Watching a family member or friend wander away from the truth of the Gospel can be one of the most painful experiences in a Christian’s life.
Pastor McShaffrey offered some much-needed encouragement and instruction on this topic during the month of May in our afternoon discipleship hour.
The schedule and outlines are below:
05/08/16 – Acknowledging the Deep Pain
In the parable of the lost son, the deep pain of watching loved ones wander is acknowledged. It is even described in terms of a perpetual funeral in a father’s heart (Luke 15:24,32).
Experiencing This Pain Scripturally
Hebrews 4:15-16 – Draw comfort from your perfect sympathetic High Priest in the heavens.
Romans 12:15 – Share your pain with one another and be warmly sympathetic as members of Christ’s Body.
Romans 9:1-2, 10:1 – Turn your continual grief into a Christian desire and constant prayer.
Applied: Let us compile a list of names and commit ourselves to prayer
05/15/16 – Making Some Crucial Distinctions
Wandering is wandering, but there are different kinds and degrees that scripture describes:
The Different – These have not wandered from God, but are only exercising liberty in “adiophora” (Romans 14).
The Antinomian – These carry liberty too far and adopt and “anti-law” attitude/ethic (Romans 6:1-2,15).
The Backslider – These act against their regenerate nature and become miserable (Proverbs 14:14, Hosea 11:7).
The Apostate – These “fall away” and settle into doctrinal and/or moral sin (Hebrews 6:4-6, 1 John 5:16-17).
We owe it to ourselves (and to our wandering loved ones) to make proper distinctions so that we will be able to think, feel, pray, and speak appropriately.
05/22/16 – Letting Someone Else Work (1 Cor. 3:6)
Bad News: Familiarity can breed contempt and our loved ones may not be able to receive truth from our lips (Mark 6:4).
Good News: God has plenty of people in this world and he can reach our loved ones (1 Corinthians 3:6).
The Process Practically Considered
1. We are obligated to sow gospel seed first amongst our family and friends (Mark 5:19). Have we?
2. We should be prepared for the ad hominem attacks that Jesus himself experienced (e.g., Mark 6:3, John 8:41?).
3. We can rejoice that God’s church is essentially one and effectively ubiquitous (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).
4. We must learn to trust the Lord and to wait for him to accomplish what we cannot (next class).
05/29/16 – Waiting Upon the Lord (Psalm 40:1)
There is a wide range of intense emotions experienced by those who have wandering loved ones.
The Psalms were inspired to grant legitimacy to our emotions and help us wait upon God. Waiting does not consist in inactivity, but in stirring one’s soul to greater faith.
Examples from the Psalms
“Yea, let none who wait on thee be ashamed… let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.” (25:3, 21)
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (27:14)
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not… and keep his way.” (37:7, 34)
“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” (40:1)
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.” (62:5-6)
“I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.” (130:5)