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Sun, Nov 06, 2005

5 - Orienting to Truth

John 8:31-32 by Robert Dean
Series:Basics 2: Foundation for Living (2005)
Duration:50 mins 20 secs

Foundation for Living - Lesson 5

November 6, 2005

 

 And this is the record that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.   He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  For there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 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.  36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Before we begin this morning we need to make sure we are in fellowship so we will have a few moments of silent prayer, to give you the opportunity to use 1John if necessary.  1 John 1:9 says 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Confession of sin has to do with the ongoing life of the believer after salvation.  At salvation all our sins are forgiven, we are cleansed; we have eternal life, which can never be lost.  But as we continue after salvation, we still sin, and it is necessary to be cleansed of that sin, because any sin breaks fellowship with God, and it also stifles the sanctifying ministry of God the Holy Spirit, which produces spiritual growth.  So we have to make sure that we constantly stay in fellowship, which means we need to admit our sin to God, He cleanses us, and we are restored for forward momentum.  So let's bow our heads together and pray. 

 

Father, again, we express our gratitude to You, for all that You have provided for us.  You have supplied abundantly for this congregation, and in the last 18 months of our existence, You have taken care of so many things for us.  We recognize that all that we have, and all that we are is due to Your grace provision.  Father, we thank You that we have Your word.  That Your word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  And that it is through Your word, the light of Your word that we see light.  That it is Your word that provides the frame of reference for understanding, evaluation and interpreting of the events of our lives, and gives us an understanding as to where we are going. Now Father, as we continue our study on the Foundation for Living, that You have given us in Your word, we pray that You would focus our attention again on Your word.  And that You would use it through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit as He fills us with Your word, to understand how these principles apply to our lives and You would encourage us, challenge us and strengthen us with the truth of Your word.  We pray this in Christ's name.  Amen.

 

A couple of questions I want to address this morning, that I want you to think about.  These are rhetorical questions; I don't want anybody answering right off the bat.  What is it that shapes your thinking?  Have you spent time thinking about that?  I know many of you have, some of you haven't. I remember asking some body once, what exactly is your philosophy of life?  The response was, well, I am not a philosopher. 

We all have a philosophy of life.  Some people have an inconsistent philosophy of life that has not been thought out, and consists of whatever makes them feel good at the moment.  Other people have a rigorously thought out philosophy of life that has been inculcated in them through parental training, or a coach, or military training, or something like that.  But every decision that any of us makes in life, the values, the priorities, the way we conduct ourselves, the way we handle obstacles, the way we face opposition, the way we deal with disappointment, the way we handle grief and loss, all flows out of that general frame of reference that comes from a world view.  There are basically two world views according to the Scripture.  The Bible says you either think like man thinks, or you think like God thinks.  It is very simple.  Some people say there are hundreds of ways to think.  No, there are basically two ways to think.  There is the way God thinks, and the way man thinks.  We call the way God thinks, divine viewpoint.  This is the unified viewpoint that is expressed to us in the Scriptures, in the 66 books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.  It is a unified view of life.  In contrast to that, there is a human viewpoint.  This is made clear in Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But the end thereof is death.

 That word translated 'way' is a word that means path, or road, or taking a particular direction.  It emphasizes the fact that in life we make choices.  You choose the path you are going to follow, the direction you are going to take.  You have an option; you can do it God's way or man's way, and man's way ends up in death.  This emphasizes a principle that we need to begin any endeavor in life with the end in mind.  For those of you who came in the front part of the new church this morning, you noticed we are activating that principle as you saw all the desserts laid out on the table there, we are beginning with the end in mind.  We may not be having lunch, but everybody will be satisfied with all the desserts ahead of time. 

We have to begin with the end in mind.  Moses recognized this when he gave his parting speech to the nation Israel in Deuteronomy 30.  At that time we have Moses' parting words to the nation Israel. This is not the Exodus generation; this is the conquest generation, the generation that will go into the land under Joshua. And so Moses gives a parting speech.  There is a rehearsal of the requirements of the Mosaic Law that is the constitution that is going to establish the framework for Israel's life.  There is reminder of all the stipulations that God put in the Law. The regulations, the ordinances, the statutes in the Law.  This is to define the way of life that will characterize the nation Israel as a kingdom of priests, set apart unto God.  Included in that document there are statements of warnings to the nation  if they are disobedient.  God specifies the blessings for the nation, but also there are warnings of discipline if they disobey Him.  But they are given the option in Moses' speech to live according to God's way or man's way.  In Deuteronomy 30:19 Moses says, 19 I call upon heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, - that phrase, heaven and earth, is not talking about the physical solar system, stars and galaxies, and the physical planet earth, those are terms that refer to the inhabitants of heaven and the inhabitants of earth, it is a recognition that these decisions are right at the center of the angelic conflict - that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;.  Now the focus of this part of the series is foundation for living, how believers are to live their lives to grow to spiritual maturity and the basis that God gives us in His word for doing this.  In the Old Testament, that basis was the Mosaic Law.  And Moses is challenging them, saying,  You have a choice to make, and it is a daily choice, an hourly choice.  We don't just make a one shot decision, walk an aisle, dedicate our lives to Jesus, do anything like that.  It is a moment by moment decision, are we going to chose life, or are we going to chose death?  That is the end result.  Are you going to chose to walk according to God's word, or are you going to walk according to your own human viewpoint?  Whatever system of thought that may be, whether it is consistent or inconsistent, the issue boils down to your volition.  We need to begin with the end in mind.  Whenever we make a decisions,  it is going to lead us towards one path or another.  That is what Moses laid out for the nation Israel at that point in their history.  We see how this works out in the nation Israel.  The more I study the Old Testament, the more I see something that is just brilliant in the mind of God, in the way He lays out the Old Testament.  It is different from any other so called  'religious'  book in the world. When you look at the Old Testament and the life of Israel, what is happening in the framework of this nation, and the way it is given to us, it is, at a national level, a picture for us of what transpires in the life of the individual believer in the church age.  And just as the Old Testament nation was given a choice, that if they followed the Lord, followed His word and applied it, there would be blessing and prosperity, or there would be cursing and judgment and suffering by association, the same is true for the church age believer.  And we see it work itself out through the history of the nation.  That first generation went into the land, and they followed the principles laid out in God's word.  There were a few mistakes here and there, you had the sin of Akin where he did not follow the Lord, and there was divine discipline, and eventually the conquest generation sort of petered out in terms of their obedience.  And as time went by, they began to compromise, until they reach the end of their obedience, and they started letting the Canaanites live in the land.  And God judged them for that.  He told them He was going to leave the Canaanites, certain numbers of the Canaanites, Jebusites, and Perizzites and the other Canaanite tribes,  in the land to test them.  This would constantly be a source of testing for them, to see if the nation would obey God and apply the principles of the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments to worship only God, to do away with all idols, to stay away from the paganism of the culture, or not.  Of course we know that there were a few periods in Israel's history when they obeyed and applied the Law, and God blessed them.  Under David, and in the early years of Solomon, there was tremendous blessing.  Then there was a failure, and by the end of Solomon's reign, God is going to discipline the nation.  There was split that occurred because they failed to apply the word.  The nation split into a Northern Kingdom and a Southern Kingdom.  The Northern Kingdom was known as the Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom was known as the Kingdom of Judah.  Nothing good was ever said about the Northern Kingdom of Israel during its entire existence.  King after king after king was described by the same phrase, that "he did evil in the eyes of the Lord and followed in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Naboth.'  Jeroboam was the first king in the North who led the rebellion against Reheboam in the south.  Eventually, God came through on His promises to judge the nations.  The Northern Kingdom was taken out under divine discipline in 722 BC, and they were destroyed.  After that, there was another period of, for lack of a better term, revival, or return to the Lord, under Hezekiah.  It was not the most profound time in Israel's history in terms of their obedience to the word.  The most profound time of consistent obedience, at least at a governmental or national level, in terms of the leadership that was given to Israel, occurred under Josiah, and this in covered in 2 Kings 23.  All of this is a way of illustrating the principle of doctrinal orientation from the Old Testament.  Josiah became the king when he was eight years old, just a young boy.  But he had tremendous positive volition toward God.  I don't know how much doctrine he knew at that point, because there was not a knowledge of the word.  In fact, they did not know where the Mosaic Law was.  It had become lost.  The Book of the Covenant got buried somewhere in the Temple, stuck back on some shelf, and had been gathering dust for over a hundred years. Nobody really knew about what God had promised in the Mosaic Law.  There is no doctrinal orientation whatsoever.  There is no understanding of what the Old Testament taught at all.  But they still have the Temple, which has fallen into tremendous disrepair.  Due to their absorption of paganism, they had erected idols in the temple to Baal and the Asherah, and they had developed a whole priesthood for the Canaanites gods and goddesses, that was functioning inside the Temple in Jerusalem.  Not only that, it had fallen into disrepair due to the fact that several times there had been military incursions into the South under the fourth stage of divine discipline, described in Leviticus 26.  The kings in the South had paid tribute, or bought off these invading kings by taking the gold and silver in the temple, melting it down , and using it to pay tribute to these invading kings.  They had taken gold off of the doors and doorposts of the Solomonic temple.  They had taken some of the furniture inside the temple and melted it down.  It was a tragic place.  It was run down.  When he was about 16 years of age, Josiah decided that the temple needed to be refurbished, they needed to go in and overhaul the whole place and clean it up.  In the process, Hilkiah, the high priest, suddenly discovered something buried behind some rubble in a back room, it was the law of Moses.  He sent it to Josiah who sat down and started reading it and realized, once again, who Israel was.  They no longer knew they were as a covenant nation to God.  They did not know why God called them as a nation.  All of this had been lost in the history of Israel.  They had no orientation to history, they had no orientation to reality, they had no orientation to what God was doing in their life whatsoever.  As a result, the whole nation and society was in a state of collapse.  As at result of reading the Law, all of a sudden, Josiah, as the king, is now becoming oriented to reality.  He is becoming oriented to history; he knows God has a plan and purpose for the nation Israel.  God has a destiny for the nation Israel; God has stipulations and requirements and obligations for the Nation Israel.  The same is true for us; God has a destiny for every believer, an eternal destiny.  But,  the only way you are going to know that is by studying His word.  God has obligations and responsibilities that are incumbent upon every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  But the only way you are going to know that is if you study the word.  God has ways in which society is supposed to function.  But the only way we are going to know that is if we study His word.  The Bible is very clear about social institutions, we call them establishment principles.  From the first divine institution, which is human responsibility, to the second divine institution, which is marriage, to the third divine institution which is family, to the fourth divine institution, which is human government and policing our own society, to the fifth divine institution which has to do with separate national entities, each of these define what man has to recognize socially, in order for there to be stability in the human race, in his nation, in his country in order for that to be perpetuated.  And these principles are true for everybody, believer and unbeliever alike.  The only way we come to know these things, ultimately, is through the revelation of God's word.  Through empiricism and rationalism you can approximate the importance of individual responsibility and accountability.  You can,  perhaps, understand something about the importance of marriage and family. But historically, if you look at cultures that develop from pure paganism, whether it is in Africa, or tribes in South America, or South East Asia, or in the Pacific Island, you look at those cultures, and the further they get away from the word of God and its roots historically,  the more marriage  and family breaks down, the more they get into ideas related to polygamy, and matriarchal types of marriage set ups, where there is not a husband and wife, or a mother and father.  The father comes along and he is only responsible for getting the mother pregnant, and the child is raised by the mother's family, and the father is not present.  All of these things represent a deterioration from the truth.  The more you get away from God's original design, the more those societies break down and fall apart.  That is why this issue of same sex marriage is fundamental.  If we as believers are going to be salt and light in our society, that means we act as a preservative and as a source or conduit for truth into the culture, then that necessitates certain kinds of decisions when it comes to the voting booth.  Because that is how we, as believers, impact the culture around us.  All of that had broken down in Israel; there was no orientation to the word of God, no knowledge of the word of God.  This is rediscovered, and Josiah begins to make some changes.  And as a result of discovering the word, it transforms his governmental policies.  It transforms the structure of government and the values that are being worked out in society.  And this was most evident at the Temple.  They cleaned out the Temple, cleaned out the idols to the Baaliim, the Asherah.  They executed all the priests by stoning them to death.  They went to the high places where the Temple prostitutes, male and female, plied their trades up in the groves and the high places, and they tore them down.  When we come to 2 Kings 23:25, the divine viewpoint commentary on Josiah is:  25 Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, The word for 'turning' is the same word used in the Old Testament for repenting.  That is what repentance means, to turn away from human viewpoint, and turn to God.  It is not an emotional term, or a term of remorse.  It is a term related to focus.  The same thing is true when you get into the New Testament.  The Greek word, metanoeo, has to do with changing the mind. It is making a decision to go from negative to positive, to trusting God.  So, he did not turn to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. 

This was God's last expression of grace to Israel before He took them out.  Despite everything Josiah did, the people never became positive.  You cannot enforce obedience to God's word and positive volition from the top down. You cannot enforce it through law. The people cannot respond spiritually through some sort of intimidation or pressure from an external authority.  Even though God blessed and prospered the nation tremendously, during the period of Josiah's reign, when he died, they slipped right back into idolatry because the people never changed.  They never oriented to the word of God.  The king oriented to the word of God, but the people never did.  As a result of that, the nation slid further and further into idolatry and paganism.  They were taken out in divine discipline in 586 BC.  There was the 70 years of the Babylonian captivity, and only a remnant returned to the land from Babylon at the end of the Babylonian captivity, under two or three different returns, beginning in about 536 BC.  When they returned, they were so fearful of idolatry as the cause of their failure, that the hyper-sensitive religious  crowd, the legalists, began to focus on all these different ways they could make sure they did not violate the Mosaic Law again, an go into idolatry.  So they went from one type of religion to another, a legalistic observance, that again enslaved the people, but to a different kind of religious system.  And this was just external religious legalism.  Now when Jesus cam along, He had a confrontation with that external religious legalism, and this is recorded in John 8.  Jesus is now in the Temple area.  The Temple we talked about earlier under Josiah was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and it was rebuilt by Zerubable. And under Herod, it was known as the second Temple. The Temple of Zerubable was under a reconstruction project, they were making it more magnificent than it had been since the days of Solomon.  Jesus is teaching there, and there was a crowd of Pharisees and Sadducees, and as is typical, they are constantly challenging Him on everything He is teaching.  In verse 31, after Jesus has been in this confrontation with this large crowd that includes the Pharisees,  He is then speaking to a subset of that crowd, which is believers. He says, to those Jews who believed in Him - He has a mass crowd here, not everyone is a believer.  Most of them are Pharisees, but there is a group there that is believers.  So John makes it clear, that in this next statement, He is not addressing everybody in general; He is just addressing those in the crowd who are believers.  And He says 
31 "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed."  The point that He is making is, to demonstrate that we are students of the Lord, that is what disciple means, it is not a word that is synonymous to believer, that if you are going to demonstrate that you are a student of the Lord, then we abide, where? In His word.  And, as a result of abiding in His word, that is continuing in His word, studying His word, He says in verse 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Now, instantly, in this section we see there is a correlation between the phrases My word in verse 31 and truth in verse 32.  He is equating the two.  The concept of truth He is appealing to here is not some relativistic truth, that what is truth for me may not be truth for you.  Or, this is truth for me because it works for me, it makes me feel good, but you have your truth for you that works for you and makes you feel good.  That is the concept of truth that is popular today in our culture.  This is a concept of absolute truth that is grounded in the communication that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, and ultimately from God, and is recorded for us in His word.  So He says, You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.  In this passage He is reiterating the truth that man is born into a condition of slavery.  No matter what kind of political situation you are under, you are still a slave if you are a slave to sin.  This is what He goes on to say in verse 33.  The Pharisees answer Him and say, well, we are Abraham's descendants.  They were so caught up with their racial heritage, they thought that just because they were Jews, physically, they were better than everybody else and were inherently free.  So, 33They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants[b] and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"  And Jesus answered them and said34, "Most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. So, another thing we note as we go through the passage, that there is a contrast between knowing truth, that sets you free, but the slavery is one that is related to the slavery of sin.  Now to understand this it takes us back to a basic concept we have taught already, and that is, what is truth?  Truth is the nature of reality.  What is reality?  Well, the Bible teaches that reality is what God made it.  Reality has its source in the thinking of God, because God, in eternity past, planned out all of creation, so that every detail in creation interconnects precisely with every other detail in creation, whether it is the physical creation, or the spiritual, immaterial realities.  Everything is interconnected.  But only the mind of God perceives and understand everything,  totally, intuitively and  instantly.  He does not have to learn anything, He knows it all.  The only way we can learn about it is either through experience or through reason.  If we are not paying attention to what God informs us concerning His creation, then we are going to be divorced from reality, to the degree we are ignoring what God says about reality.  So truth is ultimately grounded in the mind of God.  It is reality as determined by God as the Creator.  God tells us that if we are going to have freedom, we have to align our thinking with His word.  Another word for aligning our thinking with His word is the word  orientation.  We have to orient our thinking to His word, or orientation to doctrine.  Now this begins, of course, with Jesus Christ.  Jesus said to him, I am the way the  truth and the life.  So if we are going to orient to truth, if our thinking is going to be founded upon that which is consistent with the reality that God created, it starts with Jesus Christ.  He said I am the Truth.  He says, I am the way the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except by Me.  This is the foundation in salvation, that we can not have a right relationship with the Creator unless it is through Jesus Christ, who is the Redeemer.  He paid the penalty for our sins.  We have to orient to that truth which starts with salvation.  If you do not start with salvation, there cannot be orientation to truth.  All other systems are fraudulent.  Some seem to fit better than others, because the devil is a realist.  He knows what reality is like.  So all the systems he promotes have to include a certain amount of consistency with  reality, or they won't work at all. The most evil systems we run into are the ones that are 95, 96, or 97 % true. Because it is the other 2 -3 % that creates the problem, and distorts everything else.  Only the Bible claims to have absolute and total truth.  We see this in Jesus High Priestly prayer, that He prayed for His disciples and for the Church, the night before He went to the cross.  In that prayer He prays to the Father, Sanctify them by means of Your truth, Your word is truth.  Sanctification is just another word for the Christian life and Christian growth.  How do we grow as believers?  It is by means of Your truth. If we are going to grow as believers, it has to come through an orientation, or an alignment of our thinking to His word.  If we are not aligned to His word, then we are living in a deceptive world that is divorced from reality, and no matter what else is going on in our life, we are divorced from reality.

 

This is the fifth spiritual skill that I have been emphasizing in this basic series, and the foundational spiritual skills.  We are only going to cover these first five before we go on to the responsibilities of our priesthood, which we will begin next week.

The first spiritual skill is learning to confess sin.  We have to learn to do that.  We have to learn to admit our sins to God and be cleansed so that we can recover spiritual growth, fellowship with God and the Holy Spirit can continue His sanctifying ministry.  Then we have to learn to walk by means of God the Holy Spirit.  That is the command of Galatians 5:16, and it works in conjunction with the filling of the Holy Spirit, which, more precisely, is being filled by means of the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18). Then we get into the three foundational skills for growth.  The faith rest drill, which we discussed two weeks ago, grace orientation, which we covered last week, and doctrinal orientation.

 

 The faith rest drill focuses on the dynamic of the walk, which is faith.  We walk by faith and not by sight.  The emphasis in the faith rest drill is mixing faith with the promises of God.  We mix our faith with the promises, procedures and principles that are laid out in God's word.  We walk by means of the Spirit, the second spiritual skill, and we walk by means of faith.  But faith is never directed to just itself.  It is not just faith in faith. It is faith in an object. And that object is expressed as God's word.  This is why we see a connection between the faith rest drill, grace orientation, and doctrinal orientation.  These three skills interconnect and overlap with one another.  In grace orientation we understand that the principle dynamic in God's plan is grace.  It is grace for salvation. It is grace for spiritual growth.  In God' grace, He supplies everything, which means we have to approach God on the basis of humility and the fact that He provides everything.  It is based on who He is and what He has done, and not on us.  True humility develops into teachability.  Teachability means we have to submit our thinking to the challenge of God's word.  It is the opposite of arrogance.  In grace orientation the emphasis is on submission to the authority of God, this is why Moses was called the most humble man in the ancient world, because he was the most authority oriented individual in the ancient world.  When you become authority oriented to the word of God, you realize that the word of God is going to dictate to us the nature of reality, how to think, what to think and what reality is like.  We see this developed in passages such as 2 Timothy 3:15-17.  Paul is directing this to his young protégé Timothy.  He is reminding Timothy of the centrality of the Scriptures in his life.  Doctrinal orientation, in other words.  He reminds Timothy of the impact of the Scripture in his life growing up, he says, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures.  What were these Holy Scriptures?  It was the Old Testament.  Not the New Testament, when Timothy was growing up, the New Testament had not been written.  So Paul is focusing on the Old Testament Scriptures, which, he says, are able to make you wise for salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  So don't fall into this trap so many Christians do -  well, we live in the Church age, the Old Testament does not really have value for us.  This shows us that the Old Testament has tremendous value for church age believers.  It is not the primary source of teaching for church age believers, but it is the foundation for everything that is in the New Testament.  Paul goes on to say in verse  16, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,  more correctly,  we know that means that all Scripture is God breathed, it has its source in God, not in man and is profitable for four things, for doctrine, the Greek word is ***didaskalia*** which means teaching or instruction; second,  for reproof , ***** to challenge our thinking.  It is pointing out what is wrong.  People today do not like that.  Whatever you say, do not tell me that I am thinking something  wrong. You are going to offend somebody, step on their toes. They do not want to come to church and be told their thinking is wrong.  They don't want to hear doctrine.  They just want to feel good.  They want to come and be motivated a little bit, and be encouraged, and be told how wonderful they are.  We do not believe in that here because it is not Biblical.  It moves from reproof to correction, to straighten people out.  Reproof focus on, this is where you are wrong, and correction is, this is how you straighten it out and get right.  And the last phrase is, for instruction in righteousness. The Greek noun is paideia, and it means discipline.  Another word that is not real popular today, discipline.  Discipline in righteousness, that is experiential righteousness, application of the word of God in fellowship, and the advance in the spiritual life.  The purpose is then given in verse 17,  17 that the man of God may be complete, that is whole, be what God intends you to be, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Let's go back and point out a couple of things related to what verse 16 says.  First, we learn that Scripture is designed to teach.  It is didactic in nature.  It is designed to instruct, to inform , to give data,  to give facts, to give structure to our thinking.  As a result of that, we can say that the purpose of Scripture is to teach, and the purpose on our side is to learn.  We are to learn.  We are to submit ourselves in  authority to the teaching of God's word, in humility, so we can learn what God has to say to us.  This is not learning for the sake of learning, for the sake of intellectual stimulation, or the acquisition of new information, in and of itself.  It is not so that we can go home and  have doctrinal  notebooks three inches thick and have a whole row of them on our shelves, because we have taken notes all of these years. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is not the end in itself.  It is designed toward an ultimate goal.  It is not how much we know, ultimately, it is how much we apply.  You always hear somebody come along and say, if we just applied more of what we know, we know so much already, if we'd just apply 20% instead of 2 %, we would all be so much better.  But that is such a shallow way of approaching knowledge, because, whatever area of life you are in, whatever area of expertise, whether you are in construction, or a doctor, or finance, whatever field you are in, you always know a tremendous amount more than what you actually use.  That is the way it is in life.  The more we learn, the more we are going to apply.  But we never seem to apply, at any given time, more that 1 or 2 % of the entire body of knowledge we have in whatever the field is.  But the more you learn in your field as a whole, the more you are going to apply.  It is not about, well, we need to just apply more of what we know.  We need to learn more and more and more.  And that learning challenges our application.  But it does not stop with learning, it moves toward application.  That is the point James makes in the last part of  James 1, we are to become, it is not prove yourselves doers of the word, it is to become something you weren't before, to become appliers or practioners of doctrine, practioners of the word.  That comes from orienting and aligning our thinking to the word which is doctrinal orientation.  That is the purpose of instruction, to help us to know what reality is, what God's standards are, what His values are, so we know what we are to align our thinking toward.  The second thing Scripture is given for is reproof.  To point out the areas where we are wrong headed, where we have wrong beliefs, where we have picked up ideas that sound good, from the culture around us, from our parents, teachers, from our peers.  These ideas sound good, and they may even work for us, but they are not truth.  They are not Biblical. They are not part of God's word.  Reproof points out all the areas where we are wrongheaded.  Correction points out what the correct path is in opposition to the error.  And then discipline; we are to discipline ourselves in righteousness, in the application of the word.  This is that ongoing training that God is giving us.  That is another possible translation of paideia.  Instruction is a poor translation, it should be training or discipline in righteousness.  This provides the foundation for going forward.  As we go forward, as I said earlier, we have to begin with the end in mind.  What is the end?  Whether you like it or not, the end is given in Romans 8:28 &29.  Romans 8:28 is a promise familiar to many of us.  28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.  There is the goal, from eternity past.  God set a destiny for you, that is what predestination means.  Pre means before, and destined has to with your destiny. And so, before time began, God determined your destiny.  And your destiny, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is to be like Jesus Christ, to be conformed to His character.  The attributes of the fruit of the Spirit define the character of Jesus Christ,  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  This is the character of Christ; that is your destiny.  Now, whether you like it or not, God is taking you that way.  Sometimes we want to go in a different direction and we get into divine discipline.  God has to beat us up the side of the head with a two by four to get us back on the right path.  The path He has set before us is conformity to the character of Jesus Christ.  How do we get there?  We get there through walking by means of the Holy Spirit,  and walking by faith.  The faith is directed toward an object, and that object is the word of God. It is only it is only by learning the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)  that we can learn to think as God thinks, and thus orient our thinking to God's thought and reality.  As we advance in the Christian life,  laying those foundational skills,  we start with confession of sin, we move to walking by the Spirit and then we have three skills that inter connect and overlap. Those are the faith rest drill , grace orientation, we recognize that everything we have is from God and we must humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and as a result of our humility and teachablity, we  put ourselves under the authority and teaching of God's word, and God's  word then addresses every area of life, so that we learn to interpret the situations and  circumstances of our life in such a way that we can handle them Biblically.  Two illustrations from Scripture that you can think about, because they show us how people who were doctrinally oriented handled  problems.  The first comes from David.  David, faced Goliath.  His dad sent him to his older brothers who were with the army of Saul, and he shows up, and the entire army of Saul, every one of them is cowering.  For over a month now, Goliath has come out every day shouting this challenge.  And nobody is going to go forward and fight Goliath.  Saul is out of it.  Nobody is thinking Biblically,  nobody is doctrinally oriented.  David comes up and as soon as he hears Goliath  shout this challenge, he says, why do you let this uncircumcised Philistine say this?  He is so oriented to what God has said, in terms of the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Law,  that he is interpreting the circumstances around him with in the framework of what God has revealed.  That enables him, then, to know what the solution is, because he is doctrinally oriented.  The next situation is the episode in Joshua 2, when the two  spies  go in to do a recon on Jericho,  and they go to Rahab's tavern, and Rahab,  the prostitute, is going to hide them, because the Gestapo, or local gendarmes are headed to  get these spies and throw them into POW camp.  She sends them up on the roof, and course this is where, she is a believer but she does not have a lot of doctrine,  and she comes under the pressure, we see the fact that because she does not have an orientation to reality through doctrine, she tries to handle the problem through lying.  God recognizes that we are  all  failures, and we make mistakes like that, so it does not create a major problem.  But the doctrinal orientation in the story is what is going on with the two spies.  It is hidden right in one little verse;  most people read right past it and do not recognize what is going on. While she is down at the front door lying, saying they already left, they took the road out of here toward the east, and if you hurry, you can catch them.  Now put yourself in the position of the two spies.  You are hiding, your life could be at stake, you are hiding from the local police who are searching for you, banging on the door downstairs, so you are taken up on the roof, there are a lot of bundles of flax and a storage shed and you are hiding.  Now what are you doing?  Are you going to run over to the parapet and just kind of listen and overhear the conversation,  or are you going to sit here in prayer, and say, Lord, protect us, we don't know if  they are going to come in or not?  How would you respond?  If we look at Joshua 2:7&8, the local constabulary is misled by Rahab, so they take off in pursuit  and as soon as those who pursued them had gone out , they shut the gate. 8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, what have they been doing while she was down there trying to fend off the Gestapo?  They are laying out there bedrolls, getting ready to go to sleep.  Remember, they are part of the conquest generation, they are not like the spies at Kadesh Barnea, who were scared to death of the giants and the fortified cities of the Canaanites.  They learned the principles of the faith rest drill and doctrinal orientation while they were wandering around in the wilderness.  So while she is down there dealing with the police,  they are totally relaxed, totally oriented to doctrine, because they know that God has promised to give them the land. So they are not up there praying, listening in to the conversation, trying to figure out that if anything goes wrong, they can jump of the back of the  roof and run away, they are getting ready to go to sleep.  They have  a complete relaxed mental attitude. They oriented to grace, that God is giving them the land, and they understand His plan for Israel, so are consistent with that.  That is what doctrinal orientation does for you.  You can interpret the  events, the obstacles, the challenges, and the problems in life Biblically, and handle them correctly through God's solutions.

 

Father we thank You for the opportunity to study Your word this morning, to be challenged by it, to be refreshed by it, and to focus on the fact that You have provided everything for us.  And that Your word gives us absolute truth.  As the psalmist said, it is in Your light that we see light. Father, we pray that if there is anyone here this morning that is unsure of their salvation, or uncertain of their eternal destiny, that they would take this opportunity to make that both sure and certain.  Your eternal life is based not on what you do, but on what Jesus Christ did on the cross.  Scripture says that the way to have eternal life is to simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, trust Him, to rest in the fact that He did all the work.  There is nothing we can do to add to it, to maintain it; it is simply a matter of faith alone in Christ alone. Father we pray that You would challenge us with the things we studied today.  And we pray this in Christ's name.  Amen.