|Applying God's Word|
Lisa Barry: I hear a lot of people talk about having a desire to grow spiritually, but the manner in which they speak tells me they're more interested in an emotional experience rather than transformation. And when it comes to true spiritual growth, God is more interested in life transformation. So how then does a person begin this process of maturing spiritually? That's the focus of our Gateway To Joy programs all this week.
The only way to become like Christ is to be transformed in our minds. Though it may seem an overwhelmingly difficult task, I think you'll find many great places to start today. Get out a pad of paper or a notebook and see if you can't find something to apply before you go to bed tonight. But for now, let's get started with this Monday edition of Gateway To Joy. Here's Elisabeth Elliot.
Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking this week about a renewed mind. A renewed mind.
I do want to make it clear, as clear as I possibly can, that I don't mean to be dishing out mere Elisabeth Elliot opinions. Now you know if you've been listening to me at all, I'm sure, that I'm a woman who is very highly opinionated and strongly tempted to dish it out to everybody else-tell everybody what my opinion is, as though I know what's right and what's wrong and you should conform to me. That really isn't why I do Gateway To Joy. It is with an earnest desire to let you know that these truths have been given to me by God Himself, not only through His Word, but many of them through the pens of men and women who have walked with God, perhaps many centuries ago. They are people whom I revere as my spiritual tutors. They speak to me over the years with spiritual authority.
You're listening to a learner. I'm still a learner. May God deliver me from ever quitting the learning process. May He grant to me stability and clarity of mind, as long as it will glorify Him. When I lose my mind and begin doing strange things or dishing out nothing but Elisabeth Elliot opinions, then I certainly do hope that the Lord will shut me right up.
But this business of a renewed mind is a process that I find goes on throughout life. There is a specific point in most of our lives, if we are Christians, at which we have agreed with God and turned our lives over to Him and asked Him to transform us and to create us in the image of Christ.
There isn't a day that goes by when there isn't an opportunity for the renewing of our minds. As long as we live here on this earth, there are going to be temptations-things which would go against the principles that God's Word gives us.
Romans 12 is a very familiar passage, I'm sure, to many of you. The first three verses say this. The Apostle Paul is speaking to the Roman Christians. "I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will."
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I don't know a better way to renew my mind than by saturating my mind with God's Word and with these spiritual tutors who are faithful to God's Word, and very often put it in different language, but the same principles. I need to hear it in as many different ways stated as possible.
So these three verses I wanted to give you to begin with. There's a corollary verse in Paul's letter to the Ephesian Christians. Ephesians 4:22,23: "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds." Made new in the attitude of your minds.
If we are going to respond in a godly way to the unreasonableness and injustice that all of us experience, sooner or later, then we are going to have to have a renewed mind, because it certainly is not going to fit in with a secular mind. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world," Paul says. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is."
Many worry about how they will learn what God's will is. Most of it has been made very plain in the Scriptures. We need all the help we can get, however, in the application of what God says. I don't know a better 20th century teacher than A. W. Tozer. He wrote a little leaflet called EXPOSITION MUST HAVE APPLICATION, a marvelous little leaflet which has greatly helped me. EXPOSITION MUST HAVE APPLICATION. So let me read to you what he says.
"Charles G. Finney believed that Bible teaching without moral application could be worse than no teaching at all and could result in positive injury to the hearers. I used to feel that this might be an extreme position, but after years of observation I have come around to it, or to a view almost identical with it.
There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Truth divorced from life is not truth in its biblical sense, but something else and something less. Theology is a set of facts concerning God, man and the world. These facts may be, and often are, set forth as values in themselves. There lies the snare both for the teacher and for the hearer.
The Bible is, among other things, a book of revealed truth; that is, certain facts are revealed that could not be discovered by the most brilliant mind. These facts are of such a nature as to be past finding out. They were hidden behind a veil. And until certain men (who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost) took away that veil, no mortal man could know them-this lifting of the veil of unknowing, from undiscoverable things we call divine revelation.
The Bible, however, is more than a volume of hitherto unknown facts about God, man and the universe. It is a book of exhortation based upon these facts. By far, the greater portion of the book is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God as set forth in its pages."
"By far, the greater portion of the Bible is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God as set forth in its pages." I can't think of a better definition of what Gateway To Joy is supposed to be. It's meant to be based on what God's Word says, not what Elisabeth Elliot says. Certainly I do my best to put forth an urgent effort to persuade you, my dear, kind listeners, to alter your ways and bring your lives into harmony with the will of God, as He has set forth in His pages.
Tozer goes on to say, "No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth." That's an interesting statement, isn't it? No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. "The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell, there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action."
"Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action." I was just thinking of what strange topics I choose for this program. How many people turn on the radio in order to learn about a renewed mind? Or temptations, things which would go against the principles that God's Word gives us? But these are human conditions, aren't they? These are happenings.
Tozer says, "What is generally overlooked is that truth, as set forth in the Christian Scriptures, is a moral thing. It is not addressed to the intellect only, but to the will also." Christian Scripture is a moral thing, not addressed to the intellect only, but to the will also. "It addresses itself to the total man and its obligations cannot be discharged by grasping it mentally."
Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.
Lisa Barry: And the problem is, the world is very subtle in the way it attempts to mold you and me. But one way to begin to renew your mind is to spend time focusing on God each day. Read the Bible. Pray about what you read and ask for strength to obey.
A book that might help you find ways to apply God's Word in practical ways is one called JOY AND STRENGTH. It's a devotional book that gives you one thought each day, along with a Scripture verse to ponder. Give it a try. It's great material. Call us for information on how to purchase it.
Our number is 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Or write to us at Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Our Internet ministry address is www.gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible.
Be with us again tomorrow when Elisabeth gives us more practical ways on how we can renew our minds. That's next time on Gateway To Joy.