David Christensen: Lessons Learned & Future Plans

On June 25, 2016 Faith Bible Seminary’s third cohort graduated. Several members of the graduating class served as interns at Faith Church, and so we’ve asked them to reflect on their time at Faith and give us an update as to what their future plans are. Read all of the Interns’ Lessons Learned & Future Plans posts.

I am approaching the end of my time here at Faith Bible Seminary (FBS). At the end of the day—as the saying goes—there are five truths that I’ve learned during my time here which stand out the most. The truths are about man’s radically fallen state, God’s glorious grace, God’s ultimate purpose, the heart of man, and the benefit of study. This brief post will lay out those truths and conclude with a description of where the Lord is leading my family next.

Man’s Radically Fallen State

The past few years have helped me to understand more clearly the condition of the natural man. Naturally, mankind is plagued by a handful of pervasive moral inabilities which include: [1] legal guilt, love of darkness, hatred of God’s authority, and spiritual deadness. Though we have moral inability we still have responsibility. [2] We cannot do good because we are under the law; therefore we are accountable to God for all of our unrighteousness (Rom 3:9–10, 19). We love darkness and cannot come to Jesus because we are unable to act contrary to our love—our love of the darkness (John 3:19–20 cf. John 5:43–44 — people love the glory of self rather than the glory of God). We cannot come to God because we will not submit to him—we hate his authority; therefore, we cannot please him (Rom 8:6–8 — we cannot submit to a law which commands us to “love God,” when he is the one we hate). We cannot come to God because we are spiritually dead, and we are naturally content to follow the prince of this world (Eph 2:1–3). All of these truths paint a bleak picture for the state of mankind.

God’s Glorious Grace

The picture is bleak until we see the light of God’s glorious grace in the face of Jesus (2 Cor 4:3–6). God is the one who must take away the heart of stone and replace it with a heart that loves him (Ezek 36:26–27 cf. John 3:1–8). This regenerating work of God is the only action which the Bible attributes directly to God’s “being rich in mercy” and his “great love.” This is the great love of God, the love that makes us alive when we were dead—in bondage to our love of darkness and hatred of him. Seeing our redemption in light of our condition will cause the Christian to worship God more.

God’s Ultimate Purpose

Due in large measure to Jonathan Edwards and John Piper,[3] I have come to understand and savor the ultimate purpose of God in creation. In brief, “the chief and ultimate end of the Supreme Being, in the works of creation and providence, was the manifestation of his own glory in the highest happiness of his creatures.”[4] Therefore, when we come to questions of why God acted a certain way or why something has happened to someone we know—or ourselves—we need to first ask, “What is God doing in this moment?” With that question, we can put our current questions or circumstances in the light of God’s ultimate purpose: his glory and our joy.[5] Understanding God’s ultimate purpose will inevitably keep him at the center, instead of us, and that will remedy innumerable theological issues.

The Heart of Man

Studying at FBS under many of the leaders in the Biblical Counseling movement has helped me to embrace the importance of understanding the heart.[6] It is from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt 12:34), and genuine worship and Christian living comes from the heart that honors and is near to Jesus (Mark 7:1–23). It is imperative then, when considering one’s sin, to not only deal with the presenting issues (e.g. adultery, anxiety, etc…) but also to trace that fruit to the root of the problem—the heart. If we can alter the root and place it in the soil of God’s word (cf. Psalm 1), then we can begin to change the thinking and living from the inside out.

The Benefit of Study

Finally, my time here at FBS has convinced me of the importance of study and thinking. Piper is fond of saying, “Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves; digging is hard, but you might find diamonds.”[7] Paul commands thinking when he says, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything” (2 Tim 2:7). Peter says that knowledge is the means by which we receive all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3–4). Therefore, it is supremely important for Christians to think—and think hard! Do not allow anyone to discourage your from thinking hard because you cannot comprehend XYZ completely. D. A. Carson is fond of saying, “Although we cannot know anything exhaustively, we can know some things truly.”[8] So, even if we cannot know things exhaustively—because we are finite beings, we can know things truly; therefore, think hard!

Future Plans

southern-baptist-theological-seminaryAt the end of June, my family will move to Louisville, KY where I will start the pursuit of a Th.M. in New Testament (with the hope of completing a subsequent Ph.D.) at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. After completing, by God’s grace, this further education, I desire to work at providing theological education for pastors that cannot receive this type of extended training due to financial or geographical reasons. Would you take a moment to pray for us as we step forward into this next season, seeking to follow God’s call to make disciples of all nations?

 


1. See Piper’s recent T4G sermon which elaborates on these. [LINK].
2. Consider this lecture by Dr. Andy Naselli who argues this position well. [LINK].
3. Piper, John, and Jonathan Edwards. God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998.
4. Ibid. 31. Emphasis original.
5. This was the truth that laid the ground work for Piper’s motto, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him.” This is also why I named by blog, His Glory, Your Joy.
6. See especially Pastor Brent Aucoin’s Heart of Change lecture.
7. Piper. God’s Passion for His Glory. p. 29.
8. Naselli, Carson Theological Method. Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology. vol. 29.2, 2011. 252.

 

David ChristensenDavid Christensen
David Christensen is a pastoral intern at Faith Church. He is married to his wife Kelly of more than 3 years. He regularly attempts to blog at http://HisGloryYourJoy.blogspot.com, and can be followed on twitter here.  
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