Growing In Christ #3

Faith Church November 9, 1991

- Since we're starting a new Sunday school class today, I'd
  like to use this opportunity to think about our philosophy
  of Sunday school

INPUT - purpose of Sunday school?
    - 1) teaching for change
      2) opportunity for smaller groups, discussions,
         questions and answer, etc.
      3) evangelism
      4) friendship, fellowship, etc.

- INPUT - How should we view the situation we're currently in
          with a smaller class, new room, etc?

     1) Negative things we could focus on?

     2) Positives we should (and must) concentrate on?

          - at the threshhold of a great opportunity for
            ministry and service to God
          - I hope we'll all look at this next 2-3 year
            period as an opportunity to make a great impact
            in our neighborhood and community.

- Point is - we're at a decision point (individually and
     corporately) concerning what kind of stewards we're
     going to be of the opportunity the Lord has laid before
     us.
         - issue really is - what kind of class do we want to
           be - (and since the kind of class we have is
           dependent on us) -
              - (repeat first half) - what are we willing to
                 do to make it that way?

- I'd like to mention 5 characteristics I'd to see all of us
    emphasizing in the way we view and the way we "do" Sunday
    school

    1) Faithful  (not just to SS, but to the services of the
                  church)

    2) Growing - spiritually
               - our effectiveness will be directly linked to
                 our rate of spiritual growth
                   INPUT - why true?

               - numerically - not the first goal - but it is
                   important - (if our class can't grow in
                   this town (at least in the current economy
                   and environment-we ought to hang it up)
                     (mention new subdivision, high school,
                      etc.)

    3) friendly - see-saw principle
                - develop

    4) evangelistic
    5) others-oriented
- we're talking about Basic Bible truths
    - in this section we're talking about Growing in Christ

- review "Romans" briefly
   - add two points you missed

      - verses to go with goal
      - change is hard

- Pastor Lopez talked about the process of change

- I'd like to take a minute and be sure we're all "on the
   same page" on that one because its so critical
- we must be changing - and we must be using God's method of
   change/growth

- let's take the example of a husband who has the habit of
    coming in the house, looking around at something that's
    not done, griping/complaining/exploding, and making it a
    terrible evening for the family

- How can that person use the put off/put on principle to
    change?

   - distinguish between putting off thinking and putting off
       behaving

   - develop

- two critical question we need to ask today is

   1) have you been changing/what evidence would you give?

   2) have you disciplined your mind enough to make put
       off/put on a regular part of your thinking?

- the next area we need to discuss is the issue of:

V. The Place of the Holy Spirit in Counseling

    - this is one of the areas that causes much of the
        frustration and disagreement among believers when
        they're discussing growth and change

    - there are two "ditches to avoid on this subject
       (as we go through them - we need to ask - practically
         speaking which ditch do I tend to lean toward?)

    A. Not simply human effort

        - one of the big trends today in people changing and
          solving problems is "self-help groups"

        - not:
            - co-operatives to distribute commodities
            - disease foundations like the March of Dimes and
              Muscular Dystrophy Association
            - popular "self-help" books like "You Can Become
              A Better Writer"

        - instead - we're talking about "small groups of
           individuals with common problems seeking answers
           from the successful experiences of other group
           members where benefit is derived not only from
           receiving help but also in giving help to others
           in the group"

- we're not just talking about a couple of groups here
- this is one of the fastest growing movements in America

- we're talking about 750,000 different groups with 15
    million members
- writers in this field are saying that there is a self-help
   group for nearly every conceivable personal problem in
    America

    - groups for child-abusers, the handicapped, Vietnam
        vets, the retarded, parents of twins, heart-attack
        patients, underachieving children, smokers, drinkers,
        overeating

- the reason I bring this up is that there are many churches
    that are getting on the bandwagon and starting dozens of
    little small groups where folks with common problems
    share their experiences

- I'm not saying that’s necessarily right or wrong - but I'm
   saying there are some big potential flaws in that view of
   helping people change that could also be part of the way
   we think about change and growth ourselves

    1) Implies that change is possible apart from salvation
       and the principles of God's Word

       - what concerns me about these groups is that there
         may not be anyone in the group who knows the
         Scriptures very well, or who has a growing
         relationship with the Lord
           - as a result - its a potential hotbed for either
               - theological error

               - the implication that change is possible
                 apart from salvation and the principles of
                 God's Word

    2) Content of the help is based on experience

        - the format for these groups is to share experiences
          and give testimonials
        - nothing wrong with testimonials if they're seeking
          to communicate or illustrate biblical truth
            - cf. stewardship month

        - but in self-help groups - experience is the basis
          for instruction and help
            - problem with that is - one person's
              interpretation of an experience doesn't
              necessarily make it true
                - cf. Mr. McCollough/car headlight

 

        - now let me be sure I haven't overemphasized this
          point


        - I think there's some real value to small groups
            - cf. plans for ladies groups next year

        - what I'm speaking against is self-help groups

        - because the Word of God makes it clear that the
          Godhead is very active in the sanctification
          process

        1. The father purges the fruitful vine - John 15:2

        2. The Son cleanses by the water of the Word - Eph.
            5:26

        3. The Spirit convicts and changes us as we behold
           Christ's face in the mirror of His Word.
            - II Cor. 3:18

- one question we need to ask ourselves is - What evidence is
   there in our lives to show that we believe change is more
   than human effort?

     - INPUT - characteristics of that person?

    B. The Holy Spirit doesn't work "mystically"

        cf. Charles Solomon - spirituotherapy


        1. man commanded to be involved in the process

            Rom. 8:13 - (subject of the verb is ______)

            II Cor. 7:1

            I Tim. 4:7

            Eph. 4:1, 4:17

        2. metaphors describing great human effort often used

           II Tim. 4:7 - fought a good fight

           I Tim. 6:11 - flee these things

           I Tim. 6:12 - Fight the good fight of faith

           Phil. 3:14 - (race) I press toward the mark of the
              prize...

- next week - how the Spirit uses the Word

Faith Church