19 November 2010

Discovering Roadblocks to the Gospel: Asking and Listening Rightly for 'The Sentence'

The following is a review of Session 3 (listen here) of this year's Leadership Training Class.

They probably stood together in silence. Together they felt the tingle of adrenaline and their breath escape under the pounding of their hearts.  Several hundred thousand Hebrews, calloused, tired, tasting the salt of the ocean spray, with the memory of horses furiously neighing,  stood silent.

It wasn't long before they broke into song about their warrior God, The One who had just rent their understanding with His power to deliver. They sang with the strength of 400 years of prayer answered in a deliverance greater than the wildest imagination.

And days later they believed His deliverance was a sham and they wanted to go back. (Exodus 17)
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
(Hebrews 3:12–4:2)
The author of Hebrews issues a sober warning here. Like those who witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, those of us who know the Gospel and have seen proof of God’s grace can slip into unbelief. This God-belittling unbelief hardens us to Him and throws our assurance of His love into disarray resulting in anger, anxiety, and despair.

We must hold our original confidence firm to the end
Every biblical instruction implies a challenge. It's hard to hold our original confidence in Christ crucified. It is hard to draw our identity and security from the Cross. There are so many other things to trust in. Things more tangible. Things we can control.

Just as the Gospel comes to us in words, the temptation to stop trusting in it comes to us in words. The battle of our faith (Eph. 6: 11,16) is a battle of messages. Each of us has a specific message, a “sentence” utilized by Satan to tempt us to stop trusting in the Gospel. To see to it that none of us gets hardened by sin's deceitfulness, we must be good detectives of the “sentence” in each others' lives. This session aims at equipping us to ask and listen rightly for our competing messages so we can address each other with specific encouragement in the Gospel.

Additional Resources
Notes from the evening, including sample "sentences" to stimulate your thinking
Crosstalk by Michael Emlet


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