Prepare Yourself . . . Intellectually

I know very little about the man named Tertius.  Nevertheless, I admire his patience, quickness of hand and devotion.  Romans 16:22 (NIV) reads,“I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.”

The Apostle Paul receives the credit for writing Romans, and rightly so, because God inspired him with the truth and words.  However, without Tertius, the book of Romans would be missing from the New Testament.  Paul spoke and, as his scribe, Tertius wrote

You might remember the story from the book of Acts where Paul preached so long that a man with a good window seat, fell asleep and then literally fell out of the window and died.

You see why I admire Tertius and his patience!

One day during their teamwork of speaking and writing, Paul got excited.  Through the power of God, Paul poured out deep truth and rich theology.  He gave expression to the profound mysteries of faith.  Tertius, with hand flying, filled the scroll with Paul’s excited vocabulary.  And then, as I picture it, Paul stops . . . Paul takes a deep breath and, unable to contain himself, Paul launches into worship.  The, ever-devoted and faithful scribe Tertius captured that worship. 

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36 (NIV)
Christians celebrate the King of Glory and His victory over death.  In order to do so well, one needs to prepare himself or herself intellectually to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and to live in that power.  In my previous blogs, I covered the need for one to prepare emotionally and spiritually; today I aim to highlight the importance of preparing ourselves intellectually.

In his living and powerful words of Scripture, Paul gave free reign to his emotional expression toward God.  This was a great start.  But not a place to end.  As Douglas Moo warns, “it is both easy and tempting to focus too much on an emotional reaction . . . bypassing the mind entirely.”  (398)

If you desire to live in the power of Christ’s resurrection, you will need emotions but you will also need more.  Don’t bypass your mind!

Christians, and non-Christians for that matter, often speak of wanting to know the will of God.  We seek direction and answers to the issues and experiences of life. 

As you seek God’s will for and in your life, is your mind ready to receive? 

Too many of us wait until the night before the exam before we call out to God -- whether that be for school, work, family or a personal battle.

While our habits are the bad news, the good news is that God can give you a new brain. Please don’t wait until the night before.

God loves to hear praise through word and song, but that praise must be sincere.

After Paul’s exuberant proclamation of praise, he began speaking the revealed word yet again to Tertius.  We will do well to read his words for they can guide us in intellectual preparation for resurrection celebration.

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:1-3 (NIV)
Discovering Intellectual Readiness:
1)  View God’s Mercies –

Paul uses this phrase for a purpose not for a mere sentence break.  The phrase does remind the reader to offer himself or herself to God out of thankfulness, but it also does more; it tells us what is required to offer ourselves.

Our Lord said,
“Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  Matthew 11:15 (NIV)

Ears, open ears, are required to offer ourselves to God.

This first step to intellectual readiness is so crucial.  You will not be able to grasp, believe, and follow without the grace of God and your faithful response to that grace.  In other words, in order to know, hear, and receive the will of God, you must embrace true faith.  No pretending allowed.

2)  Transform.  Don’t Conform –Notice that both of those words describe processes, not over-night events. 

1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.   
Psalm 1:1-2 (NIV)
Conforming = Walking with wicked
     Standing with sinners
     Sitting with mockers
     Notice the progression from walking to sitting.

Transforming = Delighting in the Lord’s law (now grace)
     Meditating on God’s truth

The Greek root word for transformed is metamorphoo.  Sound familiar?  That is how much change is required for readiness!

3)  Renew Your Mind –
Professor Moo writes that, “When we change the way we think, we change the way we live.”  (p 398)  That is good; let me expand his thought by pointing out that a changed or renewed mind is the prerequisite to a changed life.  The two go hand-in-hand and the changed mind must come first.  You will be able to fake it for a while, but not forever.  You can only make yourself change your habits and actions for just so long.  And even if you are able to pull that off publicly for quite a while, in your private life your unchanged heart will reveal itself through your unchanged life.

We are all unfinished products.  God is still working on me.  The other day, I met a person for the first time.  Later at home as I was telling Vonda Kay about my day and about meeting the person, I thought about saying something negative about his appearance, but I continued to think and I held my tongue.  I got that experience half right.  What I did well was re-think and hold my tongue.  What I did poorly was think about saying the negative words. 

May you and I continue to seek God for the renewal of our minds.  Then we will be able to . . .

4)  Test and Approve –
Is your mind ready to receive God’s will?  If it is, you are ready and able to test and approve what God’s will is.  Notice those two words . . . Test and Approve.  Those are verbs, active verbs; thus we know that discovering God’s will requires action; it requires work.  Is the work worth the result?

To answer that, just look at Paul’s descriptive words for God’s will . . . good, pleasing and perfect.

As you prepare yourself intellectually so that you will know and live in the power of Christ’s resurrection, you can know that the preparation is well worth the effort.  Let’s recap how you do that.
1)    Open your ears.
2)    Welcome and surrender to transformation, your metamorphosis.
3)    Renew your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve God’s will.  Then you will be able to use your intellect to honor God.

For further reading:
Moo, Douglas. Romans - The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

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