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THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION

DEE & STEVE AT NINETEEN AND ON 2ND DATE: VALENTINE'S DAY AS FAMOUS LOVERS
Steve and Dee at 18, their 2nd date, a Valentine's Party (Steve cooperated graciously with my sorority's crazy costume assignments!)

I met Jack between my junior and senior year of high school, when I spent the summer at Northwestern University. N. U. had a “Cherub Program” designed to acquaint potential N. U. students with the excellencies of Northwestern’s speech, debate, and film departments. I became acquainted with the excellencies of Jack Tate.

At seventeen, protected by my parents and Midwestern conservative values,  I was completely charmed by Jack. Darkly handsome, Jack was from North Carolina and seemed to know much more about winning girls than did the farm boys from West Bend, Wisconsin. He winked, he wooed, and he warmed my heart with flattering phrases. When he asked me to study with him one night, I wasn’t sure if he just needed a study partner or saw me as something more. But afterwards, as we walked out of the library and into a night fragrant with lilacs, he took my hand to walk me back to Willard Hall. On the way, he led me off the path and into an ivy-covered corner where two sorority house walls met. He kissed me passionately, like I’d never been kissed. My head was spinning. My desires had been awakened. This “cherub” had gotten her wings.

I could only think about Jack. Life was suddenly electric and my focus was Jack, Jack, Jack. As Thomas Chalmers put it, centuries ago, in his classic essay:

Under the impulse of desire, man feels himself urged onward in some path or pursuit of activity for its gratification. The faculties of his mind are put into busy exercise. In the steady direction of one great and engrossing interest his attention is recalled from the many reveries into which it might otherwise have wandered; and the powers of his body are forced away from an indolence in which it else might have languished; and that time is crowded with occupation…

Chalmers could have been describing a new career, a new project, or a new ministry. For me it was a new, and truly, my first boyfriend. I was controlled by my desire, my mind was in busy exercise, and I was not languishing, but alive, my thoughts crowded with occupation of Jack!

Jack and I returned to Northwestern as freshmen. We resumed seeing one another, but I began to see flaws in the object of my affection. He flirted with other girls, he lost his temper, and he had violent mood swings – tender one moment, furious the next. There were times he frightened me, and the deepest part of me thought I would be wise to stop seeing him. And yet – I couldn’t bring myself to do that. It wasn’t so much that I was so afraid of his reaction, though I was, but I feared the emptiness in my life, the vacuum that would be created by his absence.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t just say no.

Truly, I believe it was God’s mercy that brought Steve Brestin to my attention for I had neither wisdom nor spiritual insight. He seemed older than the other boys at Northwestern (he actually wasn’t, just much more mature). Ironically, we met in a class called “Human Behavior.” It was a large freshman lecture class combining psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Northwestern was challenging, and students took copious notes. But Steve simply listened. (I learned later that he memorized as the professor spoke.) He was different in other ways: other-centered, kind, mature. I didn’t know if he would notice me for I suddenly felt so young, like the teen-ager I was. But I kept choosing to sit in the seat directly in front of him.

On Monday, February 5th, Steve learned forward, and in a deep masculine voice I came to treasure, said, “I’ve run out of paper – would you happen to have any paper?”

I knew he didn’t take notes, so this was a hopeful sign! I tried to remain nonchalant as I handed him some paper. After class I grabbed my books and hurried out so as not to seem like I was pursuing him.

Deering Library at N. U.
Deering Library at N. U.

He ran after me and caught up with me in front of Deering Library, stepping in front me and introducing himself. “Hi, I’m Steve – I’ve wanted to meet you for weeks.”

To my great embarrassment, I was visibly trembling. He seemed concerned, and asked, “Are you cold?”

I nodded, blaming the wind from Lake Michigan. Immediately Steve took off his raincoat and put it around my shoulders. Then he asked me if I would go out with him that coming Wednesday night. (It was February 7th — an anniversary we celebrated for the next forty years.) I had all kinds of homework and normally would not have gone out on a weeknight, but I quickly agreed.

All I needed was that one date. Steve engaged me in conversation like no one had ever done before. He asked me question after question and really listened. He treated people, including me, with such gentle kindness. I kept thinking, “This is a man with character.” When I came home, I remember flopping backwards on my bed and exclaiming to roommate Heather: “This is the man I am going to marry.”

“What about Jack?” I shook my head. My heart had been captured by a new affection.

I broke it off with Jack. I could say no. Why?

It was the expulsive power of a new affection.

I don’t know what kind of a man Jack eventually became, but I do know that when we were dating, he looked great, but was becoming destructive to me. Yet I kept swimming toward him, like a fish swims toward a lure. Even when I began to see the danger, it was hard for me to swim away. What enabled me to finally turn was Steve.

ICE-BREAKER

1. Did you ever have your heart broken and then recovered by finding someone new? Or have you ever lost a job, ministry, or friend — but then recovered through a “new affection?”

Our heart must flame for a more beautiful object
Our heart must flame for a more beautiful object

THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION

Thomas Chalmers tells us that the only way to break the hold of a beautiful object on the soul is to show it more beautiful object. When a destructive “Jack” has a hold on us, what is our “Steve” that can rescue us?”

Though earthly love may seem a paltry comparison to our love for the Lord, I think it is the closest analogy we have, and one God uses to help us understand what gazing on Him and His gospel can do for us.

Many of us have not grasped the beauty and the power of the gospel. In part, that may be due to the way we have been taught, even in Bible-based churches. Each time reform has come to Christianity, it has been to bring  the gospel back to the center. During the Reformation men like Luther called the church back to the gospel. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s love. We are already so deeply loved that He died for us. The Lord doesn’t want us to try to earn His favor, but simply to peer into His gospel and respond. How did I fall in love with Steve? By watching him and by responding (I sat in front of him, I went out on a Wednesday night, I told Heather about him…) and my affection for him withered by affection for Jack.

In the 21st Century, God’s Spirit has been moving again, awakening believers to this central truth. The Gospel Coalition has been formed by two present day reformers, D. A. Carson and Tim Keller, helping preachers to recapture the Gospel in their preaching. Christianity is not morality, not trying to follow Jesus’ example, not trying to earn His favor, but beholding Him and peering into His gospel.When we do that, there is an organic change in us, for He melts our hearts and wilts our desires for our idols. Those good things, instead of being ultimate things, return to their rightful place — like Anne’s story at the end of the last post about food. (Read it if you haven’t!) She didn’t find victory by continually repeating a rule, but her affection for the Lord is withering her idol. It isn’t about “doing” but about “loving, grasping the gospel, beholding.” Every other religion says “obey and you will be accepted.” Christianity says, “you are accepted, so you want to obey.” You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve found a preacher I like almost as much as Keller! His name is Colin Smith and he is a pastor from Scotland who has spoken at The Gospel Coalition and has helped me to see why this indeed, is a mighty movement of God. I will tell you how to listen to one of his messages, which so compliments this week’s study and will fill your sails, at the end of this post. But first, we are going to listen to another sermon by Keller.

YOU HAVE THREE ASSIGNMENTS THIS WEEK: LISTEN AND ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT KELLER’S MESSAGE: WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?

WATCH AND CONTEMPLATE REBECCA’S U-TUBE VIDEO AND SEE HOW IT REFLECTS WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED ABOUT THE GOSPEL.

LISTEN TO COLIN SMITH’S MESSAGE AND RECORD WHAT YOU LEARNED

FIRST: KELLER

This amazing blogging group has been so hungry and good about listening to sermons. This message by Keller shows the Gospel is richer and deeper than we might have understood. Then answer the following questions based upon it. You’ll need to sit down and have your Bible at hand as well. Here is the link and the sermon is free.

http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/what-gospel

So often we think of “The Gospel” as the ABC’s of Christianity — as the way to get in. I know for years I associated it with “the plan of salvation,” as put forth in a tract that was instrumental to me, “The Four Spiritual Laws.”

four-spiritual-laws


The Gospel is “the way to get in,” but it is so much more!

THREE UNIQUE AND COMPLEX ASPECTS OF THE GOSPEL

SONSHIP

It is, indeed. “sonship.” Understanding God’s great love for us can transform our daily life — it is personal, experiential. Keller tells a story from Thomas Godwin of a father walking with a little boy, and then stops, lifts his son up, kisses him, and then they continue walking.

father-and-son-walkingIt is one thing to have it in our head that we are loved, quite another to understand it in our heart. Keller said that God the Father did this for Jesus at his baptism.

Read Mark 1:9-11

1. How did this confirm both to Jesus and to the world His Sonship, and, correspondingly, the personal pleasure God the Father had in Him?

Read Romans 8:15-16

2. How does the Spirit confirm to us that we are, indeed, His “sons” in whom He has great delight?

3. Keller says that when you share the Gospel with people, they think you are inviting them into morality. (In another sermon he said, “They think you want them to become Republicans!” :>)  His New York congregation is repelled by that idea!  ) The Gospel is not morality, but something far different. Could you explain the difference between morality and the Gospel?

4. Keller said that rich doctrines  are hard to put in a nutshell. What examples did he give other than the doctrine of The Gospel?


HISTORICALLY BASED BECAUSE IT IS GOOD NEWS, NOT GOOD ADVICE

Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas
Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas


5. What is the difference between good news and good advice?

6. Why do the historical events matter in Christianity? Why do they not matter in other religions?

7. Meditate on Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas.” When you think of this historical incident, why is this “good news” and not “good advice?” Comments on this artwork?

Keller says:

In every other religion you are saved by the teaching of the founder, in Christianity you are saved by the founder.

Now in the message Keller returns to the key concept of sonship. (As a side note, did you know that it is a great honor for women to be called “sons” in Scripture. It was revolutionary in biblical times for women to be considered equal with men.)

8. Why is it other religions cannot give you assurance about your status now?

9. What question does Martin Lloyd Jones ask – and what answers reveal a lack of understanding or understanding of the Gospel?


10. How does the teaching that we are saved by grace but have to keep it up by good works miss the Gospel?

11. What does it mean to you that His righteousness is put on you? (Remember how Susan told Tammy that even in her failure she got an A+?) How does this replace fear motivation with love motivation?

12. How does 1 John 4:18-19 relate to this?

A NEW KINGDOM THROUGH WHICH WE SEE EVERYTHING

thy-kingdom-come

13. The word Kingdom is a symbol for a new administration, a new set of values.

How does the Gospel bring a new structure to your life? How is the Gospel upside-down from the world’s values?

14. Why does the Gospel unite people of all classes, races, and accomplishments? Have you experienced this? Has your attitude changed toward people with whom you used to not associate?

15. How does Keller define the Gospel in a nutshell according to the Kingdom?


16. How does 1 Peter 1:12 show that the Gospel is complex?


17. What is your take-a-way from this message?

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: MEDITATE ON REBECCA’S VIDEO AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU SEE THE GOSPEL IN IT.

http://youtu.be/18-E8y8KjVs

THIRD ASSIGNMENT:

i had told you we would look at Thomas Chalmer’s essay more closely, but you’ve done such a good job with that, and I’m excited to where God has led me in discovering Colin smith. I don’t know how to give you the link to this amazing message, but I can tell you how to find it. Go to the I-tunes store and type in Colin Smith Transformational The Gospel Coalition. Listen to the 2009 message that comes up called Transformational Exposition. This Presbyterian Pastor from Scotland beautifully is training pastors how to preach the Gospel — it will give you an idea of what Gospel preaching is — and what it is not! I found it helpful not just for me as a speaker, but for understanding more of what angels gaze at and long to understand in the complex beauty of the Gospel.

18. Listen to Colin Smith and report!


MEETING OUR BLOGGERS! ELIZABETH!


I haven’t had the joy of meeting Elizabeth face to face but would love to sometime, for I sense a kindred spirit. I remember when I mixed up Elizabeth with Susan, another contemplative woman, and was praying for Elizabeth in ways  that didn’t make sense —  but she was so gracious.

Elizabeth gives “Clues of her Conversion,” saying she took it from my idea on my blog, and I confess I took it from Lauren Winner’s “Girl Meets God.” It’s a soul stretching way to look at Christ wooing you from early on — and I’d love to have more of you share your “clues.” Elizabeth’s are fascinating — God was at work in her, as He was in each of us, as a little child, wooing, her, and we’re so glad He did!

HERE IS WHAT ELISABETH WROTE:

First Clues of Conversion

I was raised Catholic, and in 2nd grade I told the priest at confession that I didn’t need to go through him, I was sure I could talk to God on my own.

At age 5 I witnessed Him answer my personal specific request. I was told by my mom  not to bother God with such thing, but I knew better-and He answered!

I wept over the Stations of the Cross booklet at night in my bed.

After college I married my high school sweetheart. We have weathered many storms, but His grace has overwhelmed us. My husband is a true tender warrior for Christ and an amazing father.

We have 2 children we adopted at birth and are humbled and honored at the way He chose to knit our family.

My passion is to love my family well.

A specific way this study is changing me-and this is huge-is with my relationship with my daughter. I see how I have made an idol of my child-desiring her to be exactly what I think she should-devastated by her resistance to me. This study is helping me release her back to Him. I see my own desperate need for mercy and grace and because of what He has done for me, I can give her that same mercy and grace.

From Dee:

This is one of my favorite blog entries from Elizabeth:

I have my ideas of what my life should be like-expectations of myself as wife/mother/sister/friend/daughter, children who are well behaved and obedient and saved(!), enough money, good friends, etc…(the list never ends). By clinging to that picture of my life, by wanting to “save” it, on my own strength, I have made it an idol. My actions declare that I know better than God and want my way. I become frustrated at anything that threatens to disrupt the picture in my mind. I require myself to live in a state of striving, complaining, disappointment, depression, exhaustion.

But if I lay it down, at the altar, before the Lord…every decision, every time my children disobey me, every time my husband is late getting home or has yet another business trip, when I hear of a friend’s child with brain damage, when I hear bad reports from the doctor….if I lay it down and give it back to Him, as an offering…then I find Life. My heart rests, peace fills me.

… The past several weeks I have subtly seen a difference in the way I respond. All of the above mentioned issues happened recently, but each time, often out-loud, I said “it is Yours, Lord”. Even the small things, when my husband called to say he was having to leave town again, my usual response would at least be a sigh and a list of all it would “cost” me (we have no family anywhere near, so it’s always hard when he’s gone)…but I said “I give it to Him, He will take care of us”. And I felt instant peace. THAT is not me AT ALL! Bigger things-my children’s salvation..laying it down, always giving it back, as an offering of faith to Him.

Unweaned children cry in mother’s arms until they get something from mother – her milk. Only then are they quiet. But a weaned child is satisfied just with mother herself, with her very presence

This is Dee again: I also was so blessed by some of Elizabeth’s stories of growth with her daughter from our last post — so if you missed them, go back and read them. It is such a joy to me to see “my children walking in the truth.” Elizabeth gives me that joy, as do so many of you.

Let’s bless Elizabeth!

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253 comments

  1. 4. Keller said that rich doctrines are hard to put in a nutshell. What examples did he give other than the doctrine of The Gospel?

    Jesus is fully human and fully God-This has been one my oldest tries to grasp.

    The trinity. I do like how he explains it though.

    5. What is the difference between good news and good advice?

    Good news is salvation by what Jesus did.
    Good advice is being saved by following Jesus’ teaching.

    6. Why do the historical events matter in Christianity? Why do they not matter in other religions?

    I forgot what he said on this, but I will try to answer anyway.

    Because our salvation is based on the historical events-the death, buriel and resurrection of Jesus, based on His grace-what He did for us. The only part we played in it is that we sinned. 🙂 We did nothing to obtain God’s favor. Jesus put His righteous robes on us-we had nothing to do with that. Historical events don’t matter to other religions because theirs is based on following Jesus’ teaching, and if not Jesus’ teaching another person who is a moral teacher. They will never know when enough works is enough to gain favor with God as they vainly try to clothe themselves in righteous robes. They can’t.

  2. 7. Meditate on Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas.” When you think of this historical incident, why is this “good news” and not “good advice?” Comments on this artwork?

    This happened after Jesus rose from the dead. Thomas is having a hard time believing He rose from the dead. They are looking intently at the person of Jesus and what He has done, and not at themselves. Thomas is looking at his side and putting his finger in it to see that indeed he has risen and He indeed is the savior. This painting is totally focused on the person of Jesus and what HE has done.

  3. 8. Why is it other religions cannot give you assurance about your status now?

    Because a works based faith ends up with a reward at the end yet there is no line drawn as to what is enough to get you assurance of that reward or assurance of God’s favor-or whatever other god may be worshipped. How does one know if they have ‘done enough’ in the end? In some religions the women don’t get a reward in the end, just the men. They can’t give assurance now because they are a works based faith.

  4. 9. What question does Martin Lloyd Jones ask – and what answers reveal a lack of understanding or understanding of the Gospel?

    When he asks someone, “Are you a Christian?” And then when the person answers with “I’m trying”, then this is evidence they don’t understand it.

    10. How does the teaching that we are saved by grace but have to keep it up by good works miss the Gospel?

    It throws the Gospel that we are saved by grace out the window and it tears Jesus righteous robe off of us and it becomes a works=salvation message.

    11. What does it mean to you that His righteousness is put on you? (Remember how Susan told Tammy that even in her failure she got an A+?) How does this replace fear motivation with love motivation?

    I had nothing to do with it. Even from the beginning He chose me from before the foundation of the Earth. He put His righteous robes on me, I didn’t do it. I am standing not on my own merit but on His merit of what He has done for me. So I am washed in white-100% forgiven, my slate is clean. I am assured of being 100% accepted by God. So when I sin I look back at what He has done for me!! So instead of fearing Him when I mess up, I am motivated to turn from sin because of how much I love Him because I see how much love He poured out on me to take on my punishment-to take my place on the cross..His love for me hasn’t changed one iota and it isn’t conditional on what I do or don’t do-or when I mess up-it is truely unconditional-I am in a sealed covenant with Him and when God says I am sealed, I am sealed. I am HIS-no one can snatch me away, not even me..Of course I wouldn’t want to be.

  5. 12. How does 1 John 4:18-19 relate to this?

    Perfect love drives out fear because fear relates to punishment. I shouldn’t be fearful of condemnation when i sin because He paid for it in going to the cross-so I am no longer condemned for sin. Fear of punishment or condemnation shouldn’t be my motivation to turn from sin because I am not going to be punished for it but my motivation for turning from sin should be His love for me-so much so that He paid for it on the cross, and that makes me love Him and not want to grieve Him and it makes me want to turn from my sin.

  6. Ok, you’ve all inspired me to pull out Tozer–my husband has a collection–is it Pursuit of God you’ve all been reading? I haven’t looked at it since college, but could use something beyond my parenting books 😉

  7. Good morning everyone,
    No, Dee, well, yes…I was overwhelmed with everyones encouragement, advice, Scriptures, and stories and EVEN WORD DEFINITIONS FROM TAMMY – LOL – BUT WHAT ELSE WOULD I EXPECT FROM OUR BIBLE SCHOLAR?! But I was overwhelmed in a GOOD WAY.

    For some reason yesterday was an awful day! Lots of little things went wrong, I guess annoyances, but most of the day I felt just a real sense of a heavy weight pressing down on me and found myself crying several times during the day about lots of things; missing my nephew, my circumstances, and also some very dangerous thoughts of wanting to die. I really feel that I was under attack.

    But perhaps it is because the enemy does not want to see me get free of my idols and to get free of discouragement and despair.
    I finished listening to Keller’s sermon this morning, Christ, Our Life. More and more keys to unlocking the doors that have blocked my way for so long!

    Such a powerful example at the end of the sermon of the woman Keller knew who lived in the trailer near his church who had been beaten by one man after another. This “uneducated” woman’s words gave me the most practical, how to live this out, example about not wanting to just switch from one idol to another (as her counselor suggested), but that it was through worship, when what Jesus did for her became so real, and how she would then speak in her heart to those men (or how I can speak to any idol that has control of my heart) – “You are not my life, Christ is my life.”

    But this was so key – “She realized that Jesus is the only Savior Who, if you get Him, He’ll satisfy you, and if you fail Him, and we do, can die for you.”
    In this woman’s life, when she “failed” these men, they beat her. When I fail at what I believe to be other’s expectations or fail to obtain the approval or affirmation of others, when I fail to be able to control my environment or the thinking or actions of others – all these things “beat me up”. They turn on me.
    But not Jesus!

    I also want to apologize for making my husband out to be the bad guy 100% – I realize you ladies are only hearing my side of the story. Chris S. said “I desired to be loved and appreciated by them (her family) for my glory. When I sought comfort and affirmation from friends they told me how wonderful I was, but deep down I knew I was failing miserably.”
    I, too, seek comfort and affirmation and support from others when I should be first going to Jesus Christ.
    And the really ugly truth that I think I’m getting at at the very bottom of all of this, brings me back to an earlier lesson we had on idols and Dee said that sometimes we can even worship OURSELVES.

    I believe that may be my biggest idol – SELF. Deep down I have a part of me that wants its independence and does not want to submit to God or to my husband; a self-reliance, a wanting to have things my way, a love of self. It is shameful to admit it but I know it is true and this self-worship had got to go, and be replaced with worship of the one true God.
    The truth is yes, my husband is a sinner and does his part to damage our marriage, especially with his temper and anger.
    But I also am sinful and can say and do things to subvert his authority and have my own way. I think much of his frustration stems from my not giving him his rightful place, believer or not.

    I thank all of you so much for your prayers, love, and support. Tammy, your example of your own putting into action loving your ex-husband is the stuff of real faith. And the word definitions make it clear what God is asking. Also your warning about not to isolate myself from God, which is what I think satan is trying to do by attacking me.
    Chris S., your vulnerable sharing of your marriage and how you have worked through these problems, and on top of that losing your son, Daniel, is the stuff of real faith. You are a stronger woman than you realize and your strength comes from the Lord.

    Rebecca, your sharing that even two Christians married there are still rough times and how you live that out and this you said earlier:
    “Ladies, we are in His hands, He loves us, pursues us…He will go after us…OPEN YOUR HEART TO THE STONECUTTER! (that needs to be in Dee’s new book!) LET HIM HAVE YOU…LET HIM DO WITH YOU WHAT HE WILL…fall into His arms and trust.”
    I wrote that down because I haven’t been doing that – I haven’t let Him have me fully – not that independent, self-willed part of me. That’s the stuff of real faith.

    Anne, thank you for sharing about Leslie Vernick – I’ve heard her on the radio before talking about relationships and she’s a great resource. I know I am part of the emotionally destructive marriage; I have to take responsibility for my part.

    The hope for real change, as Keller says in the sermon, is “seeing yourself as part of that story…go back into what Jesus has done for you – you’re there – He’s doing that for you”.
    It’s not scolding myself or working on my emotions or trying better.

    Dee, thank you for this ministry and this blog – as others here have alreay said, it is life-changing.

    1. Susan,
      So glad to know that the overwhelming was a good sort of overwhelming, I was afraid my part may have been too much after reading Dees comment.
      I too am feeling that self, whatever form that takes at the time is my real idol, the feeling of being under attack I can relate to as well.
      Lets bear one anothers burdens and keep each other on the path!

  8. Susan I am just so encouraged by you as I watch this play out. God is working. Praying. So thankful for all the encouragement given by others as well. Love the love shared here. It is a blessing indeed.

  9. Oh and Rebecca,
    The quote you shared from Tozer – it is amazing how it is the same things we are learning here!
    I only read the foreward so far but noted that it reads “Tozer’s ministry became a spiritual oasis for those of the ‘fellowship of the burning heart’, to use a phrase he delighted in.”

    I think that is what we have here; a fellowship of women with burning hearts.

    1. Susan, I read this but didn’t have a chance to respond. I totally loved what you said here, “I think that is what we have here; a fellowship of women with burning hearts.” -I am almost half way through Tozer’s book and yes, I agree, we are! 🙂

  10. 7. Meditate on Caravaggio’s Doubting Thomas.” When you think of this historical incident, why is this “good news” and not “good advice?”

    One of the benefits of my line of work is that I get to ponder on questions such as the one above. Cleaning isn’t rocket science. All it requires is organization, good cleaning products, and elbow grease. I have the luxury of time to ponder as I clean. I just read a quote by Tozer earlier today about thought life. He states in The Pursuit of God: “Our trouble is that we have established bad thought habits. We habitually think of the visible world as real and doubt the reality of any other.”

    You know, I’ve never thought of Jesus’ appearing to Thomas as an historical event. This particular appearing puts to rest all of Thomas’ wonderings. Thomas saw with his own eyes and touched the scars and finally accepted, without a shadow of doubt, Jesus was who he claimed he was, God made flesh. “You see me you see God my father.”

    Comments on this artwork?

    As I have been pondering this work of art, I noticed Jesus’ hand on Thomas wrist. It looks to me he was inserting Thomas’ finger inside the scar on his side. The nailprints in his hands are small but visible enough for one to know Jesus had been indeed been crucified. I’ve been wondering if the other disciples are Peter and John, the only ones who ran to the tomb after Mary told the disciples she had seen Jesus risen from the dead. The look on Thomas’ face causes me to wonder if he was thinking, “Yes I see the scar. I’m touching the scar. But how is this possible?”

  11. there is no way I could read all of these comments!! I am overwhelmed…
    I have tried to write 7 times and have been interupted so here it goes again!
    first of all Elizabeth it was so fun to see your face!!! I think we are kindred spirits in so many ways, you even dress like I do:) or I dress like you:) somehow I missed that your children are adopted. I teach adoption classes and I use the plan A line a lot so I was floored when you wrote that!! I love your sweet spirit and open heart. I have never been more touched by anything anyone has ever said about me then your sunfower comment, I made my year! you are so good at encouraging others….I just wish you were a little better at encouraging yourself:) we are very much alike in that way, we can find the good things in others way before we are able to see them in ourself. I am glad we are walking this road together!
    1-3 God told everyone who Jesus was and now Holy Spirit tells God who we are, talking to Him for us when we don’t know what to say. giving us the strength and wisdom we could never have on our own. I think I have always understood the relationship part of being a Christian. When I was 7 my face glowed as I sang praises to HIM and people asked me why I had such a big smile and I said because Jesus was talking to me. since it was a very dry denomination I think they thought I was crazy. but as i got older i recognized that that “feeling” was Holy Spirit and when I let HIM in it is amazing. I would have never become a Christian had I thought it was a bunch of rules or a book to read and believe in.
    I became a Christian because Jesus and Holy Spirit showed me love in a real way, deep in my heart.
    well I will be back, dinner is not cooking itself….its 90 in my house,,,,no air:) but on the bright side we have a basement, pool and grill!!!!! blessed beyond measure!

    1. oh, thank you sweet friend–I have MISSED you! Glad to know you’re not hiding out again on vacation without internet 😉

      THIS comment you said, DEFINES you in my mind: “When I was 7 my face glowed as I sang praises to HIM and people asked me why I had such a big smile and I said because Jesus was talking to me.” That’s you, my sunflower friend!

      1. :)your my hasta friend. you have been through some very dark times but you have grown beautiful even in the shade. your leaves are beautiful and hardy but then there is the suprise of the flower that comes popping out of the middle against all odds.

        1. ok, my turn to cry! you are far to generous to me–so very thankful for you!

          How is Lily?

  12. OK so I was wrong, just read them all. not sure I got everything since anywhere from 1-4 people where talking to me while I was trying to read….can they not see that Im trying to read????guess not *sigh* Oh well, so much good stuff. Im feeling like an intellectual puny head…. I keep telling myself that this is a season and one day I will have hours to read and study. as it is my 30 min. in the am to walk with HIM is about all I have.

    I so love learning from you all, have listened to half of Kellers teaching (the laptop speakers could not compete with the kids in the pool)

    feeling Like I am not able to contribute very much but so love learning from you all….well off to give bedtime meds….this is a season, this is a season, this is a season…..

  13. 1.How did this confirm both to Jesus and to the world His Sonship, and, correspondingly, the personal pleasure God the Father had in Him?
    I thought a lot about this, and went looking for why the Spirit sent Jesus into the wilderness.
    I wonder just how much it meant to Jesus to have that powerful visual and verbal affirmation just before such a difficult trial.

    2. How does the Spirit confirm to us that we are, indeed, His “sons” in whom He has great delight?

    From The Message
    Romans 8;16 God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.

    After I told my sister that God had told me something once, she asked me what He sounds like. I explained that I hear him as a voice inside of me, she asked how I knew it was Him, and I answered that He says things I would never think of on my own, & sometimes asks me to do really hard things

    Often I have fallen asleep after praying about some troubling thing, and when I awake I know what to do, or how to feel about whatever had been troubling me.

    3. Could you explain the difference between morality and the Gospel?

    Someone can have high moral standards and be completely lost. Morality can be a source of pride, a way to feel superior.

    The Gospel requires that we humble ourselves acknowledge our utter hopelessness apart from Christ and receive the lavish gift of his righteousness, a gift we could never hope to pay for. There is no pride we can claim in that for ourselves.

  14. Procedure went well; thanks for the prayers….on to the next test I suppose. “They” don’t know why I have “stomach” pain…could be my daughter (!)

    3. Keller says that when you share the Gospel with people, they think you are inviting them into morality. (In another sermon he said, “They think you want them to become Republicans!” :>) His New York congregation is repelled by that idea! ) The Gospel is not morality, but something far different. Could you explain the difference between morality and the Gospel?

    Okay, now wait….I happen to lean conservative versus Democrat! And yes, New Englanders are extremely “left” from my thoughts. I have always lived in the Bible-belt and never knew there was anything else! Then I moved to NE. Oh my goodness! I call it the “heathen” north (no offense to any New Englanders. I went from a church of 3000+ to a church of 25. I have actually had depression because of this. i can’t wait to get back south! However, I have found a great congregation now, but I had to switch to a different denomination!

    back to Keller..I take away from this that the Gospel isn’t a rule book although it can be used as such, and it is the good news of Christ and his life on earth. I do struggle with this. it is hard to imagine that I don’t have to do anything to “earn” my way to Heaven, but then again it is like my dad holding me isn’t it? Unconditional love. I just have to know Jesus and accept Him. Although I have been a Christian for my whole life (47 years), I am only recently understanding the Bible. It is sad, but also a growing process. Believe it or not, my troubled kids have brought me closer to God than I have ever been. I know God is in control.

    Keller says Jesus uses the blind, sick, and troubled to bring home his teaching. These people have nothing and are nothing in their society. They don’t have anything to “pay” him and only benefit from his miracles. We too can benefit even though we seemingly do nothing but accept Jesus. it is hard to convey this to unbelievers. They don’t get it at all. They don’t have the child-like faith we do.

      1. Thanks Dee for the explanation. I knew he was kidding 🙂

        I agree with all you say. When I try to explain that I love people but don’t love their sin (abortion, homosexuality, drinking, etc.) they think I am being arrogant and unloving. We all have sinful behavior, but hopefully we are trying to change that. Mine is working and eating too much.

        I struggle with this and is one reason I left my church here in NH because I didn’t understand how they were justifying changing their doctrine to allow certain sinful behaviors to take hold. I know we accept all in our churches, and we are called to point out when our church members are going down the wrong path. Shouldn’t we try to live sinless lives? I know God accepts us regardless, but I do believe we should follow His life (which is what the Gospel teaches us about); Jesus wasn’t overeating, drinking, or working too much (although this might be contested…but he did sleep!)

        Regarding Rebecca’s video: I cried through the whole thing….

  15. 13. The word Kingdom is a symbol for a new administration, a new set of values.

    How does the Gospel bring a new structure to your life? How is the Gospel upside-down from the world’s values?

    * The Gospel is a new structure, the kingdom of the world is a structure you get in if you have something of value. Religions work according to the same values of the world. You work hard and then you get into heaven. The Gospel is received like this. You don’t get in by saying you live the good life, you get in by saying “I’m bankrupt, I have nothing of value to offer.” It is only when you declare bankruptcy is when you become rich. When you give up your power, you receive God’s.

    14. Why does the Gospel unite people of all classes, races, and accomplishments? Have you experienced this? Has your attitude changed toward people with whom you used to not associate?

    * The world works like the have’s vs. the have not’s. The Gospel helps us when we see a homeless person, we see him as just like us without Christ. We see ourselves like that homeless person with nothing to offer. I think it is basically that we are all naked without our status’ or lack of status’, whatever in the world we have lost or gained. We are all the same. Sinners in need of Jesus’ grace-in need of salvation. All the outward stuff is what it is-merely outward stuff and it doesn’t really define who we are like we think it does.

    I think my attitude has changed in that whether rich or poor when I am with people God has caused me to see the person from a spiritual perspective, and not what they have or don’t have.

    15. How does Keller define the Gospel in a nutshell according to the Kingdom?

    * The way up is down. I must give up my power to receive his power. The Gospel is we are saved by Grace.

    16. How does 1 Peter 1:12 show that the Gospel is complex?

    * The angels never get tired of looking at the Gospel. There is a fullness of meaning and we shouldn’t get tired of looking at the Gospel either.

  16. 17. What is your take-a-way from this message?

    What sticks out to me is that I am desperately wicked than I ever dared dream, yet at the same time I am utterly loved and accepted more than I could hope.

    Also, I really do like the way he brings out the fullness of the Gospel. Rather than focusing on one aspect of it.

  17. 4. Keller said that rich doctrines are hard to put in a nutshell. What examples did he give other than the doctrine of The Gospel?

    The doctrine of the Trinity, Jesus fully human & fully divine

    5. What is the difference between good news and good advice?

    News is something that has happened,; Advice is information about things you should/can do. The GOOD NEWS we is are saved by what Jesus has done.

    6. Why do the historical events matter in Christianity? Why do they not matter in other religions?

    The miracles of other religions do not save people, their adherents are not rescued by what the founder has done, and so history matters little in other religions. We are saved by the historical work of Jesus.
    Writing this I kept wanting to use the words ‘saved’ and ‘gift’ to apply to other religions, it just doesn’t fit! They are working to escape punishment and to earn their reward.

    7. Meditate on Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas.” When you think of this historical incident, why is this “good news” and not “good advice?”

    It is good news because of the evidence that the ressurection was/is true. That Thomas’s doubts were assuaged, and ours can be too. The disciples believed in the truth of what Christ had done to the point that most laid down their lives in faith.

    Comments on this artwork?
    I am afraid I am not very good at pulling meaning from art, but I felt that Christ’s wounds appeared to be too healed, no redness at all?
    Also the disciples seemed pretty old to me, I always had imagined that they were younger men.

    8. Why is it other religions cannot give you assurance about your status now?

    Because they are performance based their followers won’t know until they die if their performance was sufficient. They unavoidably doubt their status.

    What question does Martin Lloyd Jones ask – Are you a Christian?

    What answers reveal a lack of understanding or understanding of the Gospel? I am trying

    10. How does the teaching that we are saved by grace but have to keep it up by good works miss the Gospel?

    You cannot have assurance of your status; you lack the fullness of meaning in the Gospel. Your sins are not only forgiven, but Christ’s righteousness is put on you. We become a Children and Heir’s in Gods kingdom.

    11. What does it mean to you that His righteousness is put on you? (Remember how Susan told Tammy that even in her failure she got an A+?)

    I remember well the day this truth really penetrated my soul for the first time. Pastor had begun that sermon with an excerpt from Jonathan Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” when that sermon ended I grasped for the first time the weight of my sin and the significance of Christ’s righteousness being imparted to me. I had “ears to hear” that day. I know I had heard that truth countless times before, but I never grasped it till then.

    How does this replace fear motivation with love motivation?

    I loved the illustration that if the understanding that you are perfectly loved no matter what your behavior causes one to lose all reason to live a good life, then the motivation to live a good life for that person is fear.
    A love motivation avoids/repents of sin because sin causes separation and we miss walking in the light of the One we love.
    12. How does 1 John 4:18-19 relate to this?

    1 John 4:18-19
    ESV
    There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
    We love because he first loved us.

    The Message
    There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life–fear of death, fear of judgment–is one not yet fully formed in love.
    We, though, are going to love–love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

    If our obedience stems from fear, we serve to protect or gain reward for ourselves. If we understand our position in Christ, that we have nothing of worth to give God, we are freed to obey out of love, to worship in spirit and in truth, with humility & confidence.

  18. Hello, sisters in Christ!

    I just watched the YouTube video Rebecca created. What a wonderful compilation of pictures and words in song to capture the essence of our study! The picture of Jesus holding the woman, both of them with tears streaming down their faces, is seared into my mind. A picture is worth a thousand words! Thank you for this gift, Rebecca 🙂

    I also found three more verses of the hymn:

    View Him prostrate in the garden;
    On the ground your Maker lies;
    On the bloody tree behold Him;
    Sinner, will this not suffice?

    Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
    Pleads the merit of His blood:
    Venture on Him, venture wholly,
    Let no other trust intrude.

    Let not conscience make you linger,
    Not of fitness fondly dream;
    All the fitness He requireth
    Is to feel your need of Him.

    May we sinners know the sufficiency of His sacrifice and gift to us, venture on Him and venture wholly, and truly feel our need of Him!

      1. Thank you Dee,but these were from Dawn and not me. 🙂

        1. You are so sweet and gentle, Chris!

  19. How does the Gospel bring a new structure to your life? How is the Gospel upside-down from the world’s values?

    I am so glad you asked! The Gospel, over the past few weeks, has come alive to me. The Gospel took away the fear of losing my salvation and the peace that I now have is wonderful. The Gospel also led me to true repentance and squashed my idol. It’s so practical! When I am tempted to eat sweets, overeat, etc. I pause and think on His love, the pain my idol causes Him and the “need” to eat is so diminished I can resist the temptation. I’m not perfect in my eating but I am growing. The other evening we ate out and I heard my conscious say “You should leave some of that on your plate.” I ignored it and God then spoke to me “I am talking to you. Did you hear me?” I immediately stopped and humbly said “Yes Sir.” Wow, God has NEVER been so direct with me! He went on to tell me he could empower me to stop if I asked and so I did. Later I thanked God for His help and asked Him to help me more. I felt loved and blessed by my internal exchange with my Father because I now know first hand that He will help me be an overcomer in the area of eating.

  20. good news is the action of somone else….Jesus. it does not tell us what to do, it tells us what has been done.
    good advice is the opposite of that. it is telling us what to do.

    the events that the Bible tells us about changed eternity, not just the time that they were being reported in. they were not events that effected that time in history as much as they were events that would change eternity for all who have ever lived on this earth. History is limited by time, since God is omnipresent He has none of those limitations. I also Love how after Jesus left it changed HOW God was able to live IN us. He sent Holy Spirit so that he could INDWELL us, not just teach us or change us or encourage us but LIVE IN US.

    I am so glad that I don’t have to walk this earth as a mere human being but as a vessel for the living God.

  21. I have been trying to post for a few hours. Twice I have lost my post. I’m house-sitting for a couple from church so I am on a different computer. Anyway I’m not going to attempt to try right now to answer the questions for a third time. I’m going to give my report from Colin Smith’s sermon and try again later to post my answers.

    I really appreciated Colin Smith’s tips for digging into the God’s Word. I am finding that when I now read an OT scripture I think of how I can relate it to what Jesus has done. I can’t remember which sermon it was but Dr. Keller stated you have to learn to preach to yourself. Colin Smith stated the same. I know how to feed myself God’s Word and I see that He is wanting me to chew on the meat, the T-bone (my favorite cut), of His word. You can’t eat a T-bone at one sitting. You have to take a bite and savor it as you chew.

  22. 6. Historical events matter in Christianity because our salvation rests on what God has done. If these events did not happen, we are not saved. Also His faithfulness is proven by past events. Because they are true we can trust that He will be faithful today. Other religions rely on what a person does, not on what their god does.

    7. It’s glorious news because there is nothing we could have done to redeem ourselves, yet it is done. If it were advice we would be back to the impossibility of saving ourselves. He did it and it is important that there were eyewitnesses otherwise how could we know for sure it is done? I admire Thomas because he said what everyone else was thinking. Thank the Lord for people like that. The other two don’t exactly look disinterested.

    8. Other religions cannot give you assurance about your status because no one can ever be perfect. So perfection can’t be the standard. That leaves just good works and it is just anybody’s guess how many are enough.

    9. Martin Lloyd-Jones asks them if they are a Christian. If they respond that they are trying he knows that they think their salvation is a result of what they do rather than the result of what Jesus has done.

    10. How does the teaching that we are saved by grace but have to keep it up by good works miss the Gospel? It makes the finished work of Christ unfinished and imperfect.

    11. What does it mean to you that His righteousness is put on you? (Remember how Susan told Tammy that even in her failure she got an A+?) How does this replace fear motivation with love motivation? I think it means that I am covered, no longer exposed and not needing to cover myself before a holy God. This reminds me of my dream in that one of the impressions that I was left with was that I do not need to try to cover myself before Him. This must be why. He covers me. I remember the picture by Martin French of Hosea covering Gomer. How can she not respond to His love? There is no anger or retribution, just the love and provision of a husband. How can I not try my hardest to please one who has done so much for me? More importantly how can I desire anything more than Him?

    12. 1 John 4:18-19 says that perfect love casts out fear. Punishment is what I fear when I am afraid. I see that now. I fear all sorts of things because I know that I deserve them. It says that the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. I am not sure what this means but I am guessing that I have not perfectly understood His love. I have not understood that I will never be perfect this side of heaven. I have forgotten that He absorbed every bit of my punishment. There is none left for me. Hallelujah!

    13. How does the Gospel bring a new structure to your life? How is the Gospel upside-down from the world’s values? In the world sin is punished. Nothing is free, you always pay. Those on top rule over and are served by those beneath them. With the gospel we get life, free. We don’t have to pay for our sins. We serve our Lord in response to His love for us rather than to get something. We are still in the world and so we still serve but not as slaves to the world as we once were. This is how I think freedom from idols looks. Maybe that is what it means to be perfected in love.

    Whew! Gotta take a break!

    1. Dee, I don’t know quite how to express myself here but I have the sense that we are peering through a keyhole at this great and glorious thing/event/marvelous feat of God we know as the gospel. It seems that I have heard somewhere that you can look at an eclipse through a small hole and not damage your eyes. I might be wrong about that but how could we look at the magnificence of this event and grasp the whole of it and not be harmed. Yet we are looking in.

  23. 11. For me being covered with Jesus’ righteousness means that when the accuser brings up my name to God and tells him “Look at Tammy. She fell in sin AGAIN.”
    God says “What sin? All I see is Jesus.”
    This knowledge frees me from fear. I don’t have to be concerned with condemnation as Angela reminded me recently. I’m not striving to please God because I’m afraid of him. I’m striving to please God because I want to be like his son Jesus. I want all of my actions and choices to bring him honor.

    12. I am able to love God because he first loved me. There is no future judgment for my sins.

    13. The Gospel brings new structure to my life when I give up everything. I give up control of my life and God directs me to where he would have me to go. I die to what I want to do daily and am resurrected to do things I could have never imagined. I get to bring honor to Christ my king.

    The Gospel is upside down from the world’s values because I can’t buy the gospel. I have to declare spiritual bankruptcy before I can be made spiritually rich. The world says you must have something of value before I will let you in my door.

    14. The world divides people into two groups. The One and The Other. The one thinks it’s superior to the other. The Gospel puts everyone on equal footing for everyone is a sinner in need of salvation.
    I can’t remember what Dr. Keller said that caused me to realize that my ex husband is a picture of who I was before Christ saved me. I always expected things to go my way. I was an angry person who would execute her own vengeance if crossed. I was ungrateful for the smallest blessing. I could cut with words like a hot knife through butter.
    Christ has helped change my attitude toward Christians who belong to a different denomination. I have learned that my denomination is not the one who has it all right. We are sisters in Christ and that is our bond.

  24. Listening to Colin Smith now. 🙂

  25. Wow, SO GOOD. I am thinking perhaps that is why it took us more than six years to find a church. I sat under Dr. Hale’s teaching in Missouri for a little over 20 years and let me tell you his teaching was inspired. God has caused me to look back at all the things of God that He has seared into my soul through Len’s teaching. We moved and spent all this time looking for something remotely comparable, and it was very hard to find. I guess this sermon has only made me more thankful that God placed me under his teaching for that period of time in my life. God has used other teachers like Keller and Tom Nelson to really draw me even deeper into intimacy as well, but I am forever humbled and grateful God weaved Len Hale into my life.

    In regard to the content of what Colin was teaching. There is so much that I can use as I get into my quiet times in the word. I liked his example of Psalm 130 and how he worked through to the deeper waters of the Gospel instead of focusing on ‘forgiveness’ he cut through to the Gospel “what is it about forgiveness that would cause God to be feared? It is about the cost of forgiveness that would lead us to be in awe of God.” – Asking questions is SO IMPORTANT and delaying going to commentaries is also important. I like the reasons he gives for going to commentaries.

    I think I am going to use the empty pad idea and go to scripture with an empty pad and pen and write down the first things that come to mind, ask questions and make observations. Great stuff!

  26. Anne, I can’t find where you commented so I will comment here in regard to the books God has chosen for you along the way. I so agree! There was a study I did A LONG TIME AGO called “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges. I wonder what it will be like if I did it again after oh 15 years or so. I am TOTALLY following the main layer of what Tozer is saying now in “The pursuit of God”. I don’t know that I would have before this idol study.

  27. SECOND ASSIGNMENT: MEDITATE ON REBECCA’S VIDEO AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU SEE THE GOSPEL IN IT.

    The lyrics include every element of The Gospel. True belief, true repentance, every grace that brings you nigh. Come ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall. Come to Jesus and in His arms you find ten thousand charms. The pictures show all ages and walks of people. This is me, this is my story. I have experienced each of these things and now enjoying His ten thousand charms.
    The picture of the family living out of their car just as he is singing,”lost and ruined by the fall” is so touching. It makes me want to find these people and tell them the gospel.

    1. Kim, When I first saw that picture, I felt that way too! I wanted to run and rescue them, feed them and take them in my home and just love them.

  28. Rebecca, the Jerry Bridges book is a great idea. It was another one that I was lost in. Yesterday I was reading in Tozer’s book how we try to make the things of God quick and it is just not His way. I think I mentioned before how I feel guilty for spending so much quiet time. At first I felt very called and justified but after a while I tend to think I have become lazy. That is why I noticed this that he said. Also, I think the fact that we now understand so much more and are so drawn to the truths we read shows how much we have grown since then.

    I also sat under a very good pastor 25 years ago. This was a CMA church and this pastor quoted Tozer almost weekly. He was the reason I chose that church. After a few years he was asked to leave the church which he did and the church split anyway. I stayed (15 years too long) because I thought all of the people who wanted him gone left anyway. After a few years he retired and came back to the same church. If I recounted all the hardship that I know this family has been through you would say, enough already. But I don’t know any godlier 2 people than this pastor and his wife. Even though I had no control over the situation, I also had no idea how blessed I was. I see now how the study of Tozer bore fruit in his life and ministry. We just don’t have pastors like him anymore and it may be because we don’t want them. We don’t give them time to grow and expect numbers and great programs rather than shepherds. I have seen this in myself in the years since I left that church. While I love great teaching I am seeing that I can get that on my own. Now when I look at a church I want to know 1)how much do they pray 2)do they love their pastor or do they want someone they can worship 3)does the pastor love them 4)does the pastor love the word 5)is he free to study as he sees fit? These are the things that will bring growth and any other kind of growth is just yeast rising, I think, bound to go flat at some point.

    I don’t know where all that ruminating came from but I think it is worthwhile. I am concerned about the condition of churches today so I guess that is where it came from.

    1. Anne, I don’t think anything comes to us for no good reason. As you know God has purpose in your ruminating. 😉 I don’t know what it is other than what I see in your post and that is a thankful heart, and I see you are growing in your love for Him and He has given you such a thirsty heart for Him.

    2. Oh, and I didn’t even mention the gospel!! That is understood with me. But even with sound gospel preaching I have seen my church deteriorate. My pastor has been getting much of his sermon material from Keller and still it has come to the place that I am not at all comfortable there. The whole thing really does have me wondering.

  29. SECOND ASSIGNMENT: MEDITATE ON REBECCA’S VIDEO AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU SEE THE GOSPEL IN IT.

    I have to be honest, i didn’t think my video was that good probably because I wanted to get it ‘just right’ and I would have liked to have had more time to spend on it-but I am not sure that would have been God’s plan. 🙂

    What is cool is that I don’t know why I liked the little boy’s picture in the front I just put it in there thinking of a boy hiding his face from the light of Jesus. It had nothing to do with the overall picture I was trying to convey of our study, BUT after reading Tozer it hit me why God might have had me put it there at the beginning.

    Here is what Tozer says: “What but the presence of a veil in our hearts? a veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on within us…” I thought, THAT IS IT! That boy with his hand in front of his face blocking the light is a perfect picture of this! What a perfect start to the video that I didn’t plan.

    Our idols lie to us and create the veil, or chains that keep us in bondage-our faces hiding from His light-from His presence. Throughout the video is the healing as HE BREAKS THE CHAINS and we break free and go into the holy of holies deeper into His presence. It is a life long process of repentance, turning from our idols, our sin and yielding and trusting God to work it out in us-it is painful but we must let the stonecutter do the work..as we do this we grow more intimate and more thirsty for Him and as we grow we go deeper into the Mystery of God. I want to be like Frederick Faber, or Dee Brestin.

    At the end of the video is the rugged cross-Tozer says: “The cross is rough and deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the Presence of the living God. ” -PERFECT ending to the video! 🙂 God is good. I didn’t plan it this way.

    1. It was God’s way and it was perfect 🙂

  30. Chris, I just listened to the Piper sermon that you recommended. You were right, it did explain what I go through when I fast and why it is a good thing. It was an awesome sermon. Thanks so much.

    1. I am glad!

  31. 15. Keller defines the Gospel in a nutshell in three ways: the way up is down, gain power by losing power, get rich by giving it away.

    16. 1 Peter 1:12 tells us that the angels yearn to look into the salvation of man. They don’t understand why God would provide help for man when he rebels against God. They saw God expell Lucifer out of heaven along with a third of the angels and God did not provide a second chance for those angels who by the way were created above man.

    Rebecca and Anne have been ruminating about pastors who grounded them in the Word. My train has been running on the same track. Bro. Olan Love Daffron, Sr. (yes his middle name really was Love) preached for fifty years and I was blessed to have him as my shepherd the last five years (1992-1997) of his ministry. He would weep as he preached about Christ crucified. Those five years were growing years for me and I would always share with him that I had never heard such and such explained like this before. I remember one Sunday after I shared a truth I had gleaned Bro. Olan, with tears in his eyes and a break in his voice, shared with me that God’s Word is always worth preaching even if it’s to only one person. In hindsight I believe he spoke those words to encourage himself because the congregation were a bunch of sheep who wanted to go their own way. After we moved into our new sanctuary talk of getting rid of Bro. Olan began. “He’s too old. He needs to retire.” The last three months of his ministry his preaching changed. He began to talk as if he was leaving. I asked him one night if he was getting ready to go somewhere. My thinking was he was going to retire. He just smiled at me as an answer. He knew his days as my shepherd was numbered. The last sermon he preached on this earth was from Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…….For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    Another way Bro. Olan blessed me was by his inviting me to attend extension classes sponsored by our local Baptist association. It was and still is open to anyone who wants to study God’s Word. Bro. Olan taught one class and another pastor would teach the other. So for eight years, thirty-two Monday nights, two hours each Monday, I would attend Bible study. (four courses yearly) Sometimes it was topical. Sometimes it would be a specific book of the Bible. And as Bro. Olan used to say in a sermon I have shared all that to say this. Bro. Olan took us through First and Second Peter and I still have my notes from that class and I want to share what he wrote concerning 1 Peter 1:12. He was a classic empty pad preacher. I treasure his handwritten notes he copied for the congregation when he took us through 1, 2, 3, John. We were a small country church blessed beyond understanding. Okay. Here are his exact notes on 1 Peter 1:12.

    ‘Let us look back at the tabernacle, in the Holy of Holies, there is the Ark of the Covenant. Over the Ark, a solid gold mercy seat, are two angels facing each other with their wings spread out over the mercy seat. They were looking down at the mercy seat in amazement. Once a year the High Priest came in and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat. The angels did not understand that blood. Let us look back beyond Adam and see if we can find an answer.
    Before Adam, God created the most beautiful and most powerful angel of all. His name was Lucifer. Lucifer fell and took one third of the angels with him. This is where demons come from, also the devil.
    Now God has always been the God of grace so what kind of plan of salvation did God provide for Satan and all of the fallen angels?
    God did not lift a finger, made no effort to save them, only judge them.’

    17. My take-a-way from Keller’s message is the statement: When I sin I want to get right with God because I miss fellowship.

    Rebecca’s Video.

    I’ve been thinking about the video all day. I see in the video that we have to acknowledge our brokenness before God can fashion us into a vessel of mercy. The woman wiping the feet of Jesus with her hair has such a look of devotion on her face. Jesus saved her from herself and she can’t hold back the worship.

    Another point from Colin Smith’s sermon I like was the question is this sermon Christian-one that would get me thrown out of a mosque or synagogue because am speaking distinctly about Jesus Christ in his uniqueness.

    I think Anne is right about people not wanting solid teaching. The bible tells us these kind of days would come and I believe we are living in them. I’ve been living out the gospel these past three years and I’m pretty much left alone. I get to share how living out God’s word is changing my life but some can’t seem to comprehend I am actually living out truth. Someone once told me when you live out truth it makes others uncomfortable. He wasn’t talking about those outside the church but those inside the church.

    Several years ago I attended the funeral of a client. She was a prominent businesswoman and belonged to the big church uptown. Her pastor remarked that he wished he knew how many courses of study she had participated in over the years. He stated she must have known a lot ABOUT God. I cleaned for her for seven years and I’ve got to be honest I coveted her (rarely used) William Barclay commentary set. Anyway, I determined that day that I didn’t want it said at my funeral that I knew a lot ABOUT God. I want it stated that I KNOW God personally!!! I love what Tozer says at the end of his chapter Apprehending God: More and more, as our faculties grow sharper and more sure, God will become to us the great All, and His presence the glory and wonder of our lives.

    Dee, this has been one great week of contemplation. Can’t wait for Sunday!!

  32. 14. Why does the Gospel unite people of all classes, races, and accomplishments? Have you experienced this? Has your attitude changed toward people with whom you used to not associate? Abraham Lincoln said all men are created equal which is true for sure and I have always believed it but now I am beginning to see more. The fact that more surely makes them equal is that Christ died for each one of them. None of them have anything that was not given to them by God. All of the things that we consider status symbols are gifts from Him and could be lost at any point. It seems that they can actually separate us from Him causing the haves not to come to Him as Keller points out in the book of Mark.

    But I still find myself living in the world of The One and The Other as Tammy so correctly put it. Tammy, I laughed at first but that quickly went away as it hit home. I catch myself thinking I am the most important with all things revolving around me.

    There are 2 kinds of people that I tend to avoid, those I feel intimidated by and those that scare me. In her book Ann Voskamp described a man on the street that was very scary. Sometimes there are people in my neighborhood who seem a little like that. Then there are people that are smarter and more articulate than me and I fear looking foolish if I try to talk to them. That is that shy form of pride. My attitude has changed in that I tend to trust God more in both situations. For sure I still have very far to go but I am seeing that in both situations He is with me. He approves of me and is willing and able to protect me.

    15. How does Keller define the Gospel in a nutshell according to the Kingdom? The gospel in a nutshell is the complete reversal of all of the world’s values. The way up is down. The way in to God is to move toward those on the fringes of the world. Only when all power is given up do we get God’s power. Jesus is not the expected King. At its core is the truth that we are saved by grace and not by works. The peoples of the world are united in a reversal of values.

    16. How does 1 Peter 1:12 show that the Gospel is complex? This is exactly what I thought when I tried to answer #15. I listened to the sermon again and I heard him say that he would give us the gospel in a nutshell but then there were so many aspects that I stopped writing them down. In a nutshell the whole world is reversed and we will spend many days finding all the ways that this is true. In 1Peter the first thing is that rather than moving from birth to death we move from death to birth. Trials in the world are a curse but in the gospel they are a blessing because they result in faith which is more valuable than gold. We love Him whom we have not seen which is opposite of the lust of the flesh. What worldly king ever suffered and died for his kingdom? Here they are served and made rich by their subjects. Verses 10-12 are difficult for me to understand. The prophets searched and carefully investigated the grace that would come to us. It seems that they just could not imagine how the things being revealed to them could result in salvation. How could such suffering lead to glory? Then it says that they did not serve themselves but us. I guess that could mean that it was not for them to understand but that when the gospel was completed their prophesies would validate our faith.

    17. My take away is as hard to put into words as the gospel is. I just want to peer in with the angels. This view of the gospel outshines anything that has ever captured my attention and now I see what Chalmers was talking about. I’m sure I can be fascinated for eternity with this.

  33. SECOND ASSIGNMENT: MEDITATE ON REBECCA’S VIDEO AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU SEE THE GOSPEL IN IT. The boy shading his eyes sees with one of them which reminds me of looking in through a pinhole. The prostitute so wounded by her lover is a clear picture of what idols do to us. The painting of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet is beautiful and I think that she is receiving her inheritance, no longer a prostitute. In this world prostitutes remain broken. But the gospel makes them innocent again and begins their healing. Jesus helping the children over the rocks shows how the weak are strong in Him. He does not remove the rocks but He helps them over. The family in the car breaks my heart. The mother is sick. The father is desperate and the children are sad and worried. What a picture of our hopelessness without the gospel. I think the repaired clay jar is my favorite picture. I see myself in it, repaired but not complete and not without scars. Broken people repaired, that is opposite the world. I saw Jesus’ tears a lot. Tears over our condition, tears with us in our pain and tears of joy when we come to Him finally.

    Loved it Rebecca! Thanks for making it for us.

  34. the video hit me really hard. as I watched it and saw all the wonderful pictures of Jesus holding people, little children and hurting woman I realized that as I looked at those pictures I put myself in HIS place emotionally. I am always the HOLDER not the held. I sat for almost 20min. before I could place myself emotionally as the one being held.
    I have some work to do at being able to feel that little and taken care of. its funny, its easy for me to listen to HIM, to picure myself washing his feet, praising HIM, walking with HIM but to be little and held like a child…..Im workin on that one:)

    1. Elizabeth,

      Hey sweet sister, it has been such an honor to bless you this week!

  35. 13. How does the Gospel bring a new structure to your life?
    I exchange my worthless selfish self, for the righteousness of Christ; I receive his power, by giving up rights over my life. The Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am His child.
    How is the Gospel upside-down from the world’s values?
    I can stop trying to get all I can get from this life because I deserve it, and I am not going to let anyone take advantage of me. I can stop trying to get a bigger piece of the pie.
    Trading all of this to receive Gods love, to then shed His love abroad, and to gain peace in spite of my circumstances, this looks like foolishness to those who are perishing.
    14. Why does the Gospel unite people of all classes, races, and accomplishments?
    The ground is level at the foot of the cross. When I heard this part of the sermon I thought of this passage:
    Revelation 3:17-20 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
    I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
    Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
    Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
    Have you experienced this?
    I took a class once in which we were being trained to counsel other women. We were instructed to listen how women told their stories, when I read the story telling style of the cynic I thought ‘Oh my…that is my sister!’ God spoke to me and I had a Nathan/King David moment of conviction that I was the one who was the cynic.
    I realized that my cynicism was sin and that I needed to repent of it. Was so surprised to discover this was sin, this vein runs deep through my family, and I had enjoyed very much finding ways to feel superior to others over the years. God has truly done a work in me in this area. As I have confessed and asked for help, he has changed me!
    Has your attitude changed toward people with whom you used to not associate?
    I still need to work on avoiding social situations out of my own self absorption, feeling too self conscious to be a blessing to others, preferring solitude to risk.
    I see more clearly than I did before that God values people, that we are all created in his image, that He is not willing that any should perish, and we all have a role to play in the work of the Body.

    1. Thank you so much Dee, and all of you. This post and many others, I have moved to a “save” file in my emails–the encouragement you all have given me over these months together has blessed me in ways I have never experienced before.
      My 40th is this this month (!) and I feel His leading me to find this group of women, and Dee’s mentoring, has been this grand golden package with a big satin bow all from Him–a gift.
      Thank you all for your warm embrace, your cyber-hugs, your gentle way of always leading me back to truth. He is using each of you mightily in my life, and I thank you.

      There is a CS Lewis quote you all remind me of “In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

      1. What a great quote by Lewis.

      2. That was a beautiful Quote. You don’t look 40 at all…you look much, much younger!! Happy Birthday, this month.

        Truly, Elizabeth, you have been such a blessing on this blog, especially to me! May the Lord bless you and your wonderful family!

  36. I have some answered prayer to share. One of the things high up on my worry/fear list was that Al will not be able to make it on his own. I realize so many ways that I failed to equip him for life. One of those ways is that he has quite a bit of college debt and I think now some credit card debt too. It has been one of the worries that has kept me awake at night and I just had to keep giving it to the Lord. He has been working part time at Lowes in the flooring department for a few months. A few weeks ago he shared with me his plan to get his credit cards paid off by the end of the summer so that it would be done if he had opportunity for law school in the fall. This morning I woke up to a text message that he got full time benefited position at Lowes. Another one of my worries is that he has had no insurance since he was 18 because our insurance is federal and would not cover him in school. The fact that he has been healthy and not injured is my testimony to God’s faithfulness. There is a verse in Jeremiah that jumped out to me a few years ago that asks the question “when has what you fear ever come upon you?” I had to answer, never. It isn’t that bad things never happen but that they are never the things I expected/worried about. Now I can’t remember where it was. Maybe I should read the book again.

    Joey is having his 2nd surgery Monday. I would love prayer for his heart. Specifically that he would understand how much Jesus loves him. And of course for healing and protection. Thanks so much.

    Joyce, I am praying for you this morning. Also for you Elizabeth. For any issues you are dealing with this morning I pray for His grace, peace and healing.

    1. Father, I lift up Joey to you and ask in Jesus mighty name that you protect and keep him during this surgery. Guide and help the physicians and nurses. Bring quick healing to his body. Give peace to all those who love him. Continue to draw him to yourself and I ask specifically for a divine revelation of your love to him. Amen

      1. Yes Lord, I agree with Kim in prayer for Joey’s surgery. And thank you Lord for providing a job for Al! Thank you that you have given then a mom who loves with her whole heart–I pray your peace on Anne today. Amen

        1. I agree in prayer too.

    2. Heavenly Father
      It is with a grateful heart that I thank you and give you all praise for hearing the cries of Anne. Al is indeed on his way to becoming able to handle his responsibilities. I pray that as he studies law you will direct into the field of law right for his heart. Lord I can never thank you enough for bringing us all together in One Lord and One Spirit. May our hearts burst at the seam ready to worship you in the morning. In the name of our Blessed Redeemer Christ Jesus Amen.

    3. Oh, Anne, I’m so happy for Al and his full time position and insurance! Praise God!! I will certainly be praying for Joey’s monday also that all will go well and he will feel Jesus’s touch, just as I did! Blessings for you and your whole family. I love you, Dear Sister in Christ.

      You are so sweet to pray for me when you have so much your worried about. Thank you, tho. I am in alot of pain yet, especially morning’s when I haven’t had any pain meds all night. It takes alot to get me up and going. Thank you so much.

  37. Elizabeth,
    Thank you for posting your “one more thing,” the quote from Henri Nouwen; it really resonated with me, too! As I read your posts, faithful and encourager come to mind 🙂 I appreciate seeing your tenderness with and compassion for others!

  38. Thank you, Dee, for your service and leadership!

    Dr. Keller’s sermon came at the perfect time. This week, we were absorbed in serving at our church’s vacation Bible school. Our theme was “Inside Out and Upside Down (on Main Street).” The theme meant significantly more to me, after this week’s lesson!

    I am now listening to Colin Smith and am enraptured, both with his lovely, rich accent and the boldness with which he speaks.

  39. Elizabeth

    I am a left brainer who has a hard time expressing herself personally to others so I have been asking our Father to give me the words I am to bless you with.

    I can’t remember which blog it was where we connected with one another. You shared that you have a tense filled relationship with your mom as I do. I was thrilled that someone had finally come along side of me, wrapped her arm around my shoulder and compassionately said, “I too know how it is.” Ever since that day I know I am no longer walking that particular road alone.

    Reading your story of adoption has inspired this middle-aged woman, who has no children and no prospect of a husband, to keep praying God will give me the gift of my own family. I greatly desire to have a husband who I can partner with in service to God. I must confess there are times I have come to the blog and everyone is talking about their children and I have to stop reading. However, instead of having a pity party because I am childless, I have been striving to glean from you and the other mothers. One of the lies I was fed when I was growing up was the lie that I would be a terrible mother. I praise God for he has already refuted that lie. I was taking care of an eight year boy one Sunday in church while his father was singing in the choir. After service a mom asked me did I have children and I told her no. She then told me that I would be a wonderful mother.

    I am house-sitting for a couple from church who is away on vacation and one of the benefits is the use of their pool. I have been imagining what it would be like if we could have a pool party with all the children. I can hear their laughter as they swim. We ladies would all be sitting and sharing encouragement with one another. The men would be grilling.

    So, I thank you Elizabeth for sharing your heart with me. God has richly blessed me with you. What I find here in this community is like-mindedness and it seems many of us struggle with the same sins.

    Give your precious children a hug and a kiss from their ‘Auntie T.’

    Blessings!!!

    1. Oh Tammy, you have NO trouble expressing your words! If you could see me right now, after reading your words–I honestly, honestly, have tears coming down my cheeks. Oh I just wish I could give you a hug because I surely can’t express in words my “thank you”! But even your last line “Auntie T”–oh, you have no idea how that touched the deepest ache in my heart! We are over 1000 miles from all family (while they are clustered all in one city–both sides), and my children have lived here all their lives, with no visits from anyone at all except a few from my mom. That said, I have prayed, prayed, for my children to have “pseudo-family, aunts, uncles, etc…” So yes, I will give them a hug and kiss from Auntie T!

      And I will join you in praying That God will bless you with family–but I can see already from what you have shared, and from seeing your heart, that you have many many covenant children who are so richly blessed by you Tammy.

      I will commit also to pray for your relationship with your mom as I pray for my own.

      Much love to you my friend, and thank you for the gift of your friendship~

    2. Tammy, for a “left brainer”, you sure did a wonderful job of sharing your heart with us. Thank you for making me more sensitive to those who are not moms on this blog – I’m sure many more who are silently reading along with us.
      Yet I see that you are definitely a spiritual mother to so many children, and I am so glad you had that mom of the 8 year old boy refute that lie from satan!

    3. Tammy, anyone who can house sit (from facebook) and take good, loving care of all those animals there, that you watch, has a very senitive, loving heart for children and animals!! 🙂

  40. Tammy, I am so glad that you shared your deep heart desire. I will pray fervently for you on these things.

    Elizabeth, you are such a sweet blessing. I love Cyndi’s hosta picture of you. I grow spices and just have them in between other plants. So when I am working in the patch sometimes I will disturb one without realizing it until I smell the fragrance of it. You make me think of this because you are quiet and unassuming yet give off a blessed fragrance in the group. The words from C.S. Lewis are so timely for us. How blessed we are in each other and in allowing Him to bring us together. Thanks for being here with us.

  41. I have come to the realization that if Jesus Christ had not resurrected from the dead, I would still be dead in my sins right now. No victory over my sinful nature. The Spirit of Christ lives in me. It is by His Spirit I can overcome and obey when obeying seems impossible. The Holy Spirit lives in me and is my Helper. If I cling to Jesus and tell him everything I will find the grace I need. He has proven that to me over and over.

    So in this struggle against sin, I have found that if I say “Yes” to Jesus, even though I falter at times, it’s His Power, His Grace, His Promise that keeps me on the path of Righteousness!…..How can someone resist such Love?? It is that Love that makes me keep going and not give up! I have no where else to go! I want to obey! Yes, Jesus!

    1. Bea, it is a wonderful victory isn’t it. All because He loved us. Your words are so encouraging. Thanks, and welcome.

    2. Welcome Bea!!

      Amen to everything you stated!

    3. Glad you are here, Bea!

    4. Yes, Jesus! I’m with you, Bea!!

    5. Welcome Bea! Good to have you.

  42. Elizabeth,
    Love your beautiful family picture. You are such a blessing to this group. You have a gift of encouragement. I also like your favorite verse, Hebrews 10:23. God bless you today.

  43. Read Mark 1:9-11

    1. How did this confirm both to Jesus and to the world His Sonship, and correspondingly, the personal pleasure God the Father had in Him?

    The voice from heaven proclaiming “You are My Son, Whom I love…” told Jesus and the world loud and clear God’s testimony to who Jesus was and how God felt about Him.
    Keller used the example of the father walking with his son and picking him up and hugging and kissing him. The son being picked up and loved was an assurance, an experience of his status.
    The baptism of Jesus was an experience, very real, of His assurance and status.

    Read Romans 8:15-16

    2. How does the Spirit confirm to us that we are, indeed, His sons in whom He has great delight?

    Keller explains it that the Holy Spirit takes something that we know, intellectually, and makes it an experience.

    3. Could you explain the difference between morality and the Gospel?

    The gospel brings about a complete inner change that results in you seeing everything through the “gospel grid”, as Keller put it.
    Morality is the idea that if you live a good life as a moral person, you can earn your salvation or favor with God. In reality you are trying to control your own life instead of giving it to God and therefore, God owes you something.
    The only thing that brings about that complete inner change in you is the Holy Spirit moving in and changing you from the inside out. Gospel salvation is entirely of God.

    4. Keller said that rich doctrines are hard to put in a nutshell. What examples did he give other than the doctrine of the Gospel?

    Jesus being fully human and fully God.
    The Trinity being like a glass pyramid.
    The Gospel has a fullness of meaning – many aspects together; it has more than one aspect. You must look at it as a whole.

    5. What is the difference between good news and good advice?

    Good News salvation is you’re saved by what Jesus has done.
    Good Advice salvation is you’re saved by following a set of teachings or advice.

    6. Why do the historical events matter in Christianity? Why do they not matter in other religions?

    Every other religion is just good advice, so historical events don’t matter; you just follow the advice. For example, it doesn’t really matter if Mohammed really moved a mountain or not because you aren’t saved by that miracle, you are saved by following his teachings.

    In Christianity, you are only saved if the things that happened in Jesus’ life really happened. Christianity says you are saved by what Jesus has done. I liked how Keller stated that “news” is something that has already been done – you’re reporting what happened. Example is if Jesus has not really been raised from the dead, we are just making fools of ourselves every week in church and wasting our time – we are still dead in our sins and without hope!

    7. Meditate on Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas”. When you think of this historical incident, why is this “good news” and not “good advice”?

    It’s good news because the gospel writer gives us a report of this incident that happened in real time and real space – an eyewitness account of the risen Lord.
    I like how in the painting the three disciples’ foreheads are noticebly wrinkled. I think it was Tammy who commented that even though Thomas was sticking his finger into the side of Jesus, it was like he still was thinking how is this possible?

    8. Why is it other religions cannot give you assurance about your status now?

    While other religions promise a future reward, they can’t give you assurance now because if you’re saved by your works, you can never know if you’re doing enough or where you stand with God.

    9. What question does Martin Lloyd Jones ask, and what answers reveal a lack of understanding of the Gospel?

    He asks, “Are you a Christian?” – and the person will reply, “Well, I’m trying”. That means they have not grasped the sonship aspect of the gospel. They may only know that Jesus died for their sins but still think it’s like getting a second chance and now they have to try to do better.
    This made me think that the early Christians suffered from this misunderstanding as well. In Paul’s letter to the Galations, 3:3, he writes to them, “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

    10. How does this teaching that we are saved by grace but have to keep it up by good works miss the Gospel?

    Again, it is like taking apart the Gospel and not looking at each
    aspect of it as a whole. It’s not only that your sins are forgiven by being placed on Jesus, but you are missing the fact that His righteousness has been imputed to you.

    11. What does it mean to you that His righteousness is put on you? How does this replace fear motivation with love motivation?

    It’s like my filthy dirty torn clothes (my sin) have been replaced with a beautiful, clean, fresh smelling and pure garment that only Jesus could give me. Now God the Father sees me wearing the garment of His Son’s righteousness and loves me as he does His Son.
    Keller explains the difference between fear and love. When you sin, you immediately want to fix things between you and God. But if it’s because you think “now I’ll go to hell or God will punish me and wont listen to my prayers”, then your motivation is fear. But if you want to get right with God because you hate being out of fellowship with Him and you miss Him, just for Him, not His blessings, then your motivation is love.

    12. How does 1 John 4:18-19 relate to this?

    Perfect love drives out fear. When we get it into our heart that God loves us as sons and daughters, when we get the “Sonship Aspect” of the Gospel, we no longer relate to God in a fear based relationship. Knowing how deeply loved we are because of Jesus drives out the fear.

    13. The word Kingdom is a symbol for a new administration, a new set of values. How does the Gospel bring a new structure to your life? How is the Gospel upside-down from the world’s values?

    To me the simplest way to think of it is that a “new landlord” has moved into “my building”. He’s the Holy Spirit and He brings in a whole new way of living for me, the tenant.

    The gospel is so different from the world’s values. In the world, you only get in by having something of value, or being somebody important, or by great accomplishments. The gospel way is you get in by declaring spiritual bankruptcy, by admitting you have nothing of value to offer.

    14. Why does the gospel unite peole of all classes, races, and accomplishments? Have you experienced this? Has your attitude changed toward people with whom you used to not associate?

    The gospel unites because there is no such things as the “haves” and the “have-nots”. We all have the same spiritual identity, we all come to God and are accepted in the same way.
    I think this has changed my view on sin. I used to think of the big problem of sin in the world as “out there” – with people like the Hitlers of the world or commiting terrible crimes. But now I see the greatest problem of sin is in each individual heart, starting with my own. I think it helps me empathize with a person who struggles with sin, whether it’s alcohol, or drugs, or a woman who had an abortion, whatever…and not to look down on them because I know I have the very same capability to sin in my own heart.

    15. How does Keller define the Gospel in a nutshell according to the Kingdom?

    “The gospel says the way up, is down, the way to real power is to give up coercive power and serve others. The way to go in to God is to go to the margins in repentance and faith.”

    16. How does 1 Peter 1:12 show that the Gospel is complex?

    Angels are very intelligent but they never get tired or bored of looking at the gospel because it has such a fullness of meaning. I don’t think you can ever reach the end of it.

    17. What is your take away from this message?

    I liked the teaching especially on the Sonship aspect, and also at the end where Keller said that without the gospel, you are looking for everything you can to bolster your sense of self worth and significance. This tied into his other sermons on idols of the heart.

    Now I’m breathing a big sigh of relief! It took me 3 days to get through this, it is so rich! I’ve not listened yet to the sermon by Colin Smith.

  44. SECOND ASSIGNMENT: MEDITATE ON REBECCA’S VIDEO AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU SEE THE GOSPEL IN IT.

    Rebecca did an awesome job picking this song and using many of the images we’ve used in this study. I thought the contrast interesting of the first image of the boy with a shadow of a hand on his face, as if someone were standing in front of him putting their hand up against him. To me it symbolized someone trying to discourage him from going to Jesus. Then later in the video, the young woman who had her hand up as if to say “Stop”, or go away from me. Sometimes, others can attempt to or actually crush our faith, and other times we are stubborn and tell God to go away.
    I love the charcoal sketch of the woman with Jesus and they both have tears.