Sermon:  A Strong Christian Mind

Summary:  God has entrusted us with a mind with which to think and probe his truths 
in all creation, not just so-called "religious" truth.  This involves disciplining our 
minds to think Christianly about all things in the pursuit of wisdom through listening 
and asking questions.

Know:  There needs to be a theological framework for all areas of life with no secular/sacred 
dichotomy, which is really a false dichotomy because the earth belongs to God.  It is 
dangerous for a Christian to think secularly.  

Feel:  A desire to grow intellectually and personally.

Do:  Reflect on your attitude towards learning in general.  List some benefits and dangers 
related to personal growth and how it can be of service in our service to others.  Identify 
habits that will contribute to your personal growth.

Text:  Matt 22:37; Rom 12:2

Scripture Reading:  Eph 4:23

1.  Story of first day of class with a science teacher
	a.  Blackboard covered with names and location of bones and muscles
		-  She never referred to it
		-  Day of final exam, it was erased
	b.  Sole test question - Name & locate every major bone & muscle
	c.  Students protested.  "We didn't study that!" 
		- Teacher said "that's no excuse"
	d.  End of the exam, teacher tore up papers and said,
		- "Always remember that education is more than just learning what 
		   we are told."
2.  Review
	a.  Been covering the theme of ordering our inner self:
		- Motivation
		- Use of Time
	b.  This morning will look at Wisdom and Knowledge
3.  What we are talking about is development of the mind
	a.  Conservative, Bible believing Christians have not always done well at 
	     intellectual growth and excellence
		- Go to a Library and look at who is writing intellectual, scientific
		- Look at who is involved in scientific and academic discourse
		- Christians often shy away from this arena
	b. Some are afraid of it, thinking that science, literature, philosophy are 
	    secular and evil
	c.  Others think that the only source of truth is in the Bible, so they reject 
	      all other sources of truth as not being true
		- They leave medicine, science, philosophy, literature, art, etc. to 
	   the so-called "secular" realm
	d.  This is wholly inadequate
		- (Ps 24:1) The earth is the Lord's and all in it
		- (Rom 1:20) God's truth can be seen from his creation
		- This means there is a Biblical view of science, a Biblical 
	   	   philosophy, etc.
		- All truth is God's truth, not the secularist's truth.
4.  Is there a Biblical warrant for the development of the mind?
	a.  (Matt 22:37) - Love God will all heart, soul, mind, strength
		- Love with all parts of our nature
			heart - emotional nature
			soul - our willing nature
			mind - our intellectual nature
			strength - our physical nature
		- We need balance
			Some strong with heart, weak with mind - mushy sentimental
			Some strong with mind, weak with heart - cold intellectual
	b.  Eph 4:23 - We are to be renewed in the Spirit of our mind
	c.  (Rom 12:2) - Not conformed, transformed by the renewing of our mind

I.  Learn the danger of a sloppy mind
	A.  Christianity is not just a religion of heart, but of mind as well
		1.  Paul discusses this in 1 Cor 14
		2.  1 Cor 14:15 - Will pray with the Spirit AND with the mind
		3.  Religion without mind is dangerous
	B.  Examples
		1.  Judges 2
			a.  One of the themes in Judges is syncretism
			b.  Problem - Not just that the lived among the nations
				- They were supposed to be a kingdom of priests
				- They were supposed to be a light to the nations
			c.  Israel was constantly sucked into thinking like and living 
			     like the pagans around them
		2.  1 Sam 8
			a.  The people wanted to have a human king
			b.  The motivation
				- 1 Sam 8:5 - To be like the nations
				- 1 Sam 8:20 - To fight their battles
				- They seemed to think that their problem was that 
				   they didn't have a king like the nations
			c.  Their problem was not that they didn't have a king, but 
			     that they thought like and lived like the nations
			d.  Even with a king, then continued to do this, which 
			     led to the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions
		3.  Book of Samuel and Kings explain the downfall of Israel
			a.  Outside the people had the temple and temple worship
			b.  Inside, they thought like and lives like the pagans
		4.  We still have the same challenge today
			a.  God calls us to live among the nations
			b.  The danger is thinking like the nations
	C.  Harry Blamires. The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think?
1. p.3-4 "… There is no longer a Christian mind. There is still, of course, a Christian ethic, a Christian practice, and a Christian spirituality. As a moral being, the modern Christian subscribes to a code other than that of the non-Christian. As a member of the Church, he undertakes obligations and observations ignored by the non-Christian. As a spiritual being, in prayer and meditation, he strives to cultivate a dimension of life unexplored by the non-Christian. But as a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization. He accepts religion - its morality, its worship, its spiritual culture; but he rejects the religious view of life, the view which sets all earthly issues within the context of the eternal, the view which relates all human problems -- social, political, cultural -- to the doctrinal foundations of the Christian Faith,…"
2. "p.16…to secularize a community, not by officially denying its religion, but by so departmentalizing it that it is deprived of any overt influence upon the community's conscious purpose and activities. Christianity is emasculated of its intellectual relevance. It remains a vehicle of spirituality and moral guidance at the individual level perhaps; at the communal evel it is little more than an expression of sentimentalized togetherness."
3. Seems like a very timely book - It was published in 1963! D. All of this illustrates the danger of an unthinking Christian 1. Don Poterski - Reinventing Evangelism a. Christians are to be in the world, not of the world b. He suggests that the opposite is what often happens c. Christians are not in the world, yet of the world - Christians have retreated into their fellowships - Yet Christians often live like and think like the world d. Other than adding Church things, the rest of life doesn't look very different than a worldly person 2. If you don't use your mind - can fall prey to the non-Christian scheme of things - Secularism a. Secular vs. Sacred is a false scheme b. That is the world's scheme, but not ours c. We are not to go into "secular" mode on Monday 3. We are not to be conformed to this world 4. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our "mind" II. Think Christianly A. More than just memorizing scripture 1. (Prov 26:4-5) - Contradictory proverbs a. Need skill in thinking, need wisdom b. How does scripture intersect with life? 2. Can quote and memorize and still be worldly minded 3. Need to process and apply it B. ILL: Like a recipe 1. Have flour, spices, water, milk eggs, oven, etc. 2. What if you serve those ingredients as is? 3. Need to process it, put it all together, how do they fit? 4. Same way with thinking Christianly a. We have the ingredients in God's revelation b. Several places we have these ingredients - God's written word - The Bible - God's created order - Even Biblical sages observed life and gained godly wisdom and insight - Our ability to think c. Need all three together d. If not, can still think worldly C. Realize there is a Christian perspective on everything 1. (Gen 1:1) - In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth a. First message of the Bible is not Jesus died on the cross - We are usually strong on the Gospel message - But what about living day to day in this world? b. The first message is that God is the creator and master - Everything belongs to God - Unlike animals, God gave us ability to think c. He entrusted man to subdue and rule over creation in service to Him 2. The Bible teaches us there is a godly perspective on all areas of daily life, public and private a. There is a theology of kingship - government b. There is a theology of business c. There is a theology of justice for judges d. And it goes on and on 3. Christian education is just now beginning to realize this a. Examples: - Theology for counseling/ psychology - Theology for Youth Ministry/ social work/ education b. Provides a theological framework for the discipline - It all belongs to God, so a theological framework should be there c. In the past, it was different - "Christian" education was same as secular - Difference - tack on chapel and a Bible class - Many disciplines studied from same secular perspective using same secular text books d. Would like to see theological framework for all disciplines - Advertising, medicine, education, music, government, politics, journalism, etc. - We still have a long way to go for "Christian" education D. Do you think Christianly about what happens Monday-Saturday? 1. Your job, politics, your classes, technology, etc. 2. It doesn't happen automatically, especially if raised in the church III. Pursue personal growth A. We need to train our minds to think 1. 1 Cor 2:16 - We have the mind of Christ 2. Christians ought to be the brightest, most creative thinkers 3. Rom 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this world a. Transformed by the renewing of our "mind" b. We don't want to fall into thinking like the world c. Whether it is medicine, philosophy, science, government B. We see this from the very beginning 1. Gen 2:19 - Man's first task - Discover and identify God's creation 2. (Prov 25:2) -Glory of God to conceal, glory of kings to search out a. Kings had numerous sages/ wise men to probe all areas of truth in their disciplines b. Whether it was engineering or philosophy c. One of the most well known "wise men" was Daniel 3. When you study and train, you are probing and searching out God's truth a. Whether it is math, science, philosophy, not man's truth b. God's truth is NOT limited to scripture c. This puts intellectual growth in its proper light - You are not learning man's truth - You are learning God's truths 4. Strive to grow intellectually C. ILL: This is a challenge, 1. Especially for fast starters a. Gordon was preparing to race a mile race - Going against a fast runner for 100 yard dash - Guy pulled out ahead - Last leg of the race, the runner ran out of steam - Didn't have the strength for the long haul b. You may be a fast starter intellectually - Things always come easy to you - You will find that this will not serve you well for the long haul - Personal growth is a marathon, not a sprint - Need to develop habits for long term growth 2. If you are mediocre, this is also a challenge a. Some people do just enough to get by, if that - What do I have to do to just get a passing grade? b. God wants you to do better than this - A sloppy thinker will be susceptible to the world's way of thinking 3. Striving for intellectual excellence is part of your service to God a. God has entrusted us with our mind b. We also have the mind of Christ c. Christians should be the best and brightest intellectuals D. Simple Suggestions for personal growth (from Gordon MacDonald) 1. Listen and Ask Questions a. Talking about a thirst for knowledge b. Listen to mentors c. Listen to your critics 2. Visit people at work a. Find out what makes people tick b. Ask them questions - What ethical,moral challenges do you face at work? - Is this job fulfilling and encouraging or discouraging - What do you learn about God working here? 3. Read a. Paul must have been a lover of reading - 2 Tim 4:13 - In prison, he asked for his books - In places like Mars Hill, Paul was able to quote philosophers and poets to build rapport for the preaching of the Gospel - Paul was not an intellectual light weight b. Some are afraid to read things other than the Bible - Things written from a secular framework - Things written by other religions c. Learn to read critically - Don Shackleford from Harding taught me how to read - Read with a highlighter and a pencil - I summarize and respond in the margins Concl: 1. This is part of not being conformed to this world and being transformed by the renewing of our mind 2. God made us to be thinking beings a. Thinking is part of our stewardship b. The best thinking is in the context of reverence for God's rule in his created order. c. It is for the purpose of serving others d. Whether it is in medicine, philosophy, research, business, politics, science, technology, administration, etc. - Discoveries of new truths are to serve - If we don’t have this perspective, the technological and scientific ` discoveries will enslave us and take us away from God rather than to God 3. Have you been transformed by the renewing of your mind? (Invitation) 4. If have already done this - Pursue excellence and personal growth so that you can serve God and others with excellence ================================== Small Group Questions: A Strong Christian Mind Summary: God has entrusted us with a mind with which to think and probe his truths in all creation, not just so-called "religious" truth. This involves disciplining our minds to think Christianly about all things in the pursuit of wisdom through listening and asking questions. Open (Choose one) - What is the most difficult intellectual subject for you? - How do you see yourself intellectually? Poindexter, Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, Possible Possum, Dexter, Fred Flintstone, other _________________ Explore: Judges 2:11-23; Matt 22:37; Rom 12:2; Prov 25:2 1. What may have been some reasons the people were only faithful while a judge was alive and would backslide after he died? What did this suggest about their minds and their way of thinking? 2. God does not call us out of the world, but into the world. What are some of the challenges a Christian might face when it comes to his mind/thinking? 3. What would it mean to love the Lord will all of your "mind?" What would this have to do with intellectual growth? 4. For a Christian, is intellectual growth in fields such as technology, philosophy, medicine, business, government, etc. secular or not secular? What are some of the dangers of approaching disciplines such as these with a secular mindset? 5. Brainstorm. What are some ways that intellectual growth in the context of respect for God's rule be beneficial in serving God and serving others? Apply: 6. What is your reaction to the suggestion that intellectual growth is a part of your Christian growth? 7. What are some ways you personally can love the Lord will all of your "mind?" as a good steward of t he mind God gave you? 8. Identify habits that that will contribute to your personal and intellectual growth. Prayer