Then . . . Like All the Nations (1 Samuel 8:20)

God had just become their King—when they complained about it! It didn’t take long for them to go astray.

They wanted an earthly king “like all the nations.”

That tragic desire and decision, was the beginning of the end. Soon, they would be living like those nations: worshiping idols, following practices that were opposed to Scriptural commandments, etc. Ultimately, it would bring destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the people for good! How tragic!

But it began early.

God’s people don’t outwardly cry out for a king other than Jesus Christ Who is the King over His church. But they often live like the world around them—which, in the end, is precisely the same thing.

Believer, do you find yourself wishing to be more like the nations (world) around you? Have you become no different from the unsaved people who live on your street?

Israel had no more than become a theocracy—i.e., a nation governed by God—than they went astray. Think about this thoroughly. If you need help, read the rest of the book of 1 Samuel and you’ll understand the results of doing so!

 

 

 

 

Three, or One?

It’s interesting how people struggle to solve problems that they don’t realize are of their own making! Let’s take an example: The story of the lost son (Luke 15). They are all het up about such matters as “How can the father accept him when he returns and not do as much for the elder son who never went astray?” They want to know if the elder son was a genuine believer or simply a follower of works righteousness, etc., etc. To ask such a questions—or a dozen more like it—is to betray one’s failure to understand Luke’s words. Many think that when Jesus told the story He intended to portray the way of salvation. While salvation was in the background of it—in one secondary way—to explain it isn’t the reason why Jesus told the story.

Well, then what did He have in mind? What is the story all about? Let me explain why people go astray here: how they fail to read the context (a common failure that leads to seriously misunderstanding Scripture).

Let me point out two factors:

First, there is only one parable here—not three! Read verse 3:

So He told them this parable (emphasis mine).

Then, Jesus went ahead and told a three-part parable, each part of which sets for the same truth. In this way, He emphasized the same truth over and over again. It was a three part parable with a kicker in the end (as he nailed the religious leaders who complained)!

Second, the three story parable was occasioned by the attitude of the Pharisees and scribes (v. 3) who grumbled because Jesus welcomed sinners and ate with them.

The parable drives home again, and again, and again the fact that people ought to rejoice as the shepherds, the women, the father did, (and the angels in heaven do) when one who had been lost is found. The key to the parable is what the fellow-shepherds did when the lost sheep was found, what her female friends did when the woman found her lost coin, and what the father did—but the elder son (who was like the Pharisees and scribes) didn’t do. Can’t you see that this clears up all those prior questions? Always put a passage in its context, and read it carefully for singular or plural usages, etc.

Borderline Personality Disorder

A request for info on borderline personality disorder, so-called, just came in.

Let’s consider two things:

  1. What is personality?

Personality is that which a human being develops as he uses his basic genetic traits to live in various more-or-less changeable ways at various times; ways which are more or less visible by how he thinks, acts and speaks.

  1. What is meant by disorder?

There is no such thing as disorder without a standard of what order is. Disorder is failure to conform to that standard.

So personality disorder is when a person lives as noted in #1 in such a way a to fail to conform to some standard of order.

Now, since the world has no knowledge of what God’s ‘’order” is, it has no way of stating who is/is not living disorderly. One person’s order is another’s disorder – and visa versa. Just because one group of people decide what order is that does not make it so; others may not agree with their conclusions—indeed, if the members of that group are not Christians—we will certainly NOT agree!

So, what is personality disorder (there is no borderline disorder—one is either orderly or disorderly in his life according to God)? Something that a person develops as his way of living that fails to satisfy a group which sets a standard to which he does not conform.

What Are You “Looking Forward” To?

looking forwardThree times in 2 Peter this expression is used (NIV) in 3:11, 13, 15. The future objects mentioned are “The Day of God,” the “new heavens and new earth,” and a summary statement including both of those just mentioned. The time in view for these wonderful things to happen is at the second coming of Jesus Christ. At that time He will put down all authority and opposition, defeat death, and give genuine Christians new resurrection bodies. What a wonderful day that will be!

New Years Day is just ahead—it is a time when many people “look forward.” Here’s hoping, believer, that you will align yourself with Peter as you contemplate the future. Forget your New Years’ resolutions; they come from you. These wonderful events mentioned by Peter are no resolutions—they are the promises of God. If you are looking forward to them then I will be able to truly wish you happy New Year (after all what is happening that could bring more happiness?). Looking forward to them will brighten your outlook all year long.

What Do You Want For Christmas?

The aged saint Simeon, one of the few faithful at the time of Christ’s first advent, was clear about what he wanted. He was looking forward to the “Consolation [comfort] of Israel” (Luke 2:25). He knew the prophecies of Isaiah in which God had promised that His people would find comfort in One He would send to shepherd them (Isaiah 40:1;10, 11). And now, after so many years, at last at this Christmas He had come! The Comforter was here, and he would hold Him in his arms. What a gift that was.

What do you want for Christmas? True, unlike Simeon, you cannot rock the baby in your arms. But even though he grew up, in a far better way, He can be yours. He offers Himself as the greatest gift of all—the gift Who can give you eternal life. Have you ever before received this gift? Have you ever thought about it? If not this is the Christmas to become serious about the question.

The baby grew up. He lived a perfect life, was crucified for sinners, and rose from the dead. He ascended to the throne of God in heaven, and all who, like Simeon, desire His consolation, may find it through faith in Him as Savior. Are you looking for the comfort that assures you of treasures in heaven? Do you want a gift that will last for all time and eternity? Then, you may receive it by trusting in Him. His comfort brings peace of heart and mind. It brings certainty and rest.

What do you want for Christmas? Why not place His Name at the top of your wish list, forget the rest, and have the most wonderful Christmas ever?

Do you have a question for Dr. Adams?

I never thought that many people think these blogs of lasting value until, just yesterday, someone showed me three of them that he had copied off! Which brings me to a point that I’d like to make: if there is some topic or verse that you would like me to consider writing about, please tell me so by contacting us at questions@nouthetic.org and stating your question or theme concisely (one or two sentences preferably).

Fifty Failure Factors

Counselor, are you stuck with a difficult counseling situation that just does not seem to be moving forward? Is it possible that YOU have failed in your handling this situation? Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Is the counselee truly a Christian?
  2. Has there been genuine repentance?
  3. Is there a vital commitment to the Biblical change?
  4. Are our agendas in harmony?
  5. Do you have all the necessary data?
  6. Are you trying to achieve change in the abstract or concretely?
  7. Have you been intellectualizing?
  8. Would a medical examination be in order?
  9. Are you sure you know the problem(s)? Is more data gathering necessary?
  10. Are there other problems that must be settled first?
  11. Have you been trying to deal with the issue while ignoring the relationship?
  12. Did you give adequate scriptural help?
  13. Did you minimize?
  14. Have you accepted speculative data as true?
  15. Are you regularly assigning concrete homework in written form?
  16. Would using a D. P. P. form help?
  17. If this is a life-dominating problem, are you counseling for total restructuring?
  18. Are you empathizing with self-pity?
  19. Are you talking about problems only or also about God’s solutions?
  20. Have you carefully analyzed the counselee’s attitudes expressed in his language?
  21. Have you allowed counselees to talk negatively about others behind their backs?
  22. Has a new problem entered the picture, or has the situation changed since counseling sessions began?
  23. Have you been focusing on the wrong problem?
  24. Is the problem not so complex after all, but simply a case of open rebellion?
  25. Have you failed to move forward rapidly enough in the giving of homework assignments?
  26. Have you as a counselor fallen into some of the same problems as the counselee?
  27. Does doctrinal error lie at the base of the problem?
  28. Do drugs (tranquilizers, etc.) or sleep loss present a complicating problem?
  29. Have you stressed the put-off to the exclusion of the put-on?
  30. Have you prayed about the problem?
  31. Have you personally turned off the counselee in some way?
  32. Is he willing to settle for something less than the scriptural solution?
  33. Have you been less aggressive and demanding than the Scriptures?
  34. Have you failed to give hope by calling sin “sin”?
  35. Is the counselee convinced that personality change is impossible?
  36. Has your counseling been feeling-oriented rather than commandment-oriented?
  37. Have you failed to use the full resources of Christ (e.g., the help of the Christian community)? Are others from without bringing a negative influence on him?
  38. Is church discipline in order?
  39. Have you set poor patterns in previous sessions (e.g., accepting partially fulfilled homework assignments)?
  40. Do you really know the Biblical solution(s) to his problems? (Can you write it out in thematic form?)
  41. Do you really believe there is hope?
  42. Has the counselee been praying, reading the Scriptures, fellowshipping with God’s people, and witnessing regularly?
  43. Should you call another Christian counselor for help (with the counselee’s knowledge, of course)?
  44. Would a full rereading of your Weekly Counseling Records disclose any patterns? Trends? Unexplored areas?
  45. Have you questioned only intensively? Extensively?
  46. Have you been assuming (wrongfully) that this case is similar to a previous case?
  47. Has the counselee been concealing or twisting data?
  48. Would someone else involved in the problem (husband, wife, parent, child) be able to supply needed data?
  49. Are you simply incompetent to handle this sort of problem?
  50. Are you reasonably sure that there is no organic base to the problem?

“But . . . It Helped!”

Occasionally, I hear as the pragmatic objection to my position that counseling must be biblical, and only biblical, “but so and so went to a non-Christian counselor who certainly didn’t do biblical counseling, and yet it helped.” How does one properly respond to that protest? Well, by saying that there is help and then there is help.

What I mean by that is that not all help is of the same order, and, in the final analysis, what now may appear to be help—and may actually provide help of a sort—in the long run may turn out to have been more detrimental than good. Smoking will keep one’s weight level down—at a terrible cost: cancer. Was it a help or not? Smoking helped keep the weight in check, it is true, but in the long run it did not help—it caused greater and more serious problems. The help it gave was a trade-off. It did not help to enhance the smoker’s general welfare. The help carried with it a price that was too high and not necessary for him to pay. Similarly, every instance of ‘help’ afforded by the acceptance and performance of non-Christian principles and practices, in the long run, if not sooner, will reap side effects inimical to Christian living and welfare.

The words ‘side effects’ point immediately to the supposed help of drugs. Insulin, and drugs like it that are used to supplement bodily output when it is failing to do its job, do help. But, any drug that is used, instead of the biblical solution, to mask a problem or eliminate the pains of a person’s guilty conscience in the long run will be found to exact more than double the price he expected to pay:

  1. The user probably will become dependent on, if not addicted to, the drug.
  2. Over a period of time, the drug will more than likely cause physical injury to the body.
  3. The drug may cause troublesome symptoms.
  4. The problem will not vanish, but will grow.
  5. The person using the drug for such a purpose will not grow stronger for having confronted and solved the problem biblically, but will, in fact, turn out weaker for having avoided doing so.
  6. God’s solution to the problem will have been ignored and God’s blessing withheld.

Has the drug used helped?

All sorts of non-Christian counsel may be given (“Take your anger out on the golf ball”; not learn God’s way to control and use anger) that may provide immediate ‘help’ (or, perhaps, in such situations, the word ‘relief’ might better suit the case), but, again, because it isn’t God’s way to deal with the problem the final results in terms of one’s relationship to God, in terms of his personal growth and in terms of what the unbiblical counsel, at length, does to his human relationships, are not worth the price.

So, the answer to the question is “Yes,” a help of sorts may be given, but since non-Christian help is not God’s help but rather a substitute for it, in the long run (if not sooner) that ‘help’ always will prove to be a detriment.

In contrast, God’s help benefits, and does nothing but benefit. Every time a Christian properly avails himself of God’s help, not only does he find the help that he seeks, but along with it come side effects that he had not anticipated. This time, however, the side effects are good. Following biblical counsel about anger, for instance, in time will change one’s disposition so that he will become a more likable person and easier to live with.

Now what will you say to the next objector? Won’t you tell him, “There is a help that hurts, that destroys and ruins, and there is a help that truly helps—God’s help?” Won’t you say, “My help is from the Lord” and tell him that God is a “very present help” in “time of trouble?” You can have the former—I’ll take the latter every time; thank you very much.

 

Always Alliterate Accurately

If you must alliterate (and this seems now to have become a perpetual pastoral problem dating back at least as far as the ministry of Morgan), then for Heaven’s sake (literally) be careful about one thing: accuracy.

Apart from the ‘cutesy’ qualities of carelessly crafted clauses, curiously cultivated by conceited curates, there seems to be no earthly reason for passionately pursuing ponderous pairs of preaching points partially proclaiming previously plain propositions.

We are told, however, that this confusing custom is calculated carefully to cause congregations more readily to collect, consider, and contemplate correctly cogent concepts of conscientious clergy than common colloquialisms. In my opinion, however, the practice, perennially pursued by prattling preachers, potentially promotes parishioner passivity and pastoral pride.

One of the greatest dangers of dangling dazzling declarations before dazed disciples desiring decisive definitions of duties is to draw distinctions dimly, distort duties decidedly, and dismiss differences deftly. At the same time alliteration allows alteration, abuse, or absolute abolition of truth by adverting attention from arguments, answers, and admonishments to astonishing articulations and artificial adornments, alternately amazing or amusing, aggravating, or alarming audiences, but rarely accurately attesting to apostolic articles. The fact is, acceptable accounts, accurately aligned with and according to actualities, arouse to action; but announcements appealing to arrant attitudes lead astray, are of no advantage, create antipathy and avail only to put people asleep.

So, in conclusion let me call on you to:

  1. Correct your Custom
  2. Consider the Consequences
  3. Convert to Colloquialism

Then, rather than disobeying due to disgusting, deceiving drivel that defeats, deprives, denies, and distorts dependable doctrine, you and your congregation will delight in doing desirable deeds!

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