In this informal teaching from years ago we walk through the whole book of Daniel. Enjoy 🙂
- Many surprised when they meet Jesus Matthew 7:21-23; 13:24-43; 25:1-13, 31-46; Luke 6:46; 13:22-30; 2 Timothy 2:19-21
- The indwelt Holy Spirit is THE DIFFERENCE Matt. 25:1-13; John 3:3-8 (compare with Luke 13:27); Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
- We receive the indwelt Holy Spirit when we receive the gospel John 5:24; Acts 2:38; Ephesians 1:13
- Receive the gospel = repent and believe that Jesus/God lived perfectly, died for your sins, bodily resurrected 3 days later Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:1-5
- Our transformed character shows we have received the gospel and Holy Spirit Galatians 5:22-25; Hebrews 10:14; James 2:14-26; 1 John 3:14
What is the normal Christian life?…it is something very different from the life of the average Christian. Indeed a consideration of the written Word of God – of the Sermon on the Mount for example – should lead us to ask whether such a life has ever in fact been lived upon the earth, save only by the Son of God himself. But in that last saving clause lies immediately the answer to our question.
The apostle Paul gives us his own definition of the Christian life in Galatians 2:20. It is “no longer I, but Christ.” Here he is…presenting God’s normal for a Christian, which can be summarized in the words: I live no longer, but Christ lives his life in me.
God makes it quite clear in his Word that he has only one answer to every human need – his Son, Jesus Christ. In all his dealings with us he works by taking us out of the way and substituting Christ in our place. The Son of God died instead of us for our forgiveness: he lives instead of us for our deliverance. So we can speak of two substitutions – a Substitute on the Cross who secures our forgiveness and a Substitute within who secures our victory. It will help us greatly, and save us from much confusion, if we keep constantly before us this fact, that God will answer all our questions in one way and one way only, namely, by showing us more of his Son.Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life, 1977, pp. 11-12
In Psalm 78, after speaking for the large part of 64 verses about Israel’s stubbornness, rebellion, and wickedness…after God brought judgment of Israel…and without Israel showing any sign of repentance…
Suddenly, we read:
Then the Lord awoke as from sleep...
He beat back His enemies...
He built His sanctuary like the heights...
Why did God do this? Everything thus far indicated that Israel did not deserve it.
Further, the end of this Psalm tells us that:
God did not choose the tribe of Ephraim...
[God] chose David His servant,
And took him from the sheepfolds
Intriguingly, the Psalm begins by telling us that:
The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows,
Turned back in the day of battle.
So notice the contrast:
- Ephraim was armed and had strong weapons, but was rejected
- David was watching sheep (and you’ll recall against Goliath that he had no armor and pathetic weaponry), yet was chosen
Thus, we are faced with 2 times at the end of Psalm 78 that God does something amazing with the unworthy:
- He rescued “unworthy” Israel (Psalm 78:65-66)
- He chose “unworthy” David (Psalm 78:70-72)
Jesus only continues this theme when saying things like:
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick…I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.Matt. 9:12-13
Of course, the Bible is adamant that we are all unworthy of God. But it seems there is a special place in God’s heart for those who recognize their unworthiness and inability while appealing to God’s worthiness and ability.
May that be true of us.
As stated elsewhere, I believe God is sovereign (and His will is served) over sickness and disease, and He also loves to heal.
However, some have raised the following concern:
Objection: If you believe it’s God’s will that people are sick, then aren’t you guilty of resisting God’s will by visiting a doctor?
A good athletic coach will work his team hard, causing (temporary) physical stress and pain on the athletes. A good teacher will work her students hard, causing (temporary) struggle and distress on the students. Good parents will give (temporary) consequences that hurt children so that the child grows in character. As the athlete grows stronger, as the student grows smarter, and as the child matures in their character, they will, in some ways, overcome the pain caused by their coach/teacher/parent, which will very much please the coach/teacher/parent. In the same way, God strengthens us through sickness, and part of that strength comes from working to bring healing (on yourself or others) – which can very much please Him.
Let the beautiful God-ordained process of metamorphosis be our guide. During this transformation, the caterpillar is in tremendous pressure and anguish. However, if the chrysalis were to be cut open prematurely, though the caterpillar’s struggle would complete, it would never grow strength to fly as a butterfly. It is only when the caterpillar has struggled completely that it builds enough strength to break open the chrysalis on its own. And it is this struggle that gives it strength to fly as a butterfly. If the caterpillar would have said, “Well, God gave me the chrysalis, I should just relax,” it would never fly. Or if others would cut the chrysalis prematurely it would never fly. Instead, God wanted it to struggle to learn how to fly. God gave the trying circumstance in order to provide a way for the caterpillar to fly. In the same way, He delights when we seek healing (in fact, it is very much in the DNA of every sick person to want to be healed!). But this does not mean He did not bring the sickness for us to struggle against.
Even Jesus Himself, knowing that crucifixion was God’s good and perfect plan, can still say, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done,” (Luke 22:42). As a Man, He is saying, “This is tough. If it can pass, please let it pass. But if it can’t, then let Me endure it well.” In a similar way, we can pray and struggle against our own sickness, not knowing how temporary (and all sickness is temporary in comparison to eternity) it will be, but contenting ourselves on God’s ways over our own ways.
For a related subject, see Is God Sovereign Over Satan?
2 Tim. 2:24: all Christians should be able to teach
Ezekiel 33:1-9: our obligation to share what God reveals
Ephesians 4:11-16: teachers build up body; speak truth in love
Romans 12:7: teachers teach
Matt. 13:57; Luke 9:43-45: even if not understood/received
vv. 2-4: Scribes/Pharisees taught hypocritically; don’t follow
vv. 5-10: Loved self
vv. 8-10: Only 1 Teacher (cf. 1 John 2:27)
vv. 11-12: Humble yourselves
vv. 13ff.: “Woe to you…hypocrites!…child of hell…blind guides…”
James 3:1-18: warning for teachers; heavenly vs. demonic wisdom
Proverbs (“the wise”):
8:33; 9:8, 9; 10:8; 12:15; 13:1; 15:31; 18:15; 21:11: teachable; learner
12:18; 13:14; 15:2, 7; 16:23; 25:12: words bring life
26:1-12: contrast “wise-in-own-eyes”
God’s leaders: 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:17-25; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13:7
Faithful teaching essential; faithful character overwhelming focus
Faithful: Luke 16:10-12; 1 Cor. 4:1-5; 1 Tim. 4:11-16; Rev. 22:18-19
Humble, God-dependent: Acts 2:3-4; 2 Tim. 1:12-14
Women: Matt. 28:9-10; 1 Cor. 11:2-16; Titus 2:3-5
David (Psalm 78:9-10, 67-72), Peter (Acts 10-11), Paul (Acts 9:6-19; 1 Cor. 2:1-5; 2 Cor. 10:10), Apollos (Acts 18:24-28)
In Psalm 78:56-58 we read a sad account of Israel rejecting God. They did things like:
- “Did not keep His testimonies”
- “Turned back and acted unfaithfully”
- “Provoked Him to anger with their high places”
- “Moved Him to jealousy with their carved images”
But after this, in Psalm 78:59, it tells us how God found out:
When God heard this, He was furious...
And, sadly, He had to give them up to captivity as a result. Though keep reading until the end where God also, even after their unfaithfulness, showed outlandish love in bringing them back and restoring them.
But back to Psalm 78:59. Does anyone else find it peculiar that God found out about their unfaithfulness by “hearing” about it?
A similar, tragic account of Israel’s unfaithfulness is found in Deut. 32:15-18. But the result there is different:
And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them...
And He said: 'I will hide My face from them...
Notice the difference? In Deut. 32:19, God, “saw” what Israel did. His face was already present with them such that He needed to hide his face after they did this.
But in Psalm 78:59, God “heard” what they did.
Of course, it would be just as true to say God knows everything and sees everything. So it’s not as if God really didn’t know in Psalm 78:59 until He heard it.
Instead, I believe it’s intended to leave the impression that God wasn’t in their immediate presence. That God’s face was already hidden from them. Or, perhaps better yet, they already intentionally were hiding things from God and didn’t want His scrutiny.
It reminds me of Genesis 3:8-9. After the first sin of humanity, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God walking, “and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord.”
Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"
Notice again the verbiage. Adam and Eve heard God walking (which means they weren’t in His presence anymore). Then they hid from his presence (so they stayed out of His sight). Then God had to ask, “Where are you?” (which shows they are not together).
Again, of course God knew where they were and what they did. Just as in Psalm 78:59, God didn’t have to wait until he “heard” about the events. But it challenges me to ask this question:
Am I living my life in such a way that God has to “hear” about what I do?
Or am I constantly seeking Him, seeking His presence, welcoming His difficult (as well as good) words to lead me before I get to that point of rebellion? Such that, before it got to the point of abhorrent disobedience, I would have heard God and responded when He said, “Don’t go that way,” “Don’t keep doing that.”
And, the good news is, even if you’ve been so distant from God that He needs to “hear” about what you’ve done, He is far from done with you. He did come back to Adam and Eve. He did come back to Israel. He did come back to the Prodigal Son. He ran back to him when he was a long way off.
But like a dad having to discipline their kids for something they did in his absence, I’d think that God would rather you initiate the conversation and come honestly to Him, instead of Him having to start the conversation (though He will, in love, as necessary).
Below is one of my favorite quotes, because it puts words to my own sentiments so precisely. Derek Prince has since passed away, but I pray we would listen to the wisdom of our elders in this.
Excerpt from Derek Prince’s biography (the author is startled on how Derek Prince thinks about the future, and that is how he is writing this):
“I DON’T UNDERSTAND.”
“I know you don’t. You are of a different generation.”
“You mean that you had no driving passion, no dream for the future?”
“I had a passion, but it was to serve the Lord. You see, we thought differently then. We wanted to know the Lord and live in His ways. We believed the future would unfold through a moment-by-moment obedience.”
“So, you had no ambition, no burning sense of destiny?”
“I can honestly say I had a total lack of ambition. I don’t mean to say I had no hope or spiritual passion. I simply had no ambition. As for destiny, I think that word is often used today as a substitute for kingdom building or the drive for power.”
“But don’t you believe that men are made for a purpose?”
“Yes, but that purpose is to know the Lord. The meaning of life is a relationship. The future comes from pursuing Him, not pursuing the future.”
“You realize, don’t you, that the idea of destiny and of a promised future is very much the rage in Christian circles today?”
“I do. I remember reading a major Christian magazine and seeing advertisements about dynamic men and prophetic conferences and seminars to know your destiny. It felt like prostitution to me. I felt as though I needed a shower when I was finished.”
“So, it was different in your day.”
“Well, I did not have much contact with the organized church until I got to London, but I can say this: the hope of my heart was to know the Lord and do His will. The future, I believed, was His to fashion through my obedience.”(Mansfield, Derek Prince: A Biography, 2005, pp. 169-170)