The Church Grows

And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.  So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

  • The Church Received the Word Gladly. 
  • Jesus is the “Word.”  We cannot separate Jesus and the Word.  To receive one is to receive the other.  Christianity is unique among all religions in that our religion is based on a person – not a philosophy or set of teachings.

John 1:1-4, 14 – In the beginning was the Word (logos – a transmission of thought, communication, divine revelation, instruction) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh (refers to the substance of the body) and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory….

Jesus is the living logos (John 1:1), the Bible is the written logos (Heb. 4:12) and the Holy Spirit utters the spoken logos (1 Corinthians 2:13).

  • Not everyone received the Word. 
  • Baptism followed belief.
  • Joining the church followed belief.
  • The Church Continued Steadfastly.

Steadfastly (proskarterountes) to continue, persevere, endure, stick, persist.  A person who does not quit, back off, fade away or slip back. 

  • Apostles’ doctrine (didache – the teaching, instruction).  If a church is to grow and persevere, there must be teaching of the Word. 

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples….teaching them….

2 Timothy 2:2 – And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

  • Worship and the Lord’s Supper – “Breaking of bread” refers to the observance of communion.  They observed the Lord’s Supper often because it points to the cross and all that God has done for us.  It also points toward His return.  The Lord’s Supper was a part of their worship.  Worship together is essential to the church.

Luke 22:19 – And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

1 Corinthians 11:26 – For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he comes.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,….and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

  • Prayers – The Early Church was a praying church.  Over and over you see them gathering for prayer – when facing decisions, when facing persecution.  Look for the emphasis on prayer as you study the Book of Acts.
  • The Church Experienced God’s Mighty Power – Awe and respect were given them by the people, and wonders and signs were done through their leaders.
  • The Church Experienced Unity and Ministered to the Needy
  • There was no one in their midst who had needs unmet. 
  • They visited from house to house.
  • Their lives were lived in joy and simplicity.

Matthew 19:21; Matthew 19:29; Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:31-34; John 13:35; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Ephesus 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Hebrews 13:5

  • The Church Experienced Worship
  • The Church Experienced Growth
  • God was the one who added to the church.  Only God can draw a person to Him and save Him.
  • The lives of the early church were used of God to draw people to Him.  God has chosen to use the church as the means to win souls. 

Acts 2:47 – praising God and having favor with all the people.

As you study Acts, note how people responded because of the lives and the actions of the church. 

Questions for us: 

  • Are we receiving the Word of God gladly?  Do we make every effort to meet regularly with fellow believers in community and Bible Study, to learn ourselves and to teach others?  Do we diligently study the Word at home?
  • Do we persevere, without slacking off, without slipping back, in study of God’s Word, in fellowship with other believers, in worship and observance of the Lord’s Supper, in prayer with other believers?
  • Are we experiencing God’s mighty power in our midst?  Are we experiencing unity among ourselves?  Are we sharing our lives together?  Are we ministering to the needy among us?  Do we even know what the needs are among us? 
  • Are we truly worshipping God as we gather each week?  Are we really allowing His presence to be among us?
  • Are we experiencing growth in our church – growth that comes as we live our lives in obedience to His Word and He draws people to Him as a result of our lives and actions?

Living Sacrifices

The Bible teaches in the following passage how we are to live as Christians.  Living sacrifices are a greater influence to mankind in this sinful world, much more than a dead sacrifice.  Martyrs cannot preach the Gospel any more.  Martyrs are not able to witness anymore.  It takes someone alive in Christ to continue the work of winning souls.

Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!   “For who has known the mind of the LORD?  Or who has become His counselor?”, “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

  • These scriptures speak to us of the greatness, the wisdom, the mercy and the love of God toward His creation.  That’s US.  You and I are the objects of God’s attention.  Did you know that?  That is something to get excited about.  God loves you.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

  • Let us look very carefully at these first two verses of chapter 12.  Note that what is about to be said is not to the world, but to the church, to the people of God, that people who call themselves “Christian.”
  • There is not a worse advertisement for the church and the work of the church than those who call themselves “Christian” and live like the world. 
  • Someone said “If you run with the goats on Saturday night, don’t expect to smell like a sheep on Sunday morning.”
  • There is more to being a Christian than shedding a few crocodile tears at the altar.  It is walking straight after you go out the door.
  • There is more to living for Christ Jesus than the 10:30 or 11:00 worship hour on Sunday morning. 
  • There is more to being a Christian than joining a church or living a creed.  It is called dedication, consecration, sanctification and a whole lot more.  Be a good advertisement for the Lord.

Give your all for Him – He gave His all for you.

  • I beseech you – I implore you, I beg you.  Remember this verse is addressed to the people of God.  Did you know that some people in the church need to be coached, begged, counseled, and convinced of what is right and what really is the truth?  People attending church may point to a particular sin and say, “I would never do that.”  Yes, you would if sin is in control.  If you have not been truly changed by the saving grace of Jesus and the indwelling power of the Spirit, who knows but God what you are capable of doing.
  • Brethren – to the house of faith.  That is you and I.  This passage is addressed to us, the church, the believers, the body of Christ.  One passage of Scripture states that “Judgment must begin at the house of God.”  Another states, “If the righteous scarcely be saved, what of the ungodly?”  As ambassadors of Christ, we must be holy, blameless, walking worthy of the calling that Christ has called us to. 
  • Is holy living popular today?  In some churches it will get you in trouble if you preach it.  Let’s look at someone who lived in the early 1700’s who was not popular because of his stance on holiness – John Wesley.  Here is a single passage from the journal of John Wesley:

1738
Sunday a.m., May 7, preached in St. Lawrence’s, was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday p.m., May 7, preached at St. Katherine Cree’s church, deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”
Sunday a.m., May 14, preached at St. Ann’s, can’t go back there either.
Sunday afternoon, May 21, preached at St. John’s, kicked out again.
Sunday evening, May 21, preached at St. somebody else’s, Bennet’s maybe, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.

1739
Tuesday, May 8, afternoon service, preached in a pasture in Bath, 1,000 people came to hear me.
Sunday, September 9, preached to 10,000 people three weeks in a row in Moorfields

It may not be popular, but most people really do want to hear the truth.

  •  By the mercies of God – How do you measure the mercies of God?  Were it not for the mercies of God, you and I would not be here today.  It is only His great mercy that we are able to get ourselves out of bed, dress ourselves, feed ourselves and find our way to the House of God.  We take so much for granted.
  • It is only because of His mercy that we were born in this great country.  Yes, it is a great country even with its sin. 
    • It is only because of His mercy we have a place like this beautiful sanctuary to worship in.
    • It is only because of His mercy that somebody somewhere told us about the saving grace of Jesus.
    • It is only by His mercy that we have a mind capable of coming to the conclusion that He is the one who will take us, shape us, and make us in the image of his own self.  GLORY!!!
  •  That you present your bodies – You cannot present your body to serve God and continue to allow your mind and your will to go unbridled and service the flesh.  It’s all or nothing. You cannot walk the fence and serve God.  The devil, the enemy of your soul, can duplicate everything in the Christian’s life.  Everything except one thing.  Think about it.  The devil cannot duplicate consistent holy living.  You must have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to live a life pleasing and holy before God.  You are just not strong enough on your own.  You need help!  God’s help – daily, hourly, every moment 24/7 365.

Psalms 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength.  A very present help in time of trouble.”

James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

You cannot get past the temptation if you are debating the devil or continuing to dwell on the temptation.  The scripture says to first, submit to God.  Another passage says He will give you a way of escape.  To resist the devil so that he will flee from you may take many forms.  One way would be, instead of dwelling on the temptation, go and do a good deed, start singing praises to God, or reach for your Bible.  Do anything except debate the devil unless you can quote him a scripture or two.  BUT IT STARTS WITH SUBMISSION TO GOD.

Ephesians 5:8 – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light.

  •  A living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God – A lot of things have come down the pike regarding the term “holy” or “holiness.”  What does the Word of God say about the matter?  It is not what Aunt Tillie, Uncle Joe or grandmother says.  It is not what a church organization says.  It is not what some ecclesiastical potentate of some sort says.  It is what “thus says the Lord.”  Are you pleasing to God?  That is what matters.
  •  Your reasonable service – Reasonable, rational, intelligent, logical, not in any way unreasonable.  He never demands or asks anything you cannot do. 

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

1 Corinthians 6:20 – “For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

  •  Do not be conformed to this world – You do not belong to this world any more.  You are a child of God.  Act like it; speak like it; live like it.  You are fashioned after, shaped as, conformed like Him if you indeed have received Him.  You are not your own.  You belong to Him and you belong to each other.  When you live in a manner less than your Heavenly Father intends for you to live, you bring reproach on Him, on the church and on each other.  We are all part of the same body, so we need to have respect for Him, for the church, for each other.

1 John 2:15-16 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Romans 6:6-7 – Know this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.”

  •  Be transformed by the renewing of the mind – When you came to Christ, you had a heart transplant, but you also needed your thinking rewired.  That did not happen necessarily at the same time.  You were changed, but the change did not happen automatically.  The mind changed when God’s presence so overwhelmed you at your request and His delight as you became one with Him in the sanctifying grace and power of the Holy Spirit.
  •  That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God – If we are living as we should, we will show forth the Lord’s glory in our life and be in His perfect will.  Are you living in His perfect will?  Is your life bringing glory to Him?

Being holy is not a dispensational thing.  God has demanded holiness from all time.  Look at one more example of a man who tried to live holy – John Chrysostom.

John Chrysostom was one of the greatest of the Greek Church fathers.  He lived in A.D. 347-407.  Pastor of Antioch and Bishop of Constantinople, he was called “Golden Mouth.”  He preached a lengthily series of sermons on Genesis, Matthew, John and Romans, most of which are still available today.

As a very young Christian he was brought before the emperor, who said that if he would not give up Christ; he would be banished from the country.  Chrysostom said, “You cannot, for the whole world is my Father’s land.  You can’t banish me.”  The emperor said, “Then I will take away all your property.”  “You cannot.  My treasures are in heaven,” was the reply.  “Then I’ll take you to a place where there is not a friend to speak to.”  Chrysostom replied, “You cannot.  I have a friend who is closer than a brother.  I shall have Jesus Christ, forever.”  The emperor finally threatened, “Then I’ll take away your life!”  The answer was, “You cannot.  My life is hid with God in Christ.”  And the emperor said, “What do you do with a man like that?”

I AM

Jesus said “I AM”

  • “I am the living bread.”  John 6:51
  • “I am the bread of life.”  John 6:48
  • “I am the good shepherd.”  John 10:11
  • “I am the light of the world” – John 8:12
  • “I am the door of the sheep.” – John 10:7
  • “I am the door.” – John 10:9
  • “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  – John 14:6
  • “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” – Rev. 1:8
  • “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” – Rev 1:18

Who am I: – married, in love with my spouse, talkative, college grad, music lover, gardener

What describes you?

  • I am a child of God, heir with Jesus Christ!

Romans 8:12-17 – Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

  • I am not ashamed!

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

2 Timothy 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

  • I am redeemed from the hand of the enemy!

 Psalm 107:2 – Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

  • I am forgiven and delivered from the power of darkness!

Colossians 1:13-14 – He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

  • I am persuaded!

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

  • I am saved by grace through faith!

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

  • I am crucified with Christ – I am alive!

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

  • I am free!

John 8:37 – Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

  • I am a new creature!

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

  • I am more than a conqueror!

Romans 8:37 – Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

  • I am what I am by the grace of God!

1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

  •  I am my brother’s keeper

Cain asked:

Genesis 4: 9 – Am I my brother’s keeper?

Jesus answered that:

Matthew 19:19 – He said you should love your neighbor as yourself.

Freedom and Responsibility

Romans 8:5

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Romans 6:5-7 – For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Romans 6:13-14 – And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:13 – For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

  • Setting our minds on what the Spirit desires is not something that happens automatically after salvation.  Following the Lord is still an act of our will.  Remember that Jesus does drive His sheep; He leads them.  When we are being driven, we have no choice but to move.  But when we are following, we can choose to move or not.
  • After we are saved, after the Holy Spirit takes up lodging within, we have a kind of “barometer” at our spiritual core.  This barometer senses any decrease in fellowship with God, warning us that something is amiss.  We can make things right again by asking Jesus to expose our old bad habits or whatever is disrupting our fellowship with Him.  This is called daily confession.  As we allow ourselves to be refined our communion with Him is restored on an even deeper level.  No earthly pleasure is worth losing that communion—not even for a short time.
  • Things may be difficult.  Things may be hard to understand and at times things may seem like they are going nowhere but down, down, down.  Put your trust and confidence in Jesus and they will change.
  • Don’t give up.  God says, “I will bring to pass what I have promised.”  God says, “Don’t’ be discouraged by the enemy.  His is a defeated foe.  You will be victorious.  You must stand in Christ.

Wages of Sin vs. Gift of Eternal Life

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • Wages – something worked for and expected to receive; earnings received for work accomplished.
  • Sin – the job or the thing done whereby wages are expected.
  • Death – sin’s ultimate retirement plan; eternal separation from a loving God.
  • Gift – gratuity, something we did nothing to receive; something freely given.
  • Eternal life – the gift itself.

1 Peter 1:4 – to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Exodus 20 lists very clearly and plainly the Ten Commandments.  Our permissive society has tried to water down, to dictate, to expand, read between the lines what is/what is not allowable under the Law, undermining God’s Word.  If this was done in the political realm, it would be akin to treason against the law of the land.

In Matthew 22, Jesus narrowed these Ten Commandments down to only two.

Matthew 22:34-39 – But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Can we say we obey these laws?  At various places throughout the Word of God we see specifics about obedience, about the Law, about “thus saith the Lord God,” but all the additional things related by writers in both the Old Testament and the New Testament refer back to the original ten commandments given by God to Moses to give to the children of Israel. 

  • Commandment #1 – You shall have no other Gods before me.  (Exodus 20:3)

You have to ask yourself, according to the Word of God, what constitutes a god?  (Exodus 20:4-5)

  • Commandment #2 – You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.

You have to ask yourself, according to the Word of God, what makes something an image, or an idol that would fall in this category?

  • Commandment #3- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

Do we take the Lord’s name in vain when we call ourselves Christians or Christ-like and then behave otherwise? 

  • Commandment #4 – Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.  (Exodus 20:8)

You have to ask yourself, according to the Word of God, what is it that breaks the law of the Sabbath?

  • Commandment #8 – You shall not steal.

Stealing includes stealing from God.

Malachi 3:10-11 – “Will a man rob God?  Yet you have robbed Me!”  But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’  “In tithes and offerings.  You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the Lord of hosts;

  • Commandment #9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What is a lie?  Stretching the truth; falsifying any record (income tax, expense reports); implying something that is not true; swearing to factual events.

Matthew 22:37 – Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

  • Hypocrisy will not do
  • Lip service will not do
  • Half-hearted service will not do
  • GOD WANTS YOUR ALL

Sin is sin; a lie is a lie; stealing is stealing, adultery is adultery, disobedience is disobedience.  You cannot justify your life before God if you have sin in your heart.  You cannot explain away sin when you stand before Him.

Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Sin’s Wages – God’s Free Gift

Romans 6:16-23

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • Slave – no rights/required to obey/death imminent

Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Genesis 2:17 – but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

  • Welder – dollars/wages
  • Waitress – dollars/wages
  • Lawyer – dollars/wages
  • Doctor – dollars/wages
  • Farmer – dollars/wages
  • Sin – Death

1 Corinthians 9:7 – Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

  • Who goes to war at his own expense?  Somebody has to pay the cost.
  • While we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly! – Christ’s expense!
  • E – Every
  • V – Vile      
  • I – Indecent
  • L – Liability
  • S – Selfishness
  • I – Indifference
  • N – Negligence
  • G – God’s
  • R– Riches
  • A – At
  • C – Christ’s
  • E – Expense

He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. But now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace – all day long. Christ Jesus paid a debt I could not pay.

  • Whatever you sow you shall also reap.  God’s justice is under obligation to give sinners their wages.

Galatians 6:7-8 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. I owed a debt I could not pay.

Hosea 10:12 – Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

  • A free gift  = eternal life
  • Grace – charisma – a blessing of salvation upon sinners

1 Peter 3:4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

The Gift of Love

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Love – what does it mean?

  • Strong affection
  • Attraction based on sexual desire
  • Affection based on admiration
  • A warm attachment
  • Enthusiasm
  • Devotion
  • Unselfish, loyal and benevolent concert for the well-being of another
  • An embrace
  • A score of zero in tennis
  • Last, but not least – it means God

In the Greek there were three words for “love.”

  • Phileo – brotherly love like that of David and Jonathan.  This is where we get the word “Philadelphia” – “city of brotherly love”
  • Eros – the love between a man and a women like that of David and Bathsheba.  This is where we get the word “erotic”
  • Note: (Everywhere in the Bible where this kind of love is spoken of it is a love between a man and a woman.  The sexual love of man to man is an abomination in the Bible.)
  • Agape – love of God as in John 3:16

1 Corinthians 13 speaks of love, not lust, not control, not manipulation.  Try substituting the word “Christ” for the word “love” everywhere in this chapter, and you get a greater feeling of the definition of love. 

Another way to check your own attitude of love is to read it and insert your name.  Then, ask your self if that can really be said of you.

There are many who have gifts, but they lack grace.  The exercise of their talents is spoiled by the absence of the loving spirit that can only come from a genuine love of Christ in us.  The gift of love is one that should be permanently manifested fully in the life of, and the relationship of, believers.

Paul states that in all the gifts, in God’s eyes, nothing can match love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Dare we measure our lives against the test of these verse?  Should we pray in repentance?

Faith, hope, love

  • Faith is the eye by which we see the loveliness of Christ.  When we see Him face to face, faith will not be necessary any longer
  • Hope enables us to look beyond the present.  Once we are with Christ we will not have any more reason for hope.
  • Love, however, will abide throughout eternity becoming greater and greater as God’s glody unfolds before us.

Running the Race

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

  • What is right and what is wrong?
    • Right – those things that bring glory to God
    • Wrong – those things that go against the very nature of God’s holiness
    • Gray area?
    • Acquired sin factor – those things taught, believed, culturally identified with wrong, but in and of itself was not wrong.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;  and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;  to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

These verses speak of freedom but are followed by verses 24-27 which emphasize a life of strict discipline.  The Christ walk involves both freedom and discipline.  The goals of Paul’s life and our life are to bring glory and honor to God and bring people to Christ.

So then…glorify God, honor God, and bring someone to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

You might ask yourself, “Can I do this?  Can I participate in this?  Can I go there?  Can I say this?  The Bible states that we are to “abstain from the very appearance of evil.”

Paul compares the Christian life to a race.  Someone who is getting ready to run a marathon will be very careful of their diet, will exercise and get needed rest before the race.  They will not sit up watching movies until the wee hours of the morning and indulge in a huge meal the night before the race.  There is nothing wrong with sitting up late watching movie or indulging in a huge meal in and of itself.  But if they want to win, they discipline their body.

So it is with our Christian walk.  They are things that in and of them self are not wrong, but we must ask our self  will they sidetrack us or someone else?  Will they cause us to be entangled in the cares of this world?

if they hinder us from spending time in God’s Word, in being in fellowship with other Christians, in showing to our community, we need to reject them.

Freedom and discipline are both important.  We can have varied opinions on a lot of things but we must discipline ourselves and also care about how our freedom will affect others.

! Corinthians 10:1-6 – Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.

The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.  (The Message Bible)

Free is fine, but do not use your freedom to stray, to walk in those areas that could lead you into wrong doing. 

Take care that your freedom does not cause you to rebel.

God’s Word is Faithful

2 Corinthians 1:18-20

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.  For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

One thing is for certain.  God’s Word is faithful.  It does not vary from day to day or hour to hour, season to season or year to year.  His Word is faithful to all generations.  It does not change.  It is the same yesterday, today and forever.

1 John 5:12-15 – He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

The promises in His Word establishes, seals us, anoints us and guarantees to us all that He has for us as long as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  To be carnal minded is opposed to God’s will.

1 John 5:20 – And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 1:12 – Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.  But You are the same,

and Your years will not fail.”

The message found in these short passages are positive messages from a positive gospel, for His Word is positive.  To be anything else is to be negative.  There are NO grey areas.  His Word is either positive, forever unchanged or it is totally unreliable and untrue and cannot be depended upon.  Which is it for you?  You have to make up your mind.  If it is not reliable and true, then you might as well give up on your faith.  Either He really died on the cross for “whosoever believeth” or He did not.

There will always be naysayers.  There will always be skeptics and doubters.  The Word of God calls that double minded.

Where is my mind when I dwell on “I can’t”, “it’s impossible,” “there’s no way,” “it can’t happen?”

Philippians 4:8 –Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

This passage tells us to dwell on the positive, the good things in life.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Give your doubts to God and believe positive affirmations to what the Word says.

The weather forecast always tells you what the percentage of rain, snow or stormy weather will be for the next day or the next month.  Most people usually consider rain, snow or bad weather as a negative.  We talk about the 40% chance of rain, but what about the 60% chance of sunshine. God’s Word says “as long as the earth remains, there will be summer and winter and spring time and harvest.”  The cycle of weather was created by God for our benefit so are we not grumbling against Him when we complain about the weather. 

The stop light is always 50% green, but we do not call it a “go” light but a “stop light.”

The Old Testament referred to the children of Israel “murmuring” for 40 years in the wilderness.  Do not grumble, but be thankful.  Put a smile on your face and praise God.  All the promises of God are positive.

Farmer Jones drove his big old farm wagon to market with a portion of his bumper crop of potatoes.  Someone complimented him on all the great crop of potatoes he had harvested.  His reply was, “Yeah, but not one rotten one to feed the hogs.”  Some people just like to be negative.

Matthew 21:22 – And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Ever hear of that old hymn of the church, “Great is Thy Faithfulness?”  His faithfulness is everlasting!

Is It Rain or Shine?

2 Corinthians 1:18-20

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.  For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

How do we view our circumstances? Is it rain or shine?

The weather forecast always tells you what the percentage of rain, snow or stormy weather will be for the next day or the next month.  Most people usually consider rain, snow or bad weather as a negative.  We talk about the 40% chance of rain, but what about the 60% chance of sunshine

1 John 5:12-15 – He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

The promises in His Word establishes, seals us, anoints us and guarantees to us all that He has for us as long as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  To be carnal minded is opposed to God’s will.

1 John 5:20 – And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 1:12 – Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.  But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”

The message found in these short passages are positive messages from a positive gospel, for His Word is positive.  To be anything else is to be negative.  There are NO grey areas.  His Word is either positive, forever unchanged or it is totally unreliable and untrue and cannot be depended upon.  Which is it for you?  You have to make up your mind.  If it is not reliable and true, then you might as well give up on your faith.  Either He really died on the cross for “whosoever believeth” or He did not.

There will always be naysayers.  There will always be skeptics and doubters.  The Word of God calls that double minded.

Where is my mind when I dwell on “I can’t”, “it’s impossible,” “there’s no way,” “it can’t happen?”

Philippians 4:8 –Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

This passage tells us to dwell on the positive, the good things in life.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Give your doubts to God and believe positive affirmations to what the Word says.

The Old Testament referred to the children of Israel “murmuring” for 40 years in the wilderness.  Do not grumble, but be thankful.  Put a smile on your face and praise God.  All the promises of God are positive.

Farmer Jones drove his big old farm wagon to market with a portion of his bumper crop of potatoes.  Someone complimented him on all the great crop of potatoes he had harvested.  His reply was, “Yeah, but not one rotten one to feed the hogs.” 

Ever hear of that old hymn of the church, “Great is Thy Faithfulness?”  His faithfulness is everlasting!