Never imagine that our relationships can ever be more important than genuine spiritual influence in each other’s lives. Though we may enjoy the good interactions of everyday life, we should be evaluating everything according to the Word and the illumination of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).
The purpose of this series is to drive home foundational convictions. These convictions are what will give you the courage to stand on the truth and vigorously apply it in your life. Furthermore, this training is intended to help you build a stronger commitment to spiritual growth in you and those in your sphere of influence.
Have a working biblical literacy.
1. Understanding the broad categories of systematic and biblical theology: Bibliology, Theology Proper, Christology, Pneumatology, Ecclesiology, Soteriology, Eschatology, Angelology, Apologetics, etc.
- Suggested resource: R. C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith(Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2010).
2. Knowing in your Bible where specific passages speak to specific issues (2 Pet 1:3)
- This is not merely an academic exercise. This is not merely data dissemination: the church must be continually grounded in a love for the truth so that they know how to put feet to their theology.
- You must believe it (1 Pet 1:23).
- You must know doctrine and be able to build others up with it. Someday your kids will need to know truth and you need to be able to give them truth (Eph 4:7– 12). “Your word is truth” (John 17:17; cf. 5:24; Ps 19).
- Memorize it (Ps 119:11). Be ready to make a defense for it (1 Pet 3:15).
- Meditate on it (Josh 1:8).
3. Be alert to the challenges of a digital age
- Never in the history of the church has there been such an expectation for an immediate response to any kind of communication.
- Text, email, and phone all demand our time.
- We don’t sit and ponder truth as the Puritans once did.
- Biblical insights and discernment are cultivated by pondering truth and its implications from every angle as to the implications for our heart and conduct. John MacArthur has said, “You need to be able to say things that are transcendent.”
- As you ponder, meditate upon, and yield to truth, insights into the human heart and spiritual realities begin to emerge with piercing clarity.
- You must be an expository listener on Sundays, pondering, confessing, yielding, and worshiping.
- Do you sit down to think through the implications from sermons?
- Look at a principle in Scripture and say, “How does this implicate my life?” “How must my inner life change in light of this principle?”
- External change follows inner life change.
Apply the Word to life’s hardest questions.
1. Take the truth and work it out practically.
2. This begins by renewing the mind (Rom 12:1–2)
- True change must happen at the heart level. Before we can make practical applications of truth to our conduct, we must look at how the truth implicates our unbiblical thoughts, desires, affections, emotions, and will.
- When we rush to make outward applications, we undermine our spiritual renewal by focusing on changes in mere behavior. Moreover, one individual’s personal application of Scripture may be a necessary outward change for them but not for all others. In fact, our personal applications of biblical principles have no inherent authority. Only the truth is objective and divinely authoritative.
- Some key “implication” questions are as follows:
- How does the truth confront my will?
- What idolatries of the heart (Ezek 14:1–8) must I confess and forsake?
- Are there unholy motivations and affections ruling me?
- Is there an unbiblical or heretical thought pattern?
This helps people see from the Scripture why they do what they do. And it helps people see God’s perspective in every situation.
The longer you confront your inner thoughts with truth and yield to it, the more the mind of Christ will become the foundation and fruit of your convictions.
Have a right perspective of longevity.
1. Teach others to stay at it. Be faithful for the long term (2 Tim 2:2ff.)!
“The only thing that really matters in what you do, is the spiritual influence you exert. Is it to the glory of God, the good of others, the expression of the Gospel’s power in your life? Or is it to your own glory?
Have a right perspective of influence.
1. Men must not measure influence in the church at a superficial level.
The growth of the church is to be measured not in numbers, but maturity and zeal for godliness.
2. All true spiritual influence flows from godly character.
- Men must have integrity in their hearts (Ps 15:1–5). The force and credibility of a man’s influence is directly related to how consistently he strives after godliness when no one else is around.
- Who you are when no one is watching but Christ is who you really are, and nothing more. Integrity means being the same person on the inside that we are on the outside.
- We deserve nothing. Salvation is a gift. When we see ourselves rightly we respond rightly (Phil 2:5–8)!
- God uses those who are cultivating particular character qualities on a consistent basis. He looks “to those who are humble, contrite of heart, and who tremble” when they learn the truth of His Word (Isa 66:2).
- Genuine humility and faith are measured by faithfulness to Christ.
- Perseverance in holy striving (Ps 31:23)
- Loyalty to Christ in all circumstances (Phil 1:20)
- Trustworthiness in the stewardship of serving the Lord (1 Cor 4:2)
3. What matters supremely is that men know the truth, live the truth, proclaim the truth, and disciple others in the truth.
- True ministries are committed to Bible exposition, leadership development, shepherding, discipleship, holy living, and a biblical philosophy of ministry.
- Ezra 7:10 must be the mantra of a man’s heart. The order is deliberate: study; practice; teach.
- In the development of leadership within the body of Christ, it is God alone who gives the influence (1 Cor 3:7), and He alone determines the scope and breadth.
Have a grasp of practical ministry.
1. Take a self-inventory:
- Where do you serve, and how are you serving the body?
- Are you involved in a Bible study?
- Are you encouraging friendships?
- Are you discipling anyone?
- Are you being discipled?
- Are you in the flow of ministry life learning about others’ lives?
- Do you sacrifice you time, energy, and resources to serve others?
- Do you pray for others?
2. You need to be using your gifts (even if you’re not completely sure how), and get busy about serving (1 Pet 4:9–11).
3. Be a student.
- Be a student of the times.
- Be a student of:
- today’s prevailing error (2 Cor 10:5ff.; Eph 6:10–12; 1 Tim 4:1–2).
- today’s place in church history.
- today’s particular need (2 Tim 3:1ff.).
- Be a student of the truth so that you are able to persuade men from Scripture (Acts 17:16–34).
- Be a student of tested principles.
- the principles of the fear of the Lord and of wisdom (Prov 1:1–7)
- the principles in Ecclesiastes (“vanity,” chasing the wind)
- the patterns of disciplined habits
- the practice of critical thinking
“If your character determines the power of your ministry, then your knowledge determines the stability of it.”