CORE TRUTHS OF AN AMBASSADORIAL LIFESTYLE
Instruments in the Redeemers Hands by Paul David Tripp
Eight Principles and Perspectives
That Characterize This Ministry Lifestyle
Truth #1. We need God and his truth to live as we were meant to live (Gen 1:26; John 17:17; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Heb 4:12). We need to forsake any delusion of autonomy or self-sufficiency. We cannot figure life out on our own nor do what God calls us to do. Our utter dependence on the Lord is not rooted in the Fall, but in our humanity. We were created to worship the Lord and depend on Him.
Truth #2. Each of us has been called by God to be his instruments of change in the lives of others, beginning with our families and the church (Eph 4:11-16; Col 3:9-17). Ministry is not an activity that takes place outside our primary relationships. Rather, God intends to use us in these relationships as he does his redemptive work.
Truth #3. Our behavior is rooted in the thoughts and motives of our hearts to express themselves in words and actions (Jer 17:9; Prov 4:23; Mat 23:25; Mark 7:20-23; Luke 6:43-45; James 4:1-10). Without denying the sad realities of suffering and being sinned against, we must reject any view of human behavior that forgets the heart. Instead, we affirm that God changes people’s lives as his grace transforms their hearts. Thus, in personal ministry, no matter what the difficulty, the heart is always our target.
Truth #4. Christ has called us to be his ambassadors following his message, methods and character (2 Cor 5:14-21). Our calling allows us to represent the Lord of the universe to people around us! God is taking lost, confused, discouraged, rebellious, and self-absorbed people and making them into people who are empowered by his grace and motivated by his glory. Nothing is more important!
Truth #5. Being an instrument of change involves incarnating the love of Christ by sharing in people’s struggles, identifying with their suffering, and extending God’s grace as we call them to change (2 Cor 1:3-12). We should seek relationships that are more than naturally fulfilling. We are to build relationships in which God’s work of personal transformation can thrive. We do this by sharing the love Christ has poured out on us. We do it by coming to those who suffer as fellow sufferers who offer God’s comfort and compassion. And we do it by coming as sinners to other sinners, extending to them the grace that has transformed our hearts – and can do the same for others.
Truth #6. Being an instrument of changes means seeking to know people by guarding against false assumptions, asking good questions, and interpreting information in a distinctly biblical way (Prov 20:5; Gal 6: 1-5; Heb 4:14-16). We cannot be content with casual relationships among God’s people. We really want to get to know people and discover where change is needed. We learn to ask questions that cannot be answered without self-disclosure. And we filter everything we learn about people through the grid of Scripture. Our goal is not only to know others biblically, but to help them know themselves in the same way.
Truth #7. Being an instrument of change means speaking the truth in love. With the gospel as our comfort and call, we can help people see themselves in God’s Word and lead them to repentance (Rom 8:1-17; Gal 6:1-2; James 1:22-25). When we confront people with the truth, we want to be instruments of seeing and agents of repentance. It is easier for people to see problems in people and situations than it is to see them in ourselves. That is why we lovingly hold the Word of God before them, so they can see themselves clearly and repent. Our prayer is that the words we speak will expose and change their hearts as they respond to the comfort and call of the gospel.
Truth #8. Being an instrument of change means helping people do what God calls them to do by clarifying responsibility, offering loving accountability, and reminding them of their identity in Christ (Phil 2:1-14; 2 Pet 1:3-9; 1 John 3:1-3; Gal 6:2). We must not confuse insight with heart and life change. Acquiring biblical insight is a necessary part of the process, but it is not, in itself, change. Change comes when people identify the specific things God is calling them to do and begin doing them by faith. We encourage this process by standing with people, offering the wisdom, guidance, and encouragement of biblical accountability. Lastly, we encourage change by helping people live out of an accurate sense of their identity as the children of God, with all the rights and privileges that this identity entails.