Is holding a grudge worth eternal separation from God?

Reflections from Matthew 18:15-35

I’ve read the accounts of Jesus’ life in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John numerous times. Yet each time I read Jesus’ words afresh, I’m shaken by the serious consequences Jesus places on things we treat as “minor issues” in church today.

Here is an example from my reading today which shook me to the core and caused me to re-consider my heart towards those who’ve wronged me:

In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus lays out the method a Christian should use to make peace with someone who has done wrong against them (Note: Please read these verses. Christians must resolve to make this method their regular practice when dealing with relational conflict.)

After Jesus’ seminar on the practicalities of forgiving people, Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, begins the question and answer session:

He asks Jesus how often he has to forgive people. Peter is thinking of a scenario where somebody persistently offends him. I cannot help but imagine that Peter has a particular “difficult person” in mind and he’s wondering if there is a loophole where he can get away without doing the whole “forgiveness” thing…..

How many chances do they get before Peter can be justified in withholding forgiveness from them? That’s what he’s asking! Jesus tells Peter that he should keep forgiving them, over and over and over again. According to Jesus, we Christians are to be serial forgivers!

Then Jesus explains why: He tells a story where a servant was forgiven from a heap of debt they’d built up. The servant had done wrong and deserved to be punished, but because he begged for forgiveness, the King forgave him. However, when somebody else wronged that same servant, instead of exercising the same forgiveness he’d received from the King, the servant withheld forgiveness, punishing the one in his debt.

Jesus explained that when the King found out about the servants’ refusal to forgive those who’d wronged him, he called the servant “wicked”. He was wicked because in spite of receiving much forgiveness himself (he’d been forgiven from owing a years wages in money and not paying it), he refused to forgive the one who’d wronged him (the man who wronged him owed him only a day’s wages in money.)

The story ends with the King, who’d previously offered him forgiveness, sending him to jail until he was able to pay all his debt. In reality, this servant would never be able to pay off the debt he owed, it was far too big. His destiny was incarceration forever!

Then Jesus gives the punchline: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” 

Here is the application for you and me:

Is it worth forfeiting eternity with God, in order that we can walk in offence and bitterness against those who’ve hurt us? Unforgiveness is a lose, lose. You lose your joy and peace today and you lose eternal life with God.

Many Christian’s are willing to accept they may lose some temporal peace by withholding forgiveness from a brother or sister, but they wrongly believe they can withhold forgiveness and still make it to heaven by God’s grace.

The lie they’ve believed is that they can have faith in the Lord Jesus who died to forgive their sin, and walk in unforgiveness towards others at the same time.

It’s true that Christian’s are saved by faith, but it’s not true that saving faith is compatible with unforgiveness.

To put it another way, if a person truly has faith in the God who has come to earth and died on the cross to make all their many wrongs right, they will, by the Spirit of Jesus, exercise forgiveness to others who have wronged them.

Let’s not minimise Jesus’ words or downplay his warnings. By withholding forgiveness from others, we are forgoing eternity with God.

This is a call to consider Jesus’ warnings, meditate on the magnitude and magnificence of God’s merciful forgiveness towards us, and urgently, without delay, follow Jesus’ instructions in verses 15-20 and seek to make peace with those who’ve sinned against us.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9

 

 

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GOD IS TRINITY (Pt 4) – Unbiblical views of the Godhead.

Today I’ll outline some errors people have fallen into when trying to simplify the Trinity.

Because the Trinity requires us to hold the tension that God is one being manifested in three individual people, many find this too difficult a tension to hold.

Subsequently, various groups have attempted to simplify the Trinity, which invariably requires them to deny one of the biblical three truths outlined in my previous post (Part 3).

In this post I will outline three common errors people have fallen into when trying to simplify the Trinity.

The first one is called Modalism.

This belief denies the truth that God is three individual people. Instead it asserts that God is one being who manifests as a different person at different stages throughout history. So, for example, God is one being who sometimes shows Himself as the Father, at other times as the Son and at other times as the Holy Spirit.

We only have to look at Jesus’ baptism to discount the idea of Modalism. At Jesus’ baptism, we see the Son of God in the water, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and the Father speaking from heaven. Three individual members of the Trinity, appearing at the same time.

The second is called Arianism.

Arianism originated from Arius, Bishop of Alexandrea and was quickly refuted at the council of Nicaea in AD 325. More recently, Jehovahs Witnesses have adopted this false belief which has it’s roots in the 3rd and 4th centuries.

In a nutshell, Arianism denies that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are divine. As you’ve seen from previous blog posts, you have to do a lot of scriptural origami to arrive at this position. To be blunt, you have to outright change many scriptures, which is exactly what JW’s (or at least the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) have done with their version of the Bible, the New World Translation (NWT). In the NWT you’ll find that in every place where Jesus is worshipped, the word “worship” has been changed to read “obeisance”. Yet, when the same Greek word for “worship” is ascribed to the devil for instance in Luke 4:5, the NWT keeps the word as “worship.” Likewise you’ll find that the NWT has changed John 1:1 to remove deity from Jesus, reducing Him to “a god” rather than “God.”

As you read through other texts in the NWT which historically ascribe divinity to Jesus, compare them to other translations such as the NKJV, NAS, NIV, ESV and you’ll find that subtle alterations have been made which seek to make Jesus less than divine.

Arianism also denies the personhood and divinity of the Holy Spirit, claiming the Spirit to be force rather than a person within the Godhead. Check back on all the personal traits ascribed to the Holy Spirit and scriptures such as Acts 5:3-4 which discount this false teaching.

The final error people make in simplifying the Trinity is known as Tritheism. This has not been prevalent in church history, but more so in pagan circles. It’s the denial that “God is one” (Deut 6:4-5) and the false affirmation in a multiplicity of god’s.

Whilst you won’t find many professing Christian’s who hold to this view, there is a warning to evangelicals from a popular scholar, who says…….

“Although no modern groups advocate tritheism, perhaps many evangelicals today unintentionally tend toward tritheistic views of the Trinity, recognizing the distinct personhood of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but seldom being aware of the unity of God as one undivided being.” 

Don’t forget, any questions on this topic can be emailed to info@gatewaynewcastle.org and I’ll do my best to answer.

Love

Sam

GOD IS TRINITY (Pt 3) – Biblical evidence

In my previous post I promised to lay out the scriptures which display the doctrine of the Trinity.

Before I do, I’d like to explain why I’m choosing to explain the Trinity by laying out a set of propositions backed up by scripture……

Many try to explain the Trinity with imagery. No doubt you’ve heard of people using a three leaf clover to explain the Trinity. Maybe you’ve heard of someone using the three states of water; liquid, ice and steam, and there are plenty of other illustrations too.

I find that trying to explain the divine with imagery of created things is always flawed in one way or another. I’ve not yet found an illustration which fully and accurately explains the Trinity without falling away into some form of heresy.

Neither do I find it possible to comprehensively explain the Trinity in a few short sentences. I could give it a go, but again, my efforts would be lacking. We have to accept that to some degree, we cannot fully grasp all there is to know about the Trinity. The best we can do is lay out the truths scripture teaches and humbly submit to these truths as we hold them in tension.

I’m going to give you three separate truths from the Bible. When layered on top of one another, they form the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Bible teaches God is three persons

The Bible speaks of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father and neither the Father or the Son are the Holy Spirit. They are individual people.

We see the distinction between the Father and Son in John 1:1-2,14

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God……..the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” – Jn 1:1-2,14

Jesus is the Word. Jesus was with God in the beginning, denoting Jesus and one other, the Father. Then it says Jesus “was God.” This shows us both the Father and the Son, individual people, equal in deity.

In John 14:26, we see Jesus speaking of the Father and the Holy Spirit, demonstrating there are three individual persons of the Godhead.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my [Jesus’] name, he will teach you all things…….” Jn 14:26

As a side note, you may wonder why we call the Holy Spirit a person and not something else like a “force”. The Holy Spirit is given the masculine pronoun “He” in the Bible. He is called the Counsellor and Comforter, which are both personal traits which we’d not attribute to an impersonal force. In addition, the Holy Spirit is said to teach, bare witness, pray, know thoughts, give gifts, forbid certain actions, allow certain activities, evaluate courses of action and He is grieved by the sin of Christians. All these pertain to the Holy Spirit being a “He” rather than an “It”.

The Bible teaches each person is fully God

We’ve established there are three persons in the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The question remains “What is the Biblical evidence that they are each divine.” That is to say, each one is equally God.

There is no debate over the Father, who is regularly called God the Father in the scriptures. It is universally accepted that deity is attributed to Him and this isn’t challenged by any group. However, certain groups do challenge the deity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, so that’s what I’ll give focus to here.

Jesus:

The Bible teaches the Son is divine. We’ve already looked at John 1:1-2,14. Here are some other texts……..

“…a child is born….a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God……” Is 9:6

“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” Jn 20:28

“…the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him….” Mt 28:16-17

(See also Jn 1:1-4, 8:58, 9:38, 10:30, 10:33, 10:38, 16:15, Heb 1, Col 2:9, Rm 9:5, Titus 2:13, 3:4, 1 Jn 5:20, Mt 2:2, 2:8, 2:11, 14:33, Lk 24:52)

In the above texts, Jesus is called “Mighty God” by the prophet Isaiah, “My Lord and my God” by his disciple Thomas and He is worshipped by eleven disciples. In Luke 4:8 Jesus instructed His hearers to “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Many use this text in an attempt to prove the Father alone is to be worshipped. However, the very fact that Jesus willingly received worship and not once refused it, proves He believed Himself to be equal with the Father. The Pharisees understood this clearly. In fact, they attempted to stone Him more than once, in their words, “claiming equality with God”. That Jesus rose from the dead vindicates everything He said and thus, we can trust that He is indeed divine and worthy of worship.

Holy Spirit:

We’ve established the divinity of Father and Son. Now we move onto the Holy Spirit.

As a starter, I’d like to present Mt 28:19 to you…….

“Go and make disciples…..baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Mt 28:19

This is the great commission. It would be unthinkable for Jesus to command His disciples to baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, if the Holy Spirit was less than divine.

Another pointer to the Holy Spirit’s divinity is Acts 5:3-4. Here Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit and Peter accused Ananias of lying to God, thus inferring the Holy Spirit is God.

“But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit……..you have lied not to man but to God.”Acts 5:3-4

Furthermore, we know that only God is all knowing. No created being, human or angelic, is all knowing. In 1 Cor 2:10-11 the Holy Spirit (or the Spirit of God, as He is called in this passage) is deemed to be all knowing.

Compare and contrast 1 John 3:19 and John 3:5-7 and you’ll see that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives new life and that only God can give new life. Thus making the Holy Spirit God.

Lastly, we know that the temple of God has always been the place in which God dwells. It’s not a lesser being or lesser force that dwells in the temple, but the very presence of God. 1 Corinthians 3:16 explains that we are “God’s temple” and God’s Spirit dwells in us.

Thus the one who dwells in us, the Holy Spirit, is not lesser than God, but very God Himself.

There is one God

If we stopped at this stage, we’d have three separate people, all of whom are God, therefore we’d have 3 God’s, or what is know as tri-theism or poly-theism. This would be very straightforward to understand. However, the bible throws one more important truth into the mix……..

“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one….” Deut 6:4-5

The Bible doesn’t say “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is three.” It says, “The Lord is one.”

So we are left with a tension…….

There are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Each person is fully God.

There is one God.

Because not one of those truths cannot be denied from scripture, many have tried to simplify the Trinity by changing the scriptures. We cannot do that! If we do, we fall into the trap of creating our own image of god, a man made god. We don’t choose or define who God is, He does and He reveals Himself through His Word.

Although many will say the Trinity is a logical fallacy, I beg to differ. The very fact I cannot fully comprehend what God is like with human logic, in no way implies that the Trinity is false. In fact, it strengthens my belief in the truth of the Trinity. If I could fully comprehend all that God is with my finite mind, I’d be equal to God, which clearly I’m not! So if anything, the mystery of the Trinity adds weight to it’s truth.

Next time I’ll outline a few of the errors people have fallen into when trying to simplify the Trinity.

With love in Christ,

Sam

GOD IS TRINITY (Pt 2) – Why study the doctrine of the Trinity

Why is it important for Christians to have a good grasp of the Trinity?

At the surface level, the answer is simple; understanding the Trinity helps answer the question “What is God like?”

A Christian is someone who lives by faith in Christ and through Jesus Christ is reconciled to God. So it makes sense we should take time to understand this God whom we love and worship.

In this post I’ve outlined four reasons, straight from the Bible, why you, as a Christian, would be wise to study and meditate on the truths of the Trinity.

1) You are exhorted to search for the knowledge of God. 

The word “exhorted” means “strongly encouraged.”

Here is an exhortation for all Christians in Proverbs 2:1-5……

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

Here is set of conditions with a breathtaking promise attached.

The promise: You will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

The conditions: IF you……..

  1. Receive God’s words and treasure up His commandments within you.

2. Make your ear attentive to God’s wisdom.

3. Incline your heart to understanding God’s Word.

4.Calling out (praying) and raising your voice (praying with zeal) for understanding of God’s Word.

5.Seeking the knowledge of God like hidden treasure (be unrelenting in your pursuit).

The Trinity is central to the knowledge of God. To know God you must understand WHO He is and WHAT He is like. You cannot know God without having a grasp of the Trinity.

Such truths as the Trinity are veiled in mystery. We cannot fathom all there is to know about God, but He has revealed a measure of understanding to us in His Word.

Here is a question for you…..When you come to study the scriptures and pray, how often do you study and pray for the sake of knowing God better? 

Do you approach the scriptures and God in prayer looking for a word to make your life more manageable? Or to make you feel better? Or do you approach them with the primary goal of discovering God Himself?

There is nothing more joyous or uplifting than discovering the God of heaven and growing in knowledge of Him. We’re encouraged by Him, for our own good, to search for Him in the scriptures, posture ourselves to hear from Him, pray fervently for understanding and keep seeking with perseverance.

2) To fulfill the greatest commandment

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law”, And [Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind…..” Mt 22:37

God’s greatest desire for us is that we love Him with all that we are. In fact, it’s so important that Jesus said loving God was the greatest commandment of all!

We love God because He loved us first. Our love is always offered to God in response to a revelation of His love for us.

The glory of God’s love shines bright in the Trinity. The Bible tells us that God is love. Only a Trinitarian God can be love. Why? Because love requires an object to be loved. That means if God wasn’t a community before the world existed, He would require the world in order to love. Yet before the world was created, God loved within the community of the Trinity. So it can be said with confidence that not only does God love, but God is love!

Everything He does is motivated by love. The more you understand the Trinity, the greater grasp of God’s love you’ll have, and therefore, the greater capacity you have to love Him in return and fulfill the greatest commandment.

3) To rightly relate to each member of the Trinity

We’ve all said it in prayer……”Father, thank you for dying on the cross for my sins!” or “Holy Spirit, thank you for sending Jesus into the world.”

I’m sure the Father, on His throne of grace, understands when we get things mixed up. However, it’s beneficial to have a clear understanding of the role of each person in the Trinity. Every member of the Trinity is involved in every act of God, yet their roles are distinct. For example, it was Jesus who died on the cross, not the Father. It’s inaccurate to thank the Father for dying for you, He didn’t. It’s appropriate to thank the Father for sending and sacrificing His Son, and it’s appropriate to thank Jesus for taking the weight of our sin.

Having a clear understanding of the roles of each member of the Trinity helps you truly appreciate the glory of God revealed in each person of the Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

4) To possess confidence in evangelism

When we evangelize, our primary message is not to preach the Trinity, but to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Jesus is the light of the world, He is the image of the invisible God, He is the Way, His is the only Name given by which we can be saved. So, as Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 15, we preach Jesus Christ crucified as of first importance.

We do however live in a country where certain faith groups are increasingly active in their own evangelism, specifically Muslims and Jehovahs Witnesses. Both of these false religions deny the doctrine of the Trinity. Therefore it’s increasingly likely that in your evangelistic efforts, you will be challenged on this doctrine either by Muslims and JW’s themselves, or by those who’ve been evangelized by them.

Whilst you don’t have the ability to enable someone to accept the doctrine of the Trinity (only the Spirit of God can do that!), you do have the ability to present Biblical truths to the listener, making it clear what has been taught by the Apostles, Prophets and Jesus Himself. The Word of God is your authority but unless you know what’s in there, you cannot use it authoritatively. The only way is to meditate and memorize the scriptures which lay out the Trinity, there is no shortcut. I’ll include some of these key scriptures in my next post.

My little list is by no means exhaustive, but I’ve given four good reasons to give yourself to the study of the doctrine of the Trinity. If you have any specific questions on the Trinity, feel free to email your question(s) to info@gatewaynewcastle.org and I’ll do my best to answer them either in person or via a subsequent blog post.

With love in Jesus,

Sam

GOD IS TRINITY – A refresher (Pt1)

This Sunday I’m teaching the second part of a mini series on the Trinity, which is part of a wider series, entitled “GOD IS______ A journey into the knowledge of God.”

There is absolutely nothing more fascinating to me than delving into the knowledge of the One who knew me before the foundation of the world. This is the One who ordained that I’d be part of His family. He created me, rescued me from a life of rebellion, forgave me, put new desires in my heart and day by day cleanses me from all unrighteousness.

He blows my mind!!

What a joy that He invites me to a new life, where my primary occupation is to grow in the knowledge of Him.

Jesus spoke of the experience of salvation (eternal life) when he said this……

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Many Christian’s believe the end of salvation is to have your sins forgiven, escape the wrath of God and be accepted into heaven. I greatly appreciate all of those incredible blessings, but the end of salvation is even greater than the forgiveness of sins or a reservation in heaven.

The forgiveness of our sins and our place in heaven facilitate eternal life, which by Jesus’ definition, is to grow in the knowledge of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Of course, eternal life doesn’t begin upon the death of the body. It begins the moment you die to yourself and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. You have an open invitation to approach God and grow in relationship with Him.

When Jesus spoke of knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ in John 17:3, he was talking about more than intellectual knowledge. He was talking about experiential, relational knowledge. Yet, our ability to grow in the knowledge of God through relationship depends largely on having the right mindset of who God is.

My primary motivation for this series is to equip our church with a better understanding of the character, attributes and nature of the God we worship.

As we go on this journey of discovery together, your understanding of God will be expanded and thus, your ability to worship Him in spirit and truth will be strengthened.

Whilst many in Body of Christ believe we should bypass theology and focus mainly on “encounter”, I contend that bad theology hinders true encounter and good theology propels the Christian into joyful, soul lifting, persevering worship and praise.

As its been almost two months since I preached the first section of “GOD IS TRINITY”, I will post a few blogs this week as a refresher leading up to the second part of this teaching on Sunday.

In the blog posts I’ll cover WHY we need to understand the truth of the Trinity, WHAT the Bible teaches about the Trinity and COMMON ERRORS people make in simplifying the Trinity.

I encourage you to set time aside after reading these blog posts and slowly meditate over the scriptures I’ve mentioned…….talk to God about them and listen to what he has to say. Ask God to reveal himself and His will for your life as you consider God the Father who has called you into the experience of eternal life, his Son who died to make it possible and his Spirit who gives you the desire and ability to enter into it!

With love in Jesus,

Sam

GROW- Invest in your transformation (Part 3)

Here is the second step you can take to invest in your own transformation.

Transformation requires………..Learning the truth!

In Jesus’ high priestly prayer to the Father, He said “Use the truth to make them holy. Your words are truth.” (Jn 17:17 – GW)

Being transformed to live like Jesus means becoming holy. Holiness is a reality when we’re cleansed of everything that hinders our love for God and others. The bible word for the thoughts, actions and deeds that make us un-holy is “sin.”

Every sin we act out has it’s roots in a lie (an un-truth) we’ve believed about God, ourselves or other people. The world bombards our minds with lies about all of these things…….

The sexualzation of prime-time “entertainment” fills our minds with lies about the basis for good relationships, the value of women, the sanctity of marriage and more.

The violent nature of video games and movies fills our minds with lies about the sanctity and sacredness of life, the correct way to resolve disagreements and so on.

Within education, children are now taught from a post modern viewpoint where every truth claim is deemed equally valid and the greatest sin is telling somebody they’ve “got it wrong.”

These are but three examples of a host of lies the world teaches us from our youth. To mature spiritually, we must un-learn the lies the world has spoon fed us, and re-learn what God says about reality. We must be cleansed of all the sin producing lies we’ve consciously and subconsciously made agreement with.

The truth is found in God’s Word. Dedicating yourself to learn God’s Word through regular reading, prayer and teaching will cause you to be cleansed of everything that makes you un-holy or un-Christlike. The bible explains it like this…..

“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Furthermore, the bible teaches us that the Word of God is a person; Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of all truth. Therefore growing in holiness requires more than just studying the bible to understand truth. To become spiritually mature, you must grow in relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is not a dead historical figure. He is alive!!

As you dedicate yourself to understanding the truth of God’s Word, praying to God through Jesus’ Name and seeking to live in obedience to Jesus’ leading, you’ll grow strong in your relationship with Jesus and you’ll find increasingly that sin has little hold over you. This is the second part of the journey to spiritual maturity.

Next time I’ll post the third step you can take to grow in Christlikeness.

GROW – Invest in your transformation (Part 2)

In my post yesterday I wrote about God’s commitment to your transformation. Today’s post focusses on your responsibility to invest in your own transformation.

God is fully committed to your transformation, but you must be committed too. In my time pastoring people who are struggling to break cycles of sin, these kind phrases are common place……..

“I agree, I should’t be bitter BUT I’m waiting for the Holy Spirit to change me.”

“I know, a Christian shouldn’t gossip BUT God will change me in His timing.”

“I know I shouldn’t look at pornography BUT I’m a work in progress.”

All of these phases are true. The Holy Spirit does change you in God’s timing and you are a work in progress. By no means are you changed instantly, without God or can you claim to be a finished article.

The problem is not the content of these kind of phrases. The content is true. The problem is the way in which they’re frequently used by Christians, namely to justify sin and/or to deflect the responsibility for their sin onto God.

Simply put, there is a temptation to magnify the truth of God’s commitment to our change, not to glorify God but rather to suppress the truth that our commitment is just as necessary.

Growing to become like Jesus requires you to take personal responsibility!

God will not transform you unless you truly want to be transformed and you take steps to invest in your own transformation.

Becoming like Jesus takes effort.

Becoming like Jesus takes time.

Becoming like Jesus takes sacrifice.

Here is the first of four requirements for Christlike transformation….

1. Transformation requires…………COACHING

Even the top athletes require coaches. Take Usain Bolt for example. Usain is the fastest man on the planet. Born with incredible natural ability and the ideal physical makeup for athletics, He still needs his coach, Glen Mills, to help him improve as an athlete. A good coach maximises your strengths and minimises your weaknesses. A good coach sees the blind stops that you miss.

Like Usain, we are in a race, but ours is a spiritual race (Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Philippians 3:13-14, Hebrews 12:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:7). Like Usain, if we want to be strengthened for the race that lies ahead, we need coaching. We need someone to affirm our strengthens and help us deal with our weaknesses. We need someone honest who will tell us when we’re going off track. We need someone who will keep our eyes completely focussed on the goal ahead of us.

The bible says it like this, “Christ gifted some of us to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers so that his people would LEARN to serve and his Body would GROW STRONG. This will continue until we’re all united by our faith and understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be MATURE, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.” Eph 4:11-13 (CEV)

If you want to grow to become like Jesus, you need someone in your life who is more mature in the faith than you (Hint: Maturity of faith is measured by a person’s love for God and their love for others).

You need someone who will teach you how best to use your natural gifts to build up others. You need a person who will help you grow strong in God, so you can resist the attacks and temptations of your sin nature, the world and the devil. You need someone who will help you grow in your understanding of Jesus.

I can list 5 older men who I’ve met regularly (at least fortnightly) for spiritual advice in the last 8 years. Each one has helped me in a different way.

Some are good at pointing out areas of sin in my life and helping me overcome.

Others are better at explaining truths about God’s Kingdom in a way I easily understand.

Others are simply the kind of people who kindle a hunger in me to be more holy. I see their lives of holiness and it’s attractive to me.

If you want to grow in Christlikeness, you must commit to being a life long learner. You must also possess a humble spirit. You probably don’t know as much as you think you know – At least that’s my experience. As I mature in the faith, I look back at my 4 year old self as a Christian and realise how little I knew. I know that in 10 years I’ll look back at my 8 year old self as a Christian and realise how little I know now. This doesn’t cause me to despair, it just humbles me and creates a hunger to keep learning from people older and wiser than myself. Not learning for the sake of knowledge, but learning to live like Jesus.

So this is the first step in investing in your transformation. Find someone who is more mature in the faith (not necessarily older in years) and ask if you can spend time with them on a regular basis to ask questions, study the bible and pray together.

Practically, it works well to set a time limit to review this kind of agreement. So for example, ask if you can meet fortnightly for the next 6 months then give both parties the opportunity to review in 6 months time if you should keep meeting together. Whilst this is a coach and student kind of relationship, a good coach can always learn from his students too. So this kind of relationship is mutually beneficial for both parties.

In my next blog post I will give a second step you can take to invest in your own transformation.