The Mind of Christ

“Who has known the mind of the Lord

so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

- 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)

After talking about the miraculous discernment that we receive from the Holy Spirit, Paul quotes this passage from Isaiah 40:13. It’s a very simple question that Isaiah asks, but it is also a not-so-subtle recognition that God is God and we are not. So, while we can try to understand God’s ways, we can’t and won’t fully understand everything. This is the very same passage that Paul quotes in the book of Romans after 11 chapters of the densest theological content ever written: “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” It’s as if Paul is saying, “I’m doing my best here to understand and explain all this to you, but God is bigger and so far beyond us that no one will ever be able to completely explain God’s mind.”

This is the same force with which Isaiah asks the question in the original context. He is asking a bunch of humbling questions, as if to say, “stop being so arrogant, and just trust Almighty God!” However, in the original Hebrew of Isaiah 40:13, there are some interesting clues as to why Paul would bring this verse up in I Corinthians when talking about the Spirit. The word that Isaiah uses for “mind” is the Hebrew word Ruach, which can also be translated as “spirit” or “wind” or “breath.” Many English versions of the Bible even translate it as “Spirit” with a capital “S” in Isaiah 40:13. This means that the question that Isaiah might have been asking is, “Who has known the Spirit of Yahweh?”

This would explain why Paul goes to this passage here in the context of 1 Corinthians 2. However, when he translates Hebrew into Greek, he doesn’t use the word for “spirit,” which is pneuma, he uses nous, which is the word for “mind” or even better “soul.” Ok, let’s put these all together now. Paul is taking the Hebrew concept of “spirit” and translating it into the Greek concept of “soul.” In other words, Paul is asking the question, “Who has really known the soul (or the essence) of God?”

I think this is a great question in and of itself, but it gets even better! Because Paul doesn’t stop there, he actually answers the question. Notice the last phrase of chapter 2… “But we have the mind (or soul or essence) of CHRIST.” He substitutes “Lord” the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Yahweh” with “Christ.” What?!! There is so much going on here, it is amazing! But for now, I just want to point out that this isn’t like a theological punt, as if Paul is saying, “Who knows?” No! Paul is suggesting that we can finally, for the first time, answer Isaiah’s ancient question in the affirmative! Because we have Jesus we can say, “YES! We know the Spirit of Yahweh!!” And this changes EVERYTHING!

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

What did you say?

Wait, wait… What did you say? Or some variation on the sentiment is a rather constant anthem of those unfamiliar with my speech. I have a speech impediment along with some other fun things that come with my Cerebral Palsy. It’s nobody’s fault, but my speech sounds like total gibberish! If I'm unlucky enough to hear myself on a recording, I’m just as clueless as anyone else about what is being said. I like to joke around and warn people that I speak an obscure dialect of old martian. If I talk at a snail’s pace and painfully enunciate everything, I can passably imitate English. There are those who seem to magically understand every word I say right off the bat, but most people have to fight for understanding.

When someone asks me to repeat myself, they are often scared of offending me. Ironically, it’s the most efficient way to compliment me. They are communicating that they value understanding what I am saying enough to disrupt the rhythm of the conversation to ask me to repeat myself.

It is a great joy to help people understand me, if that is what they want, I’ll spell out every word if it helps. I can’t help but feel that when we pursue our Father’s treasures, we are communicating the same thing to him. He will help us and enter into the process with us. Asking him for guidance or insight into what on earth he’s getting at might just be the highest praise we can offer him.

Jonathan Duncan

The Gift of Discernment

My husband has been a youth baseball umpire for almost 25 years, and it is something that he loves to do in his spare time. He has invested time and study into umpiring to hone his skill plus has all the gear to be safe and look professional. Being an umpire requires concentration, focus, knowledge of the rules, patience, and good judgment. A good umpire wants to make the right calls and knows that making a wrong call at the home plate can affect the outcome of the game. But all umpires make mistakes because judgment is relative and ten people can see a play and judge it ten different ways. Sometimes coaches and parents aren’t happy with a call the umpire makes–especially if it is their child who strikes out or is called out on the plate.

I was thinking about umpiring as I studied wisdom and discernment this week. To be wise in our confusing culture today, we need to learn wisdom from God's Word and then make decisions using spiritual discernment. Proverbs 3:21 says, ” Do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion” (NIV).

Paul prayed in Philippians 1:9–11  for discernment for the believers: "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent . . .”  Clearly, discernment is something that we should all desire and it is necessary to help us to grow in our faith and keep us from being deceived. The gift of discernment helps us distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lies. Society tells us that we gain wisdom by study, accumulation of knowledge, and application of common sense. These are good pursuits, but they won't result in spiritual discernment.

Discernment is a gift we ask for and seek if we truly desire to live like Jesus. Hosea 14:9 says, "Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them." We can’t follow the ways of the Lord without discernment.

We need discernment in order to understand Scripture.. Our human minds can’t understand it without the discernment that comes from the Holy Spirit. "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Like a prepared umpire in full gear, we need to put on the whole armor of God as Ephesians 6 tells us, to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. There is so much in our world grappling for our attention. Because of this, discernment is more important than ever before to protect against false teaching and help us live holy lives. We can gain spiritual discernment by prayerfully asking God for it, studying Scripture, relinquishing control to the Holy Spirit, and learning to listen for his leading. Finally, don't jump to conclusions or judgments, pray and wait for all the facts. (Prov. 18:13)

Deb Hill
Executive Assistant

Spiritual But Not Religious

There is a growing trend of people who describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” One study showed that 1 in 5 Americans would describe themselves that way. While each person has their own reasons for arriving at those convictions, there tend to be a few reasons. First, there is an acknowledgment that we are spiritual beings and long for a transcendent experience. As a Christ-follower, I’d simply say that every human being has “eternity placed in their heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  A second reason is that people have seen abuses take place in some hierarchical religious environments, and they don’t want to subject themselves to what they consider to be vicious power structures. Finally, people want to decide what they believe in themselves rather than placing themselves under the guidance of others or the doctrine of the church. Whatever the specific reason, people are moving away from organized religion while maintaining a hold on spirituality.

While this trend feels new for us, it’s an ancient inclination. In fact, Paull addressed this when he wrote to the Corinthian church. He said, “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8) People in ancient Corinth wanted spirituality, but true spiritual knowledge was hidden from them; they wanted spiritual wisdom, but they didn’t want to embrace the cross. We might say that they wanted spirituality, but they didn’t want Christ. We see the same thing taking place in the U.S. today. People want spirituality and they find it through mindfulness, Yoga, self-help literature, and the power of positive thinking. However, what was true in Paul’s day is also true today: “So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11b) The only way to be truly spiritual is through faith in Jesus.

While the trend of “spiritual but not religious” is popular outside of the church, there seems to be another temptation within the church; religious, but not spiritual. Some want to live in their head while resisting any spiritual experiences or acknowledging our transcendent longing. As Jesus followers, we want to avoid both of those erroneous traps. We want to remember that we are spiritual beings designed to live spiritual lives where we have a real and vital relationship with Jesus, but we want our spirituality to be grounded in the person and work of Jesus. As you go about your day, take some time to prayerfully ask Jesus to teach you what it looks like to be spiritual and Christ-centered. That was Paul’s call for the Corinthian church, and it’s Jesus’ invitation to us today.

Pastor Ryan Paulson
Lead Pastor

Freely Given

Perhaps the most overlooked and misunderstood member of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit. Consider that no recorded prayers in the Scriptures are directed to Him and that Paul will often mention in his letters that he is “giving thanks to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,” while leaving out the Spirit. Indeed, the number of times God the Holy Spirit is written about in the Bible is quite small when compared to the other two members of the Trinity.

Who, then, is the Holy Spirit? We know from John 14 and 16 that He is a person, a Helper/Comforter, the Spirit of truth, the One who guides us into all truth, and the One who will glorify Jesus as He reveals the things of Christ to us. We know He is the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11). We know He is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). We know He is given to those who ask for Him and that He is a good gift! (Luke 11:9-13) We also know from this weekend’s passage of study that we who are believers and followers of Christ have received Him so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.

And yet, some of us are hesitant or perhaps even afraid of Him. I think that’s mostly because we don’t know Who He is or we’ve forgotten that He is the One Jesus sent to be with us when He ascended to heaven (see John 16:6 where Jesus says it is to our advantage that He leaves because that means the Spirit will come). Would you agree, or do you have other thoughts on all of this? In any event, the Scriptures speak loudly and clearly that the Person of God, the Holy Spirit, is a great gift! It is by Him that we can know God (1 Corinthians 1:11-12) as well as know about and experience all the good that He has done for us and that He has in store for us. Let me say it again - the Holy Spirit is a great gift that has been freely given to us by God.

This week, as you see the moving of God in your life, be sure to recognize that that’s the Holy Spirit! He’s the One giving you wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. He’s the One bringing Scripture to mind. He’s the One giving you the words to speak when you don’t know what to say. He’s the One who’s changing your heart. He’s the One who’s making you more like Christ. He’s the One who’s protecting you and guiding you and leading you and comforting you and being that friend who sticks closer than a brother. And as you see Him moving and working, be sure to thank God for Him, because He is God and He’s sent from God for your good and His glory. Perhaps the best thing we can do this week is to enjoy this gift and be thankful for Him. That’s what I’m aiming for. I hope you’ll join me in the pursuit.

Scott Smith
Connections & Growth Pastor

"Yes" Overcomes Fear

It happened at the old Emmanuel Faith church on 7th street during the 1970s! I was helping in the AWANA Wednesday night club program with 4th-6th grade girls. Someone asked me to teach the main lesson to all the girls on 2 Corinthians 5:17, becoming a new creation in Christ. I was terrified! This was an evangelistic message and I had never led anyone to Christ. As a school teacher at that time ( 2nd graders at Bonsall elementary), one would think it would have been simple. No, teaching school is vastly different than teaching about God’s forever family! So pleading with God for help, I said yes and prepared.

I remember making a perfectly awful poster with a drawing of a girl on it (I cannot draw at all) and I prayed that God would make His message clear. I don’t remember a thing I said but I do remember perspiring profusely! In the end, after giving an invitation to trust in Christ as Savior, I looked up to see THIRTEEN girls come forward. There was an overwhelming sense of God at work, showing up in power, to welcome these girls into His family.

It was the beginning of a new vocation in my life, though I did not realize it at that time. Over these many years, it has been wondrous to see His hand in big, small, and everyday ways! Thank you, Father, for the journey You have led me on!

Francie Overstreet

The Name of Jesus!

I was fourteen years old, a freshman in high school, and excited that I got to be a counselor for a group of fourth-grade girls for a week of Indian Village Summer Camp at Forest Home. I had been looking forward to this opportunity since I was a camper myself.

The Sunday morning of camp, I attended Sunday School, and that particular week I was the only student in my core group. My leader decided to spend our time sharing what God had been teaching her in her own life through a book that she was reading. The book talked about the power of the Holy Spirit and how we can claim his power to overcome fear and evil by calling out the name of Jesus. I was fascinated, but it all seemed somewhat sensational to me.

A few hours later I left for camp with my six girls and soon discovered that all of them believed in Jesus, except for one girl named Julia. She had been invited to camp by a friend but did not attend church and didn’t seem to know much about God or the Bible.

On Tuesday evening, following a time of worship and a message, all of the campers were excused to return to their teepees. Those who wanted to stay and talk with their counselors about what it meant to have a personal relationship with God were invited to stay. I looked around and there was Julia. My heart started beating faster. I became even more scared and nervous when I saw that she was sobbing uncontrollably. I prayed, “help me Lord” over and over as I moved closer to her. I asked her what was wrong. She looked up at me through tears and said, “I’m just so scared. I don’t know what to do.” At that moment I recalled what my Sunday School leader had shared with me just a few days before. So I looked at Julia and told her to say, “I believe in the power of the name of Jesus." Julia repeated the words and instantly the tears stopped. It looked as if a cloudy veil had been removed from her face as she stared up at me and smiled. I’m not sure which of us was more shocked. I went on to share with her about having a personal relationship with God. She prayed right then and there, asking Jesus to be her Savior. Heaven and our little teepee rejoiced that night!

I lost contact with Julia after a year or two but I have never lost what God showed me in that moment. The power of the Holy Spirit is real! I had seen it with my own eyes. There IS power in the name of Jesus!

Would you like to share a short story of God's spirit working in your life? Click here for the form and instructions.

Lynette Fuson
Director of Care & Counseling

He Said What?

The speaker was Tony Campolo. The year was 1988 and the place was Forest Home, California. It was Forest Home’s annual Winter Retreat for College Students, and I found myself there because a buddy from high school had invited me to go with him and his church (Lake Avenue Congregational). I agreed to go simply because I had nothing else going on.

“Nothing else going on” pretty much described my spiritual life at that point. I was born again (John 3:3) when I was in second grade and had a relationship with God through Christ. But at this point in my life (sophomore year in college) I wasn’t growing spiritually and I remember that God wasn’t really a top priority in my life. Looking back, I probably went up to that retreat to spend time with my buddy and meet some new people. There was nothing super-spiritual about my motives.

I don’t remember anything that Tony shared that weekend. Looking back, and wracking my brain, not one thing comes to mind. There were no one-liners, there were no Tweetable quotes (Twitter didn’t exist back then, but you know what I mean), there were no nuggets of wisdom that landed on me. But what did land on me in a fresh way was a Who. And the Who was the Spirit. For me, the words were ordinary. The messages preached were not even memorable. But the Spirit decided to work through them and in my life in a way that displayed His sovereign grace and mercy. He stirred up in me a hunger, a seriousness, and a passion for God that had been missing. And as far as I can remember, all of this was separate from any “persuasive words and wisdom” on the part of Tony Campolo. And this is good, because as I look back on that weekend, I look back on what God sovereignly did, and not on what Tony Campolo shared. It was the Spirit and His power Who showed up, not some crafty message that a speaker put together. (I’m quite sure Tony would be delighted to know that God worked through him and his ordinary words!)

Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to say just the right thing in just the right way. And there’s nothing wrong with working hard at all that. But we just don’t need to put pressure on ourselves. People coming to faith is God’s work, not ours, and this week’s passage gives us some great reminders and some important pointers about what to focus on. Tony Campolo did his best to prepare for that weekend at Forest Home, and I and all the students who went are grateful for that. But the best thing that happened in my life and many others was that the Spirit was powerful among us.

To that end, thought for today might be to pray for the Spirit to be powerful in the lives of the people you’ll be encountering as you go about the business of living. You’ll have words to share with those people, and you should take that seriously, but He will make the difference in their lives way more than any cool or hip thing that you might come up with. And that, my friends, is good news!

Would you like to share a short story of God's spirit working in your life? Click here for the form and instructions.

Scott Smith
Connections & Growth Pastor

How He Works

Sometimes God works in mysterious ways and sometimes he works through just a few simple words. God weaves together so many things that on most days we might not see or recognize his handiwork. In all the things, in big and small ways we see God demonstrate his power,  confession might be his most powerful to me. The way the Spirit works in our hearts to allow us to say what we did wrong, and how he works in other people to forgive, is truly amazing!

There is a memory that is seared into my heart. I think back to that moment, with tears in my eyes, telling Mark Richardson and Francie Overstreet how I snuck out of Sunday School. This was the first and only time! When Mark caught me by the maintenance area there was fear in my heart and I wanted to just run away, but the Spirit was there with me to guide me to do what was right. That was a powerful moment in the midst of my mistake, the Spirit’s power allowed me to stop and submit. The gracious response from two caring leaders was just as powerful. When we see simple power it changes us from fear to freedom, from anger to love, and from darkness to light. It is when we bring sin and mistakes to the light that we see the power of the cross and the power of the Spirit (1 John 1:7). It is through these simple acts of confession and forgiveness that God’s power is magnified and we get to witness this all the time!

The beauty of the Gospel; is a simple demonstration of God’s power. Fancy words and bold stories are great (I really enjoy them), but when we see the Spirit work through others, when we see him weave lives and stories together, when we see him bring healing to the broken, God’s power is revealed. Power like that gives hope for today and it gives us a glimpse of how God cares for his people. What it boils down to, is while I want the parting of the Red Sea moments, I will take the simple displays of power through normal means every chance I get. If you need a little hope or encouragement, to see God’s power let us know.  We are here to help.

Would you like to share a short story of God's spirit working in your life? Click here for the form and instructions.

Pastor Jeremy Johnson
Family Pastor

God’s Power on Display

I can remember the very place I was sitting when it happened. I was on a rock in the San Juan Wilderness region of the Colorado mountains. I was 18 years old and had been invited by a friend to go on a backpacking trip with Young Life. I went because I loved the mountains and wanted an adventure, not because I was interested in Jesus or his church. I’d grown up around the church and while I believed in Jesus, I had no intention of becoming a disciple. I was far more interested in girls and baseball than I was in Jesus.

However, that all changed on that summer day. Sitting on those rocks, I opened my Bible to Matthew 5 and started reading. The guide had given us some very elementary questions to think through, but it was essentially just me and my Bible… or so I thought. I quickly came to realize that Jesus was there with me. I started reading and it seemed as if the words of the Scriptures leapt off the page and lodged into my heart like tent stakes being pounded into the hard ground. The story that I’d heard for almost my entire life became real to me; two-dimensional ideas became a three-dimensional reality, wooden principles became living power.

To say it as simply as I can, I was changed. Right there sitting on that rock, with no one else around, I became a disciple. I fell in love with Jesus. In John 6:63 Jesus claimed, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." His words awakened me to new life and I experienced firsthand what Jesus proclaimed.

The Spirit’s power and the power of the gospel were displayed in my life. It wasn’t anything anyone said, it was just Scripture, Jesus, and his Spirit at work. I’m guessing the pristine mountains didn’t hurt either. I’ve thought back on that day many times over the past 22 years.  I’ve got to be honest, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to present the message of the gospel. I spend hours every week preparing to preach the Scriptures. That’s a fine and good thing and it’s what I’m called to do; however, I’m reminded that the power lies in God’s Spirit, not my words. That’s when his power impacted me. I trust that he uses my preparation and study, but if his Spirit doesn't move, no lasting change or transformation is possible.

That paradigm isn’t true because I’m a preacher, it’s true because I’m a child of God. He is at work in and through you too. As you go about your day, pray for opportunities to share Jesus. And when he brings those opportunities, because he will, know that as you share, Jesus is at work. It’s his spirit that changed your life, and it's his Spirit that will change other lives, you simply get to be his mouthpiece.

Throughout this week we are trying to capture stories of the way God has "demonstrated his power" (1 Corinthians 2:5) in your life. Would you be willing to share your story? If so, follow this link and fill out the form. We'll select one of the stories to share as our Friday devotional.

Pastor Ryan Paulson
Lead Pastor