Thursday, January 25, 2018


Godly Instruction is our growth food:

·       But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24 ESV; also Romans 12:2)

The way we think is the way we are. To become like Christ is to learn to think like Christ. This requires Godly instruction based on Scripture. Therefore, Paul had written:

·       [God] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11-14)

Stability, assurance, maturity, and unity in the faith are all products of Christian teaching. This truth is echoed throughout the entire Bible. In fact, all spiritual blessings are associated with growing in the knowledge of the truth:

·       May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…(2 Peter 1:2-4)

Incredibly, we even begin to partake of God’s nature as we grow in the knowledge of Him. Meanwhile, today’s church is chasing after the blessings – love, intimacy, community, success, material well-being, and even mystical encounters with God – rather than this prescribed and necessary foundation of the blessings.

Nevertheless, Christian community is essential, but it can only thrive when founded upon the instruction that produces “the unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:13). This is why the Christian community is not only founded on the truth, but also the promotion of the truth:

·       Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Growth is a product of speaking the truths of Scripture in love! We can only function together to promote growth as we function according to Scripture, the thing that the Spirit will validate. This suggests that the Scripture-food we ingest has to be enlivened for us by the Holy Spirit, like an eagle which must first digest the food for her eaglet. This is why Paul asserted that while his teachings built the Corinthian church, it could  only happen through the Spirit:

·       You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)

Paul then explained that the Jews also had the Scriptures, which are able to transform, but it did them little good without the work of the Spirit:

·       [Israel’s] minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding [through the Word of God – 2 Cor. 4:4-6] the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:14-18)

Does the Holy Spirit use other forms of wisdom that might coincide with the Scriptures? While all truth is God’s truth, it is evident that the Holy Spirit effectually validates Scripture in a way that He doesn’t with other forms of wisdom:

·       For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

The Lord does not use other communications to bring about salvation, just the Good News of Jesus. This same principle seems to also pertain to growth or sanctification:

·       According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)

This means that we cannot grow others through secular counseling, building self-esteem, through an array of positive affirmations or even kindness. Instead, kindness serves as the sunshine that can open the heart to the Scriptures. It is only the Holy Spirit who builds, and He uses the Word.

I teach a course on marriage counseling. Consequently, I was encouraged to apply for a new program to instruct struggling couples at a local hospital. I asked if I could bring in Scripture, and I was told that I could not. Therefore, I had to decline.

I had learned about the power of the Word the hard way. I had been suffering for decades from depression and then panic attacks. I was so devastated that I could hardly pray, sleep, or read the Bible. However, I had no other place to turn, and so I continued to try to read the Bible, even though I lacked the concentration. However, on a number of occasions, the miraculous grabbed ahold of me. On one occasion, I read a simple verse, “and the Lord heard him.” A virtual explosion of light rocked my entire being, and the depression was gone. I looked for it but couldn’t find it.

The panic and depression returned the following day, but the Word left me with an understanding that nothing could take from me – the Lord had also heard me!

It has probably been almost 35 years since I had had the last blast of this light. However, Scripture continues to illuminate my mind by the Holy Spirit.

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