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Sunday, July 21, 2024

The Emotional Curler Coaster of Bible Studying

Audio Transcript

Comforted, warned, threatened. Comforted, warned, threatened. Comforted, warned, threatened. Does your Bible studying really feel like an emotional curler coaster? Mine does a number of instances. And I do know that’s not my expertise alone. So, is that this expertise by design? One other actually necessary Bible query immediately that you’ve got despatched to us. And we’ve had a number of these through the years, as you may see within the APJ e-book on pages 1–46 — the longest part within the e-book — speaking about Bible studying and Bible memorization.

This subsequent Bible-reading query is from a younger man who listens to the podcast. “Good day, Pastor John! Day-after-day I appear to get completely satisfied and really feel comforted. And each day I really feel unhappy and fearful. Virtually prefer it switches in a second. The rationale for that is the phrases of consolation and warning from Jesus and Paul. As an example, I’m completely satisfied to listen to Jesus say, ‘Whoever involves me I’ll by no means forged out’ (John 6:37). However then I hear him say, ‘Nobody who places his hand to the plow and appears again is match for the dominion of God’ (Luke 9:62). Then I hear Jesus say to the seemingly mature church of Ephesus that in the event that they don’t repent, he’ll take their lampstand out of its place (Revelation 2:1–7). Is it proper to really feel type of emotionally pushed forwards and backwards like this so recurrently in my Bible studying? Is that this wholesome and regular for the Christian life to really feel like this — comforted, then warned, then threatened? Is the Christian life on this fallen world meant to really feel like this by design?”

That’s such query. There are over 4 hundred imperatives within the writings of Paul, over a thousand within the 4 Gospels. Now, what this implies is that when Paul says in Romans 8:29 that God predestined Christians to be conformed to the picture of Christ — that’s, to be holy like he’s holy, to like like he loves, to be morally excellent as he’s morally excellent — the means by which God brings that about, that predestined actuality, is by a whole bunch of instructions given to these predestined saints. That’s the important thing factor. He makes use of instructions that we should take severely as a result of they’re his appointed means for our ethical perfecting, our glorification.

Commanding the Justified

There are individuals who assume that as a result of we’re justified by religion alone, there aren’t any imperatives that we should obey with the intention to present that our justifying religion is real and that we’re true Christians. However in reality, the best way God brings us to the ultimate state of glory, ethical perfection, is by way of commanding us to remain on the slender method that results in life. The success of those instructions is rooted within the reality, now, that we’re already justified, already forgiven, already accepted due to what Christ has completed for us and our attachment to him by religion. However it’s unbiblical to say that as a result of we’re already forgiven, already accepted, there’s no want for God to command us to do something. That’s unbiblical to say that.

It’s unbiblical and silly to say that God offers no threats of destruction for disobedience. That’s not true. God’s technique of bringing about what he has predestined to happen — specifically, our holiness, our glory, our perfection — is to command us to be holy after which, by the Spirit, allow us to do what he instructions us to do. St. Augustine was proper when he prayed, “Command what thou wilt, O God, and provides what thou commandest” (Confessions 10.29.40).

New-Covenant Commandments

And right here’s what our buddy, who despatched this query, is drawing our consideration to: God makes use of each guarantees and threats to inspire that obedience to his commandments. Lest anyone say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don’t even want the phrase commandments. We shouldn’t even use the phrase commandments within the New Testomony. That’s an Outdated Testomony concept. We don’t stay by commandments within the New Testomony. That’s legislation. We stay beneath grace.” To that I reply,

  • “By this we all know that we have now come to know him, if we maintain his commandments” (1 John 2:3).
  • “Whoever retains his commandments abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 3:24).
  • “That is the love of God, that we maintain his commandments. And his commandments aren’t burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
  • Jesus mentioned in John 14:15, “If you happen to love me, you’ll maintain my commandments.”

“The Christian life on this fallen age is a sample of steady assured religion and occasional threatened concern.”

And so forth. Individuals must learn their Bibles and never simply make theological pronouncements about what the Bible means with out paying shut consideration to texts. The distinction between the previous covenant and the brand new covenant will not be the absence of commandments, however the presence of energy to maintain them. “I’ll write my legislation in your coronary heart and trigger you to stroll in my statutes” (see Jeremiah 31:33). That’s the center of the brand new covenant. Obedience to commandments is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of religion. Paul calls it “the obedience of religion” (Romans 1:5).

Guarantees and Threats

What our buddy is mentioning is that God motivates us to this obedience through the use of guarantees and threats. And his expertise is that threats make him really feel unhappy and fearful, whereas guarantees make him really feel completely satisfied and comforted. And he wonders if that is regular. Is it the best way God designed the Christian life to be on this fallen world? Now, I can’t get inside his head or coronary heart to cross any judgment with any confidence on whether or not this specific Christian expertise of his is wholesome and regular. It is likely to be, so I’m not going to base my counsel on his expertise, however on the biblical sample.

The biblical sample is that God motivates positively with guarantees and negatively with threats and warnings. The constructive sample seems to be like this: God’s promise results in assured religion, which ends up in obedience. And the destructive sample seems to be like this: God’s risk results in concern, which drives us again to assured religion, which ends up in obedience.

Right here’s an instance of the constructive. Hebrews 13:5–6:

Preserve your life free from love of cash, and be content material with what you’ve gotten, for he has mentioned [here comes the promise], “I’ll by no means depart you nor forsake you.” So we are able to confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I can’t concern; what can man do to me?”

So, the promise is that this: “I’ll make it easier to and by no means forsake you.” The assured religion: “So we are able to confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I can’t concern.’” After which the obedience: we cease loving cash by believing that promise.

And right here’s the destructive facet. Romans 11:18, 20–21:

Don’t be boastful towards the [broken-off Jewish] branches. . . . They have been damaged off due to their unbelief, however you stand quick by way of religion. So don’t grow to be proud, however concern. For if God didn’t spare the pure branches, neither will he spare you.

So, the risk is that this: God received’t spare breaking off your department in case you are boastful. That causes concern. I don’t need to be a broken-off department. This concern drives you away from boastful self-exaltation and self-reliance and leads you again to humble religion in Christ. After which the obedience is that you simply cease boasting over Jewish unbelievers.

How Religion and Concern Relate

Right here’s what’s necessary to see about the best way the 2 feelings relate to one another — assured religion on the one facet, concern on the opposite facet. They’re not equal or balanced within the Christian life. Assured religion is the continual, lasting, regular situation of the Christian coronary heart on this age. However due to sin, God additionally makes use of concern as a brief warning to drive us again to Christ, his cross, his forgiveness, his acceptance, his love, and religion once we’re tempted to sin.

However that’s not the one distinction between these two feelings. It’s not simply that religion is to be steady and concern is to be short-term, but in addition {that a} assured feeling of religion is the top, and a threatened feeling of concern is a way to drive us to the purpose. So, steady versus short-term is one distinction, and finish versus means is one other distinction.

So sure, the Christian life on this fallen age is a sample of steady assured religion and occasional threatened concern. That is the best way each wholesome household raises children. We wish our youngsters to be overwhelmingly, dominantly completely satisfied and assured that there’s an ongoing, steady belief within the goodness and helpfulness of their mother and father. However we additionally need them to know the boundaries — the place they might get themselves killed on the street or in an electrical socket — and for their very own good they don’t cross the boundaries. They really feel concern of the self-discipline that’s going to come back to them in the event that they cross the boundaries and are tempted to cross them.

God is an efficient Father towards us. He is aware of convey his predestined youngsters dwelling to glory, and he makes use of each assured religion and the sensation of concern that comes by way of his warnings.

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