Discipleship: Presenting God’s Truth: Part I
One fundamental aspect of discipleship is presenting God’s truth. Presenting God’s truth is always a good thing. Jesus is Truth, the Word is truth, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:6; 17:17; 16:13). Truth and only truth will set the person free from his bondage of deadness, darkness, and depravity. Many deny the fact of bondage. Only truth leads to life which is lived in the light. Truth, light, and life form an unbreakable triad that honors and grows the believer.
When presenting truth, several facts must be remembered:
• the relationship between the two people,
• what is said,
• how it is said,
• the goal of what is said,
• the spiritual maturity and willingness of the person receiving truth.
These five factors are important in discipleship and for presenting God’s truth as a blessing and not as a burden. The truth sets people free (John 8:31-32). Therefore, our delivery should not be the burden. The truth carries its own “hammer” as it pierces and filets the heart which is the heart of the matter (Hebrews 4:12-13; Proverbs 4:23). Fallen man, even believers, is quite protective of himself especially the heart. I call this approach to life and self the fig-leaf function or the cover-up function of life modeled by the first parents in the Garden (Genesis 3) and continued until Christ returns. .
The truth for the person should include God’s view of the problem and His solution. Truth always trumps human wisdom devoid of the Bible, experience, and feelings. The person needs a change in his interpretative grid. The goal is to help the believer think God’s thoughts, desire what God desires and act accordingly (Isaiah 55:6-11).
Every believer has biblical truth because he is a new creature indwelt by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:14-21; 3:14-21). But so often the believer still has eyes and ears but doesn’t see and hear as he should. He has saving faith but he functions by an interpretative grid that is for self, by self, and to self. He depends on feelings, experience, and his own reasoning divorced from biblical truth. God’s truth from a changed heart is the change that brings about a change in his interpretative grid. Therefore, fellow believers who are developing as lovers of truth relish bathing in God’s truth. They come to the aid of fellow believers who are trapped and in bondage to self, sin, and satanic reasoning (Galatians 6:1-5). A bath is always a pleasant experience but the temperature of the water needs to be just right. The same care must be present when giving truth to others.
Giving God’s truth that is most relevant to the person given his situation and his spiritual maturity, his willingness to engage, and the strength of the relationship are all important considerations. God’s truth is always appropriate but its presentation can take many forms. Bathed in God’s truth is a helpful metaphor for coming alongside of people.
All truth is God’s truth and all error is Satan’s error. So the content of truth rests on the source of it. Facts are neutral. For instance, the universe and man exists. Those are facts but even those facts scream regarding who man is. How is it possible to ask questions regarding origin and identity, let alone purpose and destiny? Only if man is a rational, moral agent can he function in those ways. We have moved from facts – the reality of the universe and man – to origin. Now you must postulate the source of origin, and identity. Fallen man denies the God as Creator and himself as a dependent creature (Romans 1:18-23). After salvation, the believer has been changed so that as the image of God he ca and desire to think, desire, and act accordingly to biblical truth. As he does, he will interpret facts according to God’s word. The Bible will be his working manual for life. The believer has come from darkness to light, from deadness to being alive, and from falsehood to truth and desires to share in the beauty of salvation and life after salvation.
1. What is truth and where is it found?
2. All truth is God’s truth and all error/false hood is Satan’s falsehood.
a. How do you decide?
b. How did the first parents decide?
c. What was the result?
3. What is the unbeliever’s interpretative grid all the time and unfortunately, the believer’s sometimes?
4. What is the believer’s grid?
5. Sharpen your knowledge of God’s word and wisdom for its appropriate application to yourself and others.
6. Look for opportunities to be a blessing to someone. You may want to begin with yourself.
Discipleship and God’s Truth: God’s Holiness and Comfort: Part II
The second part of the blog series: Discipleship: presenting God’s truth focuses on the Bible. The Bible has established the fact that discipleship involves presenting God’s truth. When is it proper to pronounce God’s truth? Said in another way: is the presentation of the Word of God ever inappropriate? We are faced with tough times in our fallen world. It is always proper to bring God’s truth. His truth is manifold. I will consider one aspect of God’s truth in this blog.
One negotiable fact that stands out is this: God is and He is holy. His holiness is both a blessing and a curse for and to people, His children and His enemies. Both the Old and New Testaments contain a call to be holy as I am holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21: 8,, 15; 22:9, 16, 32) Israel was to be totally consecrated to the Lord not simply by ritual from a heart allegiance to Him. The New Testament continues this call (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:16) . The Triune God is totally dedicated to Himself and he expects and deserves total dedication from His people. He is jealous and zealous for Himself and His name (Exodus 20:7-8).
The holiness of God is intended to a blessing to His people, a threat to His enemies, and warning to both His people and His enemies. The Bible presents the reality of the holiness of God in a variety of ways. Consider Leviticus 10:1-3: Nadab and Abihu, the eldest sons of Aaron were in the service of God as priests. They were men of great reputation (Exodus 24:1). Yet, they were consumed by fire from God – they died before the Lord. They were young men, in the prime of life, and newly consecrated in the priest’s office. God judged them because they offered unauthorized or “strange” fire. The priests had been instructed in regards to the proper handling of the Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10). They knew better. Arrogantly, but not ignorantly, the sons sinned grievously against a holy God.
Scripture tells us that Moses ministered to his brother Aaron, the sons’ father, in the midst of his loss. Moses ‘wore” two hats. He was God’s agent to guide His people and Aaron was his brother. Persons in close relationships may have opportunities to minister to one another in a way that strangers do not have. How Moses ministered is instructive. Moses’ words and Aaron’s response are recorded in verse 3: “This is what God spoke when he said: Among those who approach me, I will show myself holy; in the sight of all people I will be honored.” Aaron remained silent.
This was a remarkable interchange. Moses does not deny the reality of Aaron’s angst. He does supply the balm of God’s word. Moses directed Aaron vertically. He counseled Aaron in the midst of his grief by saying that it is good for him (Aaron) to submit to God because God is holy and good. The reality of God’s holiness should have directed the sons to “do right.” Moses gave Aaron truth about God directly and the sons and any who acts as they did.
One may think that Moses is uncaring but notice Aaron’s response: he held his peace – he remained silent (v.3). Aaron’s silence was actually a quieting of his heart before God, reminding us of Psalms 27:1 and 46:10; it also looks forward to 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Aaron, reminded that honoring God was to be paramount in his life, grieved properly (1 Thessalonians 4:13). This enabled him to continue to function as God’s kind of priest, father, and helper to Moses.
We are not told how Aaron responded. We do know that Moses direction to Aaron and two of sons (Eleazar and Ithamar) as to how they should conduct themselves. In verses 9-11, God gave further explanation to Aaron as to the proper conduct in regard to the Tent of Meeting (v.9). In verses 10-11, God gave directions that hold for all believers until Jesus returns: You must distinguish between holy and common, between unclean and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees that the Lord has given them through Moses. God had much to say about Himself and how His people should conduct themselves. He gave life-changing directions which continue until Christ returns.
1. Write out your view of God’s holiness and its influence on you daily.
2. Write your view of presenting truth to yourself and others.
3. What do you learn about a holy God?
4. What means did God give the people to come to His even as He is holy?
5. Read Job 40:1-5 and 42:1-6 and Isaiah 6:1-10: what did you learn about Job, Isiah and yourself?
God: Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence: Part III
Romans 8:28-29; Genesis 50:19-21
In the last installment of: discipleship: presenting God’s truth, we face another non-negotiable truth: God’s sovereignty – His control, power, and authority to run His world His way. The truth of the reality of an omniscience (all-knowing), omnipresent (God is everywhere and everywhere He is all of Him is there), and omnipotent (all powerful) God is beyond human comprehension when man relies on his senses and his reasoning divorced from biblical truth.
Even believers when faced with God’s hard or frowning providences ask: is God trustworthy and can I trust God? These two questions are asked audibly so all can hear or inwardly so that only he and God hear. Sadly, believers have chosen to use satanic reasoning in their situation and have decided God is not or not powerful or both and that He can’t be trusted.
This situation is quite common. Often I use a passage such as Romans 8:28-29 in ministering to others and myself: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be first born among brothers. This is a powerful passage. It sets out so many truths. He builds on the same truth given in the Old Testament early is the last book of Genesis (50:19-21): But Joseph said to them, don’t be afraid. Am I in the place pf God? You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many live. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children, And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
The importance of the truths given in this portion of Scripture is mind-boggling and majestic. Don’t miss the points. Discipleship involves presenting of God’s truth. Paul beings with: And we know. He includes himself. He has experienced the truth of God’s sovereignty but always through the eyes of God’s goodness and trustworthiness. How is it that all thing s work for good? God is at work, working all things for His purpose. Paul was no deist. God is at work but not randomly. Paul defines good. It is the believer using God’s providence to be conformed into the likeness of Christ. In that way God is glorified and the believer benefits.
These two passages paint a picture of all powerful, all knowing, ever-present God. That is the reality and it is never to be denied. BUT! Believers so often do. For the believer, the circumstances seem out of control, random, and or illogical. They don’t make sense. We see this scenario played out especially in the Psalms. We read about it the gospels. They describe the life of Jesus. They take us to the Garden. He comes face to face with the Triune God (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46). He speaks to Him as the Man who had one motivation: to please His Father via covenantal faithfulness.
The crucifixion and the resurrection were the greatest events in all history: Jesus returned to heaven as Lord of lords and King of kings – redemption accomplished – AND the Holy Spirit indwelt believers and the Church – redemption applied! The Triune God was magnified and will be fully magnified at the second coming.
Paul took the truths to heart. He could write about himself as having goal: to serve God by serving others. Paul had qualms with living in accordance to and teaching the truths that God is good and trustworthy and that he is to be growing as a God-truster (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Galatians 6:14; Philippians 1:19-23; 1 Timothy 4:7-8; 2 Timothy 4:6-8)!
.In Job’s case, his three friends upon seeing the greatness of his misery, in silence, sat with him for one week (Job 2:13). After they spoke, Job was faced with an avalanche of counsel. Things “turned sour” for Job at this point. He wanted answers and compassion. From his friends, he received the party-line theology: bad things happen to bad people and the answer is to repent. From God, he “received” God’s silence which was deafening! He wanted answers and moved to a position of demanding God to answer. Instead, he got God or rather God got him. Remember Job was a man, upright and blameless who feared the Lord and shunned evil (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3). But God used Satan as His agent to bring trouble and the three counselors to add to his burdens.
Job did not sin at first and he held out hope that God would explain Himself. God never did. Job eventually wanted to take God to court. Instead God took job to school. Job repented after God took Job to the zoo and re-introduced (remember Job was a believer) to Himself to Job (Job 38-42). Job listened and when he spoke he made an accurate assessment of himself because he now had an accurate assessment of God (Job 40:1-5; 42:5-6).
Faced with difficulties and sometimes quite large and burdensome, the believer has two choices: trust himself or the Triune God who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. This God has shown Himself to be trustworthy – His yes is yes in Christ and He has accepted Christ’s resurrection as down payment on resurrection life that begins now (Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 1:20-22).
1. What did Paul know? What did Joseph know?
2. How did they know?
3. How did it influence them and their lives?
4. Define all things in your life.
5. What did you need to think, desire, and do when faced with all things?