Our preaching group at Holy Trinity is reading Paul Tripp’s “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” together, a chapter a week. We are writing emails to each other about what we found helpful in each chapter. Here’s my first email to the rest of the team. It’s been a great encouragement to receive theirs in return.
1. What have I found helpful/insightful in this chapter?
I find that one of the easiest things to do as a Christian believer is to forget about Jesus and to focus instead on life with all its problems and challenges. I was surprised that a book on counselling starts with a really wonderfully written chapter on the centrality of Jesus and how life works when he is the focus of our attention. I jotted down some lines I found particularly useful (I don’t mean to make you read the chapter again, just what I found helpful/insightful):
What is the best news you can imagine?…This book is about the best news a human being could receive. It is about something so significant that it makes everything we do worthwhile, even though we are just flawed people in a broken world. [p1]
God’s redemptive solution would not come by political revolution or physical war. The primary battle would be fought and won in human hearts. [p4]
People struggling with life in a fallen world often want explanations when what they really need is an imagination. [p7]
We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer. In his power, we find the hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies. [p8]
Scripture would agree that my problem is informational, in that I don’t know what I need to know. It also affirms the impact of our experiences, though it maintains that our core problem precedes our experience and goes deeper. The Bible also acknowledges the complex interaction between our physical and spiritual natures, but it never locates our core problem in our biology. In this way, the Bible is radical compared to our culture. [p9]
What is going on with Pamela? Are all her present issues the result of her past? It is clearly moe than that. Pamela is not only stuggling with the horrors of her past, but with how she has dealt with them. This is where Scripture always leads us. If sin is part of our nature, we will always be dealing not only with our history, but with how sin distorts the way we handle it. Help will only come when we deal with our past and our own sin. This is essential because sinners tend to respond sinfully to being sinned against. This is why the only hope for Pamela (and for us) is a Redeemer. We cannot step out of our sinfulness. We need more than love and encouragement, information and insight. We need rescue. Anything less will not really address what is wrong with us. [p11]
2. How will what I’ve read apply to my preaching ministry or counselling?
Jesus is God’s redeemer and I am an instrument in his hands, therefore, in every conversation, every small group, every sermon, I need to help myself and others to see that we “respond sinfully to being sinned against” and to see our need to be rescued from that circular and really destructive way of thinking about life.
3. Next time we meet, I would like to discuss the ways in which we tend to respond to sinful patterns of thinking or behaviour in our own lives or the lives of those around us. We could then discuss what difference we hope this book might make to the way we help each other change.