Friday, October 25, 2013

How to Pursue Joy in God

~adapted from John Piper on How to Fight for Joy in God

1. Meditate on the Word day and night (Psa. 19:8--The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; cf. Jer. 15:16; Psa. 1:3). Read particularly to see the greatness and goodness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 4:4; all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me Matt. 28:17).

As you read the gospels, identify with Jesus and rejoice in his sufficiency:.. E.g., make mental comments such as, "That's my Lord, that's my Christ, that's who thrills me, look at him go! Ooh! did you hear that?!! What an answer! What wisdom! What kindness!"

2. Don't ignore texts that motivate you to fear God (Neh. 1:11 -- delight to fear your name), passages that teach you to fear, to tremble at his power; Jer. 5:22)

3. Learn to preach the sufficiency of God’s promises to yourself daily (Psa. 42; Psa 23:6; no good thing will he withhold – Psa. 84:11; Phil. 4:19; 4:13; Rom. 8:28-29ff).

4. Pray earnestly and continually for all you need to be happy in God. IOUs acronym to help:
Incline my heart to your testimonies (Ps. 119:36)
Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things in your law (Ps. 119:18)
Unite my heart to fear your name (Ps. 86:11)
Satisfy me in the morning with your hesed that I may rejoice and be glad in you all my days (Ps. 90:14)

5. Resolve to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12), resisting sin (Heb. 12:4) and Satan’s allurements (1 Pet. 5:8-9) to substitute other joys for joy in God (Jer. 2:13; 17:13). Faith is the catalyst for joy. It is the ground of God’s granting us joy (Rom. 15:13).

6. Share your faith. Paul’s constant theme is that his converts are his joy and rejoicing (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:19). Quest for Joy tract from Crossway by Piper.

7. Spend time with God-saturated people who will help you see God and fight the fight of faith. (1 Sam. 23:16)

8. Read biographies of great Christian saints (Heb. 11:4 -- though dead yet speaketh; Heb. 12:1)

9. Read great books about God – (Tozer Knowledge of the Holy, The Pursuit of God, J. I. Packer Knowing God, John Piper – Desiring God, The Pleasures of God, God’s Passion for His Glory, When I Don’t Desire God, Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections) Lewis: "For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books more helpful in devotion than the devotional books. ... the heart sings unbidden while working one's way through a tough bit of theology ... and a pencil in the hand."

10. Rest, exercise, and diet properly. We are embodied spirits. -- Be unconscious 1/3 of your life -- God doesn't need you 24/7 and wants you to know you aren't indispensable. Sleep.

11. Make a proper use of revelation in nature (Psa. 19:1-6)

12. Pour yourself out for the poor and afflicted (Isa 58:12).

13. Get a global vision of the magnitude of God's work in building His church. Seeing the great works of God is joy-inspiring (Psa. 92:4)

14. Make good use of hymns that cultivate your satisfaction in God.  E.g., 

William Cowper

    God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.

    Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sov’reign will.

    Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.

    Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.

    His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow’r.

    Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Joy in God: Our Part & God’s Part

Biblical Data:
  • We are commanded to rejoice in the Lord – so joy must be, in part, a matter of the will (Matt. 5:12; Phil. 3:1; 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:16).
  • We are told that joy is a fruit of the Spirit – so joy must be, in part, something we cannot produce on our own, but which is dependent upon the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; cf. Rom. 14:17; 1 Thess. 1:6).
  • Paul prays that God would grant the Romans all joy and peace in believing (Rom. 15:13; 1 Pet. 1:8). So, joy is a gift of God that comes to us in the context of our believing.
  • We are commanded to “count” things joy (Jas. 1:2) – so joy must be, in part, a matter of the mind.
  • Paul testifies that he works together with the Corinthians for their joy (2 Cor. 1:24). Thus, joy is something we must labor for
    Laboring for joy may take a variety of forms. Two things stand out to me from Scripture. The first is the labor of keeping the mind focused in faith on God’s sufficiency and the effort of the will to choose to give thanks and praise in anticipation of the revelation of God’s sufficiency. The second is pursuing those things that enable others to be satisfied in God.

Man’s part in having Joy in God: 
  •  Choose to focus the mind on the sufficiency of God and His promises (Psa. 90:14; Jas. 1:2‑4), thereby fostering and building faith and hope which are grounds of joy (Rom. 15:13; 12:12). 
  • Choose to regard and, thus, to be satisfied that all things are an expression, in some way, of God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, goodness, and wisdom (Job; 1 Cor. 10:13; Psa. 145:9; Rom. 11:33-35).
  • Ask God to strengthen your faith and to give you joy by His Spirit (Rom. 15:13; Gal. 5:22; Acts 13:52).
  • Engage in expressing thanksgiving in and for all things (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18). The degree to which we experience the emotional dimension of joy will fluctuate in direct proportion to the object of our mind’s focus (God vs. other things), the strength of our mental focus (faith), our expression of it to others, and other physical factors such as rest, health, and exercise.
God’s part in our Joy in Him:

God by His Spirit (Gal. 5:5; Acts 13:52; Rom. 14:17) ...
  • illumines us to see His sufficiency (Psa. 90:14).
  • enables us to persist in believing His word regarding His character and will (John 15:11).
  • grants us joy and peace as we believe (Rom. 15:13).

[1] Piper’s by-line for reflects this dimension of pursuing joy: “Spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Joy in God: Mental State, Spontaneous Emotion, Both?

Experience inclines us to believe that joy is an emotion that is spontaneous in its appearance. Scripture teaches us otherwise.

Psa. 90:14 David prays “O satisfy [שׂבע] us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Psa. 63:5 My soul is satisfied [שׂבע] as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. (cf. Psa 22:27; 107:8-9)

Both of these texts teach us that satisfaction in God is the root of joy in God. Thanksgiving is its flower; its fruit is praise. As Lewis says, “All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. … We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”[1]

Joy in God is the state of being satisfied in God. Such satisfaction in God produces the emotions associated with joy (gladness, happiness, delight[2]) as the mind focuses on how He and His promises are abundantly sufficient for all my needs.

To put it another way, joy in God, its emotional accompaniments, and its physical expressions are the result of seeing, believing, and acting upon the fact that God is more than enough for me.[3]

Joy’s emotions rise as the mind focuses upon and savors the beauty and worth of God, and they fall as the mind’s focus is turned elsewhere, e.g., in work. The emotions of joy are not to be mistaken for joy itself. Otherwise, we end up pursuing our own ephemeral emotions. (So also Lewis).

The habit, cultivated by Bro. Andrew, Frank Laubach, A. W. Tozer, and others, of lifting the mind to focus upon God throughout the day, may be the best way to sustain joy’s emotions. Hebrews 12:2, however, convinces me that emotions need not be present for joy to be present:

Heb. 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus … who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame …

We do not see Jesus experiencing emotions of joy in the Garden of Gethsemane, nor during the trial, nor on the cross. Rather, we see his soul troubled, the shame of nakedness and mockery, the agony of crucifixion, and the feelings of abandonment. Yet, the Hebrew writer tells us that Jesus had his mental gaze firmly fixed upon joy! The anticipation of joy in bringing many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10-13), the joy of sitting down again at the Father’s right hand—it was these joys (and others) that sustained Jesus through the distress of Gethsemane and the pain and shame of Golgotha.

I think it is just such a fixed mental gaze that James has in mind when he tells us to “count it all joy, when you fall into various trials,” because you know that tried faith produces endurance, and enduring faith leads to perfection (Jam. 1:2-4).

[1] C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms [New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1958], 94-95.
[2] Isa. 66:11 parallels delight and satisfaction.
[3] See Jim Berg, God is More Than Enough (Greenville: Journeyforth, 2010).

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A Pauline Theology of Pastoral Teaching of Believers: A Provisional Outline

The following provisional outline develops Paul's theology of pastoral teaching of believers. It intentionally does not address his use of teaching for evangelistic purposes. The goal is identify the grounds, motivations, qualifications, goals, contents, and methods of Paul's teaching ministry to saints so as to provide a pattern for pastors to follow and to use in evaluating their own teaching ministry.
    I.       I.         Rationale & Motivation – Why do we teach?
a.       Grounds/Rationale (The logical or theological reasons)
                                        i.      God commands elders to teach (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 2:2); command and teach these things (Παράγγελλε ταῦτα καὶ δίδασκε1 Tim. 4:11); teach and exhort these things (Ταῦτα δίδασκε καὶ παρακάλει; 1 Tim. 6:2)
                                        ii.      God gifts men to teach to equip & mature the body (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12:28)     
b.      Motivations (what provides motivation for teaching)
                                        i.      Love for God – fulfilling God’s ordination (1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11), maintaining the fire of God’s gift (2 Tim. 1:6), pleasing God (2 Cor. 5:9)
                                        ii.      Love for others – perception of their need of salvation (1 Tim. 4:16), for their benefit (Eph. 4:15)
                                        iii.      God’s love for us exhibited in Christ (2 Cor. 5:11)
                                        iv.      To present our ‘work’ at the judgment (Col. 1:28), to be approved by God (2 Tim. 2:15), knowing we will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10-11)
                                        v.      Negatively: not for sordid gain (Tit. 1:11; cf. Tit. 1:7)

II.                II.      Qualifications – who is qualified to serve as a pastoral teacher?
a.       Gender – husband = male (1 Tim. 3:2); not female (1 Tim. 2:11-12)
b.      Character (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)
c.       Skill/capacity – “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24); able to refute (Tit. 1:9); able to defend­­ (Phil. 1:16)
                                        i.      being a teacher is a gift of God to the church (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)
                                        ii.      “all are not teachers” (1 Cor. 12:29)
d.      Knowledge – minimum knowledge of basics of faith (cf. Heb. 5:12-6:1)
                                         i.      Knowledge of the law (1 Tim. 1:7)
                                        ii.      Sound doctrine (Tit. 1:9; 1 Tim. 1:9; 4:6; 6:3)
e.       Spiritual Maturity – “not a novice” = new convert (1 Tim. 3:6)
f.       Discernment – able to recognize what is contrary to sound teaching (1 Tim. 1:3-4, 9-10; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1); the teaching of demons (1 Tim. 4:1); worldly or old-wives fables (1 Tim. 4:7); wrangling about words (2 Tim. 2:14); men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2)
g.      Discipline oneself for godliness (1 Tim. 4:7)

III.             III.      Purposes/Goals – What are the intended results of pastoral teaching?
a.       Learning not to go beyond what is written in Scripture, i.e., the authority of Scripture and the limits of what we are accountable for (1 Cor. 4:6); accurate handling of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15)
b.      Edification > Christlikeness > unity (Eph. 4:13-16; 1 Cor. 14:26)
                                      i.      Furthering the administration of God by faith (1 Tim. 1:4)
                                      ii.      Nourishing believers with words of faith and sound doctrine (1 Tim. 4:6)
                                     iii.      Develop theologically stable and mature believers (Eph. 4:13-15)
                                     iv.      believers firmly rooted, built up in him, established in the faith through instruction (Col. 2:7)
c.       Equipping for good works (edification of the body, apologetics, polemics, evangelism) (Eph. 4:12; 1 Thess. 4:12)
d.      Continuity of the faith
                                     i.      Guarding from errors of doctrine and practice (1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:20
                                     ii.      Giving it to faithful men who will teach others (2 Tim. 2:2)
e.       Glory of God – (cf. Eph. 3:8-10; 1 Cor. 10:31)
f.       Producing disciple-makers (2 Tim. 2:2; Matt. 28:19-20)
g.      Love out of a pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith (1 Tim. 1:5)
h.      Ensuring salvation for oneself and one’s hearers (1 Tim. 4:16)
i.        To present our people holy, blameless, and unreprovable when Jesus comes (Col. 1:22)
j.        Discernment: helping God’s people identify the motives that drive unsound teaching (1 Tim. 6:4-5)
k.      Remind God’s people of the ways of the apostles (1 Cor. 4:17)
l.        To provide Jesus a pure virgin (2 Cor. 11:2)
m.  Obedience to the truth (Rom. 6:17; 2 Thess. 3:14; Phil. 2:12; Gal. 5:7; 2 Cor. 7:15; Rom. 16:19) 

IV.             IV.     Content – What does the pastor teach?
a.       Whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27); “all scripture” (2 Tim. 3:16-17); OT examples (1 Cor. 10:11)
                                      i.      Sound doctrine (1 Tim. 1:9; 4:6; Tit. 2:1)
                                      ii.      Sound words – of Jesus and which conform to godliness (1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13)
                                      iii.      Words of faith (1 Tim. 4:6); teacher “in faith and truth” (1 Tim. 2:7)
b.      Hermeneutics (implied in 1 Tim. 1:8); how to derive principles from OT laws (1 Cor. 9:8-11)
c.       Theological content provides the basis for practical admonition (Pauline epistles passim)
                                      i.      Theological content: election, predestination, justification, sanctification, spirit-filling (Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 3-5; 6-8; Eph. 5:18); second coming (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:17-18; 2 Thess. 1-2); God’s purpose for Israel (Rom. 9-11)
                                      ii.      Practical content: ½ of Paul’s epistles. Examples:
1.      discipline themselves for the purpose of godliness, that godliness is profitable for the present and future life, that they are to fix their hope on the living God who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (1 Tim. 4:7-10)
2.      How to rebuke believers, deal with widows (1 Tim. 5:1-16)
3.      How to remunerate teaching elders who do well (cf. Gal. 6:6; 1 Cor. 9:9, 11), deal with accusations against elders, and avoid hasty ordinations (1 Tim. 5:17-22);  appreciate those who give instructions (1 Thess. 5:12)
4.      How slaves should relate to their masters, especially if owned by a believer (1 Tim. 6:1-2)
5.      Address the rich to trust God, be generous, lay up treasure in heaven (1 Tim. 6:17-19)
6.      To engage in good deeds (Tit. 3:14)
7.      How to live so as to please God (1 Thess. 2:12; 4:1)
8.      How to lead a quiet life, attend to your own business, work with your hands (1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:10)
9.      Holiness of heart (1 Thess. 3:12-13), of life (1 Thess. 4:3-8), and the whole person (1 Thess. 5:23-24)
10.  Expect suffering (1 Thess. 3:4) and persecution (2 Tim. 3:12); view suffering as participating in Christ’s suffering (Phil. 3:11; Col. 1:24)
d.      What not to teach
                                      i.      strange doctrines (1 Tim. 1:3)
                                      ii.      myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation (1 Tim. 1:4)
                                     iii.      what is contrary to sound teaching (1 Tim. 1:9)
                                     iv.      doctrines of demons, such as forbidding to marry and to eat meat (1 Tim. 4:1-4, 6)     
                                     v.      worldly fables fit only for old women (1 Tim. 4:7)
                                     vi.      worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge" (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16)
                                      vii.      commandments and teachings of men (Col. 2:22)
e.     How to respond to false teaching (Rom. 16:17)
f.       How to teach – not wrangling about words which does no good and leads to the destruction of the hearers (2 Tim. 2:14); pointing out doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1-4, 6); identifying what is contrary to sound teaching (1 Tim. 1:9)

V.                V.        Methods – How does the pastor/elder teach?
a.       Settings – public (synagogues, Hall of Tyrannus; Act 19:8-9; 1 Tim. 4:13), private homes (Acts 20:20; cf. 1 Cor. 14:35), gathered believers (Acts 20)
b.      Instruments – letters (1 Tim. 3:14; 2 Thess. 3:14), personal messengers (1 Thess. 3; Timothy, Epaphroditus - Phil. 2:19-30)
c.       Frequency – weekly (Acts 13), daily (Acts 19:9), night and day (Acts 20:31)
d.      Scope – “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)
e.       Sequence – the order in which the information is covered; implied in 1 Thess. by what Paul had already told them (1 Thess. 4:6).
                                      i.      Reminding God’s people of what they have learned (2 Tim. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 4:17)
f.       Focus/emphasis
                                      i.      language style & repetition; requires focused attention (1 Tim. 4:13, 16)
                                      ii.      Audience focus: teacher of the Gentiles (1 Tim. 2:7)
g.      Attitude/Approach – gentleness (1 Thess. 2:7), kindness (2 Tim. 2:24); patience (2 Tim. 2:24); appeals, exhorts (Tit. 1:9), commands (1 Tim. 1:3), reasons; reminders (2 Tim. 2:14); as a father would a child (1 Thess. 2:11); tenderly as a mother would her children (1 Thess. 2:7); admonishing (Col. 1:28)
h.      Avoiding flattery (1 Thess. 2:5); human eloquence or wisdom (1 Cor. 2:1, 4), intentional shaming (1 Cor. 4:14
i.        With Authority (Tit. 2:15; 1 Tim. 2:12), with the demonstration and power of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Thess. 1:5)
j.        With all wisdom (Col. 1:28; 3:16)
k.      With praise (1 Cor. 11:2); with rebuke (1 Cor. 11:17)
l.        Modeling what is taught and directing them to imitate him (Acts 20:35; 1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Cor. 4:16-17; 11:1); modeling teaching for faithful men (2 Tim. 3:10; Tit. 2:7)
m.    Pointing people to the Scriptures (OT specifically) for examples of how to live godly lives (1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 15:4)
n.      Audience – believers in general (Acts 13), male leaders specifically (Acts 20; 2 Tim. 2:2)
o.      Teach according to the grace given to teach (Rom. 12:6-7)
p.      Working hard (1 Tim. 5:17); diligently (2 Tim. 2:15)

VI.             VI.     Relationship of Teaching to other Pastoral Functions
a.       Distinction justified – preacher, apostle, teacher distinguished (2 Tim. 1:11; Acts 13:1)
b.      Teaching as a subset of preaching and apostleship (κήρυξ καὶ ἀπόστολος; 1 Tim. 2:7); preach the word … with instruction (2 Tim. 4:2)
c.       Title of the role is pastor and teacher (Eph. 4:11). Teaching figures prominently in the role.
d.      Teaching emphasized in Pastoral Epistles (*διδασκ* occurs 27x in Tim-Tit.;  2 imperatives to teach, 1 to preach)
                                     i.      1 Tim. 4:11 Παράγγελλε ταῦτα καὶ δίδασκε – command and teach these things
                                     ii.      1 Tim. 6:2 Ταῦτα δίδασκε καὶ παρακάλει – teach and exhort these things
                                     iii.      1 Tim. 5:17 – those who work in the word and teaching
e.       Paul exhorts Timothy to devote himself to reading [the Scriptures], preaching, and teaching, not one to the exclusion of the other (1 Tim. 4:13).
f.       Prophesying results in learning (1 Cor. 14:31), thus it is a form of teaching; “revelation, knowledge, prophecy, and teaching” distinguished (1 Cor. 14:6)