Paul's Passing Thoughts

Feelings

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 2, 2013

ppt-jpeg4When the Bible speaks of “sinful desires,” that is best interpreted as “emotions,” and better yet, “feelings.” Sin makes its appeal through the emotions. Christians must learn to separate feelings from truth. The wise Christian is an investor. He/she will decline an immediate payoff for the pure gold of good feelings based on truth. Often, the Christian will endure suffering for the sake of truth that produces the “joy set ahead.”

When I was a teenager, my stepdad tried to teach me how to fly his Piper Cub. My problem was that I could not disassociate my feelings of how the plane was flying from what the instruments were actually telling me. Have you ever noticed that airplane pilots tend to be emotionally level? That’s why. If you were a passenger in the plane at the time, the bickering between my stepdad and I would have undoubtedly made you very nervous. “We are coming in nose down.” ‘No we aren’t.’ “yes we are, look at the horizon gage.” ‘The gage is wrong.’ “You better let me take over.” ‘Why? This is fun.’ “I’m taking over before it’s too late.” ‘Whatever.’

And the Bible is not wrong. God has not left his children without a full philosophical statement for life and godliness. It has a self-sustaining power source, and communicates reality through words and their arrangement. God set the standard for epistemology when he created the metaphysical world with words. Feelings don’t interpret reality, words do. Feelings are not our authority; feelings must be brought to the court of law for a hearing and a judgment.

Feelings can invoke thinking and thinking can invoke feelings. It works both ways. A feeling arises, like maybe chest pain, and we think, “I could be having a heart attack.” That thought brings a feeling of fear, and then we think, “I’m going to die.” That might be true, and then again it might not be true. As Christians, we must function by truth. More times than not, worry is a lie. An extremely small amount of what we worry about actually happens. The apostle Paul tells us to bring every thought into captivity and bring it under the authority of Christ. Then we are to “dwell” on what is true.

The world dresses up lies to appeal to our desires. “If it feels good, do it.” Therein, feelings are the authority and not truth. I have noticed in our day that Christians rarely bring pithy truisms into the court of truth. There is simply no mental discernment policeman to arrest the thought and interrogate it. Pithy truisms are designed to stimulate the chemistry of the brain with an entertaining poetic ring. “If it feels good, believe it.” Then, eventually, you will do it. Perhaps the most apt example is Doris Day’s rendition of  Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be). Who can watch that video and keep from humming that lie to ourselves throughout the rest of the day?

In all of this, God’s word teaches us an important principle: Christians can change their desires through investment. “Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also” Our treasure needs to be the truth. Paul said to “hate what is evil and cling to what is good.” Can you learn to hate someone or something? Sure you can. You ignore it, and you focus on the truth regarding it. That thing you are thinking of may make you feel good, but what is the truth regarding it? Not investing in it and thinking truthfully about it will eventually change our feelings about it. Often, how we feel about something is the only good thing about it, and that has death written all over it. Right doing leads to right feeling (Philippians 4:9).

Joy does not always walk with obedience at every moment, but it will always show up later, if not sooner.

paul

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TANC and PPT Statement on the Authority of the Bible

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 15, 2012

1. The Bible is God’s direct revelation to mankind in written form. It is His full statement on all wisdom that mankind needs to be informed for life and godliness. That is, all life issues, and how to live life according to the character of God. The Bible informs us on how to think like God in regard to life, and to respond to life in ways that are pleasing to Him.

2 Peter 1:3

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

John 17:17

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

2. God used man to write the Bible as they were born along by the Holy Spirit. Despite the use of man’s many faceted personalities, and individual uniqueness and ideas, the Holy Spirit superintended the final outcome of ideas to insure men who love God propagated the truth through their writings.

2 Peter 1:20,21

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

3. The Bible contains its own hermeneutic and epistemology. In other words, the Bible informs man on how to interpret itself. All suggestions on methods of interpretation that come from outside of the Bible are suspect. For instance, the author of the book of Matthew states that the audience who heard Jesus preach the Sermon on the Mount were “taught” by Him (Matthew 5:2). This assumes that they had all the necessary tools within themselves at that time to receive the information and use it for the stated purpose: to have a life that is like a house built on a rock (Matthew 7:24). Therefore, any in-depth analysis of the Sermon on Mount that yields propositions that seem to contradict the plain sense of it should be immediately suspect.   

Other examples follow (emphasis by underline added):

1 Corinthians 10:6

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

1 Corinthians 10:11

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.

Nehemiah 13:26

Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women.

Matthew 13:36

[The Parable of the Weeds Explained ] Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

Matthew 15:15

Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

Galatians 4:24

Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.

Revelation 1:20

The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Revelation 17:7

Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns.

Daniel 2:28

but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:

Daniel 2:45

This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

The Bible interprets itself through a variety of means.

4. God colabored with man to write the Scriptures, and He also colabores with man to preserve the intended meaning of Scripture. But the latter is assured because of God’s involvement. The preservation of meaning is superintended by God. Through built-in methods of transmitting the Bible that repeat meaning in different ways, cross referencing exposes accidental error in translation as well as ill intent.

Matthew 5:18

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.

Matthew 4:4

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ”[It must therefore be assumed that it is preserved].

2 Peter 3:16

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

5. The Bible is clearly the Christian’s guide for determining all truth.

Matthew 22:29

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

Acts 17:2

As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

Romans 15:4

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

1 Corinthians 15:3

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

1 Corinthians 15:4

that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

1 Corinthians 4:6

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.

1 Corinthians 7:19

Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.

Romans 4:3

For what saith the scripture?

6. The Bible does not necessarily concern itself with facts concerning every aspect and activity in life, but does address how a Christian should think and believe with the goal of glorifying God. The Bible doesn’t teach us how to fix a car, but it does teach us how to be God’s kind of auto mechanic, husband, school teacher, construction worker, etc.

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

7. The Bible is completely sufficient for all wisdom that the Christian needs to live a life pleasing to God, and the renewing of the mind.

Matthew 4:4

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

2 Timothy 3:16, 17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

8. Only biblical wisdom and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit can transform and renew the mind.

Ephesians 4:23

and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

Ephesians 4:17

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,

9. Worldly wisdom may be descriptive, but is not prescriptive for any matter of life, and particularly godliness. Worldly wisdom or the sciences of living so-called cannot aid the Christian because they are not spiritually discerning.

1Corintians 2:14

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 1:20

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

10. Christians are to protect the Bible and contend against every thought in ourselves and others that lift themselves up against the knowledge of God. The word usually translated “observe” (tereo) in Matthew 28:20 (Christ’s mandate to the church) means to watch over or protect.

2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

11. The Bible calls itself “the mind of Christ.”  

1Corinthians 2:16

for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord

so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

12. In times past, and as God used man to build upon His word, other means were used to communicate His truth. But in these latter days, Scripture is the sole authority.

Hebrews 1:1, 2

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

2 Peter 1:16-21

For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

13. The Bible is the paramount authority in the life of each believer.

1 Corinthians 11:1

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Galatians 1:8

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

Acts 17:11

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

1 Peter 2:5

you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

14. A finished superintended canon is implied by biblical warnings to not add or take away from the Bible. Additions to the Bible throughout history were always qualified by special acts of God and confirmed by biblical prophecy from prior texts. God has always warned mankind to not add or take away from whatever was complete revelation for that time.

Revelation 22:18

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.

Deuteronomy 4:2

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it.

Psalms 119:160

The entirety of Your word is truth.

Proverbs 30:6

Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

15. Trust in God and His written word are synonymous.

Proverbs 30:5,6

Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Matthew 4:4

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Luke 11:27,28

Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

16. Only scriptural truth sanctifies. 

John 17:17

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

17. God expects mankind, and especially Christians to colabor in understanding truth.

Matthew 7:7

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

1 Peter 1:10

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

18. Works of the law are written on the hearts of all and executed by the conscience. Christians are to use the Bible (specific revelation) to keep a clear conscience.

Romans 2:14,15

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

1 Timothy 1:5

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

1 Timothy 1:19

holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

1 Timothy 3:9

They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

1 Timothy 4:2

Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

2 Timothy 1:3

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

19.  The Bible contains the only truth concerning hidden things of the heart or psychology of the mind. 

For example: Do people feign mental illness to escape bad situations?

1 Samuel 21: 12-15

David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath.  So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard. Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”

Another example is the fact that in the vast majority of cases where people are helped by psychology, they are simply taught to stop violating their consciences (see point #18). 

Another example would be,  how to have assurance of salvation. Worldy psychology can do nothing in regard to this subject as only one example among many: 

2 Peter 1:5-11

 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

20. God’s word is His full philosophical statement to man throughout the ages and revealed according to mans need at the time. Prior to the 6th century, the only alternative was mythology. Plato’s Academy was the first institution of supposed higher learning that created a philosophical statement for which man could attempt to live by. It has been the most formidable contention against God’s word since, and is the source for most pretensions that lift themselves up against the knowledge of God. Most psychological theory of our day can be traced back to the Sophists of ancient Greece.

21. All facts are not God’s truth.

There is a thinking crisis in our culture that is greatly compounded in the church because faith is often a license for subjectivity; an inability to think coupled with an attitude that pragmatism is the antithesis of spirituality. Especially in Reformed circles, knowing things and being solution oriented =’s “arrogance.”

Propositions are judged by how good they sound, or how logical they sound, or if the hearing thereof incites a stimulating chemical reaction in the brain that we seem to like.

All truth is God’s truth; is that true? No. However, the following is true: that truism has led many to destruction. Why? Because it assumes truth is the same as facts, and it doesn’t understand that all teaching is a process of propositions that lead to a conclusion. And, logic always yields the same results.

“Dr. John Doe has said many valid things here; I would only disagree with this point or that point.”

Facts and truth are two different things. Facts are usually passive and an elementary part of a larger schema. 2+2=4 is a fact, and a tree is a fact, but unlike truth, they are morally neutral and can rarely take you anyplace by themselves. Truth has a moral aspect, and usually has a purpose in mind. Jesus Christ is not merely a fact, though His existence is certainly factual—He is “The Truth.” He is the epitome of all that is good and gives life.

When the serpent deceived Eve in the garden, he used facts to take her to a rejection of the truth. The fact that Eve was not going to die on the spot after eating the apple was a fact. Satan presented many facts to Jesus when he tempted Him in the wilderness, but the goal wasn’t truth. Does that make the facts God’s truth? Hardly.

True facts that lead to untruth are not God’s truth, because God’s truth always equals life and has that end in mind. Sub truth, or facts, are only as true as what they yield whether life or death. When ill motives are attached to a fact, it is still fact, but it isn’t truth because the fact was used for ill intent. Truth has a moral qualification.

It is not a good idea to sit under the tutelage of Satan because he espouses facts that are undeniable—his facts never lead to truth, he is “the father of lies.”

“Satan has said many valid things here. I agree that Psalms 9:11,12 states that the angels will bear Jesus up. However, I disagree with his suggestion that Jesus should have jumped off the temple pinnacle.”

Really? That’s nice.

Secondly, each proposition that builds up to the conclusion needs to be evaluated. Sub points need to be true and they need to fit together logically to affirm the conclusion. When we have some disagreement on a point in a message or teaching, the possible application of it for another conclusion should be irrelevant. It needs to be judged according to its proposition and contribution to the conclusion at hand. Not all incorrect propositions on the way to a conclusion do irreparable damage to the conclusion, but it’s rare.

Thirdly, Philosophy forms logic which always leads to the same results. All “truth” teachers have a philosophy. All teaching seeks to lead you to a conclusion. Conclusions form logic and lead to action. Hence, “….the student will be like his teacher.”

Philosophy is metaphysics (what we believe about reality and being), epistemology (the theory of how we come to know what we know, or how we obtain knowledge), ethics (the moral application of what we know), and politics (how we use what we know to relate to others, or how we communicate it). The first two elements of philosophy always determine ethics and politics. Often, behavior reveals the philosophy: “….by their fruits you will know them.”

This is exactly why we categorize teachers and reject all that they say out of hand because once their philosophy is revealed, we know where the logic will always take us. Even if some of what they say is factual, the conclusions they want to take you to are based on the philosophy. Therefore, their factual stepping stones are only relevant to the truth or error that is the goal, and for all practical purposes, the same value is placed on the propositions leading to the conclusion. Hence, the biblical prescription for those who have errant philosophy: “AVOID THEM,” and, “Do not allow them into your home or bid them God’s speed.”

Therefore, facts that are part of a conclusion that is a lie have no moral value and are not truth, but part of a deception.

This is the folly of sitting under the teachings of people with errant philosophy, or even greeting them: even the facts that they present are intended to lead to untruthful conclusions. So no, all truth is not God’s truth. God’s truth always has a good ending. Scripture states plainly to completely avoid anyone with errant philosophy.

How you would then glean what is “good” from their teachings while “leaving what’s bad on the shelf,” or “eat the chicken and throw away the bones” is a mystery to me. God forbids that the chicken is even in our house and disallows the use of our shelves.

paul

Doctrine

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 10, 2011

Manuscript for Wednesday evening Bible study, Germantown Baptist Chapel, February 9, 2011

I begin this message tonight with some angst that has probably become normal among teachers of our day because it seems that the whole subject of doctrine has become taboo. A basic definition of doctrine from Dictionary.com is: “A particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government….something that is taught; teachings collectively….a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject.” Doctirne is a word in the Bible and concurs with the definitions just cited in regard to its biblical use. Doctrine is not to be confused with theology which is the study of deity, and may include information concerning the doctrines (systems of thinking) of many different religions.

My first point tonight will be: every living human being has, and operates by a doctrine – whether they are conscience of it or not. Here is a quote from an article I posted recently:

“….everybody on earth lives by a doctrine. Everybody that breaths. Atheism, for example, is a doctrine. Secondly, doctrine determines how you live, no exception. For instance, Nihilism is the doctrine of nothing. But yet, this was the doctrine embraced by the young man who recently tried to assassinate a US senator while murdering nine others. Lyrics from the song, ‘The Nothing Doctrine’ by Neaera, a rock band that promotes Nihilism, might give some insight into his actions: ‘Almighty uncreator, I am your eyes, I am your ears, I am your mouth, let your grandest hatred echo in my deprivation, a willing bearer of your creed to consecrate the void.’”

Romans 2: 21-23 validates the view that all live by a belief system, or doctrine:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

In verse 22, their supposed wisdom is their doctrine, which resulted from their thinking (verse 21); specifically, “futile” thinking. There are only two choices presented here in verse 21: knowledge of God and all other knowledge. It starts with thinking apart from God’s knowledge, and leads to false wisdom/doctrine.

This brings me to my second point: thinking forms our life. When we choose a path of thinking apart from God, that thinking is futile by the very definition of being apart from God, a system of false doctrine is formed, whether a religious flavor or not, and the thinking thereof forms our life. Proverbs 23:6 states it this way:

“Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; 7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is….”

Proverbs 27:19 says: “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart [mind].”

As can be seen in Matthew 9:4, “heart” is an idiom for the mind: “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” Luke 9:47 says, “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side….” Therefore, Proverbs 27:19 says that a persons life reflects their thinking.

The fact that thinking forms life can also be seen in the previous text we were looking in, Romans chapter 1. In verse 21, they reject the knowledge of God. In the latter part of verse 21, their thinking becomes futile, dark and foolish. In verse 22, they are deceived into thinking that are wise. Then, further descriptions of their thinking is interwoven with a downward spiral concerning life. In verse 24, their minds are consumed by lust. In verse 25, this all happens because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie. In verse 26, the mind becomes totally dominated by passions. And in verse 28, since they did not see fit to knowledge God, they are given up to a debased what?….Mind. Get the picture? In Genesis 6:5, we read the following:

“ The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”

Now my third point: Thinking also forms the life of a Christian for better or for worse. Regarding the spiritual life of a Christian, how we think is everything. In fact, the mind is the battleground of the Christian faith, and doctrine organizes and defines those thoughts; therefore, doctrine is of paramount concern. Christ’s mandate to the church was to make disciples, and then teach them to observe all that He commanded. Throughout the Gospels, Christ prefaced his teachings constantly with this statement: “What do you think?” In Matthew alone we see: Matthew 5:17 “Do not think….” Matthew 9:4 “Why are you thinking evil….” Matthew 10:34 “Do not think….” Matthew 17:25 “What do you think, Simon?” Matthew 18:12 “Do not think….” Matthew 21:28 “But what do you think?” Matthew 22:42 “What do you think….” Matthew 24:44 “….do not think….” Matthew 26:53 “Or do you think….” Matthew 26:66 “What do you think?”

Ephesians 4:20-24 makes it clear that as Christians we endeavor to transform our mind through the Spirit and His word:

“That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

These verses are the crux of sanctification. Old thinking is to be put away and replaced with new thinking which renews the mind and results in righteousness. To the degree that we do that, we grow spiritually. Everyone here tonight has an ample supply of thinking that needs to go bye-bye, and as far as new thinking, the mind of Christ is the goal.

In John 16:7, Christ said that He would send us the Helper, and in John 17:17, He said that we are sanctified with the truth, and God’s word is that truth. So, we have all we need – the Spirit and the truth, God’s word. Matthew 4:4 says we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God – not some words from God and some from Oprah Winfrey. Not some from God and some from Sigmund Freud. Again, if we revisit Ephesians 4, prior to verse 20, and 21, it is implied that there are only two ways to think, or two ways of life to be learned: the way of Christ and all other ways.

This whole concept of thinking being the primary battleground of sanctification can be seen in 2Corinthians 10:3-6:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

We take every thought captive (our own thoughts and the thoughts of others) and make them obedient to Christ. Every bit of knowledge that doesn’t align with God’s truth is a pretense against His word, and we are to demolish them. That’s the warfare. Paul also said the following in Romans 12:2:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [how are we transformed? By the renewing of what? And the condition of our minds are determined by what? Our….thinking. And Ephesians 4 says we change that by….]. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” We read the following in 1Peter 1:13-15 [Read 1Peter 1: 13-15 ]. Why is it always important to prepare our minds for action? Because that’s where the battleground is. And what is the battle? That our thinking would not be conformed to anything but the truth of God’s word. Period.

Therfore:

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1Timothy 4:16).

Sound doctrine organizes God’s truth and reveals old thinking that needs to be demolished. It is shocking that Christians have bought into the whole idea of tolerance towards pretenses that set themselves against the knowledge of God. It is shocking that Christians have bought into the idea that there are appropriate / inappropriate venues for sound doctrine. Our venue is anywhere thinking is going on.

Fourthly, our doctrine must be what Peter called the “pure milk” of the word in 1Peter 2:2:

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation”

Not tainted, and nothing mixed in. In John 16:7, Christ said that He would send us the Helper, and in John 17:17, He said that we are sanctified with the truth, and God’s word is that truth. So, we have all we need – the Spirit and the truth, God’s word. Matthew 4:4 says we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God – not some words from God and some from Oprah Winfrey. Not some from God and some from Sigmund Freud. Again, if we revisit Ephesians 4, prior to verse 20, and 21, it is implied that there are only two ways to think, or two ways of life to be learned: the way of Christ and all other ways. Therefore, doctrine must be apart from the world, and it must be according to pure biblical truth. Religious doctrine always contains truth tainted with unbiblical thinking. Therefore, Paul instructed Timothy accordingly:

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer “ (1Timothy 1:3).

Hence, pastors must be able to defend doctrine:

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

It is shocking that Christians are defensive when their thinking is challenged, as if they have very little thinking to put off and put on. A growing Christian can point to consistent markers in his life where wrong thinking is exposed by the word of God and replaced with true thinking, and applied to life accordingly. This is why we are always in the word and sitting under sound doctrine: because we are looking for old thinking to put off, and new truth to put on, and instruction regarding how that truth is skillfully applied to life. As a Christian, can you point to those markers and say it is true of your life?

As a church, can we point to markers where old thinking doesn’t align with God’s word and new truth is applied accordingly, or have we arrived? If we haven’t arrived, where is the old thinking? Brothers and sisters, in our minds and In the church, it is surely lurking about somewhere. Where there is change, there is life, where things stay the same, death. Christ is serious about this. He was teaching one day when his family came to speak with Him:

“Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’  21 He replied, My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’”

In Luke 11, we observe the following:

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Jesus is well aware of His own greatness, what He wants is the perfect will of God proven on Earth.

Learning the word to expose old thinking, learning new, and applying it to our lives; that’s the primary business of a Christian. Again, noting Romans 12:2, when we are doing this as individuals, and together as a church, that is when we can prove the perfect will of God, but only when that is, in fact, what we are doing.

At salvation, we are given a love for the truth as noted by contrasting us with the world in 2Thessalonians 2:10. We have been given the Helper, and we have been given God’s pure milk. Let us take these and prove the perfect will of God.

Let us pray.

The Role Of Counseling In The Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 4, 2009

This is a sermon I preached at Clearcreek Chapel in Dayton, Ohio in or about 1996. I was sorting through old files and actually threw it away, but decided to read it again out of curiosity. Much to my surprise, I still agree with most of it and think it is a message that a lot of Churches need to hear. My apologies, the manuscript is in caps because I read all of my sermons straight from the script and caps are easier for me to read.

This message is about the fact that the word of God, among other things, is a counseling book. As a matter of fact, it is “thee” counseling book. As Chuck and I go out visiting tonight, I am encouraged that we go with God’s wisdom and the opportunity that proceeds because of this fact.

If you are thinking about implementing a structured counseling (really, I prefer ” in-depth discipleship”) program in your church, I highly recommend the Biblical Counseling Foundation’s “Self Confrontation” program. I like the sub title of the program better:  “A  Manual for In-Depth Biblical Discipleship.” I DO NOT recommend NANC or CCEF.  NANC has an over emphasis on professionalism and CCEF integrates other disciplines that are clearly not biblical.

THE ROLE OF COUNSELING IN THE CHURCH

I WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN TONIGHT BY SHARING WITH YOU ABOUT A GUY WHO WE WILL CALL JAKE. HIS NAME HAS BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE GUILTY. BEFORE I START, I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT JAKE HAS GIVEN FULL PERMISSION TO USE HIS LIFE AS AN ILLUSTRATION FOR TONIGHT’S  MESSAGE AS IT WILL BE PRESENTED.

JAKE IS IN HIS CAR ON THE WAY TO A COUNSELING APPOINTMENT. NOT WITH A PSYCHOLOGIST. NO, NO, PERISH THE THOUGHT. JAKE IS OF REFORMED THEOLOGY AND HAS READ ALMOST ALL OF DAVE HUNTS BOOKS. JAKE IS ON THE WAY TO SEE A BIBLICAL COUNSELOR.

WHILE JAKE IS ON THE WAY, LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HIM. JAKE IS WELL STUDIED IN THE SCRIPTURES. NOT ONLY DOES HE SPEND A LOT OF PERSONAL TIME IN THE WORD, HE HAS ROUGHLY 3 YEARS OF SEMINARY AND BIBLE COLLEGE COMBINED.  ANOTHER THING I WILL TELL YOU IS JAKE’S LIFE IS IN A LOT OF TROUBLE. JAKE IS IN TROUBLE AT WORK. JAKE IS IN TROUBLE AT HOME. JAKE IS IN TROUBLE AT CHURCH. JAKE IS IN WHAT SOME CALL “CLINICAL DEPRESSION” AND CAN BARELY FUNCTION DAY TO DAY. ANY QUESTIONS? JAKE IS IN TROUBLE.

NOW BACK TO JAKE. ORDINARILY JAKE WOULD BE SCARED TO DEATH TO GET IN HIS CAR AND DRIVE ANYWHERE BECAUSE OF HIS EXCESSIVE PHOBIAS, BUT THE REASON JAKE IS ENTHUSIASTICALLY DRIVING TO THIS APPOINTMENT IS BECAUSE HE IS SURE THIS COUNSELOR CAN SHOW HIM THE SECRET BIBLE VERSE THAT WILL END ALL OF HIS TROUBLES IN 15 MINUTES. HOPE BUILDS STRONGER AND STRONGER AS HE DRAWS CLOSER TO HIS APPOINTMENT.

JAKE FINALLY ENTERS THE ROOM. HI!, THE COUNSELOR SAYS CHEERFULLY. THE COUNSELORS CHEERFUL DEMEANOR BUILDS EVEN MORE HOPE IN JAKE. AFTER SOME RELEVANT CONVERSATION, THE COUNSELOR TELLS JAKE WHERE THEY ARE GOING TO START. THIS IS THE MOMENT JAKE HAS BEEN WAITING FOR! “I HAVE A NEW GOAL FOR YOU JAKE,” SAID THE COUNSELOR. “YOUR NEW GOAL IS TO PLEASE GOD”. JAKE IS SO SHOCKED HE CANNOT SPEAK, BUT SCREAMS OUT THESE THOUGHTS IN HIS MIND: “PLEASE GOD! WHAT GOOD IS THAT GOING TO DO ME”!!!!!

AFTER THE COUNSELOR ASSIGNED SOME HOMEWORK, JAKE SCRAPES HIMSELF OFF THE FLOOR AND LEAVES. NOW JAKE IS DRIVING HOME AFTER THE APPOINTMENT, TALKING TO HIMSELF ON THE WAY. “HOW COULD HE GIVE ME SUCH A SIMPLISTIC SOLUTION TO MY PROBLEMS? THERE IS NO WAY THIS GUY UNDERSTANDS WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH. NOW WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?, GO TO A PSYCHOLOGIST? NO WAY. MY MOM WENT TO THEM FOR YEARS, THEY NEVER DID HER ANY GOOD. BESIDES, THE LAST ONE I WENT TO SEE BEFORE I WAS A CHRISTIAN CHARGED ME 85 DOLLARS AN HOUR AND ASK ME WHAT I THOUGHT THE ANSWERS TO MY PROBLEMS WHERE. IF I KNEW THAT, WHAT DID I NEED HER FOR? HOW ABOUT ANOTHER PASTOR OR COUNSELOR? THEY WILL JUST SEND ME TO A PSYCHOLOGIST. SUICIDE? HMMM, BETTER NOT. I’M NOT FOR SURE THAT I’M A CHRISTIAN. GEE GADS, I’M STUCK WITH THIS GUY!!!”

LITTLE DID JAKE KNOW, WHEN WORD GOT TO HEAVEN THAT THE COUNSELOR WAS STUCK WITH HIM THE FLAGS OF HEAVEN FLEW AT HALF STAFF AND ELIJAH WEPT. JAKE CONTINUES DOWN THE ROAD AND LOOKS DOWN AT THE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT LAYING BESIDE HIM ON THE CAR SEAT “WHATS THIS HOMEWORK STUFF? I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING IN CHURCH. HEY I KNOW, HE KNOWS MORE THAN HE’S LETTING ON. I BET THERE’S SOME ANSWERS IN THAT HOMEWORK.”

WELL, JAKE GOES HOME AND DOES HIS HOMEWORK AND HE’S RIGHT, THERE ARE ANSWERS IN THE HOMEWORK. JAKE LEARNS THAT THE BIBLE IS NOT A BOOK THAT TELLS US HOW TO GET RID OF OUR PROBLEMS BUT RATHER TELLS US HOW TO BE GOD’S KIND OF PERSON IN THE MIDST OF THE PROBLEMS. THIS ACTUALLY SOMEWHAT ENCOURAGES JAKE SINCE HE HASN’T HAD ANY SUCCESS GETTING RID OF HIS PROBLEMS ANYWAY.

JAKE ALSO LEARNS THAT GOD IS IN COMPLETE CONTROL OVER HIS PROBLEMS. HE WANTS TO USE THE PROBLEMS JAKE BROUGHT ON HIMSELF TO LEAD HIM TO REPENTANCE AND TEACH HIM HOW TO BE MORE LIKE CHRIST. THE OTHER PROBLEMS WHERE GOD’S SOVEREIGN WILL FOR HIS LIFE AND DECREED FOR THE SAME PURPOSE.

” OHHHHHHHHHH, JAKE SAYS TO HIMSELF, GOD IS NOT ONLY SOVEREIGN OVER SALVATION, HE’S ALSO SOVEREIGN OVER EVERY DETAIL OF OUR LIFE!”

THE HOMEWORK SMASHED JAKE’S FALSE HOPES LIKE A DIXIE CUP, BUT REAL HOPE FROM THE WORD OF GOD THAT THE COUNSELOR IS POINTING TO IS NOW BEGINNING TO SPROUT IN JAKE’S MIND.

AT HIS NEXT APPOINTMENT, JAKE UTTERS THESE PROFOUND WORDS: “WELL, I GUESS IT’S JUST NOT GOD’S WILL THAT EVERYTHING TURNS OUT THE WAY WE THINK IT SHOULD”. “OH, THAT’S GOOD JAKE”, REPLIES THE COUNSELOR. “I’M GLAD YOU SAID THAT, IN A MATTER OF FACT, I’M GOING TO WRITE IT DOWN IN YOUR FILE. LET’S SEE, JAKE SAID…….

TILL THIS DAY JAKE ISN’T SURE WHETHER THE COUNSELOR WAS INCREDIBLY PATIENT OR FINALLY SEIZED THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE SOME FUN. NEVERTHELESS, JAKE WAS FLATTERED BY THE COUNSELOR’S RESPONSE AND ASSUMED HE FINALLY HIT ON SOME OF THAT BIBLICAL THINKING THE COUNSELOR KEPT TALKING ABOUT.

WELL, JAKE KEPT LEARNING AND TODAY SEES HIS LIFE AS RADICALLY CHANGED. WHAT I JUST SHARED IS OF COURSE A CONDENSED VERSION OF ACTUAL EVENTS. YOU CAN ADD MUCH INFORMAL ENCOURAGEMENT AND PHONE CALLS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. THAT’S NOT SIMPLISTIC.

I SHARED JAKE’S STORY TO HELP US DEVELOP OUR FIRST POINT TONIGHT. WHAT IS THE CONTEMPORARY PICTURE OF COUNSELING IN TODAY’S CHURCH?

I KNOW YOU PROBABLY THINK JAKE WAS A SPIRITUAL AIR HEAD.  BUT I WILL HASTEN TO ADD THAT EVEN IN HIS WORST STATE HE WAS FAR AHEAD OF A LOT OF CHRISTIANS. WHY? BECAUSE HE BELIEVED THE BIBLE ALONE HAD THE ANSWERS TO HIS PROBLEMS. MOST CHRISTIANS TODAY DO NOT EVEN BELIEVE THAT. YES, THE TRUTH JAKE DISCOVERED ABOUT HIS OWN SIN AND GOD’S WAY OF DEALING WITH IT WAS LIKE SWALLOWING A BIG HORSE PILL, BUT LIKE PETER HE SAID, “NEVERTHELESS LORD,AT YOUR WORD”.

UNDER OUR FIRST POINT IN YOUR NOTES, PLEASE DRAW A PIE AND SPLIT IT UP INTO TWO LARGE PIECES, TWO SMALL PIECES, AND A SLIVER. OF THE TWO SMALL PIECES, ONE SHOULD BE HALF THE SIZE OF THE OTHER. NOW LETS LABEL THE PIECES. YOUR LABELS CAN BE OUTSIDE BY WAY OF ARROWS. LABEL ONE OF THE BIG PIECES “WORD OF GOD NOT SUFFICIENT FOR COUNSELING, OTHER SOURCES NEEDED.”  I DON’T THINK THIS NEEDS MUCH EXPLANATION.

LABEL THE SECOND BIG PIECE “WORD OF GOD NOT FULLY SUFFICIENT.”  THIS REPRESENTS THOSE WHO THINK THE BIBLE IS SUFFICIENT FOR THE EVERYDAY MINOR PROBLEMS OF LIFE BUT SOMETHING MORE IS NEEDED FOR THE SERIOUS OR “DEEP” PROBLEMS OF LIFE.

I THINK THESE TWO PIECES OF THE PIE REPRESENTS THE THINKING OF MOST PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH TODAY.

NOW LETS LABEL ONE OF THE SMALL PIECES, THE LARGER OF THE TWO. JAKE IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THIS PIECE. LABEL IT “ABSTRACT THEOLOGY”. SIMPLY PUT, ABSTRACT THEOLOGY IS A KNOWLEDGE OF THEOLOGICAL FACTS WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW TO APPLY IT TO THE SPECIFICS OF LIFE. JAKE KNEW OF GOD’S SOVEREIGN GRACE, THAT’S GOOD THEOLOGY. BUT HE WAS OBLIVIOUS TO THE FACT THAT GOD WAS IN COMPLETE CONTROL OF THE PROBLEMS IN HIS LIFE AS WELL. THAT’S WHEN PANIC BEGAN TO START. JAKE THOUGHT HIS LIFE WAS SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL.

NOW LET’S LABEL THE OTHER SMALL PIECE. THESE ARE CHRISTIANS WHO UNDERSTAND THE CONNECTION OF THEOLOGY TO LIFE TO SOME POINT, BUT THEY LACK EXPERIENCE IN HELPING OTHERS TO DO IT. THIS ALSO HINDERS A FURTHER ABILITY TO DO IT IN THEIR OWN LIFE, WHICH THEY DO WELL TO A POINT. SOME WOULD SAY THEY ARE NOT “CASE WISE”. IF YOU HANDED THEM A BOOK OF ACTUAL CASE STUDIES WITHOUT THE BIBLICAL ANSWERS, THEY WOULD BE SURPRISED AT THEIR TRUE INABILITY TO HELP OTHERS WITH THE WORD OF GOD.

NOW LET’S LABEL THE SLIVER. THESE ARE CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE A GOOD WORKING KNOWLEDGE OF THEOLOGY AND HOW TO APPLY IT TO THEIR  OWN LIFE AND THE LIVES OF OTHERS, AND ACTIVELY DO SO. THEY ARE TOO FEW IN THE BODY OF CHRIST. THE BIBLE CALLS THEM “MATURE” IN  HEB 5;14 AND “SPIRITUAL” IN GAL 6:1.

THE TWO LARGE PIECES REPRESENT CONFUSION. THE TWO SMALL PIECES REPRESENT FAILURE OR LIMITED GLORY FOR GOD. THE SLIVER NEEDS TO BE A MUCH BIGGER PIECE OF THE PIE. SUCH IS THE PICTURE OF COUNSELING IN TODAY’S CHURCH. WHICH PIECE OF THE PIE DO YOU PRESENTLY RESIDE IN?

NOW IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT THAT ALL THE PIECES OF THE PIE EXCEPT FOR THE SLIVER ARE ONE PIECE. THOUGH THEY DIFFER, THEY COMMONLY BELIEVE THREE THINGS ABOUT BIBLICAL COUNSELING:

FIRST, COUNSELING IS ONLY FOR THOSE CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE A LOT OF PROBLEMS FROM A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE.

SECONDLY, THE TROUBLED CHRISTIAN ALWAYS INITIATES THE COUNSELING.

THIRDLY, IT MUST BE DONE BY THE SENIOR PASTOR OR A “TRAINED PROFESSIONAL”

THATS A PICTURE OF THE CONDITION AND SCOPE OF COUNSELING IN TODAY’S TYPICAL CHURCH. BUT IT’S NOT THE SAME PICTURE THE BIBLE PRESENTS.

FIRST OF ALL, OUR GOD IS NOT A GOD OF CONFUSION. THERE ARE NOT MULTIPLE SOURCES FOR GOD’S GUIDANCE AND COUNSEL. THE  WORD OF GOD IS TOTALLY SUFFICIENT.

PSALM 1:1 AND 119:105 SAY THAT GOD’S WORD GIVES US DIRECTION. 2PETER 1:3 SAYS THAT THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD SUPPLIES US WITH EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR LIFE AND GODLINESS. THEN PETER SAYS IN VERSES 16-21 THAT THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IN HIS WORD IS EVEN BETTER AND MORE CERTAIN THAN THE EVENTS AND MIRACLES THE APOSTLES WITNESSED WITH THEIR OWN EYES. HEBREWS 4:12,13 SAYS THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND ACTIVE AND CAN LAY OPEN THE SOUL AND SPIRIT LIKE A DOUBLE EDGE SWORD CAN LAY OPEN A BODY ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE BONE MARROW. IT DISCERNS AND JUDGES THE ATTITUDES AND THOUGHTS OF THE MIND AND PREPARES MAN TO GIVE AN ACCOUNT TO GOD.

I ASK ANYONE WHO SAYS THE WORD IS NOT SUFFICIENT: CAN YOUR TRUTH DO THAT?
LASTLY ON THIS POINT, BUT NOT LEAST, PSALM 138:2  SAYS GOD HAS EXALTED HIS WORD EVEN ABOVE HIS OWN NAME!

THEREFORE, THERE IS NO NEED FOR CONFUSION AMONG GOD’S  PEOPLE, AS JESUS SAID, “THY WORD IS TRUTH.” ALL COUNSEL CONCERNING THE ISSUES OF LIFE MUST BE FROM THE WORD OF GOD. THERE IS NO OTHER VIABLE SOURCE.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NEED FOR COUNSELING ACTIVITY? SURELY COUNSELING TAKES A BACK SEAT IN A BIG WAY TO TEACHING AND PREACHING, RIGHT? LETS TAKE A WALK THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES AND FIND OUT.

FIRST OF ALL, WE FIND OUT A VERY IMPORTANT TRUTH ABOUT COUNSELING IN THE VERY BEGINNING OF THE BIBLE. IN GENESIS 1:27-2:25, WE FIND OUT MAN WAS CREATED TO BE COUNSELED. GOD BUILT IN THE NEED. IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CREATION, MOST OF CHAPTER 1 AND ALL OF CHAPTER 2 DESCRIBES GOD’S COUNSEL TO ADAM AND EVE.

IMMEDIATELYAFTER THE FALL, WE FIND ADAM, EVE AND SATAN IN A COUNSELING SESSION WITH GOD. LATER, WE FIND GOD COUNSELING CAIN AFTER HE MURDERED HIS BROTHER ABLE. WE ALSO FIND SEVERAL COUNSELING SESSIONS BETWEEN GOD, ABRAHAM AND LOT. HAGAR IS COUNSELED IN THE WILDERNESS AND JOSEPH COUNSELS HIS BROTHERS. IN EXODUS THROUGH DEUTERONOMY, GOD AND MOSES COUNSEL THE ISRAELITES. IN NUMBERS 18, JETHRO AND MOSES SET UP A COUNSELING SYSTEM WHERE MOSES TOOK THE MOST DIFFICULT CASES AND THE REST WHERE SPLIT UP AMONG OTHER COUNSELORS. IN THE HISTORICAL AND PROPHETIC BOOKS, GOD COUNSELS HIS PEOPLE THROUGH THE PROPHETS. NATHAN COUNSELS DAVID. THE BOOK OF JOB IS ONE WHOLE COUNSELING CASE ALTHOUGH JOB’S THREE FRIENDS ARE A STUDY ON HOW NOT TO COUNSEL. THE BOOK OF PROVERBS IS A COUNSELING MANUAL. THE BOOK OF JONAH IS YET ANOTHER COUNSELING CASE. IN A MATTER OF FACT, THE BOOK OF JONAH GIVES GREAT INSIGHT INTO THE PROBLEM OF DEPRESSION.

SO FAR, THERE IS BARELY MORE THAN TWO NOTABLE SERMONS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, BUT MANY MORE COUNSELING EXAMPLES COULD BE CITED IF TIME PERMITTED.

IN THE GOSPELS, ONE SERMON BY JESUS IS RECORDED, THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, BUT HIS COUNSEL TO OTHERS CONSUMES THE BOOKS. NICODEMUS, THE WOMAN AT THE WELL, THE RICH YOUNG RULER, THE APOSTLES AND OF COURSE PETER. THE EPISTLES ARE ALMOST ALL CORRECTIVE. EPHESIANS SIMULATES PROVERBS AS A COUNSELING MANUAL. PRISCILLA AND AQUILA COUNSEL APOLLOS AND JESUS COUNSELS THE SEVEN CHURCHES IN REVELATION. BUT YET, ONLY A FEW NOTABLE SERMONS BY PETER AND PAUL ARE RECORDED.

ONE MORE POINT NEEDS TO BE MADE HERE. NOT ONLY DOES COUNSELING CONSUME A VERY LARGE PORTION OF SCRIPTURE, BUT MOST OF IT IS PROACTIVE ON THE PART OF THE COUNSELORS. IN A MATTER OF FACT, HEB 10:24-25 SAYS ONE OF THE PRIMARY REASONS WE MEET TOGETHER IS FOR PROACTIVE COUNSEL.

WE SEE THAT COUNSELING IS VERY PREVALENT IN THE SCRIPTURES, BUT WHO COUNSELS AND WHO IS SUPPOSED TO DO COUNSELING?

WELL, WE HAVE SEEN THAT GOD HAS DONE COUNSELING FACE TO FACE WITH MAN. CHRIST IS CALLED THE “MIGHTY COUNSELOR.” THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WITHOUT A DOUBT THE MOST ACTIVE COUNSELOR EVER AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT ANGELS HAVE ALSO BEEN VERY ACTIVE COUNSELORS. AN ANGEL COUNSELED MARTHA AND MARY AT THE TOMB. AN ANGEL COUNSELED THE APOSTLES AT CHRIST’ ASCENSION. AN ANGEL COUNSELED JOSEPH AND THERE ARE MANY MORE EXAMPLES.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE OF US IN THE CHURCH ON EARTH?

FIRST OF ALL, PASTORS ARE TO COUNSEL. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT A PASTOR CAN TAKE THE WORD OF GOD AND GUIDE THE SAINTS IN EXEGETING  HEARTS, MOTIVES AND ATTITUDES. UNDER THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, PETER COMMANDS ALL ELDERS TO”SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD THAT IS AMONG YOU”. SHEPHERDS GUIDE, TEACH AND PROTECT AND MUST GIVE ACCOUNT OF YOUR LIFE FACE TO FACE WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO HEB 13:17. NOTICE THAT THIS VERSE ASSUMES THAT ELDERS “KEEP WATCH” OVER YOU.

ALSO, THE SCRIPTURES MAKE IT CLEAR WHAT THE PASTORS TOOLS ARE FOR DOING THIS, PRAYER AND THE WORD OF GOD.

IN ACTS 6:2-4. NOTICE THE TERM “MINISTRY OF THE WORD” IN THESE VERSES. THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD IS MORE THAN PREACHING. IT IS TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING AND TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS ACCORDING TO 2TIM 3:16. PREACHING AND TEACHING ALONE CANNOT NOT ACCOMPLISH THIS, THAT IS OBVIOUS. VERSE 17 ADDS THAT THE WORD OF GOD FULLY EQUIPS THE MAN OF GOD FOR THIS TASK.

BEFORE WE MOVE ON, LET ME SAY THIS; THERE IS BARELY ANYTHING MORE SHAMEFUL THAN MEN WHO CALL THEMSELVES PASTORS THAT SEND  HURTING PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE CHURCH TO THOSE WHO REJECT GOD’S WORD AS THE FINAL AUTHORITY FOR ALL COUNSELING.

OTHER THAN PASTORS, PARENTS ARE TO COUNSEL THEIR CHILDREN [ DUE 11;19, EPH 6:4]. GRANDPARENTS ARE TO COUNSEL THEIR GRANDCHILDREN [ DUE  6:9]. OLDER WOMEN ARE TO COUNSEL YOUNGER WOMEN [TITUS 2;1-5] HUSBANDS ARE TO COUNSEL THEIR WIVES [EPH 5;25,26]. THOSE WHO HAVE ENDURED TRIALS GOD’S WAY ARE TO COUNSEL
[2COR 1;3,4].

AND FINALLY,COUNSELING IS TO BE ONGOING BETWEEN CHRISTIANS. ALL CHRISTIANS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COUNSELING EACH OTHER AND BEING SKILLED AT DOING SO THROUGH TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE [COL 3:16 ROM 15:14 AND ITHESS 514]. ALSO, APPARENTLY COUNSELING WILL CONTINUE AFTER THE COMING OF CHRIST. PAUL SAYS IN ICOR 6:3 THAT WE WILL COUNSEL ANGELS.

BEFORE WE MOVE ON TO THE NEXT POINT, LET’S DRAW ANOTHER PIE. MAKE ONE BIG PIECE THAT CIRCLES ALMOST ALL THE WAY AROUND. LABEL IT COUNSELING. NOW MAKE A SMALL PIECE. LABEL IT PREACHING,SACRAMENTS,WORSHIP SERVICES. I HOPE THAT DOESN’T OFFEND YOU. BUT I THINK IT IS A FAIR BIBLICAL PICTURE OF THE MAGNITUDE OF THE ROLE COUNSELING SHOULD PLAY IN THE CHURCH. OBVIOUSLY, COUNSELING DOES NOT PLAY THIS LARGE OF A ROLE IN TODAY’S CHURCH, BUT AT ONE TIME IT DID.

AT SOME POINT IN AMERICAN CHURCH HISTORY, THE CHURCH   BEGAN TO FOCUS ON AND EMPHASIZE WHOLESALE, ONE TIME PROFESSIONS OF FAITH AT THE END OF FORMAL  PREACHING AND FOCUSED AWAY FROM THE EVERYDAY SANCTIFICATION PROCESS.

TO MAKE THIS POINT QUICKLY, LET’S DRAW TWO PICTURES IN OUR MIND. ON THE ONE HAND YOU HAVE CHRISTIANS EXHORTING EACH OTHER, ADMONISHING EACH OTHER, COMFORTING EACH OTHER, TRAINING EACH OTHER,TEACHING EACH OTHER, ENCOURAGING EACH OTHER, PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER, ALL IN THE MILIEU OF LIFE. THEY SEE THEIR REMAINING MORTALITY AS A POWERFUL TYRANT THAT MUST BE BEATEN DOWN AND BROUGHT UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE WORD OF GOD WITH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, STRINGENT DISCIPLINE AND THE AID OF OTHER BELIEVERS. THEN ON THE OTHER HAND, JUST THINK OF A BILLY GRAHAM CRUSADE. OR BETTER YET, A STADIUM FULL OF 350,000 TOUCHY FEELY MEN.

I’M NOT SAYING THAT NOTHING GOOD COMES OUT OF THOSE EVENTS. WHAT I’M SAYING IS THAT IT’S THE TRADE OFF IN FOCUS AND EMPHASIS THAT THE CHURCH HAS MADE AND PRECIOUS FEW PEOPLE WOULD DENY THAT.

THE CHURCHES FOCUS AWAY FROM THE RIGORS OF EVERYDAY SANCTIFICATION NATURALLY LED IT’S PASTORS AND LAITY AWAY FROM COUNSELING BECAUSE COUNSELING PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE IN THE SANCTIFICATION PROCESS. THIS LED TO A PROBLEM THAT MOSTLY EFFECTED THE PASTOR’S ABILITY TO MINISTER TO PEOPLE. KNOWING WHO PEOPLE ARE AND WHAT MAKES THEM TIC IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR ABILITY TO HELP THEM. PASTORS DO NOT LEARN ABOUT PEOPLE BY PREACHING THEOLOGY FROM THE PULPIT. THEY LEARN ABOUT PEOPLE BY INTERACTING WITH THEM AND THEIR PROBLEMS ON A CONTINUAL BASIS. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED FOR WHATEVER REASON: PASTORS TURNED THEIR BACKS ON COUNSELING PEOPLE AND BEGAN TO FOCUS SOLELY ON PREACHING AND THE EFFECT ON THE CHURCH HAS BEEN PROFOUND.

FIRST, IN REGARD TO PREACHING, AS WE DISCUSSED EARLIER, PREACHING BECAME SERMONS OF ABSTRACT THEOLOGY. WHEN PASTORS STOPPED LEARNING ABOUT PEOPLE BY COUNSELING EXPERIENCE AND THE WORD OF GOD, THEY LOST THEIR ABILITY TO ENJECT PRACTICAL APPLICATION INTO THEIR SERMONS AND PREACHING BECAME REDUCED TO THEOLOGICAL FACTS. JAKE SAT UNDER A LOT OF THIS KIND OF PREACHING / TEACHING AND WHEN THE TRIALS OF LIFE CAME, HIS HOUSE CAME CRASHING DOWN!

SECONDLY, THE CHURCHES TESTIMONY TO THE WORLD HAS BEEN PROFOUNDLY EFFECTED. THE INABILITY TO APPLY THEOLOGY TO LIFE HAS GREATLY HINDERED SANCTIFICATION IN THE CHURCH AND THEREFORE HAS CRIPPLED OUR IMPACT ON SOCIETY AND THE WORLD.

THIRDLY, ABSTRACT THEOLOGY HAS CAUSED A MAJORITY OF CHRISTIANS IN TODAY’S CHURCH TO DOUBT THAT GOD’S WORD IS TOTALLY SUFFICIENT BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT BEEN TAUGHT, NOR HAVE WITNESSED IT’S TRANSFORMING POWER THAT RESULTS FROM IT’S PRACTICAL APPLICATION.

FOURTHLY, THIS HAS ALSO LED TO A GREAT DECLINE IN EVANGELISM. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO GET CHRISTIANS EXCITED ABOUT EVANGELISM WHEN THEY DO NOT SEE THE AWESOME POWER OF GOD BEING DEMONSTRATED IN THEIR OWN LIVES AND THE LIVES OF OTHERS. HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO GET CHRISTIANS EXCITED ABOUT EVANGELISM? ANYMORE, TO GET CHRISTIANS TO EVANGELIZE YOU HAVE TD PACKAGE IT WITH A TRIP OR A VACATION. BUT EVEN THEN EVANGELISM HAS LOST IT’S EFFECTIVENESS BECAUSE WHEN PASTORS STOPPED LEARNING ABOUT PEOPLE AND CHRISTIANS STOPPED LEARNING ABOUT EACH OTHER, GOSPEL PRESENTATIONS BECAME CANNED. THE ROMANS ROAD, THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS, TRACKS, EVANGELISM EXPLOSION, PEOPLE RUNNING UP AND DOWN ISLES, ENDLESS RE-DEDICATION AND ENDLESS CLICHES.

THE APOSTLE PAUL KNEW PEOPLE AND THAT’S WHY HIS GOSPEL PRESENTATIONS WERE FITTED TO THE PERSON AND THE SITUATION WITHOUT COMPROMISE. DID NOT CHRIST PRESENT THE GOSPEL TO THE WOMAN AT THE WELL IN A DIFFERENT WAY THAN NICODEMUS AND THE RICH YOUNG RULER? NOT TO MENTION MANY OTHERS.

LET ME READ PHILEMON 4-7 BECAUSE I THINK IT TIES ALL OF MY POINTS TOGETHER [READ]. BY ACTIVELY REFRESHING THE HEARTS OF THE SAINTS, PAUL SAID PHILEMON WOULD GAIN A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF EVERY GOOD THING WE HAVE IN CHRIST, AND SO IT IS WITH US ALSO.

UNDER POINT FOUR, LET’S NOW DISCUSS THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE CHURCH NEEDS A COUNSELING SYSTEM. IN OTHER WORDS, DOES THE CHURCH NEED METHODOLOGY IN ORDER TO COUNSEL EFFECTIVELY?

MANY PASTORS WOULD SAY NO, AND HERE’S HOW THE ARGUMENT GOES: THIS IS ALMOST A WORD FOR WORD QUOTE FROM A PASTOR FRIEND OF MINE; “PAUL, IF THE PEOPLE WOULD JUST COME TO THE SERMONS AND STUDY THE WORD OF GOD ON THEIR OWN, THEY WOULDN’T NEED COUNSELING. I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MANY TIMES SOMEBODY HAS CALLED ME FOR COUNSEL ON AN ISSUE THAT I PREACHED ON JUST THE WEEK BEFORE”

THERE ARE MANY PROBLEMS WITH THIS REASONING BUT I WILL ONLY COVER THE MAJOR ONES. THIS REASONING ASSUMES PEOPLE ALWAYS KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEIR PROBLEM IS AND CAN THEREFORE ALWAYS APPLY THE RIGHT SERMON. NOT SO. JERE 17:9 SAYS WE CANNOT KNOW OUR OWN HEARTS APART FROM THE WORD OF GOD

PROVERBS 20:5 SAYS THAT IT TAKES A WISE MAN TO DRAW OUT THE ISSUES OF THE HEART. GAL 6:1 DOES NOT SAY TO SEND A FALLEN BROTHER OR SISTER TO A PREACHING SERVICE, IT SAYS TO SEND “THOSE WHO ARE SPIRITUAL”. ALSO, THIS LINE OF REASONING ASSUMES GOD GAUGES THE TRIALS OF LIFE ACCORDING TO SERMON SCHEDULES. CERTAINLY WE SHOULD ALL KNOW BETTER THAN THAT.

ANOTHER ARGUMENT IS THAT THE PRESENT DAY BIBLICAL COUNSELING
MOVEMENT MAKES A STRONG DISTINCTION BETWEEN WHAT IS CALLED COUNSELORS AND COUNSELEES, CREATING A SORT OF HAVE AND HAVE NOT ENVIRONMENT THAT SMACKS OF PROFESSIONALISM. ACTUALLY, THE BIBLE MAKES THAT DISTINCTION BUT IT’S NOT PROFESSIONALISM. IT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE WHO DILIGENTLY STUDY THE SCRIPTURES AND APPLY THEM TO THERE OWN LIFE AND HAVE EXPERIENCE HELPING OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. THE BIBLE CALLS THEM “MATURE” [HEB 5:14], AND “SPIRITUAL” [GAL 6:1] AND PEOPLE OF “FAITH AND LOVE” [PHILEMON 4-6].

HERE IS ANOTHER THOUGHT: WHEN YOUR A NEW CHRISTIAN, YOUR PURELY A COUNSELEE FOR THE MOST PART. AS YOU GROW, YOU LEARN HOW TO COUNSEL YOURSELF AND OTHERS AND BECOME MORE OF A COUNSELOR AND LESS OF A COUNSELEE. ONCE YOU START TO GROW AND MATURE, THERE IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE SOMEBODY WHO KNOWS LESS THAN YOU DO. THEY ARE CANDIDATES TO BE HELPED BY YOU.

BUT IT SHOULD BE OUR GOAL TO BEAR OUR OWN BURDENS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE SO WE ARE FREE TO HELP OTHERS THAT MUCH MORE. WELL THEN, YOU ASK, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MOST OF YOUR PEOPLE ARE MATURE AND COUNSELEES GET SCARCE. YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS THEN? THE WALLS OF THE CHURCH CAN’T CONTAIN IT. THE PEOPLE GOTTA COUNSEL SOMEWHERE EVEN IF IT’S THE PRE-COUNSELING  OF EVANGELISM. YOUR PEOPLE MOVE OUT AND BECOME AN AWESOME LIGHT IN THEIR COMMUNITY FOR THE GLORY OF GOD!

I THINK AS THE PEOPLE DILIGENTLY APPLY THE WORD OF GOD TO THEIR OWN LIVES AND HELP OTHERS TO DO THE SAME, THEY BEGIN TO SEE GOD’S TRANSFORMING POWER AND CANNOT RESTRAIN THEMSELVES FROM SHARING IT WITH OTHERS.

OUR FINAL POINT TONIGHT IS ARGUMENTS FOR A COUNSELING SYSTEM.

1. BECAUSE GOD HIMSELF IS A GOD OF SYSTEMS AND METHODS. THIS IS CLEAR FROM CREATION. THE SOLAR SYSTEM. THE NATURAL SYSTEM OF HYDROLOGY ECT. GOD USED METHODS AND SYSTEMS TO WRITE HIS WORD. WHEN GOD COUNSELED ADAM AND EVE AFTER THE FALL, HE BEGAN WITH ADAM FIRST. THEN EVE. THEN THE SERPENT. AFTER HEARING THEIR EXPLANATIONS, HE DEALT WITH THEM IN THE SAME ORDER CONCERNING THE CONSEQUENCES OF WHAT THEY HAD DONE. GOD ALWAYS USES SYSTEMS AND METHODS.

2. IF WE SEE A NEED FOR SYSTEMATIZED THEOLOGY, SYSTEMATIC BIBLE STUDY AND  A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL SYSTEM, WHY WOULD WE NOT WANT A SYSTEM FOR TARGETED DISCIPLESHIP? THAT’S REALLY WHAT COUNSELING IS, TARGETED DISCIPLESHIP. THOSE WHO APPOSE A SYSTEM OF COUNSELING WOULD NOT DENY THE NEED FOR SYSTEMS IN THESE OTHER AREAS.

3. IF THE ISSUES AND PURPOSES OF MAN ARE DEEP AND COMPLICATED AS PROVERBS 20:5 SAYS, THEN WE NEED A SYSTEM TO HELP US IN OUR UNDERSTANDING JUST AS SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY HELPS US UNDERSTAND THEOLOGY.

4. HISTORY TEACHES US THAT THE CHURCH TENDS TO LOOSE WHAT IT DOES NOT PUT INTO A SYSTEM. FUTURE GENERATIONS SHOULD ALWAYS CONTINUE TO BUILD UPON WHAT HAS BEEN LEARNED  IN THE PAST AND IMPROVE IT’S EFFECTIVENESS. SYSTEMS AND METHODS GIVE US A WAY TO CAN WHAT. WE HAVE LEARNED AND PASS IT ON TO THE NEXT GENERATION.

5. SYSTEMS AND METHODS ARE CRITICAL TO HOLDING COUNSELORS ACCOUNTABLE AND CONSISTENT.

6. IT OBVIOUSLY TAKES TRAINING TO BE PREPARED TO COUNSEL PEOPLE WITH SERIOUS PROBLEMS. SYSTEMS AND METHODS ARE ESSENTIAL TO GOOD TRAINING.

TODAY’S CHURCH NEEDS A NEW SELF-IMAGE. WE NEED TO SEE OURSELVES AS AN INTIMATE FAMILY HELPING EACH OTHER DOWN THE ROAD OF SANCTIFICATION TOWARD THE PERFECT DAY. WE NEED TO SEE THE TRIP TOGETHER DOWN THAT ROAD AS A STRUGGLE AGAINST THE FLESH THAT WILL REQUIRE US TO BE SOLDIERS AND OLYMPIANS. ANY LESSER VIEW OF THE SIN THAT IS IN US IS TO GREATLY UNDER-ESTIMATE THE ENEMY.

WE MUST ESTEEM OTHERS BETTER THAN OURSELVES, ADMONISH EACH OTHER, EXHORT EACH OTHER, TEACH EACH OTHER, CORRECT EACH OTHER, TRAIN EACH OTHER, ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER, WARN EACH OTHER, PROTECT EACH OTHER, GREET EACH OTHER, BE KIND TO EACHO1HER, SUBMIT TO EACH OTHER, PRAY FOR EACH OTHER AND KNOW EACH OTHER.

THERE IS NO TIME FOR GOSSIP SLANDER, COMPETITION AND A HOST OF OTHER THINGS THAT DO NOT EDIFY AND STRENGHTEN  THE FAMILY.

THE CHURCH NEEDS TEACHING AND PREACHING THAT CAN IDENTIFY THE REAL ISSUES OF LIFE, THE TOOLS NEEDED TO DEAL WITH THEM AND HOW TO USE THOSE TOOLS. THEY MUST BE MEN WHO ARE IN THE PROCESS OF KNOWING GOD’S WORD, KNOWING GOD’S WORLD AND KNOWING GOD’S PEOPLE THROUGH DILIGENT INTERACTION. THESE MEN WILL BE KNOWN BY THE AMOUNT OF PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF THEOLOGY TO LIFE THAT ACCOMPANIES THEIR MESSAGES.

IF WE ARE TO BE A HEALING COMMUNITY THAI GLORIFIES GOD, COUNSELING FROM THE SCRIPTURES MUST BE RETURNED TO IT’S LOFTY POSITION IN THE CHURCH FOR IT PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE IN SANCTIFICATION AND DISCIPLESHIP

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