Doing What is Right without Needing a New Word from the Lord
We might face decisions where we know what we should do. We don’t need extra confirmation from God; we just need to get on and do it. We don’t need a new word from God telling us that we should be working on restoring broken relationships. We don’t need a new word from God to take a stand against unethical behaviour in our workplace or to be faithful in our marriages. Much of the time, we have some idea of the best thing to do; we just need to get on and do it.
In 2 Kings 11, there was a leadership vacuum in Judah. King Ahaziah had been killed by Jehu when visiting the northern kingdom of Israel. The queen mother took her opportunity to take power for herself. Athaliah, a daughter of King Ahab, systematically killed all of her family members that she considered a threat. She attempted to wipe out the entire family line of King David, and would have succeeded had Jehosheba not rescued baby Jehoash and hidden him away from her for six years.
This woman, Jehosheba, and her husband and priest Jehoiada, saved this special baby and protected him for six years. This was a dramatic thing to do, at great cost to themselves.
Notice this, however: no-one told them to do this. There was no prophet who said that they needed to save this baby. God did not speak directly to them. They didn’t get a dream or vision that guided their behaviour. They already knew what was required. God had promised a great king to come from the line of David, and that meant that this baby needed to live.
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Total Depravity and Clinical AnxietyBy Blake Long — 1 year ago
Sin has affected all of us. Not one person has escaped it—even the Son of God, who took on the sin of those who would believe in Him. Jesus didn’t have sin, of course, but was made to be sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21). Our minds, our bodies, our souls have been wholly effected by original sin. Let us not look past what it can do to any part of us, including our brains.
During my senior year of college, I was lying down on my bed one evening reading some tweets from a Christian theologian. As I continued scrolling, suddenly I began to feel extremely cold. As the coldness set in, my heart—from out of nowhere—started to pound like I had just run a mile. As it pounded harder and harder, I began experiencing heart palpitations (where your heart skips beats). Then my breathing got quicker and tighter. I finally set up and vividly remember thinking, “Am I having a heart attack? Am I dying?”
After about five minutes, I walked out of my room and told my roommate what had just happened. Unsure of what really happened, I described how I felt. His girlfriend was there and said, “That’s exactly how anxiety attacks feel.”
Up to that point in my life, I had never experienced something like that before. It was dark, fear-inducing, and left me feeling vulnerable. Let me put this in perspective from my vantage point. I absolutely hate vomiting—with every fiber of my being. When I get nauseous, I get so afraid that I’m getting sick. I do everything I can to not vomit. And yet, when the anxiety attacked ceased, I remember walking to my car thinking, “I would rather throw up a hundred times than do that again.”
Millions upon millions of people suffer from anxiety attacks, panic attacks, clinical anxiety, etc. just like my story above. Many much worse than what I went through—even Christians.
Anxiety and the Church
There is a stigma within the evangelical church around the topic of clinical anxiety. Many Christians—a lot of whom I respect and admire—simply do not believe it exists. They see no evidence for chemical imbalances. I know of many close to me who would have a totally different opinion on this. And that’s okay.
However, many Christians have done damage to other Christians who suffer in this way because they don’t believe chemical anxiety, depression, etc. are real. In turn, they say the problem is not the brain malfunctioning, but their own sin. They send Philippians 4:6 to suffering Christians and say, “Just believe this more.” But this isn’t a Philippians 4:6 issue, but an issue that has its roots in total depravity.
What Does Total Depravity Have to Do with This?
As one who believes in the doctrine of total depravity, I think it’s sensible to believe in clinical anxiety (or other mental health issues). I think it’s difficult not to because of total depravity.
At its foundation, total depravity explains that sin isn’t a mere hiccup in our spiritual makeup or that, deep down, we’re good people who do bad things. No, sin affects our whole being—mind, soul, body. Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” We weren’t sick people, but dead people. We didn’t need to “turn over a new leaf,” but become a new person altogether.
And that was the effect of original sin. Just as original sin made us spiritually dead—incapable of obtaining salvation on our own—it also affected our whole being—including our brain.
Furthermore, total depravity doesn’t mean we are as bad as we could be, but that sin has permeated our entire self.
RC Sproul explains:
…it means that the fall [of man] is so serious that it affects the whole person. Our fallenness captures and grips our human nature and affects our bodies—that’s why we become ill and die. It affects our minds and our thinking (brackets and italics mine).
It affects our mind and the way we think. It impacts every part of us. And because of that is why I believe the Bible gives room for clinical anxiety. Our brains have malfunctioned because of sin. The human mind is not what it ought to be. Sin came into the world (Gen. 3) and caused catastrophic damage—to say the very least.
Faithful Shepherding In The Midst Of Suffering—Part 1By Alexander Strauch — 1 year ago
Everything that’s happening to us today is right there in the Scriptures, and happened to the very, very first Christians. They all suffered persecution. So let us prepare ourselves, and the way we prepare ourselves is to teach what the Bible says: what Jesus taught, what Paul taught, what Peter taught. And they all taught a lot about preparing for persecution.
If you were to visit me in my office, you would see little statuettes of shepherds, which I have collected from around the world. I like to collect shepherds, because the Lord said to me, “Alex, shepherd my sheep.” Of course, I do it with other brothers. But we’re still all shepherds. One of my favourite ones is King David, as a teenager holding a lamb over his shoulder. That’s one of my favourite ones. But anyway, I use these to remind myself to be a good shepherd, like the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I think it’s almost universally agreed that believers throughout the world right now are suffering in a way that has not been true in a very, very long time. In fact, I’m reminded of a verse, here in 1 Peter 5, where Peter talks about universal brotherhood and suffering. He says this 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober minded and watchful your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood, throughout the world.” A wonderful verse, in which he looks at the whole Christian church, a brotherhood, a sisterhood, and they are going through various kinds of suffering. I see this true in two ways today. One is we see an increase in persecution against believers in a way that we haven’t seen maybe in hundreds of years. I don’t know if you know of the open door ministry, ‘World Watch List’. In the 2018 version, there is a list of the 50 countries where it’s the most dangerous to follow Jesus. And by the way, the statistics here are really staggering of how many thousands of believers have been martyred for Christ, how many have been marginalized, can’t get jobs, or are facing persecution. So we are seeing suffering in the area of persecution.
In fact, I have an article here that’s very, very touching. It’s an article about the young ladies in Nigeria who have been captured by Boko Haram, and how they have stayed faithful. In fact, they have a statement that they make, when they get discouraged, and they just say together, “Just be faithful.” It’s become actually a famous statement, now: “Just be faithful.” They say that to one another, and they have some Bibles and Scriptures, they write out that as they hide to encourage one another. And they have been able to write letters and get them out of the place of captivity to other people in the world. Let’s remember these dear young ladies captured by Boko Haram, and their faithfulness to the Lord suffering persecution.
The Christian’s Dual Citizenship: When the Ethics of Heaven and Earth CollideBy Wes Van Fleet — 5 months ago
Until Christ comes again, Christians live as citizens in this world and citizens of heaven. We are dual citizens who have the duty to love God and our neighbor in our earthly countries with a different kind of power than the world has. Where Rome demanded allegiance through aggression and superiority, followers of Jesus depend on a power that comes from the Sovereign King himself. This power is made known in our weakness because it makes much of his strength (2 Cor. 12:9).
The first book of the Bible I had the privilege of preaching through was the joyful letter to the Philippians. I didn’t know it then, but this little letter written nearly 2,000 years ago would be branded into my heart forever. Besides the beautiful proclamations of Christ and his glory, the main idea that struck me was the reality of a Christian’s citizenship. Paul teaches the small church in Philippi that they are citizens of heaven (3:20). This was not some random thing for Paul to write but instead would have had deep meaning for the Philippians. In fact, it would have challenged something they held very dear: their Roman citizenship.
Some Christians can find themselves focusing more on their earthly citizenship than their heavenly citizenship.
The little colony of Philippi was proud—almost boastful—of their citizenship as a Roman colony. Octavian (later the emperor Augustus) won a decisive victory for Rome years earlier and made Philippi an official Roman colony, granting its residents Roman citizenship (Gordon Fee, NICNT: Philippians, p. 161). A major part of the population was composed of proud former soldiers who had served in the Roman military. Philippi was a people and place that reveled in patriotism.
As a veteran of the U.S. Army, I understand what it means to be a proud citizen who has served my country. Yet, as proud as I am, I am also concerned that some in churches in the United States can misunderstand their identity at times. Rather than focusing on being disciples of Christ and citizens of heaven, they may tend to opt in for the popular identity of being American citizens and patriots.
Rather than being formed by the King of heaven, it can be tempting to soak up hours of the Joe Rogan podcast or to become imitators of Jordan Peterson. Rather than living out the ethical qualities of the kingdom (Matt. 5-7), some adopt a worldly view of power. Rather than striving side-by-side for the faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27), some are merely staunch advocates of Second Amendment rights, big beards, and craft beers. While I’m not opposed to any of these things, they should not determine our prime identity.