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GYC 2008 HANDOUTS--BE OUT OF YOUR MIND PDF  | Print |  E-mail


BE OUT OF YOUR MIND

General Introduction

Seminar Series at 2008 GYC Meeting, San Jose, California

By 

© Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

Director Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

Author, Not for Sale

Should we really be out of our minds? Yes!—that's what the Bible says. For, in order to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), we must first be out of our minds. This radical concept holds the key to total surrender, true faith, victorious Christian living, and authentic biblical spirituality and lifestyle. It is also the secret to change the church—and the world. 

The concept of being out your mind is so deep a subject that it merits an entire series of seminars at this year’s meeting of young people at GYC.

 

But why should we focus on the mind? Why should we be out of our minds? And what are the indicators that we are truly out of our minds? You’ll find the answers during my seminar--one of the nineteen seminar tracks at this year’s GYC convention. 

The first handout—“An Incredible Humility: The Mind of Christ”—lays the foundation for all subsequent presentations. Because of the importance attached to this first presentation, the first handout will be more detailed that subsequent ones. 

NOTE: The handout materials have been copyrighted for two major reasons: (1) The full contents of the handouts will be published as a book by Fall 2009; for this reason I do not want the contents to be distributed for profit. (2) Though copies of the handouts can be made for a discussion group, because the contents are still undergoing my matured reflection and revision, I request that if you chose to make copies of any handout, the copy should be done in its entirety. (I don’t want things to be taken out of context.) Thank you for honoring this request. 

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INCREDIBLE HUMILITY

The Mind of Christ

Philippians 2:5-8

Part I—“Be Out Your Mind” Seminar Series

By 

© Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

Director Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

Author, Not for Sale

Great minds discuss ideas;

Average minds discuss events;

Small minds discuss people

---Eleanor Roosevelt, Wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1884-1962) 

The Mind: The Measure of A Person

John D. Snider is the author of the classic volume I Love Books, a work that is a must read for every serious person who strives for excellence. In one of the chapters of this classic book, Snider begins with this insightful sentence: 

“It is not how tall a man is or how much he weighs that counts in life, but how much he knows, what he can do, and how good a mind he has.”

I underscore the last phrase—“how good a mind he has.” To illustrate the point that the mind—not the stature—is the true measure of a person, Snider recounts a story in the life of Isaac Watts, a man of very little stature. Isaac Watts, you may know, was one of the three greatest hymn-writers in the English language who ever lived. The other two were Charles Wesley and Fanny Crosby. 

Judging from the sheer volume and quality of hymns Watts wrote, very few would have known that he was, indeed, a very little man. Even the Queen of England at that time, who had been desirous to meet this great man, didn’t know of Watts’s little a stature. 

One day, when Watts was ushered into the presence of Queen Anne, the queen was so surprised to see such a little man that she exclaimed: “Is this the great little Doctor Watts!” 

Now, from early childhood, Watts had been able to put into rhyme a good share of his everyday conversation. And so without embarrassment he now answered the queen:

Were I so tall to reach the pole,

Or grasp the ocean with my span,

I must be measured by my soul:

The mind’s the standard of the man.”

Isaac Watts was right. The mind is the true measure of a person. No wonder the Bible makes a lot references to mind. 

A quick search of the word “mind” in your Bible concordance will reveal many interesting facts and descriptions of mind. For example, we read about “readiness of mind,” “humility of mind,” “lowliness/humbleness of mind,” “ sameness/oneness of mind,” and others.  The Bible also describes a person as possessing either “doubtful mind,” “right mind,” “reprobate mind,” “carnal/fleshy mind,” “spiritual mind,” “willing mind,” “fervent mind,” “renewed mind,”  

“sound mind,” etc.

The mind must be so important as to deserve mention so many times. Certainly, in the estimation of God, the mind is the true measure of man.  

Since Jesus Christ is arguably the greatest man who ever lived, it should come as no surprise that the Bible talks about the “mind of Christ” or the “mind of the Lord.” 

In Romans 11:34, the apostle Paul asks: “For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been His counselor?” The same question is repeated in 1 Corinthians 2:16, where it refers to “the mind of the Lord” as “the mind of Christ”: “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.”

.

If we want to know the true measure of Christ, we must know something about His mind. To find out what exactly is this “mind of the Lord”—this “mind of Christ”—we must study Philippians 2:5-8. It is, perhaps, the most profound passage in all Scriptures.  It is also the most daring passage.

The Mind of Christ

Philippians 2:5-8 gives us the most beautiful picture in all Scripture of who Jesus really was. It describes His “mind” and, hence, gives us a measure of His greatness. The passage reads: 

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8).

There are a couple of points we need to highlight from the above passage:

1. We are to have the “mind of Christ.” When the Bible says “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” it is unquestionably one of the most daring statements in the whole history of the daring of man’s mind. We—human beings—are to have the mind of Christ. We are to think as Christ thinks! We human beings are to think like God! 

But is this really possible? Can we actually have the mind of Christ? Yes We Can! For, God will not ask as to do what is impossible. Moreover, the apostle Paul said elsewhere, “We have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), suggesting that others have been able to have this kind of mind.

2. We are to be “out of our own minds.” This point may not be obvious at first. But in order to have the mind of Christ—in order to have the mind of Christ in us—we must first be out of our minds!  This assertion may sound too radical or even outrageous.

Think a little carefully about the question: Why would someone say you are out of your mind? I can think of at least four major reasons:

1. Because you are! You are crazy!  That is, the wires of your mind have gone wacky. You’ve  lost your mind or your mind is out of control, either because of the influence of some chemicals, drugs, demons, even a delusional relationship, or some unexplainable reason. Either way, you are out of your mind!

2. Because you've done something out of character. You are by nature not expected to do certain things, and you just did it. So, you’re out of your mind.

3. Because you've done something out of line with society. A person who is counter-cultural is considered out his/mind.

 4. Or all of the above!

So, what does the Bible mean when it says we should be “out of our mind” by having the mind of Christ in us? It simply means we should think or do things in a manner that is out of sync with our own nature or societal tendencies in such a manner that an average person might think we are crazy. 

3. We are to have a different “mindset.” When the Bible invites us to have the mind of Christ—to be out of our own mind—it simply means we are to think the way Christ did. We are to have the same mindset like Jesus. (Dictionaries define mindset as “a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determine somebody’s behavior and outlook”). 

In the original language of the New Testament, there are two major word groups that are often translated “mind.” Though the two words pretty much mean the same things, there is a slight difference between them.

The first word for “mind” is nous (from which we get our English word “noetic”). Generally speaking, nous denotes the “seat of reflective consciousness.” It has to do with the faculties of perception (knowing) and seat of understanding, and those of feeling, judging and determining.

 Nous refers to the whole mental apparatus.

But nous is not the word Paul used in Philippians 2. Instead, the apostle chose a different word for “mind.” He chose cognates  of the Greek word phronema, a word that denotes what one has in the mind; it has to do with the thought (the content of the process expressed in phroneo). It means to think, to be minded in certain way, or to be mindful of. It implies moral interest or reflection, not mere unreasoning opinion.

 

In short, when Paul says “let this mind be in you . . .” he basically is saying “think this way; have a certain mindset.” Specifically, think as Christ thought. We are to consider ideas and make judgments, or to “exercise the mind” just as our Lord did. In short, we are to have the same mindset or outlook like Jesus. 

The question we’re going to answer is: What kind of mindset is this (mind of Christ)? As we shall discover in the next section, this “mindset” of Christ is so counter-cultural and counter our self-interests that people may think we’re crazy!

4. We are to have a mind transplant. To be “out of our mind” in order to have the mind of Christ implies something is wrong with our current mindset, and this malady requires that we undergo a surgical operation—a mind transplant!  

The problem with our mind is the same as the Philippian problem: they were not living in “one accord” (v. 2); they were doing things “through selfish ambition or conceit” (v. 3), and each was looking out “for his own interests” instead of  “for the interests of others” (v. 4). This mindset needed to be replaced by Christ’s mindset (v. 5).

Notice also that the passage says in verse 5, “let this mind be in you,” meaning allow someone to do it for you. The mind-replacement surgery must be done by someone. No surgeon can perform surgery on their own brains. Somebody must do it for them. So in the Bible, the whole concept of mind-transplant—the Bible calls it the “renewing of the mind”—is an operation carried out by the Holy Spirit. (Rom 12:2; Titus 3:3-5). The Spirit renews the mind. It is first and decisively His work. We are radically dependent on Him, for we cannot fix our “mind” problem on our own. 

Our New Mind: The Mindset of Christ

When Paul encouraged the Philippian Christians, to be “out of their minds” and “into Christ's mind,” the implication was that something was wrong with their mind, and that the cure to this mind-problem was the mindset of our Lord Jesus Christ—His attitude of mind, His way of thinking, or His outlook on life. 

What exactly is the nature of this new mindset?

The answer can be found by studying the Philippians 2 passage. But first, notice how often the word “mind” appears in the first five verses. In verse 2, we are to be “likeminded,” and again we are to be “of one mind.” In verse 3, our actions are to be carried out “in lowliness of mind.” And in verse 5, we are to posses the “mind” which was in Christ Jesus. 

The passage under consideration offers the most beautiful picture in all Scripture of who Christ really was and the mindset that characterized His life. Let’s explore “the measure” of Christ a little more:

1. The Identity of Christ: Fully God and Fully Man. To understand the mind of Christ, we must first know the identity of Christ. Before He appeared in this world, Jesus was 100% God. He was fully God. The apostle Paul uses two Greek words in Philippians 2:6 to emphasize the fact that Jesus was fully God: 

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God .”

First, the word rendered “being” (huparchon) means innate, essence, or “being originally.” It describes the unchangeable characteristic of a person or essence of a thing or person. “Being” denotes that which is from the beginning—that is, a prior existence. In reference to Christ, the word “being” refers to the pre-incarnate deity of Christ which continued, even when He became a human being. 

Second, Paul uses the word “form” (morphe) twice in this passage—in verse 6 (“form of God”) and verse 7 (“form of a servant”). Whereas in our common English usage the word “form” seems to suggest the idea of shape, that is not the sense in which the word is used in Philippians 2. Instead, the word is used in its philosophic sense to express an essential attribute—that which is by nature the essence of a thing. It describes the unchangeable character of a thing. 

In the context of Christ’s incarnation, the words “being” (huparchon) and “form”(morphe) express the fact that Christ was 100% God and when He assumed the role of a servant He was also 100% human. 

Thus, when Paul says that Christ Jesus, being first in the form of God, took the form of a servant, it means that though Christ possessed originally the essential attributes of God, He assumed in addition the essential attributes of humanity.  He was truly God, and He became truly human. Though He was divine by nature, He became human. Paul therefore affirms that before He became human, Christ possessed the fullness of God; He was fully divine. This is also what the apostle John teaches in John 1:1-14 concerning the pre-existent Word. 

How did Christ as fully God and fully Man live His life when He came to this earth? The answer to this question reveals the true “mind of Christ.”

2. The Mindset of Christ: He “Emptied Himself.” The second step to understanding the “mind of Christ” is clearly grasping the meaning of His self-emptying act when He became Human.

Philippians 2:7 says, “He made Himself of no reputation,” or “He emptied Himself” (RSV). This profound act of Christ has given rise to all kinds of questions, including questions about His full divinity. Could it be, it is often asked, that He was in some way less than God? 

The Greek word is the verb kenõo (from which we get the noun kenosis). The word seems to suggest that Christ at His incarnation “emptied Himself” (RSV) of something.  Other English translations render it He “made himself of no reputation” (KJV), “stripped Himself of all privilege” (Philips) “made himself nothing” (NIV), or “laid aside his mighty power and glory” (LB).

What exactly do these expressions mean? When Christ “emptied Himself” or “laid aside His might power and glory,” did He have less power on earth than when He was in heaven? Did He empty Himself of some or all of His divine attributes? 

Based on this word kenõo and the fact that in certain passages of Scripture Christ is said not to be able to know or do certain things on His own (e.g., Matthew 24:36; John 5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:28, 29), some have mistakenly concluded that at the time our Lord became human, He “emptied Himself of” or renounced certain of His divine abilities (such as His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience), retaining only the “moral” ones (justice, holiness, truthfulness, love).  This view is technically known as the kenotic theory or the kenotic Christology, after the Greek work kenõo or kenosis (translated, “emptying Himself” (RSV; NJB). 

But the kenotic notion that Christ at His incarnation “emptied Himself” of His “omni-” attributes is not biblical, for it makes Jesus partly God—not God Himself (see endnote).

 However, the evidence from Scripture is that Christ was NOT devoid of divine knowledge, power, or movement,  but rather He exercised these abilities intermittently, while for most of the time He chose not to do so.  

That is, the deity of Christ was not relinquished nor reduced at His incarnation. Or as Ellen G. White puts it, “Divinity was not degraded to humanity.”

 Though retaining all His divine abilities, Christ voluntarily restrained the exercise of these divine capacities, choosing to do so only when the Father permitted Him. 

3. The Costly Choice of Christ: Total Surrender. The mind (mindset) of Christ is revealed in the costly choice of total surrender when He became a human being.  It is here that we find the true biblical meaning of Christ’s “emptying Himself” (Kenosis). 

The Greek word translated in the King James Version (KJV) as “made Himself of no reputation” (KJV) or  “emptied Himself” (RSV) is the word kenõo. It means “to make null and void,” “to make of no effect,” “to empty of power.”

 Thus used, the verb kenõo is a very strong word to express the entireness of Christ’s self-renunciation. It denotes total surrender of Himself as God when he took the “form” [nature] of man at His incarnation.

When Paul says Jesus “emptied Himself”(RSV) or “made Himself of no reputation” (KJV), the apostle is simply saying that although Christ possessed the full capabilities as God, at His incarnation our Lord totally surrendered His right to independently exercise these abilities unless permitted by the Father.

Stated differently, the expression, “emptying Himself,” simply means a voluntary restraint of His power in submission to the Father's will.  Christ did not shed any aspect of His deity when He took upon Himself human flesh.  He was 100% God; for “in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). As such, He possessed all the omni-attributes as God. 

Therefore, the “emptying of Himself,” the real kenosis, must be understood not as a reduction of Christ's deity at His incarnation, but rather as a laying aside of the glory, majesty, and power which He had before the world was created (John 17:5) by a voluntary restraint divine power.  He surrendered His right to independently exercise His divine powers by submitting to God’s will. The New Living Translation correctly captures this idea when it states: “Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God” (Philippians 2:6).

Christ had with Him at all times His divine power, knowledge, ability to move instantaneously, etc. He could have used them if he wished. But He chose not to independently use them without the Fathers. He totally surrendered to the Father’s will. 

Illustration 1. Let me illustrate this fact with two sons go to their father with a request: 

First Son:     “Daddy, can you give me $50 to use?” 

Second Son:    “Daddy, can I use my own  $50 which I have in my pocket?”

Both sons rely on the father. They both seek to submit to their father. But there is a difference in the nature of their dependence upon the father. The first kind of dependence  illustrates the reliance all human beings are expected to place upon God. We don’t have the ability, wisdom, power or resources to go it alone in life. We need the Lord’s help. 

In contrast, the second type of reliance illustrates Christ’s dependence on God. Though He had all the resources, He consciously chose to depend upon His Father for the exercise of it.  He surrendered His rights! Though fully God, He lived a totally dependent life on the Father as any other human being should live. He lived as though He had no $50. 

It may be asked: Since He didn’t independently use the $50 without the Father’s permission, why didn’t He just keep it in heaven before coming. The answer is, if He had done so at His incarnation—if He had renounced His “omni” attributes—He would have ceased to be fully God. So, He kept the $50 with Him (remained fully God), but He chose not to use it (as fully Man). Christ’s conscious choice not to depend on Himself—though He was capable of doing so—but fully upon the Father is the true meaning of the self-emptying act of Christ.

All human beings—including prophets—depend on God for their knowledge of certain things and for power to do certain feats or miracles. But Jesus had these abilities in Himself even while on earth. He could exercise them on His own accord, but He voluntarily chose not to do so—unless the Father gave Him permission.

We can account for the voluntary restraint of Christ by the fact that when He became human Jesus consciously chose to be totally submitted to His Father’s will.  He was not independent of the Father.  He was wholly dependent on the Father’s direction in everything that He thought and did.  He Himself said, 

--“The Son can do nothing of Himself”; “I can of my own self do nothing” (John 5:19, 30). 

--“For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). 

--“I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. . .  For I do always those things that please him” (John 8:28-29).  

--In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed: “Not my will, but your will be done” (Matt 26:53ff). He consciously chose not to exercise His divine power to relieve His pain—unless the Father permitted it (Luke 22:43-44).  

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only person who totally and completely submitted Himself to the will of another.  The apostle Paul records the words of Christ, “I came to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7).  He who was the Lawgiver had to learn obedience. He who instructed the Bible writers now had to learn from human instructors. He who possessed all power chose not to exercise it.  Ponder over the following insightful statements:

“He who had been the commander of heaven was a willing servant, a loving, obedient son. He learned a trade, and with His own hands worked in the carpenter's shop with Joseph.”  (Child Guidance, 20).

“The child Jesus did not receive instruction in the synagogue schools. His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips and from the scrolls of the prophets, He learned of heavenly things. The very words which He Himself had spoken to Moses for Israel He was now taught at His mother's knee” (Desire of Ages, 70).

The omnipotent God was now dependent child. The Law Giver at Sinai learned the painful lessons of obedience: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb 5:7-8).

He [Christ] did not employ His divine power to lessen His burdens or lighten His toil. He had taken upon Himself the form of humanity with all its attendant ills, and He flinched not from its severest trials” (Child Guidance, 346).

“He might have helped His human nature to withstand the inroads of disease by pouring from His divine nature vitality and undecaying vigor to the human. But He humbled Himself to man's nature. . . . What humility was this! It amazed angels. The tongue can never describe it; the imagination cannot take it in. The eternal Word consented to be made flesh! God became man! It was a wonderful humility.”  {SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1127.2; emphasis mine}

Christ’s reliance was so complete that He became, as it were a slave of the Father.

 The dictionary defines a slave as "a person who is wholly subject to the will of another; one who has no will of his own, but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another."  As a true servant, Jesus totally surrendered everything to God—His will, His power, knowledge, movement—everything. It was a total self-renunciation.

Christ, therefore, spoke the truth when He said no one (including Himself) knew the day of His coming (Matt 24:36)—He consciously chose not to know anything unless Father revealed it to Him. Whatever Jesus did, He did solely upon reliance on the Father.  This is the same kind of dependence expected of all human beings. The only major difference between Christ and us is that, whereas He had the capacity to know and to do, we don’t.

In the total submission of Christ to the Father, we understand the intensity of His trials and temptations and His incredible humilty.

Tempted Like No Other

This idea (mindset) of Christ to voluntarily restrain Himself from exercising His own independent thoughts, actions, and movements apart from the Father was the greatest trial that He faced. Indeed, inasmuch as Jesus always retained His attributes as God, His decision to totally rely on the Father made His temptations far greater than any we human beings would ever face. Let me explain. 

Some have often suggested that, perhaps, Jesus had an advantage over us in that He did not face our specific temptations (say on watching TV, marriage, child raising, etc.), or that as God He had inherent power to overcome His temptations which we human beings don’t have. These suggestions, however, fail to understand the nature of temptation and the full meaning of Christ’s “self-emptying” act.

While one person’s specific temptation may be different from another, there is one thing common in them all. It is this: Every temptation demands people to make a decision as to whether or not they would act independently of God, by relying on themselves rather than on God.

  

Temptation is an attempt to entice us to live independently of God. It is in this respect that Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). But whereas Jesus was also tempted to act independently of the Father, there is a major difference between His temptations and ours. Unlike every other human being, Jesus (as fully God) possessed all the resources and abilities that could make Him act independently—that is, without Him relying on His Father. He had His own $50 in His pocket (using the illustration of the two sons)

For example when Satan tempted him saying, “If you are the Son of God turn these stones into bread,” the root of the temptation was to cause Christ to use His own resources independent of the Father. He was no doubt the “Son of God” (or God the Son, as classical theology is in the habit of saying it). He was fully divine. He had not relinquished any of His “omni-” abilities. He was, therefore, capable of actually turning stones into bread.  He could have fulfilled His needs by an act of His own will. But Jesus refused to do so, because He submitted fully to the will of God. 

Perhaps another illustration will clarify this point. 

Illustration 2: Two drivers are speeding on a highway that has a speed limit of 75 m.p.h. One of them is driving a Yugo or Kia with maximum speed limit of, say, 60 m.p.h. The other has a Mercedes or Volvo whose maximum speed limit is, say, 150 mph. Of these two drivers speeding on the highway, which of them has the greatest temptation to drive at or above the 75 m.p.h. speed limit?

It is obvious that the one driving the Mercedes or Volvo has the greater temptation than the Yugo or Kia driver. Unlike the latter, the Mercedes driver has the capability to drive at or even exceed the speed limit on the highway. Such was the nature of Christ’s temptation when He voluntarily chose to restrain the exercise of His divine power!

The thrust of all Satan’s temptations was to cause Christ to independently use His divine powers without God’s permission.  The most painful experience Christ faced was the provocation He faced daily to act independently of the Father.

“Satan thought that by his temptations he could delude the world's Redeemer to make one bold move in manifesting His divine power. . . . {SDA Bible Commentary,  vol. 7, p. 929.}

“Christ was put to the closest test, requiring the strength of all His faculties to resist the inclination when in danger, to use His power to deliver Himself from peril, and triumph over the power of the prince of darkness. Satan showed his knowledge of the weak points of the human heart, and put forth his utmost power to take advantage of the weakness of the humanity which Christ had assumed in order to overcome his temptations on man's account (RH April 1, 1875).  {SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 930.2}

Christ was not just acquainted with power, but “familiar with absolute power.” It was His by nature. By this power He commanded the world into existence and by it He sustains the universe. He had it with Him all the while He was on earth. Yet, He chose not to exercise it without God’s permission.

Think of how painful the temptation was as He was daily tempted to rely on His own wisdom and power.

--Cf. Peter rebuked Him–a fallible human being rebuking God!

--Satan asked Him to turn stones to bread. 

----People shouted “He saved other, but can’t save Himself”—when He could actually have done so.

--Herod said, “Don’t you know I have power to set you free and take your life?” Who had the real power?

--People spat on Him, hit Him, nailed Him on a cross. All these while, angels were waiting for His command to act. On one occasion He said: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). 

--He Himself could have just pressed His divine button and do whatever He wanted. But He said, No. 

Reflect on these insightful thoughts:

 “Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not have been placed in Adam's position; He could not have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. If we have in any sense a more trying conflict than had Christ, then He would not be able to succor us. But our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured” (Desire of Ages, 117).

The temptations to which Christ was subjected were a terrible reality. . . .  If this were not so, if it had not been possible for Him to fall, He could not have been tempted in all points as the human family is tempted. . . . The temptations of Christ, and His sufferings under them, were proportionate to His exalted, sinless character. . . . Upon the cross Christ knew, as no other can know, the awful power of Satan's temptations” (Selected Messages, vol. 3, pp. 131, 132).

“Christ alone had experience in all the sorrows and temptations that befall human beings. Never another of woman born was so fiercely beset by temptation; never another bore so heavy a burden of the world's sin and pain. Never was there another whose sympathies were so broad or so tender. A sharer in all the experiences of humanity, He could feel not only for, but with, every burdened and tempted and struggling one” (Education, p. 78). 

Christ’s self-emptying act made His temptations far greater than any human being’s. He did not have advantage over us. He relied on the Father for His victory—the same way we also can rely on God for victory over temptation. 

The point is that Jesus voluntarily restrained His power, preferring rather to submit his divine abilities totally to the direction of His Father.   Just as Jesus did not do all that He could have done, because of His voluntary submission to His Father's will (see e.g., Matt 26:53 ff.), so did He not consciously know all that He might have known, but only what the Father willed Him to know. 

Christ’s total submission to the Father’s will and His voluntary act of self-restraint in the exercise of His power,, was not simply the greatest trial He faced, but also the highest expression of humility. For humility is the act of complete self-denial. He essentially adopted the attitude of a SLAVE, and endured its attending humiliation, even to the point of an ignominous death.

Humility: 

What It Means To Be Out of Our Minds 

“He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:   And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

What the apostle Paul is saying is that when Christ condescended and became a human being, He surrendered His right to exercise His powers as God, was humiliated as a slave, and was finally murdered in a shameful death. 

But observe that Christ’s unreserved obedience to the will of the Father, including the death on the cross, was entirely a voluntary act. He Himself declared, “ I lay down my life. . .  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down myself” (John 10:17-18). It was He who emptied Himself; He took the form of a man; He humbled Himself. This voluntary submission of Christ do death, is the highest expression of humility.

The following are characteristics of true humility. They are also the indicators that we are truly out of our minds. 

1. Humility is total surrender.  In the humility of Christ we discover the true meaning of the word surrender. Surrender is giving up what we consider most valuable—our ideas, our rights, our independence, our selves. Humility is a choice we make; it is a mindset we adopt.

2. Humility is total surrender of self. Humility is denying self. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not just give up His glories, riches, and adoration above. He consciously chose to give up Himself–His Godly Self.  When Christ chose to not independently exercise his prerogatives as God, He was in effect denying His divine Self. For a God who does not exercise His divine powers unless He daily obtains permission from a Source above Him has essentially renounced the essence of His own “Godness.” Herein lies the true meaning of self-denial. It is dying to self. 

According to Ellen G. White, Christ’s surrender was so complete that there was “no fiber” of self or selfishness in Him. We are to emulate His example. She writes: 

“All sin is selfishness.”

  

“Let selfishness be rooted out of the heart. In the life of Christ there was no fiber of selfishness.”

  

“No selfishness is of Christ. Selfishness lies at the foundation of all sin.”

 

3. Humility is total dependence upon God. Humility is not simply the total surrender of self. It is the giving up of self by choosing to depend upon God. In the humility of Christ, we learn that true humility means relying wholeheartedly upon God in everything we do, think, say, or even are.  It is allowing God to control one’s life completely. 

It is a great irony that Jesus, who had power within Him that He could have used, relied constantly upon a Source from above Him. And yet we, who have nothing within us, tend to depend upon what we don’t have. Jesus, as fully God, lived as a man, through dependence upon God. And yet we, who are human, try to live as God through our life of independence from God. 

4. Humility is the total surrender of our rights.  In our culture of rights, one of the most difficult things to surrender is our rights---our prerogatives, our legal claims or entitlements, or the things that are due us by law, tradition, or nature. The New Living Translation correctly captures Christ’s spirit of humility when it states: “Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God” (Philippians 2:6).

Writes Ellen G. White:  “Jesus did not contend for His rights. Often His work was made unnecessarily severe because He was willing and uncomplaining. Yet He did not fail nor become discouraged. He lived above these difficulties, as if in the light of God's countenance. He did not retaliate when roughly used, but bore insult patiently.”

 

5. Humility is surrendering our right to be in charge. True humility is willingness to serve others, founded upon the willingness to lean totally upon God. When Christ surrendered His right as God , He simultaneously did something else. Philippians 2:7 tells us that “He emptied Himself and took the form of a servant.” 

Humility is being a servant, a slave. In our self-serving culture, greatness is defined by how many people serve you. But in the humility of Christ we discover that true greatness is measured by how many people you serve.  As Ellen White puts it, “The only greatness is the greatness of humility. The only distinction is found in devotion to the service of others.”

6. Humility is total and voluntary obedience. Christ’s obedience was voluntary, humiliating, persevering, and total. “The Son of God was surrendered to the Father's will, and dependent upon His power. So utterly was Christ emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God's plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will.”

7. Humility is an expression of faith. Christ’s life of total, voluntary obedience to God is also an expression of faith. For faith trusts God , even though it cannot always explain where God is leading, why He permits certain things to happen, when He would intervene, and how He would work things out. This kind of faith is evidence of a fully surrendered life, and is the foundation of humility. 

8. Humility is dying to self.  True humility is the crucifixion of self,  a willingness to die to our self-importance, self-sufficiency, and all other forms of self-awareness. Because self is dead, a truly humble person sees himself as nothing so that Christ can be everything.  Self is not easily wounded when its claims are not recognized, nor easily hurt by unkind words and jeopardized ambitions. 

9. Humility is a way of life. In Christ’s self-emptying act during His incarnation we find the true meaning of “the spirit of Christ,” which Christians claim to remember whenever they celebrate Christmas. Today, when we speak of the “Christmas spirit” it is nothing more than frivolity or some sentimental jollity that we pack into one day, supposedly to remember Christ’s birth. But the “Christmas spirit” ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of Him who for our sakes became poor, beginning on the night He was born in Bethlehem’s manger. And that spirit of Christ’s self-denial ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.

10. Humility puts our pride to shame. Christ’s humility rebukes all forms of our pride. “When we see Jesus, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief, working to save the lost, slighted, scorned, derided, driven from city to city till His mission was accomplished; when we behold Him in Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood, and on the cross dying in agony,--when we see this, self will no longer clamor to be recognized. Looking unto Jesus, we shall be ashamed of our coldness, our lethargy, our self-seeking. We shall be willing to be anything or nothing, so that we may do heart service for the Master. We shall rejoice to bear the cross after Jesus, to endure trial, shame, or persecution for His dear sake.”

 

“He who beholds Christ in His self-denial, His lowliness of heart, will be constrained to say, as did Daniel, when he beheld One like the sons of men, ‘My comeliness was turned in me into corruption.’ Daniel 10:8. The independence and self-supremacy in which we glory are seen in their true vileness as tokens of servitude to Satan. Human nature is ever struggling for expression, ready for contest; but he who learns of Christ is emptied of self, of pride, of love of supremacy, and there is silence in the soul. Self is yielded to the disposal of the Holy Spirit. Then we are not anxious to have the highest place. We have no ambition to crowd and elbow ourselves into notice; but we feel that our highest place is at the feet of our Saviour. We look to Jesus, waiting for His hand to lead, listening for His voice to guide.”

Conclusion

Such is the measure of the greatness of Christ. Such is His mindset—totally selfless, even to the point of death! This is the mind we are to posses—an outlook of humility which is so counter-self and counter-cultural that when we live that way, an average person would think we are crazy or out of our minds! 

The truth, however, is that we are not average people. We are super-average, for the Holy Spirit has done a supernatural mind-transplant on us, a mind operation that elevates us from the realm of mediocre thinking and lifestyle.

So when the average person asks us if we are out of your mind, we must boldly answer, Yes! For we are “out of our selfish minds” and have “Christ’s selfless mind.” Such a radical concept is that which alone can change the world—even as Christ, by the sheer force of His life and teachings changed the world.

Let’s be out of our minds so we can change our church—and our world!

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SURRENDER YOUR RIGHTS

The Mind of Paul

1 Corinthians 9; 11:1

Part II—“Be Out Your Mind” Seminar Series

By 

© Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

Director Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

Author, Not for Sale

Key Definitions: A right is a privilege, prerogative, or birth right. It is something that is due to person or group by law, tradition, or nature. It is something you have a just or legal claim or title. Inalienable Rights are rights that are  incapable of being repudiated, forfeited, or transferred to another. A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury.  Injustice occurs when a person is deprived of his/her legitimate rights.

We Have Rights & Must Respect the Rights of Others: USA Constitution: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

“The Lord Jesus demands our acknowledgment of the rights of every man. Men's social rights and their rights as Christians are to be taken into consideration. All are to be treated with refinement and delicacy as the sons and daughters of God. “ {MYP 421.1}

Every human being has been bought with a price, and as God's heritage he has certain rights, of which no one should deprive him. The Lord will not accept service from those who practice double-dealing. The least advantage gained in this way will dishonor God and the truth. Those who possess Bible religion will do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God. These are the lines drawn by the God of justice on this matter.  {TM 281.1}

There are certain rights that belong to every individual, in doing God's service. No man has any more right to take these rights from us than to take life itself. God has given us freedom to think, and it is our privilege and duty always to be a doer of the Word, and to follow our impressions of duty. We are only human beings, and one human being has no jurisdiction over the conscience of any other human being.  {19MR 213.3}

Key Thought: Insisting on one’s rights, even one’s rights as a Christian, is evidence of pride. It also indicates that we do not understand the humility of Christ, nor do we really know Him. The indiscriminate exercise of rights can be a violation of the gospel of Christ and can cost us our salvation. A true Christian is always willing to surrender his rights for the sake of Christ. Surrendering one’s rights is the evidence of true humility.

BIBLE STUDY: 1 Corinthians 9

At least six times in this chapter -vv. 4, 5, 6, 12 (2x), 18, Paul uses the word  exousia. It’s principal meaning is authority or the opportunity or exercise of that authority. It  means power or rights. Modern versions translate it  “rights,” but the KJV translates it as “power.” Thus, anywhere you read the word “power” in KJV, you might as well translate it as “right.”

Paul’s Claim to Certain Rights (9:3-6)

1.

2.

3.

Evidence of Paul’s Rights (9:7ff.)

A. Proof from Everyday Life (vv. 7-8)

1.

2.

3.

B. Proof from the Law (i.e., Old Testament Scripture) (v. 9)

C. The Proof from Common Sense or  Logic (v. 10-11)

D. Proof from the Work of Levites/Priests in the Temple Service (v. 13)

E. The Proof from the Lord Himself. (v. 14) 

Paul’s Surrender Rights and Privileges

v. 12

v. 15

v. 18

Why Surrender Your Rights

Two clue words in 1 Cor 8 & 9, translated in the KJV as “lest by any means,” “lest,” or “that.” (mepois, or hina)

1. (1 Cor 8:9)—Lest you be a STUMBLING BLOCK to weaker ones

2. (1 Cor 8:13)—Lest you EMBOLDEN PEOPLE TO SIN (read context in vv. 10-13)

3. (1 Cor 9:12)—Lest you be a HINDRANCE TO THE GOSPEL

4. (1 Cor 9:27)—Lest you be DISQUALIFIED (or lose your soul)

5. (1 Cor 10:12)—Lest you SLIP AND FALL (watch out, you’re on slippery slope; time is running out)

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Cor 10:23)

Ultimate Reason: The Mind of Paul

(a) vv. 18-22

(b) vv. 23-27 (cf. 10:12)

Ultimate reason is to win others & also save our own souls. Notice the recurring phrase “that I might gain.” Love is the reason. This is the reason why Jesus also surrendered His rights. To know love, look at humility–self-surrender.

Not Easy, But Worth It

v. 25 (agonizomai)

v. 27 (hupopiazo)

When It Is Appropriate to Exercise One’s Right

He concludes his discussion of “rights” with seven principles (1 Cor 10:31-11:1)

1. Exercise your rights if doing so would __________ _______ God ( 10:31)

2. Exercise your rights if doing so would not be a ______________________ to any, whether believer or unbeliever. (1 Cor 10:32a)

3. Exercise your rights if doing so would advance the interest of God’s _______________  (1 Cor 10:32b)

4. Exercise your rights if doing so would also benefit _______________, esp. those involved (not simply advancing your personal interests). (1 Cor 10:33a).

5. Exercise your rights if doing so would result in the _______________  of others.(1 Cor 10:33b) 

6. Exercise your rights if doing so would be consistent with the example of ____________   (1 Cor 11:1a)

7. Exercise your rights if doing so would be consistent with the of ___________  (1 Cor 11:1b)

Thus, Paul exercised his rights in Philippi (Acts 16:35-41; cf. ). This probably caused them to act more carefully in the future when they administer justice, which would be the benefit of the fledgling church in Philippi if others attempted to persecute its members (Acts 19:35-41; 22:22-29). On another occasion, he insisted on his rights as a Roman citizen, to avoid a flogging and also to secure an appeal of his case to Caesar (Acts 22:22-29; 25:11). He did so to secure the opportunity to carry the gospel to the Gentiles and testify about Christ in Rome (Acts 9:15-16; 22:25; 23:11; 25:11). Cf. Abraham, Joseph, etc. But we must be extremely careful about  when and why to exercise our rights. Our deceptive hearts may give “legitimate” reasons, when in actual fact our reasons are for selfish reasons. When any of the above seven principles would be violated, we must be willing to  surrender our rights.

If you see that by doing certain things which you have a perfect right to do, you hinder the advancement of God's work, refrain from doing those things. Do nothing that will close the minds of others against the truth. There is a world to save, and we shall gain nothing by cutting loose from those we are trying to help. All things may be lawful, but all things are not expedient.  {9T 215.1}

Key Question: What rights must you give up today—in your personal life, home, church, work place, etc.? Jesus didn’t come to insist on his rights. He took our wrongs. So that we might live. Pride or unrenewed self  is often the reason we seek to assert our rights.

Some Final Thoughts

Paul was not weak, or stupid when he chose not to exercise his rights because of the reasons given in 1 Cor 8:9, 13; 9:12, 27; 10:12. He was dead to self, “crucified to self” (Gal 2:20). So he surrendered his rights. He was emulating Christ (1 Cor 11:1; Phil 2:5-8).

Paul “had no ambitions [for himself]—and so had nothing to be jealous about. He had no reputation—and so had nothing to fight about. He had no possessions—and therefore had nothing to worry about. He had no rights—so therefore he could not suffer wrong. He was already broken—so no one could break him. He was dead—so none could kill him. He was less than the least—so who could humble him? He had suffered the loss of all things—so none could defraud him” (Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries,173, cited in Olford, Not I, But Christ, 55, 56).

“Jesus did not contend for His rights. Often His work was made unnecessarily severe because He was willing and uncomplaining. Yet He did not fail nor become discouraged. He lived above these difficulties, as if in the light of God's countenance. He did not retaliate when roughly used, but bore insult patiently.”  {DA 89.4}

“The Christian need not contend for his rights. God will deal with the one who violates these rights. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." Rom. 12:19. An account is kept of all these matters, and for all the Lord declares that He will avenge. He will bring every work into judgment.”  {3SM 300.1}

“Christians need not contend for their rights. They stand under the protection of the banner of Christ. They are to acknowledge the supreme authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords. “In matters of difficulty between them and their brethren, they are not to appeal to Caesar or to Pilate. An account is kept of all these matters; and in his own good time, Christ will avenge his own elect. God will deal with the one who defrauds his brother and the cause of God. ‘Vengeance is mine,’ he says; ‘I will repay.’”  {RH, January 3, 1899 par. 9}

“Jesus did not contend for His rights. When roughly used, He bore it patiently. Because He was so willing and uncomplaining, His work was often made needlessly hard. Yet He was not discouraged for He knew that God smiled upon Him.”  {SJ 39.4}

“He was gentle, and never contended for his rights; but his own brethren scorned and hated him, showing that they did not believe in him, and casting contempt upon him. In his home life, where he should have found peace, he found only strife, envy, and jealousy. He loved his brethren, but they made his labors unnecessarily hard, because he was so willing and uncomplaining. He did not fail, nor become discouraged. He lived above the difficulties of his life, as if in the light of God's countenance. He bore insult patiently, and in his human nature became an example for all children and youth.”  {YI, December 12, 1895 par. 2}

“If a Christian is abused, he is to take it patiently; if defrauded, he is not to appeal to courts of justice. Rather let him suffer loss and wrong. God will deal with the unworthy church member who defrauds his brother or the cause of God; the Christian need not contend for his rights. God will deal with the one who violates these rights. ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord’ [Rom. 12:19]. An account is kept of all these matters, and for all the Lord declares that He will avenge. He will bring every work into judgment.”  {5MR 410.3}

“We must give others an example of not stopping at every trifling offense in order to vindicate our rights. We may expect that false reports will circulate about us; but if we follow a straight course, if we remain indifferent to these things, others will also be indifferent. Let us leave to God the care of our reputation. And thus, like sons and daughters of God, we shall show that we have self-control. We shall show that we are led by the Spirit of God, and that we are slow to anger. Slander can be lived down by our manner of living; it is not lived down by words of indignation. Let our great anxiety be to act in the fear of God, and show by our conduct that these reports are false. No one can injure our character as much as ourselves. It is the weak trees and the tottering houses that need to be constantly propped. When we show ourselves so anxious to protect our reputation against attacks from the outside, we give the impression that it is not blameless before God, and that it needs therefore to be continually bolstered up” (MS 24, 1887).  {3BC 1160.9}

[NOTE: This outline is excerpted from the author’s  forthcoming book, The Humility of Christ, scheduled for release in the Fall of 2009. Send your suggestions and questions to the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ]

 

 

 

 

 

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SACRIFICE & COMMITMENT

The Mind of Nehemiah

Nehemiah 5

Part III—“Be Out Your Mind” Seminar Series

By 

© Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

Director Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

Author, Not for Sale

When God wants a work accomplished, He always prepares His workers and puts them in the right places at the right time: Esther at Susan; Joseph in Egypt; Daniel in Babylon; Nehemiah in Susan  But it takes more than a person who is well-connected. It takes more than an influential person. It takes more than a brilliant man. It takes a spiritual person—a man who has Christ’s spirit of sacrifice and commitment. Such was Nehemiah. 

Background. After Solomon’s death, there was a civil war in Israel that led to the division of the nation into two. The northern kingdom (which retained the name Israel) was destroyed by the Assyrians (in 722 BC). The southern kingdom (which took the name Judah) was later destroyed by Babylonians (in 586 BC), destroying its walls and sending most of its inhabitants into Babylonian exile (see 2 Chron 26:17-23).  At the end of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity (exilic years), the Persian ruler Cyrus gave permission to the Jews to return to their homeland. Two major waves of returnees: Zurababbel in 536 BC (+ 50,000; Ezra 1), and Ezra some 80 years later (457 BC). Nehemiah went to Jerusalem some 14 years later (444 BC). 

Nehemiah was a godly man who aspired for spiritual & professional excellence. He lived at a time when the luminaries of Greece lived and wrote: Xenophon, Plato, and Demosthenes. Even though these men were great, their names never appear in the Bible. From biblical perspective, Nehemiah was a great man. Because of His selfless spirit and sacrificial leadership, God used him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days—walls that had laid in ruins for over 150 years!  In Nehemiah chapter 5 we shall learn about the selfless and sacrificial spirit of Nehemiah.

A. Test of Leadership (Neh 5:1-5)

True leadership is tested in times of crisis. Though opposition from outside can be bitter and relentless, Ellen White has said that “we have far more to fear from within than from without” (1SM 122).  As God’s work moves forward, internal conflicts are inevitable.  Spiritual leaders must handle conflicts carefully or risk an explosive situation that can jeopardize the work.   Nehemiah 5 provides leadership principles for dealing effectively with internal problems.  Even more, it reveals the character of a true leader.

1. What was the nature and extent of the conflict? v. 1

2. Identify the causes of the internal conflict. (vv. 2-5)

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

NB: While the above reasons are the immediate causes of the internal problems, we must note that the root cause of all is selfishness or self-interest. SELF lies at the root of all our problems. According to Ellen G. White, it is “the greatest burden we have to bear in this life. . . . Self is the most difficult thing we have to manage. In laying off burdens, let us not forget to lay self at the feet of Christ.  {2MCP 540.5}

3. What was Satan’s ultimate goal in stirring up the internal crisis?

B. Resolving the Immediate Conflict (5:6-13)

4. What was Nehemiah’s first reaction to the exploitation and was it right? (v. 6).

NB: Spiritual leaders must show righteous indignation in the face of injustice and exploitation. Not all anger is sin, or else we could charge God Himself with sin. Sinful anger (human anger) arises from self-centeredness, wounded pride (Eph 4:26-27), loss of self-control (James 1:19-20; Gal 5:19-21) and the harboring of resentment and revengeful spirit (Rom 12:17-21).  Such an anger leads to sin.  On the other hand, holy anger (divine wrath) is an expression of holy love and results in righteousness.  

5. Identify three specifics Nehemiah took in resolving the conflict. Why are they important in every situation? (v. 7)

(a)

(b)

(c)

NB: In the Hebrew, the expression literally means “to give one’s self advice.” Spiritual leaders must think through issues before they (re)act; they don’t thoughtlessly act on impulse.  They must also follow the principle of Matthew 18.

6. Restate the reasons Nehemiah gave to explain the wrongness of their conduct (vv. 8-9)

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

7. What was the reaction of the nobles and what did it mean? (v. 8c)

8. What exactly is Nehemiah saying in verse 10 when he points to his own practice of lending money and grain to the people?

 

9. What concrete actions did Nehemiah take to correct the wrongs, and what were the reactions of the guilty ones to each of the actions Nehemiah called for? (vv 11-13)

(a) Action 1 (v. 11; cf. Deut 23:19; Lev 25:10-13, 47-54)

Reaction 1 (12a)

(b) Action 2 (v. 12b) 

(b) Reaction 2 (13c)

(c) Action 3 (v. 13a) 

(b) Reaction 3 (13c)

10. What was the reaction of the people Nehemiah’s handling of the problem? (v. 13c)

C. Averting Future Conflicts (5:14-19)

These last six verses show how Nehemiah conducted himself during his first term as governor (a period of 12 years).  The lessons he learned during the internal conflict of the first month influenced his subsequent practice. Here, we discover the real “heart” of Nehemiah.

11. Notice the following specific steps Nehemiah took:

(a) v. 14. Nehemiah R_________________ his privileges as governor (cf. the example of Paul, 1 Cor 9:8ff.; 15; cf. Gal 5:13, 14)

(b) vv. 15 a and 15 b. Unlike his predecessors, Nehemiah R___________  to enrich himself by exploiting the people (v. 15a) or L____________ over them (v. 15b; cf. 1 Pet 5:3; Mt 20:25-28). He would not use his power to further his own ends.

(c) v. 16. Nehemiah A_______________ no lands.  He worked with his own hands; he did no “side jobs,” and couldn’t be accused of conflict of interest.

(d) vv. 17-18. Nehemiah personally B____________ the costly expenses of his officials and visiting guests (vv. 17-18). Like the early church he shared what he had (Acts 2:44-47; 4:32).

D. The Mind of Nehemiah

12. What were Nehemiah’s two major motives for embarking upon this course of action? (vv. 15c, 18d) 

(a)

(b)

13.  To what extent does Nehemiah’s sacrificial example reflect Christ’s self-less spirit of humility (Phil 2:5-8)?

E. The Spirit of a True Leader

“Nehemiah was not a priest; he was not a prophet; he made no pretension to high title. He was a reformer raised up for an important time. It was his aim to set his people right with God. Inspired with a great purpose, he bent every energy of his being to its accomplishment…. As he came into contact with evil and opposition to right he took so determined a stand that the people were roused to labor with fresh zeal and courage. . . .  {CC 269.3}

 “There has always been a true elite of God’s leaders.  They are the meek who inherit the earth (Mat 5:5).  They weep and pray in secret, and defy earth and hell in public.  They tremble when faced with danger, but die in their tracks sooner than turn back.  They are like a shepherd defending his sheep or a mother protecting her young.  They sacrifice without grumbling, give without calculating, suffer without groaning.  To those in their charge they say, ‘We live if you do well.’  Their price is above rubies.  They are the salt of the earth.  And Nehemiah was one of them” (John White, p. 89).

“The success attending Nehemiah's efforts shows what prayer, faith, and wise, energetic action will accomplish. Living faith will prompt to energetic action. The spirit manifested by the leader will be, to a great extent, reflected by the people. If the leaders professing to believe the solemn, important truths that are to test the world at this time, manifest no ardent zeal to prepare a people to stand in the day of God, we must expect the church to be careless, indolent, and pleasure-loving (SW March 29, 1904).  {3BC 1137.1}

     

“We need Nehemiahs in this age of the world, who shall arouse the people to see how far from God they are because of the transgression of His law. Nehemiah was a reformer, a great man raised up for an important time. As he came in contact with evil and every kind of opposition, fresh courage and zeal were aroused. His energy and determination inspired the people of Jerusalem; and strength and courage took the place of feebleness and discouragement. His holy purpose, his high hope, his cheerful consecration to the work, were contagious. The people caught the enthusiasm of their leader, and in his sphere each man became a Nehemiah, and helped to make stronger the hand and heart of his neighbor. Here is a lesson for ministers of the present day. If they are listless, inactive, destitute of godly zeal, what can be expected of the people to whom they minister (SW June 28, 1904)?  {3BC 1137.2}

Final Thoughts: Spiritual leaders are self-less leaders, servant leaders, exemplary leaders, and caring leaders.  They are not leaders in order to get but in order to give.  Though it hurts to sacrifice what is due them, and though it costs them their all, they are willing to serve because the Master whose example they follow also gave His all, including His life for them (Acts 20:22-36). 

[NOTE: This outline is excerpted from the author’s  forthcoming book on LEADERSHIP (focusing on the book of Nehemiah). This work is cheduled for release in the Fall of 2009. Send your suggestions and questions to the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ]

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THE FREEDOM OF SLAVERY

The Mind of Mary

Luke 1:26-38

Part IV—“Be Out Your Mind” Seminar Series

By 

© Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

Director Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

Author, Not for Sale

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one Bible character that Protestants seldom talk about—except in the context of the Christmas story.  This is perhaps in response to the questionable dogmas and practices associated with Mary. 

As you may probably be aware, the Roman Catholic doctrine of & devotion to Mary are built on the virgin Mary’s role in the birth of Christ. On the basis of the Bible’s teaching of the virgin birth of Christ, today Catholics have developed a cult around Mary. They adore Mary as Queen of Heaven and increasingly venerate or worship her, even as they do other RC saints.   These have been accelerated by alleged appearances of Mary at Lourdes, Fatima, and other places. 

Among the myths that have developed around the virgin Mary are the following:

1. Mary’s Perpetual virginity, the belief that Mary remained a virgin even after Jesus was born.

2. Mary as a Mediatrix, the belief that Mary is an intermediary or mediator between us and Jesus”--forcefully stated in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII in an encyclical. 

3. Immaculate Conception of Mary, the belief that Mary was conceived without original sin. In 1894 Pope Pius IX proclaimed the doctrine of immaculate conception as a dogma in his bull ineffabilis Deus. 

4. The Assumption of Mary, the belief that after her death, Mary was bodily assumed to heaven to reign as Queen of Heaven. This dogma holds that Mary was assumed into heaven, like Enoch and Elijah in the OT. In 1950 Pope Pius XII defined the dogma of the assumption of Mary in his apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus. This dogma is also a basis for belief in Mary as Queen of Heaven and as mediatrix.

5. Mary as Co-Redemptrix, the belief that Mary is Co-Redeemer with Jesus Christ. Prior to, and since, Vatican II, there has been a strong push within Roman Catholicism to make Mary a Co-Redeemer, alongside Christ.  The reason is that: (a) the incarnation could not have occurred without Mary’s permission; (b) Mary “gave life to the world”; “Death through Eve, life through Mary” (c) She was united with Christ in suffering as He died on the cross, and (d) as Queen in heaven, she is co-operating with Christ in the work of human salvation.

6. Mary as the Fourth-member of the Godhead, the push to make Mary a member of Heavenly Divine Quartet.  Just as we have God the Father and God the Son, we need some kind of “God the Mother” (much credit goes to feminist theology). We must worship Mary, even as we do Jesus Christ. And just as the Holy Spirit is active in the world today, leading people to all truth, so the Holy Spirit, is appearing to people and giving prophetic revelations, performing miracles  and healing their diseases.

Notice that these questionable doctrines and devotion to Mary—i.e., Mariology and Mariolatory

—are not established by Scriptures, but on Roman Catholicism’s ecclesiastical tradition. But as I said earlier, because of this fact, the true biblical teaching of Mary has been obscured.

For this reason, this seminar would attempt to focus on “the mind of Mary.” We are going to discover that “the mind of Mary” was essentially an attitude of Christlikeness—the kind exhibited by Christ Himself when He voluntary became a slave. Since it is almost Christmas, I’ll begin by looking at the relationship between Mary and Joseph. 

Joseph and Mary

Three Stages in Jewish Marriage.  

1. The engagement, where a contract was arranged by family members who determined whether the couple would be well-suited for each other and for a future marriage.

2. The bethrothal, which was the public ratification of the engagement, with a period of one year for the couple to become known as belonging to each other, but not having the rights of living together as husband and wife. A bethrothal was essentially marriage. Thus, it can be terminated only through divorce or death.  According to the Scripture reading, Mary and Joseph were in the second stage of the marriage process.

3. The marriage proper or wedding, which took place at the end of the year of bethrothal and during which period the couple can now consummate their marriage in a sexual relation..

Joseph Shocking News & Dilemma. During the year of their betrothal, Mary made known to Joseph that she was with child by the miraculous act of God (Matt 1:18; cf. Luke 1:26-56). What does a man do in a case like this?  Your wife or fiancee goes on a vacation only to return 3-months pregnant. And he knows that throughout their relationship, they had never had sexual relation. What would be the reaction of a man who is confronted with this kind of situation? 

What options were opened to Joseph? 1. If he should decide to marry the woman, what possible concerns will he have?  2. If he loved the woman , but doesn’t want the child?  3. What if he chooses not to marry the woman, what explanation will he give to the church board?  

Joseph had two options: (1) He could legally “put her away” merely by declaring that she did not please him (cf. Matt 19:3, 8; Mark 10:4), without mentioning his reason for doing so.  (2) He could also “press charges” in a public trial for adultery, in which case Mary could be executed by stoning (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:23, 24). 

Joseph’s Decision. Though broken-hearted, being a tender-hearted and merciful good man, he chose to put her away privately. He decided to temper his sense of justice with mercy for the supposed offender.  We are told: Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily” (Matt 1:19).

With that kind of decision, Joseph was in effect saying that he would remain single for the remainder of his life—as long as Mary lived or as long as Mary did not marry. In effect, Joseph was willing to forgive Mary for her supposed wrong. 

An Angel Intervenes. While Joseph was thinking about his decision, an angel appeared to him with a surprising news (Matt 1:20-25). Joseph was obedient to the Lord. He did “as the angel of the Lord had bidden him.” He accepted his wife. Throughout the pregnancy, he treated her with respect. He chose not to have a sexual relation with her till after the child was born. He decided to adopt the Child by naming Him. What an incredible man Joseph was!

How Would We Describe Joseph? 

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Joseph emerges in these pages as a man of an impeccable Christian character. He was a godly and disciplined man.  He was a forgiving and a large-hearted man. Because he was willing to “forgive,” he himself experienced the blessings of  true peace and forgiveness. 

Observe how the Lord rewarded Joseph for his courageous and selfless decision to forgive Mary and to live her. Through the angel, God said to Joseph:

1. Because you’re willing to forgive her, the Child will end up forgiving you your own sins, and the sins of the world: His name shall be called  Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins” (v. 21, 25).  “Jesus” or “Joshua” means “Yahweh is salvation.”  He is the Savior.

2. Because you’re willing to stay with her for life, the Child will ensure that God lives with you, and the world forever: His name shall be Immanuel, which is translated “God with us.” 

This is the reward for a forgiving spirit.  Those who exercise the spirit of forgiveness are always blessed by God.

Mary: The Handmaid of the Lord 

(Luke 1:28, 30)

Let’s now talk about Mary, the wife of Joseph and the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.  She also was an incredible person. Like Joseph, her decision to carry the baby was also an act of faith and total submission to God. 

Good News and Bad News To Mary

(a) Good news (Luke 1:26-33): Why was it good news?

(b) Bad news (vv. 34-35): Why was it bad news?

 

Being the mother of the Messiah was good news. But it was also bad news. As the prophet Simeon would later warn Mary about the cost, hurt, and pain of being the mother of the long-awaited Messiah, "And a sword will pierce your own soul too," he says to Mary (Lk 2:35). If it would cost and hurt to be the mother of the Messiah through the virgin birth, how would Mary respond?

Mary’s Response (v. 38): “Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant [handmaiden] of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).

Notice how Mary describes herself—maidservant or handmaiden of the Lord. The Greek word is doulë (femine form of doulos, the word for slave). Mary said she was a female slave. To appreciate her response, let’s look briefly at the two verses preceding her response:

36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:36-37)

The angel first directed Mary to two other women who were similarly approached with good news by an angel—Elizabeth (with of Zechariah) and Sarah (wife of Abraham). Both old women were approached with good news that they would give birth in their old age—something that was humanly impossible to achieve.  

Observe that when in verse 37 the angel stated that “with God nothing will be impossible,” he wa discreetly calling attention to the experience of Sarah. To Sarah, God says, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen 18:14). To Mary, God says, "For nothing is impossible with God."

Perhaps the Gospel writer Luke was calling attention to Sarah and Elizabeth so we shall fully appreciate Mary’s response. Mary’s reaction was different from Sarah’s (not cynical) and Elizabeth’s husband (unbelief). Instead, it was one of willing obedience.“Behold the maidservant [handmaiden] of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Mary’s response was one of total surrender. As pointed out earlier, the Greek word translated as "maidservant" (NKJV)  or handmaiden (KJV) is doulë (femine form of doulos, the word for slave), meaning "a female slave." In calling herself a female slave, Mary was adopting the status and attitude of a willing bondslave. She had voluntarily decided to be completely obedient to God, not matter how painful it would cost her. Mary was in effect adopting the mindset of Christ when He emptied Himself and became a slave.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate this attitude of a willing slave to look at slavery in the Bible and specific passage in the Old Testament.

Slavery in the Bible. Because of the system of Western slavery in which human beings were treated as objects of exploitation, we legitimately look without favor on any form of slavery. And we should, for it is never right to treat people created in the image of God as things. 

But in condemning slavery, we should be careful not to interpret slavery in Scripture as 19th century slavery. It does appear that Bible translators and interpreters are so eager to wipe out slavery that they have tried to soften the word “slave” (doulos) in the Bible and replacing it with a much more acceptable term “servant” (diakonos). 

While their attempt is understandable, we risk missing out on some important Bible truths. One such truth is the concept of being a “slave of Jesus Christ,” an expression that has been replaced in many translations as a “servant of Jesus Christ.” 

The apostles described themselves as slaves because they understood the meaning of the term from its usage in the Old Testament. There, we discover that the treatment of slaves in the Old Testament was much different from the treatment of slaves in the Western world. The occupations of Bible slaves were of a menial character, consisting partly in the work of the house and partly in personal attendance on the master. 

Reasons for Slavery. Reasons for slavery in the Old Testament were: (i) prisoners of war and their children; Num 31:26ff. Lev 25:44, 45; cf. Gen. 14:14; 17;12; Eccles. 2:7,); (ii) commission of theft (rendered a person liable to servitude whenever restitution could not be made, until he worked out the value of his restitution money; see Exo 22:1,3); (iii) poverty (in which a person mortgaged his family and/or himself); (iv) sometimes servitude with a view of marriage (Exo 21:7).  

Regardless of how a person became a slave, the treatment of the “slaves” were regulated by God in such a way that they were treated humanely (Eg.they were not to “rule over him with rigor” Lev. 25:30, 10, 43; also every Sabbath, annual festivals, etc. approx. one-third of year free). 

It will also interest you to know that the slavery of an Israelite could be terminated in three ways: (1) by the satisfaction or the remission of all claims against him; (2) by the recurrence of the year of Jubilee, Lev. 25:40; and (3) the expiration of six years from the time that his servitude commenced (Exo 21:2; Deut 15:12). The exception was if the slave, of his own free will, decided to become a permanent slave. 

You might ask, "Why would anyone ever consent to be a slave for life?" The answer is love (see, Exodus 21:1-6). 

Exodus 21:1-6. Let’s observe the following characteristics of what it means to be a willing or bondslave: 

1. It is voluntary decision—under no obligation to stay; he must want or choose to stay. Willing decision by servant himself. No one makes the decision for him; can’t be forced by the master to make that decision. It is a choice.

2. It is public event—witnesses are present (not in a corner)

3. It is loyal/costly—pierced ear is a symbol of total obedience to whatever the master says.

4. It’s a lifetime commitment—not for another 6 years of work; but gives self permanently

5. The decision is irreversible (even when it at times is painful)—he cannot change his mind after a few days/weeks/years; the hole in ear shows

6. It is motivated by love—“I love my master” 

From the Exodus passage we learn that being a bondslave is a choicel. In other words, it is an attitude or mindset of diligence—however painful it may be. Such a commitment cannot be hidden. And the motivation is “love for the Master.” 

It was from the above institution that the apostles and New Testament believers described the idea of being bondslaves of Christ (Rom 1:1; 2 Pet 1:1; James 1:1; Jude 1:1; Col 4:12; Luke 1:38). 

From the slavery in the Old Testament, the Bible writers employed certain imageries to describe the Christian faith. For example, we are to be “slaves of Christ, doing the will of God heartily and with your whole soul” (Eph 6:6). We are to be “slaves of righteousness” (Rom 6:18). ). In effect, we must give our best service, no matter what. 

When Mary said “I am the maidservant/handmaiden of the Lord,” she was stating here that she would dedicate herself to the Lord's service. She was expressing her willingness to follow the Lord's leading and to live before Him a life of obedience—no matter how painful it might be.  More importantly, Mary was displaying the character of Christ.

Jesus Exemplifies Mary’s Role of Slave

Did you know that Mary’s mindset of a willing slave was exemplified by Christ Himself while He was here on earth? Christ made a commitment to willingly obey His Father in everything He would permit to come to Him. Christ lived the life of a willing Slave. In fact one of the most intriguing prophecies about Christ is His ministry as a Servant (Slave). God actually used slavery to prophesy about Christ. This comes from Exodus 21. The Old Testament idea of bond slave points to Christ. The book of Psalms suggests this:

Ps 40:6, 8 “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced .[opened, digged KJV; margin]  . . I desire to do your will, O my God” (NIV); 

The fulfillment of this prophecy is articulated by the apostle Paul (Heb 10:5, 7):  

“And [He, Christ] took upon him the form of a servant [slave—doulos], and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:7, 8) 

 

Divine Condescension. Christ’s condescension to be a slave was an act of total self-denial. The dictionary defines condescension as “a behavior or an example of behavior that implies that somebody is graciously lowering himself or herself to the level of people less important or intelligent.”

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for us to give up a position we hold? Ask the president of the company or a Conference to become a vice president and see what happens. Ask someone making $25 an hour to step down to $20 an hour to save the company and everybody's job to see what happens. Ask the boss to become the employee and see what happens.

The humiliation and pain of stepping down is experienced by all. All you need to do is to mistakenly treat a graduate student as an undergraduate, or senior in high school as though he was a freshman. Make a mistake in referring to a “doctor” as a “mister” and see what happens. Even little kids have a problem with condescension; all you need to do is to mistakenly cite the age of your 3-year old as 2, and you’d hear the emphatic protest, “I’m not 2, but 3!

We don't like stepping down!  But Christ, who was God, humbled Himself and became a human being, even to the position of a servant. “The more we reflect upon it, the more amazing does it appear. How wide is the contrast between the divinity of Christ and the helpless infant in Bethlehem's manger! How can we span the distance between the mighty God and a helpless child? And yet the Creator of worlds, he in whom was the fullness of the Godhead bodily, was manifest in the helpless babe in the manger. Far higher than any of the angels, equal with the Father in dignity and glory, and yet wearing the garb of humanity! (Signs of the Times, July 30, 1896).

Think about it: He who was God did not even come as a king in power and majesty, but humbled Himself and became an ordinary man—even a servant, a slave! Ellen G. White has poignantly captured the amazing condescension of Christ in the following words: 

“What a sight was this for Heaven to look upon! Christ, who knew not the least taint of sin or defilement, took our nature in its deteriorated condition. This was humiliation greater than finite man can comprehend. God was manifest in the flesh. He humbled Himself. What a subject for thought, for deep, earnest contemplation! So infinitely great that He was the Majesty of heaven, and yet He stooped so low, without losing one atom of His dignity and glory! He stooped to poverty and to the deepest abasement among men. For our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich” (Selected Messages, vol. 1, 253). 

“Though He walked among men in poverty, scattering His blessings wherever He went, at His word legions of angels would surround their Redeemer, and do Him homage. But He walked the earth unrecognized, unconfessed, with but few exceptions, by His creatures. The atmosphere was polluted with sin and curses, in place of the anthem of praise. His lot was poverty and humiliation. As He passed to and fro upon His mission of mercy to relieve the sick, to lift up the depressed, scarce a solitary voice called Him blessed, and the very greatest of the nation passed Him by with disdain  {SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1126.8}

Christ’s total submission to the Father’s will and His voluntary act of self-restraint in the exercise of His power, was the highest expression of condescension and humility. Christ essentially adopted the attitude of SLAVE, and endured its attending humiliation, even to the point of an ignominous death.

Obedience Unto Death. As a Slave to the Father’s will, Christ totally surrendered and was obedient unto death (John 19:30): “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” 

Christ’s final act was an act of total surrender. He bowed His head and died (John 19:30). He didn’t slump over. He simply bowed His head. He willingly, freely, and totally gave up His life—in complete submission to the Father’s will. He was obedient unto death. His final act was an act of supreme surrender. He bowed down His head and died. 

Christ’s obedience stretches from the throne to the cross. His obedience is one of complete trust. From eternity past He had made up His mind to fully surreder to the will of the Father.

Thus, to have the mind of Christ, you must be obedient even unto death. Jesus saw everything in perpetual relationship to His Father.  He saw the whole universe related to the Father and for that reason He gave His life in obedience to Him.  The master passion of Christ Jesus was to glorify His Father in saving sinful man.

Eternal Submission to His Father. For all eternity, Christ will be totally surrendered to the Father. The Gospel of Luke reveals this fact, when He describes what will happen when our Lord Jesus Christ returns for His faithful servants:

“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.” Luke 12:37

But this is not all. When the battle is all over and Jesus is totally victorious over Lucifer, we’re told:

And there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." Revelation 11:15b.

And when Christ takes His throne, His very last action is to defer the praises and glory to the Father. It will be an act of surrender.

24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. . . 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24-25, 28).

When it’s all said and done, the victorious King will hand over to His Father all the kingdoms He has overcome. And throughout all eternity, the Son of God will bow His head in final, magnificent act of surrender. This is “the mind of Christ.”

Adopting the Mind of Mary

“I am the Lord’s slave.” The Lord wants to hear these words from every one of us. He wants each of us to commit ourselves totally to His service. He wants each of us to follow His leading all the way. He wants all of us her to say Yes, Lord, I’ll follow thee. I’ll be your slave. Though it is not going to be an easy road, I’ll go all the way. Though it might cost me my time, money, education, health, even life, I’ll follow you all the way.

The mindset of Mary was one of a willing slave. A doule or doulos. No wonder the Bible has painted for us a beautiful picture of Mary:

1. Virgin: She believed in and maintained moral rectitude.

2. Highly favored of God–apparently because she sought to please God. Later she would advise folks at the wedding feast “Whatever He [Christ] tells you, do it.”  That advice seems to be her own attitude to God.

3. No wonder the “Lord was with her”

4. Blessed among women–a rare kind of woman.

Mary was a willing servant or willing slave of the Lord. Although we do not to pray Mary, yet we ought to praise God for her. 

The Virgin Birth of Christ

It is important at this point to briefly talk about the virgin birth. Without the virgin birth, Christ would not have been qualified to be the promised Messiah.  

Yet, some of our liberal friends still question the virgin birth, even as they do the miracles, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, and second coming of Christ.  Contemporary critics of the Bible dismiss the idea of the virgin birth as unworthy of an enlightened mind. They point to the fact that pagans also attributed the greatness of such men as Tammuz, Alexander, Pythagoras, Plato, and Augustus Caesar to descent from the gods and to supposed virgin birth.

“But this is no more valid an argument than to say that the existence of spurious coins and counterfeits of the great masterpieces of art proves tht there are no genuine ones” (SDABC, vol 5, p. 285).

The Bible is however emphatic that Jesus was born of a virgin.  Mary conceived while she was a virgin.  She was still a virgin when the Savior was born.

1. Both Matthew and Luke affirm that Mary was not simply chaste, unmarried young woman.  She was a virgin (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:35). Mary was to bring forth a son who was not to be the son of Joseph (Matt 1:21), but the Son of God (Luke 1:35)

2. The prophet Isaiah prophesied about the virgin birth when he stated, “Behold, a virgin shall conceived, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is 7:14).

3. Matthew quotes Is 7:14 and states that the virgin birth of Christ was a fulfilment of this prophecy (Matt 1:22, 23). In verse 25, Matthew states unambiguously that Joseph did not know Mary “till she had brought forth her firstborn son”

4. When the angel Gabriel announced the promise of the birth of Christ to Mary, she herself affirmed her virginity to the angel when she said, “How shall this be, seeing that I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).  

5. The angel Gabriel explained in Luke 1:35, showing how the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and “therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”  

6. Later, the same angel told Joseph that Jesus would be born of the Holy Ghost and that Mary was a virgin (Matt 1:18 ,20).

7. Mary remained a virgin “till she had brought forth” her firstborn Jesus (Matt 1:25).

Thus, the virgin birth of Jesus is fully attested in Scripture, even apart from the word “virgin” itself. In fact, one evidence that Jesus is the Son of God is the virgin birth.  

The God who created man in the beginning from nothing, who created woman from man without the agency of man or woman, now created Jesus of Nazareth through Mary without the agency of man.

If the virgin birth is not true, then Christ is not the unique Son of God.

We cannot explain how the Holy Spirit performed this miraculous operation and ushered the life of the eternal Christ into the body of the virgin Mary. But this should not lead us to deny the clear biblical teaching that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost and was born of the virgin Mary.   To deny the virgin birth is to deny the deity of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, and the foundation of Christianity.

Was Mary a Perpetual Virgin?

Though the Bible teaches a virgin birth, it does not teach the spurious dogmas and devotions that sometimes attend to Mary. For example, it can be observed from Matthew 1:25 that the Roman Catholic doctrine that Mary was a perpetual virgin cannot be sustained on the basis of Scripture.  Note what the Scripture says: 

“Then Joseph . . .  took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus” (Matt 1:25). This verse indicates that:

1. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived, and a virgin when Jesus was born.  But it also indicates that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary had the normal relations of husband and wife.  If Joseph “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son,” it suggests that he did know her after she had brought forth her firstborn son.

2. Scripture names Jesus as her “firstborn son.”  (It is also stated in Luke 2:7).  As “firstborn” Jesus was entitled to all the privileges (a double portion) and responsibilities reserved for children born in a family.

Notice that  Jesus is not called simply Mary’s son, but her “firstborn son.”  The implication is that there could have been other sons and (possibly) daughters born to Mary and Joseph after the birth of Jesus.  Matt 13:55, 56 says, 

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?”

The brothers of Jesus are mentioned many times in the Bible (cf. Matt 12:46, 47; John 7:3-5).  In Galatians 1:19, Paul said, “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.”  

The Roman Catholic idea that these men were cousins of Jesus, and that Mary was a perpetual virgin, never having other children is not born out by the Scriptures. If the Bible writers wanted to say cousin, they would have used the Greek work for cousin.  For example in Luke 1:36, the angel of God told Mary, “And, behold, thy cousin [Gr. suggenis] Elizabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.”

There is no doubt that Jesus had brothers and sisters (cf. 1 Cor 9:5; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). While we can make a strong case that, at least, the brothers were older than Jesus and,  therefore, possibly, Joseph’s children by a former marriage (see this note below),

  there is no reason to doubt the possibility that Mary had daughters.  Certainly,  there is no reason to justify the Roman Catholic claim that Mary remained a virgin even after the birth of Christ.

According to Matthew 1:25, 

“Then Joseph . . .  took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.” 

If Joseph “knew her not” till after Christ was born, the implication is that he knew her after Christ was born. The form of the verb “knew” in Greek (imperfect) is against the Roman Catholic tradition of Mary’s perpetual virginity, for it implies that Mary’s virginity continued only until the birth of Jesus.

The natural meaning of Matt 1:25 is that although Mary did not live with Joseph as his wife before the birth of Jesus, she did so afterward and “knew her” as his wife..

3. Perhaps the strongest proof that Mary had other children (possibly daughters), and that she was not perpetually a virgin,  is Psalm 69:8, 9,  

“I am become a stranger to my brethren and an alien unto my mother’s children.”  

John 2:17 quotes part of this passage in Psalms as referring to Jesus, as verse 21 and 22 clearly does.

The conclusion is inescapable.  Mary was a normal human being, who lived a godly life and honored motherhood. There is no biblical evidence to support the Catholic claim that:

 --Mary was born without sin (the so-called doctrine of “immaculate conception”), 

--Mary was a perpetual virgin in even in marriage

–Mary was carried bodily to Heaven, is “Queen of Heaven,” etc. 

Such a dubious teachings take the glory away from Christ and puts it on Mary.  The Bible is clear that Joseph “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son.”  After that they lived normally as godly Christian husband and wife, at least had some daughters (if not younger sons), some of whom are referred to in the Bible.  

Conclusion: The Mind of Mary

In the light of our study this afternoon, we can make a few conclusions:

1.Mary and Jesus. Mary was a devoted, godly woman.  She is worthy of our respect and admiration, but not of our worship. Mary was only human, not deity incarnate as was Jesus.  Not being God, she was sinful like all mankind. She herself needed a Savior, just as we all do. She cannot be our mediator, nor intercessor for anyone. To pray to Mary is folly, and to worship her is idolatry. Scripture is clear that Jesus alone is worthy to be worshiped.  Not priests, nor saints, nor Mary, nor even angels deserve our worship.  That is reserved for deity, and Jesus is God.

1. Importance of the Institution of Marriage

2.  Purity before Marriage. No fornication or adultery. Not safe sex before marriage, but rather no sex before marriage.

 3. Motherhood and Childbearing. It is equally important to emphasize that the birth of Jesus from the body of a human mother, and nursed at her breast, forever glorifies motherhood and childbearing.  This biblical example of Mary is a direct repudiation of feminism, which frowns upon motherhood and seeks to obliterate gender role-distinctions in both the home and the church so as to justify the unbiblical practice of women’s ordination.

4. Care in the choice of who to marry. The qualities of Mary and Joseph identified in this study reveals to us the kind of qualities we must look for in any potential husband or wife.

5. Need for both parents in the home. In marriage, children need the loving support of both mother and father. Jesus needed Joseph, just as much as He needed Mary. If Mary could have done it alone, the angel would not have urged Joseph to adopt the Child and care for Him.  Those who are single parents are the first to tell us that it is always a challenge to raise children in a single-parent home.

6. Elevates the glory and joy of ADOPTION. The angel’s message to Joseph “take back Mary and name the child” gives glory to the importance of adoption

 --Not Abortion, in so-called “unwanted pregnancies”

--Ethically comprising practices in in-vitro-fertilization

--Divorces, Polygamy, etc. on account of infertility

Adoption children are not inferior. On the contrary they are children by choice. God also adopts all of us as His children.

7. Forgiveness. The message of Christmas is about forgiveness—Joseph.  Jesus means “He shall save them from their sins” Have you been hurt–in a relationship, home, etc. Forgive for Christ’s sake (Matt 6:12-15). God expects us to forgive. Those who have experienced his forgiveness should be willing to forgive others. This is what the parable of the two debtors is all about (read Matthew 18:21-35).  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us four steps that can make it easier for us to forgive—love your enemies, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them (Matt 5:43-45).

How is forgiveness possible? First, recognize that though you also have seriously hurt the Lord, He freely forgave you. Consequently, He says to you: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:31-32). 

Second, do four tangible things to your enemies:—(1) love them; (2) bless them; (3) do good to them; and (4) pray for them. As we do these four things, God would heal our wounds of hurt and hate. Joseph experienced the blessings of  true peace because he was willing to “forgive.” What a challenge to us.

8. The Freedom of Slavery. Mary’s example—and that of  the apostles’ and Christ—point to the freedom and joy in being a willing slave of the Lord. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all are slaves to something or somebody. The greatest freedom we can find is to be slaves of the Lord. For when the Son makes us free we are truly free indeed.

Our attitude to our academic/professional work—term papers, lab assignments, homework, exams, etc.—should be viewed as the excellence expected of bond slaves in Bible times. In the light of our study, you can now find meaning in the slavery texts in the New Testament (Col 3:23-24; 1 Tim 6:1 1 Pet 2:18-20).  As Christians we are to respect those under whom we work. Because ultimately, it is God we’re working for (1 Pet 2:13-17).

Christ gave His best service to the Father. Such should be our workstyle also. Excellence is not only a divine imperative, it is also rooted in Divine Example. And just as God honored the excellence of Christ (Phil. 2:9-11), so also will He honor all those who give their best. 

[NOTE: This outline is excerpted from the author’s  forthcoming book, The Humility of Christ, scheduled for release in the Fall of 2009. Send your suggestions and questions to the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ]

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THE SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE

The Mind of Daniel

Daniel 1 

Part V—“Be Out Your Mind” Seminar Series

By 

© Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

Director Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

Author, Not for Sale

Higher than the Highest 

 

“Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children. He wants our minds to be clear, our tempers sweet, our love unbounding. Then the peace that passeth knowledge will flow from us to bless all with whom we come in contact. The atmosphere surrounding our souls will be refreshing. . . .”  {Sons and Daughters, p. 348.5}

Of all people, Christians should be recognized for excellence in their character and their work, but the opposite is more often true. It seems that increasingly we are being led to settle for mediocrity. Standards (in worship, dressing, lifestyle, studies, leadership, etc.) are being lowered when they need to be raised even higher. 

In this presentation, I’ll briefly mention why excellence matters, present Daniel as a model of excellence, and proceed to suggest ten simple steps for excellence.

Excellence Is An Attitude

Excellence is not a genetic trait. It is an attitude or a disposition to work. It is a habit we develop. It is a mindset we adopt. “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude” (Ralph Marston). Or in the words of Aristotle, the ancient Greek Philosopher, Scientist and Physician (384 BC-322 BC) “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.  . . . We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” 

Etymology & Meaning of Excellence: The word “excellence” (noun) derives from the Middle English> from Anglo-French>from Latin excellent-, excellens, from present participle of excellere. 

The verb to “excel” is to “out-do”, to “go beyond,” to “surpass in good quality.” The adjective “excellent” means  exceptionally high quality, something that is very good of its kind, eminently good, or “extremely good of its kind,” “first class”, of the very best kind

The noun “excellence” is the state or quality of excelling. It means  exceptionally high quality, something that is very good of its kind, eminently good : FIRST-CLASS, of the very best kind

Over the years, individuals have correctly understood that excellence is a mindset we adopt, a habit we pursue. The following quotes illustrate the fact:

“Excellence is to do a common thing is an uncommon way.”--Booker T. Washington.

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”--Colin Powell 

 “Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

--John W. Gardner 

The above quotes suggest that ordinary people can excel. As someone has said,

“Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time.”—Anonymous

“I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”-- Abraham Lincoln

Why Pursue Excellence?

Many do not strive for excellence because they’re content with brass. But there are a number of reasons why we should pursue excellence.  Here are seven reasons.

1. Because People Expect Excellence

People everywhere expect and honor excellence. 

Illustrations: In products we buy (e.g. computers and cars) and services we receive (restaurant, hotel), we tend to appreciate those that are excellent

The point is, people want excellence and reward it—regardless of where it comes from and who offers it. We must, therefore, be the best and offer the best in whatever we do. 

2. Because People Respect Excellence

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men” (Proverbs 22:29; NKJV).

It is a fact that the people who command the greatest respect in the workplace are the ones who do the best work. Examples:The top salespeople, the most proficient surgeons, the sharpest lawyers, the best athletes or soccer players the best students.When such people talk, people listen, not only when they speak in their area of expertise, but even when they speak about politics, philosophy, religion, art, or even an area they know very little about!  (Cf. Oprah Winfrey on nutrition, religion, psychology; Arnold Scwhartzenegger and Ronald Reagan in politics; etc.). Consequently, if we are to be really effective in having an influence in our places of work, we must set out to be the best in our jobs or classrooms. 

On the other hand, think about what happens when you are always late and leave early, irresponsible, sloppy even in your dress, no personal hygiene---nobody will listen to you about anything, least of all the gospel! They just wont take you seriously. If we want to advance the cause of Christ at our workplace, we must be the best workers we can possibly be. Forget trying to learn an evangelistic method until you are a good worker (Titus 2:9-10). Forget method, simply be!

If you excel, people listen to you—and even fear you. 

“The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous.”-- Shana Alexander

Cf. The Jews, Jesuits—the most respected and most feared group of religious people.

3. Because God Demands Excellence

God expects only the best from us for many reasons. 

Excellence is His nature—i.e., His power, greatness, love and character are excellent. Excellence is who God is—Job 37:23; Ps 150:2; Exo 15:7; Ps 36:7; Ps 8:1 9; 148:13. 

His works are excellent. What He does are excellent—Isaiah 12:5; 28:29. Example: Creation—everything perfect; very good.

He demands only the best. When the temple was going to be built, only skillful workers (Exo 31:1-6). Also in the Old Testament, worshipers were forbidden to take substandard offerings before God (no lame or defective animals, spoiled grain, etc.). Lev 1:3-4; 2:1: Exo 23:10; Deut 18:4. We are to “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Pro 3:9-10). 

4. Because God Is Displeased with Mediocrity—Anything Less than Excellent

Ever since the Garden of Eden, God made it clear that He accepts only what is excellent and is displeased with mediocrity. Hebrews 11:4—“By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice” (cf. Gen 4).  

Consider also the words of the prophet Malachi through whom God is complaining that He is not being shown the basic respect that a son would show his father or a servant his master. (a future sermon series on the book—“Don’t Talk Back To God”). READ Mal 1:6-14: 

To the people of ancient Israel who were bringing in sacrifices that were less than excellent (blind, crippled, and sick), God asked: “Would you bring that to your governor,” that is, for taxes. Illustrations: Apply the Governor’s Test  to everything you do (dress, time keeping, behavior at church, etc.). 

God expects only the best and is displeased with mediocrity. (Mal 1:13-14). God deserves the best because he IS the best. There is a curse for not giving God our best. God blesses excellence. Like the woman with an alabaster oil, we must “waste on Jesus” (Mark 14:3-9). Showing excellence to God is a matter of love.  

5. Because Excellence Is A Strategic Asset for Evangelism 

The Christian student or professional is the most strategic asset in the cause of Christ. We can exert leadership in three ways: (a) by what we say (word-style); (b) by how we work (work-style), and (c) by how we live (life-style). Typically, we focus only on the first one—what we say—and little on the second or third. However, we have little effect on people when they don’t see genuine Christianity where we study /work (workstyle) and how we live( lifestyle). 

All the sermons, TV shows, pamphlets, and evangelistic meetings in the world are unlikely to overcome the deep skepticism people feel once they see a person who claims to know Christ compromise excellence in his work and life—especially if he does so repeatedly and unashamedly. Mediocrity is a hindrance to evangelism. One of the major reasons non-Christians resist the gospel is because too many Christians exhibit a workstyle and lifestyle of mediocrity (they exhibit hypocritical compromises and duplicity).  

By contrast, though, you can draw unbelievers to Christ when you excel. Stated differently, if we want to advance the cause of Christ at our workplace or schools, we must be the best workers we can possibly be. One of  the most effective way to win people to Christ is being the best. Cf. the impact of Ben Carson and another who is constantly flunking his exams.

The most strategic place for Christian thinking and influence is in our institutions (places of study) and workplace, where our collegues will have the opportunity to see genuine Christianity up close. In this regard, the excelling Christian is the most effective strategic asset for soul-winning .

Forget trying to learn an evangelistic method until you are a good worker (Titus 2:9-10). Forget method, simply be the best and you “will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (NIV Titus 2:9-10).

Daniel: A Man of Excellence

Daniel, the Old Testament prophet, is an example of excellence and integrity. In Daniel chapters 1 and 6 we see him as an example to people of all age groups and under different circumstances of life—high school and college students as well as adults in the work place.

--In Daniel 1 we find Daniel as a young man (12-16 years old);  in Daniel 6 we find him as an old man (80 years old) in Persia. 

--In Daniel 1, he is in high school or college in Babylon; in Daniel 6, he is in professional service in Persia.

But whether as a young man or old man, whether in Babylon or Persia, we find Daniel exhibiting both academic and professional excellence. Such excellence was combined by his spiritual excellence of integrity. 

--His integrity in Chapter 1 is described when he “purposed” in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s food and drink. As a young man, his faith gave him the courage to remain true to his convictions.

--His integrity in chapter 6 is described when he determined to rather die in the lion’s den than to compromise his worship of the Lord. As an old man, his faith sustained him the threat of persecution

Like our Lord Jesus Christ, Daniel made up his mind to follow God all the way and, if needs be, die for His faithfulness. Such is the mind of Daniel.

Nebuchadnezzar's goal was to change their identity and hopefully their way of thinking. The Babylonians could change their homes, their diet, their names, and their education, but they could never change their hearts! Daniel and his friends’ character remained in tact.

Daniel’s Excellence and Integrity in Babylon. How Did Daniel Maintain His Integrity and Excellence? How did he remain true to his commitment? 

1. He did it with politeness (Daniel 1:8b). Note that Daniel “requested." He did not "demand," but respected the authority of those over him. There is never any reason to be rude or arrogant. Impoliteness just aggravates a situation rather than helps it - cf. Proverbs 15:1

2. He did it with God's help (Dan 1:9). God gave Daniel favor in the eyes of the chief of eunuchs (similar to how Joseph found favor in prison; cf. Gen 39:21. Without God, any effort is more likely to fall - cf. Psa 127:1-2; God seeks to help those who are loyal to Him - cf. 2 Chr 16:9.

3. He did it through persistence (Dan 1:10-11). Daniel did not give up after the refusal by the chief of the eunuchs. He tried something else, going to the steward directly over them. Don't give up trying after meeting the first obstacle. Remember what Jesus taught about persistence: a) Those who keep on "asking, seeking, knocking" will receive, find, have doors opened to them (Matt 7:7-11); b) The parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8)

4. He did it through willingness to test his faith (Dan 1:12-15). Daniel was confident that God's way was the right way and was willing to demonstrate the superiority of God's way. So he asked the steward to give him and his three friends just water and vegetables for ten days. God often invited people to test His promises - cf. Malachi 3:10. And so does Jesus - cf. John 7:16-17; Matthew 6:31-34. 

God Honored Daniel and His Friends. Those with the mind of Daniel would be blessed by God, even as God did for Daniel of old.

1. God honored Daniel and his friends at the end of the 10 days (vv. 15-16). We can count on God. If we do as God says, He will never fail us, even in the slightest way. He will be absolutely faithful to honor His Word and His servants who trust that Word and do as He says. Lam. 3:23; Heb. 6:13-19. 

2. Daniel and his friends continued to excel even after 3 years (vv. 17-20). (Notice that they maintained their resolve all during this time!), they stood before the king. When he interviewed them, He found that they were head and shoulders above all the others and that they were 10 times better than his wisest counselors. Again, this reminds us that God honors those who honor Him. (This does not teach that serving God faithfully will make you smart, attractive and famous. It does teach us that serving God has with it the benefit of being promoted in His work. God placed these men where He could use them in that day, and He did use them in wonderful ways for His glory. He will place us in this day and use us here and now if we will serve Him as we should. The key is to never compromise, even in what we think is the smallest of areas!

3. Daniel and his friends outlasted Babylon (v. 21). We are not told how long Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego served there in Babylon, but we are told that Daniel endured, in a place of power and prominence, for over 70 years, even to the first year of Cyrus of Persia (539 B.C.). He eventually became provincial ruler and chief administrator over all others (Dan 2:48; Dan 6:1-3).  In fact, he was nearing 90 when he faced the lions. 

No matter how long we live, or where we go in life, if we will always seek to honor the Lord, He will consistently bless us and use us for His glory. For this to be possible we must learn to never be guilty of compromise. We should be men and women of integrity at all times. 

Ten Steps To Excellence

God expects that we excel. He demands that we pursue excellence in every sphere of life. We cannot, therefore, settle for anything less. Unfortunately, we often do. And one reason for this is that we do not now how to pursue excellence. Therefore in the remainder of this presentation, I’ll suggest some ten steps to excellence.  Our study will be based on Philippians 3:12-21.

1. Never Be ___________________  (v. 12, 13a). “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after. . . . Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended.”

Remember, excellence is a journey, not a destination This is true of both academic/professional and spiritual excellence. “The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer, and your imperfections will be seen in broad and distinct contrast to His perfect nature. This is evidence that Satan's delusions have lost their power” (Steps to Christ, p. 64).

2. Be ______________________  (v. 13b) “But this one thing I do”

Paul's pursuit of Christ was single-minded. If you want to excel in any like of work, determine what you’re going to do, and stick with it. God does not promise his riches to aimless people. As Ellen G. White says, “Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor. Such an aim is set before the youth of today. The heaven-appointed purpose of giving the gospel to the world in this generation is the noblest that can appeal to any human being. It opens a field of effort to everyone whose heart Christ has touched.”  {Ed 262.1}

3. Don’t _______________________ (v. 13c). “Forgetting those things which are behind “- 

When I say “don’t look back,” I’m not suggesting that you should forget the things God has done for you in the past. Rather, I mean you should not be fixated to the past—whether positive past or negative past. My first presentation in a Bible lecture series at Harvard was titled, “Why dwell on the written past, when you can write the future?” Based on Isaiah 43:18ff. 

4. Go ___________________ (v. 13d). “And reaching forth unto those things which are before”

Instead of complacently looking at the past we should "reach forth" to the "mark" (v14).  Using the analogy from sports or sprint, think of an athlete straining to do his utmost, of aiming high and finishing his work. Dreams and intentions are not enough. Go forward. 

5. Press ___________________ (v. 14a). “I press toward the mark”

The point here is a determination, a persistence, or disciplined effort in pursuing your objective. Thomas Edison said that his success was due to 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. The verb translated "press on" (dioko) is an active verb (used in 12 and 14) describes a vigorous or intense pursuit of something. This Greek verb, dioko, can also be translated persecute and is used in v. 6 to describe Paul's pre-conversion zeal as a persecutor of the church. Paul's pursuit of Christ after conversion was with the same intensity as the zeal he used before his conversion. The zeal was the same, only the direction is different. To excel in any field requires zeal. The zeal spoken of here “is not fanaticism; it is not wildness; it is not irresponsible enthusiasm; it is not any form of pushy egoism.  It is rather, a humble, reverent, businesslike, single-minded commitment to the hallowing of God's name and the doing of his will” (J. I. Packer)

6. Be Motivated __________________ (v.14b) “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

To do great things for God, we must be motivated by something higher (cf. vv. 20, 21; 2 Cor 5:10).  If we are motivated to serve God for the “prize of human honour or reward,” we can easily become discouraged. Let’s be motivated from above.

7. Be _________________ (vv. 15, 16). “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.  Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”  

Go forward, even if you are alone. Others will join later. What you don’t know, God will reveal unto you (v. 15).  Remember, 

“Excellence can be obtained if you:

...care more than others think is wise;

...risk more than others think is safe;

...dream more than others think is practical;

...expect more than others think is possible.”

8. Draw Inspiration from ________________________ (v. 17). “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample”

GYC Mission Statement: There exists, today, an army of dedicated young people within the Seventh-day Adventist church who yearn to demonstrate Nehemiah's leadership, Daniel's integrity, Mary's humility, Paul's passion for evangelism, and Christ's love for God and humanity.   . . .” Always learn from folks who excel. Hang out with them; read their works. Etc. Books you read. Good biographies, not some sleazy gossip People Magazine.

9. Keep Away from _________________ (vv. 18-19). “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  Whose end [is] destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”  

 Not all who claim to be Christians are really Christians, not all who profess to be Adventists are real Adventists. Don’t be fooled by the brass. If you refuse to think about gold, some brass in our camp will do your thinking for you. Keep away from the brass. Look for gold, and hang out with them.

10. Keep Your Eyes on ____________________ (vv. 20, 21). “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”  

Know where you’re going and keep your eyes on the prize.  Don’t be side-tracked from the ultimate prize—God’s love and His eternal rewards that He will give at the second coming. These are the compelling motivations that should make us strive for excellence.  It is not an A in class, good GPA, a job, a job approval, a promotion, money, etc., but a “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Aim High—“Higher than the Highest”

“Dear youth, what is the aim and purpose of your life? Are you ambitious for education that you may have a name and position in the world? Have you thoughts that you dare not express, that you may one day stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness; that you may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation? There is nothing wrong in these aspirations. You may every one of you make your mark. You should be content with no mean attainments. Aim high, and spare no pains to reach the standard.  {Messages to Young People, p. 36}

I’d like to leave with you the following passage from the pen of Ellen G. White. It is her reflection on the Philippians 3 passage we’ve been studying. It is found in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, pp. 63-65, and titled “The Will of God Concerning Us.” The passage not reveals the fact that God expects nothing short of our best, but it also shows how to pursue excellence. Pay close attention: 

      “The knowledge of God is obtained from His word. The experimental knowledge of true godliness, found in daily consecration and service, ensures the highest culture of body, mind, and soul. This consecration of all our powers to God prevents self-exaltation. The impartation of divine power honors our sincere striving after wisdom that will enable us to use our highest faculties in a way that will honor God and bless our fellow men. As these faculties are derived from God, and not self-created, they should be appreciated as talents from God to be employed in His service.  {8T 63.1}

     “The heaven-entrusted faculties of the mind are to be treated as the higher powers, to rule the kingdom of the body. The natural appetites and passions are to be brought under the control of the conscience and the spiritual powers.  {8T 63.2}

     “The religion of Christ never degrades the receiver; it never makes him coarse or rough, discourteous or self-important, passionate or hardhearted. On the contrary, it refines the taste, sanctifies the judgment, and purifies and ennobles the thoughts, bringing them into captivity to Christ. God's ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. He has given in His holy law a transcript of His character. 

     “Christ is the greatest Teacher that the world has ever known. And what is the standard that He holds before all who believe in Him? "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:48. As God is perfect in His sphere, so man may be perfect in his sphere.  {8T 64.1}

     “The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. There is opened before us a path of constant advancement. We have an object to gain, a standard to reach, that includes everything good and pure and noble and elevated. There should be continual striving and constant progress onward and upward toward perfection of character.  {8T 64.2}

     “Paul says: "I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13, 14.  {8T 64.3}

     “. . . The powers with which God has endowed man are to be put to the stretch. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." Luke 10:27. Man cannot possibly do this of himself; he must have divine aid. What part is the human agent to act? "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Philippians 2:12, 13.  {8T 64.4}

     “Without the divine working, man could do no good thing. God calls every man to repentance, yet man cannot even repent unless the Holy Spirit works upon his heart. But the Lord wants no man to wait until he thinks that he has repented before he takes steps toward Jesus. The Saviour is continually drawing men to repentance; they need only to submit to be drawn, and their hearts will be melted in penitence.  {8T 64.5}

     “Man is allotted a part in this great struggle for everlasting life; he must respond to the working of the Holy Spirit. It will require a struggle to break through the powers of darkness, and the Spirit works in him to accomplish this. But man is no passive being, to be saved in indolence. He is called upon to strain every muscle and exercise every faculty in the struggle for immortality; yet it is God that supplies the efficiency. No human being can be saved in indolence. The Lord bids us: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Luke 13:24; Matthew 7:13, 14.  {8T 65.1}

--E. G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, pp. 63-65.

[NOTE: This outline is excerpted from the author’s  forthcoming book, EXCELLENCE scheduled for release in the Spring of 2009. Send your suggestions and questions to the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ]

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YES WE CAN!

The Non-Conformist Mind

Romans 12:1-21

Part VI—“Be Out Your Mind” Seminar Series

By

© Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

Director Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

Author, Not for Sale

In this seminar we’ve been looking at what it means to “Be Out of Your Mind.” We started out by looking at Philippians 2 passage, namely —“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” It is unquestionably one of the most daring statements in the whole history of the daring of man’s mind. We are to have the mind of Christ. We are to think as Christ thinks! We are to think like God. 

Three questions may be logically asked: (a) Is this really possible? Can we have the mind of Christ? (b) How can we have this mind, and (c) What will be the result of having this mind?

Is It Possible? With regard to the first question, “Can We Have This Mind?,” the Bible answers: Yes, We Can! God will not ask as to do what is impossible.  Moreover, the apostle Paul said, “We have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), suggesting that others have been able to have this kind of mind. Besides, we have shown from the examples of Bible characters—Paul, Nehemiah, Mary, Daniel, that it is possible.

The last two questions—the how and result of having this mind—will be answered in this final presentation. Afterwards, we shall be leaving for our respective homes, schools, and workplaces. There, wherever we may be, we shall be tempted to either conform to our worlds or transform them. We are going to be either thermometers or thermostats.

There’s difference between thermometers and thermostats. A thermometer merely registers or reflects the temperature. A thermostat, on the other hand, controls  or sets the temperature, either raising or lowering it to the desired level.

Some of us, I'm afraid, are thermometers. We merely register or reflect what is going on in the world around us—whether it is the “world out there” or the “world/worldliness inside the church.” Those of us who are thermometers are conformists. We are molded by what the world does.

 But some of us, I’m encouraged to say, are thermostats. We control or shape the world around us. We are transformers or non-conformists.  Non-conformists or transformers choose differently, think differently, live differently, and have a completely different spirit or attitude.

The question is: After leaving this GYC meeting, are you going to be a thermometer or a thermostat? Are you going to conform to this world or are you going to transform it?  Are you going back to your school, work place, cities to register and reflect the ways of the world or are you going to dare to stand out and be different? 

What you are going to be will depend on the kind of mind you take from here. Will it be the mind of the world or “the mind of Christ”? Will your mind be an improvement over what it used to be or will it be a replacement of it? Will it be an educated mind or a transformed mind? 

Whether or not you will be a  conformist or a non-conformist will depend upon whether or not you have a transformed mind. This is why in this last presentation, I want to talk about “A Non-Conformist Mind.” The message will be based on Romans 12. 

Reflection on Romans 12

Paul’s letter to the Romans is perhaps the richest books in the Bible. It is also most detailed articulation of his gospel. The first eleven chapters center on the wonderful redemption that is in Christ. And the remaining  five chapters show how the gospel is to be put into every day life. 

Motivation for the Christian Life (v. 1)

“I beseech you therefore . . .”  He does not say, “I command you,” or I say to you,” or “I advise, warn, compel, etc. you.” But “I beseech”—I plead with you

The Christian lifestyle cannot be legislated or decreed. It is not the product of legalism, but rather a response of love. Too often, we try to make up for lack of conversion in the church by passing decrees: rules, policies, legislations, etc.

“By the mercies of God.” It is the most compelling motivating force. The divine love and kindness of God. It was this that moved Jesus to come and live among us and die for us. It is the same motivation that Paul is calling attention to.

Those who choose to live a conformists life do not know or appreciate what God has done for them. If you know what God has done for you, if you’ve experienced His amazing grace in your salvation, you’ll live differently. Do you know the mercies of God?

If you know what God has done for you, there are three logical things you will do to show your gratitude: (a) Totally surrender your life to Christ:  (b) Don’t Conform(c) Be Transformed

Total Surrender To God (v.1)

When the apostle Paul says we are to “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] our reasonable service,” it simply means we are to make a total surrender of all that we are and all that we have to the supreme lordship of Jesus Christ. It is giving up what we consider most valuable—our ideas, our rights, our independence, our very lives—to the ownership and direction of Christ (READ 1 Kings 20:4).

Notice that in order for us to willingly give “all that we have” to God we must first willingly give “all that we are” to Him. We must totally surrender self. In other words, God will only accept “our” time, talents, tithes, offerings, our worship, our sacrifices—namely, our “all”—if, and only if, we first give ourselves to Him. This is why Ellen G. White wrote that “God will not accept your offerings if you withhold yourself.”1

Total self-surrender, then, is a choice we make—a mindset we adopt—to willingly give ourselves and our all to the ownership, direction, and control of Christ. It is an act of the will. It is a conscious decision we make that in view of what God has done for me, I have decided that I will belong totally to Him.

Rightly understood, “presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to God” is dying to self. It is living as though we were dead (cf. Galatians 2:20). It is living a life of selflessness. It is following the example  of Christ in “emptying Himself” by deciding that He will not do anything, be anywhere, think any thoughts, without the Father’s permission. Dying to self is giving self and giving all.

Non-Conformity (v.2)

And be not conformed to this world” (v.2). Besides totally surrendering our lives to Christ, the second logical decision arising from what God has done for us is our commitment to not conform to the world. The word “conformed” expresses the idea of being molded. We must be aware of 

(a) The Pressure To Conform 

(b) The Ease of Conformity  

(c) Dangers of Conformity (1 John 2:15-17):

Because a mindless conformity to the world can be fatal, the Bible has offered us a way to avoid conformity—namely, being transformed. 

Transformation

“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. The Greek word is metamorphoo. It is from this word that we get our English word “metamorphosis.” Metamorphoo literally means “to change into another form” (Vine's). It is used to describe a change of form (e.g., when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly). A complete change.

Nature of Transformation

1. It Is Personal. On the basis of this text many have become politicians and social activists, thinking that the Christian’s mission is to transform or change the world or societal institutions (e.g., government, school systems, etc.).

Notice, however, that Paul does not say that it is your job to transform the world. You are not to transform the world, but be ye transformed. The truth, however, is that by being transformed, the world around us will be transformed. In other words, to change the world, we must first be changed. 

2. Change Is Internal. That Greek word metamorphoo translated “transformation” in Romans 12:2 is the same word to describe the transfiguration of Christ (the mountain of “transformation”—same word, metamorphõthë): “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2).  Jesus was transformed, transfigured, metamorphosized, so that he displayed openly the glory that was His. It should be stressed again that the change (glory) came from within Him. It wasn’t like some light shown over Him. Rather it radiated from within Him. And showed on the outside.

True transformation starts from within and becomes evident on the outside. Transformation is not merely an external act. It is primarily internal, but it always shows on the outside.  You can have outward behavior without inward renewal (e.g not smoke, drink, swear, etc.), but not be a believer. But you cannot be a true believer and continue to smoke, drink, curse, etc. Transformation is not a cosmetic change, but it goes deep down to the hidden man of the heart . When the inner man must be renewed, then the outward will come right.

3. Complete Change. Christians are "to undergo a complete change, which under the power of God, will find expression in character and conduct"  (Vine's). In other words, we who are "caterpillars" are to become "butterflies." When we submit to God's power and by His grace . . . we are “changed into another form,” and we become a “new creation” (cf. 2 Cor 5:17).  A transformed mind will be very peculiar, very eccentric, very different from what it used to be. There will be something about the way you conduct your life, the way you interact with others, the way you affect the affairs of wherever it is you are that will cause people to say, “What has happened to you?” or “What is wrong with you.” “I notice that something has changed about you when you became a Christian.”

4. It is Passive. Notice the little word be in that command (“be ye transformed”).  It is in the passive voice, which indicates that the “transformation” is something we allow to be done to us—not something we do by our own power alone.  We cannot do our own brain surgery. Somebody must do it on us. We cannot change ourselves by our own strength or meritorious works.  Somebody must help us.

5. It’s Work of the Holy Spirit. Though not explicit in this text, elsewhere in the Bible, we learn that it is the Holy Spirit who renews our mind. One evidence for this is that this word “renewal” in Romans 12:2 is only used one other place in all the Greek Bible, namely, Titus 3:5 where Paul says “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

6. It is Continuous. Also, in the original language of the New Testament, the verb “be” (in “be ye transformed”) is in the present tense. It is a present imperative, which means the renewal is an ongoing process. A literal translation will be “continue to be transformed” In other words, Paul says the renewal of the mind is not a one time event. Though the change (the metamorphoses) is complete, it must continue. It must keep going on. Since the world never ceases to find ways to tempt us to conform, the transformation process through mind renewal must also be continues—day by day, moment by moment. “Once changed is not always changed.” 

RESULTS OF A TRANSFORMED MIND

What happens when a person has a transformed mind? What does it mean to have the mind of Christ—a different kind of mindset. The remainder of Romans 12 offers us at least four characteristics of a transformed mind.

 

1. When your mind is transformed, you choose differently because your will is in accord with God’s will: 

Rom 12:2   And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

When your mind is transformed, (a) you are able to know or determine God’s will for your life, and (b) you’ll understand that will to be “good, acceptable, perfect.”  Very often, the reason we are not able to know God’s will for our lives is because (i) we haven’t surrendered our lives to Him (cf. “My sheep hear my voice”); (ii) we’re conforming/compromising, and (iii) our minds have not been transformed—i.e., we don’t have the mind of Christ.

Another way of saying it is this: If you want to know God’s will for you life (marriage, job, career, school to attend, etc.), you must have the mind of Christ. Be transformed and stop conforming to the world. 

On the other hand, if you have a transformed mind, you will not only discern God’s will for your life, but you will also know that God’s will for you is 

(a) “good” (He knows what is best for you); 

(b) “acceptable/complete” (i.e., without God’s will for your life, you’ll never come to experience the highest fulfillment in life); and 

(c)“perfect” (you wouldn’t wish for anything better). 

2. When your mind is transformed, you think differently because your thoughts (about yourself and others) are biblical sound and balanced (vv. 3-8).

12:3   For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 

Verse 3 begins with a "For," which ties the next thought to verses 1 and 2. It is a continuation of the “then . . .” of verse 2—namely the results of transformation. 

Observe in verse three how many times the word “think” is used. In other words, your mind is transformed you think differently about yourself and others. Your estimation of yourself and your valuation of others change.

While knowing God’s will for your life, you don’t over estimate yourself nor underrate others. When your mind is transformed, you recognize your spiritual gifts and those of others, and you put them all in perspective—“according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (v. 3c).

When the apostle in verse 3, “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought,” he means that don’t go around trying to overrate yourself and performing a ministry you can’t do. God has given everyone their gift. Recognize yours and those of others and don’t try to exercise what you don’t have. (READ vv. 4-8)

Not all of us are preachers, teachers, administrators, leaders, etc. Recognize yours and appreciate others’ as you work together as a team. This is the cure to our petty jealousies and silly fights. It is also the cure to our know-it-all attitudes (cf. church leaders/Presidents, etc.). 

Paul says, we should stop thinking too highly of ourselves! Get a different MIND! Cf.  African “PhDs” (“Pull Him/Her Down”). We bad mouth them, deliberately try to destroy them, etc. The apostle says think straight! Get a mind—a transformed mindset! Our spiritual gifts are not in competition, they are complementary. A transformed mind knows what gifts God has given you and others, and doesn’t try to force others into their mold. 

When your mind is transformed, (1) you choose differently because your will is in accord with God’s will and (2) you think differently because your thoughts (about yourself and others) are biblical sound and balanced (vv. 3-8).

3. When your mind is transformed, you live differently because your behavior is characterized by love (READ vv. 9-15). EXPLAIN

4. When your mind is transformed, have a sweet spirit because your attitude is characterized by humility (READ vv. 16-21).

Notice, humility is emphasized in v. 16: “the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” Paul frequently gives this exhortation in his letters (cf. Rom 15:5; 1 Cor 1:10; Phil 1:27; 2:2-3; 3:16; 4:2). 

As Christians are renewed in mind, they will begin having similar goals, aims, view

A renewed mind makes a concerted effort not to be snobbish or ambitious, and is willing to be associated with humble tasks and lowly people. When one has the mind of Christ, their lowliness of mind will be manifested by the nature of their goals and the company they keep. It will go a long way in helping maintain humility about one’s self.

Disagreements:Also when there’s disagreement, a person with transformed mind knows how to handle it in a charitable way.  Romans 14:5: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

Finally, Romans 15:5-6, reads: “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind [and] one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   

REFER TO EGW QUOTES IN HANDOUT

In short, when Paul says “let this mind be . . .” he basically is saying “think this way; have a certain mindset.” Specifically, think as Christ. The phrase “this mind” is a reference to the mind of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are invited to have the mind of Christ

When you study the 3-page handout of EGW statements I’ve compiled for you, you’ll discover that without “this mind of Christ,”

We cannot be true Christians

We cannot be His disciples

We cannot enter the kingdom of God

We cannot be successful

We cannot be true missionaries or ministers

On the other hand, “the mind of Christ” will, 

Render us better in all our relations

Affect the way we work

Determine how we deal with trials and afflictions

Make us kind and truly courteous

Soul winners

Enable us to obey the Lord, regardless of circumstances

Impact our we conduct ourselves when there are differences of opinions among us

Determine how we use our financial resources

Help us in our treatment of erring ones

Attitude towards the Bible

Conclusion

Such is Christ’s mindset—totally selfless, even to the point of death! This is the mind we are to posses—an outlook of humility which is so counter-self and counter-cultural that when we live that way, an average person would think we are crazy or out of our minds! 

The truth, however, is that we are not average people. We are super-average, for the Holy Spirit has done a supernatural mind-transplant on us, a mind operation that elevates us from the realm of mediocre thinking and lifestyle.

So when the average person asks us if we are out of your mind, we must boldly answer, Yes! For we are “out of our selfish minds” and have “Christ’s selfless mind.” Such a radical concept is that which alone can change the world—even as Christ, by the sheer force of His life and teachings changed the world.

Let’s be out of our minds so we can change our church—and our world!

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THE MIND OF CHRIST

Selected Statements from the Writings of Ellen G. White

Part VII—“Be Out Your Mind” Seminar Series

Compiled By

© Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

Director Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

Author, Not for Sale

A. Our Need for the Mind of Christ

To be a Christian is not merely to take the name of Christ, but to have the mind of Christ, to submit to the will of God in all things. {TMK 174.3}

We cannot retain self and yet enter the kingdom of God. If we ever attain unto holiness, it will be through the renunciation of self and the reception of the mind of Christ. Pride and self-sufficiency must be crucified. Are we willing to pay the price required of us? Are we willing to have our will brought into perfect conformity to the will of God? Until we are willing the transforming grace of God cannot be manifest upon us.  {AG 225.3}

It is the privilege and the duty of every professed follower of Christ to have the mind of Christ. Without self-denial and cross bearing we cannot be His disciples.  {2SM 185.2}

The reason so many fail to have success is that they trust in themselves altogether too much, and do not feel the positive necessity of abiding in Christ, as they go forth to seek and save that which is lost. Until they have the mind of Christ and teach the truth as it is in Jesus, they will not accomplish much. . . .  {WM 99.2}

The true missionary must be armed with the mind of Christ. His heart must be filled with Christlike love; and he must be true and steadfast to principle.  {7T 228.1}

Let every minister make earnest efforts to ascertain what is the mind of Christ. Unless your mind becomes better balanced in regard to some things, your course will separate you from the work, and you will not know at what you stumble. You will advance ideas which you might better never have originated.  {1SM 179.2}

If you strive in all humility to understand what is the mind of Christ, you will not be left in darkness. Jesus says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (YI Oct. 13, 1892).  {7BC 903.3}

B. The Means for the Mind of Christ

By conversion and transformation men are to receive the mind of Christ. Every one is to stand before God with an individual faith, an individual experience, knowing for himself that Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. . . .  {TMK 134.3}

By beholding, man can but admire and become more attracted to Him, more charmed, and more desirous to be like Jesus until he assimilates to His image and has the mind of Christ. Like Enoch he walks with God. His mind is full of thoughts of Jesus. He is his best Friend. . . .  {3SM 169-170}

Those who will walk closely in the footsteps of their self-sacrificing, self-denying Redeemer will have the mind of Christ reflected in their minds. {SD 289.2}

Oh, how much we all need the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Then we shall always work with the mind of Christ, with kindness, compassion, and sympathy, showing love for the sinner while hating sin with a perfect hatred.--Manuscript 8a, 1888.  {Ev 368-369}

"I am the Vine, ye are the branches," Christ said to His disciples. . . . The life of the vine becomes the life of the branch. So the soul dead in trespasses and sins receives life through connection with Christ. By faith in Him as a personal Saviour the union is formed. The sinner unites his weakness to Christ's strength, his emptiness to Christ's fullness, his frailty to Christ's enduring might. Then he has the mind of Christ. The humanity of Christ has touched our humanity, and our humanity has touched divinity. Thus through the agency of the Holy Spirit man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is accepted in the Beloved.  {DA 675.3}

We would seek most earnestly to know God's way; . . . and our constant prayer would be that we might have the mind of Christ, that we might be molded and fashioned after His likeness. It is in looking to Jesus and beholding His loveliness, having our eyes steadfastly fixed upon Him that we become changed into His image. . . .  {SD 259.2}

As a man is converted by the truth, the work of transformation of character goes on. He has an increased measure of understanding. In becoming a man of obedience to God, he has the mind of Christ, and the will of God becomes his will. He who places himself unreservedly under the guidance of the Spirit of God, will find that his mind expands and develops. He obtains an education in the service of God which is not one-sided and deficient, developing a one-sided character, but one which results in symmetry and completeness. Weaknesses that have been manifested in a vacillating will and powerless character, are overcome, for continual devotion and piety bring the man in such close relation to Christ that he has the mind of Christ. He is one with Christ, having soundness and strength of principle. His perception is clear, and he manifests that wisdom which comes from God. {1SM 338.1-2}

C. The Result of the Mind of Christ

No man can have the spirit and the mind of Christ without being rendered better by it in all the relations and duties of life. Murmuring, complaining, and fretful passion are not the fruit of good principles. You will need to be instant in prayer, because you have not strengthened the high, noble, moral traits of character. This is to be done now by you. The work will be difficult, but it is positively essential.  {4T 347.1}{GW 250.2}

He who has the mind of Christ knows that his only safe course is to keep close to Jesus, following the light of life. He will not accept work, or engage himself in business, that will hinder him from reaching the perfection of Christian character. . . . "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Tim. 2:4).  {AG 271.5}

O, if you loved Him as He has loved you, you would not shun an experience in the dark chapters of the suffering of the Son of God! . . . When we contemplate the humiliation of Christ, beholding His self-denial and self-sacrifice, we are filled with amazement at the manifestation of divine love for guilty man. When for Christ's sake we are called to pass through trials that are of a humiliating nature, if we have the mind of Christ, we shall suffer them with meekness, not resenting injury, or resisting evil. We shall manifest the spirit that dwelt in Christ. . . .  {AG 324.5}

When for Christ's sake we are called to pass through trials that are of a humiliating nature, if we have the mind of Christ we shall suffer them with meekness, not resenting injury, or resisting evil. We shall manifest the spirit that dwelt in Christ. . . . We are to understand what the sacrifice, the labors, and the sufferings of Christ are, in order that we may cooperate with Him in working out the great scheme of redemption.  {TMK 104.4}

If the teachers have the mind of Christ and are being molded by the Holy Spirit, they will be kind, attentive, and truly courteous. If they work as in the sight of heaven, they will be Christian ladies and gentlemen. Their refined bearing will be a constant object lesson to the students, who, though at first they may be somewhat uncultured, will day by day be molded by its influence.  {CT 270.2}

When He [God] gives you the mind of Christ, your will becomes as His will, and your character is transformed to be like Christ's character.--Messages to Young People, pp. 151-154.  {RC 294.7}

We should work as did our divine Teacher, sowing the seeds of truth with care, anxiety, and self-denial. We must have the mind of Christ if we would not become weary in well-doing. His was a life of continual sacrifice for others' good. We must follow his example. We must sow the seed of truth, and trust in God to quicken it into life. The precious seed may lie dormant for some time, when the grace of God may convict the heart, and the seed sown be awakened to life, and spring up, and bear fruit to the glory of God. Missionaries in this great work are wanted to labor unselfishly, earnestly, and perseveringly, as co-workers with Christ and the heavenly angels in the salvation of their fellow-men.  {GW92 53.1}

Those who have the mind of Christ will keep all of God's commandments, irrespective of circumstances. The Majesty of heaven says, "I have kept my Father's commandments" (John 15:10).  {SL 67.1}

When persons meet together for the investigation of points of faith concerning which there is a difference of opinion, the spirit which controls them will be manifested. Those who are standing in defense of truth should be calm and self-possessed. If they have the mind of Christ, they will be kind and courteous. They will not be betrayed into the use of harsh language. They will not regard themselves as infallible, nor look with contempt upon those who differ with them. They will not regard them as enemies, nor meet them with ridicule or jesting.  GW 389.2}

Let your mind be one with the mind of Christ. Having His mind, you will not soar to heights which will at last bring you down to the lowest depths. Dabble not in those things which now appear to you so attractive, but which do not lead to Christ. Let your ambition ascend higher, to pure, true fellowship with Him in whom you may safely glory. Then your religion will be a power for good. You will not then communicate that which will prove a snare unto death.  {MM 112.6}

Study the life and character of Christ, and seek to imitate His example. The unconsecrated course of some of those who claim to be believers in the third angel's message has resulted in driving some of the poor sheep into the desert; and who is it that has manifested a shepherd's care for the lost and wandering? Is it not time to be Christians in practice as well as profession? What benevolence, what compassion, what tender sympathy, Jesus has manifested toward suffering humanity! The heart that beats in unison with His great heart of infinite love will give sympathy to every needy soul, and will make it manifest that he has the mind of Christ. . . . Every suffering soul has a claim upon the sympathy of others, and those who are imbued with the love of Christ, filled with His pity, tenderness, and compassion, will respond to every appeal to their sympathy. . . . Every soul who attempts to retrace his wanderings and return to God needs the help of those who have a tender, pitying heart of Christlike love (Review and Herald, Oct. 16, 1894).

Let no one think that he will meet the mind of Christ in hoarding up property through life and then at death making a bequest of a portion of it to some benevolent cause. Some selfishly retain their means during their lifetime, trusting to make up for their neglect by remembering the cause in their wills. But not half the means thus bestowed in legacies ever benefits the object specified. Brethren and sisters, invest in the bank of heaven yourselves, and do not leave your stewardship upon another.  {AH 397.2-3}

Then I call upon you, my brethren, to practice working in lines in which Christ worked. You must never put on the cloak of severity and condemn and denounce and drive away from the fold, poor, tempted mortals; but as laborers together with God, heal the spiritually diseased. This you will do if you have the mind of Christ.

There are many who claim that they have been sanctified to God, and yet when the great standard of righteousness is presented to them they become greatly excited and manifest a spirit which proves that they know nothing of what it means to be sanctified. They have not the mind of Christ; for those who are truly sanctified will reverence and obey the Word of God as fast as it is opened to them, and they will express a strong desire to know what is truth on every point of doctrine. An exultant feeling is no evidence of sanctification. The assertion, "I am saved, I am saved," does not prove that the soul is saved or sanctified.  {FW 121.1}

Wherever there is union with Christ there is love. Whatever other fruits we may bear, if love be missing, they profit nothing. Love to God and our neighbor is the very essence of our religion. No one can love Christ and not love His children. When we are united to Christ, we have the mind of Christ. Purity and love shine forth in the character, meekness and truth control the life. {1SM 337.2}

Appeal

The only hope for us if we would overcome is to unite our will to God's will and work in co-operation with Him, hour by hour and day by day. We cannot retain self and yet enter the kingdom of God. If we ever attain unto holiness, it will be through the renunciation of self and the reception of the mind of Christ. Pride and self-sufficiency must be crucified. Are we willing to pay the price required of us? Are we willing to have our will brought into perfect conformity to the will of God? Until we are willing, the transforming grace of God cannot be manifest upon us.  {MB 143.2}