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God's Redemption

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Redemption is God’s act. At its core, He chooses us, predestines us, covers our sins, credits Jesus’s righteousness to us, kills our captor, disarms sin’s power, lives with us, opens our eyes, grows our desires for Him, prepares good works for us to walk in, gives us power to endure difficulty, and secures an inheritance where we will be with Him forever. These are things that God alone has done, is doing, and will do. They are all parts of a single act of redemption accomplished by Jesus’s cross. Everything depends on God acting. Everything.

This is our only sure footing as biblical counselors. Without this, we have no foundation and no reason to expect real change. We’d otherwise be left to confounding, humanistic theories on change that shift with each generation. God’s redemption allows us to rest as we work hard. It also means divine power is at work in the otherwise menial things we do as counselors.

Redemption being God’s act is a refuge that protects us from the storm of seizing control by anger and manipulation when people are stagnant. It secures us from losing hope when we feel like we’re at our wit’s end. It covers us during fears of not knowing what to do, giving us at the very least a clear direction to steer. It shields us from pride when people experience dramatic change. It causes us to endure during challenging times and to lay aside our fixation on our reputation. It keeps us dependent, praying, and sober.

What I want this to change is how you approach counsel. If you approach things as if it all stands or falls on your performance, you’re going to burn out quickly. Even worse, you’ll be self-focused, godless, and ever revolving around your performance. When things go well, you will puff up. When they go poorly, you will hang your head in shame. If everything depends on God, however, in times of clear progress, you gaze with joy on a God who gives good things. And in times of stagnation, you gaze with joy on a God who is wise and knows things you don’t.

In all of this, we’re doing precisely what we are counseling others to do. We’re securing our eyes and hopes to God Himself. Gazing on His provision, we perpetually experience the very change we’re leading others toward.

Posted by Matt Norman with

We Can Relate, Part 4

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So far, what we’ve talked about has largely been an inward and verbal relating, a deeper understanding of our own desperation and rescue that helps us understand our neighbor’s. Here, we move to an outward relating in our counsel. Not only do we understand and convey God’s rescue with our words, but our very approach to our neighbors also relates to them the God who approached us. We display God to them in how we treat them in tangible ways that go far beyond words. My hope is that our awe and drooling over God’s invasion into our own lives shapes and spurs our invasion into our neighbors’ lives. We cannot do mission without knowing God deeply, and mission cannot be Godly without Godly counsel. The two are knit together. May this sever the chains of inaction and shame that keep us in our seats when we have opportunities to approach our neighbor and speak God’s message skillfully into their lives. I do mean “we” and “us,” as this is a raw area for me personally, one that desperately needs the life-changing beholding and enjoying of a pursuing God. Let’s link arms and grow together.

Beholding the God Who Pursues

The fact is that God invades our lives in an entirely unnatural, awkward, and inorganic way with a raw, confrontational gospel message precisely when we were least asking for it. This gospel shines with incomprehensible light like Jesus entering the world in John 1, and it wars on our darkness. He rescues us from a captivity we don’t know we were in. He speaks words that we, in ourselves, cannot connect with until His powerful and skilled hand does open heart surgery in us. This rescue gives us our cues for pursuing neighbors. We lift our eyes in awe to this rescue with such frequency, joy, and depth, that we cannot help but be moved to be like this God who rescues. And in this alone are we able to love our neighbors as we should. The only real love we have to give is to image a worthy God in word and in action.

God Pursues

God pursues us. He finds us where we are in our flesh, and He meets us there with grace that puts down our captivity and brings us out to Himself. He doesn’t wait for us to approach Him first. He doesn’t wait until we look clean. He bends down low into the dirt, sin, and mess of our public accusation, disarms the accusers, calls us to repent of our sin, and dwells with us as we struggle to repent, giving us the very grace by which we repent.

God Cares for the Sinful

God cares about the woes of the utterly sinful. There’s no way around this. Israel was worshipping Egypt’s idols when God rescued them powerfully from Egypt. He invaded your life and my life and atoned for our sins while we were at our worst. When the sinful hurt, God is moved. When He has compassion, He acts: He sends (Matthew 9:36), He heals (Matthew 14:14), He feeds (Matthew 15:32), He delivers (Mark 9:25), He comforts (Luke 7:13), He binds (Luke 10:33), and He embraces (Luke 15:20).

God Risks Shame

The God of the universe, alone worthy of all respect, awe, and worship, was massacred naked on a disgusting cross like a common criminal between two common criminals. He was unsafe, and He became shame on behalf of those who should rightfully be ashamed. His grotesque display disarmed the weight of my shame and your shame so that we can join Him in further becoming shame on behalf of our neighbors to show them the God who is truly shame on their behalf.

God is Steadfast

God chose us before the foundations of the Earth were framed, and in Him there is no shadow of turning. He did not profess love in wild gestures that fizzled out in days, weeks, months, or years. He showed love that gives us the very meaning of steadfast, bearing with our sins not only while we sinned and spat in His face but for ages beforehand in His divine planning. He sticks with a stubborn, hardheaded, and stiff-necked people. He sticks with me and you.

Imaging God’s Pursuit

We are missionaries, and missionaries need to know how to counsel. We obey Jesus’ commands to make disciples (not just “agree-ers”), and this must include Ephesians 4. If evangelism doesn’t lead to local bodies, it simply isn’t evangelism. It is something else. We lift our eyes to God’s rescue of us to get us off our seats, to spur our pursuit, and to inform how we pursue. Counsel doesn’t just speak. It acts. And this is because God Himself doesn’t just speak. He acts.

Posted by Matt Norman with