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We confuse growth in knowledge and insight with genuine life change. But insight is not change and knowledge should not be confused with practical, active, biblical wisdom. In fourteen years of seminary teaching, I have met many brilliant, theologically astute students who were incredibly immature in their everyday life. There was often a huge gap between their confessional and functional theology. Students who could articulate the sovereignty of God could be overcome by worry. Students who could expound on the glory of God would dominate classroom discussions for the sake of their own egos. I have counseled students who could explain the biblical doctrine of holiness while nurturing secret worlds of lust and sexual sin. I have seen many men who were months away from ministry who had not yet learned how to love people. Students who could explain the biblical teaching of God’s grace were harsh judgmental legalists.
Paul David Tripp, Instruments In The Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2002), 242.
The hope we offer people is more than a set of strategies. Our hope is Christ! In him alone do lost, confused, angry, hurt, and discouraged people find what they need to be and do what God intends. We are not gurus. We are nothing more than instruments in the hands of a powerful Redeemer. The hope and help we offer is always focused on him. The most important encounter in ministry is not the person’s encouter with us, but his encouter with Christ. Our job is simply to set up that encounter, so that God would help people seek his forgiveness, comfort, restoration, strength, and wisdom.
Paul David Tripp, Instruments In The Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2002), 138.
There are many counterfeit gospels that can rise to a place of supremacy in a believer’s life.
The same thing happens in a community of believers. The larger group must also unite to fight gospel amnesia. A church’s gospel identity can be replaced by external emphases that direct the church, even while the church theoretically affirms the centrality of grace. Formalism, legalism, mysticism, activism, biblicism, and psychological and social emphases can slowly gain prominence and influence the entire community. These replacements represent an aspect of truth, but ultimately they only emphasize part of the Christian life is all about. They rob the church of it primary focus on Christ and weaken and impoverish its life.
~Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp, How People Change, p. 213
The same grace that has forgiven me is now in the process of radically changing me. I should not be satisfied until that transformation is complete.
God calls you to be dissatisfied. You should be discontent, restless, and hungry! the Christian life is a state of thankful discontent or joyful dissatisfaction. That is, I live every day thankful for the grace that has changed my life, but I am not satisfied. Why not? Because, when I look at myself honestly, I have to admit that I am not all I can be in Christ. I am thankful for the many things in my life that would not be there without his grace, but I will not settle for a partial inheritance!
In this sense, it is right to me to be discontent. It is right for me to want nothing less than all that is mine in Christ. He does not want us to enjoy only a small portion of the riches he has given us. He calls us to wrestle, meditate, watch, examine, fight, run, persevere, confess, resist, submit, follow, and pray until we have been transformed in his likeness.
~Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp, How People Change, p. 119
Many Christians do not have a gospel perspective on who they are.
This lack of gospel identity shows up in two ways. First, many Christians underestimate the presence and power of indwelling sin. They don’t see how easily entrapped they are in this world full of snares (see Gal. 6:1). They don’t grasp the comprehensive nature of the war that is always raging within the heart of every believer (see Rom 7). They’re not aware of how prone they are to run after God replacements. They fail to see that their greatest problem exists within them, not outside them.
Many believers also fail to see the other side of their gospel identity: their identity in Christ. Christ not only gives me forgiveness and a new future, but a whole new identity as well! I am now a child of God, with all the rights and privileges that this title bestows.
This is important because each of us lives out of some sense of identity, and our gospel identity amnesia will always lead to some form of identity replacement. That is, if who I am in Christ does not shape the way I think about myself and the things I face, then I will live out some other identity.
~Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp, How People Change, p.4-5
By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:4 )
We have been changed by his grace, are being changed by his grace, and will be changed his grace.
What is the goal of this change? It is more than a better marriage, well-adjusted children, professional success, or freedom from a few nagging sins. God’s goal is that we would actually become like him. He doesn’t just want you to escape the fires of hell—though we praise God that through Christ you can! His goal is to free us from our slavery to sin, our bondage to self, and our functional idolatry, so that we actually take on his character!
~Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp, How People Change, p.15