Do We Need Biblical Counseling?

Do We Need Biblical Counseling?

Word in Season

Let’s begin by asking an obvious question: Is Jesus back? Not yet? In that case, the simple answer to the title question is YES! As long as we remain in this fallen world there will always be a need for biblical counseling. We are surrounded by suffering, pain, confusion, sadness and more. It’s a far cry from God’s original design for us. Therefore, we all need help! And that is why we need biblical counseling.

What exactly is biblical counseling? Jay E. Adams said that, “biblical counseling is a form of evangelical counseling based solely upon the Bible and focused on Christ.” Biblical counseling uses God’s word to help others navigate their situations, identify their needs and make the proper corrections to their lives.

We see in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and Hebrews 4:12 just how powerful God’s Word is. God’s Word is alive! It is fully sufficient to guide and direct our lives in every way, and through every circumstance of life. Not only is God’s Word alive and sufficient, but we have a High Priest, Jesus, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb 4:15) and He is sufficient for all of our needs.

Biblical counseling is often described as discipleship that is focused on an issue or problem. Whether it is a sin issue, grief, anxiety, or a marital problem, the goal of biblical counseling should always be to bring us to the cross of Christ! It is because of Jesus that we are dead to sin and have new life, and all biblical counseling should point to those truths.

We all have needs, and since the body of Christ is made up of different people, we see differing needs within the body. We seek counsel because we need help. Maybe we are struggling with a difficult situation at home, or dealing with sinful addictions or temptations. Perhaps we have already sinned, and that sin is creating a stronghold in our lives. We often need help to overcome these struggles. How often have believers sought that help from the world instead of from Jesus and the Word of God?

Biblical counseling, on the other hand, is about Christ-centered, heart-level change – change that is rooted in the truths of God’s Word. We need a biblical perspective of our problems and struggles and we need biblical strategies to overcome them. Biblical counseling happens when a brother or sister in Christ offers godly wisdom or reproof or even rebuke, speaking the truth in love. Christians shouldn’t be ashamed or fearful to seek counsel from godly and mature Christians, and we shouldn’t shy away from offering that kind of help to others. It is the way God has designed things!

We are not called to do this life alone. We are called to love one another and bear with one another (Colossians 3:13); to speak the truth in love, to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16). We are called to build one another up in love and be built up by one another!

One of the best biblical counselors, second only to Jesus, is Paul. Paul’s letters are filled with counsel to Christians: answering spiritual questions, bringing peace to conflicts, giving instructions for how to live with one another well. Paul constantly points to the teachings of Jesus and reminds his readers of the gospel! This is biblical counseling at its finest.

From time to time we all need help. Biblical counseling points us to the one who brings real healing: Jesus Christ. He is able to meet all our needs. We have everything we need in Jesus and the Word to do this life well. So let us, arm in arm, take hold of His wisdom and apply it to our lives, so that we may endure and finish the race that is set before us, to the praise of His glory!

Editor’s note: Be sure to sign up for our upcoming biblical counseling course (sign up online by clicking here).

The Church Needs the Church

The Church Needs the Church

Announcements Word in Season

The church needs the church. Not just on Sunday to help with Sunday school, potluck, greeting newcomers, nursery care, or worship. The church needs the church for everyday life. And if you haven’t noticed, life can be hard in our fallen world. We groan with all creation at the fallen-ness of this world and the effects it has on our lives (Romans 8:23). 

Conflict in relationships, health struggles, financial unknowns, child rearing, disabilities, marriage challenges, injustices at our workplace, death, addiction, and the list goes on. Christians and non-Christians alike are needy people. The difference is where we go to address those needs. As Christians we turn to God, our loving Father, and cry out to him with our needs. And then we turn to the body of Christ, in our local church, or at least we should. God is gracious to provide the body, our family of brothers and sisters, to help each other as we walk through life. 

Ed Welch explains this well (Side by Side, p.11):

We were meant to walk side by side, an interdependent body of weak people. God is pleased to grow and change us through the help of people who have been re-created in Christ and empowered by the Spirit. That is how life in the church works.

Christ has commanded us to love one another (John 13:34). He is speaking about the family of Christ loving each other. This love must be visible to the world as our love and care for each other in the body becomes a witness to others of our love for Christ (John 13:35). We all have a responsibility within the body to do this. This is what it means to be a disciple and to disciple others. 

It is critically important that we do this well for one another not only because Christ commanded it, but also because the world cannot offer the help the body can offer to each other. Our hearts and minds have been transformed by the gospel. The gospel and God’s Word radically shapes how we think, feel, and deal with all of those hardships listed above. 

But how? We need wisdom on how to love each other well. I highly encourage you to join the 13-week class on Discipleship/Counseling, on Sunday Mornings, 9-10 a.m. (during Sunday School hour) beginning January 12, 2020. You can sign up here

I need you and you need me. The church needs the church. 

The (Un)Forgotten Husband

The (Un)Forgotten Husband

Word in Season

As has been often stated, the story of Ruth is a very beautiful one. It teaches great lessons of redemption, romance, courage, loyalty, providence, and grace. These themes are seen largely in its main characters: Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. However, there are other characters that we often forget when we study the book of Ruth: Elimelech and his two sons, but mainly Elimelech. Even though he does not make it past the first three verses of Ruth, there is a lot we can learn from his role in this wonderful and true story. The following are some (but not all) of the verses that reference Elimelech. Together they help paint a picture of tragedy, redemption, and promise. 

Ruth 1:1-3

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.

Ruth 2:19b-20

So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”

Ruth 4:9-10

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.

The story of Ruth, as we know, begins very poorly for Ruth and Naomi. It is much more tragic for Elimelech. He leaves his home to die in a foreign land, leaving his wife and sons alone. If we were able to jump into the life of Naomi and Elimelech at his death bed what would we tell them? We could not tell them that Elimelech is going to get better. In fact if we did not know how the book ends we could not even tell them that there is a silver lining to the situation. This is important because so often when we comfort others we want to tell them that it will get better, when really we just do not know. For all we know it could have gotten worse. The truth is that the death of Elimelech and his sons is very tragic. Yet, as heartbreaking as it is, his tragedy was not meaningless and neither is yours.

As the story continues, Ruth and Naomi begin to see hope, but not only hope for themselves but also hope for their husbands. After Ruth meets Boaz and tells Naomi about him, Naomi makes a powerful exaltation of praise. She says in verse 20, “may he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi recognizes that the work God is going to do will not only save the living (Ruth and Naomi), but will also save the dead (Elimelech and his sons)! We see this come to fruition in chapter 4 where Boaz buys the land of Elimelech and his sons in order to continue on their name. Because of this, rather than the name of Elimelech fading into nothingness, it is carried along into the lineage of the great King David, and then on even further our Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the horrific ending of Elimelech, it brought about not just the saving of his wife and his country, but eventually the salvation of all who call on Christ as savior!

This same truth can be carried over to believers today. As an individual, Elimelech was not promised to live to a ripe old age and not suffer greatly. However, he was a partaker in the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15 that “all the world would be blessed” through the nation of Israel and Elimelech was a part of that. We are not promised long painless lives, but we have been given very precious promises that all those who trust in Christ share in:

Romans 8:28 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.

Philippians 1:6 –  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:38-39For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These promises reveal to us that though our lives may get very difficult and even tragic with no perceivable silver lining, our hurt is not meaningless. God is working and moving in the lives of those who love him, and though we may meet darkness in this life, we can know two things. First, that in the end those who trust Christ will have him for all eternity. And second, our pain was not wasted. Like Elimelech, all of our hurt is used for God’s good purpose. We, like Elimelech are not forsaken by the LORD. We are part of his great plan of salvation.

Boring Obedience – Big God

Boring Obedience – Big God

Word in Season

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Ruth 1:16

[Boaz] said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. Ruth 3:9-11

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Ruth 4:14-15

Why? That question usually rises up in our flesh from time to time when we are called to obey God. Love your wife and children. Why? Be kind to your coworker. Why? Spend time with me in prayer. Why?

The simple answer is that you should do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. It is God’s command. You will deepen your relationship with your wife if you love her. You will show Jesus to your coworker as you are kind. You will get to know God better as you study His word and commune with Him.

The root of the “Why” question often arises because we question how effective our obedience will be. Why obey if I can’t see the fruit that will come from my obedience?

For the spouse whose wife despises him, what fruit will come from loving her? Or why should I be kind to my coworker who undercut me for that position? And if I don’t feel like I’m growing closer to God after I spend time with him, why would I study and pray?

To the doubters, I give you Ruth and Boaz. I love the examples from the Old Testament of people who stepped up and did the right thing without ever seeing the outcome.

Ruth, a widowed foreigner, chooses to do the right thing and follow her mother-in-law back to Judah. She willingly cares for Naomi and abandons her own home for the sake of Naomi even to the point of saying, “Where you die I shall die, and there I will be buried.” (Ruth 1:17).  From the circumstances, I can strongly assume that Ruth did not foresee the outcome of her obedience.

Boaz, a successful farmer and businessman, chose to obey the command of the Lord and sought the opportunity to be a kinsman-redeemer (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) to keep the line of Elimelech and Naomi alive. There is no way that Boaz in obeying could have seen in the moment the long-term impact of His obedience. Boaz was simply acting in obedience as he redeemed Ruth and married her.

And yet, the simple in-the-moment obedience of both Ruth and Boaz led to the birth of man named Jesse who had a son by the name of David. And it is from this Davidic line that the Savior of the world, King Jesus, was born in the little town of Bethlehem.

Two things happen when you obey Him. First and instantly, you bring glory to God. The world sees it. Your wife will see it. God will be seen as more beautiful when you adorn His doctrines (Titus 2:10). Second and unforeseen, God uses the obedience of His people as a means to accomplish His plan. You have no idea how masterfully God will use your simple obedience in the little situations of life. Maybe your coworker will turn to Christ in repentance. Maybe tomorrow morning, when you meet Him in the quiet, God will show himself more clearly to you than ever before. Maybe God will use the love shown to your wife to open her eyes.

We aren’t called to be omniscient. God has that handled. We are called to be obedient and trust Him with the results.

I pray we do that more today.

New Class on Biblical Counseling

New Class on Biblical Counseling


The Ridgeview elders invite you to join us for a 13-week class on Discipleship/Counseling, on Sunday Mornings, 9-10 a.m. (during Sunday School hour) beginning January 12, 2020.

This class is about how to deal with life’s issues and to help others work through difficult things. Topics include: the Sufficiency of Scripture, Comparison of Approaches, Marriage, Child-rearing, Anger, Depression, Sexual Sin, Suffering, and Communication.

In a sense, we are all counselors. Let’s learn how to be good counselors, equipped to provide answers that will help us and the people around us grow into maturity.

The sign-up sheet will be in the Worship Center Lobby this Sunday, or you can sign up online by clicking here (click here).

If you have questions, make sure to talk to Kassy Herbert or Maya Johnson.

Thankful for Providence

Thankful for Providence

Word in Season

November is upon us and in some sense this month brings our hearts and minds to a greater awareness of what we are thankful for. There is an endless list of things to be thankful for, to our Lord. In particular, this November I find myself pondering that God is a God of purpose. I am striving to believe and take hold of the truth that God is purposeful and to live out my faith and life in a way that reflects this truth.

Sovereignty and Purpose

God is sovereign. God has supreme power over all things (Psalm 135:6).
God is purposeful. God uses this power with purpose (Proverbs 16:33).

God is in control. Praise God! And, God is in control with purpose. Praise God! “Providence” is the theological term for God working with purpose. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines providence as “God’s benevolent and wise superintendence of His creation” (Holman Bible Dictionary, 1312). God is managing and arranging or “superintending” all of his creation. He works with meaning and intention to bring about His will, His glory, and His kingdom. God is purposeful. Without providence, God remains all powerful, but that power is exercised without any order, aim, or objective. Power without meaning. Powerful yet chaotic. God’s providence is, indeed, something to be thankful for.

Providence in the Bible

Joseph: Jealous brothers sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead (Genesis 37). Joseph ends up being falsely accused and thrown in prison. Through God’s providence, Joseph winds up in a prison cell with the cupbearer and the baker to the King of Egypt (Genesis 40:1-4). God gives Joseph the ability to interpret dreams and eventually this gifting from the Lord leads to his release from prison and he becomes Pharaoh’s right hand man. Because of this position, Joseph ends up saving his own brothers, who sold him into slavery, from certain starvation. Joseph sees the beauty of God’s providence in his life as he speaks to his brothers (Genesis 45:5, 7-8). His brothers meant this all for evil, and God, through it all, was working towards his ultimate purpose.

Moses: The baby boy who was supposed to drown in the Nile through Pharaoh’s own orders ends up being saved by Pharaoh’s daughter and brought up in Pharaoh’s household only later to lead the Hebrew people out of Pharaoh’s captivity. God’s providence. See Exodus 20:2.

Paul: The prison sentence that was meant to silence the gospel ends up spreading it inside the prison. Amazingly, it served to advance the gospel outside of the prison walls by emboldening other followers of Christ (Philippians 1:12-14). God’s purpose prevailed.

Jesus: The seemingly tragic death of the son of God, in God’s most magnificent act of providence, provided salvation for all who believe: a plan, or purpose, which God had before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 3:11).

Our Response

We walk by faith. We remain confident that God is working out his purposes (his will), especially when we can’t see it or fathom it. We befriend faithfulness, walking in the fear of God.

We remain hopeful. Knowing God is working with purpose helps us fight despair and hopelessness. How can we be hopeless when we serve a God whose will is never thwarted or overturned? Our hope doesn’t rely on our changing circumstances or the exact answer to prayer we want, but in an unchanging God who is working out his purposes through our lives.

We respond with trust. If God’s purpose “causes all things to work together for our good,” then God can be trusted as we walk through prosperity and hardship (Romans 8:28). We can rest, not fret, as we trust God. We actively trust instead of giving in to anger or bitterness.

We rejoice. We thank God that he is a God who works with purpose. We thank him for the ways he is working that we can’t yet see. We thank him by remembering all the places we see his providence played out in the Bible and in our lives. We are happy in God and who he is.

I am keenly aware that these responses aren’t easy for us. Most of the time our prayers sound something like this: God I am struggling to believe you are working with purpose. I can’t see it and I can’t feel it. I am on the verge of despair. But, I know your word is true and I can trust you. Please help me to believe that you are working out your will in my life. Help me to walk by faith and hope in you.

Those prayers I believe are honoring to God as we strive to allow God’s character to shape us for his glory. I pray that we remain thankful always, not just this November, that God is a God of purpose.

Manly or Godly?

Manly or Godly?

Announcements Word in Season

I have never really considered myself a very “manly” individual, but not for a lack of trying. Growing up I hunted, lifted, weights, and worked on the ranch hoping to show my prowess as a mighty provider. Yet, as I got older I never felt like I was much of a man. It did not seem like I had the characteristics that make a boy a man.

When I got to college, other Christian men came around me and taught me the importance of God’s Word and encouraged me to search the Bible for answers. So I dug in deep! I found stories of great warriors and kings that inspired me and challenged me, but I also saw stories of women with great courage and strength that did the same. As I searched the Scripture, I noticed that there were few, if any, character qualities that God designated just for men. Both men and women are called to be strong, courageous, humble, kind, gentle, peaceful, and self-controlled. All Christians – no matter the gender – should persevere, fight for the faith, and run the race. In all my reading I never found a call to “manly” characteristics; instead, I found a much more challenging call.

God doesn’t call me to be like the great warriors of the past. God calls me to be like himself!

In 1 Peter 1:14-15, Peter wrote the following words to persecuted believers, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you are also to be holy in all your conduct.” You see, I found that God does not call me to be like the great warriors of the past. He calls me to be like him! Paul wrote to Timothy and told him to “train yourself for godliness.” His call on the character and conduct of Timothy is not to be manly, but rather to be godly. What a challenge!

Notice that these are not statements about who we are, but rather statements of what we are to become; who we are to train to be. If a man wants to be strong or fast, he trains. If he wants to be the best pitcher, hunter, mechanic, doctor, or teacher that he can be, he trains. None of those skill sets come naturally. Being godly does not come naturally, either. We must work at it. We must train for it.

But where do we train? To build muscles, we have gyms. To grow professionally, we have schools and conferences. To train in godliness, Christ gave us his church. The church is meant to be a place – a fellowship – for us to train in godly disciplines.

For this reason, the Ridgeview Men’s Group will be going through “Disciplines of a Godly Man“, by R. Kent Hughes. This book will challenge us to seek godliness in all aspects of our lives from purity to studying God’s word to leadership. Along with godly disciplines we will talk about the roles that the Scriptures give men to fulfill such as being a husband, son, father, friend, and leader in the church.

Join us, every Thursday at 6:30AM.

Do You Do Well, Joe?

Do You Do Well, Joe?

Word in Season

Over the first five weeks of the fall, we studied the book of Jonah with the Main Adult Sunday School class. There are many lessons about the hardness of the human heart and the loving compassion of God in those four short chapters. Below is a short recap that hopefully will inspire you to dig deep into this book and God’s word.

I hope it also encourages anyone on the fence to join us Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM as we go through God’s Word together. It is a gold mine of hope, encouragement and calls to action.

Do you do well to disobey me, Joe?
My command was certain that you should proclaim, mercy to your enemies—those whom you hate.
Their evil hearts before me, condemn them to eternal shame.
Warn sinners of my coming judgment, their sin before God, not man.
Was it wise for you to try and thwart my plan?

Have I been unreliable? Have my commands ever failed in the past?
Am I the God of optional plans that bend upon fate and man?

Yes I do well, God!
I know you are reliable, and that’s why I’m disobeying.
Your plan must be wrong. What you command has a flaw.
Those evil wicked people, deserve death that’s why I’m flying

[God pursues Joe and exposes his sin and disobedience. But rather than repenting of his sin, Joe would rather continue in his rebellion (Jonah 1:4-16)]

Joe, do you do well in the midst of the storm? Do you do well to give up on your life?
Your disobedience was for naught.
None can run from my presence, don’t you know?
I have pursued you with trials and exposed you with man’s devices.
My plans are never thwarted by feeble disobedience, or have you forgot?

Joe, do you do well to want death over repentance? Don’t you see you are in the wrong? You disobeyed me, and are embracing the consequences.

Yes, I do well! I will not obey.
I’d rather be dead than see goodness extended.
You must be missing how evil these sinners are.
They don’t deserve mercy, that’s why I am justified
I’m sparing them from your mercy, from being Your children they are protected

I will die now; I am indifferent.
To the pit I will go; cast me in it.

[Joe in the pit and the depths of his sin (Jonah 1:15-2:10]

God, please help!
I went into the deep. I hit rock bottom. My life was almost done.
And in those final breaths, one thing was on my heart—it was not disobedience.
Save me God! You are my rock and hope.
Dead men can’t praise you.
Let these lunges breathe anew, my life I give to you.

You are forgiven, though the grave you deserve. I will be merciful,
To the depths of the sea, your transgressions are removed.
And your life, I will spare, transport you back to earth
Now do well to obey me. It’s is truly for your best.
The mercy you’ve received is not greater than the rest.

[Joe obeys, God saves evil sinners, but Joe gets angry (Jonah 3:1-4:4)]

Do you do well to be angry at me, Joe? Is your anger right?

Yes I am right, God. Yes I am justified.
I wanted to save you from extending your mercy. I wanted to help you avoid giving grace.
That thing that you did was totally not right.
You saved sinful people, they weren’t even your own children. You made yourself dirty by extending your grace.
This thing done is evil!
I knew you would do it, it’s why I disobeyed at the first.
I wanted to save you from being tarnished,
These dirty sinners make you look the worse.
You were meant to stay pure and clean and only to extend grace to good people like me.

[Joe sits down in hope that God will bring judgment to the evil sinners. God gives Joe some comfort in the form of a thing then takes the thing away after a day. Joe gets angry (Jonah 4:5-11)]

Do you do well to be angry about losing that thing, Joe?
I gave it to you then took it away. You didn’t earn it or make it.
What right do you have to be so upset?
That thing you love, is it worth such a fit?

Yes, Yes, Yes I do!
That thing gave me comfort. That thing gave me joy.
I loved that thing. That thing protected me.
It’s not fair. It’s not just.
How can you take away what I love most?
Death is preferred to the injustice of this life!
Why live in a world where things flee from me as a ghost.

Joe, do you see the problem? It’s in your heart.
You think things that you love are top on my chart.
You think things that you hate, I should hate too.
You want me to be God, but God in Joe’s shoes.
You’ve dreamed me up to be someone like you. But I’m not.
Joe, you think you are clean and deserving of mercy, and think no one below you could ever be worthy.
You want people to earn my love and affection, but have you done anything to earn me?
You love your little comfort things more than people. How is that anything but evil?
You’d rather see judgment on souls than my love to win.

I am not you, Joe. I am God.
Everything I do is right and just.
I have mercy on those I will and I extend judgment on the unrepentant.
My ways are higher. My ways are greater.
Your low opinion of me makes you worthy of the grave.
Do you not see the grace all around you? What did you do to receive it from me?
Was it your status or work, or family tree? No, I gave you mercy when you deserved death. You were down in the pit, and I gave you a lift.
You are not better. You are not more worthy.
So, stop playing judge and jury.

God, I am broken. You’ve exposed my sin. I do love my things more than souls,
my heart is sick from within.
You are God, I am not. You get to choose who deserves your mercy.
My sick heart cannot match your grace.
I will write of your compassion upon my poor life.
It will not be pretty, from this sinner’s perspective,
But God, you will shine, your compassion overflowing.

New Elder: John Dockweiler

New Elder: John Dockweiler

Announcements Word in Season

We are pleased to announce the appointment of John Dockweiler as an elder of Ridgeview Bible Church. After a process of prayer, a time for congregational input, and a sweeping vote of affirmation from the congregation last Sunday, the existing elders believe that God has led us to John as the one to join the elder team. John has accepted the position.

We will present John to the congregation this Sunday and pray together for him and his ministry. Please be praying for John and the other elders (Jason, Devin, Mike, Rob and Jim) as we seek to humbly lead and lovingly shepherd Ridgeview, for the glory of God and for the good of his people.

John & Ann are longtime members of Ridgeview, and John leads one of the adult Sunday School classes. They ranch east of town, and Ann is a registered nurse. They have one grown son, Cole. You can listen to a sermon by John here [link], and a testimony he shared during a worship gathering earlier this year by clicking here [link].

The Gospel Changes Everything

The Gospel Changes Everything

Word in Season

The gospel changes everything. Jesus and the good news of his life, death, and resurrection change everything. One perfect life, one perfect sacrifice, one perfect substitute, one king seated eternally at the right hand of God changes everything. Hostility between sinners and a holy God turns into peace (Ephesians 2:14). Dead people are set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). By grace alone through faith alone, to the glory of God alone changes everything. 

Nowhere in the Bible is this more clear than the life of Paul. From Christain killer to quite possibly the greatest missionary who’s ever lived. What a gift we have in God’s word as we can watch the Lord do this miraculous work in Paul’s life. What does, “everything” actually look like? 

Radical Lack of Self-centeredness: Paul is willing to lay down his freedom in Christ if it will help others know Christ and accept the gospel (1 Cor 9:19). He gladly forsakes his rights, preferences, and comforts if they put obstacles in the way of the gospel (1 Cor 8:13). He views himself as a servant to all for one purpose: “that I might win more of them” (1 Cor 9:19). He spends time understanding the people he is trying to reach with the gospel, becoming as much like them as he can, even when that is an uncomfortable inconvenience to him personally. He overlooks being misrepresented by jealous brothers aiming to take advantage of their opportunity to shine as Paul sits in a dark prison cell. Why? Because of the joy he has over Christ being preached (Philippians 1:16-18). His name means nothing, but Christ’s name, now that means everything to Paul. When Christ is exalted, Paul rejoices, no matter the cost to his reputation. 

Unusual Motivations for Living: How does Paul view life? “To live is Christ” he says in Philippians 1:21. If he is released from prison he will rejoice because this means he can continue to work for the sake of Christ. That is what he clings to in this world. Fruitful labor! And this “fruitful labor” (Philippians 1:22) means that other believers will progress and mature in their faith. What joy this is for Paul. He is willing to deny himself the gain of death for the spiritual wellbeing of others (Philippians 1:25). He says one of his main motivations in evangelizing is so that he can share with believers in the blessings of Christ! Paul labors so he can enjoy the gospel with other believers (1 Cor 9:23). Paul sees that Christ is worth more than everything so he gladly suffers the loss of all things so he can know and be known in Christ (Philippians 3:8-11). This is what is top of mind for Paul. This is what he lives for and aspires to. 

Focused Fellowship: Paul’s closest relationships were with other Christians and these relationships centered around their work together to spread the gospel. Paul thanks God for the Philippians because of their partnership with him in defending and spreading the gospel (Philippians 1:3-7). Their relationship has been strengthened and deepened by witnessing God’s grace played out in each others’ lives (Philippians 1:7) and a shared mission to bring much glory to Jesus. He has deep affection for other believers (Philippians 1:8) and this love means he will warn them when they have strayed (Galatians 1:6-9, 1 Cor 3:1-4) and pray unceasingly for them to grow in deep spiritual matters (Ephesians 1:15-22). We see him intentionally, and most likely at a great cost to his personal time, discipling a younger brother, Timothy; training him up in the way he should go (See all of 2 Timothy). 

Everyday Influence: In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul addresses a myriad of topics: arrogance, sexual immorality, lawsuits, singleness, married unions, work, diet, relationships within the church, relationships outside the church, and more. He sees all of these things as being under the influence of the gospel. In fact, we see that, for Paul, there is nothing in a Christians life that remains outside the influence of the gospel. He has died and now it is Christ who lives in him (Galatians 2:20). 

High Expectations: It is easy to brush Paul off as an uber special dose of Christian. An unattainable sort of Christian. However, it becomes harder to do that when we read his instructions to other believers that go along with his examples. Imitate me (1 Corinthians 4:16), follow my example (Philippians 4:9), learn from me (1 Corinthians 4:6). “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1. Paul’s life is one to be followed because he is imitating the only one worthy of being followed, Jesus! 

Have we taken the gospel that changes everything and made it into a gospel that changes very little?

And now we come to the heart of the matter. If we are honest, as we look around our churches, is the way the gospel affected Paul the exception? Have we taken the gospel that changes everything and made it into a gospel that changes very little? We take just enough gospel to feel good but not too much that it inconveniences the comfortable lives we love. We want the gospel and the path that is wide and easy. That gospel doesn’t exist in the Bible. That gospel minimizes Christ and exalts oneself. On the contrary, the gospel we see at work in Paul’s life, exalts Christ alone. 

This knowledge of God, his Son, and the work of the Holy Spirit hasn’t yet reached and worked in our hearts and lives the way God intended. Where do we go from here? We repent and turn to the only one who can change us. We pray Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3 (Ephesians 1:15-22, Ephesians 3:14-21), pleading with our Father that we understand more so we can be wholly transformed.  We strive together side by side for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). We throw off contentment and continue to press forward with our eyes fixed on Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14). We remember we have no confidence in ourselves to do this work but that our confidence remains solely in Christ (Philippians 3:3). We continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) until the gospel truly does change everything about us, to the praise and glory of God. Amen!