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Several years ago a graduate school professor put forth the question, “When did you first feel like an adult?” At first blush, the question seemed silly, and then as I contemplated, I had difficulty thinking that I never really had “felt” like an “adult”. I certainly had the qualification of age, but deep inside, I was playing a part of an adult and not really being one at all. The same type of experience happens with my relationship with God when I desire it to be a grown-up mature one. (I Cor. 3:3 For you are still only baby Christians, controlled by your own desires, not God’s.) In retrospect, I looked carefully at my pride and joys, my accomplishments, and work, finding that many of them were like building blocks of a false sense of self leading me away from the one relationship that was most important. (Prov. 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.)

As I defragged my childhood, adolescent, and young adult years I began to uncover the insecurities, the upsets that were so frequent, and the unease I felt with myself in different social, work, church, and family situations. Success was always the operative word from my parents. Clearly I had achieved some success, but why was I not at peace? As an “adult” I did not feel a part of mature godly relationships with myself, others and, of course, God. I knew a lot of Bible verses, yet my inner life didn’t really reflect them. (Matt 23:25 What miserable frauds you are, you scribes and Pharisees! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, while the inside if full of greed and self-indulgence.)

To begin the arduous task of introspection in order to appropriate the relationship I desired to have with God I had to look inward. Oh, but a Christian is not to look inward! How selfish, how self-centered and prideful some would say. Alas, we cannot become a mature, adult Christian until we fearlessly look at our insecurities, doubts, fears, anger, and every single thought/feeling we have – even when we think we aren’t hurting anyone by it.

As a child I remember my mother saying that when I would lie a big bump would grow out of my forehead. I was a “slow” kid and so it took me a while to figure out how my mother could always tell when I told a lie. Could it have been my little hand to my forehead?? We think we can hide our sin. In Ezekiel 8 God shows the prophet what is happening in Jerusalem in the temple while the prophet is in captivity. There were several really bad things going on, such as the men being able to come into the temple to have sex with a woman or man. The priests had a whole lot of incense burning to cloud up the area, so God couldn’t see. God said that He DID see. The incense that we burn is the denial that we do not have sin that keeps us from having the relationship with God, self, and others that we are to have. That denial can take many forms, some more socially acceptable than others but it is the same hand to the forehead that doesn’t work.

Until we are willing to let go of old styles of protecting ourselves, such as loosing attention-getting devices, distrust, feelings of not being loved and cared about, not feeling respected or needed, we will live in the push-pull anxiety of something like, “I know the Word says God loves me, but when I am by myself in a bad situation, I don’t really trust that it is true.” (You may fill in that sentence with whatever you like.) When we reach the special spiritual stop in life where we are secure enough to give up our old ways of being so that we can become more Christ like, we play by new rules and this process can give us a lot of pressure and anxiety. Sometimes it is an unsure feeling, one of loss of control or helplessness, yet we know it is so much better than any of the ways we have been before. It is a process of trusting God, taking a very serious and complete look at our most intimate thoughts and feelings, letting go of these sins and believing the Word. (Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.) We become more attuned to the Spirit during the day; examine thoughts and actions; give up old dysfunctional schemas; realize that we are drawn to be more and more spiritual; and release more and more of our old habits.

To be an “adult” as God desires means to be experiencing the LORD in every area of our lives in deep and meaningful ways. The cost is never too high. The dross is willingly given up and we gladly turn up the heat over and over to continue to cleanse our hearts so that the heart is holy and without blame before God. It is neither an easy process nor one without some serious pain. Yet the cleansing journey to adulthood softens the soil of our heart so that we can stay on that narrow path that enters into the Kingdom of God.

  • Why is it that Christians tend to shy away from any discussion about feelings/emotions?
  • Are they not godly at all?
  • Do they have any purpose?
  • Does memorizing scripture and pushing down old emotional traumas really help us to be authentic – or not be a hypocrite?

28 Responses to “Self-Awareness and Christian Maturity”

  1. on 20 Feb 2007 at 7:27 amSean

    People shy away from discussions about emotions because of fear. We are afraid to talk about deep issues of why we are the way we are (especially in regard to sin) because that makes us vulnerable and we don’t trust our fellow Christians enough to feel safe around them and/or our pride (of looking good) stops us.

  2. on 20 Feb 2007 at 10:40 amRuth F.

    I definitely agree with Sean’s comment. I think sometimes, as Christians, we believe that we have to be strong and not admit that we have struggles with sin or insecurities. We have to put on a “good face” and smile and say all of the niceties that society likes to hear.

    But, this is a deception, and it often keeps us at arms length from those that we should be seeking support from, namely our Christian brothers and sisters. I will say, though, we have to use wisdom in who, when, and where we open ourselves up.

    I think if it was more common place to say “Hey, I’m struggling with ______” and seek Godly counsel and prayer, we would have a stronger sense of community and family instead of isolation and secrecy.

    Self-examination is key to God showing us what areas need some retuning. As Mary Ann said, change can be difficult and painful, but what reward to know that God will give us the strength to change for Him and He will be honored in the end. And as a bonus, we have peace. The willingness to open one’s self up to Godly examination and change is part of Christian adult maturity.

  3. on 20 Feb 2007 at 11:25 amMary Ann

    One of the attributes that seems to keep Christians at a “safe arms length” from one another is the concept of judging. One with a problem feels that he/she will be judged by the other and the one listening many times, out of ignorance, embarassment, or not fully understanding what judgment is, will judge or make light of the situation because it is not something that that person struggles with. The “bandaid” of just change your mind doesn’t totally work. It sets us on the right path, but the inner struggle, the stronghold that is there that keeps that struggle in place to pop up again, is what needs the attention. The one place we should be able to go to to be “heard” and “understood” and loved and taught by the Word is one another in Christ. Sometimes we need a stern word, sometimes it is a kick in the rump, but it should always be inspired by Christ – then it is healing and meaningful.

  4. on 20 Feb 2007 at 11:32 amDarlene

    In reference to your first question, Mary Ann, I can only answer from my own life. I grew up thinking/believing that crying or showing emotions was a sign of weakness. However, this standard only applied to me. If others showed emotions, that was ok for them to do so. This became my “wall of protection”, which in reality was a “wall of destruction”. As Sean said, I didn’t want to be “vulnerable”. I wanted to be viewed as being strong, even though I was a complete mess inside.

    God has and continues to work with me in this struggle of mine. I have grown a lot in this area compared to 4 years ago or even a few months ago. I pray that God will continue to change and cleanse my heart.

  5. on 20 Feb 2007 at 12:56 pmMary Ann

    Our emotional pain tends to isolate us which is just the opposite of being a functioning integral part of the body of Christ. Satan likes to keep us in the dark, deep recesses of hidden secrets that are seem too terrible to speak out. When we do speak them out in the light of God’s love, they melt away like ice on a hot skillet. It is amazing how it was as a kid when I would get freaked out by the vacuum cleaner in the hallway at night and be frozen with fear, and mom would come by and turn on the light so I could see what really was there. We do the same thing with the boogie men in the closet that torment us unnecessarily. Christ really did come to set the captives free. Great job in keeping on with the changing – it takes intestinal fortitude and a lot of love to do that.

  6. on 21 Mar 2007 at 3:13 amMark

    Part of the fear of judgment, at least in my experience, comes from the fact that people DID judge me, and others around me. It was a way of life at times. We were taught that looking to yourself was not trusting God, and dealing with emotions and past traumas and things like that was too close to psychology, which was worldly and ungodly.

    In light of that, I’d like to hear your comments on balancing this concept. I think it is true that focusing too much on ourselves and our problems is not good, but I see the wisdom in what is being discussed here. And yet, don’t the Scriptures say to die to ourselves and reckon the old man dead (not try to to make him better)? How do you balance this?

  7. on 21 Mar 2007 at 3:16 pmPat

    Mark Part of the balance comes from considering , the truth shall set you free. We need to be free from any tormenting lies that have controlled and influenced our lives. If you were sick you would want to be healed, so that you could be your best for GOD.

  8. on 21 Mar 2007 at 9:00 pmMary Ann

    Mark,

    I agree, the Word is very clear that our focus is to be on God, Jesus Christ and being faithful stewards of the gospel for entrance into the Kingdom.

    We are born helpless and totally without any ability to care for ourselves in any way. We are totally dependent upon our mother and father for the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual care that we need. Because we live in this age where people have free will to live as Christ taught or not. There is a lot of dysfunction within families that cause sin patterns in children that they are not even aware that they pick up. Deut 6 as quoted above instructs fathers to teach children about the commandments of God. The imbalance in life comes when the brokenness of a parent spills over into the life of a child and effects the mental, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes even physical growth of a child. God uses metaphors about himself as an eagle with its chicks under her wings; Paul stated he was as a nursing mother with her child to those in Thessalonica; God uses the term father to describe how his love and chastisement is to those who love Him.

    To many, the term of father for God, absolutely causes them to wretch and resist God at every point due to the horrific treatment received by the earthly father. This is just one example. What happens is that the family that God desires gets all messed up due to unresolved sin patterns, trauma, and abuse. These sins are passed down from generation to generation, until someone finally desides to make internal changes in thinking patterns, allowing God to heal the painful traumas, and accepting the new man available through Christ.

    If there are patterns of behavior that keep us from being in healthy Christian relationships with God and others (unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, sadness, pervasive guilt and shame, etc.) then just paste-ing the Word on over all that stuff just is a temporary fix. Christ came to set those in bondage free. What captivates us are thoughts we have that are contrary to what the Word says. For example, I may know the Word says God loves me, but when I get really honest with myself, in the depth of my heart I don’t believe He really does love ME. This is due to unresolved “trauma” that developed as a child. Until I face those parts of my heart that were corrupted as a child/teen/young adult, take those pains to the finished work of Jesus Christ, and accept the healing that his death made available for me, I will continue to struggle accepting what God wants to give to me.

    The godly balance is that I do not have to go on a hunt for these things, God gives the balance. As I pray and ask God to search my heart, to cleanse it and purify my heart, He shows me what is lacking and how it is lacking AND even HEALS completely those wretched places. He knows when we are willing and able to make these changes and knows us so well, He provides individual person-specific healings. We are then free to live as Christ taught without having to white knuckle it or force the fellowship face 🙁 = :). It truly is living from a pure heart. As life kicks up the dirt, we invite God to sweep away the dirt and grime, not to just hide it under the carpet. Many of us are very good at faking it. We cannot be “in balance” until we remove the hidden weights of sin (pain, etc). When we experience God by these releases and healings, we KNOW beyond any doubt that GOD is REAL.

  9. on 21 Mar 2007 at 10:25 pmSean

    Perhaps a personal example can help illustrate the purpose of this inner healing. I used to have a great fear of man especially in regards to evangelism. I would have to fight through layer after layer of internal resistance before I could actually must the courage to “hit the street.” Then once I was out there talking to people, I was so focused on what they were saying and what I was saying that my nerves calmed and I was ok. It didn’t matter how many times I spoke the gospel, each time, my mind would rebel and through brute force I pushed through this tendency in order to do what I knew was the will of God.

    Then I learned that I could focus on this issue and ask God for clarity. As I sat and focused on why I was so resistant to speak to strangers I began to actually feel the unsettled nausea I often experienced just before going out. Instead of switching my thoughts to something pleasant (i.e. ignoring the pain), or recite Scriptures (i.e. “I can do all things through Christ who stengthens me”), or medicate my pain (i.e. watching tv, sleep, etc.), I embraced the pain. I asked God to show me when I learned this feeling.

    My mind went back to a time in 3rd grade when I was sitting in class and suddenly I got a bloody nose. I immediately went to the bathroom and cleaned myself up (the old toilet paper up the nose trick). Then I came back to my desk and sat down. I thought I had escaped notice and certainly didn’t want anyone else to know. Just then, the teacher in a shocked tone starting asking the class who was bleeding (she saw a couple of drops of blood on the floor). I don’t remember if I told on myself or if she discovered me but I was singled out and it was a very embarassing moment for me. In that time I learned that I was different than everyone else of my peers. (Nose bleeds run in my family, but none of my peers ever seemed to get them).

    As I sat and meditated in this place I asked God to reveal His truth to me in this situation. I came to understand that I was not weird or different than everyone else and that my teacher was genuinely concerned (not trying to persecute me). Once this realization came, my feeling of nausea vanished.

    After this, I wasn’t sure how significant the experience was, but I knew that the only way to find out was to go out evangelizing. So the next time I went to preach the gospel, I was shocked to discover that the butterflies were gone, there was no resistance or hesitation. I actually enjoyed preaching the gospel to stranges (what a novel concept!). That was two years ago and the negative feelings have NEVER come back, I have not had to fight them down, quote Scripture to myself, or do anything to “maintain” this healing. I’m just healed.

    A little while later I came to understand how my inner healing experience related to actual life. The reason why I had to fight resistance and nausea is because I was afraid I was going to run into someone I knew from highschool. I wasn’t afraid of rejection, getting beat up, not having the right thing to say, or anything like that. The notion that I may run into someone from highschool had been built into my mind as the worst possible fear and this is exactly what God healed in me. I am very thankful for this healing experience and I hope my little testimony can help explain this inner healing a bit more.

  10. on 22 Mar 2007 at 5:08 amPat

    Ruth One key point that I especially liked that you said, “The willingness to open ones self up to Godly examination and change is part of Christian adult maturing.” We all need to go there many times, to effect change, avoid hypocrisy, help others{take mote out your own eye} and pursue godliness ,without which one cannot enter the kingdom. It must be vitally important.

  11. on 22 Mar 2007 at 7:42 amMary Ann

    When we are children and we fall down and get hurt, Christian mothers and fathers will say, “Let’s pray and ask God to heal your cut.” The parent(s) and child pray, the cut is tended to, and the child scrambles down to play. This is the right way to teach children how to cope with physical AND emotional pain. This simple procedure needs to be continued on throughout adulthood.

  12. on 23 Mar 2007 at 5:35 amWolfgang

    Hello Mary Ann

    a few thoughts concerning your questions in the original article.

    (1) * Why is it that Christians tend to shy away from any discussion about feelings/emotions?
    I would say that we must be careful to note that this is not necessarily some particular thing with Christians … non-Christians shy away just as much or perhaps share as much as some Christians do when it comes to discuss feelings/emotions. I would add that the reasons are the same in either case, and they have to do with a sense of privacy, intimacy, protection (those one might commonly accept as “positive reasons”), and fears of various kinds (which one might commonly regard as “negative reasons”)

    Some different questions to consider: Why should Christians discuss their feelings and emotions with others? Is there a “must do” commandment somewhere? or is it just as fine or perhaps even wise and right to keep one’s mouth shut about feelings/emotions in many situations?

    (2) * Are they not godly at all?

    I’d say feelings/emotions are in and of themselves neither godly nor ungodly … it depends on the thoughts/actions which cause feelings/emotions to evaluate if feelings/emotions are connected to godly or ungodly behaviour

    (3)* Do they have any purpose?

    I’d say that they do … else why would God make man to experience them?

    (4)* Does memorizing scripture and pushing down old emotional traumas really help us to be authentic – or not be a hypocrite?

    I would say that proper dealing with old traumas (emotional, physical) will help overcome hindering influences or effects of old traumas … and I would say that utilizing truth from Scripture to correct mindsets and attitudes can be very helpful. The memorizing of scripture verses producs that one knows the verses by heart and doesn’t have to look them up in the Bible … applying the truth taught in Scripture verses in one’s mind and subsequent actions can help greatly in overcoming things.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  13. on 24 Mar 2007 at 3:41 amMark

    What you are all saying makes sense. I’m sure you must know, however, that there are many Christians, even from the same background as us, who would say “You don’t need to do all that stuff. The Bible doesn’t say to heal the old man, it says to reckon him dead.” I have heard this many times and am not quite sure how to respond. Any comments?

  14. on 24 Mar 2007 at 4:56 amWolfgang

    Hi Mark,

    what do people mean with what they say? perhaps the folks who say “heal the old man” mean actually the same thing as those who say “reckon the old man dead”? What both are talking about could be that a person gets to the point of living without the trouble they had before? …
    I’d suggest you respond by asking them to please clarify IN THEIR OWN WORDS (!) what they mean …. don’t be satisfied with “a theological phrase” as an answer (like “reckon the old man dead”) … just admit that you don’t understand what they mean and ask them to please use their own vocabulary and clarify what they mean with what they say …

    Example:
    What do people mean with “the Bible doesn’t say to heal the old man”? are they saying that you shouldn’t visit a doctor when your old man’s leg is broken in a car accident? actually, what do they mean with “old man”? who or what is this “old man”?

    I’d say that we can only get anywhere in our communication if we learn to express ourselves accurately and clarify what we say when needed … just “blabbing along” well known theological phrases used by preachers in the pulpit usually helps nobody … actually, the preacher should have already been asked to please clarify his phrase if we did not fully understand what he meant with those “fancy words”

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  15. on 24 Mar 2007 at 9:06 amPat

    Wolfgang Wow that was pretty good . Understanding what it means to reckon yourself dead. Are these like “magic words” puff the old man is dead? For some maybe it is easy to do this and maybe others struggle with this. One thing I know, you should nor pretend its so if its not.

  16. on 24 Mar 2007 at 2:41 pmMary Ann

    Hello Wolfgang,

    Thank you for your questions.
    (1) I would certainly agree heartily concerning other “groups” other than Christians shying (pardon the pun) away from discussion of emotions. I do think that culture has a large part in the matter also. My thinking behind asking about Christians is because we are to be authentic as we live for Christ in every area of our lives. God did certainly give us emotions (number 3) and we are to experience joy, love, peace, as well as anger, hurt, disappointments, etc. It was prophesied in Isaiah 53:3 that, “He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him.” Jesus did not enjoy acceptance or approval of others while here on earth. The emotional pain He suffered must have been horrific. This one scripture says that Christ felt negative emotions, yet Christ did not sin. He was not overwhelmed by emotion to the point that he was not able to do God’s will. Doctrines promulgate that once we receive holy spirit and live unto Christ, we will have sunshine and smiles all our days and the pains, bitternesses, resentments, anger of the past just disappear. This is simply not true as our lives attest to. But, God is able and willing to heal us. Christians are to benefit by the fact that Christ came to heal the broken hearted (Is. 61) and heal us by, for example, scriptures about forgiveness and praying for our enemies, (Matt. 5:44, But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Also Luke 6:28 and Romans 12:14). When we try and fail to have emotional balance, we need help from God and the body of Christ.

    (2) God tells us to not be envious (Rom 13:13; 1 Cor. 3:3; James 3: 14, 16), or jealous or to covet. Anger can be out of bounds and needs to be in a “correct” manner (Ps 37:8 and many others). So I would say that there are “sanctioned” emotions by God and others that we are not to allow ourselves to conceive. If I think about how much I really want the diamond ring my friend has, I develop envy which if left unchecked could wind up with me stealing the ring or hating my friend. James 1:15 “Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-blown, gives birth to death.” Thoughts and desires are very much intertwined.

    (4) As you wrote *” Applying the truth taught in Scripture verses in one’s mind and subsequent actions can help greatly in overcoming things.” Amen

    Also about “reckon the old man dead”…

    Romans 6:11 is the verse that I think we are talking about. I like the Phillips translation: “In the same way look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin but alive to God through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Reckon in the KJ is logizomai translated reasoned, impute, esteem, think, etc. other places. We can’t think or reason anything to actual death. But what I can do is reason with the scriptures that are hid in my heart so I won’t sin against God. I can esteem myself better than the sin nature that wants to entice me. We have to come to a place in our walk where we really do just have to say, 1 John 4:4, “greater is He that is in me that he that is in the world.” I am better able to rid myself of that old man nature when I am in touch with the emotions that lure me away from thinking about God and acting in a godly manner.

  17. on 24 Mar 2007 at 3:37 pmKen

    What great sharings and observations!
    When we stop using “the renewed mind” in a flippant, theological sense as a “cure all” formula (i.e. “the key to power”), we can be real in our approach to God: Search my heart. Show me what and why. Deliver me. Free me from secret sins of which I have been blind. Don’t let presumptuous sins dominate me. Heal me.
    These type of humble, persistent pleas (as frequent in Psalms) are part of the spiritual foundation for the new covenant phrases like “reckoning the old man as dead.” Our honesty with God (for example: “Yes, I struggle with thoughts and feelings about… Please help me.”) empower us to minister to others.
    For example: one can comfort another by not regarding his/ her dilemma as something to be quickly swept under the carpet. “Let’s ask God together for His help with this, etc.”

  18. on 24 Mar 2007 at 6:25 pmJohnO

    What both are talking about could be that a person gets to the point of living without the trouble they had before?

    I think this is the wrong focus, even if both groups are saying this. The focus isn’t to get rid of the trouble. The purpose of conversion is not to make your life better. The purpose of conversion is to become an entirely new person. The trouble doesn’t get “solved” so you can go about living your life the way you want to. You stop living your life the way you want to – and as a result the problems you were encountering go away. Of course I don’t mean that people are going to have zero problems. But rather to counter two specific arguments. One, that people go to church to be fixed. This is the wrong motivation. A motivation that is centered in the Gospel truth of judgment and forgivness does not cause a person to want to be fixed – but rather fall to their knees realizing they can’t be fixed. We cannot “fix” our sinfulness. There is a reason that Christians are called new creations. And I believe that is exactly what happens to a convert – they are new.

  19. on 25 Mar 2007 at 8:24 amMary Ann

    John,

    The Word absolutely says that we are new creations. It also says to put off and put on. That means there is something I have to do. The example of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts is one example of a man who turned from doing sorcery yet he still had larceny in his heart . He repented but it shows a process of learning and changing – a searching of the heart – as we continue to walk with God. Old emotions, thought patterns, and physical habits are ingrained in us until the light of the Word is shed abroad in our hearts. If it truly was available for us to be new creatures upon repentance, do you know of any present day examples of people who do not struggle with sin nature? Is the following an example what you are talking about? If I feel like damaged goods due to sexual abuse by a family member, would I, upon repentance, not have that thought pattern and emotion still within me? How would I just not “act” like it was gone? I am having trouble following you. Please help.

  20. on 25 Mar 2007 at 8:48 amSean

    I think both are true. At conversion a radical and sudden transformation (i.e. repentance) takes place. No longer do we carry out sins in obedience to our old lord (ourselves) but we die at conversion and now in allegiance to our new lord (Jesus) who loved us and gave himself up for us we live a holy life (a new life…born again). This one huge change occurs when we believe/repent but then there are smaller changes that occurr a lifetime. As we continue in the process of becoming more holy we stuggle against entrenched thought patterns that temp us to sin. Now that we are blondslaves of Christ getting drunk, doing drugs, beating the wife, zoning out in tv-land, or whatever sinful method we used to use to medicate our pain are no longer available to us. So what do we do? The pain is still there we just can’t deal with it in the old way. This is where this inner healing comes into play. We focus, isolate, pray, and listen to God. As we continue to do this the pains are healed at the root and we are less likely to be tempted with sin.

    I think that To deny either of these two aspects (initial repentance or continuing repentance) leaves one in a theological and practical conundrum.

  21. on 25 Mar 2007 at 1:06 pmPat

    If further clarification is needed , a good place to go is last Sundays’ teaching inLatham. I just listened to it for the second time and it addressed this topic well.

  22. on 25 Mar 2007 at 1:23 pmSean

    to listen to the teaching Pat just referred to click here

  23. on 25 Mar 2007 at 4:15 pmMary Ann

    I do see repentance as the turning away from the old ways of being and firmly planted in endeavoring to live as Christ taught us to live. I figure verses like 1 John 4:9 and others would not need to be there if we are not able to sin after repentance. There are doctrines of churches that do believe that once one has repented that he/she cannot sin. This doctrine ( I have witnesses from others) has caused no small amount of grief and pain to the individual who sins after accepting Christ. The teaching is a great one.

  24. on 25 Mar 2007 at 10:40 pmJohnO

    In addition, I think the proclaimation of the Gospel should have an emotional impact to the affect of healing. Yes we realize that inner healing helps us with the sore wounds we’ve had. But I think we need to realize that the reception of the Gospel is more than a mental, this is right, let me change my choices. Of course I agree we need to change our choices. However, this change has to come from God as a result of the Gospel. I think if it comes from “this is right, and I have to do what is right” – is the wrong focus. That is duty-based Christianity. God calls us to give, but also only wants cheerful givers. This is to say, we have a duty, and we should be jumping over ourselves to do it.

    So then, an affectual Gospel presentation should cause the repentant hearer to lose a good deal of past baggage they carry. In the NT we see this in many converts who were overtaken with demons. They were miraculously healed of their tormentors, and received the Gospel. The reception of the Gospel caused them to realize the truth surrounding their past life, and now, their new life.

  25. on 25 Mar 2007 at 11:42 pmPat

    John Could you give scriptual references to your last paragraph.

  26. on 26 Mar 2007 at 9:26 amJohnO

    Acts 8.7, 12 – For {in the case of} many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out {of them} shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed… But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.

    I don’t think we can separate the reception of the message from the healing that took place. It seems Jesus made this same connection when he said that he could not do many miracles in Galilee because of their unbelief. Yes, I think that is their unbelief in his ability to perform them – but also unbelief in his proclamation of the message. (Note, this is not their unbelief in him as Messiah, only the twelve were privy to that, and Jesus repeatedly tells people to not spread the word that he is Messiah).

  27. on 26 Mar 2007 at 10:32 amSean

    I think what JohnO is saying is that the preaching of the gospel should be with power (1 Cor 2.4-5) not merely based on the acceptance of a logical supposition. Two summary statements in Matthew indicate that when Jesus was preaching the gospel it was accompanied by the miraculous (Mat 4.23; 9.35). Thus preaching the gospel should be a “power encounter” in which a radical and miraculous transformation occurs. Also consider these two Scriptures:

    1 Cor 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

  28. on 26 Mar 2007 at 11:46 amPat

    I would never put myself in the position to argue with what you have said. Its not totally clear to me by example from the scriptures how the words of the message of the Kingdom caused an immediate expolsion( is that a word) of tormenting spirits. As I see it, maybe I am wrong, Jesus healed people who were tormented and then they could hear the message and receive salvation. He walked with power because he always did what God wanted, and He always said what God wanted him to say,. That doesn”t mean that the power of the message spoken from believing lips could not heal a sickness or kick out a devil spirit. I just thought maybe I missed an obvious eg. I also do not want to give the impression that the power of savalation, is devalued in any sense. Its the power that motivates a sinner strengthens his ability beyond anything that he possibly could do as he clings tightly to the vine to receive his ability. Without that we cannot do anything.

  

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