunoscută în (corintenilor ) conștiințele lor de asemenea. El speră că lucrarea lui printre ei îi va convinge în conștiința lor de validitatea și puritatea chemării sale, pe care o consideră viața și lucrarea sa în lumina tuturor acuzațiilor aduse împotriva lui de către apostoli mincinoși.
El nu încearcă să -i convingă de încredere lui peste tot din nou , ci mai degrabă pentru a le da o oportunitate de a veni în apărarea sa și să se laude de fapt cu ei. El nu vrea doar să îi convingă în conștiința lor de autenticitate lui ca slujitor al Evangheliei, ci mai degrabă că ei vor vorbi de fapt, pentru el împotriva celor care sunt exact opusul lui însuși adică cei care "se laudă în aparență și nu în inimă". Aceasta este definiția în esența a lucrătorilor falși - ipocriți care arata bine la exterior, dar în adâncul ființei lor sunt corupți, care au grija mai multe de spectacol, bani și putere decât o fac pentru a "convinge oamenii" sau păstorii poporul lui Dumnezeu.
Acest lucru este exact opusul lui Pavel, care a considerat toate aceste lucruri de gunoi (bani, putere, patrimoniu, neam religios, etc), pentru nivelul de excelență al cunoașterii lui Hristos (Filipeni 3:1-11). "Mă voi lăuda în slăbiciunile mele pentru ca puterea lui Hristos să rămână în mine" (2 Corinteni 12:9). Pavel se lăuda cu crucea (Galateni 6:14). El nu a încercat să impresioneze pe alții cu discursul intelectual pompos, dar el a venit la ei în teamă și slăbiciune (2 Corinteni 5:1-5). Astfel , lucrătorul autentic dă laudă lui Hristos în inimă și nu în aparență. Valorile sale sunt spirituale și interne, nu materiale și externe.
Concluzie: Putem folosi, de asemenea, toate abilitățile și oportunitățile lui Dumnezeu care le oferă pentru serviciul Său. Fie ca responsabilitatea noastră viitoare a lui Dumnezeu să ne motiveze pentru a sluji lui Dumnezeu din motivul pur în urma căruia beneficiază ceilalți.
Partea a-IV-a. Schițe De Predici
Ioan 8:1-11, Dialogul Domnului Isus cu fariseii
(Ioan. 8:1-5; Ioan. 8:6-7; Ioan. 8:8-11)
SUBIECT: Confruntarea cu Ipocrizia
Punctul 1: Acuzatorii îl sfidează pe Isus (8:03-6a)
1. Prezentarea femeii (3)
2. Confruntarea cu Isus (4-5)
Punctul 2: Isus discreditează acuzatorii (8:06 b-9a)
1. Isus refuză cererea lor (6b, 8)
2. Isus revelează înțelepciunea divină (7)
3. Isus ajunge la conștiința lor (9a)
Punctul 3: Isus vorbește cu femeia acuzată (8:09 b-11)
1. Isus se ocupă de ea personal (9b-10a)
2. Isus acționează în mod protector (10b-11a)
3. Isus se ocupă de ea pastoral (11b)
Related Topics: Pastors
Thanks for the M̶e̶m̶o̶r̶i̶e̶s̶ RemindersRelated Media
A year ago on February 20th, my father, Howard G. “Prof” Hendricks, died. Two years after finishing sixty years of teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary, he said his goodbyes to the family, then rolled over and went into a deep sleep. A little more than two days later, he quit breathing on earth and began breathing whatever resurrected bodies breathe in the House of the Lord.
Needless to say, this past year has given me much opportunity to reflect on the whole notion of legacy—what someone leaves behind when they depart this earthly existence. Indeed, one of the most common things people have said to me this year is, “Your dad left such an incredible legacy!”
I can’t disagree with that. Sixty unbroken years of teaching. An estimated 13,000 students in his classes. Untold thousands, perhaps millions, of people impacted through his books, speaking engagements, radio broadcasts, visual media, and other means of communication. By any measure, he lived an extraordinary life.
But as I’ve pondered that legacy, along with its obvious implications for my own legacy, I’ve come to realize that a great deal of what I believed about leaving one’s mark on the world, and much of what is commonly taught on that subject, needs to be re-examined. It’s not that it’s outright wrong. It’s just shortsighted.
Let me explain. The matter of leaving a legacy is usually formulated as a question: Eventually you’re going to die, and when you do, what will you leave behind?
There are countless ways in which people answer that question. Some leave buildings. Some leave books. Some leave a family. Some leave the gift of wonderful memories and stories. My Dad left his students, with the charge to go and reproduce themselves.
Others, sadly, leave nothing but wreckage and sorrow. Broken relationships. Ruined finances. The shame and waste of bad choices and errors in judgment. Perhaps the tragedy of having squandered enormous potential on silly, pointless pursuits. Maybe even the memory of an act so vile that all one has to do is say the person’s name and people shudder.
I suppose there’s a third category: some people won’t leave much at all. They’ll live their lives and then just. . .go away. There won’t be anything to outlive them, really. It will be as if they never existed.
Eventually you’re going to die, and when you do, what will you leave behind?
As I say, that’s how the question of legacy gets posed most of the time. It’s a great question.
Nonetheless, it’s the wrong question!
This World Is Not Home
My Dad recognized that. At the beginning of his memorial service (which Stonebriar Church was kind enough to videotape, and ), a delightful media remembrance of his life was shown that brought laughter, tears, and ultimately hope. It inspired hope because it ended with a clip of Dad’s own voice delivering one of his most memorable lines: “We are in the land of the dying, headed toward the land of the living.”
The bookend to that theme came toward the end of the service when a men’s quartet sang Dad’s favorite spiritual: “This world is not my home, I’m just a’passin’ through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
If Dad understood nothing else, he recognized that this world was not his home. Oh, yes, with Shakespeare he fully appreciated that the world is indeed a stage. But for him, it was not the main stage. It was just the green room. He realized that the big show is in the life to come. Because that’s when the Star will make His appearance—and we with Him. That’s when what really matters will finally matter.
Dad understood truth that at the core of his being, and it affected everything about his life. Even his legacy. Though I never heard him phrase it this way, for him the question was not, What am I leaving behind? Rather, What am I leaving for?
That forward-looking perspective kind of turns the traditional notions of legacy on their head. It suggests that our lives ought not to be focused primarily on what we leave behind, but on how we are preparing—and how we are helping others prepare—to live permanently with the King and His people, in His kingdom.
In short, this world is not a museum. It’s a nursery. God is not asking us to leave memorials to ourselves. He’s asking us to grow up and get ready to live with Him, and to grow others up and get ready to live with Him.
My Dad is a great model of someone who invested his time on earth with that long-range view. He was not, as they say, so heavenly minded that he was no earthly good. No, he was very present. But it was a presence and focus informed by the fact that the King had called him to teach. So he taught.
So even though his investment was in the world, it was not of the world. His was an investment in the King’s business, which, in his particular calling, involved the teaching of men and women.
And so whatever we leave behind ought not to be merely a memory, which points to the past. No, our legacy ought to point to our future with the Father, Son, and Spirit, which the Westminster Shorter Catechism claims is the reason we were created in the first place.
Memories are good (as long as they are good memories). But reminders are better. My Dad’s legacy is a great reminder that this world is not our home—it’s our launching pad to go home. Which means everything we do here matters. But it matters only because it’s a baby step toward all that our Father has prepared for us when at last He hands us our inheritance, which is the eternal weight of His glory.
In that day, no one will ask, What did you leave behind? Only this: How much glory are you prepared to bear?
Do Atheists Believe in Just One Less God Than Christians?
As an atheist, I used to challenge my Christian friends with a common objection heard across the Internet today. Although my formulation of the objection differed from time to time, it was a lot like the popular statement attributed to Stephen F. Roberts:
“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
My point was simple: All of us are atheists to some degree if you really think about it; we just disagree about which gods we reject. Christians are atheistic in their attitude toward, Zeus, Poseidon, Lakshmi, Vishnu, Cheonjiwang, Na Tuk Kong, Achamán, Huixtocihuatl and thousands of other historic gods. When asked, Christians typically offer the same reasons for rejecting these other “deities” that I would have offered for rejecting the God of Christianity. So (as I often claimed), if my believing friends simply approached Yahweh in the same way they approached other mythologies, they would inevitably take the final step toward rationality and reject all false gods.
This objection is still popular. I hear it (or read it) frequently in my efforts to make the case for Christianity now that I’m a believer. While there are certainly several valid responses, I’d like to offer one from my experience as a detective and case maker. I think it provides a brief, but rhetorically powerful rejoinder to this misguided, iconic objection.
In every criminal trial, a jury is asked to evaluate the actions of one defendant related to a particular crime. While there are millions of other people in the world who could have committed the crime under consideration (and indeed, millions of these people were actually available to commit the crime), only one has been charged. If the jury becomes convinced this defendant is the perpetrator, they will convict him based on their beliefs. They will convict the accused even though they haven’t examined the actions (or nature) of millions of other potential suspects. They’ll render a verdict based on the evidence related to this defendant, in spite of the fact they may be ignorant of the history or actions of several million alternatives. If the evidence is persuasive, the jurors will become true believers in the guilt of this man or woman, even as they reject millions of other options.
As Christians, we are just like the jurors on that trial. We make a decision about Jesus on the basis of the evidence related to Jesus, not the fact there may be many alternative candidates offered by others. If the evidence is persuasive, we can reach our decision in good conscience, even if we are completely unfamiliar with other possibilities. Christianity makes claims of exclusivity; if Christianity is true, all other claims about God are false. If the evidence supporting Christianity is convincing to us as the jury, we need look no further. In the end, our decision will be based on the strength (or weakness) of the case for Christianity, just like the decisions made by jurors related to a particular defendant must be based on the strength (or weakness) of the evidence. At the end of a trail, juries are “unbelievers” when it comes to every other potential suspect, because the evidence confirming the guilt of their particular defendant was sufficient. In a similar way, we can be confident “unbelievers” when it comes to every other potential god because the evidence for Christianity is more than sufficient.
Lesson 47: Terrible Words from the Loving Savior (John 8:21-29)Related Media
March 9, 2014
Thomas Fuller (cited by C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David [Baker], 4:328) said, “You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late.” As long as you’re alive and mentally competent, you have the opportunity to believe in Christ for eternal salvation. But the second you die, it’s too late—you’ll be lost forever.
That’s not just my opinion, but something the loving Savior says over and over to warn us to believe in Him while there is still time. Three times in our text (8:21, twice in v. 24) He warns the Pharisees that they will die in their sins. This means that they will face God’s judgment for their sins. But Christ’s final warning contains a word of invitation and hope (8:24b), “For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (He is not in the original; it was added by the translators.) The invitation is, if you will believe that I am the Lord, who I claim to be, you will not die in your sins.
And so it’s crucial that we understand clearly who Jesus claimed to be and that we believe in Him before we die and face God’s eternal judgment. Our text tells us:
To go to heaven, believe the truth about yourself and the truth about Jesus while there is still time.
Jesus is interacting with the Pharisees at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles. At that feast, in conjunction with a ceremony that commemorated the water that God provided for Israel in the wilderness, He has claimed to be able to give living water that flows out of the innermost being of those who believe in Him (7:37-38). In conjunction with a lamp-lighting ceremony that remembered God’s presence in the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness, Jesus has claimed to be the light of the world and promised that the one who follows Him will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life (8:12). These were astounding claims that you can’t just shrug off. They grab you by the lapels and demand that you respond.
But, sadly, the Pharisees responded with hostile challenges, not with faith in Jesus. In 8:13, they claimed that His testimony about Himself was not valid. In 8:19, they sneered, “Where is Your Father?” which was probably a slur about the rumor that Jesus’ mother conceived Him before she was married. In our text, they continue throwing out comments that reflect their hardened hearts. But, rather than trying to take the speck out of the Pharisees’ eyes, we need to take the logs out of our eyes by recognizing that by virtue of our fallen nature, we’re just like them. Thus …
1. To go to heaven, recognize your true condition before God as a sinner.
In 8:19, Jesus pointed out the root problem with the Pharisees: “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” This is the root problem with the entire human race: We’re born as sinners, alienated from God. We don’t know Him or the one He sent to bear our sins on the cross. We have no idea of the holiness of God, who is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), who dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16). And, since we don’t know how holy God is, we don’t see how sinful we are. Rather than comparing ourselves with the holy God, we compare ourselves with people who are outwardly more wicked than we are, so we think we’re not so bad.
But we’re using the wrong measuring stick! Jesus draws a line between Himself and the Pharisees by saying (8:21), “I go away, and you will seek Me, and you will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” He was going back to the Father in heaven and they would not and could not go there as long as they remained in their proud self-righteousness.
But they mistook His words, saying (8:22), probably in a deliberate put-down, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” The Jews thought that a person who killed himself would go to the worst place in hell (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 446). So they may have been saying, “Well, if He kills Himself and goes to hell, at least we won’t have to listen to Him there, since we’ll be in heaven!” But they were sadly mistaken. Jesus came from heaven and was returning to heaven, but in their sinful condition, they would never see heaven.
So Jesus continues (8:23), “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” There is a humanly unbridgeable chasm between the holy God in heaven and all of us who were born in sin on this earth. We can try to compile good deeds to bridge the chasm, but that’s doomed to fail. All our good deeds are like filthy rags in God’s sight (Isa. 64:6). And all the good deeds in the world cannot pay for all the sins that we’ve committed. Just a single sin would be enough to condemn us to hell, but we’ve all piled up thousands of sins. To go to heaven, we first have to recognize our true condition before the holy God as rebellious sinners.
Furthermore, our sinful condition has rendered us blind to spiritual truth unless the Lord opens our eyes to see. John explains (8:27), “They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father.” You would think that Jesus had made this point pretty clearly back in 5:18-47, where the Jews knew that by calling God His own Father, Jesus was making Himself equal with God. The only way that I can explain John’s comment in 8:27 is by Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (See, also, 1 Cor. 2:14.)
Jesus will go on to explain to the disciples (John 16:8) that one role of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin. The word “convict” means “to convince,” as a lawyer convinces a jury of his case. Before we will turn from our sin and trust in Christ as our Savior, we have to be convinced that we are sinners who cannot save ourselves. So to go to heaven, we must believe the truth about ourselves, that we are guilty sinners before the holy God.
2. To go to heaven, believe in Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture.
As I’ve often said, the crucial question in all of life is Jesus’ question to the twelve (Matt. 16:15), “Who do you say that I am?” There is no more important question in the world! Everything about your eternal destiny depends on believing the right answer to that question. Here, the Jews ask (8:25), “Who are You?” But before we yell, “Yay, they’re finally asking the right question!” we need to understand that they were not asking the question sincerely, with a desire to know the truth about Jesus. Rather, their question could rightly be translated (according to several commentators), “Who do you think you are to tell us that we will die in our sins?” They were challenging Jesus, not seeking to know the truth about Him.
Jesus’ reply (8:25) is difficult to translate, but the sense is probably either a statement (ESV), “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” or a rhetorical question (NASB), “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?” Their problem was not that they had not heard what Jesus was saying from day one of His public ministry, but that they didn’t believe Him. Our text contains four important truths about Jesus that we must believe if we want to go to heaven:
A. Believe in Jesus as the eternal God, sent to earth by the Father.
As Jesus said in 8:14, “I know where I came from and where I am going.” In 8:23 He asserts that His origin is from above, not from this world. He repeatedly emphasizes (8:16, 18, 26, 29) that He came to earth because He was sent by the Father. And, He says (8:24), “unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” He repeats (8:28), “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He….”
The translators have added “He” to complete Jesus’ “I am” statement. The legitimate sense may be, “I am who I claim to be,” or “I am the Messiah.” But given the Jewish audience, and especially the Pharisees, who knew the Old Testament well, Jesus was probably referring to the “I am” statements of Yahweh in Isaiah 40-55, which in turn allude to God’s disclosure of His name to Moses (Exod. 3:14), “I am who I am.” (See D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], pp. 343-344.) So Jesus was probably saying, “Unless you believe that I am the Lord God, you will die in your sins.”
In Isaiah 41:4, God says, “I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.” The Greek LXX translates “I am He” with “ego eimi,” the same Greek phrase that Jesus uses in John 8:24 & 28. In Isaiah 43:10, the Lord says, “‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.’” (It’s more than ironic that the Jehovah’s Witnesses take their name from Isaiah 43:10, but deny the deity of Jesus. They fail to see that, in part, Jesus bases His claim to be God on it!)
Then in Isaiah 43:13 the Lord adds, “Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” In Isaiah 48:12, the Lord says, “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.” (In Revelation 1:17 & 2:8, Jesus claims to be the first and the last, a clear assertion of His deity.)
So when Jesus tells the Pharisees, who knew Isaiah well, “I am He,” using the same phrase that the Lord repeatedly uses in Isaiah, He was claiming to be the eternal God. Yet at the same time, here and throughout John’s Gospel, He frequently distinguishes Himself from the Father. He makes it clear that the Father sent Him to this earth to be our Savior. To believe in a “Jesus” who is not God in human flesh will not get you to heaven. As Bishop Moule once said (source unknown), “A Savior not quite God is a bridge broken at the farther end.”
B. Believe that Jesus lived a sinless life in total dependence on the Father.
In John 8:29, Jesus makes another astounding claim that no one else can legitimately make: “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” In a similar vein, Jesus asks these same critics (8:46), “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” No one, not even Jesus’ enemies, could convict Him of sin because as a man He always lived in total dependence on the Father, being obedient to His will. If Jesus had sinned, then His death could not have atoned for others, because He would have had to pay for His own sin. He was the Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, who alone could take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
C. Believe that Jesus was lifted up on the cross to die as the substitute for your sins.
In John 8:21, Jesus again (7:33-34) tells the Jews that He is going away and that they will not be able to come where He is going. He’s referring to His upcoming death, when He would willingly lay down His life for His sheep. Then in 8:28, Jesus tells them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” “Lift up” also refers to His upcoming death on the cross (3:14; 12:32).
John intends some irony here, in that the verb usually means “to exalt.” To be put on the cross as a public spectacle was the most degrading and humiliating thing that could happen to a man. But the cross above all else revealed Jesus’ glory. The night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed (17:1), “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.” The cross reveals the holiness and justice of God, who cannot allow any sinners to go unpunished. But it also reveals His abundant love and mercy, in that through the death of His Son, He can save sinners and clothe them with Jesus’ righteousness.
Satan hates the cross and is always trying to distort its meaning or eradicate it from any teaching about how a person gets to heaven. But any teaching that diminishes or denies the centrality of the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross for our sins is heretical to the core. To teach that Jesus died as an example of love is correct; but if it stops there, it’s heretical. He is the greatest example of love that the world has ever known. But you can try all your life to imitate His example of love and you will still go to hell when you die if you have not trusted in His death for your sins.
The same thing applies to trying to get to heaven by good works. If we can get to heaven by our good works, then Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross for our sins. Or if we can get to heaven by combining our works with His death on the cross, it still diminishes the centrality of the cross and allows sinners to share His glory, which can never be. Paul wrote Galatians to combat the Judaizers, who claimed to believe in Christ, but argued that you must also add keeping the Law of Moses to faith in Christ to be saved. But Paul called their view a different gospel which is not a gospel and said that they would be damned for believing it (Gal. 1:6-9).
Thus to go to heaven, we must believe that Jesus is the eternal God, sent to earth by the Father; that He lived a sinless life in total dependence on the Father; and that He was lifted up on the cross to die as the substitute for our sins. Also,
D. Believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.
Jesus knew that He would soon die on the cross, but He also knew that that wasn’t the end of things. Rather, He would be returning to the Father in heaven (8:21, 22). This anticipates both His bodily resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven. Believing in Jesus’ bodily resurrection and ascension is absolutely essential to saving faith. As Paul argues (1 Cor. 15:14, 17), “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is vain…. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
God has given much evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead. There was the empty tomb. If Jesus’ body was still in the tomb, His enemies gladly would have taken people there and refuted the disciples’ claims that He was risen. There were the many independent eyewitnesses, who saw Jesus alive in different settings. There is the fact of the changed lives of the witnesses, who did not expect the resurrection and were fearful and depressed after the crucifixion. But they went on boldly to proclaim the resurrection, even when it cost them their lives.
So, if you don’t want to die in your sins and face God’s judgment, or to put it positively, if you want to go to heaven, you must first recognize your true condition before God as a sinner. Also, you must believe in Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture. But there is one other crucial matter:
3. To go to heaven, believe in Jesus while there is still time.
The loving Savior says some terrible, terrifying words (8:21): “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” Then in 8:28 He says, “When you lift up the son of Man, then you will know that I am He ….” The implication of these words is not that these religious leaders would seek Jesus after His death and come to know Him through saving faith, but rather that they would seek Him and know Him too late. The door of mercy would be shut because they had rejected the Light of the world when He was with them.
So while Jesus appealed to them to believe in Him (8:24), He was also warning them that even though they would seek Him later, they would still die in their sin, which is to face judgment and eternal punishment in hell. So I think He means that they would seek Him and come to know Him when it was too late, at the judgment. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man in hell cried out to Abraham in heaven for mercy and relief from his suffering. But Abraham tells him (Luke 16:26), “Between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.” Those in hell now want to go to heaven, but it’s too late!
Also, it’s possible to harden your heart against the light that God has given you to the point where you cross a line in this life and you can’t go back. Like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal, when he later sought for repentance with tears, he could not find it (Heb. 12:17). You ask, “Where is that line?” That’s like asking, “How close to the edge of the Grand Canyon can I go without falling over?” That’s a bad question! You don’t want to find out the answer. If you don’t want to fall over, stay back from the edge!
Jesus told the story of the ten virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom. Five were wise, but five were foolish. The wise virgins had prepared for the event and had plenty of oil, but the foolish virgins did not have enough oil. While they were away buying more oil, the bridegroom came and took the five wise virgins into the wedding feast. But when the foolish virgins came later, they were shut out. Jesus’ application was (Matt. 25:13), “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day or the hour.”
Also, it’s possible to seek Christ now, but for the wrong reasons. Maybe you want some blessing or you want to get out of a crisis, so you start going to church, praying, and trying to reform your life so that God will give you what you’re after. But you aren’t seeking salvation because you know that you’re a guilty sinner who has offended the holy God. You aren’t seeking Christ because He is the eternal God who took on human flesh to die for your sins. And so after your crisis blows over or you figure out how to get what you’re after, you go back to your old ways.
But to go to heaven—to not die in your sins—you must see yourself as a sinner deserving of hell and believe in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in Scripture while you still have time. That time is now!
Some may think that it’s unloving to talk about hell and judgment. But if the words of Jesus are true, then the most loving thing anyone can do is to warn you to flee from the wrath to come. Frances Quarles wrote (cited by C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David [Baker], 4:328, English updated), “He that has promised pardon on our repentance has not promised to preserve our lives till we repent.” Or, to repeat Thomas Fuller’s wise words (ibid.), “You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late.”
- What is the “unpardonable sin” (Matt. 12:31-32)? Is it possible for a person to harden his heart so far that he can’t repent? When does one cross that line?
- How much knowledge of who Jesus is does a person need to believe for salvation? Can’t much of that knowledge come later?
- What’s the difference between believing in Jesus to get you out of a crisis or to solve a problem and believing in Jesus to save you from your sins? Why is this an important distinction?
- Some argue that a God of love won’t send anyone to hell. They use verses like Col. 1:20 to argue that eventually everyone will be reconciled to Christ. How would you answer them?
Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation
Lesson 48: True Freedom (John 8:30-36)Related Media
March 16, 2014
As Americans, we value freedom. Our nation was founded on the principle of “liberty and justice for all.” Our First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government for redress. While our freedom of religion is under assault today more than ever before, it is the foundation of our nation.
Political freedom is a wonderful thing, but spiritual freedom is even better, because you can experience it no matter what sort of government you live under. And true spiritual freedom lasts forever. But what is it? John Piper (“You Will Know the Truth and the Truth Will Set You Free,” on DesiringGod.org) describes true freedom: “You are fully free when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will leave you with no regrets forever.” He explains,
If you don't have the desire to do a thing, you are not fully free to do it. Oh, you may muster the will power to do what you don’t want to do, but nobody calls that full freedom…. And if you have the desire to do something, but no ability to do it, you are not free to do it. And if you have the desire and the ability to do something, but no opportunity to do it, you are not free to do it. And if you have the desire to do something, and the ability to do it, and the opportunity to do it, but it destroys you in the end, you are not fully free—not free indeed.
He illustrates this with an example of skydiving. Say you want to experience the thrill of the freedom of skydiving, but on the way to the airport you have an accident and can’t get there. You lack the freedom of opportunity. Or, suppose you get there, but you didn’t take the required class, so you don’t know how to operate your parachute. You lack the freedom of ability. Or, you get to the airport, you took the classes, and you go up in the plane. But when they open the door and you look down, you’re paralyzed with fear. You lack the freedom of desire, so you don’t jump.
But there’s one last requirement for true freedom. Suppose you get to the airport (freedom of opportunity), you took the classes (freedom of ability), and you go up in the plane, look out the door, and can’t wait to jump (freedom of desire). So you jump and are enjoying the freedom of falling through the air. But your parachute is defective and you’re going to smash into the ground. You are not truly free because what you’re doing is going to destroy you. To go back to his definition: “You are fully free when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will leave you with no regrets forever.”
So, how do we get that kind of freedom spiritually? The Jews with whom Jesus was speaking in our text thought that they were spiritually free through their descent from Abraham (8:33): “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus explains that even though they don’t see it, they are actually enslaved to sin. He shows them (and us) the way to true spiritual freedom:
True freedom comes from knowing Christ through genuine faith and abiding in His word.
Jesus gives these arrogant Jews both a warning and an invitation. After stating that they are slaves to sin (8:34), He gives the warning (8:35), “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.” He means, “As descendants of Abraham, you’re in God’s household, but because of sin, you’re in His household as slaves, not as true sons. Slaves don’t enjoy the full privileges of sons. Slaves can be expelled from the household at any time, especially if they’re not faithful. You’re currently enjoying the privileges of being in God’s household, but you could lose this status if you continue in your sinful ways.”
Since they had mentioned Abraham, the story of Ishmael, the son of Hagar the slave, is behind verse 35. When Ishmael taunted Isaac, Abraham was forced to expel him from his household. The Jews who were threatening to kill Jesus (8:37, 40) were in danger of losing the privileges of being in God’s household (Rom. 9:4-5). But Jesus didn’t leave them with a warning only. He gave them an invitation (8:36), “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” He’s saying, “Come to Me; I will give you true freedom.”
1. It’s possible to have a superficial, false faith in Christ that does not save from sin.
John 8:30 tells us, “As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.” Verse 31 states that Jesus was addressing the following comments to the Jews who had believed Him. So you would think that these people had come to know Christ through faith. But as the dialogue continues through the chapter, we learn that not only were they slaves of sin (8:34), also they were seeking to kill Jesus (8:37, 40); God was not their Father (8:42); in fact, they were children of the devil (8:44); they accused Jesus of having a demon (8:48); they were liars (8:55); and they attempted to kill Jesus (8:59). So why does John say that these Jews believed in Jesus?
Some have tried to resolve this by saying that 8:30-31 speaks about true believers, while “they” in 8:33 refers to the hostile Jews that we encountered earlier in the chapter. But the text does not indicate that there is a change of subject. Others argue that there is a difference in meaning between the Greek construction used with the verb “to believe” (in 8:31), but this distinction doesn’t hold up in other places (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], pp. 346-347). Other solutions have been proposed.
The best interpretation is that the “believers” in 8:30, 31 are like those back in 2:23, who believed in Jesus after seeing some of His miracles, but Jesus didn’t entrust Himself to them, because He knew that their faith was superficial. We saw that same false faith in 6:60, when many of Jesus’ disciples turned away from Him after He said some difficult things that they didn’t like. False faith is implied in 8:31, where Jesus says that if they continue in His word, they are truly His disciples. And so we should conclude that it’s possible to have a superficial, false faith in Christ that does not save from sin.
Other New Testament texts support this view. Jesus’ parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-15) mentions the seed that was sown on the rocky, thin soil. These people received the word with joy, but they had no root. They believed for a while, but in a time of temptation or trial, they fell away. The same was true of the seed sown among the thorny ground. Eventually the thorns choked out the word, so that it did not bear fruit. We see the same thing in the warning passages in Hebrews (6:4-8; 10:26-31) and in John’s mention of the false teachers who went out from the church, but never were genuine believers (1 John 2:19). Paul mentions false apostles who disguise themselves as workers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
I’ve seen the same thing many times, even with some who have served for a while in some capacity in the church. Perhaps they came to faith at a time when many of their friends were professing faith in Christ. It was the cool thing to do. Or, maybe they came to Jesus because they were told that He would give them some blessing or solve some difficult problem that they were wrestling with. But when things didn’t go as they had hoped, they fell away. Some now even deny the faith that they once professed.
How can we know that our own faith is genuine? I’ll say more about that in a moment, but for now, note two marks of false faith that we see in these “believing unbelievers”:
A. Those with false faith do not recognize their own slavery to sin.
After Jesus tells them (8:32), “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” they react defensively by asserting that they are Abraham’s descendants and they have never been enslaved to anyone. They couldn’t be referring to political slavery, since the nation had been enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, plus to many other foreign powers, such as Babylon, Greece, and (as they spoke) Rome. So they must mean that they were spiritually free and, as Jews, always had been free.
But they were blind to their self-righteousness and spiritual pride. Their religion was externally impressive, but their hearts were far from God (Mark 7:6-7). In Matthew 23:27-28, Jesus, who knew their hearts, reams them out: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” They thought that they were righteous, but their sin deceived them so that they didn’t see their own slavery to sin.
As I said last week, the starting point for going to heaven is to recognize that you are a guilty sinner in God’s sight. If you think that you’re good enough to go to heaven, or that by adding a few more good deeds, you’ll merit eternal life, you don’t understand God’s absolute holiness and justice. If our good deeds could get us into heaven, then Christ did not need to die on the cross. Invariably, those with false faith do not see their own slavery to sin. They brush it off by thinking that they just have a few faults.
B. Those with false faith are trusting in their own righteousness or religion to save them, not in Christ alone.
These Jews were trusting in their religious heritage as descendants of Abraham to put them in right standing with God. John the Baptist had already hit them with this when he called them to repentance (Matt. 3:9): “And do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” If you think that going to church or going through religious rituals or giving money or any religious activity will commend you to God, you do not have genuine saving faith in Christ. You aren’t truly free spiritually. False faith does not save from sin.
2. True freedom comes from knowing Christ through genuine faith, which means to continue in His word.
In 8:31, Jesus says, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” The mark of genuine faith is not just mental or verbal profession that you believe in Christ. The mark of true faith is to continue (or, “abide”) in Jesus’ word. This is not the condition for getting saved; rather, it’s an evidence that you are truly saved. It’s the evidence that your faith in Christ is genuine. So, we need to understand what Christ’s word is and what it means to continue or abide in it.
A. Christ’s word is the same as God’s Word.
Christ’s word is everything that He taught, summed up in all that He is and all that He did for us on the cross. Jesus said that all of Scripture speaks of Him, His suffering, and the glory to follow (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46). Jesus told the Jews (John 5:38-39), “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.”
To continue in Christ’s word implies that you first started in His word. The starting point for saving faith is when you recognize from God’s Word that you’re a sinner and that Christ died to pay the penalty for your sin. God saves you when you stop trusting in your own good works and instead rely totally on what Jesus did for you on the cross and believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. Christ’s word is the same as God’s Word. The central message of God’s Word is how we can be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
B. To continue in Christ’s word means to be at home in His word and to obey it continually.
“Continue” translates the Greek word that the NASB translates as “abide” (15:4, 6, 7, 10). It means to dwell or be at home in God’s Word. You don’t just visit the Word as an occasional guest. You move in and live there. You wake up there and you return there every night. The Word shapes your worldview. It governs and guides your thinking, your attitudes, your speech, and your behavior. There isn’t any area of your life that is not subject to God’s Word or influenced by it. Continuing or abiding obviously implies time spent in the Word over the long haul.
Are you abiding in God’s Word? Do you “live” there? Are you comfortable there? Do you know its rooms? Do you enjoy its many amenities that are for your blessing? Do you seek to obey it? Let me suggest a radical idea that could transform your life: Turn off your TV, computer, and phone for between one half to one hour each day and spend the time reading, meditating on, and memorizing God’s Word with the prayer that you might know Christ better. God’s promise in Joshua 1:8 applies to us: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
We’ve seen that it’s possible to have false faith that does not save. True freedom comes from knowing Christ through genuine faith, which means to continue in His word.
3. Christ’s word is the truth that truly sets us free when we abide in it.
Rather than being a slave of sin (8:34), “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (8:32). “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” So, how does abiding in Christ’s word of truth set us free?
A. Abiding in Christ’s word sets us free from spiritual ignorance.
Jesus emphasizes truth in this dialogue (8:32 [2x], 40, 44 [2x], 45, 46), which refers especially to saving truth. Those who do not know God are in spiritual darkness (Eph. 4:18). They cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14). They do not know why they’re on earth or what will happen after they die. But when we come to know the truth through knowing Christ, all the riches of God’s grace are opened to us (1 Cor. 2:9-10; Col. 2:2-3).
This is illustrated even in the natural realm: truth liberates, but ignorance keeps people in bondage. A person who can read is much freer than an illiterate person. He is free to study medicine or law or finance or whatever field interests him. But the illiterate person is severely restricted in what he can do.
In the same way, spiritual ignorance keeps a person from knowing the living and true God and from being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Ignorance cuts a person off from enjoying the many blessings that are ours in Him. Abiding in Christ’s word opens the treasure chest and frees us to enjoy Him.
B. Abiding in Christ’s word sets us free from slavery to sin.
This is the primary focus of Jesus’ words (8:34), “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” Jesus does not mean that committing a single act of sin enslaves a person (although one sin is the first step to slavery), but rather that a person who continues in sin is under its domination (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 458). But as we abide in Christ’s word, we can experience consistent victory over sin, beginning on the thought level (where all sin begins).
Note that religion can’t free a person from slavery to sin. These Jews were as religious as they could be and yet Jesus asserts that they were slaves to sin. They were trying to kill the sinless Son of God, but they thought that they were spiritually free! The first step to being free from sin is to recognize your slavery to it.
True spiritual freedom is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. Let me illustrate how abiding in Christ’s word sets you free from slavery to sin. Say that a young man from a pagan, immoral background becomes a Christian, but he doesn’t know what the Bible says about how to resist temptation. He still feeds his mind on gross TV shows and movies where couples quickly jump into bed. So he has professed faith in Christ, but he hasn’t learned to abide in Christ’s word. Meanwhile, a cute girl where he works flirts with him every day. She invites him over to her apartment where he yields to her advances. Soon, he’s living the same way he used to live, in slavery to sin.
But take the same young man and say that after he trusts in Christ he begins to abide daily in God’s Word. He reads the Word often and begins to memorize key verses. He listens to sound preaching of the Word. In the process, he reads the story of Joseph and how he resisted the advances of Potiphar’s wife, even though he could have found many excuses for yielding. He learns from Joseph’s Godward focus when he says (Gen. 39:9), “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
He also reads the Book of Proverbs, with its many plain warnings about the dangers of sexual sins. He reads Jesus’ warnings about lust beginning in the heart (Matt. 5:27-30). He memorizes Paul’s warning (1 Cor. 6:18), “Flee immorality,” and the promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” So when the young woman at work acts seductively toward him, he is able to resist and remain pure. Abiding in the Word set him free from his former slavery to sin.
You can apply this to any sin: anger, jealousy, bitterness, drunkenness, selfishness, or whatever. If you abide in God’s Word, you will be freed from bondage to those sins. If you do not abide in the Word, you will be enslaved to various sins.
C. Abiding in Christ’s word sets us free to serve others in love.
Paul wrote (Gal. 5:13), “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Before we were saved, we lived to serve ourselves. We indulged the flesh, thinking that it would satisfy. But Christ saved us and set us free from selfishness so that we can serve others in love. As Jesus said (Mark 10:44-45), “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Let’s come back to John Piper’s description of true freedom: “You are fully free when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will leave you with no regrets forever.” When you truly believe in Christ, He gives you the desire to please Him who lavished His grace upon you. He gives you the ability to obey Him as you walk in the Spirit who lives in you. He gives you opportunities daily to say no to sin and selfishness and to serve others in love. And you will dwell with Jesus in heaven forever, with no regrets that you left your life of sin to follow Him.
That’s the true freedom that comes from knowing Christ through genuine faith and abiding in His word! If you’re still a slave of sin, Jesus offers you true freedom: “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (8:36).
- Besides abiding in Christ’s word, what are some other marks of genuine saving faith? (Check out 1 John for starters.)
- Can genuine Christians be defeated by sin? (See Romans 7.) Can a defeated Christian have genuine assurance of salvation?
- Some teach that there is a difference between being a believer in Christ and a disciple of Christ (a higher commitment). Why is this a false distinction? Support your answer with Scripture.
- A professing Christian tells you that God’s commandments restrict our freedom and that we’re free from the law. How would you answer him?
Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation