Introduction: The Spiritual Life
This is an introduction to a new video series on the spiritual life from a Christian perspective.
What Holds You Captive?
Good morning brothers,
In this political season we're in (of course, now everything seems to be political, so I'm not sure we're ever out of this "season"), I thought this was a timely message from God's Word. The Apostle Paul wrote,
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8)
In seminary, as part of our training in sermon preparation, we learned it's essential for us to draw the meaning of a text out of the Scripture (exegesis), as opposed to going to the Scripture and putting upon it what we want it to mean (eisegesis). That's true for how all Christians ought to approach God's Word.
Every generation of Christians has to face the variety of competing "philosophies, empty deceits, human traditions, and elemental spirits of the world." There are many of them and they continually compete for our allegiance with Christ. And if we follow them, they can lead us off the narrow path Christ walked before us - the same path he has called us to walk after him.
I love politics. I definitely have my own deeply held convictions. But if I'm not regularly aligning my beliefs against the truth of God's Word, (instead of the other way around), I'll end up going astray, all the while thinking I'm on the side of the angels.
This is not a message against having opinions or even expressing them. But it is an admonition to remain diligent and vigilant in God's Word brothers. Let God alone mold and shape your mind. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, take every thought captive and bring it under the lordship of Christ. Let Christ and Christ alone set the agenda for your life - not just your politics or your views on society, justice, or college football - but for every sphere of your life.
Have a great day.
Your Brother in Christ,
Brethren of the Common Life
In the previous post, I mentioned a book by George Grant that radically changed how I think, minister, etc. It’s called The Micah Mandate. Once again, I highly recommend it! I would now like to share how God used an audio message (also by George Grant) about an obscure man from the pages of history whom most folks have never heard of. Like Grant's book mentioned in the previous post, his message about Gerard Groote blessed my life and ministry in ways I could not even have imagined as I put the "tape" into the tape-player of my car. Here’s what I wrote about twenty years ago…
Earlier this year God poured his grace upon me as he placed in my hands an audiotaped lecture entitled, “Gerard Groote and the Brethren of the Common Life.” Providentially, this also was by George Grant. I can’t express how moved I was by what I heard in this message. In this lecture Grant basically revealed what a biblical worldview should look like in the “everydayness” of a Christian’s life and ministry. He accomplished this by sharing God’s work and power in and through the life of a man named Gerard Groote. Groote lived in the 14th century, and, as Grant says at the beginning of his address,
“It would be difficult to find a single page of modern history written about him. But it would be even more difficult to find a single page of modern history not affected by him.”
Below are the notes I took from Grant’s message on Groote. I’m sure much of it will not have the same impact I experienced in this format. But I believe the ideas taught and lived out by Groote and expounded by Grant are more than worth passing on and meditating upon.
Notes on Gerard Groote: Brethren of the Common Life
Based on a lecture by George Grant
The Devotio Moderna was to be a comprehensive lifestyle rooted in a biblical worldview. Let’s take a look at the distinctives of this “radical discipleship.”
1.) The Devotio Moderna , first of all, emphasized holiness for every Christian – not just for a few. Groote wanted common piety for common folk – this was the heart of his message.
2.) Secondly, the Devotio Moderna emphasized the importance of self-examination, as a way of cultivating humility.
3.) Groote’s Devotio Moderna emphasized the importance of covenantal communities, as the real-life context for discipleship.
4.) Groote’s Devotio Moderna emphasized the importance of a Confessional Standard (standards rooted in the biblical antithesis).
5.) Therefore, Groote’s Devotio Moderna placed a high premium on teaching every man, woman, and child, the Bible.
Together, these distinctives: Holiness, Humility, Covenantal Community, Antithesis, and Catechizing – comprised what Groote called “Classical Christianity” or what we might call, “Biblical Orthodoxy.”
“Lay foundations that will endure in the hearts of your children. For there are only two things that are eternal in all of the created order: the children under your care, and the Word of God.”
Grant’s Prayer at the end of the message…
O Father; Almighty Father, I confess to you that I am often diverted by pleasant alternatives. I am often tantalized by that which will bring success, effectiveness, suasion in the here and now. I pray that you would give me eyes to look beyond the horizon of just this moment. Enable me to invest for all eternity. Enable us to have a distinctive vision of discipleship – like that of Gerard Groote before us. Enable us to quest for holiness, humility, covenantal community, antithesis, catechizing – classical Christianity – in the hearts of our children – first and foremost.
Lord God, I pray that we will produce not just successful businessmen, or men and women effective in their vocations. We yearn for REFORMATION. Change the world, O God! And use us in the process.
We pray this in Jesus name. Amen and amen.
Here’s an introduction on Groote that George Grant wrote for Ligonier Ministries.
The Micah Mandate
Every now and then God is particularly good. Of course he’s always good, but every now and then his goodness is lavished in our lives in such a way that we immediately sense how undeserving we really are. Our eyes are opened to who God truly is and we are left awestruck. A whole new vision is set before us and a fresh call is heard.
That was how I felt about 21 years ago when I stumbled upon a book that revolutionized my faith, ministry, and life. The book is entitled, The Micah Mandate, by George Grant. (Get this book!) It’s a marvelous, God-honoring study of what a biblical worldview is and how it should ignite those who hold it dear. Up to that point I had read every book around on the subject of Christian worldview, but those books seemed to only focus on the abstract and philosophical. Grant’s book expanded my world and broadened my horizons. He emphasized that worldview isn’t just something for the ivory towers of academia, but for all of life. Our worldview – our treasured faith – is for every sphere of life. I haven’t been the same since.
With that book's influence racing through my heart and mind, I began a weekly men's discipleship ministry about a year later. My hope was that a few men would gather together around God’s Word and be saturated and transformed by it. I prayed that men would be renewed and revived. I deeply desired that biblical, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled disciples would be born – men who would change the world – beginning with themselves, then in and through their families, workplaces, churches, communities, the culture, and then perhaps, one day, the world. God honors such efforts. Reformation and revival happens in such ways.
My hope for the men’s ministry way back then, as it is today, was for God to penetrate the hearts, minds, and souls of our men with his Word, so thoroughly, that he would cultivate in their lives a framework (worldview) for viewing, interpreting, and applying their faith in every sphere of life. God has been pleased to work mightily in the lives of many of our men in such a way. May he continue to do so for generations to come. Soli Deo Gloria.
Grace and Truth,
Sermons & Etc.