25 August 2011

The dangerous vulnerability of discontentment

by Dan Phillips

Note: this post debuted a bit over five years ago. It seems to fit in quite timely  with recent discussions. (I've edited slightly, as usual.)

I daresay that most adultery, theft, and warfare, as well as most heresies and false teachings, grow out of discontentment. Often, a man reaches a certain age, feels dissatisfied with his life and accomplishments and, if he isn't stabilized on Christ's person and God's Word, he is in a dangerous and vulnerable state. He may do crazy and irresponsible things. Nor are women immune; how many cults and false teachings had a woman at their head? For every Charles Taze Russell there may be a Mary Baker Eddy.

Worse, the Enemy of our souls perverts good drives into bad directions. He fans the flames of this or that itch to the point where the target casts off from the shoring of God's sufficient, inerrant Word, and becomes open to "solutions" either tangential to or in direct contradiction of that Word. I deal with a few here, especially Chapters Ten and Eleven.

Desperate cries for "More power," "More Christ," "More fullness," "More holiness" have led to a 2000-year flow of manmade (or worse) solutions.

God's solution?

Read on.

Salesmen depend upon discontentment. Contentment = No Sale.

Think about it. Why buy anything, if you're happy with what you have? Why even shop? A salesman either has to find you discontented, or make you that way, if he wants to make a sale.

Now, sometimes the discontentment is legitimate and undeniable. Your washing machine broke, you need a new one. Your roof leaks, your car keeps breaking down, your clothes are becoming too revealing. You're "discontented" with being smelly, wet, stranded, and indecent. Nobody needs to talk you into looking for something new. For that matter, our conversion to Christ springs from a God-given "discontentment" with being lost, under sin, separated from God.

But what if what you have is really okay? What does the salesman do then? He has to convince you, somehow, that it is not okay. He has to persuade you that you'd be a lot more productive with a faster computer, that you'd be a lot more attractive if you bought his line of clothes/cologne/shoes, that you deserve a better car. Then what you thought was pretty decent doesn't look so hot anymore. You're discontented, and now you're vulnerable to a good (i.e. effective) sales pitch.

It's also Satan's favorite tool. Imagine that your challenge is to approach a sinless woman who literally has everything she needs, and convince her that she needs this one thing that will in fact kill her, make her miserable, devastate her world, tear her family apart, introduce a teeming nightmare of horrors, and doom all her children. How do you do it?

But of course this is precisely what Satan did in Genesis 3, and quite effectively so. How did he do it? He presented himself as the woman's best friend. He convinced her he was looking out for her best interests, wanting only her fulfillment, her actualization, her self-realization. She just needed this one more thing.

And she fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

And so has every natural-born child of Eve ever since. Why should Satan even imagine changing his tactics when we, gullible fools that we are, have fallen for it again and again for thousands of years? Discontentment opens a wide door of opportunity, starts a nice pot of coffee, and spreads out a genial "Welcome" mat for the prince of lies.

So how can anyone counter this appeal to discontentment?

When I was preparing, years ago, to preach/teach through Colossians, I was struck with how Paul responded to incipient heresy in that congregation.

The apostle Paul was quite capable of being brutally frontal, as we see in his correspondence with the Galatians and the Corinthians. However, here he takes a somewhat different tactic.

The approach of the false teacher in Colosse (the references to him are all in the singular: 2:4, 8, 16, 18) was the same then as it is today: he was a charismatic individual who came in with special, personal, private revelation, special truths, special methods, all of which were must-haves for the person who really yearns to enjoy a top-grade spiritual experience. The false teacher excluded the "mere Christians" in Colosse, with their humdrum existence, as not having fully arrived.

How does Paul counter this? In Colossians the apostle mostly makes sidelong allusions to the false teaching. Paul does not get into a point-by-point explication and refutation of the "Colossian heresy," as it has been called. Rather, Paul focuses on the Lord Jesus Christ, His person and work, His fullness. In my study, I found that Christ is men­tioned in 53 of the 96 verses in Colossians. In some of these, He is mentioned two and three times. Therefore, some 55% of the verses mention Christ at least once. Or, put another way, every other thing Paul says in this letter is something about Jesus Christ.

Not only does Paul lay down solid teaching about the person and work of Christ, but he dwells on ways to make personal use of the truth. Chief among these is thankfulness. Again and again Paul either expresses gratitude, or says that all believers should be grateful, should give thanks. We see it at least in 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15-17; and 4:2.

Thankful people are people conscious of, and glorying in, the riches they possess. Thankful people are contented people. Contented people are immune to salesmen, whether they be peddlers of baubles and trinkets, or of false doctrine.

And so, Paul's centering on, and glorying in, the supremacy and all-sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ would have to flush out the false teacher. If the letter left believers rejoicing in Christ alone, grounded solidly in apostolic teaching, and uninterested in all the false teacher's supplements and additions, he was sunk. He'd have to expose himself more fully, speak more plainly. He'd have to put Christ and His work down, and put up his own additions more. He has to convince folks that what they have is not good enough.

And so it is today. "Merely" false teachings and damnable heresies alike depend on the same method. Regular readers will notice that, whenever one of us exults in the sovereignty of God in salvation, in the monergistic nature of saving grace, in the glories and sufficiency of God's eternal and inerrant word, the "But-but-but" crowd is activated. If God is truly sovereign in salvation, then where is the room for our "contribution"? If Christ's atonement actually atones, and not just theoretically, then where is the place for our "free will" on the throne?

And if God's word is everything the triune God says it is, then where is the rationale for endowing our emotions, our hunches, our intuitions, our peculiarities, with sacred and canonical status? Our feelings become mere feelings, our hunches mere hunches. We are "stuck" with having to study, work, pray, think, analyze, reason, explain, take accountability, shoulder responsibility. We have no more holy trump cards hidden up our sleeves that no one else can see. We can't pull out our cherished "the Lord told me" cards, or our "I just feel led to" cards, and end the debate. All we have is that Bible out there, that everyone else can see, study, learn, and meditate over just as surely as we. We have to agree with the Holy Spirit that it is what He said it was: sufficient (Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 119; 2 Timothy 3:15-17, etc. ad inf.), and we study it to know His mind (2 Timothy 2:7). We're on a level playing field; we have no mystical "gotcha" from God.

While the Lord Jesus sees this as a very liberating truth (John 8:31-32), modern false teachers and their acolytes find it threatening and distasteful. It signals a sea-change, a paradigm-shift. It engenders panic, and panicky measures and expostulations and wild stories.

But I'd point out to any and all the common factor in all of these.

Every teaching that denies Christ's divine glory begins by praising Him, and denies that it is a denial.

Every teaching that denies God's grace starts by praising it, and denies that it is a denial.

Every teaching that denies God's word commences by praising it, and denies that it is a denial.

Roman Catholics and Mormons believe in Christ, faith, grace, and the glory of God. It's the "alone" that separates Biblical doctrine from Romish doctrine. With Christian leaky-canon pop-off-ets, Roman Catholics and Mormons believe in the Scripture. It's the "alone" that distinguishes the one from the other.

And it's the "but" and the "and" that are the problem. And only the discontented are vulnerable. Why give up your steak for a plastic banana — unless you really don't fully savor and place a sufficient value on what you already have?

The answer is believingly to relish what God has given us, make much of it, and just say "No thanks; I really, really don't need it" to supplements and substitutes.

Dan Phillips's signature

84 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

Amen to thankfulness, and letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col 3:16). Not only defeats discontent, but strengthens our witness.

Charlie Frederico said...

This is very true. God's wisdom is to go straight to the source of the issue. Discontentment is in everything from wanting to genetically modified corn to complete dissatisfaction with holiness. One of the strongest rhetorics against this world and its leader is to be content with such things as we have, including our jobs, wife, children and our car. However, reality is such that we should never be content with our spiritual maturity. We are called to "press on" and continue to die daily. With that, we should never be content. To reject and fight against the kind of contentment that is comfortable with our current level of service to Christ is critical. Thank you for your teaching here. I appreciate it.

DJP said...

"Rooted and grounded and built up" are virtues commended by the apostle, and despised by the "but-but-but" crowd and their leader.

Robert said...

When we come humbly to God's Word and trust in Him we can be content with what He has done. When we come to God's Word in a proud manner, then it is hard to be content in His work because we are looking for our contribution. And there is none to be found, except for our sinfulness...which is a step in the wrong direction. Even our sanctification and good works are only a result of the work of God in conforming us to the image of Jesus...we are just to be faithful slaves doing our duty.

Thomas Louw said...

I wonder if this discontent originates from our miss-understanding of scripture or from the fact that our faith is only a thin layer of varnish, covering our true unbelief.

The great gospel is so unbelievably simple and clear, it is well unbelievable. We feel “If only there was something more”.

This thought can only come if we are still self absorbed, self centred and lacking in faith.

The cause of this discontent with the Gospel is the lack of real faith and not realizing what wonderful implications it contains.

It is as if the truth is proclaimed and given mouth service but, in the dusty dark corners of our heart, doubt lingers, influencing our actions more than we think.

Yes, believing in the new direct words from God hides this discontent but, doesn’t our notion of “I found God” also proof our disbelief.

Is thinking that God lost something and the very thought that God forgot to tell the world something not boil down to, disbelief in who He really is?

Does our discontent in our jobs, with our spouse, our house our cars not proof this, disbelief in God’s providence and love, in His very being God.

It shouldn’t shock us that some finds His word lacking, it shouldn’t let our jaws drop when we hear them defending their lack of faith, revealed in tongues, prophecies and divine TV shows.

DJP said...

Yes, and here's the thing:

We look back at Adam and Eve, surrounded with God's goodness beyond their capacity to contain, yet tempted by this one pestiferous deadly bauble, and we think, "What idiots."

Fast forward some millennia, and here's a man/woman baptized by the Spirit into Christ's body, filled full in Christ, given grace after grace and 66 books of inerrant revelation of which he understands maybe 12% and practices maybe 1%...

...and he says "Yeah, but I pine after more Christ [than the Gospel gives me], I long for a deeper knowledge of God [than I learn from the God-breathed Scriptures I've barely skimmed] — and what about picking which job to take, but... but... but..."

...and somehow we don't come to the same conclusion.

Thomas Louw said...

Robert.
Maybe being “content” is not what we must be aiming for? Phillippians 4

Thomas Louw said...

God walked with Adam…and still that isn’t enough.

Christ came and walked amongst us…and stills not enough.

The Holy Spirit indwells us…and still not enough.

The existence of evil and mans discontent with what God has done, both unexplainable.

I have read somewhere thou that evil is like a mirror or some explanation like that.

Without evil we wouldn’t have know how Holy God is.

But I think I am going off topic.
(Heading home wish I could stay longer. Time difference, I finished my day you are starting yours.)

Robert said...

Thomas,

I think being content with God's work and with the revelation provided to us in Scripture is critical in helping us to aim for the right things. Only when we are content with God speaking to us through the Bible can we focus on Scripture and obeying what God tells us there.

Jesus said that if we love Him, we will follow His commandments...and they can all be found in the Bible. No need for special, extra, continuing revelation because we have it all right there in the Word. And we need to just get to it and be reading, meditating upon, obeying, and applying Scripture. That should keep us plenty busy enough to keep us from searching from signs or wasting time in idle speculations. (I'm not suggesting you believe differently, just explaining the need for being content in the sense of Scripture and not in where we are spiritually today)

Andrew said...

Perhaps it would be helpful to point out that we, who have the complete revelation from God in the form of His written Word, are in fact more privileged than those in earlier days who did not, and thus had to wait for God to reveal Himself to a prophet.

This realization should make us all the more grateful, and spur us on to greater effort in searching out and understanding that written Word.

It should also make us all the more suspicious of those who come along with "prophetic" alternatives.

DJP said...

Excellent point, Andrew.

In hand-to-hand combat with Satan, God Incarnate did not see the need to reach for one thing other than the Scripture He had at hand.

NOT. ONE. THING.

At every point, He contrasts with our great-great grandparents.

And the modern crowd I'm addressing.

edcolley said...

Your post and the comments are very helpful in identifying a root problem. Thank you all for them.

It seems to me that two thoughts tend to merge in the discussion. First, God's revelation of Himself to us in His Word is complete. Second, His guidance in our daily lives, particularly at crises times (e.g. where to find gainful employment), is on-going. As the old hymn goes 'Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee Lord'. We need to know where to go, what to say, when to say it, etc. We depend upon Him to guide us, bring Scripture to our mind that is relevant, etc. For this, we have a need of continuing communication from Him (none of which, I hastily add, will ever be inconsistent with His Word). I don't view this as 'continuationist' at all.

DJP said...

Then you really, really have not learned from these articles or discussions.

That is a "but but but" comment, and you evidently don't see it as such.

DJP said...

...unless you're joking and I'm being humor-tone-deaf this morning.

Eric said...

Dan,

Thanks for a wise call to contentment that I need to apply liberally in many areas of my life. My lack of contentment often leads to greed, envy, covetousness, lust, and selfishness.

I often think to myself that if only I had lived in simpler times, I would certainly have been more contented. But alas, I'm sure my sinful heart would have concocted many ways in which to be discontented without the temptation of thinking I need an Ipad.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Amen to this post, Dan.

edcolley said...

Apparently I haven't learned and need to re-read. Never would I claim that my interpretation of His guidance on day-to-day matters would rise to the level of infallible. Life's experiences teach me otherwise.

Are you saying that the Spirit's guidance is not to be provided to us today apart from a clear, unequivocal statement in His Word to address the issue at hand? Are you saying that the days of being 'forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia' are no longer?

Eric said...

According to edcolley, we need "continuing communication from Him" so that we can "know where to go".

Q: Is God speaking through my TomTom?

DJP said...

I may have mentioned a time or 4532485427831890275987 that I think the revelation in Scripture contains every word from God that we need on every matter, period.

Check my last two Tweets.

Robert said...

I wonder if any of the charismatic pastors has ever thought about teaching some classes on God's Providence. Or would that be self-defeating?

DJP said...

I fear they'd be classes on interpreting it, watching for "signs from God."

Johnny Dialectic said...

ed, the guidance of God comes through his Word, as his Spirit illumines it for you. We are not admonished to ask for "communication" but "wisdom" (James 1:5). Such wisdom is never operational apart from the Word. Nor is it effective apart from the Spirit. Mere intellect alone won't get at it. Brains can be dry as well as bones.

So ask God to give you wisdom. Then trust and do not doubt, and he will give it generously. That's the promise of James 1:5.

Just Jules said...

When we say, "But, but, but..." we align ourselves with Korah and his rebellion (Numbers 16, Jude 1:11). No amount of gainsaying will change the fact that Scripture simply does not satisfy those whose constant cry is, "More, more, more!"

edcolley said...

Dan, I read your tweets and they are succinct and helpful. Psalms 25:9 may apply as well.

Johnny Dialectic, your point on wisdom versus communication is well taken.

Thank you.

DJP said...

Ed, I would agree with you if the verse isn't wrenched to say "He leads the humble in what is right by mumbling semi-revelation apart from Scripture directly into their ear, and teaches the humble his way by giving them shadowy feelings and hunches which they're to divine so as to discern His secret and unrevealed and unrelated-to-Scripture Blackabbean individual will for their lives."

I am not saying you would read the verse that way, Ed. But I know that many, many, TOO many would.

puritanicoal said...
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puritanicoal said...
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puritanicoal said...
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DJP said...

Adult on-topic discussions of the post only, please. See forum rules.

puritanicoal said...
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DJP said...

< looking to see if I had stuttered >

Nope.

Repeated violations get you banned. Feel free to focus, interact, on-topic and understandable by others.

puritanicoal said...

Would someone be "discontent" with the Word of God if they couldn't understand some portion of scripture - say Romans 9 - and they downloaded sermons by Piper on Romans 9 to see if they could get a better understanding?

DJP said...

Really easy low hanging curveball.

Someone want to take it?

DJP said...

LOL on me; that's "slow." I'm in the Al Mohler-league of sports-savvy.

Robert said...

Puritanicoal,

If you go listen to a sermon on a portion of Scripture, you are still looking to find the meaning of the Scripture. I don't think you are making an apples to apples comaprison here. Now, if you said that if you went to hear Piper say that you could get a better understanding of Romans 9 with a word from God about it, that'd be a different thing.

I find it interesting that you chose Romans 9...I'd say that could be a source of discontentment even after hearing a good sermon on that particular chapter because our fallen nature doesn't mesh well with the content.

DJP said...

That is a good answer, Robert.

However, I'm looking for a specific answer that comes straight from applying the post (plus the 8890 similar posts).

Just Jules said...

8,890? Is that all?

Hack.

puritanicoal said...

Robert,

When Piper prepares his sermon, don't you want him guided by the Holy Spirit in his reading, understanding and interpretation of the text?

DJP said...

Irrelevant. Stay focused.

Robert said...

I'm only good on fastballs...curveballs always get me. 8o)

puritanicoal said...
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DJP said...

Try to stay focused; I know it can be hard from certain backgrounds. Read the post again, if necessary. Slow down, think, be ready to learn if there's anything to learn. Let's stay focused.

Matt Aznoe said...

I am having a hard time reconciling your call for contentment with this passage:

"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:12-14 NASB)

Paul then adds:

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
(Philippians 3:17 NASB)

I'm obviously not disagreeing with the passages you quoted, but I wonder if your picture of contentment is not the full picture. We should always want more holiness, more unity of the Spirit, more knowledge of the fullness of God. That these things come from the study of scripture, there is no doubt, and I think we can all attest to getting new insight from reading passages that we had previously read many times before.

But to say that all discontentment is of Satan undermines Paul's testimony and example. We are exhorted to desire more and more of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of God and His abundant love for us.

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?"
(Psalms 42:1-2 ESV)

Kurt said...

I am starting think your book might be a good candidate for our next Sunday School class...

One of the things I have been very concerned with of late is people using their emotions as a method to discern God's will.

Voddie Baucham (spelling?) quoting Bruce Waltke, recently came out and labelled "I prayed until I had a peace about it" as pure paganism. He likened that to using one's emotions as a divining rod to discern God's will.

I see this as where the battle line is drawn. If you tolerate just a little deviation from sola scriptura, it gives the Devil a foothold, and it can become a stronghold pretty quickly after that.

DJP said...

To the degree that you translate it into yearning for fresh revelation and hearing voices and chasing after reports of dreams and experiences and functionally sidelining Scripture and canonizing hymns and biographies -- as you have done, or come a hair from doing -- then yes, you are badly and clearly misunderstanding those passages, and listening to the wrong voice, Matt.

As has been pointed out to you again and again and again.

puritanicoal said...
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DJP said...

I don't hate hearing you say that, Kurt. (c:

Either book would drive students into grappling with a lot of Scripture in both Testaments.

DJP said...

Puritancoal, clearly I am being too subtle. It's a constant failing.

Please, shush, until we get your first question finally dealt with.

DJP said...

In fact, I really can't babysit this meta. I need to focus on something else for about an hour.

This would be a terrific opportunity for those whose sacred cows are threatened by a sufficient Christ and a sufficient Scripture to slow down, stop, think, re-read, click some links, think.

DJP said...

All right, back for a bit. Let's see if we can break through the cliched dodges and make some progress.

Eric said...

Matt,

Try reading this paragraph again:

"Now, sometimes the discontentment is legitimate and undeniable. Your washing machine broke, you need a new one. Your roof leaks, your car keeps breaking down, your clothes are becoming too revealing. You're "discontented" with being smelly, wet, stranded, and indecent. Nobody needs to talk you into looking for something new. For that matter, our conversion to Christ springs from a God-given "discontentment" with being lost, under sin, separated from God."

Now, did Dan say "all discontentment is of Satan" as you characterize, or did he rather say that discontentment is "Satan's favorite tool"?

DJP said...

Equally, don't miss:

Desperate cries for "More power," "More Christ," "More fullness," "More holiness" have led to a 2000-year flow of manmade (or worse) solutions.

Eric said...

Isn't seeking to fully understand Scripture the definition of striving to find (and finding) contentment in the complete revealed Word of God rather than a sign of discontenment?

DJP said...

The image of a godly man in Psalm one is a tree. He stays, firm and steady, roots deep, drinking deep, growing fruit.

The frenzied activity and skittering hither and yon is the chaff.

That's what it does on its way to God's judgment.

The growing Christian pursues Christ like the tree pursues water and nurture: stable, planted, deep roots, growing steadily. Rooted and grounded, the apostle says. And growing.

Matt Aznoe said...
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DJP said...

Matt, you're asking questions answered many times, and anticipated and answered yet again today.

You need to learn, or re-learn, and we're trying to help.

You want to continue careening off in the sad direction you've been heading, we will not be your soapbox.

Matt Aznoe said...

I thank you for your correction the other day as it helped me avoid and error. God used it to shape me, and I am grateful for your participation in this work.

May God watch over you and keep you in the dark days ahead.

Dave said...

Good post. I also believe that the "contented one" sees through the message and preoccupation to "get out of your comfort zone". Christ alone; not to be confused with "oneness theology" - as I have recently come to understand that many of my family members (past and present) are involved in.

Phillip said...

To puritanicoal's question I would so no. You're not discontent in the word, just your understanding of it. The Word of God is accurate, full, complete, and sharper than any two edged sword. Our understanding of it never will be so by all means read, pray, meditate, study, and listen to good preaching!

If you're hungry, then by all means eat the food that has been so generously been set before you. No need to look elsewhere for substitutes.

Phillip said...

And perhaps not even discontent in your understanding of it, but simply recognizing your own deficiency, need, and utter reliance on it and for it.

donsands said...

The struggle against being restless shall be at my heels throughout this age, but with good teachings, and prayer, we can grow in the rest which our Lord promised to us, if we come to Him, and take His yoke.

Thanks for the teaching. Contentment is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that really does bring forth the light of the Gospel of grace alone.

It's such a wonderful thing when we can give the glory to our Lord and His mercy and love.

Now to get ready for the Hurricane Irene, who seems to be on her way here.

DJP said...

Thank you Dave, that is definitely a point worth making. I appreciate it.

Robert said...

After taking a low look back through the post, I would say that puritanicoal's hypothetical situation fits into a legitimate discontentment (like the leaking roof, broken down car, etc.). So long as the teaching that is sought out is rooted in Scripture and isn't out of tune with Scripture, then it can actually help to bring the contentment that we should have with the Word. Not having a good understanding of Scripture is something we should not be content with.

DJP said...

Phillip, I wish more "continuationists" were discontented with their deficient valuing of Scripture, their deficient grasp of Scripture, the century-long litany of lame arguments and Bible-twistings they've had to do to prop up the position, the constant need to make excuses for the movement's failure to deliver on its promise, the movement's baleful fruit of causing drift from Christ and the Word. That sort of discontentment have driven many to cast off their chains and stand on the sufficient Word and the sufficient Savior, and it's a good thing.

But the discontentment that drives trees to pull up their roots and keep trying to imitate tumbleweeds... not good.

DJP said...

If no one's plucked the specific I had in mind by late afternoon, I'll probably lay it down myself. But this student does like to sit down and see other students at the board, showing what they've learned.

Robert said...

Just adding to my last comment. That same type of discontentment is what brought me out of the Catholic church. I couldn't really understand Scripture because the RCC wasn't really teaching me about most of Scripture...they just teach and preach on the parts they like. So I am glad that God stirred up that discontentment in me so that I could become content in the full counsel of His Word.

Tax Collector said...

How can I be discontent when what I DO know through studying God's Word leaves me in utter awe of it?

DJP said...

TC, your remark calls to my mind CHS' remark on 2 Cor. 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you." He pictures one telling an ant that all the water in all the oceans is "sufficient" for the ant.

Robert said...

Doesn't the whole charismatic movement take the focus off of Christ and push it onto the signs, which from what I have seen, do not serve to edify the church? The only speaking in tongues that I have heard is jibberish, I only hear stories of healings and those only serve to spark endless debate, and prophecy that is errant only serves to tear down the church and hurt its witness to the lost in the world.

So the question is why do people look for the signs? Somebody stirs up this discontentment in them and tells them that they should "seek the higher gifts" and that we don't experience God fully unless we have the sign gifts...they're missing out on something. Then they start wondering why they don't have these wonderful experiences and if somehow they just don't have enough faith. They start to question if reading, studying, and applying Scripture is enough. And then they lose focus on the Word and start becoming restless looking for the signs. (and to find them they have to go back to the person who stirred up their discontentment)

The same as the middle-aged man who goes through a mid-life crisis...he thinks his life isn't full enough or complete and so he goes out and looks like a fool chasing after things that can't improve his life one bit. In fact, it only takes his focus off of what is really important and makes him self-absorbed. And before you know it, he has lost all that is important in his life and just has a bunch of stuff to show for it.

DJP said...

I'm afraid a lot of "affairs" come from that very same place — sexual and spiritual.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

If Adam and Eve couldn't trust their hunches, feelings, liver-quivers, etc. - evidenced by the fact that they felt that what was better than God's command not to eat the fruit was to actually EAT it and then be like Him - how in the world do we think we can? It brings to mind your article on why you're still a Christian and how you talk about not being able to trust ANYTHING unless some Infinite, Infallible, All-Wise Being has said it - and we have that in God's Word.

DJP said...

Absolutely right. But the discontentment approach has always worked so well, why stop using it? And cloaked with holy language = WIN!!!

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

It works so well because what God says is Good doesn't equal what we think is Good. So, when we have all that God has chosen to disclose in Jesus, and when we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, the temptation is to have what is promised to those who wait: to have the dark glass removed and to be with Him and be like Him because we will see Him as He is. We don't want to wait - we want that NOW! God's timing is too long of a wait, and so we seek to short-circuit God's purposes and fall for the ruse: we think that by doing better than Him we might be like Him, and we instead become His enemies. Good desire turned on its head - holiness sought for in an unholy way.

puritanicoal said...

Robert, Phillip, et al - in all fairness, be aware that 2-3 of my previous and related responses were Nixoned.

Matt Aznoe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

That's because they were Clinton. It was a kindness to you and our readers.

DJP said...

Matt, keep it up, and you're gone. This is not your platform to preach harmful error. You want to do broken-record and refuse to learn, that's on you.

But not here.

Clear enough?

ANiMaL said...

Dan, I'm sorry but when you post a blog entry like this, you raise the standard so high I'm not sure you can match it from week to week. Even my wife had to intentionally skype me to say "good discontentment article."

The best part, I opened my bible and read Colossians and found myself edified afresh in God's word.

DJP said...

Praise God, and thank your wife for me.

We all nod when we see how preaching God's grace in Christ upsets Roman Catholics.

But what about how frenzied "continuationists" become when we preach up the sufficiency of God's Word, and our fullness of life in Christ?

BrettR said...

As a salesman, it is not easy to read something where my "craft" is being compared with Satan.

Three things from being in sales: 1)new and novel is better than old, tested, and reliable 2) flashy, shiny and glossy is better that steadfast, consistent, and resolute 3) giving someone a fresh experience is better than the same old wonderful and fantastic life that they have become accustom. There are many ways to massage someone into discontent.

ANiMaL said...

My wife went through a lot of turmoil over a bible study she was going to when someone in charge wanted to try and do what I would call a séance. Basically trying to 'fetch a word from God' for each other. Someone in the group had done it before and wanted everyone else to do it. She felt very alone not wanting to be the person who said, 'This is stupid.'

No one should ever feel alone at a bible study except an unbeliever who is rejecting God's word. imho

DJP said...

Beautiful tag-team, Brett. Thanks.

Of course, I'm not meaning to besmirch all salesmen. But you agree - if everyone was happy with what he had, you'd be out of work!

BrettR said...

besmirch away!

One thing I forgot: Sales is 100% law/advice, 0% proclamation.

DJP said...

I'm unable to keep a watch, so let me keep my promise and add to the already-sufficient answer to puritancoal's question.

Does one download a Piper sermon hoping that God has spoken a fresh, inerrant revelation apart from Scripture directly to John Piper?

Of course it isn't in any way at variance with believing Scripture's self-attestation. The fully-sufficient word itself directs us to submit to and learn from the teaching office of the pastor (cf. Eph. 4:11; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7-17), and directs that they teach sound doctrine in accord with apostolic and dominical teaching (not be the source of new doctrine; cf. 1 Tim. 3:1ff; 6:3-5; Titus 1:5-9, etc.).

The very fact that you would ask this question, as if it was even conceivably crossways of the post, indicates that you don't even understand the historic sufficient-Scripture position.