GIVE ME THAT BOOK SEMINAR
[Revised December 2011]
“How to live a God glorifying, soul-satisfying life on the foundational truth of God’s Book.”
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matt 7:24-27
The Purpose of the GTMB Seminar: The seminar is designed to show how God speaks through his written Word, bringing glory to his name and joy to his people. It attempts to lay down a theological foundation for building one’s life on the commandments and promises of God. It contrasts man’s ways with God’s ways of dealing with life’s struggles. Then, in clear and practical ways, it attempts to show how God’s Word is sufficient in areas that have been claimed to be the exclusive domain of the secular experts. When the seminar is completed, it is our prayer that a new joy and confidence will sweep over the hearts and minds of God’s people as they see the riches of Christ that are available to his people.
Scheduling GMTB Seminars: The seminar can be given in a weekend or a week long seminar. Different subjects can also be taught during regularly scheduled services, at the discretion of the church leadership. We go wherever we are invited. We consider it a privilege to declare the glory of God through the application of God’s Word. If you would be interested in sponsoring a GMTB seminar, contact us at our website [www.givemethatbook.com] or call us at 619 8282390
GMTB Testimonials: Below you will read what some of our sponsoring missionary leaders are saying about the ministry of GMTB in their place of ministry:
Martin, Charlotte, & Anna Jacobson: Directors of Instituto Biblico Patagonico, Patagonia, Argentina:
"There is a wonderful "rising tide" of God's Word in all that we do here and in the hearts and lives of our students, teachers, staff, and in our own lives. And, you have had a very critical role in that happening! The way you treasure God's Word is contagious! Also, you do a great job on the newsletters -- they are "chock full" of God's Word!"
Ron Sommers: Lead Pastor, International Christian Center; Nairobi, Kenya
"I know of no other single event in the life of ICC that had such far reaching implications for our church in spiritual growth, leadership development, and harvest. The Word changed our people, gave them confidence to lead, and as a result, the church was equipped to do effective ministry that has literally brought thousands to Christ."
Gilbert Contreras: Missionary to University Students, LaPlata, Argentina
"Just one note of testimony from one of my students I talked to yesterday. She said she is memorizing three Psalms. She has never memorized anything. She later said it was do to the impact of your seminar had on her life…to be in the Word and to put the Word of God into her memory."
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Session One: Introduction—God’s Book of Joy..................................................................................................................... page 3
Preface: “A Man of One Book”
Precious: Two reasons why the Book of God brings his people great joy
Purpose: Four reasons why we should devote ourselves to the book
Session Two: The Centrality of Christ....................................................................................................................................... page 5
Christ is Great!
Christ is Good!
In light of Christ’s centrality, how should we live?
Session Three: The Sufficiency of the Word........................................................................................................................... page 9
The battle over the sufficiency of the Word
The Bible is sufficient
Jesus fights and wins with God’s Word
Session Four: The Authority of God’s Book......................................................................................................................... page 10
Revelation: God speaks and reveals his glory to men
Inspiration: God writes a book and establishes truth
Illumination: God opens our ears so that we can “see” him
Interpretation: God glorifying truth understood and applied
Session Five: The Excellency of God’s Book......................................................................................................................... page 15
Motivation- Delighting in God’s Word
Perspiration- Studying God’s Word
Saturation- Memorizing and meditating on God’s Word
Application- Praying God’s Word
Declaration- Preaching God’s Word
Session Six: The Superiority of God’s Book........................................................................................................................... page 22
Man’s ways verses God’s ways
CHART contrasting God’s ways verses man’s ways.
A Biblical plan in our fight for our joy
Session Seven: The Practicality of God’s Book................................................................................................................... page 27
Self-concept: Finding our identity and joy in Christ’s work of redemption.
Biblical Love: How to find joy in promoting joy in others
Biblical Forgiveness: How to find joy in the healing of broken relationships
God-Glorifying Marriages: A biblical plan to glorify God by finding joy in our marriages
Anger and Bitterness: A biblical plan for how to find joy when attacked and hurt by others
Depression and Despair: How to find joy in the midst of great darkness and loneliness
SESSION eight: The Community and God’s book
How the Body builds itself up as each member speaks the truth in love to his neighbor.
How the Body restores the sinning member through Christ’s teaching on reconciliation.
Session nine: The Veracity of God’s Book............................................................................................................................... page 38
Question: How can I spend all of my days pursuing a radical, God-glorifying, soul-satisfying life?
Added Resources................................................................................................................................................................................... page 39
Ten principles for building a God-glorifying soul-satisfying life
Give Me That BOOK
How to Build a God-glorifying, Soul-satisfying Life
on the Foundational Truth in God’s Word
God’s Book of Joy
Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
BIBLICAL FOUNDATION FOR JOY
God is a God of joy. God’s Book is a book of joy.
It is our prayer that through this seminar your joy in the Lord may overflow
to the glory of God and the satisfaction of your soul.
SESSION ONE: INTRODUCTION—GOD’S BOOK OF JOY
Preface: A Man of One Book— Homo unius libri
I have thought I am a creature of the day, a passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit, coming from God, and returning to God; just hovering over the great gulf; a few months hence and I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing— the way to heaven—how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: for this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that Book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri [a man of one book]. –John Wesley
A. It electrifies the head.
Psalm 39:3, My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.
Psalm 111:2, Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Colossians 2:2-3, My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
B. It satisfies the heart.
Jeremiah 15:16, When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name.
John 15:9-12, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Purpose: Four Reasons why we should devote ourselves to the BOOK
Even today I live every moment with the Bible. It is my constant companion. As a believer for fifty-six years, I have tested God’s Word and found it true. In more than five decades I have not encountered one situation in which I have not been able to turn to God’s Word for comfort, wisdom, guidance, joy, and blessing. At eighty-one years of age, I would rather have the Bible on my shelf and in my heart than any other book written in history because it contains the message of God. It is a love letter to me and to all other human beings who are created in His image. Not only have I been enriched through the reading of the Bible, but I have also seen it change the lives of a multitude of people. –Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade
Question: What is the chief end of man?
Answer: To glorify God and enjoy him forever.
a. His creation reveals his glory (Psalm 19:1; Isaiah 40:25-26).
b. His people are called for his glory (Isaiah 43:7).
c. His jealously protects his glory (Isaiah 48:11).
d. His wrath declares his glory (Romans 1:18-20).
e. His grace brings praise for his glory (Ephesians 1:11-12).
f. His followers do all for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
The end of creation is that the creation might glorify God. Now what is glorifying God but a rejoicing at that glory that he has displayed? The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted. –Jonathan Edwards
a. He delights in his people (Zephaniah 3:17).
b. He searches the earth for those he can bless (2 Chronicles 16:9).
c. He pursues us with goodness and mercy (Psalm 23:6).
d. He is pleased to give us the kingdom (Luke 12: 32-33).
e. He commands us to taste and see that he is good (Psalm 34:8).
f. He commands us to rejoice in Him (Philippians 4:4).
g. He invites us to come to him to find rest (Matthew 11:28).
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. –John Piper
1. God sends His Word to reveal life-changing truth to His people.
Psalm 119:18, Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Psalm 119:97, Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
John 17:22-23 “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.”
Psalm 119:14, I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
2. So, our passion to consume God’s Word is motivated by delight rather than duty.
Psalm 1:1-2, Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
C. That Book is PERSONAL: It satisfies our deepest desire for fellowship with God.
God’s purpose in revelation is to make friends with us. It was to this end that he created us rational beings, bearing his image, able to think and hear and speak and love; He wanted there to be genuine personal affection and friendship, two-sided, between Himself and us….he speaks to us simply to fulfill the purpose for which we were made; that is, to bring us into a relationship in which He is a friend to us, and we to Him, He finding joy in giving us gifts and we finding ours in giving Him thanks. – J. I. Packer
Psalm 63:1, O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
John 15:14-15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
John 14:20-21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
D. That Book is PRACTICAL: It arms and fortifies our hearts for our daily battle for joy.
Though the covers are worn, and the pages are torn, and though places bear traces of tears; yet more precious than gold, is the book worn and old that can shatter and scatter my fears. –Anonymous
1. It uncovers the enemies of our joy:
a. A fallen nature and its deceitful desires.
Ephesians 4:22, You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.
b. A world system whose allurement will pass away.
1 John 2:17, The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
c. A Devil who is committed to rob us of our faith.
1 Peter 5:8, Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
2. It provides the weapons that defeat the enemy’s attacks.
1 John 2:14, I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
3. It gives us a plan on how to avoid enemy traps.
Psalm 119:11, I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
4. It gives a place to stand in the midst of storms.
Matthew 7:24-25, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible..I should do all I could to surround it with spiritual equivalent of pits, thorns, hedges, and man traps to frighten people off. – J. I Packer
SESSION TWO: THE CENTRALITY OF CHRIST
John 5:39-40, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Jesus Christ stands at the center of God’s ultimate purpose to glorify himself in creation and redemption. In the incarnation, Jesus reveals the glory of God. He stands at the center of history and gives it meaning and purpose. The Old Testament prepares for his coming. The Gospels record his coming. Acts records the spread of the news of his coming. The epistles explain his coming. And, Revelation anticipates his final coming. Jesus Christ also stands at the center of our joy and it is in knowing him and loving him that we find our soul-satisfying delight. It is because Jesus stands at the center of all things that he stands at the center of God’s BOOK (John 5:39). When we pick up the BOOK in faith, we hear him speaking and calling and enabling us to make him the center of all we think, say, and do. When we respond and obey him, he becomes the satisfying joy of our life. All that we are and all that we do becomes a beautifully ordered testimony to the glory of our God. Jesus Christ is the center of our joy!
The point is this: We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for images, everything is disordered. The sun of God’s glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attractive place at the center. –John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, p. 21
Christ is Great! He is Supreme in Position and Power:
Jesus Christ is the supreme authority over all things, so he deserves and demands our reverence and obedience to him in all things.
Colossians 1:15-20, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” [cf. John 14:9; John 17:6-8]
Hebrews 1:1-2, But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. [cf. Psalm 89:27]
John 1:1-3, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. [cf. Psalm 19:1]
The end of creation is that the creation might glorify God. Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at the glory he has displayed? —Jonathan Edwards
Hebrews 1:3, The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
You grasp what this implies. It implies that all the massive nuclei have no right to be alive at all. Indeed, they should never have been created, and, if created, they should have blown up instantly. Yet here they all are. . . . Some inflexible inhibition is holding them relentlessly together. The nature of the inhibition is also a secret . . . one thus far re-served by Nature for herself.” —cited in D. Lee Chesnut, The Atom Speaks, p. 38 (from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (c) Moody Press and John MacArthur, Jr., 1983-2002)
Ephesians 4:15-16, Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 1:22-23, And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
1 Corinthians 15:56-57, The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
G. Christ is the Reconciler of sinners: Christ lived and died to bring us to God (v. 20).
1 Peter 3:18, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
Conclusion: Because of His position and power, we humbly and reverently seek to serve and worship him.
Christ is Good! He is Supreme in Beauty and Bounty
Jesus Christ is the supreme beauty above all things and so he invites and attracts us to glorify him by enjoying him above all other things.
The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted. –Jonathan Edwards
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Psalm 27:4, One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple..
Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” [cf. Psalm 63]
John 15:10-11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” [cf. Psalm 16:11]
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
It will take an eternity to experience all the knowledge of who God is; the love and holiness that is in God; and the joy and happiness that is ours in God. –John Piper
A. Confess the name of Christ. God has ordained that our heart felt confession that “Jesus is Lord” is the way to receive forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.
Romans 10:9-10, If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic— on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg— or else he would be the Devil of hell. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher, he has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. –C. S. Lewis
B. Chase the face of Christ. Because Christ is life’s greatest treasure, we joyfully cast aside all other pleasures that we may gain him.
Philippians 3:7-9, But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased. –C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
C. Pursue the truth of Christ. Because God communicates his wisdom through our minds, we must think hard on the words of God.
Matthew 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Be assiduous in reading the Scriptures. This is the fountain whence all knowledge in divinity must be derived. Therefore let not this treasure lie by you neglected. –Jonathan Edwards
D. Pray the promises of Christ. Prayer is God’s means whereby we apply the promises of God’s Word to our lives.
John 15:6-8, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
E. Trust the goodness of Christ. God is delighted when his children trust in his goodness and his desire to bless his people.
Isaiah 64:4, Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
F. Glorify the name of Christ. We fulfill our purpose and find our joy when we please God in everything we do.
1 Corinthians 10:31, So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
G. Enjoy the beauty of Christ. To see the beauty of Christ and to know that he is ours transforms all of life into a reason to rejoice.
Philippians 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Jesus, as he is revealed in the Bible, has a glory— an excellence, a spiritual beauty— that can be seen as self-evidently true. It is like seeing the sun and knowing it is light and not dark, or like tasting honey and knowing that it is sweet and not sour. There is no long chain of reasoning from premises to conclusions. There is a direct apprehension that this person is true and his glory is the glory of God. –John Piper
H. Spread the fame of Christ. Our delight grows as more people come to share in the beauty of Christ and join us in giving praise to his glory.
Acts 8:4, Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
I. Expect the reward of Christ. At the end of life we will be welcomed into the fullness of Christ’s happiness.
Matthew 25:21, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
As the Creator is infinite, and has all possible existence, perfection, and excellence, so he must have all possible regard. As he is every way the first and supreme, and as his excellency is in all respects the supreme beauty and glory, the original good, and fountain of all good; so he must have in all respects the supreme regard. And as he is God over all, to whom all are properly subordinate and on whom all depend, worthy to reign as Supreme head, with absolute and universal dominion; so it is fit that he should be so regarded by all, and in all proceedings and effects through the whole system. –Jonathan Edwards
Session Three: The Sufficiency Of the Word
Mark 12:24, Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”
God’s Word is sufficient. God speaks and accomplishes His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). God’s Word is our food (Matthew 4:4). God’s Word is irresistible power (Jeremiah 23:29). God has spoken the words that are written down in our Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). When it is believed and received, it creates eternal life (John 20:31). Its truth sets apart the people of God (John 17:17). It opens the eyes of the blind (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). It gives life to the dead (Colossians 2:13). It grows the Church (Acts 12:24). It frees the captive (John 8:31-32). It gives hope to the weary (Romans 15:4). It brings joy to the heart (John 15:11). It brings glory to God (John 15:7-8). Nothing needs to be added to it and nothing needs to be taken from it (Deuteronomy 4:2). Nothing can be set along side it (Psalm 119:89). God’s Word is sufficient!
When God from heaven gave the Word; His Word was all-sufficient;
It needs no words I may have heard; To add to or be in it.
So I will take God’s Book and read; To learn what God desires;
The Bible gives the strength I need; To do what God requires.
— James Boice—
The Battle over the Sufficiency of the Word
In the beginning of this century the battle was over the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Today it is over the sufficiency of the Scriptures. –Dr. James Boice
A. Does the Church need something more than the Word of God?
1. Efficiency: The principles of the corporate world?
2. Excitement: The audio-visuals of the entertainment world?
3. Extraordinary: The demonstrations of signs and wonders?
4. Experts: The theories and methodologies of psychology?
B. What does the Bible claim for itself?
1. Efficiency (Isaiah 55:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Acts 12:24)
Isaiah 55:11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
2. Excitement (Luke 24:30-32; Psalm 119:16; 119:14; Colossians 2:2-3)
Luke 24:30-32, When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Psalm 42:1-2, As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
3. Extraordinary (Mark 12:24-25; Romans 1:16; Luke 16:31; Acts 12:24)
Mark 12:24-25, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”
Luke 16:31, “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
4. Experts (2 Corinthians 9:8-9; 1 Peter 1:3-4; Matthew 7:24-25; Hebrews 4:12-13)
2 Corinthians 9:8-9, And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Peter 1:3-4, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
The Bible is Sufficient:
A. For salvation: The word of God is the living word of God that gives eternal life to those who believe on Jesus name.
1 Peter 1:23, For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
B. For sanctification: The Living Christ sets us apart and conforming us into his image through obedience to his written Word.
John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
C. For guidance: The wisdom of God enables us to walk in the light of his purposes so that we can please him in everything.
Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
D. For joy: The words of Jesus enable us to experience the fullness of joy Jesus experienced in his mission to earth.
John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
E. For peace: With the promises of God in our head and our heart, we can calm in the midst of any storm.
Psalm 119:165, Great peace have they who love thy law and nothing can make them stumble.
F. For faith: The word of Christ is the dynamic that awakens faith to enable men and women to receive and believe the gospel.
Romans 10:17, Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
G. For battle: The Scriptures are God’s weapon that enables us to defeat the fiery lies of the Devil.
Ephesians 6:17, Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
A. Failure in the Garden
Genesis 3:1-5, Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
1. The Enemy attacked by questioning God’s Word.
2. Adam fell when he failed to trust God and obey God’s words.
3. The battle for our joy is a battle for trust in God’s Word.
B. Victory in the Desert
Matthew 4:1-4, Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
1. Jesus, who could quiet demons and send them away at his command, quotes scripture to defeat the Enemy.
2. Jesus must have memorized God’s Word to use it against the Enemy.
3. Jesus won while Adam lost because Jesus used God’s Word to defeat the lies of the Enemy.
SESSION FOUR: The Authority of God’s BOOK
2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work .
The Bible is God’s Book. He inspired it. Therefore, it has complete authority over all of life because it comes from him. It is the rule of all truth, containing all that is necessary for service of God and for salvation. It is not lawful for men or angels to add to it, take away from it, or change it. Therefore, no traditions, scientific findings, psychological theories, or cultural customs can sit in judgment over its pronouncements. On the contrary, all of man’s wisdom should be examined, regulated, and judged by the truth found in God’s Book. If we want to know God, please God, enjoy God, and glorify God, we must read, study, meditate and obey the Word of God.
A. Introduction: Testimonies to the absolute authority of God’s written Word.
1. What God says:
Deuteronomy 6:6-9, These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
We owe to Scripture the same reverence as we owe God, since it has as its only source in him and has nothing of human origin mixed with it. –John Calvin
2. What the Bible says:
1 Thessalonians 2:13, And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
3. What Jesus says:
Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
We do not believe in Christ because we believe in the Bible, but believe in the Bible because we believe in Christ. –Martin Kahler
4. What the Spirit says:
1 Corinthians 2:12-13, This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
Those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce implicitly in Scripture; that Scripture, carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit. –John Calvin
5. What the saints have said:
Unless I am convinced by Sacred Scriptures or by evident reason, I cannot recant. For my conscience is held captive by the Word of God and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me. –Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms
6. What the Bible is:
I wonder whence the scriptures should come, if not God. Bad men would not be authors of it. Would their minds be employed in indicting such holy lines? Would they declare so fiercely against sin? Could good men be the authors of it? Could they write in such a strain? Or could it stand with their grace to counterfeit God’s name and put ‘Thus saith the Lord” to a book of their own devising? –Thomas Watson
REVELATION: God speaks and reveals his glory to men [Psalm 19]
A. The Word of God
1. God’s speaks in creation, in history, in miracles, in visions, in the Incarnation, and in the written Word to carry out his will.
2. When God speaks, he reveals his power, his authority and his presence.
3. In Jesus Christ, God reveals the fullness of His glory.
4. In the written Word, the Bible, Christ the Word speaks to us.
B. God speaks and shines forth his glory to men through revelation.
1. General Revelation: God has revealed himself to all men in that which he has created.
Romans 1:18-20, The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
1. Beautifully: Psalm 19:1, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2. Exhaustively: Psalm 19:2-4, Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
3. Joyfully: Psalm 19:4-5, In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
4. Warmly: Psalm 19:6, It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
2. Special Revelation: God speaks a personal word and creates a people of faith.
a. God’s Word is Ppowerful (Psalm 19:7-9): He speaks powerfully in the Scriptures—Open them up!
The fundamental reason the Word of God is essential to our joy in God is that God reveals himself mainly by His Word. And seeing this revelation of God is the foundation of our joy. – John Piper
b. God’s Word is precious (Psalm 19:10-11): He speaks treasure that satisfies—Dig it up!
Psalm 19:10-11, They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
1. It warns us of the consequence of sin (Romans 6:23).
2. It rewards us by enabling us to find satisfying joy (Romans 6:2).
c. God’s Word is practical (Psalm 19:12-13): He speaks truth and exposes our need of grace—Give up!
Psalm 19:12-13, Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
1. We need pardon to dispose of hidden sins (Jeremiah 17:9).
2. We need power to defeat our willful sins (Psalm 119:11).
d. God’s Word is Personal (Psalm 19:14): He speaks personal joy and delight to our soul—Pray up!
Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer
He addresses His words to us— statements, commands, promises—as a means of sharing His thoughts with us, and so of making that personal self-disclosure which friendship presupposes, and without which it cannot exist. –J. I. Packer
INSPIRATION: God writes a book and establishes truth
2 Peter 1:19-21, Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The God of truth wrote a book of truth. By the Holy Spirit he guided his prophets to write his message to people in such a way that it is without error and fully reliable. What the Bible says God says. What it affirms is true and binding upon men. It alone describes the way to God and stands as the final authority over all of mankind’s beliefs and practices. If we want to know God and enjoy his blessing, we must believe and obey what God is speaking to us in his Book.
The book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers….Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy….It is the traveler’s map, the Pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword….Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully….It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who will trifle with its sacred contents. –Walter Kroll
A. God’s Word is sufficient in every culture in the midst of all kinds of pressures.
2 Timothy 3:1, But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
B. God’s inspired words make us wise for salvation by creating faith in Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 3:14-15, But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
C. God breathed his words into men in such a way that what they wrote in the Scriptures God spoke.
1. God spoke revealing truth and preserving the humans from error, yet without violating their personality or their unique giftedness.
2. Men spoke, using their own faculties freely, without distorting the divine message.
3. God so guided the writing of the Scriptures that the very words of the men are the very words of God.
To assure verbal precision God, in communicating his revelation, must be verbally precise, inspiration must extend to the very words. This does not mean that God dictated every word. Rather his Spirit so pervaded the mind of the human writer that he chose out of his own vocabulary and experience precisely those words, thoughts and expressions that conveyed God’s message with precision. In this sense the words of the human authors of Scripture can be viewed as the word of God. –LaSor, Hubbard and Bush.
4. Therefore, the Scripture is “without error in all that it affirms.”
D. The God-breathed words of Scripture equip believers to win the battle for joy in the face of persistent and painful attack from the enemy of our joy.
1. God speaks through the Scriptures to equip us to please the Lord in every situation we face.
2 Timothy 3:14-17, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
a. It instructs us in God’s truth (doctrine). It is profitable for teaching.
b. It confronts us in our sinful ways: It is profitable for rebuking.
c. It directs us back to God’s way: It is profitable for correction.
d. It disciplines us in God’s way: It is profitable for training.
e. So that we are thoroughly equipped to please the Lord in every situation.
a. The sinful nature: I have within me a sinful nature that seeks to glorify myself above my Creator. I must battle this enemy with all of the resources that God provides.
Romans 7:18-20, I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.
b. The deceptive world: I live in a world system that is hostile to the ways of God and one that persistently seeks to rob me of the joy of holy living.
1John 2:15-17, Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
c. The Satanic enemy: The Enemy is crafty and uses lies and deception in his attempt to seduce us into sin and unbelief.
2 Corinthians 11:13-14, Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
ILLUMINATION: GOD OPENS OUR EARS SO THAT WE CAN “SEE” HIM
Because our eyes have been blinded, because we are dead in our sins, God must enable us by his Spirit to discover and delight in the glory of God revealed in God’s Word. Even after we have become Christians we still need the illuminating work of the Spirit in our hearts. Thus, prayer becomes essential to be able to discover the treasure God has hidden in his Word.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
The Spirit of God, bearing witness by and with Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God. –The Westminster Larger Catechism
The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself and his Word, the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the of the Spirit. The same Spirit therefore who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded…because until he illumines their minds, they ever waver among many doubts. –John Calvin
A. The Father opened the heart of Peter to enable him to confess Jesus as the Christ.
Matthew 16:17, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
B. Jesus overcame the foolishness of his disciples by explaining to them the centrality of Christ in Scriptures.
Luke 24:25-27, He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
C. Jesus sent the Spirit to enable his disciples to teach and remind them of Christ’s words.
John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
D. Only the Holy Spirit can open the minds and hearts of people to enable them to overcome the foolishness that is embedded in their hearts so that they might accept the things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:10-14, The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
As God’s act, revelation is the personal self-disclosure whereby He brings us actively and experimentally to know Him as our own God and Savior. As God’s gift, revelation is the knowledge about Himself which He gives us as a means to this end. –J. I. Packer
INTERPRETATION: We grapple with Scriptures to understand and apply God’s truth.
Psalm 119:27. Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.
God speaks to our minds so that we can respond with our hearts. Preaching, teaching, reading, writing and meditating are all activities designed to foster an understanding of God and His truth. It is the holding fast to that truth, understanding it and obeying it, that leads to freedom and joy. Because God speaks clearly in the Word, it is crucial for Christ’s disciples to draw out the true meaning of each text. Because it is God’s Word, we pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Because it is a book written by men, we study it like any other book. It is the goal of the interpreter to determine what the author meant [exegesis] when God used him to first pen the scriptures. Then, with that in hand he seeks to apply that truth [hermeneutics] to the situations of this day.
For the attainment of divine knowledge, we are directed to combine a dependence on God’s Spirit with our own research. Let us not presume to separate what God has united. –Charles Simeon
A. Two steps to the proper interpretation of Scripture:
1. Exegesis: The method whereby the student of the Bible attempts to discover the intended meaning of the original text when it was first written and heard.
2. Hermeneutics: The practice of understanding the truth of the original text and applying its principles to our lives in a contemporary world.
B. Two barriers to interpretation:
1. We live in different cultures. We live a great distance from the time and the culture when the text was originally written. Our problem is ignorance.
2. We have darkened hearts. We have hearts that are naturally opposed to the truth of God’s Word. Our problem is rebellion.
C. Two helps for proper interpretation:
1. The clarity of God’s Word: The text is given so that its essential message can be understood by all believers. We do not need “experts” to tell us what God has said.
Deuteronomy 30:11-14, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”
2. The illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we understand God’s truth and softens our hearts so that we love God’s truth.
John 16:12-13, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”
1 John 2:20, But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
D. Principles for interpreting the Scriptures:
1. The unity of the Bible: Because there is one God who authored the Bible, there is one faith, one salvation history, and one doctrine. The golden thread that is weaved throughout Scriptures can be summed like this: The grace of God in saving sinners through the cross of Jesus Christ for the glory of God and the joy of his people.
Keep still Jesus Christ in your eye, in the perusal of the scriptures, as the end, scope and substance thereof: What are the whole of scriptures, but as it were the spiritual swaddling clothes of the holy child Jesus. –Isaac Ambrose
2. Non-contradictory: Since God is the author and because what he says is true and without error, one Scripture will not contradict another. If our interpretation of a text conflicts with another, we are wrong.
3. Analogy of faith: The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself. When there is a question about a true and full sense of any Scripture, it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
4. Historical and literary context: Scripture must be interpreted in the context of historical and literary relationships. An understanding of the setting and occasion of the letter’s writing is crucial for a proper interpretation of the text. We must seek to understand and apply the Scripture in the light of that knowledge.
The proper, natural sense of each passage [the intended sense of the writer] is to be taken as fundamental.... In other words, Scripture statements must be interpreted in the light of the rules of grammar and discourse on one hand, and in their own place in history on the other. – J. I. Packer
5. Genre and style: Proper interpretation must recognize the different kinds of literary forms that are employed by the writers of scripture. One does not interpret historical narrative, psalms, proverbs, epistle, and apocalyptic literature in the same way.
6. Didactic interprets historical: The teaching sections of the Scripture should be used to cast light upon the historical narrative portions of God’s Word.
7. Purpose governs interpretation: An interpretation of a text cannot be used to teach what it was not intended to teach by its author.
8. Obedience: Disobedience prevents us from knowing and understanding the treasures of God’s Word. Obedience brings a confirmation of truth and opens the door to more truth.
John 7:17, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
9. Prayer: Because this is God’s Word and because we are sinful and finite, we must wait on God in prayer, seeking his wisdom and guidance.
Before and after you read scripture, pray earnestly that the Spirit which did indite it, may expound it to you, and lead you into truth. –Richard Baxter
10. Love for truth: Because God is truth and because his truth is glorious and infinite, we passionately seek to understand more and more of God’s revelation as he has revealed it in his Book.
Acts 17:11, Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Never think you have knowledge enough; study the word more fully. The Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of his holy word. –John Robinson
SESSION FIVE: THE EXCELLENCY OF GOD’S WORD
2 Corinthians 4:4-6, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
In Jesus Christ our hearts are satisfied. We were made to discover and delight in his glory. It is the knowledge of Christ that brings joy to our souls. The knowledge of the glory of God is most clearly seen as the Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts to see and hear Christ speak in his Word. So, the Word is a gold mine filled with treasure waiting to be uncovered as we devote ourselves to uncovering its riches. Thus, our motivation for devouring God’s Word is not only duty but, deep delight.
Delighting in God’s Word—Motivation
The Word of God is a treasure chest of joy and riches. We open the Word with joyful expectation and pray that the Spirit who inspired the writings would open our eyes so that we might see the wonderful things in God’s law.
Would it not be an encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, “You will honor and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mine of gold, and dig as much gold for yourself as you can carry away?” So for God to say, “Go to the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified.” –Thomas Watson
A. Purposeful: Every man hungers for the glory of God. Moses’ cry, “Show me your glory” is the deep cry of every soul. In the past God spoke in many ways but in the last days he has spoken fully in the radiance of His Son. Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:1-3) Now, God continues to reveal that glory through the Scriptures. As we devote ourselves to beholding Jesus in the Word, we “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18). Our desire to see his glory and Christ’s prayer that we would see his glory (John 17:24) are being answered. Our joy has commenced and will continue into an eternal adventure of joyful discovery.
B. Powerful: Through the preaching of God’s Word, lives are changed from sinners to saints; from rebels to worshipper; from haters of God to lovers of God; from Scriptures God; from enemies to sons and daughters. All this is powerfully done “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (Ephesians 1:6).
Ephesians 2:4-7, But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
C. Personal: God is Person. He speaks through Scriptures to communicate his secrets so that we can commune with him as his children and as his friends.
John 15:14-15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends , for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
D. Practical: Through the Scriptures God reveals his truth so that we can know how to build strong Christ-honoring lives by trusting and obeying his words.
Studying God’s Word—Perspiration
2 Timothy 2:14-15, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
If the Scriptures are a gold mine of eternal treasure, then I should spare no effort to do whatever it takes to make that treasure mine. God has chosen to hide treasures within the pages of his written Word and only those who actively pursue them will know the joy of their discovery. Raking is easy but you only get leaves. Digging is hard but by it you uncover treasure.
The more we know of God, the happier we are….When we became a little acquainted with God…our true happiness…commenced; and the more we become acquainted with him, the more truly happy we become. What will make us so exceedingly happy in heaven? It will be fuller knowledge of God. –George Mueller
A. To passionately pursue Christ in his Word is to honor his value.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
His deepest conviction was that reverence for God was reverence for Scripture, and serving God means obeying Scripture. To his mind, then, no greater insult could be offered to the Creator than to neglect his written word; and, conversely, there could be no truer act of homage to him than to prize it and pore over it, and then to live out and give out its teaching. –J. I. Packer’s description of the Puritan’s devotion to Scripture
B. A failure to discipline our lives in the search of God can disqualify us for greater, soul-satisfying service.
1 Timothy 4:6-7, Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
A man can be spiritually consecrated and dedicated and of very little use to God because his life is not disciplined. –Hudson Taylor
C. The more we know of God in our heads the more of God we can rejoice over in our hearts.
This happiness is to be obtained through the study of Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ. –George Mueller
D. Because it is God’s Word in the words of men…
1. We passionately pursue its treasure.
Proverbs 2:1-5, My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
Resolved: To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. –Jonathan Edwards
2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Lazy Christians will remain immature because they fail to apply themselves to a diligent study of God’s Word. I often startle my students by saying that theological errors are sins. They recoil from this charge assuming that there is no moral culpability for making mistakes. I argue that the primary reason we misinterpret His work, is not because the Holy Spirit failed to do his work, but because we failed to do ours. We fall short of loving God with all of our minds and our hearts and neglect the responsibility to apply ourselves to a vigorous study of the things of God. –R. C. Sproul
Isaiah 66:2, This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
Ephesians 1:17-18, I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
2 Timothy 2:7, Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
Thoughts and affections are….the mutual causes of each other: “While I mused, the fire burned[ Psalm 39:3]; so that thoughts are the bellows that kindle and inflame affection; and then if they are inflamed they cause thoughts to boil. –Thomas Goodwin
Luke 24:27, And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
2 Timothy 4:1-2, In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.
John 13:16, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Psalm 119:14-16, I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
I felt like my little brown path of life had entered an orchard, a vineyard, a garden with mind-blowing, heart-thrilling, life-changing fruit to be picked everywhere. Never had I seen so much fruit and so much beauty condensed in so small a sphere. The Bible seemed to me then, and it seems today, inexhaustible. –John Piper
Memorizing and Meditating on God’s Word— Saturation
Psalm 1:1-3, Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Meditation is the process where the truth of the Word moves from the head to the heart where they control the choices of the will. As we spend time meditating upon God’s Word, Christ makes himself at home in our hearts. To enable us to meditate upon God’s Word we must memorize God’s Word. When the words of God are in our head, the Spirit of God can use those words to glorify Christ in our thoughts, our words, and our actions. So, meditation on God’s words is an intimate communion with God himself.
With respect to the primacy of importance, the heart is first. If I have correct doctrine in my head but no love for Christ in my heart, I have missed the kingdom of God. It is infinitely more important that my heart be right before God than my theology be impeccable correct…However, for my heart to be right, there is a primacy of the intellect in terms of order. Nothing can be in my heart that is not first in my head. How can I love a God or a Jesus Christ about whom I understand nothing? Indeed, the more I come to understand the character of God, the greater is my capacity to love him. –R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith; p. xvi
Joshua 1:8, Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
In the Hebrew, meditation actually means to speak or mutter. When this is done in the heart it is called meditation. When we meditate upon God’s Word we are speaking to ourselves about what God has said; we ask questions and answer them from the Scriptures; we consider how to apply those words to our lives; we turn those words into prayers for help, insight, strength, and obedience. In this way, meditation becomes communion with Christ. We become so filled with his words that our lives take on the nature of the One who spoke those words.
Prick him anywhere; and you will find his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak with out quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God. –Charles Spurgeon on John Bunyan
Psalm 19:11, The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
I spend so much time on Bible memory because I believe in the power of the indwelling Word to solve a thousand problems before they happen, and to heal a thousand wounds after they happen, and to kill a thousand sins in the moment of temptation, and to sweeten a thousand days with the “drippings of the honeycomb.” –John Piper
Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our mind with what it needs. The book of the law shall not depart from your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization. –Dallas Willard
2. To win the battle over sin we must know God’s will and ways.
3. In order for our mind to become transformed from man’s ways to God’s ways the Word must be in our minds.
Romans 12:2, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
4. Memorization stores the Word of God so that it is available at all times and in all places.
Psalm 119:98, Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.
5. Storing God’s Word in our heads brings great joy to our hearts.
Psalm 119:111, Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
C. How do we prepare for meditation on God’s words?
1. Pray for a heart that delights in God’s Word.
Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
2. Schedule regular times for your devotions.
Luke 5:16, But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
3. Find a quiet place to be alone with him.
Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
4. Make specific plans as to what you are going to do in your meditation.
Psalm 77:12, I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.
5. Keep a written journal of your walk with God:.
Jeremiah 30:2, This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.”
I know not how the light is shed, Nor understand their lens. I only know that there are eyes in pencils and in pens. –John Piper
D. How do we meditate on God’s words?
1. Pray that God will open the eyes of your heart.
2. Select a passage that speaks to your dry condition.
Psalm 42:1, As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
3. Slowly and carefully engage the passage before you. Take note of what it says about God, His ways, and your response. Be attuned to the ideas that shine forth from the text.
Psalm 119:34, Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.
4. Train your ears to recognize and respond to God’s voice as he speaks in the text.
1 Samuel 3:10, The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
5. Turn God’s Words into prayers and cries for help.
Psalm 27:7, Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
6. Apply the truths to your situation and commit yourself to walking in them the rest of your day.
Psalm 119:99, I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
It is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you. –Charles Spurgeon
Praying God’s Word—Application
Psalm 50:15, Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.
Prayer and the Word are the two tracks that God uses to bring us into the terminal of his glorious grace. In the midst of the troubles of life, the promises of God stir faith in our lives and we cry out for help in the power of the Holy Spirit. God comes to us and fulfills his promises and we honor him by praising him for his faithfulness. God uses prayer and the Word by the Spirit to bring him glory and his people joy. The kind of prayers we pray will be shaped by the commands, promises, and examples found in God’s Word.
The key to joy in God is God’s omnipotent, transforming grace, bought by the Son, applied by the Spirit, wakened by the Word, and laid hold of by faith through prayer.— John Piper
A. How does the Word and prayer work together to bring effective, Christ-honoring, joy-giving prayer?
1. Through the words of Jesus, he abides in us.
John 15:5, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
3. Without the words of Christ we cannot bear Christ-honoring, God-glorifying fruit.
John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
4. The Word of Christ living within us changes our hearts so that we want what Christ wants.
Psalm 37, Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5. When we want what Christ wants, we can ask for anything and it will be done.
1 John 5:14-15, This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.
When saturated by the Word, More surely will our prayers be heard. –John Piper
B. How does the Word of God shape the kind of prayers we pray?
May I receive what you promised through your truth so that “my joy may be complete.” God of truth, I ask that I may receive so that my “joy may be complete.” Until then let my mind meditate on it, let my tongue speak of it, let my heart love it, let my mouth preach it. Let my soul hunger for it, let my flesh thirst for it, my whole being desire it, until I enter into the “joy of the Lord,” who is God, Three in One, blessed forever, Amen. –Anselm
1. Pray for a greater knowledge of God.
Psalm 25:4-5, Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. [cf. Ephesians 1:17]
2. Pray for a greater joy in God.
Psalm 90:14, Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. [cf. Romans 15:13]
3. Pray for the glory of God.
Psalm 108:5, Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth. [cf. Matthew 6:9]
4. Pray for the deliverance of God.
Psalm 119:170, May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. [cf. Psalm 50:15]
5. Pray for the fullness of the Spirit.
Luke 11:13, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” [cf. Ephesians 3:19].
6. Pray for the salvation of unbelievers.
Romans 10:1, Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
7. Pray for healing.
James 5:13-15, Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.
8. Pray for wisdom.
James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. [cf. Colossians 1:9]
9. Pray for unity.
John 17:20-21, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”
10. Pray for strength.
Colossians 1:10-12, And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father.
11. Pray for forgiveness.
Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
12. Pray for deliverance from temptation.
Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
13. Pray for the perseverance of faith.
Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”
14. Pray for protection from the devil.
Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
15. Pray for strength for the church leadership.
Ephesians 6:19-20, Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
When Charles Spurgeon was asked the secret of his success he answered: “My people pray for me.”
Preaching God’s Word—Declaration
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.
The Word of God is powerful. It has within in it the power of God to accomplish the purposes of God. The Church needs to proclaim the Gospel with boldness and confidence knowing that God has promised to glorify himself through the declaration of his Word. The strategies and methodologies of the world do not add one ounce of gravity to the message God has commanded us to preach. So, let us preach the Word with boldness.
A. Preach the Word.
2 Timothy 4:1-2, Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.
We never reach the innermost room in any man’s soul by the expediencies of the showman of the buffoon. –John Henry Jowett
B. Preach King Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:5, For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
The great design and intention of the office of a Christian preacher is to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men. –Cotton Mather
C. Preach the cross.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18, For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
Man centered persons are amazed that God withholds life and joy from his creatures; and God centered persons are amazed that God should withhold judgment from sinners. –John Piper
D. Preach the greatness of God.
Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
If God is not supreme in our preaching, where in this world will people hear about the supremacy of God? If we do not spread a banquet of God’s beauty on Sunday morning, will not our people seek in vain to satisfy their inconsolable longing with the cotton candy pleasures of pastimes and religious hype. If the fountain of living water does not flow from the mountain of God’s sovereign grace on Sunday morning, will not the people hew out for themselves cisterns on Monday, broken cisterns that can hold not water (Jer 2:13) —John Piper
E. Preach the goodness of God.
It is the purpose of preaching “to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.” —James Stewart
F. Preach for the glory of God.
1 Peter 4:11-12, If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God . If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save. –James Denney
G. Preach with humility.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5, When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on man’s wisdom but on God’s power.
All genuine preaching is rooted in the feeling of desperation. You wake up early Sunday morning and you can smell the smoke of hell on one side and feel the crisp breezes of heaven on the other. You go to your study and look down at your pitiful manuscript, and you kneel down and cry, “God, this is so weak! Who do I think I am? What audacity to think that in three hours my words will be the odor of death to death and the fragrance of life to life (2 Cor. 2:16). My God, who is sufficient for these things?” – John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching
H. Preach out of holiness.
1 Timothy 4:16, Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus.
I. Preach with joy.
1 Peter 5:2-3, Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
It’s highest joy is in the great ambition that is set before it, the glorifying of the Lord and the saving of souls of men. No other joy on earth compares to that….As we read the lives of all the most effective preachers of the past, or as we meet the men who are powerful preachers of the Word today, we feel how certainly and how deeply they very exercise of their ministry delights them. –Philip Brooks
J. Preach through prayer.
Ephesians 3:16-17, I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
God has been pleased to constitute prayer to be the antecedent to bestowment of mercy; and he is pleased to bestow mercy in consequence of prayer, as though he were prevailed on by prayer. –Jonathan Edwards
Session Six: THE SUPERIORITY OF GOD’S BOOK
Using the language of medicine and claiming the reliability of science, people have introduced theories and methodologies into the church that have subtly, but surely, pushed aside the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word. The results of such an incursion has been the cutting off of struggling believers from the powerful, life-giving, bondage-freeing, soul-satisfying truth of God. The Church and the world needs to trust and obey God’s promises that are only found in holy Scriptures.
John 8:31-32, To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Early in this century [20th] the battle was over the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Today the battle is over the sufficiency of the Scriptures. –James Boice
Man’s Ways versus God’s Way
A. Man’s ways: Man defines problems and seeks cures without reference to God or his glory.
1 Corinthians 1:25, For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
1. How do we respond to the teachings of the world that rival the authority of God’s Word in the way we live our lives?
a. Check to see if what is being taught is consistent with the clear teaching of God’s Word.
Acts 17:10-12, Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
b. Strive to protect the clarity and the simplicity of the Gospel.
Galatians 1:8, But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
c. Contend, if necessary, for the faith that was entrusted to us.
Jude 3, Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
d. Don’t be captured by the deceptive philosophy of the world.
Colossians 2:8, See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
e. Make every thought captive to the commands of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6, We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
f. Keep your head and fulfill your duty as a preacher of the Word.
2 Timothy 4:1-5, Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Chart: Man’s Ways vs. God’s Ways
There is something about human nature that accepts over time the most controversial of change but would be appalled at the same innovation being abruptly introduced. I think the enemy of our soul is on to this characteristic of mankind. And, I think he regularly takes advantage of it. –Gary Rieben
BASIC APPROACHES TO SOLVING PERSONAL PROBLEMS (Isaiah 55:7-9)
[Note: The concept and the first four columns was taken and modified from the Biblical Counseling Foundation’s Self-Confrontation Manual. BCF is located in Palm Springs California and their website is www.bcfministries.org]
MAN'S WAY (Proverbs 14:12; I Corinthians 3:19-20, Colossians 2:8)
GOD'S WAY (John 10:9-10; Romans 11:33-36)
Heart Transformation (Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Acts 13:6-9)
BASIC VIEW OF MAN
Driven by instincts (i.e. instinctively does things: fight, flight, seek food and gratification)
Conditioned or programmed behavior.
Intrinsically good. Has all that is needed within to solve the problem.
Helpless before all spirits.
Machine like person that suffers when a part of the machine breaks down.
Sinner-Saint (Romans 5:12,19; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18; 21)
CAUSE OF PROBLEM
Instincts are thwarted by society, religion, family.
Wrongly influenced by environment and circumstances
Mind blocked by negative thinking or unexpressed feelings.
Committed to and under the control of spirits, demons, ancestors.
Nature: Problems determined by genetic disposition and chemical malfunction.
Rebellion (Romans 1:20-21), Unbelief (John 3:16-18, 5:38-40), Disobedience (Ephesians 2-1-2, Titus 3:3), Denial of God's power (Hebrews 2:14-15, I John 3:8)
Follow natural instincts.
Recondition or Reprogram.
Release the potential that lies within.
Appease spirits, cast out demons, ward off spirits, or find spirit guide.
Acceptance of that which cannot be changed (homosexuality) and medicate that which can be changed (ADHD; Depression).
Be saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and in loving obedience to God (Romans 6:16-19) be matured in Christ (Ephesians 4:13) through the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18)
Psychoanalysis (Interpretation of irrational thoughts, analysis of dreams); Hypnosis therapy; Psychodrama; Resocialization; Personality testing and analysis;
Manipulation of behavior by positive and negative stimuli. Use of reward and punishment.
Reflection of thoughts and feelings. Counselee finds own answers. Relationship more important than content. Positive thinking.
Potions, charms, amulets, fetishes. Curses on the enemy; nullify the curse; ritual offerings; communication with spirits; Mantras; chants; horoscopes; etc.
Psychopharmacology; Biopsychiatry; Medication (Prozac; Ritalin; etc.); PET scans; etc
Listen (Proverbs 18:2; 13; 17); Reprove, rebuke, exhort (2 Timothy 4:2); Encourage (Hebrews 3:13); Admonish (Romans 15:14; Colossians 1:28); Stimulate (Hebrews 10:24); Strengthen (Hebrews 12:12); Restore (Galatians 6:1-2, 5); Teach (Romans 6:17-18; Colossians 3:16);Train (2 Timothy 2:2).
Ego, Id, Drives, Libido, Conscious and Subconscious, Neurosis/
Psychosis, Phobia, Mania, Catharsis, Self-actualization, Free Association
Stimulus, conditioning, positive
/negative reinforcement. Self-fulfillment. Self-improvement.
Inner potential. Self-esteem. Self-worth. Self-assertion.
Curses; higher power; binding of demons; generational sins and curses; demons of anger, lust, fear, etc.
Hardwired; Chemically imbalanced; neurotransmitter shortage; Hormones; Genes; Markers;
Sin (Romans 3:23); Put off practices of the old self and put on the practices of the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5-17); Self-denial (Luke 9:23-25); Judge self (Matthew 7:1-5; Godliness (2 Timothy 4:7-8); Doing the Word (James 1:23-25).
Liberate the Self
Improve the Self
Elevate the self
Release the self from spiritual bondage.
Release the self from physical bondage.
Deny Self (Luke 9-23-24); Please God (2 Corinthians 5:9; Colossians 1:10) and bless others (I Peter 3:8-9) through ministry (I Peter 4:10) and service (Matthew 20:25-38)
(GMTB - Chart- seminar.xls)
A. God’s Way of solving problems
There is not anything or any condition that befalls a Christian in this life but there is a general rule in the Scriptures for it, and this rule is quickened by example. –Richard Sibbes
1. In the Bible we discover biblical principles for obedient and joyful living.
a. Through teaching: Matthew 7:24-25, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
b. Through promises: Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
c. Through commands: Ephesians 4:32, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
d. Through history: Romans 15:4, For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
e. Through testimony: Genesis 50:19-21, But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
B. In the Bible God asks key questions for the sake of establishing our joy in him.
God wants us to judge ourselves in the light of His purposes and promises. Therefore, throughout the Bible God confronts his people with significant questions that force them to take a serious look at their attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions. Examples: “Adam, Where are you?” “Elijah. What are you doing here?” Jesus to the disciples: “Will you also go?” Jesus to Peter: “Peter, do you love me?”
a. Purpose: What one thing do I want more than any other? (1 Corinthians 10:31-32)
Would you feel more loved by God if he made much of you, or if he liberated you from the bondage of self-regard, at a great cost to himself, so that you enjoy making much of him forever? —John Piper
b. Problem: What pressure is keeping me from experiencing the joy of the Lord? (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)
c. Perspective: What does God’s Word say about this problem? (John 8:31-32)
Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. –Martin Luther, Here I Stand, p. 49
d. Prayer: What do I need from God that will enable me to work through this problem with joy? (Psalm 119:18; Ephesians 1:17-19)
e. Promise: What has God promised to give me so that I can be more than a conqueror in the midst of this battle? (Romans 8:31-32)
f. Process: What Biblical pattern has God given to guide me on the pathway of righteousness and joy?
1) Instruction: What God says about my situation:
2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
u Teaching: What does God say specifically about my struggle? [cf. John 8:31-32]
u Reproof: In what ways have I sinned against God? [cf. Matthew 7:3-5]
u Correction: What do I need to do to get back on the path to joy? [cf. Ephesians 4:20-24]
u Training: What disciplines (means of grace) do I need to incorporate in my life that will keep me on the path to joy? [cf. 1 Timothy 4:7-8]
2) Application: What God says I must do: Put-offs and put-ons
u What practical patterns has God established in his Word to enable me to please him?
Ephesians 4:22-24, You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Romans 6:10-12, The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:22, Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Ephesians 4:28, He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
g. Principle: What is God trying to teach me about his all-satisfying grace by allowing this test?
Psalm 119:67-68, Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
The “good fight of faith” is at its root a fight for delight. It’s a fight to maintain satisfaction in God against all the enticements of the world and all the deceptions of the devil. The fight for faith in future grace is a fight for joy. Knowing this will help us understand what is happening to us when the temptations come. Diminishing delight is a summons to war. –John Piper
h. Practice: What specific steps do I need to take to be obedient to the commands of God?
James 1:22, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
John 13:17, Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
i. Perseverance: Why should I keep obeying even when there is no deliverance from God?
Romans 5:2-5, And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
j. Pleasure: What is God doing in my life to demonstrate that he is a “rewarder” to those who diligently seek him?
Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
k. Praise: How can I spread the news of God’s faithfulness to others, for His glory and my joy?
1 Peter 2:9-10, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
A Biblical Plan for The Fight for Joy
A. Perspective: Judging our actions in the light of our desire to glorify God in all things by finding our joy in Jesus in all situations (I Corinthians 10:31).
Man’s Ways: The pleasure of life are found in worshipping the self: We are told we must: love self; serve self; forgive self; exalt self; assert self; trust self; esteem self; save self.
God’s Ways: The pleasure of life is found in worshipping Christ above all other things: Repent of yourself (Acts 2:38); deny self (Luke 9:23); lose self (Luke 9:24); humble self (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6); put off your old self (Ephesians 4:22).
B. Promise: Fighting for joy based upon the hope we find in the Truth found in God’s Word (Romans 15:3; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
1 Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
C. Process: Acting according to the principles and examples found in God’s Word.
1. Investigation: Identify the “put- offs” and “put-ons” found in the Bible.
Ephesians 4:20-24, You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
2. Application: Apply God’s Word to:
a. Our thoughts
Romans 12:2, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
b. Our words
Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
c. Our actions
James 1:22-24, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
3. Supplication: Praying that the Spirit will continue to change the attitudes and desires of our heart.
John 15:5-8, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
D. Practice: Making specific plans to persevere in obedience to God’s Word in every situation so that God may change our hearts by His grace (Philippians 2:12-13; Psalm 119:54-56).
Philippians 2:12-13, Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
God who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. –C.S. Lewis
Session Seven: The Practicality of God’s Word
Self Concept: A biblical and Christ-honoring view of self
Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The “search for self” is a major focus in our world. With the demise of the family and the casting aside of religious and traditional values, men and women are without ballast, adrift on very stormy seas. The “ego strength” psychological theories have rushed into our world to fill the void. Meaning and purpose, which was once determined by ultimate truths, are now pursued in the individual “self.” What we believe or feel about ourselves has become the determining factor in what we are. Happiness is found by loving self, asserting the self and esteeming self. These beliefs have even permeated the church. But, Jesus Christ has called us to a radically different approach. By denying our selves and pursuing our joy in Jesus we find the satisfaction and success we were created to enjoy.
Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and ourselves….the order of right teaching requires that we discuss the former first, then proceed afterward to treat the latter. –John Calvin
A. General perspectives on the self
1. Man’s view: Self-centered rather than God-centered
The Bible makes a person feel good about himself. Many people use it to try and make people hate themselves. The Bible promotes psychological and emotional health. Often we may have to surrender the popular evangelical Christianity to psychology but not the true teachings of the Bible. This is a freeing experience. –William Counts, Class Lecture, Rosemead School of Psychology, 1973
a. Pursue yourself. The secret to joy and happiness is found in discovering the real “you” that exists in the desires and appetites of the ego.
b. Love yourself. In order to be happy and successful one must first learn to love oneself.
“Self love is a crowning sense of self worth. It is an ennobling emotion of self-respect. It is a sincere belief in your self.” Robert Schuler, Self-Love [Old Tappan, N. J.: Spire Books, 1969], p. 27.
c. Accept yourself: Accepting yourself just as you are is the beginning of wholeness.
The act of self acceptance is the root of all things.–Walter Trobish, Love Your Self,
Before I can I can address myself to the challenges of loving or accepting other people as they are, I must first take myself as I am. And before the latter is possible, I need to know that God loves me as I am….Loving our selves is crucial to loving others, even God. –Peter Gilchrist, Love is Now.
d. Esteem yourself. Self-esteem is seen as the one thing essential to a happy, successful, and satisfying life.
If I could write a prescription for the women of the world, I would provide each one of them with a healthy dose of self-esteem….I have no doubt this is their greatest need. –James Dobson: What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women
2. God’s View: God-centered rather than self-centered
Today, self-esteem has become very important because it is thought to be essential to happiness. Unless you love yourself you will not be happy. But to assume that we must love ourselves, that God will not love us as much as we need to be loved is a form of practical atheism. We say we believe in God but we don’t trust Him. Instead, many Christians live by the very unbiblical: “God loves those who love themselves.” –Dr. Paul C. Vitz, Phd
a. Creation: Designed by God
In creation humans were…
Genesis 1:27, So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Psalm 139: 14, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Isaiah, 43:7, Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — Every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory ,whom I formed and made.
b. Fall: Deformed by sin
Because of sin we became…
Romans 3:12, There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless.
2 Corinthians, 4:4-5, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Ephesians 2:1-2, As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.
Romans 5:6, You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
John 3:18, Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Ephesians 2:3-4, Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Ephesians 2:12, Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 2:12, Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise.
c. Redemption: Redeemed by grace
But because of grace we are now…
Ephesians 1:4-6, In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
2 Corinthians 4:6, For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
John 17:1-3, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. or you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Romans 8:31-32, What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:33-34, Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Ephesians 2:4-6, But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:18-19, For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. ..Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.
B. A Biblical plan to live joyfully in view of what Christ has done for us on the cross…
Luke 9:23-25, Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
We must note, however, that self-esteem is a deeply secular concept, not one with which Christians should be particularly involved. Nor need they be. Christians should have a tremendous sense of self worth. God made us in His image, He loves us, He sent His Son to save each of us, our destiny is to be with God forever. Each of us is of such value that the angels rejoice over every repentant sinner. But on the other hand, we have nothing on our own to be proud of. We were given life along with all of our talents, and we are all poor sinners. There is certainly no theological reason to believe that the rich or the successful or the high in self-esteem are more favored by God and are more likely to reach heaven. Indeed, blessed are the humble, blessed are the meek. –Dr. Paul C. Vitz, Phd.
1. Live humbly: Live humbly knowing that all you are and have has been given to you by God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
Luke 18: 13-14, “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
2. Rejoice continually. In every situation find your joy in the personal presence of your Friend and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Philippians 4:4-5, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
3. Serve Faithfully: Wherever Christ calls you to serve him do it earnestly and joyfully for the glory of God.
Luke 17:10, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
4. Go boldly. Go confidently to the ends of the earth with the authority and in the presence of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 18:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
5. Love radically. Christ’s sacrificial love for us has freed us from selfish concerns so that we might give ourselves for others.
1 John 3:16, This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
6. Suffer joyfully. In the most painful of situations go down deep into the love of Christ which is greater than any pain you face.
2 Corinthians 6:10, Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing
7. Fight biblically. In the midst of the battle for joy let the Word of God defeat and vanquish the lies of the enemy.
Matthew 4:10, Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
8. Pray continually: Keep crying out to the Father who loves to glorify his name by meeting the needs of his children
Luke 18: 1, Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
The cross is not a celebration of my worth, but an indictment of my sins. It is a celebration of his glory…his hatred for sin and his mercy toward men. God is God-centered. The most loving thing God could do was to die for my sins, taking upon him self the curse due me; and imputing the righteousness to me that was due him.
C. Conclusions: In the light of what Christ has done for you and in you, don’t waste your time trying to…
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God, I am Thine! –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Matthew 22:37-40, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
A. Introduction: Biblical love is patterned after the love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ and the cross. It is characterized by commitment and sacrificial action for the benefit of another. It is most clearly seen as we love God by obeying what he has commanded in his Word (John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6). Powerful emotions may or may not accompany biblical love, but it is our love for the Lord and the grace he supplies that holds us steadfast in our sacrificial service to others (John 3:16, 13:34-35; Romans 5:8-11; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13).
B. Perspective: All of God’s directives for living are based on loving God and loving others in a biblical manner (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-34).
1. You are to love God with all your heart, soul, might, and mind (Deuteronomy. 6:5; Matthew 12:31; Ephesians 5:29).
2. You are to love your neighbor as you already love yourself (Matthew 7:12, 22:39; Mark 12:31; Ephesians 5:29).
3. Love is giving not getting (John 3:16), with God’s love being the basis and the example for the expression of your love (1 John 4:7-10).
4. Love has specific characteristics demonstrated by godly deeds—thoughts, words, and actions—(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). The true test of biblical love is to love and serve others when you don’t feel like it (Matthew 5:46-48).
C. A “love” test
1. If I were to ask you if you were a loving person, you would probably say “yes.” To see if your perspective of love is the same as God’s perspective, let’s take a test:
No matter what number you chose, what was your definition of love? Was it brotherly love, family love, erotic love, and/or being “nice” to others?
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Now, using God’s definition of biblical love, now rate yourself on your level of love to others. Write the number here _____. Did the number decrease from what you wrote earlier?
2. Conclusion: Any evaluation of our love is to be measured by the love of God that was poured out to us in Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:1-2, Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Our love must…
D. There will be inevitable conflict: Because we still battle the “old man” with his “fleshly desires” there will be times of conflict between brothers and sisters. Coming together in close families does not solve our problems but reveals them. People want different things which lead to the possibility of ungodly responses. So, there needs to be some objective and powerful way to resolve conflict. We believe that the Bible is the manual that provides the principles that will enable any relationship to flow with joy and satisfaction in the way it was intended. The Bible’s answer is to love one another like Jesus loved us. How that is worked out in the day-to-day problems of marriage is spelled out in the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13.
I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight, that to somebody’s need made me blind: But I never have yet felt a tinge of regret, for being a little too kind.
If your lips would keep from slips, Five things observe with care; of whom you speak, to whom you speak; and how, and when, and where. –William Norris
Ephesians 4:31-32, Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
In life we will be hurt by others. When we are hurt, we are faced with both a test and a temptation. If we respond in a godly way, we will experience great joy. If we respond in man’s way, we will experience regret. We are commanded to forgive others in the same way God forgave us in Christ. That is an awesome thought. It is easily misunderstood and is not practiced, at a great cost to the Church and the name of Christ. So it is crucial that we understand how God forgave us. Because we have been given a new nature and have God’s Spirit living within us, we have the resources to forgive others no matter how evil their sin was. If we want joy to reign in our lives, we need to know and practice forgiving others in the same way God in Christ forgave us.
A. Perspective: Judging our actions in the light of our desire to glorify God in all things by finding our joy in Jesus in all situations (I Corinthians 10:31).
1. Man’s ways: Living motivated by the desires of the flesh and conformed to the world (1 John 2:15-16).
Man says that bitterness and revenge is a natural response to those who have been abused and mistreated. They say: “An eye for an eye;” I can never forgive you for that.” “I may forgive but I won’t forget.” “I will forgive you but I will never trust you again.”
2. God’s ways: Living motivated by the desires of the Spirit and transformed by the truth of God’s Word (Romans 8:12-16).
B. Granting forgiveness God’s way. How to forgive others as God forgave us in Christ.
If you want to make sure of keeping your self-intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries: avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; instead it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. –C. S. Lewis
Ephesians 4:32, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1. What is forgiveness? It is a decision to love someone who has deliberately wronged you.
a. It involves painful choices.
b. It involves faithful promises:
2. What does forgiveness look like?
Psalm 103:12, As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Micah 7:19, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Isaiah 38:17, In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.
Hebrews 10:17, Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.
3. What does forgiveness not look like?
Your life is not going to be easy, and it should not be easy. It ought to be hard. It ought to be radical; it ought to be restless; it ought to lead you to places you’d rather not go. –Henri Nouwen
4. How do we forgive like God in Christ forgave us?
a. We give what is needed, not deserved.
Romans 5:6-8, You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
b. We do good to our enemies.
Luke 6:27-28, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
c. We suffer for the sake of others.
1 Peter 2:23-24, When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
d. We depend upon the Father for our strength.
James 4:6-10, But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Coping with difficult people is always a problem, especially if the difficult person happens to be you. –Anonymous
5. What happens when we don’t forgive?
a. God won’t answer our prayers.
Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
b. Our daily sins won’t be forgiven.
Matthew 6:12, 14-15, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”.
c. We will be confined to lives of torment.
Matthew 18:32-35, “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
d. We will never know the fullness of God’s love for us.
John 14:23-24, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
6. What keeps us from forgiving?
a. A lack of gratefulness.
Matthew 18:32-34, “‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’”
b. A lack in humility.
c. A lack of trust.
Genesis 50:19-20, “Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
d. A lack of love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
7. Why should we forgive?
a. It is commanded by our Lord.
b. It imitates our Lord.
c. It brings great joy to our soul.
Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
d. It glorifies our Lord.
Romans 15:5-6, May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth You may glorify the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ
Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger people. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at the richness of a life which has come to you by the grace of God. –Phillip Brooks
8. Further questions concerning biblical forgiveness:
a. Is it possible or necessary to forgive ourselves?
b. When God forgives does he remove the consequences of our sins?
c. Does God require us to forgive and forget?
d. Is it necessary for us to be taught how to forgive God?
God-Glorifying Marriages: A Biblical plan to glorify God by finding joy in our marriages
Ephesians 5:25-27, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
God planned marriage so that a man and a woman might find a fulfillment so joyous and complete that it would reflect the glory of our Lord’s love for his Bride, the Church. He intended marriage to be a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman, based on the principles of biblical love. The relationship between Jesus Christ and his Church is the supreme example of the committed love that a husband and wife are to follow with each other (Ecclesiastes 9:9; Malachi 2:14; Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a; Ephesians 5:21-33).
Ephesians 5:31-33, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Love is the overflow and expansion and completion of joy in God, which gladly meets the needs of others. Love is not merely the passive overflow, but the aggressive extension and expansion of joy in God, reaching even to the poor in Jerusalem. –John Piper, commenting on the love of the Macedonian Church, The Dangerous Duty of Delight
A. Biblical Perspective: Judging our actions in the light of our desire to glorify God in all things by finding our joy in Jesus in all situations (I Corinthians 10:31).
1. Man’s ways: Living motivated by the desires of the flesh and conformed to the world (1 John 2:15-16)
I climbed up the door, and shut the stairs. I said my shoes and took off my prayers. I shut off my bed, and I climbed into the light, and all because he kissed me goodnight. –Faith Mills
a. Marriage is entered into for the convenience of the man and woman. Its love is driven by attraction and powered by feelings.
a. Marriage is patterned after Christ’s love for the Church and is lived for his glory.
God’s love is our model: Ephesians 5:1-2, Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3. If we are to love like God, our love will…
Getting married does not solve our problems. It reveals our problems. When two self-centered people live together, there are inevitable conflicts. These problems are not just marital problems they are personal problems. So, there needs to be some objective and powerful way to resolve conflict. We believe that the Bible is the manual that provides the principles that will enable any marriage to flow with joy and satisfaction the way it was intended. The Bible’s answer is to love one another like Jesus loved us. How that is worked out in the day-to-day problems of marriage is spelled out in the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13.
An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her. –Agatha Christie
B. The God-glorifying, soul-satisfying mystery of marriage.
As God made man in His own image, so he made earthly marriage in the image of His own eternal marriage with His people. –Geoffrey Bromiley, God and Marriage
1. The key text
Ephesians 5:21-33, Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
a. Mystery: Something hidden in the past, but, in the fullness of time, God has revealed its divine purpose and meaning.
The marriage union is a mystery because its deepest meaning had been concealed but is now being openly revealed by the apostle Paul, namely, that marriage is an image of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32). So, God didn’t create the union of Christ and the church after the pattern of human marriage; just the reverse, He created marriage on the pattern of Christ’s relation to the church. We who are married should see and grasp that our marriages are much more mysterious and wonderful than what is often seen on the surface. Our marriages are meant to declare the glory of God to our world. So how we live together is a living drama of how Christ and the Church relate to each other. It is seen in:
b. Headship: The divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.
c. Submission: The divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.
d. Mutual submission: Two servants seeking to out do each other in the loving task of caring for and building up the other in the knowledge and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
C. The curse of sin: When sin entered the world, it ruined marriage not because it brought headship and submission into existence, but because it twisted man’s humble, loving headship into hostile domination in some men and lazy indifference in others; and twisted woman’s intelligent, willing submission into manipulative scheming in some women and brazen insubordination in others.
D. The God-glorifying, soul–satisfying roles in marriage:
1. The wife’s calling:
Ephesians 5:21-24, Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
a. The wife finds her distinctive role by keying off the way the Church relates to Christ.
b. The wife submits to the husband’s headship as the Church submits to the headship of Christ.
c. This does not mean that she does everything her husband wants, for she is commanded to submit to her husband “as unto the Lord” so she can’t follow him into sin.
d. Submission means that she has an inclination to say “yes” to the husband’s leadership and a disposition of the spirit to support his initiatives.
e. Because the husband is fallible and the wife is gifted, she respectfully shares her wisdom with her husband concerning the decisions that face their marriage.
f. When she disagrees with a decision her husband is about to make, she shares her concerns in a way that endorses male leadership and affirms her husband’s role as head.
g. When a husband makes a decision that goes against her better judgment, she places her trust in the Lord and refuses to give way to fear (1 Peter 3:6).
h. The wife seeks the same kind of joy that the Church does in submitting to Christ by seeking to support and honor her husband.
2. The husband’s calling:
Ephesians 5:25-33, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
The male is in crisis. Buffeted by the woman’s movement, constrained by a traditional and international definition of masculinity, men literally don’t know who they are, what women want from them, or even what they want from themselves. –James Levine, Psychology Today
a. The husband finds his distinctive role by keying off the way Christ relates to the Church.
b. Loving like Christ means that the husband leads by laying down his life for the welfare of his wife.
Luke 22:26, “Let the leader be as one who serves.”
c. Headship (“source”) means that the husband has the primary responsibility to provide guidance, provision, and protection to the marriage.
d. Headship (“leader”) means that the husband has the primary responsibility for setting the direction for the marriage and the family.
e. The husband desires and seeks the counsel of his wife and will be very reticent to go against her judgment.
f. If the decision he must make goes against the will of his wife, he does so based upon his primary responsibility as head to lead and guide the marriage for the Lord’s glory and his wife’s good.
g. The husband’s great task in marriage is to devote himself to seeing his wife become a radiant testimony to the grace and the glory of God.
h. The husband finds his own pleasure through loving and tender service to his wife, his body.
If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your own highest joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making marriage after the image of Christ and His church. –John Piper
Anger and Bitterness: A biblical plan on how to find joy when attacked and hurt by others.
Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Man’s anger does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Anger and bitterness are detriments to biblical love, harmonious relationships, and maturity in Christ. Failing to put off anger and bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit, gives Satan a foothold in your life, obscures your witness to others, disrupts the unity in the Body of Christ, and stifles joy. Dealing biblically with anger and bitterness requires wholehearted obedience to God’s Word in every circumstance and with every person even if your feelings dictate otherwise (Matthew 5:16; Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 13:4-5; 2 Corinthians 2:10-11; 5:14-15; Galatians 5:17-26; Ephesians 4:1-3; 26-27, 31-32; 6:11; Colossians 3:8-15; Hebrews 12:15).
James 1:19-20, My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
A. Perspectives on anger: We must judge our actions in the light of our desire to glorify God in all things by finding our joy in Jesus in all situations (1Corinthians 10:31).
“I have a right to get mad when someone treats me with disrespect.” “You made me mad.” “That is just me.” “I am Irish.” “I don’t know what came over me.” “I am just letting off steam.” “Release the anger or you will blow up.” “I just couldn’t control myself.” “Anger is a good motivator.” “Anger is just a feeling inside me.” “Its OK to be mad at God.” “My biggest problem is that I hate myself.”
James 4:1-3, What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
B. Biblical perspectives on anger:
1. The anger of God.
a. God’s anger is motivated by loving purposes.
Psalm 86:15, But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
b. God’s anger is always under control.
Psalm 78:38, Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath.
c. God’s anger is filled with grace.
Psalm 30:5, For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime.
2. The anger of man.
a. Uncontrolled anger is foolish.
Proverbs 29:11, A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
b. Anger is dangerous and must be dealt with quickly.
c. Man’s anger does not accomplish God’s will.
James 1:19-20 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
C. How to deal with anger:
Colossians 3:8, But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
Hebrews 12:15-16, See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. –John Piper
Genesis 4:6-7, Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Depression is not a disease. While there are some organic malfunctions that may trigger feelings of depression and the pain may be deep and long, God has still provided the resources to enable us to get out of depression or go through it with joy. Although sin is not the cause of all depression, it is not far away. The devil will use our times of suffering to challenge the goodness and greatness of God. But, God has determined to use even the deep pain of depression for his glory and our joy (Genesis 4:3-7, Psalm 32:1-5; 42; 55:22; 119:28; 143; 165; John 15:10-11; Romans 5:1-5; Romans 8:28-39; Philippians 4:4-7).
I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forbode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better; it appears to me. –Abraham Lincoln
A. Perspectives on depression and despair:
2 Corinthians 1:8-11, We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
1. Man’s ways: Sinful man lives motivated by the desires of the flesh and conformed to the world (1 John 2:15-16).
2. God’s Ways: Redeemed man lives motivated by the desires of the Spirit and transformed by the truth of God’s Word. (Romans 8:12-16).
3. General perspectives on depression:
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why are you cast down?”—what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid your self, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope Thou in God”—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, who God is, and what God has done, and what God has pledged to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself and other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.” —D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
4. Biblical perspective on depression:
a. Depression is a danger and must be dealt with before it leads to sinful consequences.
b. The very dark and painful times come to us to reveal the glory of God in the weakness of our flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
c. God allows dark times to teach us that Christ brings resurrection power to even the gravest of painful times.
2 Corinthians 1:9-10, Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
d. The suffering in this life prepare us for the joy and glory of the next.
1 Peter 4:13-14, But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
e. In the midst of great suffering, we can, by God’s grace, continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:19, So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
f. Christ invites us to yoke with him so that he can carry our burdens and give us rest in him.
Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
g. No matter what we are going through we are commanded to find our joy in Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
h. We are comforted by the fact that Jesus has suffered in the same way as we do and yet he did not sin. We can go to him for grace (strength) and mercy (forgiveness) for any situation.
Hebrews 4:15-16, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
i. In every situation Christ’s love has freed us from self exalting self pity so that we may live for the joy of pleasing our Savior.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
God I pray Thee, light up these idle sticks of my life and may I burn up for thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one, like you Lord Jesus. –Jim Elliot
B. How do you protect your joy while struggling with thoughts and feelings of depression?
1. Prepare for the time of battle by memorizing God’s Word.
2. Make it a discipline to meditate upon the Word of God.
Psalm 119:23, Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.
3. Cry out to God for grace to persevere and wisdom to understand.
4. Preach God’s Word to yourself rather than listen to yourself.
Psalm 42:5-6, Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
5. Use God’s Word to beat back the Enemy’s lies.
Ephesians 6:14-17, Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
6. Enlist the prayers of close friends and family.
7. Retreat with Christ to a quite place of communion.
Mark 6:31, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
8. Take strength in the knowledge that God turns all things for our good.
Romans 8:28-29, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
9. Take strength in knowing God will give us every thing we need to be victorious.
10. Take strength form knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:38-39, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
11. Persevere in the strength that God will provide.
2 Timothy 4:17, But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.
Session Eight: The Veracity of God’s BOOK
People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa . . . . Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a forgoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing, when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. –David Livingstone, December 4, 1857, Cambridge University
Question: How can you spend all of your days pursuing a radical God-glorifying, soul-satisfying life?
2 Timothy 4:7-8, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing .
Before I could quit my faith. I should have to be ground to powder and every separate atom transformed. –Charles Spurgeon
But if the discontent with your present situation is deep, recurrent, and lasting, and if that discontent grows in Bible-saturated soil, God may be calling you to a new work. If in your discontent, you long to be holy, to walk pleasing to the Lord, and to magnify Christ with your one brief life, then God may indeed be loosening your roots in order to transplant you to a place and a ministry where the deep spiritual ambitions of your soul can be satisfied. It is true that God can be shown and enjoyed in every vocation; but when he deploys you from one place to the next, he offers fresh and deeper drinking at the fountain of his fellowship. God seldom calls us to an easier life, but always calls us to know more of him and drink more deeply of his sustaining grace. – John Piper
I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious. To stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattails and the heavens hailing your heart—to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth. I care not if I ever raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead through the vast star fields, to explore His delicacies, whose finger ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into my Lover’s eyes— ah, then, not stars, nor children shall matter—only Himself. –Jim Elliott
I have thought I am a creature of the day, a passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit, coming from God, and returning to God; just hovering over the great gulf; a few months hence and I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing— the way to heaven—how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: for this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that Book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri [a man of one book]. –John Wesley
Ten Principles to build a God-Glorifying, soul-satisfying life upon
Our world need: A Church that is biblically faithful; doctrinally shaped; morally tuff; intellectually vibrant; buoyant with faith that can lay hold of the promises of God in the face of circumstantial discomfort; and see God’s great power at work. –Michael Horton
We are halfhearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an arrogant child who wants to make mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased. –C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
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