by Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
We live in a day in which a spirit of independence is prevalent. It is the attitude that “I am my own person, I will live life the way I want to live it and I do not appreciate anyone even suggesting that I might be wrong.” It is not a surprise to find this thinking in the world but it is indeed sad to observe it among professing Christians.
A true believer is one who desires to be totally submissive to Jesus Christ and His Word in every detail of life. The fact is, however, that because the sinful nature is still present there is an ongoing battle. There are times that one’s thinking is not sound and one's conduct not what it should be; so admonition is needed.
Not only does God require His children to be accountable to Him, He requires an accountability within His family.
Husbands and wives have an accountability to each other, children are accountable to their parents, church members are accountable to the church and to its discipline.
A true Christian life cannot be lived in isolation. We must learn to interact with each other and recognize the need to both give and accept biblical admonition. It is a lot easier to talk about someone than it is to talk to them; but God requires us to talk to them. Of course there is the concern that the person may be offended by my attempt to admonish them; and then the oft heard excuse that “I just don’t feel qualified to do it.” But Romans 15:14 says you are able. You are able because you are full of goodness and filled with knowledge.
Jay Adams, who has written extensively on the subject of biblical counseling, has coined the term “nouthetic confrontation” based on the word in the original Greek which is translated “admonish.” It carries the thought of confronting someone who is drifting or has gone astray. When leaving the church at Ephesus Paul said for three years “I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.” He, of course, did that in his preaching but also on an individual basis as his ministry was not only public but “from house to house.”
Certainly ministers of the gospel have a special responsibility in this area but in the Galatian letter Paul expands the work to the whole church. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). This makes it clear that the admonition must be given with great humility and in love with the goal being to help and restore the one in need.
AsAdamssays, “Nouthetic confrontation always implies a problem, and presupposes an obstacle that must be overcome; something is wrong in the life of the one who is confronted.” No one really likes to be told they are wrong. In fact ever since the Garden of Eden the general practice of fallen sinners has been to shift the blame rather than admit wrong. And it is understandable that the person being admonished and counseled might well resent it if it is only a personal opinion which is being offered. But the basis of all true and God-honoring counsel is always the Scriptures
Paul says we are able to admonish because we are “filled with all knowledge,” and that knowledge comes from God’s Word.
Whether it is the preacher in the pulpit, or any member of the church attempting to help one who has erred, the counsel is sound and authoritative when it is biblical. The uses for which God has given us His inspired Word include reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy3:16). Various opinions may already have been given and a variety of suggestions made by well meaning friends; but even though these suggestions may be appealing, it is what God says in His Word that really matters.
In writing to the church of Thessalonica Paul said, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
How wonderful it is to see God’s people showing such respect for His Word.
There are some who want to argue and say, “Surely it doesn’t really mean that.” Or others say, “I just don’t believe that will work in this case.”
But what a difference when a person believes the Bible is inspired, it is God’s Word, it is the final authority, and they accept what it says without question. What they hear from the Scriptures may be exactly the opposite of what they have been advised by friends or psychologized counselors. They may have been convinced that another course of action was in order. They were for a time more concerned about their immediate happiness than about bringing glory to God. But it is beautiful to see how quickly the mind can be renewed when there is a desire to please God and to be submissive to what He has revealed in His Word.
Changes sometime come quickly as the Spirit uses the Word to bring about conviction and breaks the heart with a deep sense of sin. When there is true repentance, then follows the assurance of forgiveness. One who was drifting has been brought back, one who had fallen is restored. And then as the joy of salvation is restored it is not uncommon for that person to voice the words of David, “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (Psalm 51:13).
Now the one who did the admonishing and the one who was admonished give glory to God for the blessing received. The one who was faithful to admonish no doubt felt his own unworthiness, recognized his inability to be effective without the blessing of the Spirit; but having hidden the Word in his own heart was knowledgeable of how to use it to benefit one in need. Now the person who has received the admonition sees the great benefit of biblical counsel and can say in truth, “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (Psalm 119:24).
What blessings are missed when needed admonition is neglected!
It is a way God has planned for His people to be a blessing to each other. It is a work which will keep us focused on God’s Word and will keep us growing in our knowledge of it and our appreciation for it. It is a work by which those falling into error can be called back to the truth and those falling into sin can be called to repentance and brought to restoration.
Certainly none of us feel capable of doing the work in ourselves, but God says we are able to admonish. Let us be diligent in the study of His Word and be prepared to admonish, counsel, and instruct those who are in need of help.
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