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Knowing the Doctrine of Christ and Guarding Against Antichrist Deceivers

Knowing the Doctrine of Christ and Guarding Against Antichrist Deceivers

2 John 7-10

What is an antichrist?

Two definitions:

A person who is opposed to Christ

A person who tries to put himself in the place of Christ

 

John mentions a specific heresy but there are others with which we need to be concerned about today. One of the oldest heresies which the church has needed to contend is Docetism. Docetism teaches that Christ did not really come in the flesh.  We are not going to spend a lot of time on Docetism, in particular, during this lesson but I do want to point out that it was condemned as heretical by the 1st Council at Nicaea.

I have said before, and need to repeat: it is not enough to simply believe in a Jesus, the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists all believe in a Jesus but he isn’t the Jesus who can save from sin. Even scarier, most of what passes for Christianity does not even believe in the right Jesus- they believe in a Jesus who is a life coach or some kind of genie, not the Sovereign God of the Universe.  You must believe in the right Jesus and in the right manner if you are to have any hope of being saved from your sin.

Look at verse 9, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.”

John could not make it more clear, if you do not abide in the doctrine Christ, you do not have God. As a direct consequence, if you do not have God, you do not have any hope of salvation from sin and its consequences.

Some of the most well-known “Bible teachers” today are teaching aberrations of the Doctrine of Christ. I promised to name names and here we go: Kenneth Copeland, Steven Furtick, Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, Priscilla Shirer, Joel Osteen, Jesse Duplantis, TD Jakes, Jen Hatmaker, Christine Caine, Kenneth Hagin and a host of others are NOT teaching the Biblical Gospel of Jesus. If you are trusting in what you are being taught by them for your Christian life, your soul is in real danger.

Before we get into the Doctrine of Christ, I want us to look at some signs of an antichrist and deceiver.

Signs of an Antichrist

  • He denies the apostolic teaching of Jesus as having coming in the flesh (1John 4:2, 2 John 7)
  • He is someone who has gone out from us i.e. he has deviated from orthodoxy (1 John 2:19) and leads many astray
  • His teaching makes it impossible to remain in God forever
  • They crept in unawares (Jude 4) which is to say that they look and even sound like Christians
  • Many are in it for riches (Jude 11)
  • They turn grace into license (Jude 4)
  • They will eventually be destroyed (Jude 5)

 

The Doctrine of Christ

I am going to layout a basic Christology in this lesson but I want you to know, the foundation of our Christology is the Doctrine of the Incarnation.

A Christology in brief

We believe in Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead; that He was eternally one with the Father; that He became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary, so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say the Godhead and manhood, are thus united in one Person very God and very man, the God-man.

We believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and that He truly arose from the dead and took again His body, together with all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature, wherewith He ascended into heaven and is there engaged in intercession for us.

(Matthew 1:20-25; 16:15-16; Luke 1:26-35; John 1:1-18; Acts 2:22-36; Romans 8:3, 32-34; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:12-22; 1 Timothy 6:14-16; Hebrews 1:1-5; 7:22-28; 9:24-28; 1 John 1:1-3; 4:2-3, 15) 

THE Doctrine of the DEITY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIS

  • The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. The Scriptures declare:
  • He was born of a Virgin (Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:31, Luke 1:35)
  • He lived a completely sinless life (Hebrews 7:26, 1 Peter 2:22)  
  • His Christhood was attested by miracles (Acts 2:22, Acts 10:38)
  • His penal, substitutionary death on the cross providing a vicarious atonement (1 Corinthians 15:3, 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • Jesus had a literal physical body that was resurrected from the dead (Matthew 28:6, Luke 24:39, 1 Corinthians 15:4 )
  • Jesus has been exalted to the Right Hand of Majesty on High (Acts 1:9, Acts 1:11, Acts 2:33, Philippians 2:9-11, Hebrews 1:3)

 

This is critical…The Godhood of Jesus the Christ mandates Him being worshipped as both sovereign and absolute Lord.

Let’s conclude with the Ligonier Statement on Christology

We confess the mystery and wonder of God made flesh and rejoice in our great salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. With the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Son created all things, sustains all things, and makes all things new.

Truly God, He became truly man, two natures in one person. He was born of the Virgin Mary and lived among us.

Crucified, dead, and buried, He rose on the third day, ascended to heaven, and will come again in glory and judgment.

For us, He kept the Law, atoned for sin, and satisfied God’s wrath. He took our filthy rags and gave us His righteous robe.

He is our Prophet, Priest, and King, building His church, interceding for us, and reigning over all things.

Jesus Christ is Lord; we praise His holy Name forever.

Amen.

 

 

Walking in Obedience

Walking in Obedience

John is joyed that the children of the Elect Lady are walking in the truth then he takes a turn back to the commandment…

And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

Not as though I wrote a new commandment: John knew this was nothing new to his readers (he repeated the theme all through 1 John and his gospel). Yet because it was so essential, it had to be repeated and used as a reminder- the truth of our salvation is demonstrated in our love for one another (John 14:15) and our obedience to Christ’s commands to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength as well as to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Unfortunately, some Christians take this command to an extreme and unscriptural level and turn love into some sort of social gospel.

That we love one another: The integrity of our Christian life can be measured by our love for one another (as in John 13:35 and 1 John 4:20-21).

John recalls Jesus’ teaching on the two Greatest Commandments and reminds the Elect Lady of the commandment to love one another. This is not a new teaching in Judaism or Christianity. Hillel the Elder famously summed up this commandment saying, “ That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the whole law; all the rest is commentary.”

Jesus gives the ultimate illustration of this principle in the Parable of the Good Samaritan

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

If we love God, we will obey His commandments. We do this not because we think His commandments are heavy burdens, but because we see that they are best for us. They are guides and gifts to us from God.

In his Life Principles Series, Dr. Stanley reminds us that obedience brings blessing (Said blessing is a more intimate relationship with God.) and exhorts us to obey God and leave the consequences to him.

Walk according to His commandments: Real love will walk this way. Perhaps John warned against those who thought the only important thing in the Christian life was a vague love that had no heart for obedience.

The True Measure of Christian Love is Obedience to Christ and His Commands

There will not be enough time to give a complete treatment of the issue called Lordship Salvation but…

True love and true salvation lead to obedience. This fact was declared by none other than Jesus Himself. (John 14:15)

In Luke 6:46 Jesus asks, “Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say.

 

8 Reasons Why Obedience to God Is Important

1. Jesus Calls Us to Obedience 

In Jesus Christ we find the perfect model of obedience. As his disciples, we follow Christ’s example as well as his commands. Our motivation for obedience is love:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15, )

 

2. Obedience Is an Act of Worship 

While the Bible places strong emphasis on obedience, it’s critical to remember that believers are not justified (made righteous) by our obedience. Salvation is a free gift of God, and we can do nothing to merit it. True Christian obedience flows from a heart of gratitude for the grace we have received from the Lord:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1, NLT)

3. God Rewards Obedience 

Over and over again we read in the Bible that God blesses and rewards obedience:

“And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:18, NLT)
Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. (Exodus 19:5, NLT)

Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28, NLT)

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:22–25, NLT)

4. Obedience to God Proves Our Love 

The books of 1 John and 2 John clearly explain that obedience to God demonstrates love for God. Loving God implies following his commands:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. (1 John 5:2–3, ESV)
Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. (2 John 6, NLT)

5. Obedience to God Demonstrates Our Faith 

When we obey God, we show our trust and faith in him:

And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3–6, NLT)

6. Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice 

The phrase “obedience is better than sacrifice,” has often perplexed Christians. It can only be understood from an Old Testament perspective. The law required the Israelite people to offer sacrifices to God, but those sacrifices and offerings were never intended to take the place of obedience.

But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22–23, NLT)

7. Disobedience Leads to Sin and Death 

The disobedience of Adam brought sin and death into the world. This is the basis of the term “original sin.” But Christ’s perfect obedience restores fellowship with God for everyone who believes in him:

For as by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Christ’s] obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19, ESV)
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22, ESV)

8. Through Obedience, We Experience the Blessings of Holy Living 

Only Jesus Christ is perfect, therefore, only he could walk in sinless, perfect obedience. But as we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from within, we grow in holiness. This is known as the process of sanctification, which can also be described as spiritual growth. The more we read God’s Word, spend time with Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to change us from within, the more we grow in obedience and holiness as Christians:

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me! (Psalm 119:1–8, NLT)
This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore—too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.” (Isaiah 48:17–19, NLT)
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. (2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT)

 

 

 

 

The Elder, The Elect Lady, and the Truth (2 John 1-3)

The Elder, The Elect Lady, and the Truth (2 John 1-3)

2 John 1-3

The Elder

         2 Possibilities 1 of which is certain: Option one (the certainty) John writes as an Elder of the Church. Since this letter dates to the 80’s AD, John would have been an Elder of the Church in Ephesus. Given the definitive article, he most probably occupied a prominent position among the Elders. Following the custom laid out in the Old Testament, John would also have held an honored place in society.

2nd Option (possible but difficult to determine validity): In the Roman world, fathers and sons who shared the same first name were commonly referred to as the Elder and the Younger as in the case of the father and son philosophers Seneca the Elder and the Younger. It is a possibility that John had a son who was also named John making him John the Elder.

As Adam Clarke points out  “John the apostle, who was now a very old man, generally supposed to be about ninety, and therefore uses the term presbyter or elder, not as the name of an office, but as designating his advanced age. He is allowed to have been the oldest of all the apostles, and to have been the only one who died a natural death.”

The Elect Lady

         While the idea that this refers to a church is certainly plausible and valid there is nothing in the text to indicate that we are not dealing with an actual woman instead of simply a metaphor for the church. Likely, the Elect Lady was either a member of a very important family of the Church in Ephesus or perhaps even the woman in whose house the church gathered for worship.

John probably did not name himself, the elect lady or her children by name because this was written during a time of persecution, specifically the same persecution under Domitian that resulted in John’s exile to Patmos. It is extremely likely that John didn’t want to implicate anyone by name in a written letter since if the letter was intercepted and the authorities knew who it was written to by name, it might mean death for those persons.

Whom I love in the truth

John loving this lady in the truth brings us face to face with Pilate’s question (John 18:38). We will spend some time considering answers to that very question, what is truth?

Truth is an objective proposition that defines reality

Examples: The layer of Ozone in the sky is what causes it to be blue. Trees breath in carbon dioxide and breath out oxygen.  Objective propositions do not change based on whim, cultural values etc; they do not change at all.

God makes the ultimate objective proposition in Exodus 3:14 when He declares “I Am Who I Am.” The Godhead is the first objective reality in existence and, since all other reality stems from Him, He defines all other objective realities.

Since God is both a person and the source of all objective realities,  truth is, therefore, also a person.

John 14:6- Jesus declared Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

What, then, is the truth about Jesus

The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost (Matthew 11:28). Who is lost? Everyone. “There is no one who does righteousness, not one
(Psalm 53:3, Romans 3:10-12)

All have sinned and all deserve death. (Romans 3:23 and 6:23).

All those believing will be saved. (John 3:16)

Not everyone will be saved. There is a condition; you must confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead for the forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:9-10)

But what about 2 Peter 3:9? It says the Lord is not willing that any should perish. True it does say that. There are a lot of theological fine points that we could get into here but for the sake of time, we will leave it at one…

Jesus does not take any delight in the death of the wicked. He must allow it to satisfy the Justice and Holiness within the Godhead but He does not enjoy it. By calling all to repent (Acts 17:30), Jesus opens the door of salvation and calls all to come in. Not everyone will come, though, and that is why there is a hell. Man, who will not yield to the Lordship of His Creator now, will spend eternity understanding why that was a colossal mistake. There is much more to say on election, the depravity of man, and salvation but that sermon is for another day.

Don’t all roads lead to God? Don’t all religions teach the same thing? Those questions drip with defiance. There are two ways and only two. One, the Narrow Way, leads to the Cross, to humble submission and to the Judgment seat of Christ and the Judgment of Rewards. The other, the Broad Way, is the path of all other religions and it leads to the Great White Throne Judgment, the final “Court of Appeal” so to speak but there is no hope for those who arrive there. So, yes, in a sense, all roads lead to God; the question is at which venue you will appear before Him and what the end result of that appearance will be.

The 3 Gifts at the 1st Advent

The 3 Gifts at the 1st Advent

We all know the hymn, We Three Kings, and, even though there were actually more then three “wise men,” I would like us to look at the significance of each gift. (I will introduce each with the lyrics to the song.)

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain. Gold I bring to crown Him again. King forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign.

Why gold? Culturally, these visitors were paying tribute, literally. A vassal (lesser/dependent) king would pay tribute to his Suzerain (greater king). This tribute was paid for protection, the administration of justice, and provision of needs. The magi, who were emissaries of gentile kings were, in the Spirit, giving tribute to the Ultimate, the Definitive Suzerain King for in the wee Christ child was Heaven’s Crown Prince, Him who would ascend not just to the right hand of Majesty on high but also to be that majesty. He CAME as Redeemer. He will COME again as King and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.

Frankincense to offer have I Incense owns a Deity nigh Prayer and praising, all men raising Worship Him, God most high

In the Old Testament, incense was offered to God as a thanksgiving. In the visit of the Wise Men, it is the same. Many of have said that Jesus never claimed to be God, which is patently untrue but even if He had not made the declaration of His Deity, it is declared in the 2nd gift of the Wise Men. The offering OF incense is an act of worship. Frankincense is offered in pure woship, thanking God for being with you and redeeming you to Himself.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume Breathes of life of gathering gloom Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying Sealed in the stone-cold tomb 

The shadow of the cross looms large over the manger, miss that and you miss the point of Christmas. The wise men knew and gave, peophetically, because Messiah had to die, and then rise. Messiah is Redeemer and Messiah is King.

This is the message of Advent: God the Son, Heaven’s great prince came to save a people to Himself. He will come again as Heaven’s King and will reign forever.

Who is Jesus: 7 Essentials You Need to Know

Who is Jesus: 7 Essentials You Need to Know

Who is Jesus? It is the most important question you will ever face and so, we want to offer 7 Essentials about the person of Jesus, what they mean for us and the supporting Scriptures.

 

Jesus is… What this means Scripture
Truly human He was born as a human baby. He endured the trials and tribulations of life. He suffered a physical and humiliating death. Mark 1:12-13

Luke 2:1-21

Philippians 2:5-8

Sinless Jesus never sinned, even when tempted. Jesus did not deserve the punishment of the cross. Matthew 4:1-11

Hebrews 4:15

Truly God Jesus is the Son of God, 2nd Person of the Trinity. He is the Word incarnate, the God who came to Earth to redeem a people. John 1:1, 1:14, 20:31

Colossians 2:9

Messiah Jesus if the final King promised in the OT. His kingdom is the Kingdom of God which will last forever. Isaiah 53

Micah 5:2

Mark 14:61-62

 

Redeemer & Savior Through a sinless death, Jesus takes a people unto Himself. Rising from the dead, Jesus conquered sin, death, and hell. Jesus grants eternal life to all who will believe in Him. Luke 24:5-7

John 3:16, 3:36,5:24,11:26

Hebrews 9:14

The Last Adam Jesus provides forgiveness and new life. He eliminates the curse of sin brought on by the first Adam.

 

Genesis 3

Romans 5:12-21

1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 15:45-49

 

Our High Priest Jesus connects people to God. He was the perfect, sinless, final sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 3:1, 4:14-15. 7:24-27

 

Order of Service for Sunday Worship 2020

Order of Service for Sunday Worship 2020

We are making changes to our order of service for 2020 and will follow this general format (Recitations will change but will repeat throughout the year to aid in memorization of important truths).

 

  • Call to Worship Hymn
  • Apostles Creed
  • Hymn
  • Responsive Reading
  • Pastoral Prayer & Corporate Confession of Sin
  • Recitation 10 Commandments and Beatitudes
  • Hymn
  • Communion
  • Hymn
  • Bible Exposition

 

Moving forward, this will make our Lord’s Day Corporate Worship to run about 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours. Yes it is a little longer than in the past but it is very important to spend as much time, corporately, before the Throne of Grace as possible.

Scriptures for the Suffering

Scriptures for the Suffering

Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing. — Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge. — Psalm 62:8  

You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? — Psalm 56:8  

Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light. — Matthew 11:28-30 

Valley of Vision and Family Worship

Valley of Vision and Family Worship

 

One of the best devotionals available is the collection of Puritan Prayers, Poems and Psalms known as The Valley of Vision.  Previous to a server failure I had reviewed  it (trying to recover that review). This time around, I want to spend a few minutes on incorporating Valley of Vision into your church family, either on Sunday Mornings or during  your weekly family worship time.

Oder from Christian Book Distributors (affiliate link)

To use Valley of Vision on a Sunday morning, the best use would be either to use it as a guide for your corporate prayer time or perhaps as a responsorial reading with your congregation. I have also palyed with the idea of using it as a teaching aid by offering it to candidates for membership.

A black leather version is aviailble (see link above) and it would make a great gift for confirmation (if your faith tradition practices that) or as a gift in celebratiob of Believer’s Baptism.

The most common use that I have gotten from the Valley of Vision is as an aid in family worship. If you are not the type that is inclined to sing hymns, acapella, at home, you will find Valley of Vision to be a most welcome substitue. Depending on the frequesncy of family worship in your home, you will probably get through it a couple times a year.

I, personnaly, use it mostly on Saturdays. I find that it helps me to focus myself and to prepare mentally and spiritually for the Lord’s Day, especially becuase I am in the pulpit and need as much spiritual reinforcement as possible. The selections elevate the mind and heart as they intensify your focous on the Lord. If it were possible to attain to the heights of Heaven, here on Earth, this would be the vehicle that takes you there. The Puritan is one focused on holiness and God’s glory and I can find no book, other than the Bible, that so richly equips the reader for time with Jesus.

It is actually our intent to re-release our Family Worship Guides and we wll be adding a reading guide for the Valley of Vision as part of those worship guides. 

Comfort for the depressed Lesson Notes

Comfort for the depressed Lesson Notes

First, a definition of depression: Depression is a prolonged feeling of despondency or dejection.

Is depression sinful? No, it isn’t. Depression is a warning built into both the body and the spirit to alert you that something is wrong, most likely very wrong. Feelings of depression should never be left unattended as the disease can turn deadly without warning (suicidal thoughts and/or actions)

 

Depression has only two source categories, bio-mechanical error or spiritual error and there are differences in how both should be handled. In either case, wisdom commands that care begins with your doctor to determine if the depression is caused by a physical problem or a spiritual.

 

Physical causes of depression include:

  • Side effects of medication
  • Poor sleep and/or poor respiration during sleep
  • Dietary issues
  • Prolonged physical illnesses such diabetes, cancer, lupus

 

Any or all physical causes of depression can be remedied by your doctor. Spiritual causes of depression, on the other hand, require more sensitivity and care. I want to focus on care of depressed people.

 

Realize that it is not always your fault. Sin separates us from communion with God and sickness is a part of the curse.

 

God is able to comfort the hurting (2 Samuel 22:29-31, Hebrews 4:15) All too often we come to the idea that God does not understand us or how we are feeling. We need to disabuse ourselves of this idea and remember that the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Divine Son, walked on Earth as a man and is, forever, the God-man in heaven.

 

We remember the words of the Apostle in his letter to the Hebrew Christians telling us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.”  In the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, we are reminded that “Jesus knows our every weakness.”

 

God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) One of the titles of the Holy Spirit is Comforter. As the Spirit of Christ, He knows all of our cares and sufferings and draws close to minister to us in our times of darkness. The Holy Spirit is the Shepherd of Psalm 23 through Whom we fear no evil. He also illumens the Scripture and hymns to our minds to bring the peace of God into our lives.

 

Abraham had hope when there was no cause for hope (Romans 4:18-22) So also may we have hope when there seems to be no reason for our hope. In the blackest midnight of our sufferings, Christ is our hope. He is our hope of life everlasting, our hope of no more suffering, and our hope of everlasting peace.

 

In the Eternal State, God will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4) At last, in the Eternal Kingdom, when Jesus,  Himself, is the reward of our suffering, every tear will be wiped away. Every travail will be worth it.

 

This is our hope, that we will be with Christ forever. That hope can sustain us through any darkness and any depression.

 

Renewing Your Mind Lesson Notes

Renewing Your Mind Lesson Notes

Opening Remarks:

This past week we observed World Mental Health Day and that, along with the recent suicide of someone that I know. Prompted me to consider what, if anything, the Bible might have to say about the mind and mental health, which led me to the Apostle Paul’s counsel to the Church at Rome

Romans 12:1-2 (CSB) 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.[ 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Paul counsels the Christians at Rome to renew their minds as opposed to being conformed to the pattern of the world. Let us consider: 

12:1 bodies. Not just the physical body but the whole person, with a view to our engaging the world around us living our day to day lives. God’s grace in Christ has made Christians spiritually alive (6:13). true and proper worship. The worship appropriate for thinking creatures who recognize all that God has done for them. This worship is not confined to the Sunday morning worship service; it embraces the whole of life.

12:2 this age. This present evil “age” (Greek aiōn; see Luke 16:8; 1 Cor 2:6,8; 3:18; Gal 1:4; Eph 2:2; 1 Tim 6:17; 2 Tim 4:10) has its own pattern of thinking and living that redeemed believers must avoid. renewing of your mind. The work of God’s Spirit within must reprogram the “depraved mind” (1:28) that characterizes this world (see Eph 4:23).

7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal (Adapted from New Life)

Seek God and Surrender to Him (Matthew 6:33, 1 Peter 5:6)

We have a tendency to follow in the footsteps of our father Adam and to hide from God when we have sinned or when we think that He is angry with us, such as in times of testing. Yet we are advised by the Apostles Matthew and Peter that we should seek, firstly, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

In a sense, this is a type of repentance, which is a turning toward Christ and away from our sin. Of course, this seeking of God’s Kingdom and righteousness is the first step toward a healing and wholeness of mind.

See the truth (Psalm 139:1)

What is the truth that we need to see? That God knows everything about us; He searches our innermost thoughts (Jeremiah 17:10) and, as the Lord spoke to Jeremiah, knew us before we were formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Every trouble we face, every time there is a trial, God knew about it and was not surprised by it.

We can echo the words of the Psalmist when he said, “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for You are with me.”

Speak the truth (James 5:16)

Many times, but not every time, the darkness we feel can come from sin that has not been dealt with, as indicated by James. There are times when we seem to be in darkness and it is caused by a physical illness or perhaps even as a side effect of medication, This is quite normal and if you think this is the case for you, I would encourage you to see your doctor. Perhaps some changes in your care plan which need to be made.

However, if it is not the case that there is a physical illness, then we must speak the truth that it is a spiritual issue and then call upon the elders of the church to assist us through the resolution of the issue.

Accept responsibility (Galatians 6:5)

In those instances where our troubles are caused by our own sin, we must own up to it. In the well-known 12-Steps, the first step is to admit that we have lost control of our lives and that the addiction has taken over, a prime example of accepting responsibility for our sins.

Grieve, forgive, let go (Matthew 6:14)

       It is natural to give those sins which we have committed or have been committed against us. However, in order to avoid allowing that grief to destroy us, we must lay that grief at the foot of the cross and allow the forgiveness of Christ to flow through us.

 Transform your life (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

       God’s comfort flows through us and as it does so it transforms us. No longer are we held captive to our troubles and sorrows. Instead we become instruments of God’s grace unto others as He has given us His grace both directly and through others.

Preserve your spiritual gains (1 Peter 1:8)

It is always a wise idea to keep a record of the Lord’s goodness to us during our faith-walk. It is a good idea to journal- I, personally, like to use a wide margin Bible although many keep a separate notebook.