Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Gospel, Gospel, Gospel Care
Once again, a privilege bestowed upon me by my current job.
This time it was receiving some training on "Gospel Care" from Steve Timmis (Founder of the Crowded House in Sheffield and also Director of Acts29 Western Europe, amongst other things).
It was a wonderful reminder that the gospel really is the answer to all of life's problems, and just when you think a problem to hard, too big, too deep or too complicated has arisen, that tempts you to adopt worldly practices, or give up, the gospel remains the one true hope.
One of the main reasons for this is summed up in the following quote: "The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart."
One way to view the whole of the message of the Bible is God saying "Trust me!". Then what we see is that the essence of human sin is failure to trust God.
We spent the first of our two sessions unpacking Hebrews chapter 3 and 4. There we see that human hearts are hard, wandering, evil and unbelieving. This is terminal problem. It requires outside intervention, open heart surgery on a spiritual level.
We always do exactly what we want to do. The desires of our hearts control our wills.
The heart is the control centre of the person; affections, will and actions all flow from the heart. That's why the gospel is such good news because we are given a new heart, and that is what we so desperately need.
Our new heart is in dwelt by the Spirit and He changes us from the inside to see Christ as more beautiful and satisfying than anything this world has to offer. This in turn is the answer ultimately to all of the psychological issues that we have or situations we face. Jesus really is the answer for all of us, not just for Sunday school kids!
So, when we come to caring for others, dealing with pastoral issues and seeking to counsel people biblically, all we really need is the gospel. We need to know it well and be able to apply it. We need to be able to exegete people as well as we (hopefully!) exegete Scripture.
Alongside this teaching day we (as a staff team) are currently reading "How People Change" by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp. So far, an I am only about a third of the way through, it is excellent. It too advocates really applying the gospel to every situation. (why not check out the Christian Counselling and Education Foundation)
My thoughts on this, as my blog sub-heading suggests, are not fully formed and may seem a bit sketchy. There may well be another post on this as I think it through further and finish the book, but suffice it to say I find it liberating and challenging to truly trust that the gospel is really the answer to all of life's issues.