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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 27, 2009
Developing a Biblical Mindset
2 Peter 1:20-21 & Selected Scripture
Anyone that is familiar with the ministry of the late J. Vernon McGee & “Through the Bible” can probably sing from memory the opening verse of their theme song, “How Firm a Foundation.” In order not to offend you unnecessarily, I will not sing it, but let me recite it opening stanza for you.
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said –
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”
Whatever else you may think of J.Vernon McGee, one thing that was definite about him was his Biblical mindset. He loved the Word of God and it directed his actions and thinking. My heart’s desire is to be like him in that respect. A man who loves the Word of God, lives by it, thinks according to it, and brings it to the people of God so that they may understand it and also live and think according to it. There is nothing that thrills this pastor’s heart more than to see people diligent in their own study of Scripture and striving to abide by it.
At the same time, there is nothing that breaks this pastor’s heart more than to see people who claim to love the Lord continue to live with a mindset that is no different than that of the world. I am not referring to just people who take part in the outward vices of our society such as alcohol abuse, drug addiction, pornography & its related sexual promiscuity and perversions, flagrant materialism, and such. I am referring more to a mindset and philosophy of life that is really no different than other people in our society. Things such as “You only go around once, so go for the gusto,” i.e. living for thrills and adventure. “Looking out for #1,” i.e. no one else is going to watch out for my rights, so I am going to be assertive and demand them. “Eat, drink and be merry,” i.e. I am going to get as much pleasure & happiness out of life as I can. “Don’t worry – be happy” or EGBOK – everything is going to be OK, i.e. ignore your problems and only consider what is best for yourself in terms of making yourself happy. “I’m a product of my environment,” i.e. I am not responsible for what I do, so I will find someone or something else to blame for my problems. “My kids are going to have what I did not,” i.e. I don’t like my life, so I will live it through my kids. The foundation for many child centered families. “I don’t want to get involved,” i.e I don’t care and I don’t want to be bothered. “Dr so & so says,” i.e. expertise is based on academic credentials. “I’m okay, You’re okay” or “That’s fine for you” or “That’s your opinion,” i.e. there is no basis for truth except in yourself therefore truth can vary for each individual.
Let me expand on that last one, because it reveals the foundation of all philosophical thought. It is the question of epistemology. How do we know anything? What is the basis for finding out what is true and conforms to reality. That is what I sought to deal with last week. What is the basis for our belief? Do we have a corner on truth, or are we just following another man made system to fulfill some spiritual need in man that no one really understands?
The problem with the “I’m okay, you’re okay” or “that’s your opinion” philosophy is that its denies that the truth can be known. It says that there are no absolutes, but even that statement itself is a contradiction because it is stating an absolute. It is a negative absolute statement that there are no other absolutes than that there are no absolutes. (Now if you think that sentence was confusing – welcome to the world of philosophy!)
The “I’m okay, You’re okay” philosophy allows one person to follow the Bible as a guide for faith and living because it would be as good as any other standard, and there is no basis to argue against personally believing the Bible and following it since there is no means to determine ultimate truth. However, no one else has to accept that standard of truth as being “okay” because it contradicts the one absolute that there are no absolutes. Hence, I can believe what I want and you can believe what you want, but neither should impose their belief system on the other.
But if the Bible is true, as it claims to be, then I am okay because I believe it and am following it. However, those who do not are not okay because its truths warn about a real place called Hell reserved for those who do not know God or obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 18). No wonder American secular society which espouses the “I’m okay, You’re okay” philosophy of religious toleration is not tolerant of Biblical Christianity. It not only calls us in a derogatory sense, “fundamentalists” and “fanatics,” but they are also quick to file lawsuits to try to keep Biblical doctrine from spreading. They cannot tolerate any system which claims absolutes because that contradicts their system of no absolutes except the absolute of there being no absolutes. This philosophy underlies the paradigm shift of our increasingly post-modern society.
Can we know the truth? Either we are left in the dilemma of choosing between the various philosophies that man has thought up, and indeed those are only the opinions of men and the truth cannot be known – only speculated about. Or God, the creator of everything has revealed Himself to man so that man can have the truth and is expected to follow it. That is what my sermon last week was about.
In our study of 2 Peter 1:16-21 we found that the Apostle Peter declared point blank that he did not give us “cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). The Scriptures are not fairy tales, myths, cleverly devised tales or the philosophies of men. Peter states “we were eyewitness of His majesty.” The Apostle John says that he saw with his own eyes, heard with his own ears and touched with his own hands the “Word of life,” Jesus Christ (1 John 1). Scripture is not based on the musings and speculations of men, but on eyewitness accounts of what God has said and done.
Peter goes on to say in 2 Peter 1:20,21 that, “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of the human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” We talked about this some last week, but it is a key issue to understand. Not only is Scripture an eyewitness account, but its origin is not even from man, for its origin is not in man but in the Holy Spirit.
From Genesis to Malachi, the prophets of old received “the word of the Lord.” That phrase occurs 239 times in the O.T. (NASB). Because they received their information from God they could rightly report to others “thus says the Lord” (308 times in the O.T.). They understood what they were doing and knew the risks. If they made a prophecy and it was shown to be false they could be justly stoned to death under the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 13:15; 18:21-22). When their prophecy came true they were still at risk for sinful people often will persecute those who are righteous and in particular those who call attention to their sin and need to repent (Matthew 5:12). Many of the prophets were persecuted and some martyred because of that (Matthew 23:37). The same was true for the apostles all of whom were martyrs except John. People will not willingly suffer and die for what they know is false, but they might do so for what they know is true. These men understood that what they had received came from God and they were faithful to communicate it to others.
The manner in which the Holy Spirit communicated revelation from God the Father could vary. Hebrews 1:1 tells us that God “spoke long ago the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways.” It could be direct as in the case of Adam and Moses (Genesis 1:28-29; Exodus 33:11), or in a physical manifestation of Himself as with Abraham (Genesis 18), or in a dream or vision (Numbers 12:6) as happened to Solomon (1 Kings 3:5), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1), and Paul (Acts 9:10), or through an angel such as when Gabriel spoke to Daniel (Daniel 8:16) and Mary (Luke 1:19). However, the greatest means of God’s communication to us has been through His son, Jesus, who is the radiance of His glory and exact representation of His nature (Hebrews 1:2-3). The life and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ are written down for us in the gospels.
What God has communicated in the past He has also had written down in the sacred Scriptures by His inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16) so that the Bible is properly called the “Word of God” and not “An Anthology About God by Notable Religious Men.”
What is the basis of truth? The revelation of God through His Prophets and Apostles which we call the Bible and of which Jesus said, “Thy Word is Truth” (John 17:17). We follow the word of God, the truth, not the vain philosophies and speculations of man.
The Need of a Biblical Mindset
But if the Bible is true, then why are so many who profess to know and love Jesus Christ still living according to the vain philosophies and speculations of men? Why does the church have to expend so much effort trying to keep worldliness out of its members? By worldliness I am referring to the very outward flagrant sinfulness that is so rampant within the visible church. Things such as drug abuse, drunkenness, pornography, sexual promiscuity and the resulting sexual diseases and abortions, divorce, wife beating, child abuse, children being disobedient to parents and adults being disobedient to the civil authorities, lying, greed, envy and strife.
Not only is the church battling worldliness, but there are also the schisms that are a constant threat. I am not talking just about divisions between church denominations and associations, for some of those are proper since some churches have departed from the faith and now teach heresy. Passages such as 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 tell us to separate over fundamental beliefs which define true and false Christianity. However, there are also factions that occur within groups that are supposed to be fundamentally sound. They agree on the basics, but divide over what are really man made doctrines.
Some years ago our own church association, IFCA International, was fractured by an issue concerning the blood of Christ. There were those in our association that placed such an emphasis on the blood of Christ being shed for us for the forgiveness of sin (a correct Biblical doctrine) that they ended up teaching that the blood of Christ was only divine and not human. They claimed that it was caught up to heaven after being shed on the cross where it is now kept in a vial or fountain (depending on the person) and is poured out anew for each sin a person commits. That parallels Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass, but it is not taught or even alluded to in the Bible, though I have seen it in the poetry of some hymns. The Scriptures are clear that Jesus was human as well as divine (Philippians 2). Hebrews 10:12 states that Jesus Christ, “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.” The work was done and His blood does not have be poured out again and again for the remission of sins.
Local church divisions occur for similar reasons. People believe all sorts of ideas they think that come from God because they heard it from a radio or TV preacher or read it in some book, but it is not in the Bible. I know several churches that lost families a few years ago when Harold Camping of Family Radio started teaching that the church age has ended and you only need to listen to him. We have had our share of folks leave this church for all sorts of odd reasons. Sometimes it has been over some new unbiblical doctrine they picked up somewhere. Sometimes has been from speculations on minor points of doctrine that they wanted to make into a major issue and have it their way or no way. Most of the time it has been over personal preferences such as style of music, pride such as when they do not have the position or get the attention they think they deserve, or immaturity such as when they have a personal conflict with someone but refuse to work it out.
Why is the church beset with such problems of worldliness and schisms? Why do so many not seem to be able to tell the difference between a Biblical doctrine and the speculations of men? Why do so many that profess to love the Lord Jesus Christ continue in the defeat of habitual sin? Because they do not yet have a truly Biblical mindset! Their minds are still more controlled in many ways by what men say rather than what God says. The church would be a lot different if its people would spend more time reading and listening to what God says in the Bible than what men say. The church would also be a lot better off its people would spend more time actually in the Word of God itself than listening to and reading what men say about the Bible!
Developing a Biblical Mindset
It is obvious that we need a Biblical mindset, a Biblical out look on life, a Biblical philosophy of living. In 2 Corinthians 10:4 Paul described his teaching ministry as “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” We will have a Biblical mindset when every thought is controlled or at least influenced by it. But how can such a thought life be developed? Turn to Romans 12:1-2.
“I urge you therefore, brethren, be the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (lit = logical service of worship). And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good an acceptable and perfect.”
Paul has presented the gospel message to the Roman church in the chapters preceding this. That message begins in chapters 1:18-3:20 that man is completely sinful and justly deserves to die, but God provided for man’s salvation from sin and its effects through justification by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-5:21). The results of this justification is sanctification. That person is forgiven their sins and set apart to live for God. The believer is dead to sin and alive to God. Being freed from the law and its penalty he finds life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6-8). God shows His own righteousness and power to keep all these promises by the way he has dealt with the nation of Israel in the past, present and future (Romans 9-11). Now Paul says that in view of God’s great mercy to you in providing your salvation, you need to live your life as a living sacrifice for Him. He has already bought you with the shed blood of Jesus Christ and except for Him you would now be dead, so it is only reasonable that you live your life in a holy manner, that is, in a way pleasing to God. When you do this you demonstrate your worship of Him.
But we might respond to Paul asking how it can actually be done. We feel the temptation of the world. There is a lot of pressure by friends, family, neighbors and the people at work or school to continue in Adam’s old ways of pleasing self instead of God. The society we live in seeks to mold us into being like everyone else. But Paul commands in verse 2 “do not be conformed to this world.” But how Paul?
It starts with the firm recognition that you are not your own but are bought with the price of the precious blood of Christ shed as the atoning substitute sacrifice for your sin (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19). It is too easy to intellectually agree with a statement without really thinking about its ramifications and living by it. We are not to do that. Because of what Jesus has done for us in redeeming us from our sin we are to be living sacrifices for Him. That means we are to die to self and live for His glory. Too many professing Christians think that being released from the law means autonomy to be your own master and do whatever you would like, but that is not true as Paul explains in Romans 6 & 7. Being freed from the law and dying to it is so that we can serve God in the newness of the Spirit instead of the bondage of the letter. I am still a slave, but my master is now righteousness instead of sin. Like Paul in Galatians 2:20 I must recognized that I am crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This is the foundational concept we must understand and accept as the reality of who and what we are.
Paul states the practical means by which you can become a living sacrifice for Christ and resist the pressure of the world to conform you in Romans 12:2. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word transformed is the same word that describes an ugly caterpillar becoming a beautiful butterfly. There is complete change which is to occur and is accomplished through the renewing of your mind. Before you were a Christian you had a mind that was only sinful. It could not please God because it had a twisted perception of reality leading you into sinful habits and practices that you thought were just fine at the time, but the truth was that even your deeds you considered to be righteous were filthy rags before our holy God (Isaiah 64:6). After you were saved from your sin the Holy Spirit began to work on your heart and mind giving you the power to change. The first step was to convince you that your old way of thinking was wrong. The old thoughts and perceptions of the world had to be taken and marked “defective, erroneous, sick” and then replaced with the truth of the Word of God. That is the renewing of your mind. The old thoughts are discarded and replaced with a new way of thinking. As your mind becomes renewed, your thoughts & beliefs change resulting in behavior which proves “what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The Power of the Bible
How can Scripture accomplish these great changes? Turn to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
This verse starts off by saying that all scripture is “God-breathed.” It did not come by man, but by God. It is His word. Second, these God-breathed writings are profitable. They are good for doing something useful and beneficial. They will assist the person in accomplishing what Paul mentions at the end of verse 17. They will assist you in becoming equipped for every good work. I say assist because the Scriptures are insufficient in and of themselves. The Holy Spirit must also be at work to convict, convince and empower you to apply their truths in your life.
Paul uses four key words to describe the profitability of Scriptures in accomplish this task of making you adequate or complete and equipped for every good work. They are: Teaching or doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction.
Teaching or Doctrine. We get the word “didactic” from this word. We could say these are the informational or general truths of Scripture. They are the answers to life’s questions. Where did everything come from? (Genesis 1). Why am I the way I am? (Genesis 2). What is my destiny? (without Christ – Revelation 20; With Christ -Matthew 25:34). What is love? (1 Corinthians 13; Romans 5:8). Am I loved? (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Can I be secure in that love? (Romans 8). How am I supposed to live? (John 15; Galatians 5). What about when trouble comes? (John 16:33; Romans 5). What about family relationships? (Ephesians 5; 1 Peter 3). How do I treat other people in general? (Matthew 5:44). We could go on and on with these type of questions and the location of their answers in the Bible. We could describe doctrine as pointing out the path of life we are to walk on. It points out the way to have fellowship with God.
Reproof means to “rebuke with sufficient cause, and effectually, so as to bring the one rebuked to a confession or at least a conviction of sin.” This is word used in Matthew 18:15 where our Lord tells us, “and if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” We are to be involved in each other’s lives. When we fall into sin it helps to have a brother or sister to come along side us and help us out as described in Galatians 6:1-2. But notice 2 Timothy 3:16 says that it is Scripture that reproves. We don’t need someone coming and saying “Brother, your in sin.” Most people would disregard that as simply your opinion which was not requested and not welcome. We need someone to come and say, “Brother, I love you and care about you. I want to help you. Have you considered what God’s word says about what you are doing? Look with me at what this passage says.” We then take the Word of God and use that to bring reproof. Your opinion about what is right and wrong is just your opinion. The Word of God is the standard of what is right and wrong and it is used by the Holy Spirit to bring conviction. We could describe reproof as telling a person where they have gotten off the path of life that they should be on. They have moved out of fellowship with God.
Correction means literally “to restore to an upright or right state.” That is the goal of the Matthew 18 passage. We go and rebuke a person showing them the relevant Scripture in order to correct them in their error. That is also brought out in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” We use Scripture to teach how to overcome the sin and get back on track. We could describe correction as pointing a person back to the path of life they should be on. It points the way back to fellowship with God.
Instruction is the final word in Paul’s description. It is an interesting word that refers to the training of children in mind and morals. Here the word is specifically linked with righteousness and training the individual in it. The training of a child is much more than giving them all the facts. It means walking beside them and guiding them and helping them to put into practice the facts they know. Scripture does that as well. It not only tells us the truth, but it tells us how to keep from straying from the truth. David put it well in Psalm 119:9-11 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping [it] according to Thy word. 10 With all my heart I have sought Thee; Do not let me wander from Thy commandments. 11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.” We could describe instruction in righteousness as telling us how to stay on the path. It tell us how to stay in fellowship with God.
Doctrine shows us the path of fellowship with God. Temptation comes and we fall off the path. Reproof tells that we are off the path and no longer in intimate fellowship with God. Correction gets us back on track and restores us to intimate fellowship with God. Instruction in righteousness tells us how to stay on the path in fellowship with God and how to overcome the temptation to get off it.
Do you have a Biblical mindset? You cannot even answer that question for yourself until you know the Scriptures well enough to recognize the difference between godliness and worldliness and you are choosing godliness. A Biblical mindset is not distinguished by being able to quote a lot of verses, but rather by the quest to know what the word of God says about any subject that comes up and then following it. A Biblical mindset is characterized by striving to be transformed by the renewing of your mind having it cleansed by the word and Spirit (Ephesians 5:26). A simple test for this is to consider how more important it is to you to know you are in agreement with God and please Him even if it means being rejected by other people because of it. You can’t know that unless you know the Scriptures.
I want to leave you this morning with some practical help in developing a Biblical mindset. It begins with simply reading the Bible. First, I have placed some Bible reading charts on the back table. These have several plans by which you can read through the entire Bible either cover to cover, chronologically, or a mixture of daily Old and New Testament reading. It also has a chart by which you can mark your progress. Second, some people find beneficial to use an audio Bible for various reasons. I have one myself. I have placed a sheet on the back table with various formats and versions with current prices. I recommend a dramatized version because it is easier to follow. If several want to purchase at the same time you can save some money on shipping, so I have placed a sign up sheet to assist with that. I have also copied some brochures for some basic Bible software that I can purchase in bulk for about $11 each with shipping. There is also a sign up sheet for that if you are interested.
Sermon Notes – 9/27/2009
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Write down all the verses mentioned. 2) Count how many times “Bible,” “Scripture,” or “word of God” are mentioned. 3) Talk with your parents about how you can develop a Biblical mindset by having your mind renewed by the Scriptures.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What worldly philosophies have you seen demonstrated by those who profess to love Jesus? Describe. How are those philosophies contrary to godliness? What is the problem with the “I’m okay, you’re okay” philosophy? What is logically wrong about the statement, “There are no absolutes.” Why do people who say there are no absolutes get so mad at those who believe the Bible? How does Peter distinguish what he is writing from the belief systems common in his own day? What is the origin of the Bible? What are some of the ways in which God communicated His revelation to man? What was the Holy Spirit’s work in those revelations being written down? What are some of the consequences in the church when its people do not have a Biblical mindset? What is worldliness and what are some of the evidences of it in a person’s life? What are some of the proper reasons to separate from others who claim to be Christians? What are some of the wrong reasons for such a division? Paul sought to take every thought captive to the obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4), how would you describe your progression toward that goal? Why is it reasonable to present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices to God? What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? How can the pressure to be conformed to this world be resisted? Why did Christ free you from the law? What is the resulting relationship to sin? To Righteousness? What does it mean to be transformed by the renewing of your mind? By what means is your mind renewed? What will your life demonstrate as your life is transformed? How does the Bible profit us? Describe each of the following from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and their relationship to one another – Doctrine, reproof, correction & instruction in righteousness. Which is more important to you? Being in agreement with God and pleasing Him or avoiding being rejected by others?
Developing a Biblical Mindset – 2 Peter 1:21 & Selected
It is heartbreaking for a godly man to see those who claim to love the Lord live by ________philosophies
You only go around once, so go for the gusto – Living for the adventure and ___________of the moment
Looking out for #1 – Selfishly demanding rights instead of looking out for others
Eat, drink and be merry – _______________ -seeking out as much pleasure and happiness as possible
Don’t worry – be happy – Ignore your problems & only consider what is best for you
I’m a product of my environment – My problems are someone else’s ___________
My kids are going to have what I did not – I don’t like my life, so I will live it through my children
I don’t want to get involved – I don’t ___________, so don’t bother me
I’m okay, You’re okay and That’s fine for you – There is no ultimate _______, so it varies with each person
Denial that truth can be known is an _______________ statement
Biblical truth warns that those in sin are not ___________, but are facing God’s judgement
Those who deny absolute truth cannot ______________ those who recognize it.
Review – 2 Peter 1:16-21
The ______________ are not fairy tales, myths, cleverly devised tales or the philosophies of men.
The Apostles were _________________ of what they reported
The origin of Scripture is in _________, not man.
___________communicated to man in many ways including:
A physical manifestation of Himself as with _____________(Genesis 18),
Through His son, __________- Hebrews 1:2-3
The Bible was ________(God breathed) and recorded by men as the Holy Spirit moved them (2 Tim. 3:16)
The Need of a Biblical Mindset
Why does the church battle worldliness and schisms among its _____________?
There are proper reasons to be _______________ , including heresy – 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
Most church schisms are caused by minor doctrines, personal preferences, ____________or immaturity
The church would not struggle with worldliness and schisms if its people had a truly ___________mindset
Developing a Biblical Mindset
2 Corinthians 10:4 – Paul’s ministry set out to take every ____________captive to the obedience of Christ
Romans 12:1-2 – the practical and reasonable response to the ______________
How can conformity to the world be ____________when we feel pressure the strength of the temptations?
1) Recognition that you are not your own but are ________with the price of the precious blood of Christ
3) Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – Transformed = ____________________
The old way of thinking is marked “defective” and _______________by a new way of thinking
The Power of the Bible – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
By the work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible will profit you to be _________& equipped for every good work
Teaching / Doctrine – Scripture points us to the ________________and answers life’s great questions
Reproof is to _________with sufficient cause to bring about conviction of sin. See Matt. 18:15, Gal. 6:1-2
The Scriptures point out where a person has gotten _______the path of life and moved out of fellowship
Correction restores to a right state. Scripture directs how to overcome sin and ___________the path of life
Instruction – trains us in ___________________. See Psalm 119:9-11
Scripture tells us how to _______________the path of life and in fellowship with God
A Biblical mindset is characterized by striving to be transformed by the _______________of your mind
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