Monday, August 14, 2006

The Dynamics of Biblical Change

I've mentioned David Powlison numerous times on this blog. He is one of those authors whose writings deserve great circulation. John Piper has written that "David Powlison has eyes to see what many do not, and a heart to feel, and a way with words that can speak to the battle we all fight to keep believing."

I'm excited to learn, therefore, that one of David's courses--"The Dynamics of Biblical Change" which looks at the Christian life--is now being made available as a distance education course.

Cohorts of up to 25 students are assembled monthly for a 12-week course (more are students possible in a group when an institution reserves an entire class and so all attenders come from one place).

(For more information, click here.)

I'd highly recommend that small groups and church-based theological programs consider adding this as a superb supplement on sanctification.

One of the assignments in that course is a self-directed Bible study entitled "Paul and the Philippians." It consists of eight questions that are used to examine the book of Philiippians and Acts 16. David's entire course seeks to flesh out these questions and to explain their biblical and inner logic.

Here are the eight questions to ask in seeking the dynamics of biblical sanctification:

1. What is my situation? (What was or what will be my situation?)

2. How am I reacting? (or How did I react? How will I be tempted to react?)

3. What is ruling me? (Desires, expectations, fears, beliefs)

4. What are the consequences of my reaction? (Vicious circles)

5. Who is God? What does He say? What resources will He provide to help in my need?

6. How can I turn to God for help? (Hebrews 4:16)

7. How should I respond to the situation in order to honor God?

8. What are the consequences of living in faith and obedience? (Gracious circles)

In an email, David provides an overview of this inner logic:

Qs 1, 4, & 8 capture the "stage" or situation into which God places us providentially, both the varied circumstances that "come at us" (Q 1), and the situational consequences that result from how we respond (Qs 4 & 8).

Qs 2-3 & 6-7 capture the moral divide in human life, the paths of folly and wisdom respectively. Qs 2 & 7 look at horizontal dimension, how we live; Qs 3 & 6 explore vertical dimension, who we live for.

Q 5 captures the particulars of the living, redeeming God, who is at work in His world.

One of the purposes of the study (as in our lives) is to notice exactly WHAT is revealed about God in any particular situation, based on the challenges to faith and obedience faced by any particular people. God never reveals everything all at once, so even the "normative" revelation is based on particulars of the "situational" and "existential" (to borrow John Frame's language).

These Qs seek to capture the living dynamic of real people in a real world with a real God.

In a subsequent post, I'll post the entire "Paul and the Philippians Bible Study" (with David's permission). I'd encourage you to consider taking a question per day next week and working through this helpful material.