Rethinking Your Life | Week 5: Rethinking My View of Myself

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Do you keep making the same mistakes over and over again… falling for the same old tricks… the same old lies… doing the same thing over and over? Life change doesn’t begin with behavior. If you start with your behavior, you’re going to fail. To change your life you have to change how you think.

The key is learning to think with the mind of Christ. Because when you think with the mind of Christ then you will be able to live and act like Christ.

What you put into your mind is what you’re going to get out of it. Garbage In… Garbage Out. Jesus In… Jesus Out.

There’s a higher standard that God wants us to live by. It’s time for us to wake up and become the people God calls us to be. 

“And do this, understanding the present time…” Romans 13:11 NIV

The phrase “the present time” refers to what’s called a kairos moment. A kairos moment a moment in your life that must be seized in order to accomplish its purpose. It’s not just the passing of day after day after day. 

“And do this understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to WAKE UP FROM YOUR SLUMBER, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”

“So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality, and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy, but rather but rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t even think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13:11-14 NIV

If you’re going to rethink your view of yourself you have got to put on the mind of Christ and you have got to get rid of the garbage that’s in your mind.

“Be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Ephesians 4:23 NIV

This truth is found over and over again in Paul’s teachings.

“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.” Romans 12:2 NIV

It’s important to understand the difference between conforming and transforming.

  • To conform means to fit into a mold; to make or become the same; to behave in a conventional way by accepting without question the customs, traditions, and prevailing opinions of others.

Paul is telling us don’t let the world press you into its mold. Don’t just follow the crowd or the culture. And yet, how often do we do try to fit into the world like Play-Doh into a mold?

But as followers of Christ we belong to a different kingdom. We have pledged our allegiance to a different King. We live under a different set of values than the world does.

Just because something has become socially acceptable doesn’t make it right. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it acceptable to God. God wants us to live under a different set of values.

God says, “Don’t conform to the ways of the world.” Instead, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

  • To transform means to change the nature, character, or personality of something.

Conforming is about changing external appearances. Transforming is about changing the internal nature of something. Conforming has to do with behavior – fitting into a mold. Transforming has to do with character – renewing your mind.

If you want to be like Christ then think like Christ.

So, how does that transformation actually happen? We need to talk about a couple of more words – repent and confess.

  • To repent means to change your mind, to change the way you think.

Repent does not mean to change the way you behave. Repent means change the way you think, what you believe.

When you repent you will change your behavior but the behavior change starts in the mind. We also need to understand confession.

  • To confess means to say the same thing.

In its Biblical sense, to confess is to agree with what God says about something. We often think confession is about confessing your sins. But there’s so much more to confession than just confessing your sins.

Now, confessing my sins is important because it’s part of forgiveness. The Bible says that when we confess, God forgives.

So confessing sins is important, but if we stop there then nothing is going to change inside us. How often have you confessed the same thing to God over and over? Have you noticed that we’re not very creative when it comes to sin?

We all have the same four or five things that trip us up over and over again. Confessing your sins brings forgiveness but it doesn’t change anything in you. But there is another kind of confession that does change how you live. It’s not just confessing your sins… it’s confessing your faith.

Confessing your sins is saying what God says about what you did.

Confessing your faith is saying what God says about what He did.

  • When I say what God says, I begin to think like God thinks.

When I say what God says about life then I begin to think like God thinks about life and that changes the way I live. You’re not just saying what God said about what you did, you’re saying what God says about who you are in Christ.

You are confessing – agreeing with God about who you are in Christ. That’s why we must be people of the Word so that we know what God says so we can think the way God thinks about us.

I know it because I have His Word on it. My sins are forgiven because I have His Word on it. God is not ashamed of me. “The Son has set me free.” “I can do all things through Christ.” My God will meet all my needs.” “There is a purpose for my life.” God will never forsake me, I have His Word on it.

If we spent more time confessing our faith, we would spend a lot less time confessing our sins.

That is the secret to being made new in the attitude of your mind. You confess your faith.


Be Made New

“Be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Ephesians 4:32

Right before Paul wrote that sentence he wrote an exhaustive list of things we need to guard our hearts against. Things like anger, bitterness, slander, lying, stealing, hatred, lust. But he ends that list by saying, “Be made new in the attitude of your minds.”

“Be made new…” those three words come from a Greek word that means “to renovate.”

If there’s going to be any positive change in your life there has to be a renovation in your mind. If you have ever renovated anything in your home, you know that renovation is not a one-time instantaneous event. It’s a process, it’s a project.

It’s inconvenient. It causes a disturbance. Unexpected things come up. It’s painful and it’s costly. But the end result is good.

The renovation of your mind is no different. When you’re renovating your home, where do you start? You start with demolition! You rip out all the old stuff to be able to put in the new stuff. Out with the old before in with new. It’s the same thing with your mind.

  • Renovation begins with demolition.

Every day you process between 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts. That’s about 3,000 thoughts every single hour. Over time, those thoughts form patterns and pathways in your mind. You have thoughts that you habitually think about yourself, about God, and about how you think God thinks about you.

Before you can experience any real change or renewal, some of these thought patterns and pathways need to be broken down. What are the lies that you need to get out of your head? Is it guilt for things you’ve done? Regret for things I continue to fail to do?

If you are loading up your mind with guilt and regret then you believe God sees you as a failure. You have things that really need to be changed. Maybe for decades you’ve been praying but nothing is changing. So you have concluded that God doesn’t care about that.

Of those 60-80,000 thoughts some of them are on repeat in your mind. Things like, “I don’t think I have a purpose. I feel kind of worthless. I am worthless. I don’t feel like anybody likes me, or loves me. I’m a failure. I’m a fraud. I’m not good enough.”

Do you have any of those not-good-enough statements that you say to yourself? You’re creating pathways in your brain that are based on lies.

Parents can struggle with that. Let’s face it, as parents we’re just winging it. We’re just making it up as we go along. If those are the types of thoughts that you have in your mind, God is saying something very specific to you right now… Enough. Enough of that.

Because every time you say, “I’m not enough,” there’s a word for that. It’s called shame.

Jesus is not the author of shame. Satan is the author of shame.

Jesus is the author of grace and freedom and hope and peace and joy.

That script that’s been playing over and over in your mind that you’re not enough, God has written a whole new story for you. And He desperately wants you to live it. It comes down to knowing the truth about yourself.

Jesus said, “When you know the truth, it will set you free,” but you have to know the truth to be set free by the truth.

“Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery…”Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; HE SNAPPED THEIR CHAINS.

Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He’s done for them. For HE BROKE DOWN THEIR PRISON GATES of bronze; HE CUT APART THEIR BARS OF IRON.” Psalm 107:10-16 NLT

The bars to their cells? They’ve been cut apart! The prison gates? They’ve been broken down! The chains? They’ve been snapped!

You can come on out of the cell that you’ve put yourself in because Jesus has set you free from the lies you believe about yourself!

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 ESV

No condemnation – two of the most beautiful words in the Bible.

This renovation that God wants to do in your mind is a safe space for you to step into. You don’t have to worry if He’ll accept you or love you. You don’t have to worry if He’s going to shame you.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

This truth of Christ offering us a new life is so significant that Jesus asked every single one of us to put this truth on display. We do that through baptism. Baptism is a picture of life change; it’s a picture of being made new. Baptism is something that Jesus commands us to do.

Baptism is a picture that the old has gone and the new has come. In baptism you are buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life!

When God renovates your mind the primary tool that He uses is the power of His Word.

“For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts, and the attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV

“The Word of God is like a two-edged sword.” That sword has a deadly edge and a life-giving edge. The deadly edge of the Word of God puts to death the old ways of thinking. It puts to death the old lies that have controlled us. The life-giving edge performs open-heart surgery on you like a scalpel. It cuts out the infection and the residue of sin.

The Word of God can smash any stronghold, break any chain, uncover any sin and expose any lie.It changes how you see yourself, see God, and see the world.

We need to be made new in the attitude of our minds, and here’s how it’s done. Confess your faith. Say what God says about you. Let that change the way you think. And you let that change the way you live. You let the truth set you free.

We’re not talking about the power of positive thinking. We’re talking about the power of Biblical thinking.

This is not about good intentions. It’s not about you promising God… How’s that working out for you? God is not interested in your promises. We make our promises to God and fail, and fall, and break those promises, but God does not break His promises.

  • God is not asking me to make a promise that I cannot keep. He is asking me to receive a promise that only He can keep.

10 Faith Confessions

“I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose again from the dead on the third day.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“I am a new creation in Christ. The old life is gone, a new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“The Son has set me free. I am free indeed!” John 8:36

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

“God is faithful. He will not let me tempted beyond what I can bear.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:38-39

“He is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within me.”  Ephesians 3:20

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“Greater is He that is in me, than He that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“God is for me! who can be against me?” Romans 8:31


This is the Word of God! This is what He says about you. So let it become what you say about you. Start every day by confessing these truths. Read them to God, read them to yourself, and read them to the devil.

Whenever you are afraid, have doubts or are tempted… read them again. Let these words renew your mind. The devil doesn’t want to see you free so he will rattle the broken chains and whisper those old lies to you. He’ll try to haunt and harass you with memories of your past. But when the devil tries to remind you of your past, just remind him of his future and let the Word of God fill your mouth.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Serving in Times of Uncertainty” and your SERVE Day project. How’d it go?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Big Idea

Are you ever confused about who you really are? The mixed messages we hear from the world around us leave us confused and often feeling powerless—but they are lies. It’s only when we learn to think like Jesus that we’ll know exactly who we are.

“When I say what God says, I begin to think like God thinks.”

Discussion & Application

1. The word “confess” is often full of negative images and connotations that confuse us. But “confess” means to say the same thing that God says. Discuss and share how seeing this in a simpler light changes its impact for you.

2. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (ESV) How can the truth in this verse help set you free from feelings of guilt?

3. Which of the faith confession promises makes the greatest impact on you? Why?

4. Turn in your Bibles to Romans 13:11-14. How does this passage challenge you to rethink your view of yourself?

5. Why do you think the writer, Paul, is so urgent in his warning?

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.

In group prayer ask God to show you what chains need to be broken, what sins confessed, and what promises of God believed in order to begin rethinking your view of yourself. Determine to let God’s Word transform your mind. What changes will you make to your daily schedule in order to hear from God every day and rethink your view of yourself? Share your ideas with your group.

Next Steps

Take a picture or screenshot of the faith confession verses or somehow make a visual list of them to review on a regular basis.

Also, have you considered joining us for Growth Track? Rock Brook’s Growth Track is a 4 step series designed to help you take the next step in your spiritual journey. Step one is August 2nd where we’ll share our story, vision and purpose of the church. rockbrook.org/connect/growth-track

 

Preparing to Build | Week 3: Choosing Your Standard

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These last few posts have been preparing us for the next series of posts called Building Your Life On Values That Last that start next Sunday.

What are your values? They are the core beliefs that shape everything you do in life. Many people don’t believe what you believe really matters, but that’s not true. It does matter what you believe. Your beliefs determine your behavior and your behavior determines what you become. 

If you look at the foundation of a person, it’s based on the things they have chosen to value. Your convictions in life determine your conduct and your conduct determines your character. So whatever you want to be in life, you better quickly figure out what your values are because they determine your stress level, your success, your salvation and many other things. 


You know what basically everyone in our society agrees with today? It’s not much but there is one thing. Whether you’re a conservative or liberal, a republican or a democrat,   religious or irreligious, a Christian or a non-Christian…the vast majority of people say that our society today is in a stage of moral decline. There is a decaying of values in our society and this crisis can be seen in many areas.

What is the cause of this moral decline? Two words: TRUTH DECAY

Historically, for our society, there was much more universal agreement about what was true, what was right and what was wrong. That didn’t mean everybody did right, people still did wrong all the time. But there was no disagreement about what was right or wrong or true. Now, our society believes there is no such thing as right and wrong and there is no absolute truth. There are no standards by which you can evaluate your life and behavior.

How did we get to the point when someone says what is true, right or wrong recieves all sorts of controversy? We fell for four very destructive philosphies that have replaced truth in our society.


Four Destructive Philosophies

1.  Individualism 

Individualism says, “I live for myself and only I can judge what’s true, what’s right, what’s wrong. You don’t have any place telling me what’s right or wrong or true.”

Individualism has gone on in nations for centuries and millenniums.  Thousands of years ago the nation of Israel fell prey to this. If you want to read the dark ages of the nation of Israel, read the book of Judges. It was the time of total chaos.

“In those days Israel had no [authority]; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Judges 21:25 NLT

Does that sound vaguely familiar? If there is no standard, no rule, no law, no absolutes, then people can do whatever they want. That’s an easy philosophy to hold onto because it means you never have to feel guilty. You don’t have to measure up to anyone else’s standards.

2. Secularism 

Secularism can be summarized in three words: God is unnecessary. Secularism does not mean that I don’t believe there’s a god. Secularism may believe there’s a god, but they have decided they just don’t need Him in their life. 

For the last few decades we have been systematically removing God from every area of public life — schools, government, media, news, all the different areas of public opinion in life and we basically relegated God to church buildings on Sunday mornings.

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks.” Romans 1:21 NLT

At one time, in our nation, we got them from the moral authority of the ten commandments. We hung them everywhere. More people went to church than did not go to church and we got our values from that.

Where are most people getting their values today? The number one purveyor of values today is not God, the Bible, the church, even parents. It’s TV, streaming, podcasts and social media. The places where you take the most bizarre people on the planet, give them a platform and say, “This is normal.”

3. Materialism

Materialism is when you build your life on valuables that won’t last. When you worship things instead of the God who created everything.

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped created things rather than the Creator.” Romans 1:25 NIV

The moment we put our valuables in front of our values, it’s destructive. When we give to our valuables before we give to God. When we give to our truck, our hunting collection, our house, our hobbies our possessions before we give to God we’re falling for a destructive philosophy called materialism.

4. Relativism 

The idea behind relativism says, “What’s true for me may not be true for you and what’s true for me may not be true for you. Therefore, what’s right for me, may not be right for you and what’s right for you, may not be right for me.”

At this point, nobody can say what’s right or wrong, because all truth is relativeThere are very few people who will level with you today. When people go through a major life decision like, “Should I move in with this person?” or “Should I take these drugs?” and people all around you are telling you to do whatever is best for you, they don’t love you.

People who tell you the truth are those who love you. 

There’s another phrase that relativism uses: No absolutes. Don’t let anybody con you with statements that say there are no absolute truths.

The whole world and universe proves that there are things you can depend on because they are absolutely true. There is evidence of absolute truth all around us. There is an absolute truth called gravity. 

God has established the entire universe on some universal laws that are always true and can always be depended on. People who claim there are no absolutes in life get very interested in absolutes when theirs are being violated. 

God describes what happens when we fall for these four destructive philosophies.

“They are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame.” Ephesians 4:17‑19 NLT


What’s the cost of living by these destructive philosophies? What’s the cost of not having any standards, values, not even agreeing with what is true right and wrong?

The Cost: COLLAPSE

All of a sudden with no God there is no truth and Jesus said it would happen.

Jesus: “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49 NIV

As a result we have a collapsing culture and collapsing families.

“Where there is ignorance of God, crime runs wild.”  Proverbs 29:18 TLB

Why is there so much crime, violence, gang warfare and people afraid to go out of their homes? Because of an ignorance of God. If there is no God, then there is no standard of truth and if there is no standard, anything goes!

God’s Word, the Bible, tells the truth. There’s are things in this book that are not easy to read and are not easy to do. But it is the truth, because it came from God.

Our culture is collapsing. Have you ever heard someone say, “I have to be unethical at work. I have to survive and everybody else is unethical so I have to do it too.” 

Every society, culture and family has collapsed when the people decided they have to do whatever it takes. When survival becomes more important than the truth.

Today, what we’re witnessing is the flip flopping of values. What used to be called right is now being called wrong. What used to be called wrong is now being called right. What used to be called perverted is now being called sophisticated. In our society, we kill unborn babies and the elderly every day, people made in the image of God, yet many are more interested in saving turtles and bees. God is not mocked. He says, whatever you sow you’re going to reap.

“A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order.” Proverbs 29:18 GNT

Our nation was founded on the two presuppositions from God. One is, our rights are endowed by our creator, and that we are to follow basic moral laws that He has laid out.  That’s the cornerstone of our society.

We aren’t going into this next series trying to find ways to change society. Instead, we are going to figure out how to live a life of value in a world that can’t even decide what is right and wrong.

How do we raise our children and become families with basic, lasting values?

“When the foundations [of life] are undermined, what can a righteous person do?” Psalm 11:3 GWT


Anyone ready for some good news? There is a cure to a society experiencing moral decline.

The cure: REBUILD THE FOUNDATION

You can rebuild the foundation of your life, your business and your family. You can build your life on values that last and that means turning to God, because God is truth. God is honest. God is faithful. God is just. God is love. 

When we are different from the character of the Creator who made us, it’s wrong. When we’re like the character of the Creator who made us, it’s right. That’s how you decide what truth is.

God shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” Proverbs 2:9 TLB

You can’t teach values without God and His Word.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT 

If God says it, it’s true. How do I know when something is truth and when it’s just an opinion? 

Two characteristics:

1. Truth is universal. 

If it is true, it applies to everyone, everywhere around the world in every culture. If it does not apply to everyone everywhere, it’s not truth, it’s an opinion, because truth is universal. It applies to the rich and the poor and every nationality and heritage.

2. Truth is unchanging.

It’s always the same. It doesn’t change. It is unchanging. For instance, if adultery was wrong 4,000 years ago, it was also wrong 2,000 years ago, it is wrong today and it will be wrong 2,000 years from today, no matter what anybody else says.

Truth is unchanging and it is universal. The information and science we have may change but truth doesn’t. Science is changing all the time. Your kids science book, is different than the one you used, it’s all new now.

For instance, years ago, science used to tell us the smallest particle of life is the atom. The fact is since then we’ve discovered several layers beneath that. Now we know there are even smaller things. Why is that as science changes but you don’t have to change or update the Bible? Because it’s eternal. It’s true. 

“Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling.” Psalm 119:105 TLB

What’s the benefit of building my life on absolute, universal unchanging truth? If I build it on unchanging truth, I won’t stumble so much and I won’t make so many mistakes.

“Those who listen to God’s instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.” Proverbs 16:20 NLT

The bottom line is we all have a choice. What will your standard be? What’s going to be the standard by which you make decisions in life?

This is a choice only you can make. Your parents can hold you to God’s standard and discipline you for a while, and if they really love you that’s what they will do, but they can’t make the belief choice for you.

Your options include:

  • An Internal Standard: ME

You can make your values based on you, what you feel and see.

  • An External Standard: The World

You can go with the times and go with the crowd. If you choose whatever the world says is right and wrong, realize that in a few years it will change because fads change. 

  • An Eternal Standard: God’s Word

You can go with God’s way, His truth, His Word, because it is absolute, universal, and unchanging.

Starting next week we will just look at the solution, because you matter to God and your family matters to God. He wants you to build your life on something that will not collapse. He wants you to get to the end of your life and be able to say that you have no regrets becuase wht you built your life on will last.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How is the message on How God Anchors Us helping you prepare for the fall spiritual growth campaign? Any more thought or conclusion on coaching, the truth, new thinking, cleaning house, honest community and faith?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

 

Hear the Word

Everything you do is influenced by your values. Every time you make a decision you’re relying on a set of standards to decide what to do. Just like the way you set a sail determines the direction of a sailboat, your values chart the course of your life. You have to decide in advance the direction you want your life to go. You have to decide in advance what your values will be.

Jesus: “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49 NIV

Application

  1. What values would you say are most significant in your community? What values would you say are most significant in your church? What values can you identify in the TV shows, movies and music you consume?
  2. Have you ever compromised your values because it was easier or more convenient, what was the outcome? How would you handle the situation differently today?
  3. Among the four destructive philosophies, which one do you find yourself leaning on the most? Individualism, secularism, materialism, relativism?
  4. What are the things you think will last in your life?

Tell Someone Else

Who could you invite to join you at church for the fall spiritual growth campaign? Who could you invite to a small group with you?

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Not So Far-Fetched: Is the Bible Believable?

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Today we’re going to follow where the evidence leads as we ask: Is the Bible Believable? Before we look at the Christian view of scripture, whether you’re a believer or not, here are 4 observations we can all agree on concerning the Bible.

1. It’s old.

The oldest sections of scripture are from 1500 BC making it the oldest writings in existence. The most recent writings were around 100 AD. Even the newest parts are old.

2. It’s big.

The Bible is a big book. The Bibles we carry around are deceptively small, holding multiple columns with small type, printed on tissue paper. It’s about 800,000 words, while the average non-fiction book today is 50,000 words.

3. It’s popular.

Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it’s the best selling book in the world every year. No book has ever outsold the Bible in a single year.

4. It’s powerful.

It’s the most outlawed book ever and it just keeps going because it’s powerful. People’s lives are transformed from reading the Bible.


The Christian view of the Bible is, God wrote it.

If God wrote a book, you’d expect it to be a best seller. If this came from God, it explains everything listed above. It’s why the Bible is so powerful and survives so many attacks.

A Christian is one who believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God and it is the basis for our faith. 

That’s not to say you can’t doubt the Bible as a Christian or have questions. To be a Christian means believing certain things that you can only believe if you accept that the Bible is supernaturally trustworthy. That’s the Christian view of scripture.

Let’s look at what Christ himself said about scripture. Let’s take a look at Jesus at one of his weakest, most human moments and how he responds.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness 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 shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”  Matthew 4:1-11

When the Devil came gunning for Jesus, Jesus used scripture as His defense.

The Devil even tried to use scripture against Jesus and He wouldn’t have it. That’s why Paul called it the sword of the Spirit. We are in spiritual warfare because it’s a supernatural battle. The Bible wouldn’t have any power if it were just sayings of a man. But they’re the inspired words of God. Let’s jump a little bit forward in the text and continue to see what Jesus says about scripture.

“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. “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. For truly I tell you, 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. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:1-2,17-20

It says every letter, the whole Bible is from God. The whole thing is supernatural. Every word is from the pen of God. That’s the Christian view of scripture.


Objections to the Christian View

  1. God or humans?

We say God wrote it, but we also know it was written over hundreds of years with 40 different human authors. Which is it? Did God write it or did humans write it?

We say both. This is where the Bible stands apart. For instance, the book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith and he says there were gold plates that no one has ever seen, except him and he learned to translate from those plates and learned the language for the purpose of translating, and then he forgot. Now set that next to the Bible where you have actual manuscripts from actual authors in the original language. So we have the human record, but what about God?

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Think about a bridge. Specifically, the Brooklyn Bridge. A guy named Washington Roebling built the Brooklyn Bridge. His father came up with the plans and then died, so Washington carried it through but then he got sick, so his wife carried it through to the end.

Now we know the architect behind the bridge, but what about the people who laid the bricks? There were people who laid the stones, and the whole thing was completed during Washington Roebling’s lifetime. It was one plan that he oversaw. He oversaw the laying of every brick.

God is the architect, or author. He’s overseen it now for 3500 years now. We know this because there is the remarkable internal coherence of scripture that is impossible to explain otherwise.

For a book with multiple authors to stand, like the Bible has, there has to be one mastermind behind the whole thing. That’s how it was with the Brooklyn Bridge. It was built for horse-drawn carriages, but now it withstands semi trucks. That is a testament to the designer and the person who built it.

The Bible stands majestically and with power. All of these people cobbled something together that is so unified, written by different types of people, speaking different languages on different continents and countries at different times.

So, was it written by God or humans? The answer is: both. God built it with humans. So you might agree that God wrote the text, but humans put it together and the assembled the canon of which books are considered and which ones weren’t. That’s another popular objection:

2. Determining the canon.

How do we know we have the right books? If you have this objection it might have come from reading The DaVinci Code, a fiction book that some people believed like it was truth. The story he tells is that it was a political, a power play that some writings were included and some weren’t.

Only when some other books tried to weasel their way in did the church counsels say, these are the books that everyone has agreed on for hundreds of years, and all they did was make official what was already known. It’s overseen by God. If he can write the words, he can oversee the process of assembling it.

3. Copying and Translating.

Maybe you can see how God wrote the words and we have the right books, but your objection is that it has been copied and translated so many times, how do we even know if that’s what the original authors even wrote?

Every Bible that you have, has been translated exactly one time. It’s been translated from the original language to the language you speak. It wasn’t translated from Greek to Latin to German to English.

It has been copied. No one is claiming we have the original manuscript that each author wrote. What you have in your Bible is the same text as the page of the person who wrote it. There were 24,000 copies of this text preserved. The Bible has a paper trail unlike any kind of ancient document. How does that happen unless God is at work?

4. Parts I don’t like.

Maybe you read the Bible and there are things that contradict your basic values. So, you can’t possibly believe it’s the word of God because it says things you don’t agree with or you find offensive. The logic of this objection is, because it upsets you, it can’t possibly be true. 

If the Bible really is a supernatural book, it’s not a product of any culture. It will have to contradict every culture at some point. The fact that it contradicts your cultural values doesn’t cut against it being the word of God, that proves even more so that it is in fact the word of God.

In 2004, there was a remake of a 1975 movie that was a book before that, called the Stepford Wives. It’s about these husbands that got tired of their wives arguing with them and not doing what they say, so they put chips in the back of their heads to make them perfectly sweet all the time.

People want to do that with God. People want a Stepford God.

They want him to stop saying stuff they don’t like and only say things they agree with. If you have a God that agrees with you on everything and never agues with you, you know one thing for sure, you don’t have a real God. Your god is a product of your imagination.

If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself. — Tim Keller

If you don’t believe the parts you don’t like, how can you really believe the parts you do like? The Bible says some amazing things like “you are fully forgiven, completely loved and a child of God.” But because you don’t believe the Bible as a whole, you can’t fully believe those things are true about you.

In the original version of the Stepford Wives, it was more of like a horror story. They didn’t put a chip in their heads, the husbands actually murdered their wives and made robots, instead. The husbands didn’t like their real wives so they killed them to make one that was better.

What’s the point of this gruesome illustration? It’s remarkably similar to what we and did with Jesus. We were waiting for a savior. Then, the real Savior shows up and at first we’re so excited, but then he does all this stuff that we don’t like and says all these things that make us angry. We feel cheated. This isn’t the God we signed up for. Let’s kill this Savior and maybe we can make up a better one for ourselves. That’s what happened with Jesus.

We do that today. We have the option to kill the real God and invent a God of our imaginations. If you do that, initially, this new God you make up for yourself, will have a lot more in common with you and be a lot easier to get along with than the real God. What you miss when you do that is warmth, love, relationship and salvation. The only way you get those things, is if you take Him as He is. That’s what God does with you, He takes you as you are. That’s what the Bible says, anyway.


What Now?

So what do we do now? We can be under the Bible’s authority.

In the book of Nehemiah we see that the wall of the city of Jerusalem was in ruins. Their city was in ruins, their faith was in ruins and the people of God were in ruins. Nehemiah had a vision to rebuild the people of God and he knew that it started with rebuilding the wall. So he rebuilt the wall against great opposition and regathered the people. Once the people were regathered a tower was built in their midst and a scribe by the name of Ezra went up to the top of the tower.

“Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”  Nehemiah 8:5-6 NIV

Now think about that for a moment. God is resurrecting the hope of his people. It would be like if the gospels were taken away from our city and all the churches were shut down and rotting and then the gospels were opened after a generation of being kept from us.

When this happened, all the people who could see Ezra stood up in honor of the word of God and then everyone praised God and there wasn’t even a message yet. It was just an honor and respect for the word of God.

When we take the Bible in our hands we don’t have to physically stand up, but we have to stand up in our hearts and recognize that it is above us and we are under its authority.


Check Back

Does anyone have any thoughts from their daily devotions or from reflecting more on the message on life after death? Did anyone pick up the book “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Look over the message outline together. 

Take some time to dig into God’s word. Read Matthew 4 & 5.

Application

  1. What do you believe Jesus believed about scripture after reading those two chapters?
  2. Growing up, what was your family’s belief about the Bible?
  3. What stood out to you from the message?
  4. What kind of Bible do you read? (What translation? Do you read it on an app, online or a printed Bible? Is it a Study Bible? A red letter Bible?)
  5. Of the four objections to the Christian view of the bible, which one have you wrestled with the most, personally? Which objection do your unbelieving friends or family hold?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with? Is there someone you’re better equipped to have a conversation with because of this message?

Do you consider your life being under the authority of God’s word? What would that look like?

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Week 5: What About Health & Healing?

Blog YAFI w5.001On Easter weekend, we did a survey and compiled your most asked questions. Those questions are the roadmap for this series called You Asked For It.

This weekend, we took a look at what the Bible had to say about Health and Healing.


Let’s look at God’s Word and see what it says about people being healed. One of the clearest places it talks about sick people getting well is in the book of James.

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”  James 5:13-14 (NIV)

Many of us have gone through or are going through major illness or physical struggle. James says, “Go get some believers, some leaders, have them pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Don’t get focused on the oil. The oil is a symbol. There’s no real power in the oil itself. It’s just like baptism or communion. They are symbols. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who is the One who anoints. The Holy Spirit’s role is to point us to Jesus, not to the person praying.

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:15-16 (NIV)

There are two extremes in the body of Christ. So from church-to-church, you’ll have these two extremes and anything in between.

One of the extremes is a confessionist approach. This approach believes all you have to do is name-it and claim-it and if you say it you can have it. If you don’t get what you asked for, it’s because there’s something wrong with you and God is rejecting you. There’s a lot of condemnation with that one, and God is not a God of condemnation.

The other extreme is a cessationist approachThis is the belief that miracles happened in the Bible, but they don’t happen today. They believe that once the final apostle died that God closed shop. The purpose of the apostles miracles was to authenticate them and have God testify to it by signs, wonders and miracles. Now that we have the authenticated writings of the apostles in scripture and writings of Jesus as the cornerstone of our faith, miracles are no longer necessary to authenticate the message of Jesus.

God is still in the miracle working business. There’s no healing apart from God. We struggle to believe that, because we’ve all had experiences where God didn’t do the miracle. We’re living with an illness or physical struggle we’ve prayed would go away. We’ve buried people we’ve prayed for. But what’s really happening is that those two extremes are trying to answer this question:

Why doesn’t God heal every time we pray?

  • God still heals people.

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  2 Timothy 4:18 (NIV)

Are we going to be rescued or go to heaven? Yes. Both of those options are miracles and a work from God. He’ll either heal you and you’ll glorify God or you’ll die and be in glory.

I refuse to let my faith be hindered by my understanding.

That’s why it’s called faith. I’m going to trust God at his word. That he delivers me from every evil attack and takes me safely into his kingdom. That’s why James changes the subject it seems when he says, “If he sins that will be forgiven.” And if you confess your sins and pray for each other, that’s real healing. Deeper than the physical.

  • God is also concerned about my soul.

God created your body. One day every body will rise. But God is also very concerned, with our soul. We get so concerned about the body: we lock our doors, buy insurance, do everything we can to protect the body, take vitamins, work out. All good things we should do, but Jesus says:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Matthew 10:28 (NIV)

We’re missing the big point if we think it’s all about just being physically healed and that it’s all about the body. So go to the gym, see a doctor, watch what you eat but also go to a small group, confess your sins and fears and pull things out into the light. We need to be just as concerned about our soul.

  • God wants me to grow in faith.

The key word there is grow. He wants you to grow in your faith. He wants to take you on a faith journey.

We’re concerned about what’s happening to us.

God’s concerned about what’s happening in us.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… 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.”  Hebrews 11:1,6 (NIV)

When do you seek God the most? When everything is answered or when you have a lot of need? The answer is obvious. That’s why the very next verse in this James passage, he tells us the story of an Old Testament person named Elijah.


Understanding Faith

“Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”  James 5:17-18 (NIV)

Elijah was a prophet while an evil man, named Ahab, was king. Ahab had an even more wicked wife who controlled many of his decisions. So Ahab & Jezebel turned the hearts of the people away from God to false prophets. God raised up Elijah to be a prophet to proclaim His Word.

Elijah comes and he stands down king Ahab, and says,“It’s not going to rain until I ask God to cause it to rain.” Elijah proclaims the forecast, not like a weatherman, but his words actually turn on and off the water supply. He pronounces this huge drought, and sure enough, it doesn’t rain at all.

Then, God takes Elijah to a ravine where God miraculously provides for him in the middle of this drought while Ahab’s trying to kill him. One day, God dried up the brook that was providing water for Elijah and he went out of the ravine to a place called Zarephath, where he met a widow, who had just a little bit of oil and flour. It wasn’t enough. God miraculously multiplied it so that it was enough.

One day, the widow’s son died and for the first time ever recorded in scripture, Elijah takes this dead boy up into the upper room, prays, and God raises this boy from the dead. After a season of hiding, where there’s been no rain, God calls Elijah back to confront Ahab, and call him out to a showdown. Elijah says, “Get the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah. Bring them up to Mount Carmel, and we are going to see who the real God is. Is it your gods, or is it my God, Yahweh?” 

Elijah has them build an altar, put a bull on it and ask their god to bring down fire over the altar. All morning the false prophets call out for their god to light the altar. They dance and cut themselves, and nothing happens.

Then Elijah builds his altar, has the false prophets soak it in water in the middle of the drought he calls on God. God sends fire straight down from heaven to consume the altar. Fire engulfs and eliminates the whole thing and licks up all the water in the trench. The false prophets bow in worship to Yahweh and Elijah turns to Ahab and says, “I hear a rainstorm coming.” That’s how the faith journey begins every time. With a word from God.

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It’s a word from God’s Word. There are thousands of promises from God in the Bible. Many people once believed a God promise, but at some point stop. They let their faith grow weary. Elijah’s story begins with a word from God.

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.'”  1 Kings 17:1 (NIV)

The promises of God always come to pass. God will work everything together for his glory and good. God says:

“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.”  Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 (NIV)

Here’s the second part. This is much more complicated and probably where most of us are in our faith journey today: Faith continues regardless of what you see.

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Wherever you are in your faith journey, whatever you’ve been believing God for: healing, relationship restoration, legal situation, getting out of debt… There’s more happening than what you can see. See how this story with Elijah plays out. Elijah prays for it to rain and it doesn’t. The Bible says he puts his head down between his legs and tells his servant, “I’m going to pray, you go look at the sky.”

“’Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked. ‘There is nothing there,’ he said. Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’ The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”  1 Kings 18:43-44 (NIV)

He kept on. He didn’t give up. He was persistent in his faith. Someone reading this needs to hear, “Go back. Pray some more. Seek God again. Do it some more.”

Wherever you are in your situation. Hold on. Don’t give up. Put your face to the ground, believe God, and if you don’t see anything out there over the sea, go back and do it again. Why? Because…

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)

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“Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.”  1 Kings 18:45-46 (NIV)

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT)

We’re so focused on healing, the destination. It’s important. But it’s not the most important thing. God is focused on the journey. The process is the point.

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Let God work in you. He still heals, He still does miracles. 

Maybe that thorn is there to drive you to the throne and push you deeper into a process that will reveal God’s power and grace like never before.


 

Check Back

Review what you talked about last week.

Do you have any more questions or conclusions after reflecting on last week’s message on how the world ends?

Are you living in light of eternity?

To hear the sermon online, go to rockbrook.org/sermons or listen to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.

Hear the Word

Read James 5:13-20 & 1 Kings 17 & 18

Application

Have you ever prayed for healing for you or for someone else? What happened when you prayed?

What words describe Elijah’s faith? Describe ways we can apply the lesson of Elijah to our faith. 

Read Hebrews 11:39-40 and Isaiah 57:1

Discuss with the group what these verses mean. How can these words from God help us when God does not answer our prayers as we planned?

At Rock Brook, we offer a process of next steps to help us in our faith journey. It’s called Growth Track. Where are you in the Growth Track journey?

For more information, visit http://rockbrook.org/connect/growth-track

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with this week?

Is there anyone in your life who is struggling with health and healing? How can you encourage them?

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