Ask Pastor Timothy

A friend wrote and asked me to respond to the following quote:

“You can not grow spiritually healthy until your are emotionally healthy.  Emotional maturity is necessary for spiritual growth”

Wow! What a burden that places on us to get emotionally healthy, and what a hindrance for the Holy Spirit. This statement is very similar to the statement that was made to a bunch of single friends back in the 1990s: “You will never be married until you are spiritually mature!” Glad we have that going for us. Now that I’m married, I MUST be spiritually mature!

I had to speak to my friend to find out more about the quote before I gave any comment to it. Apparently the pastors of this church are preaching through a book that makes this claim on Sunday mornings. Notice, I said that they are “preaching through a book?” Please notice, they are not preaching from a book in the Bible, but some popular book out there that is supposed to help us become holistically healthy, so that we may go out into the culture and reach people for Jesus Christ.

This type of stuff always sounds great on the surface. “Let’s get you healed up and complete so that you can be used by God, people will see you for being complete and whole and want to come to know Christ too!” The problem with this mindset is that it is contrary to the gospel itself and makes evangelism/spiritual maturity, growth in Christ, all dependent upon us. It is very much like the statement from St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel always. Use words when necessary.”

This isn’t the gospel at all, but humanism with a gospel dress. It’s an attempt to make those feel like they are in control of their emotions, the gospel, the kingdom, their own spiritual growth. This fails on several levels.

First, please notice that the Apostle Paul never called us to become more Christ-like so that we could preach the gospel, even using words at times. He said just the opposite: 2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.

Paul wasn’t preaching himself, but Christ alone. This is the call of the church when it comes to reaching the world. We are not to preach ourselves, or put ourselves on display or even talk about how much we have benefited from being saved. We are to preach Christ. We are to tell of His death and resurrection. We are to point others to the gospel for salvation, not us, or a particular church. It is the gospel that saves, not our conformity to some holistic ministry model.

Secondly, the above quote and assertion assumes that emotional health is something under our control and precedes spiritual maturity. Emotional health may result as we grow in Christ, but it may not. That is not the goal of the gospel and sometimes the LORD leaves a thorn or two in our flesh to keep us dependent upon Him (2 Corinthians 12:7). Some people may always be emotional wrecks, yet, God may use such to help them grow spiritually.

Third, the problem with the quote is that it seems devoid of Christ’s work in our lives through the washing of the water and the word (Ephesians 5:25-26). It is Christ who cleanses us with His word and His Spirit. We don’t mature because we do something or don’t do something, we mature spiritually because He causes the growth and cleanses us and heals us. We are dependent upon Him for spiritual growth.

Now, we may aid in that growth. Just as a child will grow whether we feed him M&M’s and candy bars, or chicken soup and veggies, the child will grow. The question is: will the child be more healthy using a healthy diet, or using candy? Since we know healthy eating helps our children grow in a healthy manner, so too does eating spiritually healthy food aid us in our spiritual lives.

What is spiritual food? The preaching and teaching of God’s word. This is the spiritual food that Jesus commanded Peter to give to His sheep (John 21). If we want to be healthy spiritually speaking and grow spiritually speaking, we must seek out those things that help us grow in that manner: His word, the preached word of God, the sacraments of baptism and communion, prayer and corporate worship.

Isn’t it ironic that the above church that brought all this about is trying to grow their people spiritually but isn’t using the very means that God has given them to do so? Sad. The pastors of this church should truly repent of such foolishness. They are turning to man’s wisdom in order to grow God’s people, yet God has told us to preach Christ crucified in order to do so. Shame on them.

For more on spiritual growth, I commend the chapter on Growth in J.C. Ryle’s book: Holiness. Go here to read it.

Also, if you have a question for me, email me at askpastortimothy   at Gmail dot com. That is in code, so I hope you can figure it out. I wrote it that way so some bot doesn’t discover it and spam me.

Matt Chandler — Jesus Wants the Rose!

(Hattip: Bryan at Chief of the Least)

I heard of Matt Chandler through some of the members of the congregation, but this is the first time I have actually heard him. Now I see why they were telling me about him. He is spot on when it comes to the gospel. Instead of preaching moralism, like the man he refers to, he gets right to the gospel. He who knew no sin, died for those of us who are sinners. While we were yet sinners, He died for us. Watch the video, it’s very powerful.

Praying for Common Grace

I ran across an blog post entitled 22 Signs That The Thin Veneer Of Civilization That We All Take For Granted Is Starting To Disappear. 

The article is giving us 22 horrific events to show us that our country is falling a part. If you go there, please be prepared to be depressed. These are snapshots of human depravity at its best.

In fact don’t go to the site. The best thing we can do as believers is pray for our country in such situations.  Yes, we can lament that our country has turned it’s back on God, and in turn, He has removed that common grace our country needs just to function. Remember, God’s common grace towards mankind is not something that He owes to us. It is grace. Grace is undeserved favor from God. What we all deserve is the society we are seeing without God in it and much worse. So we cannot complain to God.

But we can petition Him. We are to pray for our country and the one thing we need to pray for is common grace. What is common grace? Common grace is the grace that God shows to mankind so that His children, true Christians, can live in peace (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Common grace is praying for rain so that we can live in society with plenty of food. It is praying for peace, it is praying for judges and rulers to do their jobs justly even though they are not believers. Praying for common grace is praying that those in society would live as if they were influenced by the gospel and God’s law, even though they are not partakers of the gospel.

We need common grace for society to function, therefore we should pray for it and ask God to show our country and the world common grace. But we should also pray for His special grace to fall on mankind as well. What is special grace? Special grace is the grace leads sinners to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ for salvation. That is our ultimate prayer for society. This should be our desire for our world. It is easy to sit back and realize that the lack of common grace on mankind is God’s judgment, and the lack of special grace is judgement of the eternal nature, but our heart’s desire should be that the LORD would pour out His grace, both common and special on mankind. This is what is needed more than anything in our society.

We tend to think we need more laws, or more politicians, or more common sense. But what we need is more common and special grace. Only God can give that and when He does, societies change, because men and women change. They go from those who exalt sin, to those who repent from sin and seek holiness. Instead of living as those in the world, they live as those who are seeking to change the world for His glory.

Yes, we can lament that sinfulness of sin that is bursting forth on society right now by listing ways society is breaking down. Or we can fall on our faces, and plead to the Sovereign God of all Creation, to pour His grace upon mankind.

The Good-O-Meter

I really like this video for two reasons. The first is that it’s called The Good-O-Meter. I’m a big fan of meters. Like the Fru-fru meter, which is a meter for men, and how fru-fru they are… In other words, if they know things like what a valance is, or how colors all go together, and such, the fru-fru meter pegs out. Guys like Larry the Cable Guy have no fear of the fru-fru meter. It mostly applies to the 1980s sensitive types like Alan Alda and Ted Danson, of Cheers fame.

The other reason I like this video is it is an excellent illustration of God’s grace. Watch it and see.

Thanks for the hattip by Rivka.