26 Sep Quarter Four Lesson Eleven
Today, we are moving into the final phase of this quarter—application. We hope this lesson and the next will prove to be enjoyable for you. We will begin this lesson with some foundational teaching and then move on to a very important exercise in application. Throughout this quarter of lessons, we have studied about the necessity and value of the gospel in spiritual parenthood. In this lesson and the next, you will have the opportunity to put into practice all that you have learned. Let’s get started!
Consider this passage of Scripture and then answer the questions that follow:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. Romans 15: 13-14
Question 1. According to Romans 15:14, what are we are able to do?
Question 2. What are the prerequisites of being able to instruct one another?
This passage helps us understand that we, as believers, are to be instructing one another. The word “instruct” could also be translated as “admonish” or “counsel.” Believers are competent to counsel each other.
The prerequisites for counseling are that we are believers who have the hope of the gospel, given to us by the Holy Spirit, and that we are full of Christ (goodness, knowledge, etc.—verse 13 and 14) and growing in our faith.
Put simply, if you have heard the gospel and believed it, you now have Holy Spirit given hope. Your hope is that your sins are completely forgiven and atoned for, that your guilt has been fully removed from you, that you have been made right with God and that you will live forever. Now, as you increase in this knowledge and come to understand the truth of the gospel more and more, you grow in your faith and are able to use your gospel comprehension to help others.
Do you know somebody who is without hope, is overwhelmingly discouraged (or what the world calls “depressed”)? One who feels as though they are being swallowed up in darkness and that there is no hope for them? Then you are competent to counsel them by giving them the gospel, encouraging them to look to Jesus and to believe the good news.
There are numerous different situations you will run across in your life, people with various problems and challenges, hurts, sin, sicknesses and so forth. The good news is that we have one gospel message for them all and that we are capable of instructing each other with it. This is not to say that the task is an easy one or done without prayerful consideration. Our one message of the gospel must be presented uniquely based upon the needs of the person with whom we are interacting.
At times, wisdom might even tell us to withhold giving the gospel, if we are speaking with a mocker or with someone who only wants to argue. “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6 (NASB). “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him.” Proverbs 26:4 (NASB)
It takes wisdom to know when, in what way, or even if we should, give out the gospel when opportunities present themselves. If we are ministering the gospel to fellow believers, then we must remember that all believers are competent and capable of ministering to other believers. This is why we do not send people off to get worldly counsel from the “professionals.” Jesus is a true professional and able not merely to help but even more to heal anyone. After all, He is the Creator Who made us and the Savior Who loves us. He alone knows our hearts and what they need.
This does not mean that we don’t send people to doctors if they are having a physical problem. We believe that God has provided doctors, like Dr. Luke in the Bible, who are trained at diagnosing and helping to heal physical ailments.
There will also be times when we need to get additional counsel in our efforts to encourage and help others. Proverbs tells us that there is safety in an abundance of counselors (Proverbs 11:14) so if a situation is particularly complicated then it might be good to seek additional input from other godly and gospel centered individuals.
There might also be times when you might need to involve the local governing authorities. If a crime has been committed, then it is important for you to encourage those involved to report the crime. If you are counseling the one who committed the crime, it is important that they confess their crime and seek to make restitution if possible. If you are counseling the one who was violated, then you’ll need to help them through the process of reporting the crime and also through the process of biblical forgiveness.
To recap what we’ve learned this far, if we are believers who are growing in Christ we are competent to instruct and counsel other believers. This includes the wide gamut of problems and issues with which people will come to us. This is not to say that there are never times when involving others would be unwarranted, but rather that as believers God has empowered us with the gospel so that we might minister the gospel to a lost and hurting world—inside and outside of the church body.
So in this lesson and the next one, we get to have the fun experience of practicing giving out the gospel to a number of different people. We are going to provide you with some sample scenarios, and you simply do your best in answering these sample people, using all that you have learned up to this point. Don’t be anxious, there will be no judgement made on your abilities. If you have a volunteer ministry partner who is reviewing your lessons be prepared to receive some feedback on your answers, and try to learn from them and appropriate what they suggest to you.
So let us get started. We will do the first one for you, and then provide you an opportunity to respond to a few other ones. We are not putting forth ourselves as any kind of experts or professionals here, just giving you a sample response from which you can build and pattern your own responses.
Here is the first scenario:
Sofia is a new friend of Julie’s. Julie has discovered that Sofia is 38 and recently divorced. One day Julie asks Sofia how she is doing, and Sofia tells Julie that six months ago her doctor prescribed her antidepressants to help her get through her divorce, but she is upset because now she’s gained fifteen pounds and she still feels sad. She doesn’t know what to do.
Julie’s gospel response:
“Oh, Sofia, I’m so sorry for the struggles you’re having. I’ve been praying for you lately as I’ve known you have been having difficulties. Now I can pray more specifically for you, so thank you for sharing your life with me.
Sofia, the depression you are experiencing no doubt feels like overwhelming sadness and tremendous discouragement. Maybe you feel like a thick cloud of darkness is descending on you and removing your hope. Is this a correct description? I’ve gone through some tough times in my life too. Would it be alright if I shared with you what helped me?
Look here at this description of Jesus while He was on the cross: “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” Matthew 27:45-46 (NASB)
Can you see how Jesus, at the cross, experienced tremendous darkness and abandonment? He hung on the cross with the weight of the world on His back, with all your sins and mine, and He was swallowed up in darkness forsaken by His Father as He hung there under God’s wrath.
But Sofia, remember that Jesus went through all that suffering and darkness for you. He endured the darkness that He might become your Light. Ephesians 5:8 says “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.” Jesus experienced separation from His Father, as if God had turned His back on Him, so that you and I would never be separated from God! Paul even wrote about this in Romans: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? …For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35; 38-39 (NASB)
Sofia, remember that Jesus died for you. He was swallowed up in darkness on the cross, He suffered the loss of His Father’s presence, all so that you might believe this message and in believing you might be filled with light and hope. Romans 15:13 says “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” This speaks to you today, telling you to believe the good news fresh today. Jesus was forsaken by God that you would be accepted forever. Jesus died in darkness that you might walk in the Light.
Sofia, I know your divorce was very painful, but I have an important question to ask you about it. Have you forgiven your ex-husband for his sins against you, and have you asked him to forgive you for your sins against him? The reason I ask is because harboring bitter feelings toward others can cause a lot of heart problems including depression. Colossians 3:13 says “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” I can help you work through this if you like.
Would you like to walk around the park together this coming week? We could talk about these things and pray together. What do you think?”
Some may think the above response is too simplistic, as if we were only offering a couple of Scriptures for some very deep issues in Sofia’s life; but this attitude evidences a misunderstanding of what was offered to Sofia.
Christians have effectively been ministering to each other for thousands of years with this same gospel message and same actions of love and concern. We are competent to counsel each other with the gospel, and if we were to move forward with Sophia giving of our time and continuing to offer her gospel hope and godly counsel, patiently waiting for the Holy Spirit to work in her heart, she would likely be recovered from her time in darkness and become very thankful for Jesus and the gospel.
Remember there is light in the gospel, and that Satan tries to blind the minds of people especially to the gospel: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NASB). In light of this truth, we shouldn’t dare try to minister to people apart from the gospel.
Alright, it is your turn. Below we will provide you with some sample scenarios and ask you to respond. At Gospel Growth Ministries, we have men respond to men and women respond to women so as you approach these scenarios simply chose to respond to the one that is appropriate for you. Place N/A in scenarios that are not of your same gender.
You can do this. If you are a believer you know Jesus, so just share the gospel from your heart, share what Jesus means to you, and share the Scriptures that have helped you and would help these people if they believe them. Have fun with this exercise. It is meant to be an enjoyable time for you just to share, with no judgments or criticism coming your way whatsoever.
Question 3. Jackson is 18 and has enlisted in the military. He comes to church on the Sunday before he leaves for training and when you ask him how he is doing he says, “I’m okay, but I’m a little anxious about leaving home and going to boot camp.” Please write out your sample response to Jackson:
Question 4. Susan is 48; her youngest son is leaving for college this week. She tells you that she is very anxious about having an empty home. She doesn’t know what to do with herself. She says she feels like she is losing her identity now that her youngest child is leaving home. Please write out your sample response to Susan:
Question 5. Molly is 35 and pregnant with her third child. You find her crying in a corner at the library. When you ask her if you can help she confesses she found out last night that her husband has been viewing pornography throughout their marriage. She is very distraught and worried about her marriage. Please write out your sample response to Molly:
Question 6. Bob is 37, married with two children and one on the way. At a men’s prayer breakfast, Bob confesses that his marriage is in trouble. His wife approached him last night with the fact that she found pornography on their home computer. He doesn’t know what to do. Please write out your sample response to Bob:
Question 7. That is it for this lesson. Did you enjoy writing out your responses? Please share any thoughts or questions you have about this exercise.
In the next lesson, we will continue in this exercise and give you a few more opportunities to respond to sample people.