A movie, entitled A Beautiful Mind, was released in 2001 based on the life of John Nash. John Nash was a mathematical genius who suffered from schizophrenia. There is a scene in the movie when a doctor is explaining John’s problem to him and his wife. John insists, “it is a problem, and that is what I do, I find solutions”.
The doctor says, “you can’t!”
John yells, “Why can’t I!”
The doctor replies, “Because the problem is in your mind!”
Although most of us do not suffer from schizophrenia like John Nash, we all have a problem that is in our mind.
The purpose of this post is only one thing – I hope to change your mind. I hope to change your mind about two things. But before we get in to those two things, let’s consider some of the “learned” conclusions a person has about God. Many having just read that last sentence started tuning me out or may even stop reading – likely, because, they have no interest in God, or they think they already know what they need to know about God.
It is my hope that you lay aside any predetermined conclusions about God and be open to the possibility of thinking differently.
There is a Greek word that is defined as this very thing; the word is metanoia. Metanoia is defined as; “to think differently, to reconsider, to have a change of mind”.
The reality is, when a person thinks differently, when a person’s mind has been changed, everything changes. Consider this illustration:
You are sitting in a movie theatre relaxing, eating popcorn, sipping on a pop, enjoying the movie, when someone yells, “FIRE!”.
If you think it is a prank and you are not convinced the theatre is on fire not much changes except you may be annoyed with the prankster.
On the other hand, if you are convinced the theatre is on fire, everything changes. Your adrenaline starts pumping, your heart rate increases, survival instincts kick in, and you immediately formulate and execute a plan of action to get out of the theatre.
When your mind changes, everything changes, which brings us to the definition of another word, this one is a Hebrew word, which is shûb (pronounced shoove). This is defined as “changing direction (returning) or a radical change in lifestyle and behavior”.
Obviously in our hypothetical scenario of the theatre on fire your behavior was changed radially to say the least.
We can logically conclude that a mind can be changed, but not result in a radical behavior change. We see it every day. Most people that smoke know it will lead to health problems, yet they smoke. I have read enough to have my mind changed regarding the dangers of sugar, I have become convinced it is the root cause of many diseases, yet it doesn’t stop me from eating cookies and ice cream.
I am not hoping for a, “yea, I know sugar is bad, now hand me a cookie” kind of mind change today – I am hoping for a “THE THEATRE IS ON FIRE!” kind of change.
What are some examples of “God world views” that must be changed:
• God isn’t real
• Everyone goes to Heaven
• Heaven isn’t real
• God wouldn’t send anyone to hell
• Hell isn’t real
• With so many religions, how do you know who is right
• I am a good person, I’ll be ok
• I don’t believe in fairy tales
• There is no evidence to support the Bible
• The Bible was written by man and it has been corrupted
Of course, this isn’t an exhausted list – but, you could say it’s the Top 10.
Finally, to our two things that I am hoping to change your mind about:
Your sin is a big deal. You have sinned against God your entire life and God would be justified in striking you down the first time you sinned, and every time since then. You have lied, stolen, had wicked thoughts, dishonored your parents, used profanity, used God’s name irreverently – just to name a few. Just one of these earns you eternal punishment. Your next breath, the next beat of your heart is only by God’s Grace – God has been kind to you your entire life by allowing you to live.
If you think your not that bad; and you start getting into the compare game – “I am not as bad as…” – you are not thinking rightly about your sin. To think there is not eternal consequence for your sin is sillier than sipping your pop watching the movie as the flames rage around you.
Our first problem of the mind is, we think to little of our sin. The second problem is, we think to little of God. God wiped out everyone on earth except Noah and his family. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of what will happen to the ungodly – God is VERY serious about sin and He has the power to destroy. Denying God’s existence, rejecting the severity of His judgment, and creating a god of your imagination that is not consistent with the God of the Bible is to think wrongly – it is thinking to little of God. God is the Creator of all things and everyone, He commands us to live a certain way and we have all fallen short of this, therefore, His Wrath abides on us – He must punish all sinners.
In short, this is the, “the theatre is on fire” mind change we need:
“I am a sinner, I have sinned against my Creator and He must, He should, and He will send me to hell to suffer under His Wrath for eternity!”
When you rightly think about your sin, and you rightly think about the severity of God’s response to your sin, you will ask, “what must I do to be saved?!”
That is the most important question you will ever ask – but before we get to that, let’s consider what the Bible says about the things we just discussed. This dramatic change of mind, this “the theatre is on fire” mind change is called repentance – metanoia in the Greek, and shûb in Hebrew. As we can see in the following Scriptures, God’s is the One who grants repentance, and His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance:
2Timothy 2:25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
Romans 2:4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
If a person has not had their mind changed regarding the two things discussed above, the rest of the story will be foolishness to them. If a person has had their mind change, but not to the point of radical change in behavior, it is simply an unsaving knowledge of the Truth.
But, if a person is broken over their sin, and they are fearful of falling into the hands of the Living God – that is good. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom:
Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
So, what must a person do to be saved?
Jesus answered that when He said:
Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
We have spent much time on what in means to repent because it is crucial – now let’s move on to the next step, which is to believe the Gospel, the Good News. If we are to “believe the Gospel” we must know what the Gospel is:
Although God must punish all sin, He also forgives all sin – the logical question is, how can He do both?
He sent His Son to bear the sins of the world on His Cross. Jesus suffered not only at the hands of wicked men, but He suffered under the Wrath of God when He became sin on His Cross. That is how God the Father punished all sin – He laid the sins of the world on His Son and then poured out the full measure of His Wrath on Him. He forgives all sin when we believe in Jesus, when we trust in Jesus’ sacrifice as full payment for our sin, when our faith is in Him alone to save us from the Wrath we deserve we will be saved. That is the Gospel: I deserve hell, but God being rich in mercy sent His Son to redeem me, to reconcile my “sin account” – my wickedness was put on Jesus, the punishment I deserve was laid on Him, and I was given the righteousness of Christ – so on Judgment Day, God will see me as righteous because of the Blood of Christ, not because of any works, religion, or ritual on my part, but only because I have faith in Him alone to save me. I believe the Gospel, I believe in the One whom the Father sent.
In summary, my mind has been changed so radically regarding my sin and God that my thoughts, behavior and actions have been radically changed – I have turned from my sin and have turned to God in faith; faith in Jesus Christ to save me from the Wrath of God I deserve. I no longer live for me, I live for my Savior, not to earn my way, but because of my gratitude, thanks, and love for Him.
2Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
John 6:28-29 Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"
29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
Acts 16:30-31 Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."
Romans 10:8-9 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
1Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Luke 9:23 And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Colossians :20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
1John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.