APRIL 19, 2023

Dear Friends,

There is a pretty common pattern found in the New Testament epistles, especially those written by the Apostle Paul. The pattern is this: Before any talk about how you should live or behave, we have to talk about what you believe.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. Bible teachers talk about the “what you believe” texts as the indicatives. The “how you behave” texts are called the imperatives. And the imperatives follow the indicatives. Because how you live flows from what you believe.

Think about that for just a minute. If you want to know what someone truly believes, which has more weight – what that person says about what they believe, or how that person acts? For example, if a husband says “I love my wife” but treats her disrespectfully or ignores her completely, you’re going to have some questions, right? When he tells you that he loves his wife, you’re going to say “but do you really?”

This is the point James makes in his epistle when he says that faith without works is dead. If you want to know what someone really believes about most things, the proof of what they believe is in the pudding of their behavior – or something like that. You get the point.

In many evangelical churches today, pastors will neglect the indicatives of scripture and lean into the imperatives. “People tune out all that theological stuff,” they’ll say. “They want practical help.”

Except they don’t really. Imperatives that aren’t built on a foundation of believe become a burden or a weight. The Seven Steps to a Happier Marriage or the Six Ways to Defeat Discouragement sermons that are so popular can land like a millstone around the neck of someone who is already struggling with sins or ingrained patterns of behavior.

Our Christian life is meant to be the Spirit empowered response to the good news that Jesus died in our place and rose again to bring us new life. The living out of that new life is inexorably connected to how we understand the implications of what Jesus has done.

And here’s what that means for us. When we find ourselves falling short of God’s design for us (as we do daily), instead of placing our hope for change in successful behavior modification, we will find real change comes when we begin by renewing our minds with the truth of the gospel. The better we know and understand – and actually believe – what the Bible teaches about who God is and His plan for our lives, the more that truth will reshape our desires, our affections, our appetites and our actions.

It will take some behavior modification for change to occur. After all, that’s what change is. Modifying your behavior. And I’ve always appreciated the insight from CS Lewis who said that the best way for someone to acquire a virtue is for that person to pretend like he already has it. Sometimes we fake it ‘til we make it.

But here’s the big idea. At the end of the day, behavior issues are ultimately belief issues. If you modify your behavior but the underlying beliefs don’t change, the willpower infused attempts to try harder to be better will ultimately crumble. On your own, you don’t have it in you to change. But with a renewed mind and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life, God can make all things new.

So the next time you’re reading one of those parts of the Bible that’s all about theology or Christology or any other kinds of doctrinal issues, before you skip past it too quickly, thinking to yourself “I’m not sure how this applies to me,” pause for a minute. Take a selah moment. Meditate on what you’ve read. And ask yourself “do I really believe this? Deeply? Truly?

And as your mind is reset on the truth that comes from above, what how your behavior begins to change.

Here are a couple of links I promised you on Sunday.

First, a link to the article on The Gospel Coalition website talking about the pros and cons of cremation vs. burials.

Second, here’s a link to a sermon I preached back in 2014 addressing the question of whether Jesus actually descended into hell.

It’s a busy time of year for families. And for our church family as well.

Ladies, don’t forget the special event that takes place this Saturday! Have you signed up to let us know you’re planning to be there? Click here to sign up.

Guys, we have a couple of events lined up for you in May. First, it’s our First Tuesday get together on May 2.

And then a few weeks later, we’ll be getting together as men for breakfast.

Make plans to be at both events!

On Mother’s Day, we’ll be taking time in our worship service for parents to formally dedicate their children to the Lord.
If you are new parents or if you have a son or daughter who has never been dedicated to the Lord, please contact Cathy Crowell so we can add you to our list. cvrcrowell.RCC@gmail.com

If you’re new to Redeemer and you’d like to know more about what it means to become a member of our church, we have a New Members Get Together planned just for you!

Contact Matt Gurney if you have any questions or if you’d like to take part in this event. Mattgurney77@gmail.com.

We’ve looked together at what happened on the first Easter Sunday morning when the disciples found the empty tomb. This week, we’ll see what happened later that night as Jesus met with many of His disciples as a group. And then we’ll look at the following Sunday night, when Jesus met again with His disciples and had a conversation with Thomas for the first time.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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