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In Part One, I lamented about how in 2020, thinking in church is a dying, if not a dead, practice.   In Part Two of this series, I look at what Mark 12:29-31, along with a few other passages,  teaches about a believer developing an intellect to become a thinker who can better proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

By way of background (Mark 12:13-27), during a discourse with the Pharisees and Sadducees, a scribe asked Jesus the question, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Mark 12:29–31 (ESV) records Jesus’ answer:

29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The part of Jesus’ answer that is most pertinent to our discussion is verse 30, which reads [in part], “And you shall love the Lord your God … with all your mind …”.   It is fair to say that what Jesus said was a command to His disciples to love “the Lord your God” through obedience to God’s commands expressed in His written Word, i.e., the Bible.  Note the monotheistic nature of the expression “the Lord” and the personal relationship between God and a believer inherent in the expression “your God.”  

For the 21st Century, Jesus commands that a believer “shall love” God in four aspects of one’s person.  In addition to the three aspects of “with all your heart and with all your soul … and with all your strength”, Jesus includes “with all your mind.”  

The expression “with all your mind” means that a believer must love God with the complete aspect of him or her that is responsible for their thoughts and feelings, especially the seat of their faculty of reason.   There is no room remaining in a believer’s mind for anything other than loving God.  A believer’s mind is to focus on God and the things of God.   In Philippians 4:8 (ESV), Paul gave relevant advice:

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

In the context of using one’s mind in obedience to God, it is biblical to say that God wants to see all people saved per 1 Timothy 2:3–4 (NASB95), which reads:

3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Jesus, i.e., God the Son, gave the Great Commission to His disciples, as well to 21st Century believers, as recorded in Matthew 28:18–20 (NET):

18 Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Knowing that “[A]ll authority” everywhere “has been given to” Jesus and that He is “always” with us, a believer ought to be eager to “go and make disciples of all nations.”   The expression “make disciples” refers to proclaiming the gospel.  One commentator (Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 431). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers) writes:

The verb “make disciples” also commands a kind of evangelism that does not stop after someone makes a profession of faith. The truly subordinate participles in v. 19 explain what making disciples involves: “baptizing” them and “teaching” them obedience to all of Jesus’ commandments. The first of these will be a once-for-all, decisive initiation into Christian community. The second proves a perennially incomplete, life-long task.

In order to better proclaim the gospel, a believer must develop his or her intellect so as to be a thinker who can carry out 1 Peter 3:15 (NET):

15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.

Keeping in mind Jesus’ command of “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” a believer must develop an intellect and move past the “basic principles of the oracles of God” in order to teach.  The author of Hebrews made that clear when he wrote Hebrews 5:12 (ESV):

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

One commentator (Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 10, p. 105). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) confirms the importance of developing an intellect:

Thus because of the length of time in which these Hebrews had been under the instruction of teachers presenting New Testament truth, they ought to be teaching the same. The “ought” is one of moral obligation. The Greek word is used of a necessity imposed either by law or duty, or by the matter under consideration.

The Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-30), God’s desire to see people saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4), and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) mandate a believer to develop their mind and become a thinker (see Hebrews 5:12) to better carry out preaching the saving gospel of Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 3:15).   There is no question that the Bible commands the church to be “a war college to mobilize and train an army of men and women to occupy territory and advance the kingdom until the King returns.”  See Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind at page 189.

In Part Three of this series, I will look at Acts 17:1-4, which describes how Paul used his intellect to proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell.  But, your destiny can change.  Today can be the day of your salvation!  Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.  You can also go to another article at my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ). 

If you have comments, questions, observations or the like, please leave a comment in the comments section or send me an email at steve@stevebelsheim.com.

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