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1. A Lua de Mel Acabou— A História de Adão e Eva

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A lua de mel é uma época deliciosa. A própria palavra transborda a novidade e o entusiasmo do amor dos jovens. O termo parece ter sido cunhado para transmitir a ideia de que a primeira lua ou o primeiro mês do casamento é o mais doce e o mais feliz de todos. Mas não é assim que deveria ser. Deus Se agradaria se os nossos casamentos ficassem melhores com o passar do tempo. Cada novo mês deveria ser mais doce e mais prazeroso que o anterior. Infelizmente, alguns casamentos acabam se tornando exatamente o que a palavra lua de mel sugere — o primeiro mês é o melhor, e depois tudo vai por água abaixo. Talvez possamos ajudar a reverter esta tendência examinando a Palavra de Deus.

A Escritura não fala exatamente isso, mas tenho a impressão de que a lua de mel de Adão e Eva durou bem mais de um mês.

Só Deus sabe quantos meses ou anos de puro êxtase se passaram entre os capítulos dois e três de Gênesis. Mas nenhum relacionamento humano jamais superou o deles naqueles primeiros dias de pura alegria e incrível deleite. Aquele casamento era, sem dúvida alguma, um casamento perfeito.

Pense nisso por um instante. Se já houve algum casamento feito nos céus, esse casamento foi o deles. Ele foi planejado e realizado com perfeição por um Deus perfeito. Primeiro, Deus esculpiu Adão (Gênesis 2:7). Modelado pelo Mestre da Criação, Adão, sem dúvida, tinha um belo corpo, atlético e sem defeito. E ele foi feito à imagem e semelhança do próprio Deus (Gênesis 1:27). Isso significa que tinha personalidade parecida com a de Deus — tudo perfeito: intelecto, emoções e vontade. Ele possuía uma mente brilhante, ainda não afetada pelo pecado. Suas emoções eram impecáveis, inclusive o amor, terno e totalmente abnegado, o amor do próprio Deus. E ele tinha uma vontade que estava em total sintonia com os propósitos do Seu Criador. Mulheres, quem de vocês não gostaria de um homem assim? Perfeito em tudo! No físico, na mente, nas emoções e no espírito.

Mas deixe-me falar sobre Eva. “Então, o SENHOR Deus fez cair pesado sono sobre o homem, e este adormeceu; tomou uma das suas costelas e fechou o lugar com carne. E a costela que o SENHOR Deus tomara ao homem, transformou-a numa mulher e lha trouxe” (Gênesis 2:21-22). Adão deve ter olhado para Eva com admiração e apreço. Ela era o melhor do gênio criativo de Deus; graça e beleza imaculada, rosto e corpo puros e belos. Moldada pela mão do próprio Deus, Eva devia ser a criatura mais extraordinária que já andou pela face da terra. E, como Adão, ela também foi feita à imagem de Deus. Sua mente, suas emoções e sua vontade ainda não tinham sido afetadas pelo pecado. Que homem não gostaria de ter uma mulher assim?

Adão imediatamente reconheceu a semelhança de Eva consigo mesmo. E disse: “Esta, afinal, é osso dos meus ossos e carne da minha carne; chamar-se-á varoa, porquanto do varão foi tomada” (Gênesis 2:23). Parece que, sem nenhuma revelação especial de Deus, Adão instintivamente soube que Eva fora feita dele; ela era parte dele; era sua igual; era sua companheira e contraparte. Ele a chamou de mulher, “varoa”. Ele a tomou para si com ternura. Ela acabou com a terrível solidão dele e encheu sua vida de felicidade. Ela era exatamente o que ele precisava. E nada deu a ela maior satisfação do que a garantia de que seu marido precisava muito dela. Que prazer intenso e indescritível eles encontraram na companhia um do outro! Como eles se amaram!

A casa deles ficava no Éden, o lugar perfeito (Gênesis 2:8). A palavra Éden significa “deleite”, e deleitoso ele era. Bem regado pela nascente de quatro rios, o Éden era um paraíso verdejante, recoberto com todo tipo de plantas belas e comestíveis (Gênesis 2:9-10). Eles cultivavam a terra, mas como não havia espinhos ou ervas daninhas para atrapalhar, seu trabalho era muito leve e agradável. Lado a lado, eles viviam e trabalhavam em perfeita harmonia, compartilhando um sentimento de interdependência mútua, desfrutando a liberdade de comunhão e comunicação, tendo uma afeição profunda que os unia em espírito. Eles eram inseparáveis.

Ah, havia uma ordem de autoridade no seu relacionamento. Adão foi feito primeiro, depois Eva, como o apóstolo Paulo teve o cuidado de mencionar (1 Timóteo 2:13). E Eva foi feita para Adão, não Adão para Eva, como Paulo demonstrou (1 Coríntios 11:9). Mas ela era sua auxiliadora (Gênesis 2:18) e, para ser uma auxiliadora idônea, ela tinha de compartilhar todas as coisas da vida com ele. Ela estava com ele quando Deus lhes deu a ordem para subjugar e dominar a terra; por isso, ela dividia igualmente essa tremenda responsabilidade com seu marido (Gênesis 1:28). Ela fazia tudo o que uma auxiliadora devia fazer. Ela o ajudava, incentivava, aconselhava e inspirava, e fazia tudo isso com um doce espírito de submissão. Adão nunca se ressentia da sua ajuda, nem mesmo dos seus conselhos. Afinal de contas, foi por isso que Deus a deu a ele. E nem ela se ressentia da sua liderança. A atitude dele nunca era maculada pela superioridade ou pela exploração. Como poderia? O amor dele era perfeito. Ela era alguém muito especial para ele e ele a tratava como tal.

Ele não poderia dar de si o suficiente para expressar sua gratidão a ela, e nunca tinha um pensamento sequer sobre o que recebia em troca. Não havia como ela se ressentir de uma liderança como essa.

A Palavra de Deus diz: “Ora, um e outro, o homem e sua mulher, estavam nus e não se envergonhavam” (Gênesis 2:25). Eles tinham uma relação de perfeita pureza e inocência. Não havia pecado neles. Não havia brigas entre eles. Eles estavam em paz com Deus, em paz consigo mesmo e em paz um com o outro. Aquele era verdadeiramente um casamento perfeito. Era o paraíso. Como gostaríamos que tivesse durado, que pudéssemos experimentar o mesmo grau de felicidade conjugal que eles desfrutaram naqueles dias gloriosos. Mas algo aconteceu.

A narrativa bíblica nos leva, em seguida, para a entrada do pecado. Não há dúvida de que o sutil tentador que se aproximou de Eva neste episódio foi Satanás usando o corpo de uma serpente (cf. Apocalipse 12:9). Sua primeira abordagem foi colocar em cheque a Palavra de Deus: “É assim que Deus disse: Não comereis de toda árvore do jardim?” (Gênesis 3:1). Depois de ter colocado em dúvida a Palavra de Deus, ele a negou categoricamente: “É certo que não morrereis.” (Gênesis 3:4). Finalmente, ele escarneceu de Deus e descaradamente distorceu Sua Palavra: “Porque Deus sabe que no dia em que dele comerdes se vos abrirão os olhos e, como Deus, sereis conhecedores do bem e do mal” (Gênesis 3:5). Tudo bem, eles conheceriam o mal, mas não seriam como Deus. Aliás, seriam exatamente o contrário. A semelhança com Deus de que desfrutavam seria manchada e estragada. Os métodos de Satanás não mudaram muito ao longo dos séculos. Sabemos muito bem disso — as dúvidas, as distorções, as negações. Nós também somos vítimas disso tudo. Podemos nos identificar com Eva em seu momento de fraqueza. Sabemos o que é ceder à tentação.

Satanás usou a árvore do conhecimento do bem e do mal para realizar seu trabalho sinistro. Deus havia colocado a árvore no jardim para ser símbolo da submissão de Adão e Eva a Ele (Gênesis 2:17), mas Satanás às vezes usa até mesmo coisas boas para nos afastar da vontade de Deus. “Vendo a mulher que a árvore era boa para se comer, agradável aos olhos e árvore desejável para dar entendimento, tomou-lhe do fruto e comeu e deu também ao marido, e ele comeu” (Gênesis 3:6). Já reparou que Eva foi tentada nas três áreas principais relacionadas em 1 João 2:16? 1) A concupiscência da carne — “boa para se comer”; 2) A concupiscência dos olhos — “agradável aos olhos”; 3) A soberba da vida — “para dar entendimento”. Estas são as mesmas áreas usadas por Satanás para nos deixar mal com Deus e com os outros — desejo de satisfazer nossos apetites físicos, desejo por coisas materiais e desejo de impressionar os outros com nossa importância.

Em vez de fugir da tentação, como mais tarde a Escritura nos exorta a fazer, Eva flertou com ela. Ela tinha tudo o que alguém poderia desejar, mas ficou ali e permitiu que sua mente pensasse na única coisa que ela não tinha, até que isso se tornou uma obsessão e fez sua alegre lua de mel chegar a um final infeliz. Desde então, esse mesmo tipo de desejo incontrolável tem acabado com a lua de mel de muitas pessoas. Maridos às vezes desperdiçam o dinheiro do supermercado com materiais de lazer, passatempos, carros e roupas. Esposas às vezes levam o marido a ganhar mais dinheiro para poderem ter coisas maiores, melhores e mais caras. E os bens materiais deste mundo acabam causando a separação entre eles. Quando permitimos que a nossa mente cobice coisas materiais, Deus chama isso de idolatria (Colossenses 3:5). E Ele nos exorta a fugir dela: “Portanto, meus amados, fugi da idolatria” (1 Coríntios 10:14).

Eva não fugiu. Ela “tomou-lhe do fruto e comeu” (Gn. 3:6). O texto não é claro, mas as palavras “deu também ao marido” talvez impliquem em que Adão a observava. Não temos ideia do por que ele não tentou impedi-la ou por que não se recusou a segui-la em seu pecado. Mas o que sabemos é que ele falhou lamentavelmente com ela nessa ocasião. Ele negligenciou a liderança espiritual que Deus queria que ele tivesse e, em vez disso, ele deixou Eva conduzi-lo ao pecado. Que influência poderosa tem uma mulher sobre seu marido! Ela pode usar sua influência para desafiá-lo a novos patamares de realizações espirituais ou para arrastá-lo às profundezas da vergonha. Deus deu Eva a Adão para ela ser sua auxiliadora, mas seu coração ansioso o destruiu.

Juntos, eles esperaram pelas novas delícias da sabedoria divina prometidas por Satanás. Em vez disso, uma sensação horrorosa de culpa e vergonha tomou conta deles. Seu espírito morreu no mesmo instante (Gênesis 2:17), e seu corpo físico começou um lento processo de degeneração que estragaria a bela obra-prima de Deus e, no final, acabaria na morte física. Era sobre isso que Paulo falava quando disse: “Portanto, assim como por um só homem entrou o pecado no mundo, e pelo pecado, a morte, assim também a morte passou a todos os homens, porque todos pecaram” (Romanos 5:12). Esse é o jeito do pecado. Promete demais e entrega de menos. O pecado promete liberdade, sabedoria e prazer, mas gera escravidão, culpa, vergonha e morte.

De repente, a nudez deles se tornou símbolo do seu pecado (Gênesis 3:17). Ela os expôs abertamente aos olhos penetrantes do Deus Santíssimo. Eles tentaram se cobrir com folhas de figueira, mas isso não era aceitável. Mais tarde Deus revelaria que a única cobertura adequada para o pecado envolveria o derramamento de sangue (Gênesis 3:21; Levítico 17:11; Hebreus 9:22).

Isso nos leva, finalmente, ao doloroso desfecho. O pecado vem acompanhado de consequências desastrosas, estejamos ou não dispostos a admitir nossa culpa. Adão jogou a culpa pela sua parte na tragédia sobre Eva e Deus: “A mulher que me deste por esposa, ela me deu da árvore, e eu comi” (Gênesis 3:12). Eva disse que foi enganada pela serpente (Gênesis 3:13). Quase da mesma forma, sempre tentamos jogar a culpa pelos nossos problemas conjugais em outra pessoa. “Se ela parasse de me encher a paciência, eu poderia…”; “Se ele me desse mais atenção, eu poderia…” Mas Deus responsabilizou os dois pelo que aconteceu, da mesma forma que Ele também nos responsabiliza pela nossa parte. E, geralmente, os dois lados são culpados. Deus quer que enfrentemos as consequências com honestidade, sem fazer rodeios.

As consequências foram quase maiores do que Adão e Eva poderiam suportar. Para Eva, a dor do parto seria um lembrete constante do seu pecado. Além disso, ela iria experimentar o desejo insaciável por seu marido, um desejo agudo de estar com ele, de ter sua atenção, sua afeição e sua segurança. Sua carência seria tão grande que seu marido pecador raramente estaria disposto a atendê-la.

E, finalmente, a autoridade que Adão tinha sobre ela desde a criação foi reforçada com a regra: “e ele te governará” (Gn. 3:16). Nas mãos de um homem pecador, essa regra às vezes resultaria num domínio cruel e impiedoso sobre ela — desrespeito pelos seus sentimentos e desprezo pelas suas opiniões. Eva, sem dúvida, aguçada pelo pecado, devia se encher de rancor quando Adão se afastava dela, lhe dava menos atenção e ficava mais ocupado com outras coisas. Amargura, ressentimento e rebelião começaram a tomar conta da sua alma.

Para Adão, cultivar o solo tornou-se uma tarefa interminável e tediosa. A ansiedade tomou conta da sua capacidade de prover o sustento da sua família, deixando-o agitado e irritado, e menos atencioso às necessidades de sua esposa. Como resultado, o conflito entrou em seu lar. O pecado sempre traz tensão, briga e conflito. E isso nunca foi tão dolorosamente evidente para Adão e Eva do que quando eles estavam ao lado do primeiro túmulo da história da raça humana. Seu segundo filho perdera a vida numa terrível briga de família. A lua de mel tinha acabado!

Esta seria a história mais triste que já se contou, não fossem os raios gloriosos de esperança com os quais Deus iluminou as trevas. Dirigindo-se a Satanás, ele disse: “Porei inimizade entre ti e a mulher, entre a tua descendência e o seu descendente. Este te ferirá a cabeça, e tu lhe ferirás o calcanhar” (Gênesis 3:15). Deus prometeu que o descendente da mulher, uma criança nascida na raça humana, destruiria as obras do diabo, inclusive o caos que ele tinha causado no lar. Esta é a primeira profecia bíblica a respeito da vinda do Redentor. E Ele já veio! Ele morreu pelos pecados do mundo. Seu sangue perfeito é a cobertura satisfatória para os pecados de cada ser humano que nEle crê. Ele nos dá o Seu perdão gratuitamente e nos restaura pelo Seu favor. E Ele nos concede a Sua força para nos ajudar a vencer o nosso pecado.

Ele pode até nos ajudar a superar as consequências do pecado em nossos relacionamentos conjugais. Ele pode dar aos maridos o mesmo amor terno e a mesma consideração abnegada que Adão teve por Eva antes de eles pecarem. Ele pode dar às esposas a mesma solicitude encorajadora e a mesma submissão afetuosa que Eva tinha para com Adão antes da queda. Em outras palavras, a lua de mel pode recomeçar. Mas, primeiro, é preciso receber Jesus Cristo como Salvador. Não há esperança de um relacionamento conjugal se tornar tudo o que pode sem que ambos, marido e esposa, recebam a garantia do perdão e da aceitação de Deus. Esta garantia só pode ser experimentada quando reconhecemos o nosso pecado e colocamos a nossa confiança no sacrifício perfeito de Jesus Cristo na cruz do Calvário, o qual nos libertou da condenação eterna merecida pelo nosso pecado.

Se você tem alguma dúvida, acabe com ela agora. Com toda sinceridade e franqueza, ore assim: “Senhor, reconheço meu pecado diante de Ti. Creio que Jesus Cristo morreu para me livrar da culpa do meu pecado, da pena pelo meu pecado e do controle do pecado em minha vida. Eis-me aqui, agora ponho minha confiança nEle como meu Salvador pessoal e O recebo em minha vida. Graças Te dou, Senhor Jesus, pois entraste na minha vida e perdoaste o meu pecado”. Quando você toma esta decisão, o caminho fica livre para Deus encher o seu coração da Sua ternura e do Seu amor, tirar o seu egoísmo e a sua teimosia, e lhe dar uma preocupação abnegada pelas necessidades do seu cônjuge. E você ainda pode desfrutar um pouquinho do paraíso.

Vamos conversar sobre isso

  1. A questão da salvação eterna está bem resolvida na sua cabeça? Se não, existe alguma razão para você não resolvê-la agora?
  2. Quais ingredientes que fizeram do casamento de Adão e Eva uma “lua de mel” podem ajudar no seu casamento?
  3. De que forma Satanás pode usar o desejo de satisfazer as necessidades físicas para afetar o relacionamento entre marido e mulher atualmente? E o desejo por coisas materiais? E o desejo de ser reconhecido pelos outros?
  4. De que forma uma esposa pode desafiar o marido a objetivos mais elevados? De que maneira uma esposa pode enfraquecer ou destruir seu marido?
  5. O que maridos e esposas podem fazer para não jogar a culpa de seus problemas um no outro?
  6. O que o marido pode fazer para satisfazer a tremenda carência de atenção e carinho de sua esposa?

Tradução: Mariza Regina de Souza

Related Topics: Christian Home, Marriage

Think Again

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The Thinking process has stimulated many remarks concerning the thought process and the value and limitations of the mind. Although many commend and are committed to time spent in thought, Henry Ford once remarked, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it.” Some have pointed out certain dangers involved in the thinking process such as too much self esteem. Thus Spinoza observed, “Pride is therefore pleasure arising from a man’s thinking too highly of himself.”1 As speech devoid of thinking,

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thought never to heaven go.2

Nevertheless, we need to be reminded of the necessity of sound thinking. Thus Sir Thomas Vaux declared,

When all is done and said,

In the end this shall you find:

He most of all doth bathe in bliss

That hath a quiet mind;

And, clear from worldly cares,

To deem can be content

The sweetest time in all his life

In thinking to be spent.3

Such is particularly the case in times when a person may be experiencing difficulties in his life. N. V. Peale therefore encouraged people to exercise sound thinking by dismissing negative thoughts: “To overcome troubles you must use the good mind God gave you. Think through and understand them. And you cannot think clearheadedly while seething with a sense of outrage, hating other people or life or even God for some harsh experience that has befallen you. Neither can you weep and wail about it—and at the same time think.”4

Paul’s admonition concerning the necessity and value of properly using one’s God-given mind is particularly apropos for believers. In what follows we shall note several scriptural passages concerning the dangers of faulty thinking and the need for exercising the sound mind that the Lord has entrusted to us.

Improper Thinking

It should be noted at the outset that the Scriptures plainly teach that man’s thinking and thoughts are too often incorrect. They are at times guided by such things as: incorrect or insufficient data, or misguided opinions and conclusions, or hasty decisions (cf. Prov. 21:5; 29:20). As the old saying expressed it: “haste makes waste,” whether in thinking or actions. This is especially true with regard to spiritual matters. Even the conclusions of many gifted teachers, philosophers or even religious leaders are ultimately simply finite observations. Indeed, man’s natural thinking is tied to “earthly things” (Phil. 3:19), hence too easily leads to unrighteous thoughts, which generate selfish attitudes and actions. Underlying all of this, of course, is that which led to man’s original sin—pride. Therefore, man recreates his god in terms of earthly values or things.

Rather than doing so, as God’s “offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill or imagination” (Acts 17:29).5 The same may be said of man too often conceiving of God in ways which are self pleasing and satisfying. The mindset of the natural man is thus fleshly and in strict contrast to that of a true, yielded believer in the Lord. The Apostle Paul declares, “Those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5). The contrast is a pronounced one, for Paul goes on to add, “The outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you” (vv. 7-9). The warning and admonition in the ancient proverb still rings loud and true:

Pride goes before destruction
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
It is better to be lowly in spirit with the afflicted
than to share the spoils with the proud. (Prov. 16:18-19)

Man’s sense of self worth or pride is often mentioned or portrayed in the Bible. It is linked with many improper areas of thinking that lead to unholy attitudes or actions such as: “perverse utterances” (Prov. 8:13), “boastings” (Jer. 48:30), lack of concern for those in need such as the poor (Ezek. 16:49), and at the root of it all, indifference to or a mindset against “The Holy One of Israel” (Jer. 50:29). Indeed, “The biblical images of pride add up to such a repulsive figure that they would lead one to abhor it, yet the frequency with which it appears in the Bible suggests something of its perennial appeal to the sinful heart.”6 How understandable, then, is Paul’s admonition to the Roman Christians that they should not “think too highly of yourself than you ought to think” Rom. 12:3). As we shall see below, rather than being prideful, people should follow Jesus’ own example of humility (cf. Matt. 11:29; Phil. 2:6-8).

Ungodly pride can lead to selfish greed. Such was pointed out long ago by David:

Yes, the wicked man boasts because he gets what he wants;
the one who robs others curses and rejects the LORD.
The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks,
“God won’t hold me accountable, he doesn’t care.”
He is secure at all times.
He has no regard for your commands. (Ps. 10:3-5a)

Indeed, all too easily a person’s prideful greed can lead to the disregard of or the taking advantage of others. Moreover, from their arrogance arises not only a disdain for the standards of God but even a disdain for the Lord himself. As Van Gemeren remarks, “These greedy have no regard for God or his commandments.… Their goal in life is a purposeful avoidance of God.... They are not atheists but instead have conveniently chosen to live without God.… Worship of the creator-covenantal God has been exchanged for worship of themselves.”7 Such a prideful, arrogant thinking individual is an example of someone who is self-deceived. In his preoccupation with himself he mistakenly imagines that he is the master of his own little world and that he is the only one that matters. As Paul warned the Galatian believers, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:3). In their preoccupation with themselves, some may on the one hand even consider themselves and their desires to be supremely important in life and yet on the other hand, think themselves to be maintaining a religious course of life (cf. Col. 1:20-23). Such, however, follow a false religiosity and are gravely in error. James warns with regard to someone who goes through the motions of religion yet is not profited spiritually by it to such an extent that that he even disdains or disparages others:

If someone thinks he is religious, yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:26-27)

Is what a person thinks or desires all that matters? Think again! The Scriptures are quite clear in pointing out that improper thinking such as selfish desires and greed leads too readily to improper or fleshly attitudes and actions. As Paul writes to the Galatians:

For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other so that you cannot do what you want…. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I have warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:17, 19-21; cf. Col. 3:5-10)

Accordingly, it is essential for all people, not only unbelievers but believers as well, to develop and pursue proper thinking—thinking that is in accordance with God’s thoughts.

Proper Thinking

God and Thinking. Basic to understanding the relation between God’s thoughts and man’s is the realization that the Lord is omniscient (Isa. 40:28). Therefore, he has a depth of wisdom, knowledge, and thinking that is beyond the grasp of human intelligence (Ps. 139:6; cf. Ps 92:5). Thus the Lord spoke through Isaiah saying,

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.
This is the LORD’s declaration.
For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:8-9; NASB)

Commenting on God’s declaration, Edward Young says, “The ways and thoughts of God are incomprehensible to man. Even though God reveal them to man, he cannot fully understand them; to him they are incomprehensible.”8 Smith adds: “Surely there are few similarities between God and the wicked, but there are some similarities between the righteous believer who reads or hears about thoughts and ways and attempts to live a life consistent with God’s instructions. Nevertheless, even with these few similarities with the righteous, it is not hard to accept the idea that God’s plans and purposes are exceedingly higher than anything the smartest righteous person has ever thought or imagined.” 9 All too often people may think that God does not see, know, or care about what they are doing. To the contrary, they should be aware of the fact that the Lord is so fully aware of them and their deeds that he even knows their thoughts and their motives (Ps: 94: 3-11). For example, Isaiah reports the Lord as saying,

“As for those who consecrate and ritually purify themselves so they can follow their leader and worship in the sacred orchards, those who eat the flesh of pigs and other disgusting creatures, like mice—they will all be destroyed together,” says the LORD. “I hate their deeds and thoughts.” (Isa. 66:17-18)

Indeed, the Lord knows the thoughts and motives all people—not just the wicked. Accordingly, when David was turning the kingdom over to his son Solomon, he admonished him:

“And you, Solomon my son, obey the God of your fathers and serve him with a submissive attitude and a willing spirit, for the LORD examines all minds and understands every motive of one’s thoughts. If you seek him, he will let you find him, but if you abandon him, he will reject you permanently.” (1 Chron. 28:9)

Although David’s charge to Solomon, his son and successor, was aimed at the necessity for Solomon to follow the Lord’s intentions and directions for building the temple, the principle that lay behind David’s words is true and exceedingly applicable. God does indeed have an intricate knowledge of man’s thoughts, motives, attitudes, and desires. As David pleads with the Lord elsewhere,

May the evil deeds of the wicked come to an end!
But make the innocent (the godly) secure,
O righteous God,
you who examines the inner thoughts and motives. (Ps. 7:9; cf. Jer. 11:20)

In harmony with all of this, David begins Psalm 139 by openly acknowledging that the Lord knows him thoroughly, including his every thought and action:

O LORD, you examine me and know.
You know when I sit down and when I get up;
even when far away you understand my motives.
You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest,
you are aware of everything I do.
Certainly my tongue does not frame a word
without you, O LORD, being thoroughly aware of it.

Appropriately, Leupold observes, “Before the thought has taken shape to the point where it can be cast into the appropriate word, God knows what it is going to be. This is knowledge superlative.”10 David admits that such awareness is “beyond my comprehension” (v.6). “How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God! How vast is their sum total!” (v.17). Yet because David knows that God’s omniscience means that the Lord understands David better than does David himself, he goes on to plead with the Lord to examine his thoughts so that David might be led to living a thoroughly righteous life before the Lord.

Examine me and probe my thoughts!
Test me, and know my concerns!
See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me!
and lead me in the reliable ancient path! (vv. 23-24)

David’s prayerful thoughts are reflected in the familiar hymn by J. Edwin Orr:

Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from ev’ry sin and set me free.

….

Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine;
Fulfill Thy word and make me pure within.
Take all my will, my passion, self and pride;
I now surrender, Lord—in me abide.11

Applying David’s desires to Christian believers, Futato remarks,

“I want the Lord to know me, so that I can know myself better. I want the Lord to know me, so that he can ‘lead me along the path of everlasting life’ (139:24) and that path is walked in a humble and loyal relationship with the God who knows me (139:1-6), who is always present with me (139:7-12), and who cares for me (139:13-18)—all because of his love for me in the Lord Jesus Christ.”12

God’s thoughts toward people carry a genuine concern for them. Thus in his concern for peoples’ spiritual health and true welfare, God continues to reveal his thoughts and standards to them (Amos 4:13). Therefore, people should gladly and willingly submit to the Lord, not only for God’s glory but for their own good. The psalmist’s words, though designed specifically for his people Israel, doubtless have application for all believers:

How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O LORD,
the one whom you teach from your law.
Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people. (Ps. 94: 13-14a)

It is likewise simply the case also that the old proverb in God’s everlasting Word remains pertinent:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
Acknowledge him in all you ways,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own estimation;
fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
This will bring healing to your body
and refreshment to your inner self. (Prov. 3:5-8)

As Buzzell rightly observes, “This means more than guidance; it means God removes the obstacles, making a smooth path or way of life, or perhaps better, bringing one to the appointed goal.”13

Man and Thinking. The Scriptures do invite people to participate in active, even deep, thinking (cf. Prov. 22:17). Indeed, many human examples of such a process (e.g., Einstein) could be cited. On a time-honored popular level the example of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes remains a classic standard. One is reminded of Holmes’ famous maxim: “When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”14 Put another way, one might say, “When you have eliminated the seemingly impossible, and exhausted all seemingly possible conclusions, then something of the seemingly impossible, however improbable, must be possible.” It is a maxim that atheists, agnostics, and skeptics could well heed. Indeed, as the Scriptures point out, people may even profit by listening to wise counsel (cf. Prov. 1-9), especially when it is clothed with godly wisdom (e.g., Prov. 2:1-6).

Quite obviously, as we have noted above, the thinking capacity even of a redeemed, believing person, however well educated and informed, can never equal or even approximate the thinking of the omniscient God (cf. Pss. 40:5; 139:17; Eph. 3:20). Left to themselves, the wisest people, even believers, may at times be foolish in their thinking (cf. Ps. 73: 21-22). For example, even though some may find this difficult to understand, as not only an omniscient God, but as a loving Lord he is concerned for people’s welfare. Some may think, “If God really did exist, he would be too great and too occupied with cosmic affairs to examine men’s minds, much less guide his thinking or be concerned for their situation.” Thus the psalmist asks:

O LORD, of what importance is the human race,
that you should notice them?
Of what importance is mankind,
that you should be concerned about them? (Ps. 144:3).

Upon reviewing God’s essential power and goodness, however, he eagerly concludes, “How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD” (Ps. 144:15b). Thus by allowing God to control the thought processes, foolish thinking can be reversed, so as to allow a person to be guided by the Lord’s counsel (Ps 73: 24; cf. Ps. 7:9b). When he realizes this fully, he will desire and consistently seek God’s mind and will for his life. For he will have come to understand that God’s will is not only the best for him, but as a concerned God, “The Lord is near!” (Phil. 4:5; cf. Ps 34:18-20) to help and care for him.

Indeed, all people need to come to grips with the fact that (as we have seen) God does know their thoughts and desires. This is especially true for believers. As redeemed by Christ, believers can and should utilize godly thinking in their lives. As Paul admonishes the Colossians, believers need to overcome their preoccupation with self and everyday matters and, “keep thinking about things above, not on things earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:2-3; cf. Rom 8:5). As Bruce remarks,

“Don’t let your ambitions be earthbound, set on transitory and inferior objects. Don’t look at life and the universe from the standpoint of these lower planes; look at them from Christ’s exalted standpoint. Judge everything by the standards of that new creation to which you now belong, not by those of the old order to which you have said a final farewell.”15

There is indeed, then, such a thing as proper thinking. Believers have the greatest example of proper thinking in the Lord Jesus himself. Among Jesus’ departing words to his disciples was the declaration “I am doing just what the Father commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31). In his farewell prayer to the Father he points out that he had “glorified the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4) and adds further, “Now they understand that everything you have given me comes from you, because I have given them the words you have given me. They accepted them and really understand that I came from you and they believe that you sent me” (vv. 7-8). Thus Jesus demonstrates to his disciples that his thoughts and resulting actions were because he was reproducing the Fathers thoughts and will.

Still further, Jesus revealed that after his departure, he would send the Holy Spirit who will, “Guide you into all truth,” and will, “receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you” (John 16: 13, 15). As Tenney points out, “Through the Holy Spirit every Christian can be provided with individual authoritative instruction.”16 Thus as Jesus reproduced the Father’s thoughts and will, so the Holy Spirit delivers the thoughts and instructions of Christ and the Father to believers in order that they may think and act in accordance with the divine perspective.

As those united to Christ, then, believers are enabled through the Holy Spirit’s guidance to think and act in accordance with Jesus’ example. As did the Apostle Paul, believers should “take every thought captive to make it obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). In so doing their very lives will be transformed. As Paul admonished the Roman Christians, if believers are to grow in their spiritual walk, they must,

Present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to the present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. (Rom 12:1-2)

Thus Cranfield wisely remarks, a believer should “allow himself to be transformed continually, remoulded, remade, so that his life here and now may more and more clearly exhibit signs and tokens of the coming order of God—that order which has already come—in Christ.”17 Such can indeed be accomplished by freely yielding to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and instruction.

In this regard, an examination of the word “transformed” is most helpful. The Grreek background of the verb rendered “transformed,-- metamoprhoomai informs us that this word was used in a variety of ways. Meaning basically to change into another form, that transformation could involve not only an outward change easily perceived by the senses, but on occasion, an inward spiritual one as well. The root idea is appropriately used in a number of fields of knowledge. Geologists apply it to rocks whose structure is so completely altered that their original form is no longer seen, calling them “metamorphic” rocks. Biologists use it to designate changes in the natural world by which creatures adapt to a new environment or way of living, such as tadpoles becoming frogs, and term it metamorphosis. Certain linguists speak of processes whereby meanings in the deep structure are transformed into the resultant words of the surface structure of the sentence.

The verb appears only three times in the New Testament but is especially instructive for Christian living in each case. Paul reminds the believer that, having presented himself as a living sacrifice, the whole person, inside out, is to “go on being transformed” in realizing the will of God (Rom.12:1-2). There is a metamorphic process that is to take place in ourselves, to conform us to “the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29), that involves an attitude of full surrender to Christ, But, granted this truth, how can that metamorphic, sanctifying process be fully realized? The two other contexts in which this verb is employed suggest two other avenues whereby the Christian can grow in grace.

In the first instance (Matt. 17:1-2) metamorphoomai is used of Christ’s transfiguration. Matthew reports that on that occasion Christ’s essential inner excellence shone out so brightly that not only was his intrinsic glory seen but his very clothing glistened with dazzling brightness. The parallel account in Luke 9:29 makes it clear that Jesus transformation took place as he prayed, This suggests that one means for the believers growth in grace is through prayer. Time spent in daily communion with God to know his mind and will allows the structure of our beings, already dramatically changed at conversion, to be further transformed. By knowing God better, we learn to think his thoughts after him and so to be like him.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul reports that the Holy Spirit also brings to the believer full liberty to behold the glory of the Lord in the Scriptures and thereby to be “changed, into the same image from glory to glory.” Thus, beholding the living Word in the written Word and submitting to its precepts brings such a transformational change in the depths of our beings that it must surface in the activities of our daily lives. Believers are programmed for holy living in a new, changed life situation (2 Cor. 5:17). The word metamorphoomai reminds us of the means that we have for allowing the sanctifying work, the metamorphic process of the Holy Spirit, to be effective: (a godly mind and attitude of full commitment to Christ, (2) an effective prayer life, and (3) the consistent study of Gods Word.

Paul goes on in Romans 12:3 to point out some of the results of the transformational process: (1) it will enable believers to think “with sober discernment.”; (2) it will perfect their faith; (3) It will produce genuine humility –a humility that reflects Jesus’ own humbling of himself to the Father’s will (cf. Matt 11:29). Paul also reflects this in his advice to the Philippians by saying, “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others, as well” (Phil. 2:3-4). As Phil Comfort remarks:

A humble mind is the key to cooperative unity. Humility is the realization that we are creatures who are totally dependent on God, the Creator. If we are really humble before God, we are totally relying on God. This affects our attitude toward others, for as equally dependent creatures, we cannot take pride in ourselves.18

Paul then goes on to point to Christ as the ultimate example of humility and concern for others (Phil 2:5-7). Despite being fully divine, he was willing to assimilate human nature to his being and truly be concerned for the human beings, while submitting to the Father’s will in order to accomplish man’s redemption. This he did at the cost of his own life: “He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:8). As Comfort goes on to say, “Christ is put forth as the ultimate example of someone who cooperated with the divine will of his Father by exhibiting humility to the utmost.”19

By following Jesus’ example of true humility, believers will be enabled to live their redeemed life “with awe and reverence” (Phil. 2:12). And as they do so, even the thought of Jesus their redeemer and hope becomes very precious.

Jesus the very thought of Thee,
With sweetness fills my breast;
But greater far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.20

The believer’s life becomes one where his thoughts and desires are to follow the Lord in full dependence on his leading. Such will become evident in the believer’s everyday life and conduct. Full submission to the Lord will involve a life of prayer in order to know and follow God’s will. As Paul admonishes the Philippians,

Be not anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

The believer will also understand more clearly the will of God as revealed in the Word of God and motivate him to share that Word with others. As Paul tells the Colossians:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:16-17)

Thus Paul could serve as an example to the Philippian believers saying,

What ever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things; and what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8-9)

James also points to the fruit of exercising godly wisdom declaring,

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace. (James 3:17-18)

Such peace involves a total well-being of person, a full, healthy personal relationship with others, and above all, a complete and perfect identity in heart and mind with the Lord.

May we as believers always seek the mind of the Lord so as to do that which is proper and well-pleasing to him. As Kate Wilkinson expressed it,

May the mind of Christ my Savior
Live in me from day to day.
By His love and pow’r controlling
All I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His pow’r.21

Ah, then, you who claim, “I am all that really matters.” Think again! Rather than living for self, by having the mind of the Lord and living for him, a person’s life will be of far greater value both now and eternally.

May we truly be able to say,

All that I am and have—Thy gifts so free—
In joy, in grief, thru life, dear Lord for Thee!
And when Thy face I see, my ransomed soul shall be,
Thru all eternity, something for Thee.22


1 Benedict [Baruch] Spinoza, Ethics, III, proposition 2, note as cited in John Bartlett, Bartletts Familiar Quotations, ed. Justin Kaplan, 16th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1992), 278.

2 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene iii, line 97, as cited in Bartlett, 197.

3 Sir Thomas Vaux, as cited in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, ed. James Dalton Morrison (New York: Harper, 1948), 440.

4 Norman Vincent Peale, as cited in Lloyd Cory, Quotable Quotations (Wheaton: Scripture Press, 1989), 399. Cory (ibid.) also quotes C. Neil Strait as saying, “Negative thoughts poison the mind. What a mind poisoned with negative thoughts contributes, then, to life is not progress, but problems.”

5 Unless otherwise noted, all scriptural citations are taken from the NET Bible.

6 “Pride,” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 662.

7 Willem A. VanGemeren, “Psalms,” The Expositors Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, rev. ed., 2008) 5: 156.

8 Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 3:383.

9 Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 40-66, New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville; Broadman and Holman, 2009), 510.

10 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 944.

11 J. Edwin Orr, Cleanse Me (verses1,3).

12 Mark D. Futato, “Psalms,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2009)16:140.

13 Sid S. Buzzell, “Proverbs,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, Scripture Press, 1985), 911. See also, Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-15, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004) 243-47.

14 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet,” in The Complete Sherlock Holmes (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992), 315. See also this maxim in “The Sign of the Four,” ibid., 111.

15 F. F. Bruce, “Colossians,” in The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1984), 134.

16 Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief (Grand rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 238.

17 C. E B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary, 2.vols. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1979) 2: 608.

18 Phil W. Comfort, “Philippians,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2008) 16:168.

19 Comfort, ibid., 173.

20 Bernard of Clairvaux, trans. Edward Caswell, “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee.”

21 Kate B. Wilkinson, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior.”

22 Sylvanus D. Phelps, “Something for Thee.”

Related Topics: Bible Literacy, Christian Education, Christian Life, Discipleship

2. Sim, Meu Senhor — A História de Abraão e Sara

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Deus disse a Eva: “o teu desejo será para o teu marido, e ele te governará” (Gênesis 3:16). Isso foi parte das dificuldades causadas à mulher pelo pecado, e é interessante observar que os principais relacionamentos entre marido e mulher que se seguem nas Escrituras ilustram a submissão da esposa ao governo do marido. Sara é elogiada duas vezes pelos escritores do Novo Testamento: uma por sua fé (Hebreus 11:11) e outra por sua submissão ao marido (1 Pedro 3:5-6). O apóstolo Pedro foi ainda mais longe quando disse que ela “obedeceu a Abraão, chamando-lhe senhor”.

Em nossa cultura, nem sonharíamos em pedir a uma esposa que chamasse o marido de “senhor”, mas, naquela época, essa era a forma de Sara expressar sua submissão. Por mais estranho que pareça, estes dois princípios, fé e submissão, realmente andam juntos. Para a esposa, submissão é, basicamente, crer que Deus opera por meio do seu marido para realizar aquilo que é melhor para ela. E esta é a história da vida de Sara com Abraão.

Em primeiro lugar, vamos examinar a fonte da fé. A história começou em Ur, próspera metrópole perto da antiga costa do Golfo Pérsico. Um homem, pelo menos, se enchia de repulsa diante da idolatria e do pecado daquela cidade, pois havia conhecido o único Deus vivo e verdadeiro: “Ora, disse o SENHOR a Abrão: Sai da tua terra, da tua parentela e da casa de teu pai e vai para a terra que te mostrarei; de ti farei uma grande nação, e te abençoarei, e te engrandecerei o nome. Sê tu uma bênção! Abençoarei os que te abençoarem e amaldiçoarei os que te amaldiçoarem; em ti serão benditas todas as famílias da terra” (Gênesis 12:1-3). Armado com essa poderosa promessa, Abraão levantou acampamento e, com Tera, seu pai, Ló, seu sobrinho, e Sara, sua esposa, deu início à longa jornada para o norte, ao longo do crescente fértil, rumo à cidade de Harã.

Mudar-se não é divertido, principalmente quando a empresa de mudanças é um camelo ou uma mula, e especialmente quando você nem sabe para aonde vai! “Pela fé, Abraão, quando chamado, obedeceu, a fim de ir para um lugar que devia receber por herança; e partiu sem saber aonde ia” (Hebreus 11:8). Talvez isso bem mais difícil para a mulher do que para o homem. Sara não é mencionada neste versículo, mas sua fé está ali, tão firme quanto a de Abraão. Ela sabia que Deus a sustentaria durante aquela árdua jornada e mostraria a seu marido o lugar que Ele havia escolhido para eles.

Sara não era uma cabeça-oca, fraca, sem personalidade, excessivamente dependente. Seus pais lhe deram o nome de Sarai, e os nomes tinham significado no antigo mundo bíblico. O dela queria dizer “princesa”. Talvez seu nome descrevesse sua grande beleza, a qual é mencionada duas vezes no relato inspirado (Gênesis 12:11, 14). É possível também que descrevesse sua criação, sua educação refinada, seu encanto e suas maneiras graciosas. Quando Deus mudou seu nome para Sara, Ele não retirou a conotação de princesa, mas acrescentou a dignidade de ser mãe. Nesse contexto, ela é chamada de “a mãe das nações” (Gênesis 17:15-16, ARC).

Sara era uma mulher inteligente e capaz. Mas, quando se casou com Abraão, ela teve de tomar uma decisão. Ela estabeleceu como missão ajudar o marido a realizar os propósitos de Deus para ele. Isso não foi fraqueza. Foi a vontade de Deus para a vida dela: a verdadeira submissão bíblica. Algumas esposas têm sistematicamente sabotado o plano divino para o marido por não estarem dispostas a crer em Deus e se entregar à Sua sabedoria. Elas simplesmente não acreditam que Deus use seu marido para fazer o que é melhor. Elas acham que precisam colaborar com Deus tentando dominar o marido.

Parece que o pai de Abraão não quis prosseguir quando eles chegaram a Harã. Ele era idólatra (Josué 24:2), e a cidade de Harã lhe convinha perfeitamente para passar o resto da vida. Ele atrasou os planos de Deus para Abraão, mas não pôde destruí-los. Com a morte de Tera, Abraão, então com 75 anos de idade, deixou Harã e foi para a terra que Deus lhe prometera (Gênesis 12:4). Foi outra mudança para um lugar desconhecido, mas ao lado dele estava Sara, uma mulher de submissão e fé (Gênesis 12:5). Os dias por vir veriam sua fé severamente testada e sua submissão, duramente provada.

Em segundo lugar, vamos explorar as contínuas lutas da fé. A fé cresce quando está sob ataque. Quem ora para Deus afastar seus problemas pode estar pedindo uma vida espiritual deficiente. Às vezes, a nossa fé vacila diante do estresse, mas quando reconhecemos nossas falhas e aceitamos o perdão de Deus, mesmo essas falhas podem contribuir para o nosso crescimento espiritual. Abraão e Sara são elogiados nas Escrituras pela sua grande fé, mas suas falhas foram registradas para nossa instrução e encorajamento.

O primeiro ataque veio logo após eles terem entrado em Canaã. Havia grande fome na terra e Abraão decidiu deixar o lugar que Deus lhe prometera, fugindo para o Egito (Gênesis 12:10). Se ele tivesse consultado Sara, ela poderia ter-lhe mostrado a tolice de sua decisão, mas, como muitos homens, ele levou adiante seu plano sem levar em conta as dificuldades que poderia causar a ela. Muitos homens não gostam de pedir conselho à esposa. Eles acham que sua autoridade lhes dá a prerrogativa de fazer o que bem entendem sem conversar com a esposa para chegar a um acordo mutuamente aceitável. Eles receiam que elas encontrem falhas em sua lógica ou desmascarem seu egoísmo tacanho. Por isso, seguem em frente com seus planos e toda família acaba sofrendo com isso.

Quando se aproximaram do Egito, Abraão disse à esposa: “Ora, bem sei que és mulher de formosa aparência; os egípcios, quando te virem, vão dizer: É a mulher dele e me matarão, deixando-te com vida. Dize, pois, que és minha irmã, para que me considerem por amor de ti e, por tua causa, me conservem a vida” (Gênesis 12:11-13). Isso foi um tributo à beleza de Sara, a qual, aos 65 anos de idade, ainda era tão irresistível que Abraão pensou que os egípcios pudessem matá-lo por causa dela. E a beleza de Sara não estava só nos olhos dele. “Tendo Abrão entrado no Egito, viram os egípcios que a mulher era sobremaneira formosa. Viram-na os príncipes de Faraó e gabaram-na junto dele; e a mulher foi levada para a casa de Faraó” (Gênesis 12:14-15). Mesmo achando que eles o matariam para ficar com ela, Abraão tinha certeza de que o tratariam como convidado de honra se pensassem nela como sua irmã. E ele não estava errado. Eles lhe deram muitos servos e animais por causa dela (Gn. 12:16). Bem, tecnicamente, Sara era sua irmã, sua meia-irmã (Gn. 20:12). Esse tipo de casamento não era incomum naquela época. Mas o que Abraão disse a faraó era apenas meia-verdade, e meias-verdades são mentiras nas coisas de Deus. Deus não pode aceitar o pecado.

Por que Sara consentiu com esse plano pecaminoso? Este não seria o caso onde a obediência a Deus era melhor que obediência ao marido? Creio que sim. A esposa não tem obrigação de obedecer ao marido quando essa obediência compromete a vontade claramente revelada de Deus (cf. Atos 5:29). Sara tinha uma boa justificativa para não obedecer ao marido. Mas isso não mostraria o quão profunda era sua fé e sua submissão. Sara acreditava na promessa feita por Deus a Abraão de que ele seria pai de uma grande nação. Já que eles ainda não tinham filhos, ela era dispensável, mas Abraão tinha de viver e ter filhos, mesmo se fosse com outra mulher.

Talvez ela também acreditasse que Deus interviria e a livraria antes de acontecer alguma imoralidade, o que era bastante provável, dado o tamanho do harém de faraó. Da mesma forma, talvez ela acreditasse que Deus a uniria novamente ao marido e os resgataria das mãos de faraó. E, devido ao que ela acreditava, ela acabou se submetendo. Deus os teria protegido mesmo sem o plano egoísta de Abraão, mas a fé em Deus e a submissão de Sara ao marido são lindamente ilustradas nesta narrativa do Antigo Testamento. O verdadeiro teste para a submissão de uma esposa pode vir quando ela sabe que o marido está cometendo um erro.

É difícil imaginar como um homem pode descer tanto quanto Abraão nesta ocasião. Até o rei pagão o censurou pelo que ele fez (Gênesis 12:18-20). Abraão falhou miseravelmente com Sara, mas Deus foi fiel a ela. Ele honrou sua fé e a livrou. Deus nunca abandona quem confia nEle. Nós poderíamos pensar que, depois dessa experiência, a lição sobre o cuidado soberano de Deus teria ficado gravado de forma tão indelével na alma de Abraão, que ele nunca mais comprometeria sua esposa para se proteger. Mas ele comprometeu. Cerca de vinte anos mais tarde, ele fez exatamente a mesma coisa com Abimeleque, rei de Gerar (Gênesis 20:1-8). Isso mostra como um fiel pode ser fraco e sem fé. Há pecados que talvez achemos que nunca mais iremos cometer, mas é preciso ter muito cuidado, pois é exatamente aí aonde Satanás vai nos atacar. O surpreendente é que Sara foi novamente submissa, e novamente Deus a livrou, mais uma evidência da sua fé e da fidelidade de Deus.

Outro motivo de grande tensão para a fé de Abraão e Sara é revelado nesta afirmação: “Ora, Sarai, mulher de Abrão, não lhe dava filhos” (Gênesis 16:1). Em breve Deus mudaria o nome de Abrão para Abraão, de “pai exaltado” para “pai de uma multidão”. Mas como Abraão poderia ser pai de uma multidão quando nem tinha filho? Agora era a vez de Sara usar a engenhosidade humana para dar um jeito na situação. Ela ofereceu a Abraão sua escrava egípcia, Agar, para que ele tivesse um filho com ela. Sua sugestão, temos de admitir, mostrou que ela acreditava que Deus manteria Sua palavra e daria um filho a Abraão. Obviamente, ela foi motivada por seu amor a Abraão e pelo desejo de ele ter um filho. E, dividir o marido com outra mulher, deve ter sido um dos maiores sacrifícios que ela poderia fazer. Mas esse não era o jeito de Deus. Era só mais uma solução carnal. E o jeito de Deus sempre é o melhor, mesmo quando Ele não faz aquilo que achamos necessário naquele momento.

Muitas vezes, nós, terráqueos preocupados com o tempo, ficamos ressentidos com a demora de Deus e cuidamos do assunto pessoalmente, em geral, para nossa própria tristeza. Se aprendêssemos a manter a confiança em Deus quando a situação parecesse ruim, pouparíamos a nós mesmos de muito sofrimento.

Esse pecado impulsivo afetou o relacionamento de Abraão e Sara. Agar engravidou e acabou se tornando orgulhosa e incontrolável. Sara jogou a culpa em Abraão, quando, na verdade, a ideia foi dela mesma. Depois, ela tratou Agar com rispidez, e sua grosseria revelou a amargura e o ressentimento da sua alma. Enquanto isso, Abraão se esquivava da sua responsabilidade. Antes de tudo, ele deveria ter dito “não” ao plano pecaminoso de Sara. Mas agora ele lhe diz para cuidar do problema sozinha, fazer o que quiser e parar de encher a paciência dele com isso (Gênesis 16:6).

É difícil para uma esposa ser submissa a um banana, um homem que não enfrenta seus problemas, fica em cima do muro e se esquiva de suas responsabilidades. Não há a quem se submeter, não há liderança a seguir. A esposa não pode ajudar o marido a cumprir o propósito de Deus para a vida dele quando ela nem sabe o que ele pretende.

Até mesmo grandes homens e mulheres de fé têm seus momentos de fraqueza. E, para Abraão e Sara, não houve momento pior do que quando eles se riram de Deus. Os dois riram. Deus disse a Abraão que abençoaria Sara e a faria mãe de nações. Reis de povos procederiam dela. Abraão se prostrou com o rosto em terra e se riu, dizendo: “A um homem de cem anos há de nascer um filho? Dará à luz Sara com seus noventa anos?” (Gênesis 17:17). Abraão tentou fazer Deus aceitar Ismael como seu herdeiro, mas Deus lhe disse: “De fato, Sara, tua mulher, te dará um filho, e lhe chamarás Isaque; estabelecerei com ele a minha aliança, aliança perpétua para a sua descendência” (Gênesis 17:19).

A seguir, foi a vez de Sara. O Senhor apareceu na tenda de Abraão na pessoa de um visitante, e Sara o ouviu dizer: “Certamente voltarei a ti, daqui a um ano; e Sara, tua mulher, dará à luz um filho” (Gênesis 18:10). Ela estava escutando na porta da tenda, e se riu, dizendo: “Depois de velha, e velho também o meu senhor, terei ainda prazer?” (Gênesis 18:12). A propósito, foi assim que Pedro soube que ela chamou Abraão de “senhor”. A submissão estava ali, mas sua fé estava vacilante. As lutas da fé são reais e todos passamos por elas. Os dardos de dúvida lançados por Satanás parecem voar em nossa direção quase o tempo todo, e muitas vezes somos tentados a achar graça só de pensar em Deus resolvendo nossos problemas espinhosos.

Mas graças a Deus pelo triunfo final da fé. Creio que a reviravolta na fé relutante de Abraão e Sara ocorreu durante o último contato com o Senhor: “Por que se riu Sara?”, Deus prontamente perguntou. “Acaso, para o SENHOR há coisa demasiadamente difícil?” (Gênesis 18:13-14). Essas palavras incisivas e desafiadoras penetraram fundo naqueles corações vacilantes, e sua fé foi reavivada, fortalecida e solidificada. Houve mais um pequeno contratempo em Gerar (Gênesis 20:1-8), mas, basicamente, as coisas ficaram diferentes daí por diante.

De Abraão, o apóstolo Paulo escreveu: “E, sem enfraquecer na fé, embora levasse em conta o seu próprio corpo amortecido, sendo já de cem anos, e a idade avançada de Sara, não duvidou, por incredulidade, da promessa de Deus; mas, pela fé, se fortaleceu, dando glória a Deus, estando plenamente convicto de que ele era poderoso para cumprir o que prometera” (Romanos 4:19-21).

De Sara, o escritor aos Hebreus disse: “Pela fé, também, a própria Sara recebeu poder para ser mãe, não obstante o avançado de sua idade, pois teve por fiel aquele que lhe havia feito a promessa” (Hebreus 11:11). Sua fé foi recompensada; Sara teve um filho e eles o chamaram de Isaque, que significa “riso”. E Sara nos diz porque lhe deu esse nome: “Deus me deu motivo de riso; e todo aquele que ouvir isso vai rir-se juntamente comigo” (Gênesis 21:6). Seu sorriso de dúvida se transformou em um riso triunfante de alegria, a qual nós podemos compartilhar com ela.

Haveria também outros problemas para Abraão e Sara. A vida de fé nunca está livre de obstáculos. Agar e Ismael ainda estavam por perto para zombar de Isaque. E Sara ficou transtornada com isso. Quando viu Ismael caçoando do seu pequeno Isaque, parece que ela ficou descontrolada. Ela correu até Abraão e furiosamente exigiu: “Rejeita essa escrava e seu filho; porque o filho dessa escrava não será herdeiro com Isaque, meu filho” (Gênesis 21:10). Seria esta a mesma mulher exaltada no Novo Testamento por sua submissão e obediência? Sim, é ela mesma. Submissão saudável não impede alguém de expressar suas opiniões. A submissão doentia geralmente é motivada por baixa autoestima (“minha opinião não vale nada”), receio de enfrentar circunstâncias desagradáveis (“a única coisa que eu quero é paz”) ou para se esquivar de responsabilidade (“outro que tome a decisão; não vou levar a culpa”).

Pelo menos, Sara disse o que pensava. E, além do mais, ela estava certa! Em ficar transtornada, não; mas Ismael não devia ser herdeiro com Isaque, e Deus queria que Ismael saísse da família. Deus disse a Abraão para ouvir Sara e fazer tudo o que ela dissesse (Gênesis 21:12). Imagine só — mesmo quando Sara ficou perturbada, Deus queria que Abraão aceitasse seu conselho. Deus sempre quer usar as esposas para corrigir os maridos, para aconselhá-los, amadurecê-los, ajudá-los a resolver seus problemas e dar-lhes discernimento. É para isso que são auxiliadoras.

Alguns maridos fazem a esposa se sentir como uma pessoa ignorante, cujas ideias são ridículas e cujas opiniões não valem nada. O marido que faz isso é quem é o verdadeiro ignorante. Ele está perdendo o melhor de Deus para ele. Se a esposa diz ao marido que o casamento está com problemas, Deus quer que ele a ouça — ouça sua avaliação da situação, ouça as mudanças que ela acha devem ser feitas, ouça quando ela tenta dividir seus sentimentos e necessidades — e então faça alguma coisa construtiva sobre isso. Um dos principais problemas nos casamentos cristãos da atualidade é que os maridos são orgulhosos demais para admitir quando há alguma coisa errada e teimosos demais para tomar uma atitude. Talvez Deus queira ensiná-los por meio de sua esposa.

A escrava e o filho finalmente foram despachados. Ismael já tinha idade suficiente para sustentar sua mãe e Deus lhe deu habilidade com o arco (Gênesis 21:20). Com aquela mulher irritante fora do caminho, o pequeno e feliz trio familiar desfrutou durante algum tempo do companheirismo e da fé sem empecilhos. Mas a pior de todas as provações ainda estava por vir. “Depois dessas coisas, pôs Deus Abraão à prova” (Gênesis 22:1). Esta ia ser uma provação bastante incomum. Deus disse: “Toma teu filho, teu único filho, Isaque, a quem amas, e vai-te à terra de Moriá; oferece-o ali em holocausto, sobre um dos montes, que eu te mostrarei” (Gênesis 22:2). O nome de Sara não aparece nesse capítulo e raramente a mencionamos quando falamos sobre o assunto. Mas, com certeza, ela sabia o que estava para acontecer. Provavelmente, ela os ajudou na preparação para a viagem. Ela viu a lenha, o fogo, e a faca; ela viu o filho, Isaque, e viu Abraão, um olhar de agonia franzindo sua testa envelhecida. Mas não viu nenhum animal para o sacrifício. A Escritura diz que Abraão acreditou que Deus poderia até ressuscitar Isaque dos mortos (Hebreus 11:19). Sara também deve ter acreditado.

Ela os viu desaparecer no horizonte e, embora seu coração de mãe estivesse arrasado, ela não proferiu sequer uma palavra de protesto. Esta, provavelmente, foi a maior demonstração da sua fé em Deus e de submissão à vontade e propósito do marido. “Pois foi assim também que a si mesmas se ataviaram, outrora, as santas mulheres que esperavam em Deus, estando submissas a seu próprio marido, como fazia Sara, que obedeceu a Abraão, chamando-lhe senhor, da qual vós vos tornastes filhas, praticando o bem e não temendo perturbação alguma” (1 Pedro 3:5-6). A esposa cristã não precisa ter medo de ser submissa quando sua esperança está em Deus. Ele será fiel à Sua Palavra e usará a obediência dela para fazer aquilo que é melhor para ela.

Sara foi uma daquelas mulheres de quem o rei Lemuel falou que faziam bem e não mal ao marido todos os dias da sua vida (Provérbios 31:12). Uma mulher só pode ser esse tipo de esposa quando crê que nada é difícil demais para Deus, e quando crê que Deus pode até usar os erros do seu marido para glorificar a Si mesmo e abençoar a vida deles. E um homem só pode ser digno de uma esposa tão submissa, quando aprende a seguir a orientação de Deus, em vez de ir atrás de seus objetivos egoístas. Tal homem sabe que não tem autoridade para garantir sua posição de liderança. Isso lhe foi dado por Deus. Por isso, ele a aceita como um dever sagrado, exercendo sua autoridade com submissão total a seu Senhor e consideração desvelada por sua esposa e por aquilo que é melhor para ela.

Vamos conversar sobre isso

1. Para os maridos: Quais são os objetivos da sua vida? Já conversou sobre eles com sua esposa? Para as esposas: De que forma você pode ajudar seu marido a cumprir o propósito de Deus para ele?

2. Por que o marido deve buscar o conselho da esposa nas decisões que afetam a ela?

3. Em quais situações a mulher encontra mais dificuldade para ser submissa?

4. Como Deus espera que a esposa reaja quando sente que o marido não faz aquilo que é da vontade de Deus?

5. Para as esposas: Existe alguma área da sua submissão que seja motivada pela baixa autoestima, pelo receio de enfrentar circunstâncias desagradáveis ou para se esquivar de responsabilidade? Qual é a base da submissão saudável?

6. Como os maridos, às vezes, usam sua autoridade como um porrete para conseguir as coisas do seu jeito? O que podem fazer para evitar isso?

7. Tendo Deus dado o papel de liderança ao marido, quais, então, são suas obrigações para com sua esposa?

8. Para as esposas: Como Deus deseja que você expresse suas opiniões e desejos ao seu marido? Para os maridos: Como Deus espera que você reaja quando sua esposa está tentando lhe dizer alguma coisa?

Tradução: Mariza Regina de Souza

Related Topics: Christian Home, Marriage

The Net Pastor's Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 11 Spring 2014

Spring 2014 Edition

Produced by ...

Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,

The Institute for Biblical Preaching

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

www.tibp.ca

C:\Users\Roger\Documents\My Documents\Institute for Biblical Preaching\Forms, Binder Cover Page, Logo\IBP Logos\IBP Logo.jpg

“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

Let’s continue our discussion on the subject of “Preparing for Preaching: Selecting Texts and Topics.” The first aspect of “selecting texts and topics” we discussed last time (Winter 2014 Edition) was how a “Preaching Plan” helps you in preparation for preaching.

In this edition of the NET Pastors Journal, I would like to discuss some biblical principles and some good practices for selecting preaching texts and topics.

Some Biblical Principles For Selecting Texts And Topics

In Paul’s farewell address to the elders at Ephesus (Acts 20: 28-30), he outlines at least three principles that govern a preaching ministry in order to faithfully discharge our responsibility to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

1. A Principle For The Scope Of Your Preaching Ministry

Paul sets out the biblical principle concerning the nature and content of what we must preach. At Ephesus, Paul preached evangelistic messages (21, 24-25) and edifying messages (20). In sum, Paul’s preaching covered what he calls the whole counsel of God (27), which, we could say, is the general principle for a preaching ministry

Paul does not describe for us the content of, or exactly what he means by, “the whole counsel of God,” but evidently it embraces the full scope and comprehensive teaching of the Scriptures - the entirety of God’s revealed truth.

The whole counsel of God undoubtedly includes (a) “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (21); (b) “the gospel of the grace of God” (24); and (c) “the kingdom of God” (25). In other words, it probably includes both evangelistic messages and messages for edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3).

Preaching the whole counsel of God amounts to the full discharge of our obligation as preachers. Paul’s point seems to be that, whatever the content or nature of his preaching was, he had fully and faithfully carried out his responsibilities so that he was “innocent of the blood of all men” (26). He had neither been negligent in his preaching nor had he shunned to declare certain truths to them, whether they were pleasant or unpleasant, received by them or rejected by them. He had “left behind (at Ephesus) a comprehensive message and instruction that would enable further growth of the church in the future (20).”1

Therefore, to preach the whole counsel of God, we must...

(A) Preach Faithfully.

This means making sure your preaching has width (scope). Be fully committed to declaring the full scope of God’s Word and God’s message.

(B) Preach Comprehensively.

This means making sure your preaching has breadth. Embrace the full range of biblical truth (the “whole” counsel) in order to (i) edify (teach) the church; (ii) exhort the church; (iii) admonish the church; (iv) strengthen the church; (v) grow the church.

When you “preach the whole counsel of God,” you will preach comprehensively in that you will instruct believers in the truth of God and thus build them up in “their most holy faith”; and you will invite unbelievers to repentance. The Word of God is applicable and effective for all people in all situations (cf. 2 Tim. 3:14-17).

(C) Preach Thoroughly.

This means making sure your preaching has depth. Be methodical and systematic in your preaching. Research its meaning carefully. Make sure you know what you’re talking about. Be precise. Pay attention to detail.

(D) Preach Proportionately.

This means making sure your preaching has balance so that (i) you do not favour certain topics or texts more than others; (ii) you exposit the full scope of Scriptural truth; (iii) you declare what is needed, not necessarily what is wanted. This means seeking out the right Scripture for the occasion through the leading of the Holy Spirit.

This, then, is a biblical principle for the scope of your preaching. Then there is ...

2. A Principle For Practicing What You Preaching

Your preaching and teaching will be powerless if it is not supported by your personal example. So ...

  • Practice personal humility. Paul says that he “served the Lord will all humility” (19)
  • Practice pastoral responsibility. Paul says: “I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (31). We have pastoral responsibilities that include warning people.
  • Practice personal integrity. “These hands have provided for my necessities and for those who were with me” (34-35). In other words, Paul was not in ministry for the money or personal benefits, but he provided for his own needs and for those who ministered with him.

The third principle for selecting texts and topics is...

3. A Principle For Developing Leaders Through Your Preaching

What you preach and teach has a direct impact on your church’s leadership – their spirituality, style, training, mentoring etc. Preparing church leaders, according to the apostle Paul, includes: appointing them (28), instructing them (28-31), exhorting them (31), and entrusting them with the responsibility of shepherding the church (32).

When you preach the whole counsel of God and practice it in your own life, you will go a long way to preparing and training other leaders by instructing them in the whole counsel of God, and by demonstrating how to put the Scriptures into practice in their own lives.

4. Conclusion

If you preach the whole counsel of God, your preaching will have a profound impact on your church, mission organization, or other Christian ministry. You will leave behind a lasting legacy. You will strengthen your organization in the truth. You will train up leaders to give godly oversight. As a result, you will not be ashamed of, nor feel regret about, your preaching.

In addition to these Biblical Principles for Selecting Texts and Topics, let me suggest some...

Good Practices For Selecting Texts And Topics

1. Select Your Texts And Topics Prayerfully

Prayer is the only solid basis for selecting preaching texts and topics. Prayer safeguards the dangers and concerns of preaching plans – viz. that they will be of the flesh and not of the Spirit. Ministry planning that is done prayerfully recognizes and bows to the sovereignty of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Be sure to establish your preaching plans under the authority of the Spirit. Whether you preach message by message, series by series, or whether you plan your preaching on a quarterly, annual, topical, or thematic basis, the sermons must be planned prayerfully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Be sure to take time for this. Make it a priority. Be intentional in praying about what you should preach over the next few weeks, or the next year, or the next season (e.g. Christmas or Easter). Wait on God - be open to His direction for a series or a single message.

2. Select Your Texts And Topics According To Established Priorities

The process of planning begins with establishing priorities in your church. Church leaders need to establish a plan for the congregation as a whole and for small groups within the congregation based on certain priorities and goals that they prayerfully decide need to be addressed. Too many churches have no plan for their preaching and teaching ministries. Then they wonder why their people are spiritually immature, or biblically illiterate.

The following priorities start with the centre of ever widening concentric circles:

(A) Establish Biblical Priorities

Biblical Priority #1: Preach Christ. This is the central theme of the Bible. Paul said, “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2; cf. Col. 1:28) – i.e. “the gospel” (Rom. 1:16). This is the focus of the entire Bible and, therefore, every sermon must somehow relate to this theme.

Biblical Priority #2: Preach the faith. This refers to the central doctrines of the Bible - i.e. the truth of the gospel; “the faith which was once-for-all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3); the defined set of truths that constitute the essence of Christian belief. You can make a list of these central doctrines from biblical or systematic theology books, or from your own study of Scripture.

Biblical Priority #3: Preach the Scriptures. Text selection must give attention to the whole counsel of God, the entire scope of Scripture, since God has given it all us to preach. You may not be able to preach the whole Bible during your lifetime, but the point is that we preach the Old Testament and New Testament, character studies, doctrines, historical narratives, prophetic Scriptures, wisdom literature, epistles, gospels etc., taking into account the diversity and depth of Scripture.

(B) Establish Practical Priorities

Text selection is affected by the realities that occur from day-to-day. In this regard, there is no set pattern to follow other than the fact that you apply the biblical priorities for preaching to the practical priorities of ministry – i.e. relate the reality of what is needed in your congregation or organization to the obligations of preaching.

This will depend on (a) your ministry (i.e. youth, seniors, evangelism etc); (b) your gifting (prophetic preaching, evangelistic preaching etc); and (c) the type of opportunities you have to preach (Sunday morning services, funerals, weddings etc.).

This brings together three components: (i) the gift God has given you; (ii) the ministry God has called you to; and (iii) the message God has given you.

Part II: Leadership: Being A Godly Role Model

“Your Personal Surrender to the Holy Spirit”

Leaders must be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led people. We often talk about the filling of the Spirit, but what does it really mean to be filled with the Spirit? And what does that look like in reality? How do you obtain this filling and what difference does it make in your life? How does a Spirit-filled person act, relate to others, speak, think etc.?

For our answer, we’re going to Ephesians 5, but before doing so I want you to notice the importance of the subject of the Holy Spirit for Paul in Ephesians. He talks about the sealing of the Spirit (1:13); the indwelling of the Spirit (2:22); the strengthening of the Spirit (3:16); the uniting of the Spirit (4:3); the grieving of the Spirit (4:30); and the filling of the Spirit (5:18).

Further, Paul emphasizes in Ephesians this matter of “filling” or “fullness” - the fullness of the times (1:10); the fullness of the church, Christ’s body (1:23); the fullness of God (3:19); the fullness of Christ (4:13); the fullness / filling of the Spirit (5:18).

The word in Greek is πληρωμα, which can be active or passive. Actively it refers to that which fills up, to fill to the full. Passively, it refers to that which has been filled or completed, to be filled. Fullness, as Paul uses this word, speaks of that which is full of something; or that which is brought to fullness or completion; the sum total, the full measure, the abundance (cf. Rom. 11:25; 15:29; Col. 2:9; Eph. 3:19; Jn. 1:16), or the state of being full (cf. Gal. 4:4; Acts 13:52).

Eph. 5:18 introduces the subject of the filling of the Spirit in the believer, which is then developed as to what that looks like in various aspects of life (in the church, in the home, in the workplace, and in the world) right through to 6:20.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive study of this passage, but to give you a flavour of what the filling of the Spirit is in precept and what it looks like in practice. First...

The Meaning Of The Spirit-Filled Life

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? It says: Do not be drunk with wine in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit (5:18). The context is that the unwise, foolish, reckless person (5:15, 17) is controlled by his passions (the flesh), which is sometimes manifested in drunkenness. On the other hand, the careful, circumspect, wise person (5:15), who understands what the will of the Lord is (5:17), is controlled by the Spirit, which is manifested in (a) Spirit-filled unity in the church (5:19-21), (b) Spirit-filled harmony in the home (5:22-6:4), (c) Spirit-filled co-operation in the workplace (6:5-9), and (d) Spirit-filled victory in the world (6:10-20).

So, what’s the connection between being “drunk” and being “filled with the Spirit?” It’s a contrast between alcoholic and spiritual intoxication, both of which are the result of coming under the control of an external power. It has to do with who is in control of our lives. The drunk person lives recklessly, controlled by the power of alcohol. The spiritual person lives carefully, controlled by the power of the Spirit.

Everything about a drunk people indicates that they are under the influence of a power other than their own - that they are out of control, in the way they walk, talk, look, and think. Everything about Spirit-filled people, on the other hand, indicates that they are under an authority more powerful than themselves - that they are in control of the way they walk, talk, look, and think.

Drunk people gain temporary happiness, temporary forgetfulness, temporary relief from reality through drunkenness, but it soon fades until it starts all over again. Spirit-filled people, on the other hand, don’t have to search for happiness because they have it. They don’t need a fake substitute; they have the real thing. They aren’t drunk; they are filled. They aren’t under the influence of wine, but under the influence of the Spirit. The Spirit of God fills them with a joy and peace that passes all understanding – their life overflows with it.

Grammatically, the phrase “be filled with the Spirit” tells us that:

  • It is plural – addressed to the whole church, includes us all
  • It is imperative – a command, an obligation, not optional
  • It is passive – the Holy Spirit fills us, not we ourselves.

This is a peculiar grammatical construction. How can we obey a passive command? It is both passive and a command in the sense of “Let yourself be filled …”. We must allow the Holy Spirit to do it and in no way hinder Him from filling us. It is imperative in that we must and can respond to it - it is not something that occurs without our effort or action. But it is passive in that it is something the Holy Spirit fulfills.

  • It is present continuous – “Keep on being filled”. We have been “sealed with the Spirit” once-for-all, but we must be filled continuously by living according to the principles, practices, and programs of the new man.

So, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? What does this look like in reality?

1. What The Filling Of The Spirit Is Not

The filling of the Spirit is not some sort of dramatic phenomenon – e.g. falling to the ground, twitching, or making strange noises. It is not a second blessing subsequent to conversion. It is not a temporary experience of ecstatic speech or visions. It is not a progressive process by which we gradually receive more of Him until we are full of Him, since all believers possess him in fullness (not in part, as though He could be divided up – see Jn. 3:34).

It is not the same as being “indwelled by the Spirit”, since all believers are indwelled at the moment of salvation (Rom. 8:9). It is not the same as “the baptism of the Spirit”, since all believers are baptized with the Spirit at the moment of conversion, when we become part of the body of Christ. It is not the same as being “sealed w/ the Spirit”, since this also an accomplished fact (1:13). Nowhere are believers commanded to be indwelled, baptized, or sealed with the Spirit. The only command is to “be filled with the Spirit.”

2. What The Filling Of The Spirit Is

To be filled with the Spirit means to manifest what we truly are. We are sealed with the Spirit when we trust Christ and we manifest that sealing by letting him “fill” us, so that it is evident who controls our lives. The disciples were “filled” with the Spirit at Pentecost so much so that everyone knew it.

When He fills us, we live in the fullness of His presence and His power. He enables us to live according to the new man, to be God-centred, to be light (8-14), to live carefully and use our time wisely (15-16), to understand what the will of the Lord is (17), worshiping God (19-20) and living together in unity (21).

To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, to live in the power of the Spirit, to be sensitive to the operation of the Spirit, to surrender moment by moment to the Spirit. Just as some people are filled with sorrow, fear, or anger, and that emotion takes control of their life, so we are to be so consumed by the Holy Spirit that He has control of our lives. When He fills us, we are not under our own control but His - dominated by Him, overpowered and mastered by Him.

To be filled with something means that there is no room for anything else. That’s the very nature of something that is filled – you can’t get a drop more in; if you could, it would not be filled. That’s the nature of being filled with the Spirit – no room for self, the world, or the flesh.

And whatever you are filled with characterizes your entire life. Someone has pointed out that a Christian who is filled with the Spirit is like a glove. A glove without a hand in it is powerless and useless, since a glove works only as the hand controls and uses it. A glove’s only work is the hand’s work – it can’t complete any tasks without the hand, nor can the glove take any credit or boast about what it does. In the same way a Christian who is not filled with the Spirit can accomplish no more than a glove that is not filled with a hand. Anything done without the Spirit is of no value.2

Here are twelve aspects or evidences of being filled with the Spirit:

1. Confessing your sins.

2. Renewing your mind through the transforming power of the Spirit.

3. Dying to self; mortifying the flesh (Gal. 5:16, 24).

4. Presenting your body as living a sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).

5. Being God-centred, not self-centred.

6. Being light, not darkness.

7. Being careful how you live, not reckless.

8. Living according to the new man, not the old.

9. Living in the consciousness of the personal presence of the Lord; letting his life dominate yours.

10. Filling yourself with the Word of God so that His thoughts are your thoughts, His standards your standards, His holiness your holiness.

11. Keeping in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25); living your life under his control - every thought and every decision.

12. Manifesting the fruit of the Spirit which He produces in you - love, joy, peace etc (Gal. 5:22-23).

Spirit-filled living is most fully realized in community, when we are together and dwelling together in unity.

That, then, is the meaning of the Spirit-filled life. In subsequent editions of the NET Pastors Journal we will continue to look at the necessity of the Spirit-filled life, the reality of the Spirit-filled life, and the activity of the Spirit-filled life.

Part III: Devotional Thoughts

“Manna in the Morning”

By: Dr. Stephen F. Olford

If you and I were to discuss the matter personally, probably you would say that it is a most commendable practice for every Christian to have a daily meeting with God through the Word and prayer.

And you would be right, of course. Except that this daily communion, this “quiet time” with God, is more than a commendable practice; it is absolutely vital to a life of sustained spirituality, effectiveness and love. It is the barometer of the Christian life.

Let me support that position. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

Read that without the negative comparison and you will see what man is to live on. “Man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Literally it is: “Man shall live by every spoken word that comes from God.”

That is not the Bible memorized, nor the Bible on your bookshelf or in your study. It is the word that God speaks to your soul in the quiet place of prayer and meditation. That is how man lives. You can be doctrinally correct, and yet be spiritually dead. The thing that maintains life is the living word of God which is spoken to your soul every day.

The quiet time is vital to spiritual health, whether you are newly converted or a mature Christian (see 1 Peter 2:2 and Heb. 5:14).

The quiet time is vital for spiritual cleansing. You are initially cleansed by the precious blood, that is true, and again and again you have to come back to the cross for restoration. But the day-to-day cleansing is from the laver of the Word (see Ps. 119:9; John 15:3; 17:17).

The quiet time is also vital to spiritual counsel.You can never know the true principles that determine a life of holiness and righteousness without letting the Word of God “dwell in you richly” (see Col. 3:16 and Ps. 73:24).

The quiet time is likewise vital in equipping you for spiritual conflict. The supreme example is our Lord Jesus Christ when He encountered Satan in the wilderness. I feel sure that for forty days and nights He had fed His soul on the book of Deuteronomy, and could therefore make His sword thrusts from personal experience of the written Word.

Paul later exhorted the believers at Ephesus to “take…(unto them) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

Important as all these things are, however, the greatest incentive to your having a quiet time each day is not your need, great as that is, but the fact that God wants to meet with you. Therefore, it is not merely a duty. It is a privilege and an honour.

God in Christ, your Lord, has a trysting place with you. His heart is saddened when you fail to keep the appointment. He longs, as He did with the woman of Samaria, to drink afresh of your love, devotions and worship (see John 4:23, 24).

I would warn you that establishing your quiet time is never easy. As a minister, I will confess frankly that it is harder for me to have my quiet time now than it was when I was first converted. The reason for this is that what counts costs.

You will find that the most vicious attacks of the adversary will be directed toward robbing you of that daily time with your Lord. And you will have to guard it fearlessly if you are to keep it.

Whatever your sphere of service – as a pastor, Sunday school teacher, missionary, or Christian in the office or home – I give you little hope of living victoriously unless you are successful in maintaining your quiet time.

But now I want to turn to some practical and specific requirements which I feel are necessary for the quiet time.

First, you will need a definite place and time – that almost goes without saying. And don’t ever say you can’t have a quiet time because you haven’t a place or a prearranged time. Consider again the example of the Lord Jesus (see Mark 1:35).

Next, have a good sized Bible, one with print you do not have to strain to read. Don’t get into the habit of waking up in the morning, rolling over in your bed, and with sleepy eyes trying to read a Bible with small print. Don’t stay in bed at all! Get up and wash your face, or have a shower, so that you are fully alert.

I love the story of a young student at Cambridge who wanted to be a burning light for God, but couldn’t get up in the morning. So he rigged up a clock in such a way that when the alarm rang it released from the ceiling a sponge filled with water which fell on his face!

Another essential is a prayer list or prayer cycle, something to keep reminding you to stress a different request for each day. My wife and I use one that works this way:

Monday: “M” is for missionaries.

Tuesday: “T” is for thanksgiving – that’s when we give the Lord special thanks for wonderful answers to prayer.

Wednesday: “W” is for workers.

Thursday: “T” is for tasks – our job at the church, the ministry that God has given us. Friday: “F” is for our families.

Saturday: “S” is for the saints – and especially young Christians, that Christ may be formed in them.

Sunday: “S” is for sinners and, in particular, the gospel services for which we are responsible.

Then you should have what I call a quiet time notebook. I believe that the thoughts of every quiet time should be written down, even if only in brief sentence form. God gives you there something you’ll never find in a commentary or anywhere else – and the thoughts are worth keeping. (To be continued next time).

Part IV. Sermon Outlines

John 13:1-11, Jesus Dialogue With The Disciples

For the audio versions of these sermons, click on these links: Link 1 - Jn. 13:1-3, Pt. 1; Link 2 - Jn. 13:1-3, Pt. 2; Link 3 - Jn. 13:1-3, Pt. 3; Link 4 - Jn. 13:4-5; Link 5 - Jn. 13:6-11

Title: True Servanthood

Point #1: We must understand the basis of true servanthood

1. The basis of true servanthood is the confidence that comes from knowledge (1-3)

a) The knowledge of where we are going and how we are getting there (1a-b)

b) The knowledge of who we are and how we fit in (3a)

c) The knowledge of where we have come from and why we are here (3b)

2. The basis of true servanthood is the motivation that comes from love

a) The motivation that comes from love is shown in the object of that love (1c)

b) The motivation that comes from love is shown in the extent of that love (1d-2)

Point #2: We must demonstrate the character of true servanthood (4-11)

1. In the way that we present ourselves to others (4b-c)

2. In the things we do for others (5)

3. In the manner we relate to others (6-11)

a) ... by being courteous to those who oppose us (6-8)

b) ... by being patient with those who don’t understand us (9-11)


1 Olford, Stephen F. with David L. Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998), 82.

2 MacArthur, John, Ephesians (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1986), 250.

Related Topics: Pastors

La Revue Internet Des Pasteurs, Fre Ed 11, Edition du printemps 2014

Edition du printemps 2014

Sous la direction du

Dr Roger Pascoe, Président de

l’Institut pour la Prédication Biblique

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

www.tibp.ca

C:\Users\Roger\Documents\My Documents\Institute for Biblical Preaching\Forms, Binder Cover Page, Logo\IBP Logos\IBP Logo.jpg

Institut Biblique pour le Ministère Pastoral

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

Continuons notre discussion sur le thème : «Préparation de la prédication: Le choix du texte et du thème». Le premier aspect dont nous avons discuté la dernière fois portait sur l’aide qu’un « programme de prédications » pourrait vous apporter dans la préparation de vos prédications. 

Dans la présente édition de la Revue Internet des Pasteurs, je voudrais discuter de quelques principes bibliques et de bonnes pratiques en matière de choix de textes et sujets de prédication.

Quelques Principes Bibliques Pour Le Choix Des Textes Et Themes

Dans le mot d’au revoir de Paul aux anciens de l’église d'Ephèse (Act 20, 28-30), il présente au moins trois principes qui doivent régir un ministère de prédication si nous voulons nous acquitter fidèlement de notre responsabilité qui est de prêcher tout le conseil de Dieu (Actes 20:27).

1. Le Principe De Comprendre La Portée De Votre Ministère Prédication

Paul énonce un principe biblique en rapport avec la nature et le contenu de ce que nous devons prêcher. À Ephèse, Paul a prêché des messages d'évangélisation (21, 24-25) et des messages d’édification (20). En somme, la prédication de Paul a couvert ce qu'il appelle tout le conseil de Dieu (27), qui, pourrait-on dire, doit être le principe général pour tout ministère de prédication

Paul ne décrit pas pour nous le contenu et ne précise pas ce qu'il entend exactement par « tout le conseil de Dieu», mais l’on comprend évidemment que cela concerne toute l’étendue et l’intégralité de l’enseignement des Saintes Ecritures – l’entièreté de la vérité révélée par Dieu.

On peut dire que tout le conseil de Dieu comprend (a) «la repentance envers Dieu et la foi en notre Seigneur Jésus Christ» (21); (b) «l'évangile de la grâce de Dieu» (24); et (c) «le royaume de Dieu» (25). En d'autres termes, cela comprend probablement à la fois les messages d'évangélisation et les messages d'édification, d'exhortation, et de consolation. (1 Cor. 14:03).

Prêcher tout le conseil de Dieu c’est s’acquitter pleinement de toutes nos obligations en tant que prédicateurs. Ce que Paul souligne avec force ici c’est que, quelque soit le contenu ou la nature de sa prédication, il s’était pleinement et fidèlement acquitté de ses responsabilités, en sorte qu’il était «innocent du sang de tous les hommes» (26). Il n'avait pas été négligeant dans sa prédication, ni évité de proclamer certaines vérités – que ces vérités leur ait été agréables ou désagréables, reçues ou rejetées. Il avait laissé derrière lui (à Ephèse) le message complet et toute l’instruction qu’il fallait à l'église pour croitre par la suite (20).1

Par conséquent, pour prêcher tout le conseil de Dieu, vous devez ...

(A) Prêcher Fidèlement.

Cela signifie s'assurer que votre prédication a de la longueur (ou de la portée). Être pleinement engagé à proclamer la Parole de Dieu et le message de Dieu dans toute son envergure.

(B) Prêcher De Façon Complète.

Cela signifie s'assurer que votre prédication a de la largeur (ou de l’étendue). Intégrez la gamme complète de la vérité biblique (« tout » le conseil) afin de (i) édifier (enseigner) l'église; (ii) exhorter l'église; (iii) corriger ou réprimander l'église; (iv) fortifier l'église; (v) faire croitre l'église.

Lorsque vous prêchez « tout le conseil de Dieu» vous prêchez de façon  exhaustive et complète en ce sens que vous instruirez les croyants dans la vérité de Dieu et donc les fortifiez dans «leur très sainte foi»; et vous invitez les incroyants à la repentance. La Parole de Dieu est applicable et efficace pour toutes les personnes dans toutes les situations (cf. 2 Tim. 3:14-17).

(C) Prêcher Avec Méthode.

Cela signifie s'assurer que votre prédication a de la profondeur (de la consistance). Soyez méthodique et systématique dans votre prédication. Étudiez soigneusement sa signification (ses implications). Assurez-vous de savoir ce dont vous parlez. Soyez précis. Prêtez attention aux détails.

(D) Prêcher De Façon Mesurée.

Cela signifie s'assurer que votre prédication a de l’équilibre afin que (i) vous ne privilégiez pas certains sujets ou textes au détriment des d'autres; (ii) vous exposez toutes les facettes de la vérité de la Parole; (iii) vous déclarez ce qui est nécessaire, pas forcement ce qui est souhaité ou désiré. Cela signifie rechercher sous  la direction du Saint-Esprit le texte approprié pour la circonstance particulière. 

Il faut donc comprendre le principe biblique de la portée de votre prédication. Ensuite, nous avons ...

2. Le Principe De Mettre En Pratique Ce Que Vous Prêchez

Votre prédication et votre enseignement seront impuissants s’ils ne sont pas confirmés par votre exemple personnel. Ainsi donc :

  • mettez en pratique l'humilité personnelle. Paul dit qu'il a servi le Seigneur «en toute humilité» (19)
  • mettez en pratique la responsabilité pastorale. Paul dit: «je n’ai cessé nuit et jour d’exhorter avec larmes chacun de vous.» (31). Nous avons des responsabilités pastorales, et cela inclut la réprimande ou la discipline. 
  • Pratiquez l'intégrité personnelle. «ces mains ont pourvu à mes besoins et à ceux des personnes qui étaient avec moi.» (34-35). En d'autres termes, Paul n'était pas dans le ministère pour l'argent ou des avantages personnels, mais il a pourvu à ses propres besoins et pour ceux qui étaient dans le ministère avec lui.

Le troisième principe de choix des textes et des thèmes c’est ...

3. Le Principe De Développer Des Leaders Par Votre Prédication

Ce que vous prêchez et enseignez a un impact direct sur les responsables de votre église - leur spiritualité, leur style, leur formation, leur encadrement, etc. Préparer les responsables dans l'église, selon l'apôtre Paul, consiste à: les nommer (28), les équiper (28-31), les exhorter (31), et de leur confier la responsabilité de paître l'église (32).

Lorsque vous prêchez tout le conseil de Dieu et que vous le mettez en pratique dans votre propre vie, vous pourrez efficacement préparer et former d'autres responsables dans la même voie.

4. Conclusion

Si vous prêchez tout le conseil de Dieu votre prédication aura un impact profond sur votre église, organisation missionnaire, ou autre ministère chrétien. Vous laisserez derrière vous un héritage durable. Vous enracinerez votre organisation dans la vérité. Vous formerez vos responsables à gérer l’œuvre dans la crainte de Dieu. En conséquence, vous ne serez jamais confus, ni n’éprouverez aucun regret au sujet de votre prédication.

En plus de ces principes bibliques pour le choix textes et thèmes, permettez-moi de suggérer une liste de ...

Bonnes Pratiques Pour Le Choix Des Textes Et Des Themes

1. Choisissez Vos Textes Et Vos Thèmes Dans La Prière

La prière est la seule base solide pour le choix des textes et de thèmes de prédication. La prière préserve des dangers et des craintes liés aux programmes de prédication (voir numéro précédent) - à savoir que ces programmes proviendront de la chair et non de l'Esprit. La planification du ministère qui se fait dans la prière reconnaît et se soumet à la souveraineté de Dieu et la direction du Saint-Esprit.

Assurez-vous de placer vos programmes de prédication sous l'autorité de l'Esprit. Que vous prêchez message par message, par série, ou que vous préparez votre prédication sur une base trimestrielle, annuelle, ou sur une base thématique, vos prédications doivent être planifiées dans la prière sous la direction du Saint-Esprit.

Assurez-vous de consacrer du temps pour cela. Faites-en une priorité. Priez intentionnellement au sujet de ce que vous devez prêcher au cours de la semaine, de l’année, ou de la saison à venir (par exemple Noël ou Pâques). Attendez vous à Dieu – soyez sensible à sa direction autant pour une série que pour un seul message.

2. Choisissez Vos Textes Et Thèmes En Fonction De Priorités Préétablies

Le processus de planification commence par l'établissement des priorités pour votre église. Les responsables d’église se doivent d'établir un plan pour l’assemblée dans son ensemble et pour les sous groupes au sein de l’assemblée, et cela en fonction d’un certain nombre de priorités et objectifs qu'ils ont décidé dans la prière de poursuivre. Beaucoup trop d’églises n'ont pas de programmes pour leur prédication et leur ministère d’enseignement. Et ils se demandent pourquoi leurs gens sont si spirituellement immatures, ou bibliquement illettrés.

Les priorités suivantes constituent les plus importantes :

(A) Etablissez Des Priorités Bibliques

Priorité biblique n°1: Prêcher Christ. Christ est le thème central de la Bible. Paul a dit: «nous, nous prêchons Christ crucifié» (1 Cor 1:23; 2:02; cf. Col 1:28) - C'est à dire «l'Évangile» (Rom. 1:16). C’est là le point focal de toute la Bible et, par conséquent, chaque sermon doit, d’une manière ou d’une autre, se rapporter à ce thème.

Priorité Biblique n°2: Prêcher la Foi. Il s’agit là des doctrines centrales de la Bible - c'est à dire la vérité de l'Évangile; «la foi qui a été transmise aux saints une fois pour toutes.» (Jude 3); l'ensemble des vérités qui constituent l'essence de la foi chrétienne. Vous pouvez faire une liste de ces doctrines centrales à partir de livres de théologie biblique ou systématique, ou à partir de votre propre étude des Saintes Ecritures.

Priorité biblique n°3: Prêcher la Parole. Le choix de texte doit tenir compte de tout le conseil de Dieu - toute l’étendue des Saintes Ecritures, puisque Dieu nous les a données dans leur entièreté pour être ainsi prêchées. Vous ne pourrez peut être pas prêcher la Bible toute entière au cours de votre vie, mais l’essentiel c’est que preniez en compte la diversité et la profondeur des Saintes Ecritures. Et pour ce faire, faites en sorte de prêcher sur des textes de l'Ancien et du Nouveau Testament, sur des personnages, des doctrines, des récits historiques, des écrits prophétiques, des livres de sagesse, des épîtres, les évangiles, etc.

(B) Etablissez Des Priorités Pratiques

Le choix de texte dépend aussi des circonstances qui se produisent de jour en jour. Ainsi, il n'y a pas de modèle préétabli à suivre, hormis la nécessité de mette en œuvre  les priorités bibliques en tenant compte des priorités pratiques du ministère - c'est à dire faire le lien entre la réalité des besoins dans votre assemblée et les principes de la prédication.

Tout cela est fonction de (a) votre ministère (par exemple jeunes, personnes âgées, évangélisation, etc.); (b) de votre don particulier (prédication prophétique, prédication d’évangélisation, etc.); et (c) du genre de circonstances dans lesquelles vous prêchez (cultes du dimanche, funérailles, mariages, etc.)

C’est donc la combinaison de trois composantes: (i) le don que Dieu vous a accordé; (ii) le ministère que Dieu vous a appelé à faire; et (iii) le message que Dieu vous a donné.

2eme Partie: Le Leadership - Etre Un Modele Selon Le Cœur De Dieu

«L’abandon de votre personne au Saint Esprit»

Par: Dr Roger Pascoe

L'Institut pour la prédication biblique

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

Les leaders doivent être remplis et conduits par l'Esprit. Nous parlons souvent de la plénitude du Saint Esprit, mais qu'est-ce que cela signifie vraiment d'être rempli de l'Esprit? A quoi cela ressemble t-il dans la réalité? Comment obtenez-vous cette plénitude de l’Esprit et quelle différence cela fait-il dans votre vie? Comment est ce qu’une personne remplie de l'Esprit agit, interagit avec les autres, parle, pense, etc.?

Pour y répondre, nous irons dans Ephésiens 5 ; mais avant cela, je souhaite vous faire remarquer l'importance du sujet de l'Esprit Saint pour Paul dans l’épitre aux Éphésiens. Il parle du fait d’être scellé par l'Esprit (1:13); habité par l'Esprit (2:22);  fortifié par l'Esprit (3:16); unis par l'Esprit (4:3); attrister l'Esprit (4:30); et être rempli de l'Esprit (5:18).

En outre, Paul évoque dans l’épitre aux Ephésiens cette question de la «plénitude» - la plénitude des temps (1:10); la plénitude de l'Église, corps du Christ (1:23); la plénitude de Dieu (3:19); la plénitude du Christ (4:13); la plénitude de l'Esprit (5:18).

Le mot grec est πληρωμα, ce qui peut être actif ou passif. Au sens actif il réfère à ce qui remplit, ce qui remplit jusqu’au bout. Au sens passif, il réfère à ce qui a été rempli ou complété. Le mot plénitude tel que Paul l’utilise, désigne ce qui est plein ou rempli de quelque chose; ou ce qui a été amené à la plénitude et à la finition; la somme totale, la pleine mesure, l'abondance (cf. Rm 11:25; 15:29; Colossiens 2:9; Ep 3:19. Jean 1:16), ou l'état de ce qui est complet (cf. Gal 4:04. Actes 13:52).

Eph. 5:18 introduit le sujet de la plénitude de l'Esprit dans le croyant, puis cela est développé par la suite jusqu'à 6 :20 en expliquant à quoi cela ressemble dans divers aspects de la vie (dans l'église, à la maison, au travail, et dans le monde).

Nous n’avons pas l’intention de faire ici une étude exhaustive de ce passage, mais c’est juste pour vous donner une idée de ce qu’est la plénitude de l'Esprit en théorie et dans la pratique. Premièrement  ...

Ce Que Signifie Une VIe Remplie De L'esprit

Qu'est-ce que cela signifie d'être rempli de l'Esprit? Il est écrit: Ne vous enivrez pas de vin : c’est de la débauche. Soyez, au contraire, remplis de l’Esprit ; (5:18). Le contexte c’est que l'insensé, la personne imprudente (5:15, 17) est contrôlée par ses passions (la chair), qui se manifeste bien souvent dans l'ivresse. D'autre part, la personne circonspecte, prudente, sage (5:15), qui comprend quelle est la volonté du Seigneur (5:17), est contrôlée par l'Esprit, qui se manifeste dans (a) une unité suscitée par l'Esprit dans l'église (5:19-21), (b) une harmonie inspirée par l'Esprit dans les foyers (5:22-6:04), (c) une collaboration motivée par l'Esprit dans le lieu de travail (6:5-9) , et (d) une victoire assurée par l'Esprit dans le monde (6:10-20).

Alors, quel est le lien entre être «enivré de vin» et être «rempli de l'Esprit?» C'est le contraste qu’il ya entre l'intoxication par l’alcool et l'intoxication spirituelle ; tous deux étant le résultat du fait d’être sous le contrôle d'une influence externe. Tout dépend de qui est au control dans notre vie. La personne ivre vit avec imprudence, contrôlée par la puissance de l'alcool. La personne spirituelle vit consciencieusement, contrôlée par la puissance de l'Esprit.

Tout dans la vie des gens ivres indique qu'ils sont sous l'influence d'une puissance extérieure à eux mêmes - qu'ils sont hors de control, dans leur façon de marcher, de parler, regarder et penser. D’autre part, tout dans la vie des personnes remplies de l'Esprit, indique qu'ils sont sous une autorité supérieure à eux-mêmes et qu'ils sont au control de leur façon de marcher, parler, regarder et penser.

Les personnes ivres acquièrent une joie temporaire, un oubli temporaire, un soulagement temporaire de la réalité par l'ivresse, mais tout s'estompe subitement,  puis  le cycle recommence. Mais de l’autre coté, les gens remplis de l'Esprit, n'ont pas à rechercher la joie parce qu'ils l'ont déjà. Ils n'ont pas besoin d'un faux substitut; ils ont l’original. Ils ne sont pas enivrés; ils sont remplis. Ils ne sont pas sous l'influence du vin, mais sous l'influence de l'Esprit. L'Esprit de Dieu les remplit d'une joie et d’une paix qui surpasse toute intelligence - leur vie en déborde.

Grammaticalement, l'expression «soyez remplis de l'Esprit» montre bien que:

  • C’est pluriel – c’est adressé à toute l'Église, nous sommes tous inclus ;
  • C’est un impératif - un commandement, une obligation, non pas une option ;
  • C’est une forme passive - le Saint-Esprit nous remplit, nous ne sommes pas remplis de nous mêmes.

Il s'agit d'une construction grammaticale particulière. Comment pouvons-nous obéir à un ordre passif? C’est à la fois une forme passive et un commandement parce que ca revêt le sens suivant : «Laissez-vous être rempli ...». Nous devons permettre à l'Esprit Saint de le faire et en aucun cas l'empêcher de nous remplir. C’est un impératif en ce sens que nous devons et pouvons répondre à cela - ce n'est pas quelque chose qui se produit sans notre effort ou notre action. Et il est pour autant passif parce que c'est une chose que l'Esprit Saint accomplit.

  • C’est un présent continu - «Continuez à être rempli». Nous avons été «scellé de l'Esprit» une fois pour toutes, mais nous devons être remplis en permanence en vivant selon les principes, pratiques et programmes de l'homme nouveau.

Alors, qu'est-ce que cela signifie donc d'être rempli de l'Esprit? A quoi cela ressemble t-il dans la réalité?

1. Ce Que La Plénitude De l'Esprit N'est Pas

La plénitude de l'Esprit n'est pas une sorte de phénomène dramatique - par exemple tomber à terre, convulser, ou émettre des sons étranges. Ce n'est pas une seconde bénédiction consécutive à la conversion. Ce n'est pas une expérience temporaire de la parole ou une vision extatique. Ce n'est pas non plus un processus progressif par lequel nous recevons progressivement plus de lui jusqu'à ce que nous soyons  pleins de Lui, puisque tous les croyants le possèdent pleinement (pas en partie, comme s'il pouvait être divisée - voir Jean 3:34.).

Ce n'est pas la même chose qu’être «habité par l'Esprit», puisque tous les croyants sont habités au moment où ils reçoivent le salut (Rom. 8:9). Ce n'est pas la même chose que «le baptême de l'Esprit», puisque tous les croyants sont baptisés du Saint-Esprit au moment de leur conversion, quand ils font partie du corps du Christ. Ce n'est pas le même qu’être «scellé de l'Esprit», puisque c’est aussi un fait accompli (1:13). Nulle part il n’est ordonné aux croyants d’être habités, baptisés, ou scellés du Saint-Esprit. Le seul commandement c’est : «soyez rempli de l'Esprit.»

2. Ce Qu’est La Plénitude De l'Esprit

Etre rempli de l'Esprit c’est manifester ce que nous sommes en réalité. Nous sommes scellés du Saint-Esprit quand nous plaçons notre confiance en Christ et nous manifestons ce sceau en le laissant nous «remplir», en sorte qu'il est évident qui contrôle notre vie. Les disciples étaient si «remplis» de l'Esprit à la Pentecôte que tout le monde l’a su. 

Quand il nous remplit, nous vivons dans la plénitude de sa présence et de sa puissance. Il nous permet de vivre selon l'homme nouveau, d’être centré sur Dieu, d’être des enfants de lumière (8-14), de vivre consciencieusement et d’utiliser notre temps à bon escient (15-16), de comprendre quelle est la volonté du Seigneur ( 17) ; louant Dieu (19-20) et vivant ensemble dans l'unité (21).

Etre rempli de l'Esprit c’est être contrôlé par le Saint-Esprit, c’est vivre dans la puissance de l'Esprit, c’est être sensible à l'action de l'Esprit, c’est s’abandonner à chaque instant à l'Esprit. Tout comme certaines personnes sont remplies de tristesse, de peur ou de colère au point que cette émotion prend le contrôle de leur vie, nous devons être si consommés par l'Esprit Saint au point qu'il ait le contrôle de nos vies. Lorsqu’il nous remplit, nous ne sommes pas sous notre propre control mais sous le sien - dominé par Lui, conquis et maîtrisé par Lui.

Etre rempli de quelque chose signifie qu'il n'y a plus de place pour autre chose. C'est la nature même de quelque chose qui est rempli- vous ne pouvez plus ajouter la moindre goute; si vous y arrivez, c’est que ce n’était pas rempli. Il en est de même de la plénitude de l'Esprit – il n’ya plus de place pour mon égo, pour le monde, ou pour la chair.

Et tout ce dont vous êtes rempli caractérise toute votre vie. Quelqu'un a fait remarquer que le chrétien qui est rempli de l'Esprit est comme un gant. Le gant sans la main est impuissant et inutile, puisque le gant ne fonctionne que lorsque la main le contrôle et l'utilise. Le seul travail du gant c’est le travail que fait la main – Le gant ne peut accomplir la moindre tâche sans la main, encore moins prendre le mérite ou se vanter de ce qu'il fait. De la même manière, un chrétien qui n'est pas rempli de l'Esprit ne peut faire mieux qu'un gant isolé de la main. Tout ce qui est fait sans l'Esprit n’a pas de valeur.2

Voici douze aspects ou des preuves qu’une personne est remplie de l'Esprit:

1. Vous confessez vos péchés.

2. Vous renouvelez votre esprit grâce à la puissance transformatrice de l'Esprit.

3. Vous êtes mort à soi-même; vous mortifiez la chair (Gal. 5:16, 24).

4. Vous présentez votre corps comme un sacrifice vivant (Romains 12:1).

5. Vous êtes centré sur Dieu, et n’êtes pas égocentrique.

6. Vous êtes de lumière, non pas ténèbres.

7. Vous prêtez attention à la manière dont vous vivez, vous n’êtes pas insouciant.

8. Vous vivez selon l'homme nouveau, et non pas l'ancien.

9. Vous vivez dans la pleine conscience de la présence personnelle du Seigneur; laissant Sa vie dominer la vôtre.

10. Vous vous remplissez de la Parole de Dieu afin que ses pensées soient vos pensées, ses standards vos standards, sa sainteté votre sainteté. 

11. Vous marchez selon l'Esprit (Galates 5:25); laissant votre vie sous son control - chaque pensée et chaque décision.

12. Vous manifestez le fruit de l'Esprit qu'il produit en vous - l'amour, la joie, la paix, etc. (Gal. 5:22-23).

La vie remplie de l'Esprit se réalise le plus pleinement dans notre assemblée, lorsque  nous sommes ensemble et que nous demeurons ensemble dans l'unité.

C’est là que la vie remplie de l'Esprit prend son sens. Dans les éditions ultérieures de la Revue Internet des Pasteurs nous allons continuer à développer la nécessité d’avoir une vie remplie de l'Esprit, la réalité pratique d’une vie remplie de l'Esprit, et l'action d’une vie remplie de l'Esprit.

3ème Partie: Meditation Biblique

«La Manne du matin»

Par le Dr Stephen F. Olford

Si vous et moi avions une conversation en privé, vous diriez probablement qu’il n’ya rien de plus recommandable que d’avoir un rendez-vous quotidien avec Dieu dans la Parole et la prière.

Et vous auriez raison, bien sûr. Sauf que cette communion quotidienne, ce «temps de méditation personnelle» avec Dieu, est bien plus qu’une pratique louable; il est absolument vital pour une vie de spiritualité durable, d’efficacité et d'amour. C’est le baromètre de la vie chrétienne.

Permettez-moi de défendre cette affirmation. Jésus a dit: «L’homme ne vivra pas de pain seulement, mais de toute parole qui sort de la bouche de Dieu.» (Matthieu 4:4).

Lisez ce verset sans la comparaison négative et vous verrez de quoi l'homme est censé vivre. «L'homme vivra de toute parole qui sort de la bouche de Dieu.» Littéralement, cela signifie: «L'homme vivra de toute parole prononcée qui vient de Dieu.»

Il ne s’agit pas de la mémorisation de la Bible, encore moins de la Bible posée sur votre étagère ou dans votre bureau personnelle. C'est la parole que Dieu qui est dite à votre âme durant votre temps de prière et de méditation. C'est cela qui fait vivre l'homme. Vous pouvez être doctrinalement correct, et pourtant être spirituellement mort. La seule chose qui maintient la vie c’est la parole vivante de Dieu qu’il adresse à votre âme chaque jour.

Le temps de méditation personnelle est essentiel à la santé spirituelle, que soyez nouvellement converti ou un chrétien mature (voir 1 Pierre 2:2 et Héb. 5:14).

Le temps de médiation est essentiel pour la purification spirituelle. Il est vrai que vous êtes dès le départ purifié par le sang précieux, mais il vous faut revenir encore et encore à la croix pour votre restauration. Cette purification au jour le jour se fait dans  la cuve de la Parole (cf. Ps 119:9; Jean 15:3; 17:17).

Le temps de méditation personnelle est également essentiel pour le conseil spirituel. Vous ne pourrez jamais connaître les vrais principes qui déterminent une vie de sainteté et de droiture tant que vous ne laissez pas la Parole de Dieu «habiter en vous abondamment» (voir Col 3:16 et Ps. 73:24).

Le temps de méditation personnelle est également essentiel pour vous équiper en vue du combat spirituel. L'exemple suprême est notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ lorsqu’il a rencontré Satan dans le désert. Je suis sûr que pendant quarante jours et nuits, il avait nourri son âme avec le livre du Deutéronome, et ainsi il pouvait donner ses  coups d'épée à partir de son expérience personnelle de la Parole écrite.

Plus tard, Paul a exhorté les croyants d’Ephèse à prendre « l’épée de l’Esprit, qui est la parole de Dieu...» (Eph. 6:17).

Toutefois, quoique ces raisons soient très importantes, ce n'est pas votre besoin - aussi grand soit-il, qui constitue la plus grande incitation à avoir un moment de médiation personnelle chaque jour, mais bien plus, c’est le fait que Dieu désire vous rencontrer. Ce n'est donc pas un simple devoir. C'est un privilège et un honneur.

Dieu dans le Christ, le Seigneur, a un temps de rencontre avec vous. Son cœur est attristé quand vous n’arrivez pas à respecter pas ce rendez vous. Il aspire, comme il l'a fait avec la femme de Samarie, de boire à nouveau de votre amour, votre dévotion et votre adoration (voir Jean 4:23, 24).

Je vous préviens que l'établissement d’un temps de méditation personnelle n'est jamais facile. En tant que serviteur de Dieu, je vous avouerai franchement que c'est plus difficile pour moi d'avoir mon temps de médiation maintenant que ce n'était le cas lorsque j'étais nouvellement converti. La raison c’est que ce qui compte vraiment a un  coût.

Vous constaterez que les attaques les plus vicieuses de l’ennemi seront dirigées vers votre privation de ce moment quotidien avec votre Seigneur. Vous allez devoir défendre vigoureusement ce moment si vous tenez vraiment à le garder.

Quel que soit le domaine de votre ministère - que vous soyez pasteur, moniteur de l'école du dimanche, missionnaire, ou chrétien au bureau ou à la maison - à moins de réussir à maintenir votre temps de méditation personnelle, je vous donne peu de chances d’avoir une vie victorieuse.

A présent, je voudrais partager un certain nombre d’exigences pratiques et spécifiques qui me semblent incontournables pour un temps de méditation réussi.

D'abord, vous aurez besoin d'un endroit précis et d’une heure précise – cela va de soi. Mais ne dites jamais que vous ne pouvez pas avoir un moment de médiation parce vous n'avez pas un endroit ou un moment prédéfini. Reconsidérez l'exemple du Seigneur Jésus (voir Marc 1:35).

Ensuite, ayez une bible dont la taille est raisonnable, une bible dont vous n’aurez pas à faire de très grands efforts pour lire les écritures. Ne prenez pas l'habitude de vous réveiller le matin, et de faire votre lit tout en essayant, les yeux encore lourds de sommeil, de lire une bible imprimée en petits caractères. Ne restez même pas au lit ! Levez-vous et lavez votre visage, ou prenez une douche afin d’être pleinement en état d’alerte.

J'aime l'histoire de ce jeune étudiant à Cambridge qui voulait être un flambeau pour Dieu, mais il ne parvenait pas se lever tôt le matin. Il a donc positionné un réveil de  telle manière que lorsque l'alarme sonnait, le dispositif décrochait du plafond une éponge remplie d'eau qui tombait sur son visage!

Une autre chose essentielle, c’est une liste de prière ou un cycle de prière, quelque chose qui vous rappelle une requête différente pour chaque jour. Ma femme et moi utilisons une qui se présente comme suit:

Lundi: «M» (pour Monday en anglais) est pour les missionnaires.

Mardi: «T» (Tuesday) est consacré à l'action de grâce (Thanksgiving) - c'est là que nous donnons au Seigneur des remerciements spéciaux pour ses merveilleuses réponses à nos prières.

Mercredi: «W» (Wednesday) est pour les travailleurs (Workers).

Jeudi: «T» est pour les Tâches - notre travail à l'église, le ministère que Dieu nous a donné.

Vendredi: «F» est pour nos Familles.

Samedi: «S» est pour les Saints - et en particulier les jeunes chrétiens, afin que le Christ soit formé en eux.

Dimanche: «S» est pour les pécheurs (Sinners) et en particulier, les activités d’évangélisation dont nous sommes responsables.

Ensuite, vous devriez avoir ce que j'appelle un carnet de note pour méditation personnelle. Je crois que les idées et pensées qui vous viennent durant la méditation doivent être notées, même si c’est sous forme de phrases courtes. Dieu vous donne là quelque chose que vous ne trouverez ni dans un commentaire, ni ailleurs - ces idées valent la peine d’être conservées. (A suivre la prochaine fois).

4ème Partie: Plans De Predication

John 13:1-11/ Jésus Dialogue Avec Ses Disciples

Pour la version audio anglaise de ces messages, cliquez sur ces liens : Link 1 - Jean 13:1-3, Partie 1; Link 2 - Jean 13:1-3, Partie 2; Link 3 - Jean 13:1-3, Partie 3; Link 4 - Jean 13:4-5, Partie 4; Link 5 - Jean 13:6-11, Partie 5

Titre: Le service authentique

Point n °1: Nous devons comprendre la base du service authentique

1. La base du service authentique c’est l’assurance qui vient de la connaissance (1-3)

a) La connaissance de notre destination et de comment nous y parviendrons (1a-b)

b) La connaissance de notre identité et de notre position (3a)

c) La connaissance de notre origine et de la raison de notre présence ici (3b)

2. La base du service authentique c’est la motivation qui vient de l'amour

a) La motivation qui vient de l'amour est manifestée dans l'objet de cet amour (1c)

b) La motivation qui vient de l'amour est manifestée dans l’ampleur de cet amour (1d-2)

Point n ° 2: Nous devons démontrer le caractère du service authentique (4-11)

1. Dans la manière dont nous nous présentons aux autres (4b-c)

2. Dans les choses que nous faisons pour les autres (5)

3. Dans notre manière d’interagir avec les autres (6-11)

a) ... En étant courtois envers ceux qui s'opposent à nous (6-8)

b) ... En étant patient avec ceux qui ne nous comprennent pas (9-11)


1 Olford, Stephen F. et David L. Olford, Prédication par exposition ointe (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998), 82.

2 MacArthur, John, L’épitre aux Ephésiens (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1986), 250.

Related Topics: Pastors

Jurnalul Electronic Al Păstorilor, Rom Ed 11, Editia de primăvară 2014

Ediţia de Primăvară 2014

Produs de ...

Dr. Roger Pascoe, Preşedinte,

The Institute for Biblical Preaching

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

www.tibp.ca

C:\Users\Roger\Documents\My Documents\Institute for Biblical Preaching\Forms, Binder Cover Page, Logo\IBP Logos\IBP Logo.jpg

“Întărind Biserica în Predicare Biblică şi Conducere”

Partea I: Pregătirea Pentru Predicare

“Alegerea textelor şi a subiectelor”

De: Dr. Roger Pascoe

The Institute for Biblical Preaching,

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

Să continuăm discuţia referitoare la „Pregătirea pentru predicare: alegerea textelor și a subiectelor”. Primul aspect pe care l-am abordat în numărul trecut (Ediția de iarnă 2014) a fost legat de modul în care „Planul de predicare” poate fi de ajutor în pregătirea pentru predicare.

În această ediție a Jurnalului Electronic al Pastorilor aș dori să prezint câteva principii biblice și câteva practici utile pentru alegerea textelor și a subiectelor de predică.

Câteva Principii Biblice Pentru Alegerea Textelor Și A Subiectelor

În cuvântarea de rămas bun ţinută de Pavel înaintea prezbiterilor din Efes (Fapte 20:28-30), acesta indică cel puțin trei principii care guvernează o lucrare de predicare, astfel încât să ne îndeplinim în mod corespunzător responsabilitatea de a vesti tot planul lui Dumnezeu (Fapte 20:27).

1. Un Principiu Pentru Anvergura Lucrării De Predicare

Pavel prezintă un principiu biblic referitor la natura și conținutul a ceea ce trebuie să predicăm noi. Apostolul a predicat la Efes mesaje evanghelistice (21: 24-25) și mesaje de zidire (20). În concluzie, predicarea lui Pavel a acoperit ceea ce el numește tot planul lui Dumnezeu (27), ceea ce constituie, am putea spune, principiul general legat de lucrarea de predicare.

Pavel nu ne descrie exact la ce se referă  prin expresia „tot planul lui Dumnezeu”, dar include cu siguranță întreaga anvergură a învățăturilor Scripturii – deplinătatea adevărului revelat al lui Dumnezeu.

Fără îndoială, întregul plan al lui Dumnezeu include (a) „pocăința față de Dumnezeu și credința în Domnul nostru Isus Hristos (21); (b) „Evanghelia harului lui Dumnezeu” (24); și (c) „Împărăția lui Dumnezeu” (25). Cu alte cuvinte, probabil că se include atât mesajele evanghelistice, cât și cele de zidire, de îndemnare și mângâiere (1 Cor. 14:3).

Predicarea întregului plan al lui Dumnezeu este obligatorie pentru toți predicatorii. Ideea subliniată de Pavel pare să fie aceea că, indiferent care a fost conținutul sau natura predicării sale, el și-a îndeplinit cu credincioșie și pe deplin responsabilitățile sale, astfel încât să fie „curat de sângele tuturor” (26). El nu a fost în predicarea sa nici neglijent și nici nu s-a ferit să declare anumite adevăruri, fie că erau plăcute sau nu, acceptate ori respinse. El „a lăsat (la Efes) un mesaj complet și instructiv care să ajute biserica să crească mai mult în viitor (20).”1

Prin urmare, pentru a predica tot planul lui Dumnezeu trebuie:

(A) Să Predicăm Cu Credincioșie:

aceasta înseamnă să ne asigurăm că predicarea noastră este cuprinzătoare. Fii dedicat să declari întreaga dimensiune a mesajului lui Dumnezeu şi a Cuvântului Său.

(B) Să Predicăm În Mod Comprehensiv:

aceasta înseamnă să te asiguri că predicarea este largă şi îmbrăţişează toate  aspectele adevărurilor biblice („tot planul”, astfel încât: (i) zidești (înveți) biserica; (ii) îndemni biserica; (iii) sfătuiești biserica; (iv) întărești biserica; (v) crești biserica.

Atunci când predici „tot planul lui Dumnezeu”, o vei face în mod cuprinzător, în sensul că îi vei instrui pe cei credincioși în adevărul lui Dumnezeu, zidindu-i astfel în „credința lor cea mai sfântă” și îi vei invita pe cei necredincioși să se pocăiască. Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu este eficient și aplicabil pentru toți oamenii și în orice situație (2 Tim. 3:14-17).

(C) Să Predicăm În Adâncime:

aceasta înseamnă să te asiguri că predica ta are profunzime. Este bine să predici în mod sistematic și metodic. Analizează cu atenție semnificația a ceea ce spui. Asigură-te că știi despre ce vorbești. Fii precis. Acordă atenție detaliilor.

(D) Să Predicăm În Mod Proporționat:

aceasta înseamnă să te asiguri că predica ta este echilibrată în sensul că (i) nu favorizezi anumite subiecte sau texte în detrimentul altora; (ii) că vei expune întreaga anvergură a adevărului scriptural; (iii) vei declara ceea ce este necesar și nu neapărat ceea ce doresc oamenii. Aceasta înseamnă să cauți pasajul potrivit pentru o anumită împrejurare, sub călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt.

Așadar, acesta este principiul biblic privitor la anvergura predicării. Apoi urmează:

2. Principiul Practicării A Ceea Ce Predicăm

Învăţătura pe care o dai altora şi predicarea vor rămâne fără putere dacă nu sunt sprijinite prin exemplul personal. Este important deci:

  • Să practici smerenia personală. Pavel spune că el „l-a slujit pe Domnul cu toată smerenia” (19)
  • Să practici responsabilitatea pastorală. Pavel spune: „timp de trei ani, zi și noapte n-am încetat să sfătuiesc cu lacrimi pe fiecare din voi.” (31). O parte din responsabilitatea pastorală include sfătuirea (avertizarea) oamenilor.
  • Să practici integritatea personală. „Singuri ştiţi că mâinile acestea au lucrat pentru trebuinţele mele şi ale celor ce erau cu mine.” (34-35). Cu alte cuvinte, Pavel nu se afla în lucrare pentru bani sau beneficii personale, ci el însuși a lucrat pentru împlinirea nevoilor sale și ale celor ce erau cu el.

Al treilea principiu pentru alegerea textelor și a subiectelor este…

3. Principul Formării De Lideri Prin Predicare

Ceea ce înveți sau predici are un impact direct în zona conducerii : spiritualitatea liderilor, stilul, pregătirea, mentorarea etc. Conform celor spuse de Pavel, pregătirea slujitorilor include: alegerea lor (28), instruirea lor (28-31), îndemnarea lor (31) și încredințarea responsabilității conducerii bisericii (32).

Atunci când predici tot planul lui Dumnezeu și îl practici în viața ta, vei face pași esențiali și în privința pregătirii de lideri, învățându-i voia Domnului și arătându-le cum ar trebui să aplice Scriptura în viețile lor.

4. Concluzie

Dacă predici tot planul lui Dumnezeu, lucrarea de vestire a Cuvântului va avea un mare impact asupra bisericii, a organizației misionare sau a altei lucrări creștine. Vei lăsa în urmă o moștenire bogată și vei întări adunarea în adevăr. Vei pregăti lideri care vor fi gata să slujească cu evlavie. Drept urmare nu îți va fi rușine și nici nu vei regreta nimic cu privire la predicarea ta.

Pe lângă aceste principii biblice referitoare la alegerea textelor și a subiectelor, doresc să sugereze și câteva…

Practici Utile În Alegerea Textelor Și A Subiectelor

1. Alege Textele Și Subiectele Cu Rugăciune

Rugăciunea este singura bază solidă pentru alegerea textelor și a subiectelor de predică. Rugăciunea ne păzește de un pericol asociat cu planurile de predicare, și anume ca acestea să nu fie rodul propriei noastre firi și nu a Duhului. Atunci când ne planificăm slujirea cu rugăciune recunoaștem și ne supunem față de călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt.

Asigură-te că vei așeza proiectele de predicare sub autoritatea Duhului Sfânt. Fie că vei predica mesaj, cu mesaj, serie cu serie, sau îți planifici predicarea pe baza unei tematici care să fie dezvoltată de-a lungul unui semestru sau a unui an, mesajele trebuie să fie  organizate cu rugăciune sub călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt.

Asigură-te că aloci timp pentru rugăciune și că faci din aceasta o prioritate. Caută în mod intenționat să te rogi cu privire la ceea ce vei predica săptămânile următoare, anul următor, sau sezonul următor (la Crăciun, la Paști). Așteaptă-l pe Dumnezeu – fii deschis față de călăuzirea Sa privitoare la un mesaj sau la o serie de mesaje.

2. Alege Textele Și Subiectele Conform Unor Priorități Clare

Procesul planificării începe cu stabilirea priorităților în biserică. Slujitorii din biserică trebuie să stabilească un plan de predicare pentru întreaga adunare, cât și pentru grupurile mici din biserică, în baza unor scopuri sau priorități pentru care aceștia se roagă și decid că este nevoile să le urmărească. Există multe biserici care nu au nici un fel de plan pentru lucrarea de predicare și de învățătură și se miră apoi de ce oamenii sunt imaturi din punct de vedere spiritual, sau nu cunosc Biblia în mod corespunzător.

Următoarele priorități pornesc din centru și se dezvoltă apoi pe baza unor cercuri concentrice:

(A) Stabilește Priorități Biblice

Prioritatea biblică #1: Predică-l pe Hristos. Aceasta este tema centrală a Scripturii. Pavel a spus: „Noi îl propovăduim pe Hristos cel răstignit (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2; cf. Col. 1:28) – „Evanghelia” (Rom. 1:16). Întreaga Scriptură se focalizează asupra lui Hristos și,  prin urmare, fiecare mesaj trebuie să fie într-un anumit fel relaționat la Domnul.

Prioritatea biblică #2: Predică despre credinţă. Ne referim aici la doctrinele centrale ale Bibliei, la adevărul Evangheliei; „credința dată sfinților odată pentru totdeauna” (Iuda 3); un set definit de doctrine care constituie esența credinței creștine. Poți să faci o listă cu aceste doctrine centrale folosind cărți de teologie biblică sau sistematică, ori pe baza studiului personal al Scripturii.

Prioritatea biblică #3: Predică Scripturile. Alegerea textelor trebuie să țină seama de tot planul lui Dumnezeu, întreaga anvergură a Scripturii, de vreme ce Dumnezeu vrea ca întreaga Biblie să fie predicate. Se poate să nu ajungi să predici toată Biblia în timpul vieții tale, dar ideea este că predicăm Vechiul și Noul Testament, predicăm despre personajele din Biblie, doctrinele, narațiunile istorice, pasajele profetice, literature de înțelepciune, epistolele, Evangheliile etc., având în vedere diversitatea și profunzimea Bibliei.

(B) Stabilește Priorități Practice

Alegerea textelor este influențată de realitățile vieții de zi cu zi. Așadar, nu există un tipar prestabilit pe care trebuie să-l urmăm, altul decât acela că trebuie să aplicăm prioritățile biblice ale predicării la prioritățile practice ale lucrării. Aceasta înseamnă să facem o legătură între nevoile congregației și responsabilitățile predicării.

Aceste lucruri vor depinde de (a) lucrarea ta (tineret, coordonare, evanghelizare etc.); (b) darurile tale (predicare profetică, predicare evanghelistică etc); și (c) oportunitățile de predicare (serviciile de duminică dimineața, înmormântări, nunți etc.). Deci, sunt aduse împreună trei componente: (i) darul pe care Dumnezeu ți l-a dăruit; (ii) lucrarea la care Dumnezeu te-a chemat; și (iii) mesajul pe care Domnul ți l-a încredințat.

Part II: Conducere: Să Fii Un Model De Slujitor Evlavios

“Supunerea ta față de Duhul Sfânt”

Liderii trebuie să fie oameni plini de Duhul Sfânt și conduși de El. Vorbim adeseori despre umplerea cu Duhul, dar ce înseamnă cu adevărat să fii plin de Duhul Sfânt? Și cum arată acest lucru în realitate? Cum se obține această umplere și ce diferență face ea în viața ta? Cum acționează o persoană plină-de-Duhul, cum se relaționează la alții, cum vorbește, cum gândește etc.?

Pentru a da răspuns la aceste întrebări avem în atenție textul din Efeseni 5, dar înainte de a privi la acesta vă rog să observați importanța subiectului despre Duhul Sfânt în Epistola apostolului Pavel către Efeseni. Pavel vorbește despre sigilarea cu Duhul (1:13); locuirea Duhului (2:22); împuternicirea Duhului (3:16); unirea Duhului (4:3); întristarea Duhului (4:30); și umplerea cu Duhul Sfânt (5:18).

Mai departe Pavel pune accent în Efeseni pe ideea de „umplere” sau de „plinătate” – împlinirea vremurilor (1:10); plinătatea bisericii, trupul lui Hristos (1:23); plinătatea lui Dumnezeu (3:19); plinătatea lui Hristos (4:13); plinătatea/umplerea cu Duhul (5:18)/.

Cuvântul în limba greacă este (πληρωμα) plerousate care poate fi activ sau pasiv. Când apare la diateza activă verbul se referă la ceea ce produce umplerea până la limită. La pasiv, se referă la ceea ce a fost umplut. Plinătatea, după cum este folosită de Pavel, vorbește despre ceea ce este plin de ceva, sau ceea ce este adus la plinătate, deplinătate; întreaga măsură, totalul abundența (cf. Rom. 11:25; 15:29; Col. 2:9; Ef. 3:19; Ioan 1:16), sau starea de a fi plin (cf. Gal. 4:4; Fapte 13:52).

Efeseni 5:18 introduce subiectul credinciosului plin de Duhul Sfânt, temă dezvoltată apoi cu referire la diverse aspecte ale vieții (în biserică, în casă, la lucru, în lume), până la 6:20.

Nu intenționăm să facem un studiu exhaustiv al acestui pasaj, ci doar să punem la dispoziție elementele cheie legate de ceea ce înseamnă plinătatea cu Duhul Sfânt la nivel conceptual și ceea ce înseamnă în practică. În primul rând…

Semnificația VIeții Pline De Duhul Sfânt

Ce înseamnă să fii plin de Duhul Sfânt? Textul spune: Nu vă îmbătați de vin, aceasta este destrăbălare; dimpotrivă fiți plini de Duh (5:18).  Contextul ne arată că persoana neînțeleaptă, nebună, (5:15,17) este controlată de pornirile ei (carnea), care uneori se manifestă prin beție. Pe de altă parte, cei ce veghează, cei înțelepți (5:15) care înțeleg voia Domnului (5:17) sunt controlați de Duhul Sfânt, iar aceasta se vede în (a) unitatea plină de Duhul din biserică (5:19-21), (b) armonia plină de Duhul de acasă (5:22-6:4), (c) colaborarea plină de Duhul de la locul de muncă (6:5-9); și (d) biruința plină de Duhul asupra lumii (6:10-20).

Deci, ce legătură este între a fi „beat” și a fi „plin de Duhul”? Este vorba despre un contrast între umplerea cu alcool și umplerea spirituală, ambele fiind rezultatul ajungerii sub controlul unei puteri externe; are de-a face cu cine este în controlul vieților noastre. Persoana beată trăiește în destrăbălare  și este controlată de puterea alcoolului, pe când omul spiritual trăiește cu înțelepciune, sub controlului Duhului Sfânt.

Tot ceea ce vedem la o persoană beată indică faptul că aceasta se află sub influența unei puteri, alta decât propria voință – deci, scapă de sub control în modul în care umblă, vorbește, arată și gândește. Pe de cealaltă parte, tot ceea ce este legat de oamenii plini de Duhul arată că aceștia se află sub o autoritate mai mare decât a lor înșiși –  faptul că au control asupra modului în care umblă, vorbesc, arată sau gândesc.

Oamenii beți obțin o fericire temporară, uită pe moment de necazuri, dar foarte repede revin la realitatea împovărătoare. Pe de altă parte, oamenii plini de Duhul nu trebuie să caute fericirea fiindcă ei deja o au. Ei nu au nevoie de un înlocuitor; au obținut ceea ce este autentic. Ei nu sunt beți; sunt plini. Nu se află sub controlul vinului, ci sub influența Duhului Sfânt. Duhul lui Dumnezeu îi umple de bucurie și pace care întrece orice pricepere – viața lor abundă de acestea.

Din punct de vedere gramatic, expresia „a fi plini de Duhul” ne spune că:

  • Este un plural – se adresează întregii biserici, îi include pe toți;
  • Este un imperativ – o poruncă, o obligație, nu o opțiune;
  • Este un pasiv – Duhul ne umple, nu noi înșine.

Întâlnim o construcție gramaticală particulară. Cum putem asculta de o poruncă la pasiv? Este atât un pasiv cât și o poruncă în sensul că „Lăsați-vă să fiți plini…”. Trebuie să-i permitem Duhului Sfânt să facă această lucrare și să nu-l oprim în vreun fel să ne umple. Este la imperativ în sensul că trebuie și putem să răspundem – nu este ceva ce se întâmplă fără efort sau acțiune din partea noastră. Dar, este la pasiv în sensul că este ceva ce face Duhul Sfânt.

  • Este un prezent continuu – „continuați să fiți plini”. Am fost „pecetluiți cu Duhul” odată pentru totdeauna, dar trebuie să fim umpluți în mod continuu prin aceea că trăim potrivit cu principiile, practicile și proiectele omului nou.

Deci, ce înseamnă să fim plini de Duhul? Cum arată acest lucru în realitate?

1. Ce Nu Este Umplerea Cu Duhul Sfânt

Umplerea cu Duhul nu este un fel de fenomen dramatic – cădere la pământ, spasme sau emiterea unor zgomote ciudate. Nu este o a doua binecuvântare care urmează după convertire. Nu este o experiență temporară a unor viziuni sau vorbiri extatice. Nu este un proces prin care primim în mod progresiv mai mult din Duhul, până când ajungem să fim plini de El, de vreme de toți credincioșii au Duhul în plinătatea lui (nu parțial, ca și cum ar putea să fie împărțit – vezi Ioan 3:34).

Nu este același lucru cu a fi „locuiți de Duhul”, de vreme ce toți credincioșii sunt locuiți de Duhul în momentul salvării (Rom. 8:9). Nu este același lucru cu „botezul cu Duhul”, de vreme ce toți credincioșii sunt botezați cu Duhul în momentul convertirii, atunci când devenim parte din trupul lui Hristos. Nu este același lucru cu a fi „pecetluiți cu Duhul” de vreme ce și acesta este un act împlinit (1:13). Credincioșilor nu li se poruncește niciunde să fie locuiți, botezați sau sigilați cu Duhul Sfânt. Singura poruncă este să fie „plini de Duhul”.

2. Ce Este Umplerea Cu Duhul Sfânt

A fi plini de Duhul înseamnă să manifestăm ceea ce suntem cu adevărat. Noi suntem pecetluiți cu Duhul atunci când ne încredem în Hristos și dovedim această sigilare lăsându-l pe El să ne „umple”, așa încât să fie evident cine ne călăuzește viețile. Ucenicii au fost „umpluți” cu Duhul la Rusalii, astfel încât acest lucru a fost foarte evident.

Atunci când El ne umple trăim în plinătatea prezenței și a puterii Sale. El ne capacitează să trăim potrivit omului nou, să fim centrați asupra lui Dumnezeu, să fim lumină (8-14), să trăim cu înțelepciune și să veghem (15-16), să înțelegem care este voia Domnului (17), să ne închinăm lui Dumnezeu (19-20) și să trăim împreună în unitate (21).

A fi plini de Duhul înseamnă să fim controlați de El, să trăim în puterea Duhului, să fim sensibili la lucrarea sa și să ne predăm în fiecare moment Lui. Așa după cum oameni sunt plini de durere, de frică sau de mânie și acele trăiri preiau controlul vieții lor, tot așa și noi trebuie să ne aflăm sub controlul Duhului Sfânt. Atunci când El ne umple, nu ne aflăm sub controlul nostru, ci al Lui – stăpâniți de El.

A fi plini cu ceva înseamnă că nu mai rămâne loc pentru altceva. Exact asta înseamnă că ceva este plin – nu mai poți adăuga nimic; dacă acest lucru ar fi posibil, atunci nu mai putem vorbi despre plinătate. Tot astfel este și cu plinătatea Duhului – nu mai rămâne loc pentru sinele nostru, pentru lume sau pentru firea pământească.

Ceea ce ne umple ne caracterizează întreaga viață. Cineva ilustra că a fi plin de Duhul este așa cum se întâmplă cu o mănușă. O mănușă dacă nu are o mână în ea este lipsită de putere și nefolositoare. Tot ceea ce lucrează mănușa este de fapt lucrarea mâinii care o controlează. Mănușa nu poate face nimic fără mână și nici nu se poate lăuda cu ceea ce reușește să realizeze. Tot așa, un creștin care nu este plin de Duhul poate face la fel de mult pe cât poate o mănușă fără mână. Ceea ce se face fără Duhul nu are valoare.2

În continuare menționăm douăsprezece aspecte sau dovezi ale plinătății cu Duhul Sfânt:

1. Îți mărturisești păcatele.

2. Îți reînnoiești mintea prin puterea transformatoare a Duhului.

3. Te lepezi te sinele tău și îți răstignești firea (Gal. 5:16, 24).

4. Îți aduci trupul ca o jertfă vie (Rom. 12:1).

5. Ești centrat asupra lui Dumnezeu, nu a sinelui.

6. Ești lumină, nu întuneric.

7. Ești veghetor cu privire la viața ta, nu nesăbuit.

8. Trăiești potrivit omului nou, nu a celui vechi.

9. Trăiești conștient de prezența lui Dumnezeu și lași ca viața Lui să te stăpânească.

10. Te umplu de Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu așa încât gândurile Sale sunt gândurile tale, standardele Lui devin și standardele tale și sfințenia Lui devine sfințenia ta.

11. Umbli prin Duhul (Gal. 5:25); trăiești viața sub controlul Său, fiecare gând și fiecare decizie.

12. Dai dovdă de roada Duhului pe care El o produce în tine – dragostea, bucuria, pacea etc. (Gal. 5:22-23).

Trăirea în plinătatea Duhului se realizează cel mai bine în cadrul adunării, când suntem împreună  și viețuim în unitate.

Așadar, aceasta înseamnă să ai o viață plină de Duhul Sfânt. În următoarele ediții ale Jurnalului Pastoral vom continua să privim la necesitatea unei vieți pline de Duhul, realitatea unei vieți pline de Duhul și la lucrarea (activitatea) unei vieți pline de Duhul.

Partea III: Gânduri Devoțianle

“Mana de dimineață”

De: Dr. Stephen F. Olford

Dacă am sta de vorbă amândoi, probabil că mi-ai spune că întâlnirea zilnică cu Dumnezeu prin rugăciune și Cuvânt este o practică extrem de importantă și de lăudat pentru fiecare creștin.

Și, desigur, ai avea dreptate. Numai că această părtășie zilnică, acest „timp devoțional” este mai mult decât o practică lăudabilă; este o practică absolut vitală pentru o viață plină de spiritualitate, eficiență și iubire. Este, dacă vreți, barometrul vieții creștine. Să argumentez poziția aceasta; Domnul Isus a spus: „Omul nu va trăi numai cu pâine, ci cu orice cuvânt care iese din gura lui Dumnezeu” (Mat. 4:4).

Citește acest verset fără să mai privești la comparația negativă și vei vedea prin ce trebuie să trăiască omul. „Omul va trăi cu orice cuvânt care iese din gura lui Dumnezeu.” Traducerea literală este: „Omul va trăi cu orice cuvânt vorbit care vine de la Dumnezeu.”

Acest lucru nu se referă la memorarea Bibliei, nici la existența ei pe raftul de cărți sau pe birou. Se referă la Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu care-i vorbește sufletului tău în locul liniștit al rugăciunii și meditației. Așa trăiește omul. Poți să ai dreptate din punct de vedere doctrinar și totuși să fii mort spiritual. Cea ce menține viața este Cuvântul viu al lui Dumnezeu care vorbește sufletului tău în fiecare zi.

Timpul de părtășie este vital pentru sănătate spiritual, fie că ești un nou convertit, sau un creștin matur (vezi 1 Petru 2:2 și Evrei 5:14).

Timpul de părtășie este vital pentru curăția spirituală. La început ești curățit prin sângele prețios al Domnului, și apoi trebuie să vii mereu la cruce pentru restaurare. Dar curăția de zi cu zi se face prin Cuvânt (vezi Ps. 119:9; Ioan 15:3; 17:17).

Timpul de părtășie este important și pentru sfătuire spirituală. Nu poți cunoaște niciodată adevăratele principia care duc la o viață creștină de sfințenie și dreptate fără a lăsa Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu să „locuiască în tine pe deplin” (vezi Col. 3:16 și Ps. 73:24).

Timpul de părtășie este vital și pentru a te echipa în vederea luptelor spirituale. Exemplul suprem este Domnul Isus Hristos atunci când l-a confruntat pe cel rău în pustie. Sunt sigur că în cele patruzeci de zile și de nopți, Domnul și-a hrănit sufletul cu cartea Deuteronomului și a putut să lupte cu cel rău pe baza experienței sale personale cu Cuvântul scris.

Pavel îi îndeamnă mai târziu pe credincioșii din Efes să „ia sabia Duhului care este Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu” (Ef. 6:17).

Oricât de importante ar fi aceste lucruri cea mai mare motivație pentru a avea un timp devoțional în fiecare zi nu ține de nevoile tale, oricât de mari ar fi ele, ci de faptul că Dumnezeu vrea să se întâlnească cu tine. Prin urmare, nu este doar o datorie, este vorba despre un privilegiu, o onoare. Dumnezeu, are un loc de întâlnire cu tine, în Hristos și inima lui se întristează când nu reușești să ajungi la întâlnire. El tânjește, așa cum a făcut cu femeia din Samaria, să bea din dragostea ta proaspătă, din devoțiune și închinare (vezi Ioan 4:23-24).

Țin să te avertizez că stabilirea unui timp de părtășie nu este niciodată ușor de realizat. Trebuie să recunosc faptul că pentru mine, ca slujitor, este mai greu acum să am un timp devoțional, decât a fost atunci când m-am convertit. Motivul este că ceea ce contează cu adevărat costă.

Vei vedea că cele mai aprinse atacuri ale vrăjmașului vor avea ca țintă tocmai privarea ta de timpul zilnic de părtășie cu Domnul. Trebuie să te păzești și să lupți dacă dorești să ai acest timp.

Indiferent de zona ta de slujire – pastor, învățător biblic, misionar sau creștin la birou sau acasă – trebuie să știi că sunt șanse mici să ai o viață biruitoare dacă nu îți vei menține acest timp de părtășie cu Domnul.

Acum doresc să menționez câtva cerințe specifice și practice despre care cred că sunt necesare pentru un timp devoțional.

În primul rând, ai nevoie de un loc și de un timp bine stabilit – aproape că nu este nevoie să mai spunem acest lucru. Să nu spui niciodată că nu poți avea un timp de părtășie fiindcă nu ai fixat dinainte un astfel de obiectiv. Privește din nou la exemplul Domnului Isus (vezi Marcu 1:35).

Apoi este bine să ai o Biblie suficient de mare ca să poți citi ușor. Nu încerca să te trezești dimineața, să stai pe o parte în pat și să citești dintr-o Biblie cu text mic. Nu sta în pat deloc! Ridică-te, spală-te pe față, sau fă un duș, astfel încât să fii treaz.

Îmi place întâmplarea cu un student la Cambridge care dorea să fie o torță aprinsă pentru Dumnezeu, dar nu se putea trezi dimineața. Prin urmare, acesta a fixat un ceas deșteptător în așa fel încât atunci când suna, elibera un burete plin de apă agățat de tavan care îi cădea în cele din urmă pe față!

Un alt aspect esențial este să ai o listă sau un ciclu de rugăciune, ceva care să-ți amintească să pui accent pe o altă cerință în fiecare zi. Eu și soția mea folosim una care funcționează în felul acesta:

Luni (Monday): „M” este pentru misionari.

Marți (Tuesday): „T” este pentru mulțumire – îi aducem Domnului mulțumire pentru răspunsurile minunate la rugăciuni.

Miercuri (Wednesday): „W” este pentru lucrători.

Joi (Thursday): „T” este pentru îndatoriri – slujba noastră la biserică, lucrarea pe care Domnul ne-a dat-o.

Vineri (Friday): „F” este pentru familiile noastre.

Sâmbătă (Saturday): „S” este pentru sfinți – în special creștinii tineri, ca Hristos să ia chip în ei.

Duminică (Sunday): „S” este pentru păcătoși și, în special, slujbele de evanghelizare față de care suntem răspunzători.

Apoi ar fi bine să ai ceea ce eu numesc un caiete de notițe pentru timpul devoțional. Cred că ar trebui să scriem gândurile pe care le avem în fiecare timp de părtășie, chiar și numai într-o formă foarte restrânsă. Dumnezeu îți oferă acolo ceva ce nu vei găsi niciodată într-un comentariu sau în altă parte – și acele gânduri merită să fie păstrate. (Vom continua data viitoare).

Partea IV. Schițe De Predici

Ioan 13:1-11, Isus Vorbește Cu Ucenicii Săi

Pentru versiunile audio ale acestor predici, dă click pe aceste linkuri: Link 1 - Ioan. 13:1-3, Pt. 1; Link 2 - Ioan. 13:1-3, Pt. 2; Link 3 - Ioan. 13:1-3, Pt. 3; ; Link 4 - Ioan. 13:4-5 Pt. 4,; Link 5 - Ioan. 13:6-11, Pt. 5

Titlu: Adevărata Slujire

Punctul #1: Trebuie să înțelegem bazele adevăratei slujiri

1. Baza adevăratei slujiri este încrederea care vine din cunoaștere (1-3)

a) Cunoașterea locului unde mergem și cum ajungem acolo (1 a-b)

b) Cunoașterea a ceea ce suntem noi (3a)

c) Cunoașterea locului de unde venim și de ce suntem aici (3b)

2. Baza adevăratei slujiri este motivația care vine din dragoste

a) Motivația care vine din dragoste se arată în obiectul acelei iubiri (1c)

b) Motivația care vine din dragoste se arată în dimensiunea acelei iubiri (1d-2)

Punctul #2: Trebuie să demonstrăm caracterul adevăratei slujiri (4-11)

1. Prin modul în care ne prezentăm în fața altora (4b-c)

2. Prin lucrurile pe care le facem pentru alții (5)

3. Prin modul în care ne relaționăm la alții (6-11)

a) …fiind curtenitori cu cei care sunt împotriva noastră (6-8)

b) …fiind răbdători cu cei care nu ne înțeleg (9-11)


1 Olford, Stephen F. with David L. Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching (Predicarea expozitivă cu ungere) Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998), 82.

2 MacArthur, John, Ephesians (Efeseni) (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1986), 250.

Related Topics: Pastors

Lesson 58: Reasons To Believe (John 10:30-42)

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June 8, 2014

Sometimes we think that if we could have been on earth to have seen and heard Jesus when He lived, our faith would be stronger. Maybe, but maybe not! John shows us that some who saw Jesus’ miracles and heard Him teach still wanted to kill Him (and finally succeeded), while some others believed. Both groups saw the same evidence, but they went in totally opposite directions. A positive response to Jesus depends on more than solid evidence. It also requires a heart that the Spirit of God has opened to the truth (Acts 16:14). And so as we come to the Bible, our prayer should always be, “Lord, open my heart to Your truth!”

This is the end of Jesus’ public ministry in John’s Gospel. Opposition has been mounting since chapter 5, when He healed the man by the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. The Jews wanted to kill Jesus then because (5:18), “He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” Now, they pick up stones to stone Him (10:33), “because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” But because Jesus’ time had not yet come, He leaves them and returns to the place beyond the Jordan where John the Baptist had baptized both Jesus and many others (10:40). There, in contrast to the hostility in Jerusalem, Jesus saw many believe in Him.

In our text, John is repeating some of the reasons to believe in Jesus that we have already seen (see 5:31-47). Keeping in mind his overall aim for writing (20:31), “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name,” John here shows:

Jesus’ words, His works, His person, John the Baptist’s testimony, and the Scriptures all show Him to be God.

Everything in the Christian faith depends on the correct answer to Jesus’ question (Matt. 16:15), “Who do you say that I am?” John hammers on that issue from every angle. If Jesus is not the eternal Word made flesh, who gave Himself on the cross for our sins, then there is no basis for Christianity. But if Jesus is who John proclaims Him to be, then you must submit your life to Him, no matter what hardships that may entail. There are five lines of evidence here:

1. Jesus’ Words Show Him To Be God (10:30, 34-36).

In 10:30, Jesus states, “I and the Father are one.” “One” is neuter in Greek, not masculine, indicating that Jesus and His Father are not one person, but are one in essence. John 1:1 showed us that Jesus is fully God and yet distinct from the Father: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus could not be “with God” if He were the same person as the Father, and yet He “was God.” John consistently shows this throughout his Gospel. Jesus repeatedly claims to have been sent to earth by the Father, which indicates a distinction of persons. Also, He prays to the Father, which would be pointless if He and the Father were the same person. Yet Jesus is God.

You need to be clear on this because there are a couple of churches in Flagstaff that deny the trinity, while still purporting to preach the gospel. One states in their beliefs (lifechurchflagstaff.com): “Everyone has sinned and needs salvation. Salvation comes by grace through faith based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” No problem there! But regarding God they state: “There is one God, who has revealed Himself as our Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and as the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is God manifested in flesh. He is both God and man.” Again, the last part of that statement is true: Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh, both God and man. But the problem is, God has not just “revealed Himself” as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is the ancient heresy called Modalism (also called “Monarchianism” and “Sabellianism”). Rather, God exists eternally as one God in three distinct persons, each of whom is fully God (see Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology [Zondervan], pp. 226-261). Jesus’ statement that He and the Father are one does not mean that they are one person.

Some say that Jesus’ statement here only means that He is united with the Father in their purpose and actions of keeping the sheep from the enemy. But, Jesus’ claim that He gives eternal life to His sheep (10:28) and His claim to be able to keep them from all predators unto eternity are claims to deity. Also, the Jews clearly understood Jesus to be making the claim to be God. They state as their reason for attempting to stone Jesus (10:33), “because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” They got it backwards, didn’t they? The truth is, Jesus, being God, became a man, not vice versa. But at least they understood His claim to be God.

Back in chapter 5, when the Jews accused Jesus of making Himself equal with God, He did not tear His garments in horror and cry, “God forbid that you would think such a thing!” Rather, He went to great lengths to affirm the charges. So here, rather than deny the Jews’ accusation, Jesus proceeds to defend His claims to be God (10:34-36):

“Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”

This is a rabbinic form of argument that some (including the Jehovah’s Witnesses) misunderstand. They claim that Jesus was toning down His claim to deity by showing that the term “gods” can legitimately be used of men in certain ways. Thus He, a man, may be called “the Son of God.” But if Jesus had been toning down His claim to deity, the Jews would not still have tried to seize Him (10:39) after His explanation.

The quote comes from Psalm 82, which condemns corrupt judges in Israel. Their proper role should have been to act as God under His authority in the administration of justice. The psalmist referred to them as “gods,” not because they were divine in some sense, but because they were acting as God in their role as judges (see, Exod. 7:1; 21:6; 22:9). Jesus’ argument is from the lesser to the greater: “If mere men can be called ‘gods’ because of their position as judges, then how much more should I, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, be called the Son of God?” Leon Morris (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 528) adds, “Jesus is not classing Himself among men…. He separates and distinguishes Himself from men.” So both here and consistently throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ words show that He is God.

2. Jesus’ Works Show Him To Be God (10:32, 37-38).

Jesus repeatedly appealed to His works, which backed up His words. Replying to the Jews’ demand that He tell them plainly whether He was the Messiah, Jesus states (10:25), “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.” When the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus after His claim to be one with the Father, He answered (10:32), “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” Then after His verbal defense to be God, He again adds (10:37-38), “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” In each case, He pointed out that His works backed up His verbal claims.

The term “works” in John refers to all that Jesus did to promote the Father’s purpose, but often specifically to the miracles that He did (see Morris, pp. 688-691). In the general sense, Jesus told the disciples (4:34), “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” After He healed the paralyzed man by the Pool of Bethesda, in defending His equality with God, Jesus referred both to the totality of His works and to the miracle of healing that man (5:19-20):

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.”

In the same discourse, He added (5:36), “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.” Later, in the Upper Room, after Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus replies (John 14:9-11):

“Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”

Later in the same discourse, Jesus indicts the Jewish leaders for rejecting both His words and His works (15:22-24):

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.”

So, all that Jesus said and did, but especially His miracles, confirm that He is God in human flesh. In our text, Jesus appeals one last time to these hard-hearted Jewish leaders (10:37-38), “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” “Know and understand” are the same Greek verb, but with different tenses. The idea is (Morris, p. 529), “Jesus is looking for them to have a moment of insight and then to remain permanently in the knowledge that that moment has brought them.” He wants them to come to full faith in Him as they consider His works and then to understand His unity with the Father. They are two distinct persons, and yet, with the Holy Spirit they comprise the one true God.

It’s no accident that liberal theologians and skeptics invariably attack the miracles in the Bible, including the miracles of Christ. Sometimes they sneer, “Just show me a miracle and I’ll believe.” But these Jews saw many miracles, yet they did not believe. In chapter 11, they will witness Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, but their response is not to fall before Jesus in faith and worship, but rather to intensify their plans to kill Him. You have to ask, “Why is this? Why did people in Jesus’ day reject miracles that they witnessed with their own eyes? Why do people in our day reject the eyewitness testimony of credible witnesses who reported the miracles of Jesus?”

I think the only answer is that they realize that if Jesus really did these things, then He is Lord and they will have to repent of their sins and submit their lives to Him. In the case of the Jewish leaders, they liked their place of power, so they didn’t want to yield to Jesus as Lord. In the case of modern liberal scholars, they take pride in their intellectual abilities and in the recognition that they get by writing books that attack the credibility of the New Testament. But in both cases, the skeptics don’t want to repent of their sins and bow before Jesus as Lord. So they attack His miracles. But those miracles are a powerful witness to Jesus’ deity.

3. Jesus’ Person Shows Him To Be God (10:39).

The Jews put on hold their attempt to stone Jesus until He finished speaking. But they did not accept His testimony to His words and works. So we read (10:39), “Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.” This could have been a miracle, where God blinded their eyes long enough for Jesus to escape. But rather, I think that Jesus’ person was so commanding and in control of the situation that His enemies dared not to lay a hand on Him. As we’ve seen repeatedly in John, no one could harm Jesus until His hour appointed by the Father (5:13; 7:30, 32, 44-46; 8:20, 59; 12:36).

I read recently that someone is going to do a remake of the movie “Ben Hur.” I hope that it’s as well-done as the first one. It’s been years now since I watched it, but I appreciated the way that it portrayed Jesus and His commanding presence. Ben Hur had been imprisoned by the Romans and was being taken to a galley ship to become a slave. He had dropped to the ground from exhaustion and was thirsty. He cried out, “God, help me!”

At that moment, the film showed Jesus from behind (the film never showed His face), stooping to give Ben Hur a drink. The Roman soldier in charge yelled to Jesus to leave the man alone and raised his whip. Jesus turned and looked at the threatening soldier, who just stood there in awe as he looked at Jesus’ face (which, as I said, the camera did not show). Slowly, he lowered his whip and turned away while Jesus gave Ben Hur a drink of water. That scene effectively communicated that Jesus’ commanding person showed Him to be God. As Jesus stated (10:18), “No one has taken it [My life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” Jesus was not a helpless victim. He was always in control, even over His own death and resurrection. His words, His works, and His person all show Him to be God.

4. John The Baptist’s Testimony Shows Jesus To Be God (10:41).

John concludes this section about Jesus’ public ministry by reporting that Jesus left Jerusalem and went away beyond the Jordan, where John was first baptizing. By this time John had been executed, but the effects of his ministry lingered on, as we read in 10:41: “Many came to Him and were saying, ‘While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.’”

We first encountered John’s witness in 1:6-8: “There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.” In 1:15, John testified of Jesus, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” Although Jesus was six months younger than John, the prophet recognized Jesus’ pre-existence.

There follows an extended section where the Jews sent to John to ask if he was the Messiah, which he denied. Rather, he identified himself as the prophesied forerunner of Messiah. Pointing to Jesus, John proclaimed (1:29), “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” After stating that Jesus would be the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (1:33), John added (1:34), “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” Later, when some of John’s followers were concerned because of Jesus’ growing popularity, John stated that Jesus was the bridegroom and he (John) was only the best man. Then he added (3:30), “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Jesus told His Jewish critics (5:33), “You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.” So if John was mistaken about who Jesus is, then Jesus was also mistaken, because He affirmed that John spoke the truth.

Note that John never performed a miracle, but he testified faithfully to the truth about Jesus. The result was that even after John was beheaded, these people in this region believed John’s testimony and through him came to believe in Jesus. That’s a great legacy to leave behind: Tell people the truth about who Jesus is so that they come to believe in Him. We’re like those pointing tubes at the Grand Canyon that are fixed on a point of interest. Our job is not to point people to us, but through us to Jesus.

So, Jesus’ words, His works, His person, and John the Baptist all give sufficient reasons to believe in Jesus as God and Savior. But the response is not automatic:

5. The Inerrant Scriptures Show Jesus To Be God.

We have already seen this from Jesus’ citation of Psalm 82:6, which He uses to support His claim to be the Son of God. But here I want to focus on the parenthetical remark that Jesus throws in (10:35): “(and the Scripture cannot be broken).” This is a remarkable, comment! Morris (p. 527) says, “It means that Scripture cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous.” Scripture, in its original languages, is authoritative and inerrant.

But even more noteworthy is the fact that Jesus picks a rather obscure psalm and then picks a single word in the psalm, “gods,” to make His point. This means that the very words of Scripture are true and authoritative. Some argue that only the ideas in Scripture are inspired, but not the exact words. Others say that we can’t determine the meaning of words, because meaning is always filtered through our subjective interpretations.

But all such caviling goes against the Savior’s high view of inspired Scripture. Jesus often appealed to Scripture as the final, infallible authority, sometimes basing His argument on a verb tense (Matt. 22:31-32). He defeated Satan by quoting Scripture three times (Matt. 4:1-11). He often cited Scripture as the basis for His actions (Matt. 13:14-15; 21:13, 16, 42; Mark 7:6-13; 14:27; Luke 4:18-19; etc.). Jesus said that the Scriptures testify about Him (John 5:39, 46; Luke 24:25-26, 44-47). The inspired, inerrant, authoritative Scriptures show Jesus to be God.

Conclusion

In spite of all this evidence, some reject Jesus while others believe in Him (10:39-42). Note the contrast between 10:39, “Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp”; and 10:42, “Many believed in Him there.” That last word, “there,” emphasizes the contrast: In Jerusalem, where you would have thought that Jesus would be welcomed as Messiah, He was rejected. But “there,” outside of Judea, many believed in Him through the witness of the martyred forerunner coupled with the presence of Jesus Himself. There seems to be a parallel here with chapter 4, where the despised Samaritans believed in Jesus, not only because of the woman’s witness, but also because of direct contact with Jesus.

There are several practical lessons here. First, you may never live to see how God uses your witness, but you should faithfully try to point people to Jesus anyway. John did not live to see these people come to faith, but his witness was a key factor in their faith. Second, we learn how hard the human heart is apart from God’s grace. These Jewish leaders had more than sufficient reasons to believe in Jesus, but they still were intent on murdering Him. When you get opportunities to tell people about Jesus, pray that God will soften their hard hearts and open their blind eyes. Finally, if some reject your witness, don’t give up. Some seed falls on the road and doesn’t even sprout. Other seed sprouts up, but quickly dies because it has no root. Still other seed gets choked out by the weeds. But some seed bears fruit to eternal life (Matt. 13:1-8). Keep sowing the seed and pointing people to Jesus! He is the Lord!

Application Questions

  1. In light of the Jews’ rejection of the evidence for Jesus’ deity, to what extent should we use apologetics in our witness?
  2. Can people who profess to believe in Christ but knowingly deny the trinity be saved? What key truths are at stake?
  3. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but not God the Son. Why is denying Jesus’ deity spiritually fatal?
  4. Must one believe in the inerrancy of Scripture to be saved? If not, what is at stake? What problems inevitably follow a weak view of Scripture?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Apologetics, Christology, Faith, Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 59: Loved, But Suffering (John 11:1-6)

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June 15, 2014

In Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23), it’s clear that how a person handles trials is a test of genuine faith. The seed that fell on the rocky ground sprouted up quickly, but it quickly faded when the sun, representing trials or persecution, beat down on it. The seed sown among the thorns lasted a bit longer, but eventually the worries of the world choked it out, so that it did not bear fruit. The only seed that represented genuine faith was that which persevered to bear fruit.

But trials can be a source of doubting, even for strong believers. In difficult trials, our emotions flood us with questions like, “If God loves me and He is all-powerful, then why am I going through this terrible trial?” As he languished in prison, even the godly John the Baptist seemed to question his faith in Jesus. He sent messengers to Jesus to ask (Matt. 11:3), “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” In other words, “If You’re the Messiah, why am I, Your appointed messenger, still in this stinking prison?” If even a great man like John could doubt in a time of trial, it’s important for all of us to think biblically about trials, both before they hit and also in the midst of them.

John 11 gives the account of Jesus’ most dramatic and powerful miracle in His entire ministry: raising Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the tomb for four days and his body was beginning to decompose. Because this miracle is not mentioned in the synoptic gospels, liberal critics have argued that it is not genuine.

While it may be difficult to explain why the other gospels omit this important miracle, it also creates huge difficulties to explain why John included it if it was not genuine. As one commentator wrote (G. R. Beasley-Murray, cited in D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 404, italics his), “One should … keep steadfastly in mind that he who wrote the Gospel of the Word made flesh viewed history as of first importance; he would never have related a story of Jesus, still less created one, that he did not have reason to believe took place.”

The story reads like an eyewitness account. It’s absurd to think that John would have fabricated such a fantastic story and presented it as a true event, knowing that others easily could have refuted it. The synoptic gospels relate two other resurrections from the dead that Jesus performed which John omits (Matt. 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-17). So we can’t know exactly why the inspired writers included some incidents and omitted others. But we do not need to conclude that the events were fabricated.

Jesus had left Jerusalem because the Jews were seeking to kill Him and was ministering across the Jordan River, where John was at first baptizing (10:40), when word came to Him from Mary and Martha that their brother and Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick. John emphasizes more than once that Jesus loved Lazarus, as well as his sisters, Mary and Martha. But then, contrary to what we would expect, rather than rushing to Lazarus’ side to heal him, Jesus stayed two days longer in the place where He was. By the time He arrived in Bethany, about two miles outside of Jerusalem, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, setting the stage for this miracle.

Some commentators think that Jesus was only one day’s journey away from Jerusalem. In this scenario, Lazarus would have died shortly after the messengers left to go to Jesus, so even if He had gone immediately, Lazarus still would have died. But He stayed where He was for two days. Then on day four, He arrived at Bethany and performed the miracle. But that reconstruction of events seems at odds with the sisters’ complaint that if Jesus had only come sooner, their brother would not have died. So others think that Jesus was much farther away. Lazarus was still alive when the messengers got to Jesus, but he died just before Jesus left to return, which Jesus knew supernaturally (11:14).

In either case, Jesus could have spoken the word and healed him from a distance (as in 4:50). But Jesus makes it clear that He has some higher purposes for this sickness and death, namely, for God’s and His own glory and for the disciples’ and the sisters’ increased faith (11:4, 15, 26, 40). So He delayed going immediately, which resulted in Lazarus’ death and in the sisters’ grief over the loss of their brother. Because He loved them, He allowed them to suffer for greater purposes that they did not understand until later. To summarize the lessons for us:

Although we often can’t know why we’re suffering, we always can take our troubles to Jesus and know that He loves us and will work for our good in His time, not our time.

There are five practical lessons about suffering here:

1. The Lord Allows Those He Loves To Suffer.

Three times here John either directly or indirectly emphasizes the close, loving relationship that Jesus had with these three. In 11:2, John identifies Mary as the one who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair. Interestingly, John doesn’t relate this event until 12:3. Perhaps, writing decades after Matthew (26:6-13) and Mark (14:3-9) reported this event and it was widely known (Luke 7:37-39 refers to a different incident), John assumed that his readers were aware of it. But, Mary’s anointing the Lord showed her love for Him and Jesus’ tender feelings for her.

Also, in 11:3, the messenger reports to Jesus, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” And, John adds (11:5), “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” But then follows the surprising connection (11:6), “So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” (The NIV’s “Yet when He heard…” mistranslates the Greek text.) John is saying that Jesus’ special love for these three was His reason for letting them suffer. His love did what was best for them.

But Jesus’ delay in coming didn’t feel like love to Mary and Martha, much less to Lazarus. (They hadn’t read this chapter yet!) We don’t know the cause of Lazarus’ death, but it probably involved pain and discomfort. The sisters helplessly watched their beloved brother go downhill. But their suffering did not mean that Jesus did not love them, but the reverse: He loved them, so He stayed two days longer where He was.

This refutes a popular, but spiritually destructive, heresy of our time: the teaching that it is God’s will for every believer to be healthy and wealthy. This falsehood is flooding into many poor nations, where it entices those who are suffering from disease or poverty with the false promise that if they will believe in Jesus, He will give them miraculous healing or financial success. The false teachers themselves flaunt their wealth, which they have gained from the gullible who contribute to their coffers. When health and wealth don’t happen, they teach that it’s because of your lack of faith. It’s hard to imagine a more heartless and cruel doctrine! Of course, the false teachers don’t mention the fact that they get sick and die with the same regularity as everyone else!

But the Bible is clear that the godly suffer and their suffering is not due to a lack of faith or to the lack of God’s love for them. But, you may wonder, why does He allow difficult tragedies?

2. We Cannot Always Know The “Why” Of Our Suffering.

“Why?” is often the first question that pops into our minds. Why this? Why me? Why right now? Did I do something to deserve this? Is God punishing me?

Several years ago in a letter to supporters, John MacArthur told about a pastor and his wife from Utah who traveled to The Master’s College to enroll their oldest daughter. Their second-oldest daughter planned to attend also in a year or two, so she was on the trip, along with their younger son. They had also brought two Italian foreign exchange students with them, hoping to have some opportunities to witness to them on the trip.

They looked around the campus and planned to attend Grace Church, where MacArthur is the pastor, the next morning. But as they drove away from the college, their car was broadsided at an intersection by a large van traveling at full speed. The force of the impact catapulted the two girls out the back of the car, killing them both instantly. The car quickly caught fire and their son and the two exchange students were badly injured and rushed to the hospital. The van had struck them on the driver’s side, just behind the front seat, so the pastor and his wife only had minor injuries.

MacArthur hurried to be with the couple at the hospital. They were shocked and shattered by their sudden loss, of course. But the father amazed and encouraged MacArthur when he said, “My sweeping thought is this: isn’t God good, that He took my two daughters who knew Christ and loved Christ, and spared these two Italian boys who are not saved? Isn’t God good?”

I’m sure that those parents didn’t have the “why” question answered then, and now, more than 25 years later, they probably still don’t know why that accident happened. But in that moment of tragedy, they were able to trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness.

Someone has said that rather than ask, “Why?” a better question is, “What?” What can I learn from this trial? Or, to ask, “How?” How does God want to use this trial? We can’t always know the answer to these questions, since God often works in ways that we don’t know about. But consider three avenues:

God-ward, the suffering may be to display God’s glory. Jesus says (11:4), “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” We saw the same thing with the man born blind (9:3), “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Does it shock you that God would allow a man to be born blind and live many years in that condition so that God would receive glory through his eventual healing? What about God taking all ten of a man’s children, all of his material possessions, and his health, so that God would be vindicated before Satan and the angels? That’s the story of Job.

If that sort of thing bothers you, then you don’t have a big enough view of God. That was the answer that God finally gave to Job: for several chapters God hits Job with questions like (Job 38:4), “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” And (40:2), “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?” Job’s final reply was (42:6), “Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Although Job was the most righteous man on earth in his day, he had to learn that God’s glory and God’s purpose was far greater than any suffering or loss that Job endured. John Piper (desiringGod.org, “This Illness is for the Glory of God”) writes:

Love means giving us what we need most. And what we need most is not healing, but a full and endless experience of the glory of God. Love means giving us what will bring us the fullest and longest joy. And what is that? … The answer of [John 11:4] is clear: a revelation to your soul of the glory of God—seeing and admiring and marveling at and savoring the glory [of] God in Jesus Christ.

Self-ward, the suffering may be either constructive or corrective. When I first preached through John, 37 years ago, I came to this text the week after our six-month-old daughter had been diagnosed with a congenital hip problem that required being hospitalized in traction and then put into a body cast for several months, followed by a couple of years in a harness to correct the problem. She hadn’t done anything wrong—she was just a baby. And as far as we knew, we hadn’t sinned so as to incur God’s discipline. But because we loved our little girl, we had to correct her problem even though it was painful for her and she didn’t have a clue why we were doing all that to her. Hebrews 12:10 says that God “disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” He adds (12:11), “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

Other-ward, the suffering may be to bring comfort to other Christians or to be a witness to non-Christians. In 2 Corinthians 1:4, Paul says that God “comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Also, our suffering may be used as a witness, as happened in the death of Lazarus. Many of their friends who were there to comfort Mary and Martha saw the miracle that Jesus performed and believed in Him (11:45). Even later, many of the Jews who heard about this miracle and saw Lazarus were putting their faith in Jesus (12:9-11).

In her first book (Joni [Zondervan]), Joni Eareckson [Tada] tells of the tragic diving accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down. She chronicles the agony she went through in the aftermath and how eventually she came to trust in Christ and submit to Him. She ends the book by telling of speaking at a rally to hundreds of young people and her hope that scores of them would come to faith in Christ. Then she adds (p. 228), “But I will be pleased if only one person is drawn to Christ. Even one person would make the wheelchair worth all that the past eight years have cost.” That was many years ago and she is still using her suffering to bring others to faith in Christ.

So, this story teaches us that the Lord allows those He loves to suffer. Also, we can’t always know the “why” of our sufferings, although we sometimes can figure out “what” God wants to teach us or “how” He can use the suffering for His glory.

3. We Can Always Take Our Troubles To Jesus.

I don’t know how the sisters knew where Jesus was, but somehow they got word to Him (11:3), “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Note three things regarding their message: First, they didn’t demand that Jesus come and heal their brother. In fact, they didn’t ask Him to do anything. They just humbly presented the need to Jesus and left it up to Him what to do about it.

Second, they didn’t “claim Lazarus’ healing by faith” and command Jesus by a word of faith to do as they said. The “health and wealth” heretics tell people that we can command God: “Just speak the word of faith and it’s already done.” That’s nonsense and presumption, not to mention the height of arrogance! God is the sovereign of the universe and He has plans and purposes that we cannot begin to fathom. I’ve heard such false teachers say that we should never preface our prayers with, “Your will be done,” because that reflects a lack of faith. No, it reflects submission to the sovereign God.

Also, note that the sisters did not say, “Lord, he who loves you is sick.” That was true, of course. Lazarus loved Jesus. But rather they said (11:3), “Lord … he whom You love is sick.” They didn’t appeal to the Lord on the basis of anything in them or in Lazarus, but rather on the basis of His great love. George Muller, the godly man of faith and prayer, set forth these conditions for prayer that I have found helpful (from George Muller of Bristol [Revell], by A. T. Pierson, combined from pp. 170, 455, 456):

  1. Ask only for that which it would be for the glory of God to give us.
  2. Ask in dependence on the name of the Lord Jesus, that is, expect it only on the ground of His merits and worthiness.
  3. Separation from all known sin.
  4. Believe that God is able and willing to give us what we ask Him for.
  5. Continue in prayer, expecting God to answer, until the blessing comes.

So, take your troubles to Jesus.

4. Always Interpret Your Suffering By God’s Love; Don’t Interpret His Love By Your Suffering.

I’ve already pointed out the emphasis here on Jesus’ love for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Love always seeks the highest good of the one loved, and the highest good for all of us, as John Piper pointed out, is not that we be healthy or wealthy, but that we get a bigger vision of God’s glory in Christ. Joni Eareckson made this amazing statement about her accident (ibid., p. 154):

God engineered the circumstances. He used them to prove Himself as well as my loyalty. Not everyone had this privilege. I felt there were only a few people God cared for in such a special way that He would trust them with this kind of experience. This understanding left me relaxed and comfortable as I relied on His love, exercising newly learned trust. I saw that my injury was not a tragedy but a gift God was using to help me conform to the image of Christ, something that would mean my ultimate satisfaction, happiness—even joy.

She was interpreting her suffering by God’s love, not interpreting His love by her suffering. So should we!

5. Realize That Love Sometimes Involves Delays That We Cannot Understand At The Time.

The sisters did not understand the Lord’s delay. Both of them blurted out the same complaint that they must have said to one another over and over (11:21, 32), “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” They couldn’t figure out the reason for the delay that had resulted in their brother’s death.

But as we’ve seen, the reason for the delay was Jesus’ love. By delaying, they would see more of God’s glory in Christ and know more of His power. They would grow in their faith in Him. The Lord’s deliberate delay was out of love, although they didn’t understand it at the time. Romans 8:28 is always true: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

There is much in Scripture about waiting on the Lord. If He answered us instantly every time, we would not recognize our need to depend on Him. God never delays because He is indifferent to our need or too busy or away on vacation! Peter exhorts us to cast all our anxiety on Him and then reassures us (1 Pet. 5:7), “because He cares for you.” So never doubt His love, even though you don’t understand His reasons for delaying.

Here, we learn from the delay that Lazarus’ resurrection was a prototype of ours. Through it we see that although we all die, one day we all will be raised. If Jesus could raise a decomposing body from the grave, He won’t have any problem raising our bodies from the grave (1 Cor. 15:52-53; 1 Thess. 4:14). We also learn that Jesus Himself is the resurrection and the life and that by believing in Him, we will never die eternally (11:25-26).

Conclusion

A woman still overwhelmed with grief approached her church on the Sunday after her mother had died. Just outside the door, a 7-year-old boy met her. With tearful eyes he looked up at her: “I prayed for your mother,” he said, “but she died.” For a moment, the grieving woman wanted just to hug him and cry with him. But she could see that he was seriously disturbed because he thought his prayers had not been answered. So she silently prayed for wisdom and then said to the boy, “You wanted God to do His best for my mother, didn’t you?” He nodded slowly. “Well, God answered your prayer. His best for her was to take her home to live with Him.” The boy’s eyes brightened as he replied, “That’s right, He did!” Then he ran off to meet his friends, content that God had taken her to heaven. (Adapted from “Our Daily Bread,” 5/77.)

So although we often can’t know why we’re suffering, we always can take our troubles to Jesus and know that He loves us and will work for our good in His time, not our time.

Application Questions

  1. Has a time of suffering ever caused you to doubt God’s love? How can you fight this in your next trial?
  2. Why is it not only futile, but sometimes defiant, to ask “why” when you suffer? What assumptions lie behind the question?
  3. The “name it and claim it” folks claim that they are believing Christ’s promises to answer our prayers. What’s wrong with that? Why is their practice wrong?
  4. How can we know whether God is saying “no” or whether we should keep waiting on Him in prayer?

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

Related Topics: Character of God, Christian Life, Comfort, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Lesson 60: Using Time Rightly (John 11:7-16)

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June 22, 2014

In a conversation with Woody Allen, Groucho Marx said he was often asked what he’d like people to be saying about him a hundred years from now. “I know what I’d like them to say about me,” Woody replied. “I’d like them to say, ‘He looks good for his age.’” (Reader’s Digest, exact issue unknown)

We chuckle, but we all know the reality: None of us (except perhaps a few babies) have any chance of being here a hundred years from now. But our main aim should not be to live a long life, but a life that counts in terms of eternity.

For many people, life consists of getting up, going to work, coming home, eating dinner, spending a couple of hours watching TV or being on the computer, going to bed, and repeating that cycle for 40 years or so. Their goal is to save up enough money to buy an RV so that they can travel around taking videos of the National Parks before they die. But to live like that is to waste your life. As believers, we have a higher purpose. Jesus said (Matt. 6:33) that we are to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. Whether God grants us a relatively long life or a short one, our focus should be on using the time, abilities, and resources that God entrusts to us to seek His kingdom.

When you think about the life of Jesus, it’s amazing that in three short years He chose, trained, and equipped the disciples to carry on what He began. To do that, He had to use His time rightly. Our text gives us a glimpse of how He used His time rightly and taught His disciples to do the same.

Jesus was ministering on the far side of the Jordan River to avoid the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, who were seeking to kill Him (10:39-40), when word came that His friend Lazarus in Bethany, near Jerusalem, was sick. John says that because Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was (11:5-6). Jesus knew that the highest good for them was not just for Lazarus to be healed, but for them to get a bigger vision of God’s and His own glory so that their faith would grow.

But then, after the two days, He said to His disciples (11:7), “Let us go to Judea again.” By saying “Judea” rather than “Bethany” or “to Lazarus,” Jesus triggered a shocked response from the disciples (11:8), “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” Note that Jesus said, “Let us go” and the disciples replied, “Are You going there again?” Their reply reminds me of the joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto, his Indian sidekick. The Lone Ranger said, “Tonto, we’re surrounded by hostile Indians. What are we going to do?” Tonto replied, “What do you mean ‘we,’ White Man?”

Well, with Thomas’ glum resignation (11:16), they all go back to Judea with Jesus, but they probably thought that it was a suicide mission. But Jesus’ reply shows how, in spite of the threats against His life, He used His time rightly to further God’s purpose. Applied to us, the principle is:

We use time rightly when we make wise decisions in light of eternity, fully surrendered to doing God’s will.

Consider three main factors:

1. God has given each of us a certain amount of time to be used in light of eternity.

To the disciples’ incredulous question Jesus replied (11:9-10): “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” There were no clocks back then, but they divided the day into twelve equal “hours” from sunrise to sunset, no matter what time of year it was. I’ll say more about what Jesus meant by this as we go, but for now note that one point of having twelve hours in a day is that we all have only so much time allotted to us to do what we’re supposed to do for God. We should take advantage of the time we have, because night is coming, when we cannot work for God (9:4). There are four things to note here:

A. From God’s perspective, we cannot live longer or shorter than the time that He has ordained for us.

The disciples were concerned that returning to Judea would not only get Jesus killed, but they’d probably die with Him. But Jesus is saying, “A day’s time is fixed. Nothing you do can lengthen it or shorten it.” He was constantly aware of the hour that the Father had fixed for Him (12:27). As we’ve seen repeatedly, until that hour came, no one could lay a hand on Him. Or, as David said (Ps. 139:16), all our days were written in God’s book before we were born. We won’t live a day longer or shorter than He has ordained. While that’s a great comfort, there is another side of it to consider:

B. From our perspective, we need to be prudent and sensible.

J. Vernon McGee once told of a man who had been studying the doctrine of predestination and he had become so convinced of God’s sovereign protection of the believer under any and every circumstance that he said to Dr. McGee, “You know, sir, I’m so convinced that God is keeping me no matter what I do that I think I could step out right into the midst of the busiest traffic and if my time had not come, I would be perfectly safe.” In his folksy manner, Dr. McGee replied, “Brother, if you step out into the midst of busy traffic, your time has come!”

In other words, as believers we’re invincible until it’s our time to die, but at the same time we shouldn’t take foolish chances with our lives and expect God to protect us. Jesus had left Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him and He did so wisely in the will of God. But now He knew that God wanted Him to return to Judea, where shortly after raising Lazarus from the dead, His hour would come to go to the cross. We see the same thing with the apostle Paul. There were times in his life when he wisely escaped from dangerous situations. But at other times, he risked his life to take the gospel into dangerous places. So we need the balance between trusting God to keep us all the days that He has ordained for us and yet at the same time, being prudent and sensible.

C. The time that God gives us is sufficient to accomplish what He wants us to do for Him.

Although Jesus was sometimes so busy that He didn’t have time to eat (Mark 3:20), He never seemed rushed or stressed out. Sometimes He left the needy crowds to get alone for prayer (Mark 1:35-37), but He always had time to do the Father’s work. As I said, it’s remarkable that at the end of three short years He could pray (John 17:4), “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” When life gets hectic it’s helpful to remember that God never gives us more to do than the time that we have to do it.

D. To accomplish God’s will, we must use our time wisely in light of eternity.

As Jesus said (John 9:4), “Night is coming when no one can work.” Just as there is a balance between God’s sovereign protection and our being prudent and sensible, there is also a balance between using our time wisely in light of eternity and knowing your limitations. I’ve known of people who are driven to make every minute count for eternity. The famous missionary, C. T. Studd (1860-1931) was so consumed with reaching the lost that he left his wife, who was suffering from a heart condition, in England while he went to Africa. When he received word there that she had suffered further heart complications, he refused to return home. He worked 18-hour days, took no time off, had no time for diversions, and expected all his fellow workers to do the same (see Ruth Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya [Zondervan], pp. 265-266)! I think he was way out of balance.

On the other hand, some Christians live with no thought of making their lives count for eternity. Except for going to church on Sundays, they live just as the world lives: to accumulate enough money to retire and then to live their final years for personal enjoyment. They don’t give any thought to how God may want to use them in His purpose. They don’t commit to serve Him because they don’t want to be tied down. They aren’t living wisely in light of eternity.

So, the first point that we can glean from Jesus’ resolve to return to Judea to raise Lazarus is that we all have been given a certain amount of time to be used in light of eternity. But how we use our time depends on the decisions that we make. Thus,

2. To use our time rightly, we must make wise decisions.

How we spend our time depends in large part on our priorities and the decisions that we make in light of our priorities. Jesus’ priority was to glorify God by accomplishing His work (4:34; 17:4). To consider how Jesus used His time, it’s helpful to note both how He did not make decisions and how He made them. To limit ourselves to John 11, note the following:

A. How Jesus did not make decisions:

1) Jesus did not make decisions based on the pressure of His friends or loved ones.

We saw this in the account of Jesus’ first miracle, when His mother subtly suggested that He do something about the lack of wine at the wedding, but He replied (2:4), “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” That comment was not impolite in that culture, as it sounds in English, but Jesus was making it clear that He would not act unless it was the Father’s time for Him to act. We saw the same thing in 7:3-9, when Jesus’ brothers advised Him to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles, but He refused to act on their timetable.

So here, even though Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, He didn’t drop everything and rush to their side the moment He got word that Lazarus was sick. Rather, He acted in a way that would display the glory of God and His own glory so that the faith of His friends and the disciples would grow.

2) Jesus did not make decisions based on the emotions of the moment.

No doubt in His humanity, Jesus was moved and concerned for the grave situation facing His good friends. But He didn’t act on the basis of His emotions, but rather, as I said, on what would glorify God and accomplish His purpose in the lives of others. Usually, it’s not wise to make decisions based on the emotions that flood in when a crisis hits. It’s best to pause, pray, and think through the situation in light of Scripture before you act.

3) Jesus did not make decisions based on the threats of His enemies.

Jesus knew that His enemies were plotting to kill Him, but that didn’t deter Him from doing the will of God. While, as I said, there is a place for caution and prudence, it’s also true that it’s safer to be in the will of God in a place of danger than to be outside His will in a place of seeming safety.

B. How Jesus did make decisions:

1) Jesus made decisions based on what would glorify God.

We saw this in 11:4, where Jesus said: “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” (Note that Jesus put Himself on the same level as God and His glory, which is a clear claim to deity.) Of course, Jesus raised Lazarus to relieve Martha’s and Mary’s sorrow and grief. I don’t know whether or not Lazarus was excited about leaving heaven to come back to earth with all of its sorrows and problems! But Jesus acted on the principle that God’s glory takes priority even above our relief from trials. The highest good for everyone is to gain a greater vision of God’s glory in Jesus Christ.

2) Jesus make decisions based on walking in the light of God’s presence and His purposes.

This is the point of Jesus’ word picture of walking in the day rather than at night (11:9-10). Jesus says (11:9) that the one who walks in the day “sees the light of this world.” There is a double reference here. On one level, Jesus is saying that those who walk during daylight hours do not stumble in the dark. But on a deeper level, since Jesus is the Light of the world (8:12), those who walk in the light of His presence and His purposes do not stumble. It’s always wise to make decisions based on whether you can do it with the assurance of God being with you because you are seeking to do His will.

3) Jesus made decisions based on helping others come to faith and/or grow in faith.

This story is all about building each person’s faith in Jesus. The disciples already believed in Jesus, but their faith needed to grow. So Jesus makes what at first sounds like an outrageous statement (11:14-15), “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Jesus wasn’t glad that Lazarus was dead, but He was glad for this situation because it would result in greater faith for the disciples.

Also, to the grieving Martha, Jesus states (11:25-26), “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus knew that Martha already believed in Him, but He wanted her faith to grow so that she believed in Him as the resurrection and the life.

Also, when Jesus prays aloud at the tomb of Lazarus (11:42), He states plainly that He did so in order that the people standing around the tomb would believe that the Father had sent Him. Thus one of His main aims in waiting before coming to raise Lazarus was to bring some to saving faith and to strengthen the faith of those who already believed in Him. That should be a factor in our decisions about how to use our time: will it increase our faith and the faith of other believers? And, will it help bring others who do not yet believe to saving faith?

So, to use your time rightly, recognize that God has given you a certain amount of time to be used in light of eternity. To use your time rightly, you have to make wise decisions, as Jesus did. Finally,

3. To use time rightly, surrender it completely to doing the will of God.

Again, Jesus is our example here:

A. Jesus’ aim was to do the Father’s will and to accomplish His work.

We saw this when Jesus was talking with the woman of Samaria and the disciples were trying to get Him to eat the lunch that they had brought from the village. He replied (4:34), “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” In other words, He was saying, “Doing God’s will and accomplishing His work is better to Me than eating!”

To do the Father’s will and accomplish His work, we must be fully surrendered and committed to that goal. You must give God a blank check with your life. As Paul wrote (Rom. 12:1-2),

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

You’ll only know God’s will when you’re fully surrendered to Him and committed to do it, no matter what the cost. Thomas here was committed, although not excelling yet in faith. He glumly says (11:16), “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.” The other disciples went along, too. Although they all fled in fear when Jesus was arrested (Matt. 26:56), their defection was temporary. All of them later went on to be bold witnesses for Christ and most suffered martyr’s deaths.

B. God’s will and His work always have an eternal focus.

Jesus was concerned about relieving Martha’s and Mary’s suffering in the loss of their brother, but He was more concerned that they and the disciples grow in their faith and that the unbelievers who witnessed the miracle of raising Lazarus come to faith (11:42).

Note that Jesus uses the common biblical metaphor of sleep when He refers to Lazarus’ death (11:11): “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples misunderstood, probably because they really didn’t want to go back to Judea where their lives would be endangered, so they said (11:12), “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Sleep is good for those who are sick! But Jesus was speaking of Lazarus’ death, which He goes on to plainly state (11:13-14).

The “sleep” of death refers to the body, not to the soul. The Bible is clear that at death, the soul goes immediately to be with the Lord in “paradise” (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-23), but the body “sleeps” in the grave until the day when Christ returns. At that point, the dead in Christ will rise (1 Thess. 4:16) and receive perfect eternal bodies suited for the new heavens and earth (1 Cor. 15:35-54). The wicked will also be raised for judgment and cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev. 20:5-15). Because life is short and eternity is forever, doing God’s will and God’s work must always keep the eternal in focus. We should help people with their earthly problems, but the main thing is to help them believe in Jesus so that they go to heaven.

C. Doing God’s will always requires walking in holiness and walking by faith.

1) Doing God’s will always requires walking in holiness.

This is implied by the metaphor of walking in the day or light. God’s will is our sanctification, or growth in holiness (1 Thess. 4:1-8). In typical fashion, John doesn’t offer a mediating position, where you can walk in the twilight. Either you walk in the light with Jesus or you walk in the darkness and stumble, because you have no light. John wrote (1 John 1:6-7), “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (See, also, Eph. 5:3-10.) Doing God’s will requires walking in the light.

2) Doing God’s will always requires walking by faith.

As I’ve said, Jesus’ aim here was to increase the faith of the disciples and of Martha and Mary. Faith often requires taking risks in obedience to God to further His kingdom. It’s not always easy to know when it’s wise to flee danger and when faith would stay and face danger, since godly men (including Jesus) did both at different times. Jim Elliot and his four companion missionaries believed that God wanted them to risk their lives making contact with the fierce Auca tribe, and it cost them their lives. But God used it to open up that tribe to the gospel. J. C. Ryle observes (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], p. 42), “To make us believe more is the end of all Christ’s dealings with us.”

Conclusion

Probably this message applies to each of you in different ways. Some may need to surrender your life to Jesus. That is the starting point of using your time rightly so that you don’t waste your life. Others may need to sort through your priorities. What does it mean for you to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness? Jot down a few goals that will help move you in that direction. Don’t waste your life. Make it count for eternity.

Application Questions

  1. What one or two things do you most need to incorporate into your schedule so that you are aiming to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness?
  2. How can you decide when to play it safe and when to take risks for God’s kingdom? What factors should you consider?
  3. How can you know the proper balance between necessary “down time” and using your time for eternal purposes?
  4. Prayerfully think through and write down a purpose statement for your life and a few spiritual goals in light of that statement.

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

Related Topics: Christian Life, Discipleship, Spiritual Life

Psalms 119

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This seven-part audio series by Bill McRae on Psalms 119 takes a look at the struggles of following God in this life, the pursuit of happiness, living a worthwhile life with a legacy, and the necessity of cultivating the habit of listening to and obeying God.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Discipleship, Spiritual Life

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