Gifted, Talented . . . and Christian: The GT Adult And the Evangelical Church

Updated!

If a ‘GT’ person is active in an evangelical church, there are two wrong reactions that can happen:

  • Within the church character defects may be wrongly attributed to the independence and curiosity of the gifted. An ‘I told you so’ answer to genuine questions is often unsatisfying to the gifted.

  • If the gifted are automatically seen as ‘arrogant’, or others are threatened by them, even otherwise outstanding believers and leaders may take a ‘teach them humility through humiliation’ strategy with them. Unfortunately, this unscriptural and abusive approach ultimately alienates the gifted — who may in fact have a sense of incredible humility, submission and servanthood before God and his/her brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s an obvious point, but the one thing that the ‘walking wounded’ don’t need is more wounding from others.

Here are some basic guidelines for the pursuit of a godly life in the evangelical church:

  • Develop a Biblically based faith of scripturally supported convictions. Do not be afraid of nor let anyone discourage you from reverent questioning and exploration of the truth of God’s Word. Remember that Jesus Christ himself was always open to an honest question.

  • Develop intellectually strong corroborations for your Biblically based beliefs.

  • Develop as a well rounded disciple of Jesus Christ in Christlike character.

  • Use your gifts, both spiritual and natural, as a servant to others after the example of Christ.

  • Develop in fellowship with a Bible believing church and pastor. Understand that one or two churches or several professed evangelical believers do not reflect the true character and nature of Christ or represent the views and practices of all evangelical churches and believers.


Ministry Opportunities to the Gifted

The gifted can be a challenge for ministry and perceived to be a problem if others insist that we are no different than anyone else. But, if our actual differences are understood and taken into account, the same gospel and Lord Jesus will meet our needs in the same ways.

  • Many of the gifted are in fact tremendously open spiritually — but unfortunately may find New Age or cultish teaching, or even aggressive atheism more appealing. The church simply has to share the same gospel, but be open to intellectual questions and possibly even initial rejection from people who may have never received very much love or concern from others in their lives, and may not recognize or understand it when they first see it. The answer to the gifted needs to be the same Christ who loves and accepts them as they are. He is the answer who not only provides intellectual satisfaction but a heart satisfaction that they have in fact been unknowingly longing for their entire lives. The key is not to be threatened by raw brainpower or immense talent but to see through to the needs of the heart.

  • People in the church are human enough to be threatened by others who are different, and tragically enough often give the gifted person the same kind of abusive treatment as the world apart from Christ. I myself can attest to this with sadness, though I’d rather not go beyond this. The usual scriptural injunctions against envy, verbal abuse, lies, gossip and judgmentalism are sufficient to show that there is no justification for this behavior before God. In addition, the scriptural commands to be content with what you have (this applies to God’s gifts financially, materially, intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically as well as spiritually) apply here also.

  • The gifted may need special prayer support to find and stay on their mission for the Lord — and this may take in fact many twists, turns, stumbles, and sidetracks. I think that is actually the way things happen for most of us; the single minded mission for many years on the same task makes for great Christian biographies, but is probably far from the truth for most of us. Again, one of the dangers with this can also be false prophecy from other believers, if they attach a ‘thus says the Lord’ to their own thoughts and expectations — Jeremiah 23:26, 30.


All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Gifted, Talented . . . and Christian: The Discovery of Giftedness

In November, 2003, I made a momentous discovery about myself. I discovered that I qualify as a ‘gifted and talented’ adult. My own realization came through coming across a description of giftedness in adults on the Internet that I thought sounded very much like myself.

I then went over my elementary school report cards, and found that every one of my teachers felt I had very high learning potential. Finally, I went over some of the books from psychologists who deal especially with adults who come into an awareness of being ‘gifted’ later in life, and joined Mensa and an Internet support group, so that I could better understand my own experiences, and have an insight and perhaps a potential into ministry to some very hurting people like myself. I then went over my elementary school report cards, and found that every one of my teachers felt I had very high learning potential. Finally, I went over some of the books from psychologists who deal especially with adults who come into an awareness of being ‘gifted’ later in life, and joined Mensa and an Internet support group, so that I could better understand my own experiences, and have an insight and perhaps a potential into ministry to some very hurting people.

For me, primarily the experience has been a deeper awareness of the depth and breadth of the gifts I’ve been given, as well as a sudden insight into the nature of many of the experiences I’ve had through life. One of the tremendous values of this list to me has been the validation of these experiences with the sharing of and with others here — sort of “I’m not crazy! Other gifted people have the same kinds of feelings and experiences!”

It wasn’t a lack of understanding of having intelligence; rather, it was a lack of understanding of the extent and of how it shaped my perceptions, feelings and experiences over the years, and what it meant to be GT. For many years it was a sense of being different than others around me, and having others perceive me as different, but not understanding how much being GT was the source of it. For me, realizing what it meant to be GT and learning the experiences of others who are GT adults has filled in many, many gaps of understanding of my experiences over the years. It’s meant working to put my past into perspective and carry these lessons forward for the next forty to fifty years.

The discovery really was overwhelming in its intensity and relief. The expression I would use to describe it is ‘an earthquake of the soul.’ But for myself, it’s better to know that I’m GT and all that that involves, than otherwise. For myself, as a GT adult who was living without understanding what it is to be GT, it was like trying to make my way through a city with an out of date road map. Some things were as expected, but a number of things weren’t.

Many of you reading this may not be gifted, though some of you may be. If you’re going to be dealing with someone who is GT in your life, you can be pretty much be assured of these kinds of things:

  • You are dealing with a person whose motivations, perceptions and interests are very different than yours.

  • You are dealing with someone who is different enough from the others that you know that any insights culled from your own autobiography or any other stereotypes will not fit that person.

  • You are dealing with someone who may well have had very different social experiences with others over the course of his or her lifetime, and who may entirely unintentionally well bring out both the best and the worst in the others around him or her.

  • You are dealing with someone who has feelings, bad days and good days, goals, desires, loves, prejudices, achievements, disappointments, blind spots and hidden heartbreaks like anyone else.

  • You are dealing with someone who is worth getting to know and trying to understand as much as possible, and to make your friend.

  • You are dealing with someone who is often willing to share his or her knowledge and experience with others, and who does enjoy an intellectual challenge and inquiry that is meaningful to him or her. This same person may not enjoy other people who attempt to throw trite or contrived challenges or brainteasers at him or her or attempt to compete in areas in which the competitor clearly does even not have a basic knowledge of the field.

  • You are dealing with someone who may be extremely frustrating at times, extremely annoying at times, astonishingly brilliant at times, and even seemingly average at times.

  • You are dealing with someone who may have strong intellectual and artistic interest and pursuits, but with whom you may find common ground in many other areas. For instance, GTs also may follow and cheer on the local sports teams, work out at a gym or go running for exercise, enjoy both cooking and consuming a good meal, enjoy other more ‘hands on’ activities like woodworking, home crafts or working on a car.

My personal belief is that giftedness is intended by God to be a blessing both to the gifted and to those around the gifted person. Sometimes it’s not the case, though. Please read on with the further posts, and let me explain why.

Biblical Reasons for Marriage, and Biblical Guidance for Getting Married

I put this lesson together some years ago because I could not find any teaching that dealt with the Biblical reasons for a person to get married. There’s probably much room to expand and improve on it, but it’s a starting point for prayerful consideration of the scriptures.


1. Marriage is part of God’s plan for mankind from creation.

Marriage was a part of God’s plan for mankind from the beginning of creation, as a substantial part of the fulfillment of what it means to be either male or female: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).


2. Marriage is the natural lifelong union of a man and a woman.

Marriage is part of God’s provision for the lifelong, mutual companionship and assistance of a man and a woman: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him” (female counterpart) (Genesis 2:18).


3. Marriage is the beginning of a new family.

Marriage is the inception of a new, lifelong relationship across the totality of life, and marks the separation and independence from the parents: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).


4. Marriage is God’s place for sexual fulfillment.

“Drink water from your own cistern,running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets,your streams of water in the public squares?Let them be yours alone,never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed,and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer –may her breasts satisfy you always,may you ever be captivated by her love”(Proverbs 5:15-19). “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (I Corinthians 7:2). Sexual fulfillment is definitely restricted to marriage within scripture. It is unfortunate, however, that marriage has too often been treated as an answer to problems of lust and immorality among believers. The truth is that lust and sexual immorality are not the result of merely physical appetites, but of sinful human nature that encompasses mind, body, spirit and emotions. (“What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, . . . adultery . . .”– Mark 7:20-21.)

Therefore marriage is no cure for lust and immorality for someone who does not accept the Biblical teaching on sex and marriage, or a believer who is caught in a sinful sexual habit. The sad testimony of many pastors, counselors and counselees is that marriage does not change a prior sexual problem. The scriptural answer is first and foremost the sanctification of the mind, body and spirit.Even so, the Biblical standard is that sex within marriage is a good gift of God, and is to be protected with modesty and reverence: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). For a believer in Christ, therefore, all sexual expectations should be confined to a marital relationship.


5. Marriage is the ultimate destination for and expression of romantic love and interest in a person of the opposite sex.

The Bible does describe romantic love as part of marital love, and as the confirmation of God’s leading to the right choice: “Isaac . . married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her” (Genesis 24:67). God had led the chief slave of Abraham, a godly man of faith himself, to Rebekah as the one that he had for Isaac, and the fulfillment of this choice was someone he loved in a romantic sense. The Bible is actually fairly ambiguous on the matter of romantic love. It is in three passages (Jacob and Rachel, Samson and his first wife, and David and Michal) described as a motivation for marriage — though these were by no means trouble free or even godly marriages. On the other hand, the Song of Solomon is full of romantic passion. Perhaps it is best to say that romantic love in itself does not form a solid basis for a marriage, but it is a necessary part of a happy marriage, and in the will of God a very satisfying and fulfilling part of a godly marriage.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised”(Proverbs 31:30). Physical attraction and romantic interest are a normal part of the courtship process, but are not to take precedence over spiritual and moral compatibility. For both men and women, character comes before attraction.


6. Marriage is lifelong companionship for mutual enjoyment of life.

“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this . . . life that God has given you under the sun . . .” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).Too often a couple which has approached marriage too much from the aspect of romantic love and physical attraction must face social and recreational incompatibility after marriage. This is one strong justification for the modern practice of dating: a husband and wife will be spending much of their leisure time together, and this can be the foundation for learning to enjoy things together before marriage (i.e., good clean fun).


7. Marriage is the foundation for a godly family for godly children.

“Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15).


The Essential Ingredient for a Godly Marriage

“He who finds a wife finds what is good, and receives favor from the LORD”(Proverbs 18:22).

“Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14).

A godly marriage partner is the gracious gift of God for either a man or woman. In the Bible, when parents contracted marriages for their children, this is a plain acknowledgment of the limitation of parental involvement and capacity to make good marriages for their children compared to the sovereign grace of God. The Bible does seem to indicate a substantial involvement for godly parents, but they are simply the agents in the fulfillment of God’s sovereign plan.

1. A godly marriage partner has had a definite experience of salvation.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (II Corinthians 6:14-15). Each believer should then be certain of a definite commitment to Jesus Christ by the marriage partner, and know the testimony of the other’s experience of salvation.

2. A godly marriage partner has an ongoing commitment to Christ as his disciple, and an obedient walk with Christ toward spiritual maturity.

“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (I John 1:6-7). A mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ is not enough to assure that there will be spiritual and moral compatibility in a marriage! The observation of the ongoing walk with Christ of the prospective marriage partner is essential. Therefore these factors also come into consideration:


  • Does the prospective partner have continuing struggles with a major moral difficulty, such as sexual immorality, drinking or drugs? Remain in contact and encourage your friend to find counseling, but do not continue dating seriously or attempt to solve the other person’s moral difficulties yourself! Godly and happy marriages are the product of mutual spiritual strengths and shared moral convictions, not a rescue or rehabilitation operation on the behalf of one partner. In addition, a prospective partner that professes Christ yet does not hold to Biblical morality may be a romantic impostor, i.e. , a person who makes a false profession of Christ in order to win the object of his or her affections.

  • Does the prospective partner have contact with a Bible believing church and remain in regular fellowship with that body? Has church attendance and involvement already been a significant part of your courtship and engagement? This will then form the basis for your mutual dedication to the body of Christ after your engagement

  • Does the prospective partner follow spiritual disciplines such as regular Bible reading and study, prayer, etc.? Has Bible study and prayer together already been a regular part of your courtship and engagement? This will form the basis of mutual spiritual growth and encouragement after your marriage.

  • Does the prospective partner hold steady employment and work toward Biblical goals for his or her life?

  • Does the prospective partner have a grasp of Biblical guidance about finances and demonstrate his trust in God as his provider by following them? Does he/she avoid debt, tithe, etc.? This will form the basis of financial stability after marriage.

All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

A Brief Introduction to Justification by Faith

What does this mean?

Justification is primarily judicial, but it bears on our relationship with God.

  1. Justification comes by faith for the forgiveness of our sins

    “All the prophets testify about him (Christ) that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:42).

    “Therefore, brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything which you could not be justified through the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

    Therefore justification is the result of saving faith, which is trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and eternal life. It means that God forgives our sins, in the sense of discharging us from their penalty. It means that God refuses to exact any punishment for them in the final judgment, just as if he had forgotten them entirely.

  2. Justification is the gift of the standing of righteousness before God. This means that God treats us as if we were perfectly innocent of sin and entirely holy before him.

    “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness comes through faith to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26).

  3. Justification comes by the grace of God.

    ” . . . having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).

  4. The basis of justification is the death of Christ.

    “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21).


What does this mean to me?

In our relationship with God, justification means:

  1. Peace with God, in the standing of grace! The access to all the blessings of salvation which come by grace!

    “Therefore,since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2).

  2. We come to God in his grace and not in his judgment. This means that our relational forgiveness comes, based upon our judicial forgiveness. This means that we have access to God in prayer!

    “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).


All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Thoughts on Christian Manhood

WANTED: MEN WHO WILL BE MEN OF GOD AND THE REPRESENTATIVE OF CHRIST IN THEIR HOMES

A scriptural standard of manhood would be based more in terms of:

  • Sexual fidelity to a wife for a lifetime, and sexual self control rather than sexual conquest(s).
  • Christlike care and love for a wife that grows with time together rather than a bored and ambivalent tolerance.
  • Fatherly care, loyalty and leadership rather than being able to father a child.
  • Provision for a child while preparing him or her for an independent adulthood as a spouse, parent and citizen committed to Jesus Christ, rather than fostering financial and social dependence out of my need to keep on feeling a sense of parental power.

Are you willing to face the challenge?

How did you get to be the man that you are? Did your own father or family teach you:

  • How to handle money responsibly
  • How to treat my wife, and women in general, with respect, self control, and Christlike, loving leadership:
  • How to follow God, develop Biblical goals for my life, and to handle problems according to God’s Word:
  • How to discipline myself to achieve the goals in my life, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically
  • How to be a Christlike friend to other men

A Man’s Affirmation of His Biblical Faith

What does it mean to be in a relationship to God as a man?

God the Father has called me his son because of my faith in Jesus Christ (I John 3:1, Galatians 3:26), and because I am in Christ I am his heir (Romans 8:17, Galatians 3:7)

Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, the eldest and firstborn from the dead, has brought me into his own family at the cost of his own suffering and death. He is my Lord and Master, his word is my command, and I am committed entirely to him. I follow him, and find in him the perfect example of manhood, and I look forward to my share in his glory and rule.

God the Spirit is my unfailing guide and my source of almighty power. No obstacle in my path is greater than he is, and through him I can master myself to Christlikeness.

Becoming a Christlike Husband

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”– Ephesians 5:25-33

The scriptural definition of marriage: separation from the family of birth and/or nurture, to bond to a member of the opposite sex for a lifetime. It thus means a covenant and promise to the spouse before the spouse to share one’s life entirely with that spouse.

Christ is the scriptural example held up for the husband in his manner of loving leadership. Christ’s treatment of the church is:

SELF SACFIFICIAL: . . . Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . “

What does this mean for a husband? Although in possession of spiritual authority as the head of the family, the husband is rather to sacrifice his own interests to build up his wife. He must pour himself into her life, from his own free choice of love. Here are several questions to get you thinking about this:

Would you sacrifice any one of your activities to spend time with her for something that she really deemed important?

Would you give up your life for her to protect her from murder, rape or any other form of violence?

Even if you might feel uncomfortable with it, would you seek to be more romantic to her and to compliment her as a sacrifice of love to her?

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP:”. . . to make her holy . . .”

The scripture assigns spiritual leadership in the home to the believing husband. He is to have concern for the holiness of his family, and to give spiritual care and direction to his wife. This means something beyond church attendance and involvement in Christian activities.

Do you have a plan for the spiritual growth of your family? If you don’t, start reading the scriptures prayerfully to find God’s plan. Stick to the guidance God gives you, but be willing to revise the plan as you grow in following Christ.

Do you have the courage to stand for Christ in your family? Do you allow your family members to influence you to disobey the Word of God (to induce you to deceit, guile, hypocrisy, envy, slander, etc.)? Do you allow your family members to disobey the Word of God without gentle correction? Are you prepared to stand for Christ, to forbid sin in the name of Christ upon the basis of his Word?

Do you expect that within the family the standard of speaking will be “. . . speaking the truth in love . . .” and advise your family to not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. . . . Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”? (Think of this in the context of family disagreements and sibling rivalry.)

Are you the bearer of the healing of Christ within your family, for when your family members are weary and wounded from living in a fallen world and among sinful men and women? Do you take the initiative to call the family to prayer, and to assert that God is in control of the situation in this way? Do you together seek his protection, provision and forgiveness? Many Christian husbands do not realize that the ministry that they can have with their wives can do much to prevent them from becoming bitter and angry women.

PROVIDING, CARING, MERCIFUL: ” . . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body . . .”

Feeding and caring are terms that are usually applied to children. Their presence here is a reminder of dependence that the wife has upon her husband that many women feel strongly but many men do not seem to understand.

Have you made it your goal to work, spend wisely and pray so that your family can survive on your income alone without your wife having to work? Remember that the circumstances of pregnancy at least mean that during much of that time your wife will be unable to work. And her own obedience to the command ” . . . to be busy at home . . .” (Titus 2:5) may call for the family to take this step. It is simply wisdom to work to this purpose.

Do you treat your wife with affection, attention, and respect as a fellow adult? Or rather, do you express dissatisfaction with disrespectful teasing and sulking withdrawal?

All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

What does this mean?

The first part of the gospel: What Christ has done for us

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received, I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures . . .” (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day . . . “ (Luke 24:46).

“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel . . . “ (I Timothy 2:8).

These are the central events of the gospel: Christ’s death for our sins and his resurrection. Most people in North America know these facts of the gospel. Many times those who are unsaved have no awareness of what Christ has done through these events for salvation.

Why Christ died: he died as an atoning sacrifice for our sins

  1. Because no human morality, even based upon divinely inspired commands, could earn righteousness before God and eternal life”: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21). Scripture explains elsewhere (such as Romans 3:23, Psalm 14:1-3, Isaiah 64:6) the nature of sin, that all people are sinners and that no one can earn or deserve eternal life.

  2. Because God had to punish sin: “He was delivered over to death on account of our sins . . .” (Romans 4:25: see also Romans 3:25-26). ” . . . without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins . . .” (Hebrews 9:22). His death was the death that we deserved for our sins: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

  3. Because God loves the sinful people of this world, and he wants them to have eternal life: “For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God shows his love to us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Why Christ rose from the dead on the third day: the promise of his resurrection

  1. As the demonstration that sin was completely atoned for, and the demonstration of the victory of Christ over death, the consequence of sin:
    “(he) was raised to life on account of our justification”
    (Romans 4:25). “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17).

  2. As the promise of the resurrection of the believer: “By his power God raise the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also” (I Corinthians 6:14).


What does this mean to me?

  1. Salvation is found only through what Christ has done for us, and through him alone. This means that we need to be clear in what we think and say about the nature of salvation: it is not in church membership or church attendance or anything that anyone can do for themselves, but only in what he has done for everyone. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

  2. The believer looks forward to a glorious future of being like Christ in his resurrection: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power the enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).


All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Barn Cat People

Farm people know about barn cats. They are the cats which live in the barns around their farms. They are not exactly strays, and they are not really pets, either. The farm family gives some mild encouragement to the barn cats to stick around, and some mild toleration exists between the cats and the farm family.

The barn cats are not part of the family, though. They receive no care when they are sick or injured. They receive no protection from the foxes and coyotes that live on the fringes of the farm. They may receive some occasional scraps and friendly pets, but they pretty much need to find their own food and comfort among themselves. Moreover, the only protection they receive from the cold, rain and snow is whatever place in the big building that they manage to find. If they die, though, the farm family may give them a token burial.

The people who live around the fringes of our churches, especially the larger ones, are somewhat like barn cats. They become invisible after attending a few times, when the others get used to them. They swell the attendance statistics of the larger churches, and they become part of the pride of growth. They may come forward when there is an altar call if they realize a particular need, and they may attend some functions of the church. But they are not part of the family; they are at the edge of our lives, but they never enter our hearts.

During my time as a pastor I met with many of these people, spoke with them, and developed some kind of relationship with them. Often enough, they might attend and give some hearing to my preaching. But by and large, despite my pleadings to the members of my churches, they never became part of the family. They themselves became wary of some of the church members, just as a barn cat might become wary of a little boy that pulled his tail.

Barn cats do not always socialize completely to become docile pets. They seem to miss something of the human contact in their early days that seem to keep them from forming as strong bond with families that take them in as the cats who were part of the family from kittenhood. But for those who take them into their hearts, they are as much a part of the family as the ones who became part of the family when they were born into it.

JESUS AND THE ABUSED: HIS HELP

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18.

  • Recognize Christ alone can be the Savior from sin for both yourself and the abuser.

A sinful life pattern which often emerges is a compulsion to try to “help” the abuser out of his pattern. This pattern becomes more pronounced often if the abuser is also an addict to drugs or alcohol or sexually promiscuous. This pattern of compulsive attempts to “help” likewise is a sinful reaction to the abuse, that of presumption. No human being has either the capacity or responsibility to “help” another person out of his sinful life patterns in an unscriptural fashion.

  • Receive his forgiveness and power to overcome sinful emotional reactions to abuse.

An abused person is a victim, of course, but still remains a human being under the power of fallen human nature. A perfect victim would not react to suffering by falling into sinful reactions; unfortunately, victims who themselves have the tendencies of fallen human nature often do.

The Apostle Peter wrote the description of Jesus’s example of the proper reaction to suffering for those who suffer:

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

He committed no sin,

and no deceit was found in his mouth.

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we, having died to sins, should live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like seep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”(I Peter 2:21-25).

Peter’s description of the Christlike reaction to suffering originally was meant for Christian slaves who were undergoing abuse by cruel masters. It is, though, applicable to anyone who has undergone physical and verbal abuse.

The essence of the reaction of Jesus was that the sin of his abusers did not mean for him to react with sin.

  • First, he refused the aggressive reaction to verbal and physical abuse; he did not retaliate with insults to the verbal abuse offered to him, nor did he react with threats of violence to the violence inflicted upon him.
  • Next, he refused the passive reaction of fear to the verbal and physical abuse inflicted upon himself, by the strength of his trust in the justice of God the Father. His suffering of the cross was by no means because of any personal weakness and helplessness. Jesus was not a “wimp”; in fact, he could have avoided the cross entirely and could have left the cross at any time if he were not totally surrendered to the will of the Father to suffer and die for the sins of the world.

The suffering of Jesus was, moreover, a constructive, purposeful suffering. The whole purpose of the crucifixion was, from the intention of Satan, to destroy him. In the purpose of God, though, he turned it into good for those that he loved by making it the sacrifice for the sins of the world and the payment for eternal life for his followers. His suffering then meant freedom for his followers from the power of sin, so that they could live in the power of righteousness in eternal life. Even more, his suffering provided healing for his people; reading this passage, Christian slaves might think of their healing from the marks of their beatings by his being beaten and whipped for them.

Apart from a scriptural understanding of and Christlike reaction to suffering, an abused person can generally fall into one of two sinful life patterns in reaction to his or her abuse.

1. The reaction of fear: This can become a life-dominating fear of others that will mean further sins of unbelief and disobedience:

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare (a stumblingblock to many sins),

but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe”

(Proverbs 29:25).

2. The reaction of anger: This can lead to an aggressive life pattern in which the abused becomes the abuser, through having seen and imitated his relations to others:

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man,

do not associate with one easily angered,

or you may learn his ways,

and get yourself ensnared”

(Proverbs 22:24-25).

  • Receive the comfort of Jesus for the pain and anguish of your suffering.

The comfort of Jesus means his promise and offer of healing for a broken heart: II Corinthians 1:3-5; comfort for those who have suffered; the abused can be comforters to those who suffer, sympathetic and the avenues of the comfort of Christ to others, avoid becoming abusive, because you know how it feels

  • Allow Jesus to mold a new respect in dealing with earthly authority.

Sometimes the abused have problems with trust and dealing with earthly authorities. They may reject earthly authority and become fiercely independent. But this means becoming like sheep going astray, each one turning to his own way. Jesus is the authority who understands and who cares above all others. Trusting Jesus and his will is the first step back to a right relationship with earthly authorities.

  • Allow Jesus to guide, strengthen and fill you for a new life of loving others as he has loved you.

The abused often have problems with love and vulnerability. But caring for others will mean learning to become vulnerable to others again. This means coming close enough and trusting enough to be hurt again. Note that Jesus puts his heart on the line every moment in his relationship with us!

  • Learn how valuable you and others are to God as human beings as the basis of a proper self respect and respect for others.

Learning your personal value to God means learning also the value of others as well. This means unlearning any habits of denigration of others: James 3:9: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

  • Live in the new reality of who you are in Christ and the power of his Holy Spirit.

All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

JESUS AND THE ABUSED: HIS SYMPATHY

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus understands suffering. The course of his trial and crucifixion shows that he knows by personal experience the depths of physical and verbal abuse by other human beings. Though he is the almighty Son of God, the reality of his human nature means that it was not any less painful for him. His pain and suffering not only paid the price for the sin of the world, though; his suffering also provides perfect insight into the nature, endurance and purpose of suffering.

Death by crucifixion was especially feared and disdained because death came only at the end of an extended process that was not only physically painful but also the ultimate violation of a person’s humanity and identity. This is why the crucifixion could be called the ultimate abuse. Because he endured all that without a single sinful thought or word, Jesus demonstrates to the believer the godly way to understand, accept and transcend his own suffering, since he is the ultimate example of a totally innocent person who suffered.

Those who have undergone abuse in some way — physical, verbal and emotional, even sexual — often have a hard time facing, understanding and transcending their experience of abuse. The believer in Christ, though, has someone who understands and has experienced the ultimate abuse himself, and can stand beside and help the believer to understand his or her experience, through his own experience on the cross. Moreover, the Lord Jesus can give more than the understanding of that experience; he can give perfect sympathy, comfort, a new life and meaning to that suffering which will mean good for others out of what may have seemed pointless pain.

Considering one’s suffering may be extremely difficult. Sometimes the memories can be very deeply buried, and even when the memories can more easily come to mind, they may provoke reactions such as denial which hinder the process of proper understanding and conquest. Sometimes well meaning fellow believers influenced by teachings on “healing of memories” or “healing of emotions” will take one through semi mystical or magical sessions of visualization or prayer aimed at emotional relief, and indeed there is some temporary relief, but the deep underlying patterns are not altered. Consideration of one’s suffering in the light of the suffering of Jesus, though, may enable one to face honestly and openly what one has suffered from others. It also would provide something more than mere emottional relief, but definite answers on the proper reactions to suffering as well as the sympathy of someone who has also suffered.

Scripture definitely enjoins consideration of one’s suffering alongside that of Jesus: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). Indeed, this may be one more reason why the gospels go into the account of Jesus’s suffering in more detail than any other period of his earthly life, so that suffering believers can find his sympathy and understanding of their suffering. This consideration of the suffering of Jesus with one’s own suffering, though, is not unwarranted psychologizing of scripture; it is an application of the scriptural pattern of the comparison of the sufferings of Jesus with those of his people.

The Lord Jesus has given the believer the promise of his spiritual companionship: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21). Before you begin the process of understanding your suffering by understanding his suffering first, reaffirm to the Lord your love for him and your commitment to demonstrate this through obedience to him. Ask him, as your best and closest friend, to be with you in this time, to speak to you through his Word, to guide, strengthen and comfort you as you share together in this time of special trust and spiritual intimacy. Jesus knows your experience, not just because he knows all things (John 20:17), but through his personal human experience in the time of his betrayal, trial, and crucifixion.


  • The suffering of Jesus came through the betrayal of a trusted friend:

The betrayal of the trust Jesus had placed in a friend led to his suffering. See Matthew 26:47-50, Mark 14:43-46, Luke 22:47-48, John 18:2-9. Judas Iscariot had lived with Jesus for three years as one of the trusted Twelve. Even during the Last Supper, when Jesus offered him a special morsel, it was an offer of lasting friendship and a silent appeal for him not to betray him. But when the betrayal came it was even through an act of false friendship — a kiss. Jesus thus knows what it is like to have been betrayed.

One of the characteristics of much abuse is that it comes often through those whom we had felt some reason to trust — a family member, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or some other friend or neighbor. Write down the names of those whom you trusted who brought suffering upon you.Ask the Lord to give you his strength to forgive each one completely, for the breach of trust first of all, and then each aspect of your suffering.

Note also that Judas acted under direct Satanic instigation (Luke 22:3, John 13:2, 27). What Judas’s real motive was in the betrayal of Jesus was is not revealed, but the fact that he accepted a bribe for the betrayal suggests that it was at least partially greed. As the treasurer of the group, Judas pilfered from their funds, and this secret sin of stealing seems to have been how Satan gained access to his heart. Often the abusive and instigators of abuse share this same characteristic, that their actions come through demonic instigation, especially if their attacks are directed against believers in Christ. Jesus knows what it means for us to face the fiercest attacks of the enemy through human agents.

Satan does not seem to gain access to the hearts of abusers through greed, though. He finds his foothold in the desires and emotions of the fallen human nature which scripture calls the flesh. There are two specific ways that this seems to come about:

1. Through anger: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27). The abusive many times are holding in a great store of resentment. This seething anger may erupt in violence against the innocent or in response to mere annoyance and irritation.

2. Through a desire for power over another person: ” . . . if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts . . . Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, carnal, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14-16). Abusers often have such a desire to control their circumstances that they will resort to extremes of deceit and violence even in their own families. Moreover, this explains why an abusive person can seem almost supernaturally cunning: his human nature furnishes the footholds for demonic influence. Like Judas, an abusive person can suffer severe pangs of conscience after the suffering of their victims becomes clear (Matthew 27:3-4). In the case of Judas, the remorse was so great as to drive him to suicide (Matthew 27:5). Abusers can go through suicidal depressions as well, but they may also seek to escape their consciences through drugs, alcohol, or sexual immorality. This is why an abuser can go through tremendous psychological and physical degeneration, and can become a confirmed addict, if he or she is not one already.

Another way an abuser may try to deal with his conscience is by attempting a reconciliation with his victims. The apologies and attempts to make it up can sometimes give their victims that they really are going to change, and arouse their compassion in a desire to “help” a person with such remorse. Unfortunately these change rarely last longer than the emotions which spawned the apologies. Genuine change shows itself in a deep repentance.


  • His closest friends abandoned Jesus during his time of suffering:

See Matthew 26:56, Mark 14:50. All the disciples fled, although Peter and John later came to trail the mob who had apprehended Jesus. This then led to Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus when he was confronted with the fact. All those who had said they would not abandon him and even that they would die for him failed when put to the test.

Often in situations of abuse there are those with genuine affection but no courage or strength to stand alongside the abused. Many times those who fail us are also believers in Christ as well. Jesus’s friends failed him, too. He forgave them and later restored them to useful places of ministry. Write down the names of those friends who failed you. Tell Jesus that you want to forgive them as he forgave the apostles for their abandonment, and ask him for his strength to do so. Ask him also to work it out that the relationship can be restored to stronger, more affectionate and more mutually helpful than it was before.


  • Jesus’s suffering came through injustice from the authorities:

See John 18:13-24, where Jesus, in his preliminary hearing before Annas, the “retired” but probably de facto, high priest, was struck illegally for an allegedly disrespecful answer to a question probably meant to induce him to incriminate himself. Jesus then pointed out the injustice of this treatment.

In his actual trial before the Jewish ruling authorities, Jesus faced:

  • beatings and mockings before the trial and afterwards from the Jewish Temple guards
  • an trial held at an illegal time (before dawn)
  • the acceptance of false testimony by the authorities without any cross examination
  • condemnation to death upon a direct question from the high priest, who was to remain neutral as he presided

From his trial before the Jewish ruling council Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, for the confirmation of the death sentence. Here he faced:

  • further beating and mocking from Roman guards
  • further false accusations
  • the preference of a murderer to himself
  • three separate acquittals by the governor before the death sentence was imposed

Many times an abusive situation includes injustice from the civil and religious authorities, either in failure to enforce civil and spiritual sanctions or actual collusion with the abuser. Those who were to uphold the civil law and the Word of God do not always do so. This means that the victim of abuse often can have great difficulties in trust and cooperation with legitimate spiritual and civil authorities, even those who are genuinely trustworthy and ready to help, because the others have shown themselves untrustworthy, uncooperative or even hostile; in short, unjust.

Write down the times of injustice that you have experienced, and the names of those who were responsible. Tell Jesus that you forgive them, as you trust him for the strength to do so and to make it stick. Ask him also to enable you to have a scriptural view on the civil, spiritual and family authorities that God has established in this world, so that you will not be brought into sinful rebellion against the just and conscientious in reaction to the unjust, uncooperative and hostile. (Family authorities need to be included also, because sometimes abuse comes from them also, and general infiltration of an underlying attitude of rejection of authority can disrupt family life also.)


  • Jesus’s suffering meant intense physical pain and physical helplessness:

By the time Jesus had been sentenced to crucifixion, he had already endured beatings from the Jewish Temple guards, the guards of Herod Antipas, and the Roman guards of Pilate. There was normally also a preliminary whipping with a cat o’ nine tails (Matthew 27:26, John 19:1), after which Pilate still tried to have Jesus released. The purpose of the whipping was to weaken the condemned sufficiently that death would come more quickly on the cross.

After the whipping the actual crucifixion began (Matthew 27:33-35, Mark 15:22-24, Luke 23:33 John 19:17-18). Jesus was then fixed to the cross, in a place of utter physical helplessness, by large iron nails, as big and thick as a railroad spike, through his hands and his feet. His reaction was the prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34).

Those who have endured physical abuse not only have the painful awareness of the violence upon them but often a sense of shame at their physical powerlessness to retaliate. Jesus also knows what it means to have violent blows assail his body. He knows the sense of physical helplessness before those who are inflicting such pain upon him. His reaction was not retaliation, though, but forgiveness from the heart.


  • Jesus’s suffering included sexual shame:

Jesus was forcibly stripped of all his clothes and nailed to the cross entirely naked before the crowds of onlookers (Matthew 27:35, Mark 16:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24). The depictions of the crucifixion have usually left this out by portraying him with a loincloth, and the gospels respectfully do not dwell on this, because it was a well known part of crucifixion. This would have been a tremendous violation of Jesus’s modesty: a Jewish man would have felt an unspeakable shame at this exposure before the crowds.

Many times abuse also includes the violation of sexual modesty and sexual consent. Jesus has a sense of what you have felt in his own human experience, if you have been abused in this manner. Often this violation can lead to unscriptural and dysfunctional attitudes toward sex and marriage itself, as a reaction to the shame and revulsion of this experience. The sexually abused can become either unscripturally immoral or unscripturally inhibited. The solution will then be found in careful understanding and acceptance of the scriptural teaching on romantic love, sex and marriage as the path to sexual sanity.


  • Jesus’ suffering included intense verbal abuse:

Verbal abuse was a constant part of the suffering of Jesus. All that he knew to be true of himself was constantly held up to derision (See Matthew 27:38-43, Mark 15:27-32, Luke 23:35-38, for the verbal abuse that occure while he was on the cross itself). His emotional reaction to all the verbal abuse that he suffered is not recorded, but it is clear that he did not return one hostile or derisive word to all that was offered to him. Jesus knows how it feels to be treated with such disdain, ridicule, and scorn.

In modern America there is a children’s saying that is manifestly untrue:

“Stick and stones may break my bones,
But words will never hurt me!”

Sometimes those who suffer verbal abuse are heaped with an additional shame and derision for the pain that they suffer, as if it means that they are somehow weak people. There is such a thing as oversensitivity, but it often is more on the part of the verbally abusive than the victim. The verbally abusive often blame their victims in this way for the pain that they inflict, as part of the whole pattern of disdain for another human being that underlies their form of abuse.

The Scriptures recognize the real pain that scorn, mocking, and insults inflict upon a person. In the Psalms the effects are often described:

1. Emotionally: shame, heartbreak, loneliness and discouragement:

“You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.
Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.”
(Psalm 69:19-20, a Messianic Psalm)

2. Physically: loss of energy, loss of appetite, loss of weight, insomnia: Psalm 31:10, 102:4-9

3. Shyness:

“I said, ‘ . . . I will put a muzzle on my mouth
as long as the wicked are in my presence'”
But when I was silent and still,
not even saying anything good,
my anguish increased.
(Psalm 39:1).

Shyness has been called a reactive sin; it is a pattern of learned silence and lack of assertion in response to the stifling verbal abuse of others. It can be termed a sin inasmuch as it masks resentment and hinders Christlike love and assertive righteousness.

Chronically shy people are often those who have been in an atmosphere of constant ridicule and verbal hostility. Shyness is neither a lasting nor uncommon characteristic; almost everyone is shy at some point in their adolescent or adult lives, and most do grow out of it, though it may be suspected that the most severely verbally and emotionally abused remain the most shy througout their adult lives. Unfortunately, some of the shy become verbally abusive themselves because they have never learned to express themselves courteously and respectfully to others

Often the chronically shy have been treated in such a way that they have little experience in receiving and giving positive, upbuilding communication such as in Ephesians 4:15 ( “. . . speaking the truth in love . . . “) and 4:29. There is a real ministry of the body of Christian modelling and encouraging Christlike assertion and loving communication from the shy.

One of the reasons why the verbal abuse could not have affected Jesus deeply was that it was contrary to the truth about himself that he knew from the Word of God. Likewise you can find strength against verbal abuse in what the Word of God says about you. Write down some of the ways in which you have been verbally abused. Contrast what God’s Word says to be true of you in Christ to the denigration you have received from others. Read through the book of Ephesians and write down what God says that you are in Christ.


  • Jesus had to make arrangements for the care of his family members because of his suffering:

During his suffering Jesus took care to entrust his family responsibility as the eldest son to someone else when he assigned the care of his mother to the apostle John (John 19: 26-27). He knew that he would no longer be able to carry out his human family responsibilities any longer; first, because of his suffering and imminent death, but later because of his resurrection and ascension. He knows what that physical separation from family feels like.

Sometimes an abusive situation requires separation from family members for one reason or another. Write down those from whom you have been separated. Commit each one to the care of God first of all. Write down what measures you can take to ask others in the body of Christ to care for them.


  • Jesus experienced the ultimate loneliness during his suffering:

Jesus faced the abandonment or helplessness of all his friends in the course of his trial and crucifixion, and finally even God the Father seemed far away: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). Thus Jesus knows how it feels not to have a sense of the presence of God in the moment of deepest suffering.

Jesus’s sense of separation from God the Father was due to his bearing the wrath of God for the sins of the world, but even so he knew that he was not truly abandoned by the Father. As he anticipated his suffering the next day, he told the apostles, “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32). In his last breaths, in his expression of trust in the Father despite this sense of separation, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). This demonstrates that the feelings of separation or abandonment may not reflect a true breach of fellowship with God.

Many believers have testified to an unusual sense of the presence of God during suffering; others have also said that they have felt abandoned by God during that time. Sometimes believers develop a bitterness against God because of this sense of emotional abandonment. The truth is that God is there and that he cares regardless of the emotional sense of his presence during that time of suffering. ” . . . God has said,

‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

(Hebrews 13:5)

The reality of God’s presence and care cannot be restricted to a human emotional phenomenon nor to the vicissitudes of human circumstances, but comes from the declaration of his Word of his care and presence regardless of human emotion or circumstances. Realize that God was there during the time of your deepest suffering, and that he cared when you experienced your most difficult pain. Thank him for that, and for the truth that he will always be there for you in the present and the future, because he has promised just that.

All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.