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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries


The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

The Tree of Life for week ending 06/16/02.
The Doctrine of Application, GEN 17:23-24

In our study of the Doctrine of Application, we are continuing with Point 2 and the principle that application of doctrine is the only way to handle people.

Point 2 (continued): Because every member of the human race possesses an old sin nature, it is imperative that we learn how to handle problems with other people. People can cause great distraction in the life of a believer. Public opinion and what others think of us can cause us distraction, as our Lord taught in Mat 8. We have seen this in our day in the rise of the news media as a propaganda agent for Islam, communism, and socialism. The public is constantly bombarded with false concepts. The only protection the public has against the inculcation of evil propaganda is positive volition to the truth of the Word of God. Public opinion never has the facts or the truth; it is irrational, irresponsible, emotional, and arrogant.

MAT 8:21 And another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father."

This man, according to LUK 9:60, is already a preacher, and he has enough doctrine to preach the Gospel, but he is too concerned about what others think; he is a distracted disciple. In MAT 8:22 the Lord gives him an answer and a command: "But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead.'" This man faces a question that must be answered-what is his number one priority? Therefore, the Lord tells him, "Let the [spiritually] dead bury the [physical] dead." The rest of our Lord's reply is found in LUK 9:60, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God."

In the following verse, we see another individual who failed people testing, because of his attachment to his family.

LUK 9:61-62 And another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

People testing is a major factor in the spiritual life and the application of doctrine. Passing this test is necessary for tranquility in the believer's life as well as for rewarding and worthwhile relationships. The believer must always be on guard against personality conflicts. The reaction factor in personality conflict becomes a source of great irritation and misery to most believers today. This reaction is generally expressed through the arrogance complex of sins, including hatred, bitterness, maligning, judging, and revenge motivation and function, all a source of terrible unhappiness.
When we react to people with antagonism, we are handing over control over our life to them, and we resort to either mental or verbal hostility or even violence. To recover control we must learn impersonal love; unfortunately, however, most believers never get this far.
Reaction to people can become a major distraction to our momentum in the plan of God. To avoid reaction in personality conflict, we must consistently reside in the predesigned plan of God for our life, under the enabling power of the Spirit, with momentum from metabolized doctrine. Once we reach spiritual adulthood, we will have great happiness even while suffering for blessing.

Since true happiness is the monopoly of God and His plan, we cannot depend upon people or circumstances for our happiness. In personal love or hatred, the other person controls our life, and when we become upset with them, we surrender our happiness to them. When we blame them for our unhappiness, which is produced by our own volition, we have intensified the suffering in our life under the law of volitional responsibility.

PHI 2:13-14 For it is God [the Holy Spirit] who is at work in you, both to will [give you motivation] and to work[give you the power to live the spiritual life] above and beyond His good pleasure. Keep on doing all things without complaining, grumbling, or arguing.

We must learn to mind our own business and work out our own salvation. The Apostle Paul warned the Thessalonians about the seriousness of violating the privacy of others and not operating in the Royal Family Honor Code, 2TH 3:11-12, "For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread."

"Eat your own bread" is a Greek idiom that means "mind your own business." We can not afford to get sidetracked from the plan of God by people.

Point 3: A thought can make or break you. The environment of confusion causes stress, 1CO 14:33. If there is confusion in any area of life (the home, romance, friendship, etc.), there will be stress there as well. The solution to confusion demands concentration, bringing reality from doctrine into the consciousness of the soul.
PRO 23:7 As a person thinks in his heart, so he is.

GAL 6:3 If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Our soul is a spiritual battlefield, and what we think determines whether we are winning or losing.

EPH 4:23 Become refreshed [renewed] by means of the spirit of your mind [through your thinking].

ROM 12:2-3 And do not be conformed to this world [do not fall into a state of confusion], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment [in terms of sanity, being rational without illusion], as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Paul also tells us in PHI 3:15, "Therefore, as many as are mature believers, let us continue objective thinking. Furthermore, if you have a different mental attitude, God will reveal that to you."

Bible doctrine is the thinking of God in relationship to the human race. Nothing is more important than knowing God's integrity and how He thinks, and understanding how God operates in His predesigned plan.

Point 4: The Results of Bible Doctrine in the Soul.

A. Confidence in time, JOB 5:24-27, 2CO 5:6-8. The Bible says in HEB 10:35, "Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward."

B. The divine viewpoint on life and the right priorities in the soul, ISA 55:7-9, 2CO 10:5.

C. Orientation to the plan of God, ISA 26:3-4, ROM 8:28.

D. Stability of mind. Bible doctrine in the soul will protect us from becoming what JAM 1:8 calls a "double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

E. Divine guidance and the execution of the will of God, ROM 12:2-3.

F. Occupation with Christ, our "social life" with Christ, and the capacity and ability to love God and appreciate Him as the source of blessing, PHI 3:10, EPH 3:19, HEB 12:1-2.

G. Attaining and holding spiritual maturity, Phi 3:12-14, "Not that I have already obtained it [have already become mature], but I press on in order 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."

H. Eternal grace blessings, HEB 11:9-10,13; Jam 1:25 cf. 2:12-13.

Point 5: Thinking is the application of Bible doctrine to experience. Thinking Bible doctrine is synonymous with application of Bible doctrine. First we must learn doctrine, then we must think doctrine. No believer can apply doctrine to his experience until he has metabolized that doctrine in the right lobe of the soul. Application of doctrine depends on metabolization of doctrine. There are three concepts for the environment of application: learning, thinking, and solving.

· Learning is tantamount to perception and metabolization of Bible doctrine.

· Thinking is the application of metabolized doctrine to experience.

· Solving is understanding and using the problem-solving devices of the predesigned plan of God.

Point 6: The Directions of Application.

A. Toward God-worship, personal love for God, and occupation with Christ.

B. Toward people-impersonal love for all mankind.

C. Toward self-spiritual self-esteem.

D. Toward dying-the doctrine of dying grace.

Point 7: The Importance of Volition.

A. All believers must learn to choose identification with the Lord over prosperity in the world, HEB 11:25. This means the application of Bible doctrine in every area of our life. It means rejecting the pseudo-prosperity of the cosmic system for suffering with the people of God.

B. As believers we also need to choose relationships based on doctrine, 1CO 2:2, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

C. As believers we need to make daily choices for life or death, and blessing or cursing, DEU 30:19, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants."

D. Positive and negative decisions result from positive or negative volition toward Bible doctrine, PSA 25:12, "Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose"; PRO 1:29, "Because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord."

Gen 17:23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him.

When Abraham dies, he will leave behind eight sons. All eight of them will have historical impact. All will become great nations. Many kings will come from Abraham. He was noble as the father of many nations and distinguished as the father of Israel. He is great as the "father of us all," GAL 3:7, as the pattern for faith alone in Christ alone, but as a father, Abraham failed with seven of his eight sons. He exercised no discipline over the illegitimate sons he had with Hagar and Keturah. For 13 years he did nothing to discipline his son Ishmael. In fact, Ishmael abused his younger half-brother, Isaac, who was the true heir and the perpetuation of the Jewish race. As we have seem, this conflict is still going on today.

Although Ishmael is not a part of the Abrahamic covenant, Abraham still circumcised him at age 13, in compliance with divine instruction. All his life, Ishmael will be a failure, a "wild ass" of a man. He is going to reject authority and reap the consequences. However, he will also have great blessing personally, including great wealth and success. Fantastic blessing is in store for him, not because there was anything good or admirable about him, but because of his association with an ultra-supergrace believer, his father Abraham.

When Abraham took Ishmael to circumcise him, he was circumcising an evil man. Abraham knew something that all parents need to remember-the only way that we are ever going to be a real blessing to our children is to reach spiritual maturity. Through this blessing by association, they can be promoted in the world and even become wealthy, but they can only prosper spiritually if they personally adjust to the justice of God.

Adjustment to the Justice of God

1. The one-time, instantaneous adjustment to the justice of God at the point of salvation. 

2. Continual instantaneous adjustment to the justice of God through the rebound technique.

3. Ongoing adjustment to the justice of God through positive volition toward doctrine day after day, year after year, all the way to spiritual maturity.

Abraham became a spiritual champion, and he was a blessing to everyone who was ever related to him in any way. He was a blessing to his slaves and to all eight of his children, including the seven bastards. He was a blessing to his wife, and even to his two mistresses. His spiritual life blessed all those around him, including his family, friends, loved ones, and all those under his authority, and the circumcision of his slaves and of Ishmael in Gen 17:23 symbolizes this blessing by association. There are several important principles revealed in this verse:

1. The circumcision of Abraham's slaves indicates blessing by association.

2. God does not provide equality for happiness in blessing; He provides happiness for everyone involved, in their own role and their own rank.

3. For these slaves, happiness came from blessing by association and the security of being under the authority of a man of integrity.

4. Better to be a slave in the household of Abraham than to be king of an evil, reversionistic nation.

5. Neither equality nor freedom can provide happiness; happiness is only found in God's plan.

6. In many cases, the happiest people are those who are under the authority of the one who has been promoted and who is fulfilling the responsibilities of his position.

Never since Abraham has there been another man who had such a fantastic outreach of blessing to others through his own spiritual advance, and his personal relationship with the Lord. He was a greater blessing by association than anyone else who has ever walked the face of the earth, except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

For a more detailed study, order last week's tapes, IA11-166 to IA11-169.

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