How Gepetto rejoiced when Pinocchio became a real boy!
In the same way, our Creator rejoices to see us becoming fully human.
We were dead in our sin, when His Spirit quickened us,
and began the process of turning our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Whatever stone is left in us when we get to heaven will be melted by Aslan’s breath, and we will become, as Lewis puts it,
“more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth.”
But here on earth there are those who become “more fully human”
than do other believers.
They have discovered that, as 1 John teaches:
EACH TIME THEY LOVE,
HIS LOVE IN THEM GROWS STRONGER
EACH TIME THEY WALK IN THE LIGHT,
HIS LIGHT IN THEM GROWS BRIGHTER,
AND EACH TIME THEY CLING TO THE TRUTH,
HIS TRUTH IN THEM BECOMES CLEARER.
INDEED, THEY ARE BECOMING TRULY HUMAN!
REAL BOYS AND REAL GIRLS!
I doubt there is any more dramatic a place to see this than in prison. This month I was privileged to minister in a hospital prison in Texas City, Texas. For so many of the women alcohol or drugs is a contributing factor to their crime. One mother failed to get her children out of burning house because she was under the influence of alcohol — they died, and she went to prison for decades. I thought the sentence so harsh. Yet today she is out, she is free of alcohol, forgiving, and living a productive life due to the ministry of Discipleship Unlimited. The tentacles of drugs and alcohol are STRONG and many despair of ever being free of them. Yet Jesus is setting them free.He is turning their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, and they are becoming fully human. Here I am with four women who went through Discipleship Unlimited’s program on the inside, now are living VICTORIOUS lives on the outside, but came back to encourage the women still inside the prison that through Christ THEY CAN STAY FREE!!!
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Friday Bible Study
Prepare your heart with this:
2. Read John 3:1-5. What does Jesus tell Nicodemus in verse 5?
The part about the water in this verse used to mystify me. Was Jesus talking about baptism? I didn’t think so. Perhaps He was talking about the gush of water with the first birth? But the light came on for me through a commentary I now use a lot by D. A. Carson — he illuminates Old Testament passages with New Testament passages. John 3:5 illuminates this verse in Ezekiel:
Therefore, being born of “water and the Spirit” is all about what God does in the second birth. He cleanses us of our sin and then puts His Spirit within us. Of course! But what is relevant now for us, as believers, is that this is a continuing daily process, as we confess sin, He cleanses, and His Spirit, which we quenched, is revived within us.
A. What does Jesus mean by verse 5
B. How did this happen initially when you were born again?
C. How can this happen on a daily basis for you? How will you apply this today?
4. Read 1 John 1:1 and explain the different ways John tries to persuade you that they know Jesus is real and was no ordinary man, but “the eternal word of life.”
5. Read 1 John 1:5-10
A. What statement is in verse 5, and what is the corollary in verse 6?
B. Challenge question! There is both unrecognized sin in our lives, and recognized sin. This passage shows how we can be cleansed of each. Find them, looking for the word “cleansed.”
C. How can you apply the above to your life today?
Next week you are going to listen to a powerful sermon by an associate of Tim Keller’s entitled “Becoming Fully Human.” He shares a powerful quotation from Jonathan Edwards. The following are excerpts from that quote I’d like you to ponder. Edwards is profound, and lived in the 1700’s, so this quote is challenging — but life-changing. So read slowly and then I’ll ask you to articulate it in your own words.
Before, and as God created him, man was exalted and noble and generous. Before his soul was under the government of that noble principle of divine love whereby it was enlarged to the comprehension of all his fellow creatures and their welfare.
…Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness and godless forsaken and fellow creatures forsaken. …Self love became absolute master of his soul. And the more noble and spiritual principles of his being took wings and flew away.
But God in mercy entered in the work of redemption by the glorious gospel of His Son, of bringing the soul of man out of its confinement and contractedness and back again to those noble and divine principles by which it was animated and governed at first. And it is through the cross of Christ that He is doing this for our union with Christ gives us participation in His nature. And so Christianity restores an excellence enlargement to the soul and again possesses it with a divine love and charity to its fellow creatures and is again swallowed up in love for its Creator.
6. Meditate on the above.
A. Summarize the main points in your own words, though if a phrase quickened you, feel free to
B. How would Edwards say we become fully human again?
7. To prepare for next week’s message, “Becoming Fully Human,” Read Mark 1:9-15
A. What are the first two events Mark records in the life of Jesus?
B. What is the first message of Jesus according to verse 15?
C. What is the Kingdom of God?
D. What was different that this proclamation could be made — that the Kingdom of God is near?
8. 1 Corinthians 15:45 calls Jesus the “second Adam.” Why, do you think?
9. What is your take-a-way and why?
Sunday: February 5: Becoming Fully Human by Glorifying God
The sermon by Pastor Kim from Redeemer is definitely geared to New Yorkers, yet I found it so enlightening. He begins with a rhetorical question and then a question that they discussed in their small groups. The question for the small groups was to consider what field they were in, and then consider: “What qualities would a super (or uber) person in that field possess?”The answers ranged from making money, to being beautiful and sexy to being brilliant and humble. I think each of us wants to excel in our field, whether it is mother, nurse, author, or teacher. But how we approach excelling depends on whether we are determined to glorify self or glorify God. Two examples:
I am realizing (far too late in life) that I have often used my gifts to glorify self and feeding my idols of approval or security. I have cared too much about how well a book sells or how people feel about me. That must die in order for me to glorify God. If I set my heart on glorifying Him and Him alone, He will take care of my deepest needs. If I walk in repentance, letting Him continually cleanse me, and set my affections on things above, I will write to glorify Him and speak to glorify Him — not to glorify myself. And like Eric Liddell so famously said, “I will feel His pleasure.” I have felt some trepidation about my forthcoming book on the Song of Songs, for I know there will be backlash. But what is that compared to what Christ endured?
Jonathan is a man in our church who is very talented as a craftsman. He built a beautiful home for his family in the woods of Door County. But carpentry doesn’t pay the bills for his family of eight. So in the winter he plows and sands driveways. But what I have seen is that he does it to the glory of God. He is an “uber plower and sander.” He is sensitive to God and his fellow man.
Twice last month he rescued me. The first time was when I was trying to make my plane for prison ministry and woke to a driveway of sheer ice. This is my driveway when it isn’t icy.
But that morning it was an ice-skating rink. I thought, “I have four wheel drive — let me see if I can make it.” But when I went to get my car, it was dead. I called Jonathan and told him I had double trouble. Though he had many businesses wanting him to come immediately, he came to me, sanded, and then his wife lent me their car for five days. Who does that? People who are intent on loving God and their fellow man. People in whom the Spirit is working.
Then, after I got home from prison, returned their car, and got mine working — the driveway iced up again — but not so badly. I thought I could make it to the post office and grocery store. But instead, I slid into the woods. I prayed for help — and 5 minutes later Jonathan was there for he felt led to check on me. Who does that? People in whom the Spirit is working.
11. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Listen and reflect on Pastor Kim’s message: Becoming Fully Human
13. You may have to listen more than once — but what quickened you and why?
14. Now, how would you answer 7 C from last week?
15. What is your take-a-way and why?