This week we come to the end of this path, but I think you will find every path, including the one we turn to next week, deals in some way with the power of the Gospel to overcome the
main thing that is wrong with us: idolatry.
Often the most powerful lesson is the review lesson. Let’s stop and reflect, summarize and see what we’ve learned, and let it grow stronger in our hearts. We also have much for which to
give thanks. We have experienced God’s power, and to consider how we can continue to do so, for He is as faithful as the seasons, as faithful as the sunrise.
When we start a new path next week, as Midday Connection airs ten episodes of The God of All Comfort, you will find it related to what we have been doing, for The God of All Comfort is all
about experiencing the power of God in the midst of pain, a time when we are particularly vulnerable to running back to our idols. I have done The God of All Comfort on this Bible study
blog before, but I will keep it fresh, as fresh as the morning, for His mercies are new every morning. Even if you don’t have a Moody Station in your city, you can listen online.
I want to thank each of you for participating on this blog, and I pray you will continue on this next path, for you would be wonderful mentors and you are now my friends, and I do not want
to lose you! You are, indeed, an unusual group of women. My web manager told me to keep these blogs very short and simple, and I didn’t — yet here you are, hungering after God, doing
the study diligently, listening to the sermons, and suggesting songs, sermons, and readings of your own. I thank God upon every remembrance of you.
Anne, of our faithful bloggers, has given me permission to share her picture with her oldest son, Al. I wanted you to see her and her warmth. I feel she has been a mentor on this blog and
her encouragement and contemplative thoughts a gift from God. It seemed appropriate to feature her this week, though in a little different way that I’ve been doing. Anne exemplifies the
depth of the women on this blog. She is continually contemplating the gospel, using her gift of discernment, sharing songs that draw her closer, and living it out. I also see her heart of
compassion. One of the aspects of true worship is caring for the poor, letting justice roll down — every time the prophets rebuke the false worship of God’s people, they call for social justice!
(See for example, Isaiah 58) I see this true worship in Anne. I remember when she got in her car to go out and try to help the people in the SE who had had their lives turned up-side-down
by tornadoes. She went and she listened to their grief, being the heart and ears of Jesus. Anne lives it, and I want to encourage you to take her thoughts to heart. Anne is married with two
sons — this is her oldest son in the picture with her.
The women on your blog are a group of more than exceptional women and that is largely because of what
you teach. God is doing a great work here.
Indeed, He is! He is using you as well. So many of you, for example, have been reading Tozer’s The Pursuit of
God, and so I pulled mine out and started reading it again. This is how the power of God works through the
body of Christ, spreading like the sunrise to bring warmth and light across the world. Tozer writes something
that reminds me of you. He is writing about how some believers seem to find God in a way others do not.
I venture to say that the one vital quality they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open
to heaven; something which urged them Godward. …I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and they
went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that
when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response.
This my sisters, is what I see in you, and for which I thank God.
Share one time in this study when God spoke to you through His Word, His people, or His Spirit and you responded and experienced His power.
Now let’s review. Tim Keller talks about three ways to approach life. Probably the best scriptural illustration is the story of the prodigal sons.
IR-RELIGION (Like the younger son who rebelled against his father in Luke 15)
RELIGION (Like the older son who “slaved all these years” and expected a pay-off)
THE GOSPEL: (Like the younger son when he repented and returned to his father’s arms)
Tertullian, from the 2nd century, put the above three ways in a word picture. (More about this in the article Elizabeth suggested below.) He said the gospel is
continually being crucified between two thieves: antinominism (against the law) and morality (religion.) Isn’t it interesting that we have the same problem
today? Take,for example, three different approaches to helping a man caught in the vice of internet porn:
Ir-religion or antinomism: Leave him alone. Don’t judge. This may be a good release for him.
Religion or morality: Beat on him, reminding him of the true effects of disobeying the law: demeaning women, destroying relationships,
developing addictions. Tell him to just say no.
The Gospel: There is power in the gospel because it works on our hearts. Sexual immorality is wrong — in fact it is so bad Christ had to die for
him to rescue him from hell. Yet Christ loved him so much that he did go to the cross for him. Therefore he can trust Christ to fill the vacuum in
his heart each time he is tempted to run to internet porn.
As we said in the beginning, the gospel is not a quick fix, but it is the only effective solution. We worshipped our way into idolatry, so we must
worship our way out, by beholding the beauty of Christ and by beholding the complex multi-faceted gospel. Let me ask you some questions that
will require contemplation — but I know this group is up to it!
I’ve given an example of the three approaches that could be used with someone in the vice of internet porn. Now I’d like you to show how these
three approaches might work with someone in a different sin. Choose between gluttony, unforgiveness, or a sin that trips you up.
1. What sin are you choosing, and what would be the approach of ir-religion or antinomisim to it?
2. What would be the approach of religion or morality to it?
3. How might you use the truth of the gospel to melt your heart toward this sin?
I love the example Keller gives of Paul confronting Peter about his racism. Remember when Peter was refusing to eat with the Gentiles? Keller
says that Paul neither overlooks this sin (The approach of ir-religion of antinomisim) nor does he use the law by saying, “Don’t be a racist.”
While it is true that Christians should not be racists, Paul chooses instead to work on Peter’s heart. He says, “Peter, you are not walking in line
with the gospel.” What does that mean?
4. How might contemplating the gospel and what Christ did for Peter at the cross, help to work on his heart and melt his idol and his sin of
racism? (I know this is challenging — but I also know you are amazing.)
5. I hope you will begin to see in the Scripture how often the writers point to using the gospel to overcome sin or to live as Christ called us to live. See, for
example, if you can find it in the following. What are we being called to do in each example, and how is the gospel used to give us the power to do it?
A. Romans 12:1 What are we being called to and what phrase illuminates the gospel motivation?
B. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 What are we being called to and what phrase illuminates the gospel motivation?
C. Ephesians 4:32 What are we being called to and what phrase illuminates the gospel motivation?
D. Ephesians 5:2 What are we being called to and what phrase illuminates the gospel motivation?
E. Ephesians 5:25 What are husbands called to and what phrase illuminates the gospel motivation?
F. Because we’ve had discussion about submitting to husbands I thought it might be illuminating to see the gospel motivation for this as well.
1) In my studyguide on 1 Peter I show how the key passage is 1 Peter 2:21-25. Look at this and find the gospel in it.
2) Then, throughout this letter, Peter keeps saying “In the same way,” applying the gospel to citizens submitting to government, slaves to masters, and
then in 1 Peter 3, to both wives and then to husbands. Look for the phrases “likewise,” or “in the same way” and find the gospel admonition to first
wives married to men who do not obey the Word, and then to husbands, who might be tempted to take advantage of the vulnerable position of their
6. Listen to one or both of the following Keller messages and comment:
7. We have learned that the Gospel is multi-faceted. Can you explain the following?
A. Why is the gospel good news instead of good advice?
B. The gospel is “sonship.” What does this mean, and what does this mean to you?
C. The gospel has a power the law lacks. Why?
8. Elizabeth suggested this article and it is a great summary. Read it, underline it, and then share a few key points.
9. I’d like you to mediate on the words to When I Survey The Wondrous Cross. Sing them. Find your favorite u-tube version. Explain how you see the power of the Gospel in this song.
10. What would you like to share with the group on something you learned that I haven’t mentioned?
11. Please bless Anne, our blogger of the week!
Thanks to all of you who submitted pictures and stories. We’ll do this again, probably in the fall, to meet new regulars!
Please pray as we begin our new path next week, that God will bring who He wants, and will quicken us all!