Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 17 - Toward A Christian Philosophy of Life

In II Timothy 1:7 it says, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind".

Power - To live constructively

Love - To live sacrifically

A Sound Mind - To live reasonably

The question is, how do we live reasonably in life, which then relates to one's philosophy of life? From the ancient Greek philosophers came the questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? Today, the same questions confront each individual, which a person has a personal responsibility to seriously consider. Why? Because one's philosophy of life is the track upon which one runs that directs us, and gives fullness of life or not. That is why it is important for each one to have a well thought out philosophy (i.e. worldview) of life.

I. The Reasoning - Every person starts with basic assumptions in life. Assuming that one accepts the Bible as a revelation from God to mankind, and as an objective guide for understanding life, let us consider some basic assumptions.

1) All truth is God's truth. The truth of the Bible tells us that God created mankind; Spirit, Soul, and Body (I Thess.5:23). The Spirit is the life that we have from God, the Soul is our psyche (i.e. emotions, mind, will), and the body is our flesh. Therefore, the basic assumption must be, that God who created us, should know best how we operate in life, to give us the fullness we desire. He has given us this information in His revealed Word, the Bible.

The Bible is to the person somewhat like the automobile handbook is to the car. It is the manual of operations to help us run the car efficiently. So, God has given us a spitiual manual of operations, so that we enjoy the fullness of life (John 10:10). The Bible is the genesis and sourcebook of understanding mankind, his life, his emotions/will, and his body.

2) The best understanding of a God directed philosophy of life and the psychology of well being for wholeness of life, comes from an understanding of people, as illustrated in the Biblical characters, with God's principles woven into the fabric of human nature. God's principles are always perfect, as coming from a holy God. But, He takes us where He finds us, less than perfect, and elevates us to a positional perfection in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6), and gives to us of the Holy Spirit to re- characterize our lives, that our behaviors may be brought into line with our position in Christ. This takes a life time of work to achieve, in the life of the Christian.

This is accomplished by our allowing the Holy Spirit to take what we read in the Bible, as we see the struggle of God's people illustrated, and accepting the principles that arise out of human interaction with God. Though the people of the Bible lived in a different environmental context than we do (i.e. they live in an agrarian society and we in an esoteric, complex one) human nature has remained quite constant, so that the principles are constant. If we replace the human illustrations of the past, with a modern day one, the principles remain. It is these principles that we should know, understand, and apply to our lives, if we desire to know God's best for us, and to lead a full life.

II. The Problem - The basic problem that exists between modern humanistic philosophy/psychology and the Bible/Christian points of view is that the humanist evaluates mankind through a different "grid" or "filter" than does God. This skews mankind's perception of himself. Note some differences between the two:

1) Philosophy - Mankind is basically good
Bible - Mankind basically sinful(Self Centered)
See - Jeremiah 17:9

2) Philosophy - No objective criteria as to what is good or normal
Bible - Biblical objective for normalcy

3) Philosophy - Subjective (Self/Ego/I)
Bible - Objective (God centered)

The conclusion to this is that modern day philosophy is basically a distortion of the understanding of personality, and a trial and error method of correcting mankind's problems.

The Christian should not shy away from understanding philosophy or psychology just because it does not square with the Bible. But, the Christian needs to gain a proper perspective of both philosophy and psychology from the Biblical point of view. The basic need is first to know the principles of the Word of God, then the study of philosophy and psychology, sifting them through the grid of God's Word, the Bible. This will give one an objective God centered view of the personality of mankind.

III. The Biblical Resolution - The New Testament book of Colossians is God's revelation of the philosophy for mankind. The primary passage is Colossians 1:24 - 2:10.

In this section, the Apostle Paul is speaking of three mysteries, relating to mankind. (Note: The word "Mystery" does not mean something mysterious, as we might think, but something that previously has been divinely hidden, now divinely revealed). The first mystery is in Col. 1:24-26, the mystery of the CHURCH, in which God in the Old Testament dealt with Israel, now He is dealing with the body of Christians, spoken of as the "Church", which spiritually speaking is His body of believers here on earth.

The second mystery is that of the CHRISTIAN in Colossians 1:27, in which the revelation of God has gone out to all mankind telling us that the salvation we have in Christ, is that which transforms us into the glory (i.e. moral qualities) of God Himself. See also Romans 10:13,14.

Finally, in Colossians 2:2 we have the mystery of CHRIST, "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". See also II Peter 1:3. This refers to the fact that all the Christian needs for life and Godliness is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, as seen in His Word, the Bible.

In Colossians 2:8 there is a warning concerning humanistic philosophy, which the Apostle notes is, "After the elements of the world, and not after Christ". Conversely, we see in I Corinthians 2:9-14 that for the Christian, God through the Holy Spirit reveals that which He wants us to know, "That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God". Furthermore, he points out in verse 14 that the Christian has God given discernment to know right from wrong, good from bad, and this evaluation is from God Himself, based upon the principles found in the Bible.

The conclusion to one's searching for reality in life, through a Biblically thought out philosophy, is found in Colossians 2:9,10, "For in Him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of God in bodily form. And, you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principalities and power". God is over all, in all, and by Him all things are held together (Col. 1:16-19). Wholeness in life comes through one accepting regeneration from God, willingly being submissive to the Holy Spirit's re- characterizing the life, and formulating one's worldview based on the principles of the Bible.

An excellent model is seen in Jesus Christ, as stated in Luke 2:52, "And Jesus increased in WISDOM, and STATURE, and in favor with GOD, and in favor with MAN". Wisdom is mental maturity, stature is physical maturity, favor with God is spiritual maturity, and favor with mankind is social maturity. Here was a perfectly balanced model of life, after which we would do well to pattern our lives.

In II Corinthians 4:6 we read, "For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory (His moral qualities) of God in the face of Jesus Christ", that we might pattern our lives after Him, and come to wholeness of life, according to God's pattern for us. God then will guarantee fullness of life to us (John 10:10).

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Through death into life everlasting,
He passed and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion,
For more than conquerors we are.

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect Salvation to tell.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

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