Names of God – The Lord is My Shepherd

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jehovah Rohi – The Lord is My Shepherd

 Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. 

This renowned Psalm was written by King David, and its most famous passage is contained in the opening verse:  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

In this brief verse, David gives us yet another reflection of the Lord’s character and nature.  David continues to develop this idea of the Lord as shepherd throughout the rest of the Psalm.  In the next verse, he writes, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters.

What an idyllic picture.  As we read this verse, we envision a flock of fleecy, white sheep, dotting a tranquil, green landscape.  These well-fed creatures graze on the plentiful grass surrounding them in a vast pasture.  Or, they lie about on a lush, green carpet of grass, napping peacefully.  Overhead, the sun is shining brightly.  On the nearby hillside, a grove of tall, leafy trees blow gently in the breeze.  Down below, a beautiful woods is reflect in a pool of cool, clear water.

The whole scene seems so pleasant, peaceful and carefree.  Not a creature in sight has a care in the world.  Why?  Sitting on the plush grass of the gently sloping hillside, overseeing all that goes on below, is a shepherd.  This shepherd is a picture of calm.  He spends his time meditating on the Lord’s blessings.  Occasionally, he gazes out at his flock to make sure all is well.  The shepherd does not hear a single cry or sigh from the peaceful fold in his care.  Instead, he sees below him a contented flock of rested, satisfied sheep, creatures who fully enjoy their peaceful surroundings.

I ask you, what is wrong with this picture?  Simply this:  life is nothing like this image of idyllic existence.  It is my sincere belief that this tranquil picture is not the image David intended to put forth in Psalm 23 – not at all.

The truth is, even the saintliest of God’s people are a motley bunch.  With that in mind, I want to paint for you another picture of the sheepfold David describes here.  Sheep are lying about in green grass beside still waters.  But, according to Isaiah, this flock includes lambs that are frail, weak and unsteady.  Some are barely able to walk.  Others are in deep pain.  A few are pregnant.  Still others have to nurse their restless young.

Isaiah 40:11 – He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.

Isaiah is speaking here of Jesus Christ, our Jehovah Rohi.  Our Lord Jesus is our shepherd.  He came not to tend just healthy, strong sheep, but also those who are sick, broken, diseased and weak.

God condemned Israel’s ministers because they did not fulfill this role for the sheep under their care.  This aspect of ministry was so important in the Lord’s eyes, He spoke His displeasure through every major prophet.

Ezekiel 34:4 – The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.

Ezekiel 34:6 – My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.

Jeremiah 50:6 – My people have been lost sheep.  Their shepherds have led them astray; they have turned them away on the mountains.  They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place.

Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray.

Note the last verse.  Who is Isaiah talking about here?  He is talking about you, about me, about every person who belongs in the Lord’s sheepfold.  Do not think the prophet is exaggerating for effect.  Mark it down:  every sheep in the shepherd’s fold has gone astray.  Yet, each of us is still in the fold, because our gracious, merciful, loving shepherd has come after us and found us.

Just look around you for a moment at all the sheep you know in the church of Jesus Christ.  What kind of flock are you?  Are you all lying down in green pastures, drinking pure, cool water?  Are you all perfectly contented, healthy, happy, and peaceful?

No way!  You have in your midst believers who keep stumbling and falling.  At times you wonder if they are ever going to be strong enough to walk straight.

Others among us are sick and diseased.  They have drunk polluted water from the well of some false shepherd.  Still others are walking about wounded.  Some were crippled by a bleeding hind leg their shepherd had to pull out of the lion’s mouth.  Others were crippled by bad habits and lust.  Still others among us are naked.  They have been shorn or fleeced by false shepherds. 

All these sick, broken sheep have been brought back to the fold by the shepherd Himself.  Some were so maimed, disabled, hurt and disoriented, Jesus had to put them on His shoulders and carry them all the way back to the flock.

That’s the role of our great shepherd.  Scripture describes this wonderful trait of our Lord even more clearly.

Ezekiel 34:11 – For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.

The sheep Ezekiel describes here obviously have wandered away.  Yet the Lord still calls them His sheep.  He willingly goes after them.

Ezekiel 34:12 – As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.

Ezekiel is speaking here of sheep who have been through troubled times.

Ezekiel 34:16 – I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.

Ezekiel 34:22-23 – therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—my servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.

Once again, God speaks clearly about setting up one true shepherd to watch over His people.  Of course, he is referring to Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the good shepherd who promises to feed His flock.

A Study of the Gifts of the Spirit

Charisma – a gift of grace, an endowment upon believers by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the churches.

Charis – grace, that which bestows on occasion pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard; divine favor freely dispensed.

Gifts of the Spirit – a spiritual gift of God bestowed upon the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit in and by the grace bestowed or given by belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior (see Romans 12:6).

Pneumatikos – plural, pneumatika; from pneuma which means spirit, breath, wind.  Literally means a “spiritual,” that which pertains to, or proceeds from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, any of the following might be applied here:  The gifts, manifestations, impartations, emanations, endowments, matters, things, effects, powers, workings, aids, graces or favors of the Holy Spirit.

Major Lists of the Gifts of the Spirit

Romans 12:6-8, 13

  1. Prophecy
  2. Ministry
  3. Teachings
  4. Exhortation
  5. Giving
  6. Ruling (leadership)
  7. Mercy
  8. Hospitality

Ephesians 4:11

  1. Apostles
  2. Prophets
  3. Evangelists
  4. Pastors
  5. Teachers

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

  1. Wisdom
  2. Knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Healing
  5. Miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. Discernment of spirits
  8. Divers kinds of tongues
  9. Interpretation of tongues

1 Corinthians 12:28

  1. Apostles
  2. Prophets
  3. Teachers
  4. Miracles
  5. Healings
  6. Helps (hospitality)
  7. Governments (administration)
  8. Diversities of tongues

NOTE; Only one gift is mentioned in all four of the major lists of the gifts. Attributes or manifestations that might be classified as a gift although not necessarily called a gift in scriptures

Some Examples of the Gifts of the Spirit

  1. Ephesians 2:18-20 – Apostles and prophets
  2. Acts 13:1 – Prophets and teachers
  3. Acts 15:32 – Prophets and teachers
  4. Galatians 2:8-9 – Leadership and apostles
  5. 1 Peter 5:1-2 – Elders (leadership)
  6. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 – Giving
  7. James 5:14-15 – Faith and healing
  8. Acts 21:8-10 – Evangelists and prophets
  9. 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 – Apostles
  10. 2 Timothy 4:5 – Evangelists
  11. Acts 11:27-28 – Prophets
  12. Acts 20:28 – Overseer (leadership
  13. 1 Timothy 5:17 – Rulers (leadership) and teachers
  14. Acts 19:11-12 – Miracles
  •  Are all the gifts of the Spirit still active in the church today?

Most Pentecostal and charismatic churches say that they are still active.  Other churches (Methodist, Baptists and mainline denominations) say that the sign gifts are no longer used in the churches today.

Whatever you believe…take and use as God blesses.  Pray that the gifts of the Spirit you believe are still active are available to you and your church.

  •  Spiritual gifts are not natural talents or human abilities. These talents/abilities are God-given but not a gift of the Holy Spirit.
  •  What is the role of the Christian in his/her use of the Gifts of the Spirit?
  1. 1 Corinthians 13 – to be used with love (not gits without love, but gifts controlled by love)
  2. 1 Corinthians gives specific guidelines for the use of the gifts in the church
  3. Ephesians 4:12 – these gifts are given to to equip the saints, to edify the church
  4. 1 Peter 4:7-11 – purpose of gifts it to ultimately bring glory to God
  5. Colossians 3:23 – all we do, how we use our gifts it to be done for the Lord, not for people
  • Fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, *faith (faithfulness), meekness, temperance.  These are all found in Galatians 5.  The gifts of the Spirit are exercised in accordance with the fruit of the Spirit.

Five Steps Toward Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts

  1. Explore – Study the Scripture concerning the gifts
  2. Experiment – Question, pray, ask yourself, “Do I have this gift?”
  3. Examine – Examine your feelings, makeup, personality, temperament.
  4. Evaluate – Evaluate the effectiveness of your gift.
  5. Expect – Expect confirmation from the Holy Spirit/the body of Christ.

Faith is listed as a gift of the Spirit and also as a fruit of the Spirit.  More appropriately, it should read faithfulness in the list of the fruit of the Sprit. 

Walking in Christ – in Unity

Ephesians 4:1-6

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

THE CHRISTIAN MUST WALK WORTHY

  • Worthy means “of sufficient weight” a quality that comes from acknowledging what Christ has given us, not what worth we may feel we have or not have. 
  • With lowliness.  Lowliness means “with modesty, a sense of moral insignificance and a humble attitude of unselfish concern for the welfare of others.  A total absence of arrogance, conceit.  The word is a combination of  tapeinos – “humble” and phren – “mind.”
  • With gentleness.  Gentleness means “a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious and that has the passions under control.  The word is best translated “meekness,” not as an indication of weakness, but of power and strength under control.  The person who possesses this quality pardons injuries, corrects faults and rules his own spirit well.
  • With long-suffering.  Long-suffering means “patient endurance, forbearance, fortitude.  It describes a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint. 
  • With love.  Forbearing or bearing with one another means “to hold up.  It carries the idea of tolerating, bearing with, putting up with, and not losing courage under pressure. 
  • In unity.  The bond of peace speaks of the relationship in which all believers stand.  When the Holy Spirit enters a life at the point of salvation, they are bound together with other believers.  Endeavor means “to exert oneself, make every effort, be zealous, straining every nerve.  The word combines thinking and acting, planning and producing.  It sees a need and promptly does something about it.”  We are to exert ourselves, make every effort, and strain every nerve to keep unity among ourselves. 

SEVEN BASIC REASONS TO WALK WORTHY

  • One Body – There are many different denominations and many different churches, but Christ is creating only ONE body. 

1 Corinthians 12:13 – “For by one Spirit we were baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

Romans 12:5 – “so we, being many, are one body in Christ…”

  • One Spirit – The Holy Spirit is given to all Christians.

1 Corinthians 12:4 – “There are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.”

Romans 8:14 – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

  • One Hope – We all are striving for the same reward.

Titus 2:12-13 – “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 1:3 – “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.”

  • One Lord – We all serve the same Savior.

1 Corinthians 12:5 – “There are different administrations, but the same Lord.”

Philippians 2:9-11 – “Therefore God has highly exalted him…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

  • One Faith – We all have the same message – “Jesus Saves”

Jude 3 – “Beloved…I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

  • One Baptism – All believers give public witness to their faith by submitting to water baptism.  Each is identified with the same body. 

Galatians 3:27 – “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

This could also refer to the believer’s baptism into the body of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13 – “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…”

  • One God and Father – If there is only one God and one Father, then there cannot be two believers in opposition to one another.  If they are, then either one or both are not following God, but rather are following their own carnal ways. 

Mark 12:19 – “And Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

The First Great Gentile Church

Acts 11:19-30

Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.  Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.  Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.  And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11:18 is a momentous passage.  Peter’s ministry to Cornelius and his household, and the positive response by the church at Jerusalem (see Acts 10:1-11:18) set the stage for Paul’s outreach to the Gentiles in the remaining chapters.  The next few verses cover one of the most important events in history – the founding of the Gentile church. 

  • The Gentile Church is Born
  • Born through the witness of lay believers (Acts 8:1-4).  Note that everyone was scattered except the apostles
  • Born by believers sharing with everyone they met – Jews and Gentiles alike.  God desires everyone to hear the good news and for everyone to be saved.

Isaiah 45:22 – “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!”

Matthew 22:9 – “Go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.”

Romans 10:12 – “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (between the rich and the poor, between the educated and the uneducated, between the white and the black, between the Church of God and the Baptist, between the Anglo-Saxon and the Hispanic), for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.”

  • Borne by the hand of the Lord.  “the hand of the Lord was with them.”
  • God allowed the persecution.
  • God gave the believers the boldness to proclaim the good news.
  • God opened the eyes of the people in Antioch to receive the good news.
  • The Gentile Church is Nourished
  • Mother Church sent ministerial help – the church needed leadership.
  • Barnabas encouraged the new church – to continue with the Lord with purpose of heart (a deliberate plan, an intention, a design).  It is not enough to start walking with God, but the church must have a deliberate plan, an intention to keep walking with God.
  • Barnabas taught the new church – teaching is an important part of the church.
  • The Gentile Church had an Effective Witness
  • Believers were first called “Christians” at Antioch.  The Greek word used was christianos.  This was likely an insulting name given to the followers of Christ (Christos) like the term “Jesus-freak” was used a few years ago.  Later, believers took the name and began applying it to themselves.  Eventually the name was adopted by the whole world for the followers of Christ.   If we call ourselves “Christian,” we need to recognize what it means to be a true follower of Christ.

Colossians 2:6 – As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.

1 John 2:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

  • The Gentile Church Had a Ministry to Others
  • When they heard of the prophesied famine coming, they took up a relief offering to Jerusalem.  This was an offering each person shared in according to their ability.  Again, we see that a growing, thriving church is one that reaches out to others – it is not consumed with just meeting its own needs.

Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us (ergazomai – work, be busy, accomplish something, produce things, be engaged in, toil.  Ergazomai is the opposite of idleness, laziness, or inactivity.) do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

1 Timothy 6:18 – Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.

NOTE:  Preaching–Teaching–Exhortation – There are three different Greek words used for preaching and teaching in this passage.

  • Lalountes is translated “preaching” in the King James Version and “spoke” in the New King James Version.  It is the simple sharing of conversation among people.  In other words, as the believers were scattered abroad, wherever they went, whoever they talked to, Jesus was the topic of their conversation.  Jesus was so real in their lives, so much on their mind that they simply “spoke” about Him to every one they came in contact with. 
  • Euaggelizomenoi is translated “preaching” and it means to declare and proclaim the gospel – the good news.  The believers – the lay people – actually went into Antioch and preached and proclaimed that Jesus Christ had died and risen again for their sins. 
  • Parekalei is translated “exhorted” or “encouraged” and means to warn, comfort, encourage, challenge, admonish or advise.  The believers – both in their day-to-day conversation and in their preaching – urged the people at Antioch to continue with the Lord with one purpose, one plan, one commitment of service.

Living in His Fullness

Ephesians 3:19

[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! (The Amplified Bible)

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (New Living Translation)

Ephesians 4:11-13

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  (New Living Translation)

  • He was man – yet:

Colossians 1:19 – For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently. (The Amplified Bible)

  • All His loving kindness

When I say “all” I am not saying his “all” is limited, that there is no more for anyone else.  I am saying He has given us all that was needed, all that was necessary, and all that was available.  The enormity of His fullness, of His grace is beyond our comprehension (like the stars in the heaven or the sand at the seashore) and we are the recipients of all that there is.

Look at this illustration:  We are spiritually filthy dirty in our sins and we can somehow harness all the water that is in the ocean and bathe in that huge bathtub.  His grace is immeasurable and never ceases.  Once it is poured out on us it keeps on being poured out.  You may have been saved 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago, but His grace has never stopped flowing upon you, over you, through you, in you, around you.  The ample vast supply is available to all who have been redeemed.

John 1:16 – For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. (The Amplified Bible)

  • This grace in its fullness is “real love.”  At salvation I received that same fullness living in me.

Colossians 2:9 – For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature].  (The Amplified Bible)

  • What shall we do about His fullness in our lives?

Hebrews 10:26-29 – For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

We have received the fullness of Jesus Christ which is, was and forever shall be His grace.  All His grace was manifested at Calvary.  We can never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER receive more of His grace than that which was given freely at the cross because we have received His fullness.  That is, we have received all that is available, complete salvation.  All that was necessary for the work to be done in us, for us, through us, all His riches, all His love, all His forgiveness, all His mercies. 

The fullness of His grace.  There is no past tense.  It does not say “completed” – but “complete.”  It is done!

Luke 6:27-42 – But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.  But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.  And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.\

James 2:1-7 – My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.  For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?  Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

1 John 3:14-17 – If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.  We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?  (New Living Translation)

2 Thessalonians 1:12 – Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist said, “I must decrease – He must increase.”  We might simply say, “It’s not about me but it’s about Him.”

One writer described His fullness this way – “Basketfuls.”  He must have had the multiplication of loaves and fishes in mind when he said, “basketsful!”

Jonathan Edwards – “Nothing was done after His resurrection to purchase redemption of men, nor is there anything more to be done through all eternity.”

John 1:16 – For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.

                        He is all my righteousness – I stand complete in Him and worship Him.

Our Cornerstone (Seven Pictures of the Church)

Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

1.  A NEW NATION

  • We were strangers and foreigners. 
  • We are now fellow citizens with the saints of God.

Philippians 3:30 – “For our conversation (life, citizenship) is in heaven; from where we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 11:9-10 – “By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

Hebrews 11:13-16 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

2 Peter 3:13 – “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

 Revelation 21:27 – “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

2.  GOD’S FAMILY

  • Footnotes:
  1. Revelation 21:27 NU-Text and M-Text read anything profane, nor one who causes.
  2. Adopted as his sons

Romans 8:15-17 – “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…..”

Hebrews 2:11 – “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

1 John 3:1 – “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

  • Privilege of responsibility and service.

Matthew 12:50 – “For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 10:43-45 – “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

John 13:14 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

Romans 12:10-11 – “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

 Gal. 6:2, 10 – “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

3.  GOD’S BUILDING

  • Jesus is the Chief cornerstone. 
  • The cornerstone is the first stone laid.

Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….”

Hebrews 5:9 – “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”

 Hebrews 2:10 – “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

  • The cornerstone is the supportive stone.

1 Corinthians 3:11 – “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

  • The cornerstone is the directional stone.

1 Peter 2:6-8 – “…Behold I say in Zion, a chief cornerstone elect, precious; and he that believes on him shall not be confounded…”

4.  A LIVING AND GROWING ORGANISM

  • Christ is a living stone.

1 Peter 2:4-5 – “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

  • The church must grow.

Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations….”

Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth

 Acts 4:20 – For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

 Acts 5:20 – Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

  • Each believer within the church must fulfill their function of bringing new stones to fit into the temple of God.

2 Timothy 2:2 – “And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.”

5.  A WORLD-WIDE TEMPLE – THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH

“The whole building”

Matthew 16:18 – “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

6.  A LOCAL TEMPLE – THE LOCAL CHURCH

“You (the local church) are being built together”

Romans 12:4-5 – “For as we many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

1 Cor. 12:12-28 – “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.  For in fact the body is not one member but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.  And if they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.   And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.  And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.  And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.”

7.  INDWELT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 14:17 – “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because neither sees him nor knows Him; but you know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Romans 8:9 – “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 – “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

1 Corinthians 6:19 – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”

 2 Timothy l:14 – “And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

Redemption

Ephesians1:1-14

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.  In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

GOD’S CALL

  • To Paul
  • “Apostle” means “one called and sent forth on a very special mission.  A messenger.
  • To the church
  • “Saints” means “to be set apart, consecrated”
  • “Faithful” means “to have placed our faith in Jesus Christ”

Ephesians 4:24 – “and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Colossians 3:10 – “and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

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.”

GOD’S BLESSINGS ARE SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS

  • Of the Spirit
  • Permanent and perfect
  • Found only in Christ

GOD HAS CHOSEN US TO BE HOLY (SET APART) AND BLAMELESS (FREE FROM SIN, WITHOUT BLEMISH)

1 Peter 1:15-16 – “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

2 Peter 3:11 – “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?”

Colossians 1:21-22 – “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”

1 Thessalonians 3:13 – “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

GOD HAS ADOPTED US AS SONS AND DAUGHTERS

  • “Predestination” means “to predetermine, to appoint before”
  • “Adoption means” “to place as a son”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Romans 10:13 – “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’”

2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

GOD HAS REDEEMED US

  • “Redemption” means “to set a man free by paying a ransom”
  • Man is in bondage
  • Man cannot free himself
  • God has paid the ransom – His son’s death on the cross

Romans 3:24 – “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

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

Colossians 1:14 – “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

GOD HAS GIVEN US WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING

  • “Wisdom” means “seeing and knowing the truth”

1 Corinthians 2:9-16 – “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

GOD HAS REVEALED THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL TO US

  • This is the main theme of Ephesians.  A “mystery” in the Bible is not something mysterious and hard to understand.  It is a truth that has been opened up to man.  A truth revealed by God to man that man had not understood before.  The “mystery” of God’s will is the Church, with Christ as its head.

Galatians 4:4 – “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”

Ephesians 3:9-11 – “and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2 Corinthians 5:19-21 – “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Ephesians 4:11-12 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

GOD HAS GIVEN US AN INHERITANCE

Malachi 3:17 – “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels.
and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’”

Ephesians 2:19-21 – “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

GOD HAS SEALED US WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

Romans 8:16 – “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

2 Corinthians 1:22 – “who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Galatians 4:6 – “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Spiritual Gifts

Ephesians 4:7-16

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

GOD LOVES TO GIVE

  • Gave his Son

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son what whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

  • Gives us faith to be saved

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

  • Gives us the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:38 – “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

  • Gives us “all things”

Romans 8:32 – “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

  • The Greek word used in the above scriptures for “gift” is dorea which means a “present or a free gift stressing its voluntary character.”  It is always used in the New Testament of a spiritual or supernatural gift.  With no strings attached, God gives us these gifts.

DIFFERENT KINDS OF GIFTS OF GOD

  • Ministry Gifts
  • Leaders – “Equippers” – Ephesians 4:11 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”
  • Apostle – “A person with the special ability to provide leadership for a cluster of churches.  This often involves the founding of the churches, but may also include giving new direction to the church.”
  • Prophet – “A person with the supernatural ability to interpret the Scriptures in the light of the present situation in the Church giving encouragement, correction, warning and edification.” 
  • Evangelist – “A person who is gifted to present the gospel in such a way that people will respond to the claims of Christ through repentance, conversion and discipleship.  He also has the ability to equip the church to evangelize.”
  • Pastor – Teacher – “A person with the special ability to take responsibility for the nourishment, health protection, and development of a congregation on a

                                          relatively long-term basis.”

  • These “gifts of God” are actually people God has given the church to perfect, prepare and equip the members of the church for their individual ministries. 
  • The Greek word used here for “gift” is domatawhich stresses the concrete character of the gift.  This is the only place in the New Testament where this word is found and it refers to those leadership ministry gifts found in Ephesians 4:11. 
  • Body Ministry Gifts – Romans 12:6-8 – “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
  • Prophecy – “A person who can spontaneously utter words from the Lord given to the Body for encouragement, edification or exhortation. 
  • Serving – “A person who serves the body of Christ in a supporting role, thus releasing those in leadership roles to carry on their ministries.”  Biblical example:  deacons in Acts 6:1-6.
  • Teaching – “A person who can communicate information relevant to the health and ministry of the Body in such a way others will learn.”  Biblical example:  Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18:26.
  • Encouraging – “A person who can minister encouragement and hope to other members of the Body.  Biblical example:  Barnabas in Acts 4:36.
  • Giving – “A person who can provide material resources to the Body with liberality and cheerfulness.  Biblical example:  Barnabas in Acts 4:36.
  • Leadership – “A person who is able to organize and direct toward a specific goal in projects that promote the work of God and the growth of those involved.”  Biblical example:  James in Acts 15:3-21.
  • Mercy – “A person who can feel genuine empathy and compassion for those who are suffering and can translate that compassion into deeds that reflect Christ’s

                                    love and alleviate suffering.”  Biblical example:  Epaphroditus in Phil. 2:25-30.

  • Romans 12:5-6 tells us that each member of Christ receives a gift of this nature. 
  • 1 Peter 4:10 tells us each one has a gift and we are to use these gifts to serve others.
  • The Greek word used here for “gift” is charismata and means a gift of grace, a special endowment.
  • Manifestation Gifts – 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
  • Wisdom – “God-given supernatural utterance of a specific word, given at a specific time, giving God’s wisdom for a specific situation.”  Biblical example:  Acts 15:28
  • Knowledge – “God-given information which only God may know given to help the Church or members of the Body in a time of need.”  Biblical example:  Acts 5:3-5
  • Faith – “God-given ability to believe in God for a specific need when it seems impossible.”  Biblical example:  Throughout the Gospels and Acts
  • Healing – “God-given healing of physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual needs of persons at a specific time.” Biblical example:  Throughout the Gospels and Acts
  • Miracles – “God-given ability to perform the impossible.” Biblical example:  Acts 28:3-5
  • Prophecy – “God-given spontaneously-uttered word from the Lord giving directions, instruction, encouragement to the Body.  Bible example:  Acts 11:28
  • Discernment – “God-given ability to know what spirit is motivating a person or a situation.”  Biblical example:  Acts 16:16-18
  • Tongues – “God-given ability to speak to the Church in a language which a person does not understand.”  Biblical example:  Acts 2
  • Interpretation of tongues – “God-given ability to give the meaning of what has been uttered in tongues.”  Instructions for this given in 1 Corinthians.
  • The Greek word used here for “manifestations” is phanerosis and means “to lay bare, to unveil.”  It means “to shine forth, to reveal.” 
  • Spiritual manifestations are the supernatural “surprises of the Spirit,” a bursting forth of the energy and power of God whenever there is a need. 

DIFFERENCE IN MINISTRY AND MANIFESTATION GIFTS

  • Ministry Gifts
  • They are permanent – Romans 11:29 – “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
  • They are related to natural gifts and will be in harmony with natural ability and gifts.
  • They determine the position of an individual in the body of Christ.
  • Ministry gifts are “gifted persons” given to the church.  To receive the gift, we must receive the person – Romans 15:7 – “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”
  • Each believer is to identify and develop their ministry gift.
  • Manifestation Gifts
  • They are temporary.
  • They have no relation to natural ability.
  • There is little relationship to the position in the body of Christ and the manifestation.
  • The body of Christ is to receive and rejoice in these “surprises” of the Spirit.

PURPOSE OF LEADERSHIP MINISTRY GIFTS

  • Unity in the Body
  • Body to grow in their knowledge of Christ
  • Body to become complete – “grow up”
  • Each person in the body “each joint” to find their proper place in the body and to work to build up the Church.

Christianity and Prejudice – Can They Belong Together?

Acts 10:1-35

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”

And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?

So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.

While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”

And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Then he invited them in and lodged them.

On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Prejudice and partiality exist.  Prejudice is everywhere — in every nation, in every city, in every neighborhood, even in every family.  Unfortunately, prejudice is many times in the church.  Prejudices arise because people are different.  Different nationality, different language, different religion, different color, different social standing, different wealth.  When we meet someone different from ourselves, it often makes us uncomfortable.  The unknown can be intimidating.  We are more at ease when we are in a group where “someone is just like us.” 

Prejudice often leads to mistreatment – from ignoring, gossiping, and joking about to persecuting, abusing, opposing and enslaving.  Mistreatment leads to more prejudice.  Both the one mistreating and the one being mistreated form judgments against the other group of people.  If one person does wrong in a certain group – judgments are formed against the entire group. 

Prejudice is passed on from one generation to another.  Think about it.  You may be prejudiced against people you have had little contact with.  Where did you get your knowledge of them?  From your parents, from your peers, from TV, from what you have “heard.”  What little contact you have had with them was probably hindered from any real understanding or meaning because of preconceived ideas – both on your part and on theirs. 

Think of the divisions:  In Ireland – Catholic vs. Protestant; In the Middle East – Jew vs. Muslim; in India – Hindu vs. Muslim and Hindu vs. Christian – In USA – white vs. black,  rich vs. poor, English-speaking against Spanish-speaking.

This passage in Acts strikes a fatal blow against prejudice.  It shows forever that Jesus Christ has come to erase all prejudices and barriers between people.  By studying the book of Acts, it becomes clear that while prejudice may be natural, it is not to be a part of the Christian’s life.  John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoeverbelieves in Him shall be saved.”

The Jews, like everyone else, had developed their own laws and customs.  They were steeped in their own nationality and viewed other cultures as “dogs.”  They had been mistreated through the years – conquered by various nations – scattered throughout the earth.  During the time of the Early Church, they were ruled by the Roman government.  The one thing that united them wherever they went was their religion (belief in one true God, the sacrifices at the temple only, their special diet, their observance of the Sabbath, etc.)  These rules and beliefs kept them from alien beliefs and maintained their distinctiveness as a people and a nation.  Therefore, anything that threatened their religion they believed threaten their very existence as a people. 

The Jews had misread and misunderstood God’s purpose for them.  When God called Abraham, he called him to be the head of a nation that would be a witness to the entire world.  God wanted to use the Jews to be his “missionary” nation to show the world God’s love and power.

Genesis 12:1-3 – Now the Lord had said to Abram:  “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation;  I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  This promised that Abram and his family would be a blessing to all the earth is repeated in Genesis 18:18, Genesis 22:18, Genesis 26:4 and Genesis 28:14.

The prophet Isaiah also spoke of this.

Isaiah 2:1-4 – The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.  Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.”  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

The Psalms are full of exhortations to “make known His deeds among the peoples.”  Yet, they had completely separated themselves from the world in ways God had not intended. 

  • They referred to other cultures as “dogs.”
  • They would have no contact with a Gentile unless absolutely necessary.
  • They would not help a Gentile woman giving birth because it would be bringing another Gentile into the world.

This was the prejudice of the Early Church.  This was the barrier God had to break down.  That is the point of this chapter.  God was showing Peter, the leader of the Church up to this point, that the doors of salvation were to be opened to every person, regardless of race, language, religion, color, social standing, etc.

  • God Chooses a Gentile to Receive the “Good News”
  • A Roman noncommissioned officer – not only a foreigner, but one of the despised Romans who had conquered Israel and subjected them to Roman government.
  • Devout man who feared God – he believed in the one true God and held him in extreme respect or awe.
  • A generous and praying man – note that his prayer was to God always.  In other words, prayer was a daily part of his life.
  • In spite of his respect of God, his generosity, his prayers, he still lacked something – knowledge of and a relationship with Jesus Christ and        the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

NOTE:  Cornelius is a good example that, while respect of God, good deeds and prayer are important, without a true knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ, they are insufficient for salvation.

  • Because he was seeking God, God sent an angel to him to lead him into the full knowledge of God. 

NOTE:  Cornelius is a good example that, if someone honestly seeks God even without true knowledge of His Word, God will provide an answer.

Romans 1:20 – For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

Jeremiah 33:3 – Call (cry out, call out loudly to get someone’s attention) to Me, and I will answer you and show you great and mighty (inaccessible) things which you do not know.

Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

  • God Chooses a Jew to Give the “Good News” to the Gentile
  • Peter was a praying man.  He was praying about the sixth hour (12 noon).  This was one of the three prayer hours practiced by the Jews.  This indicates that Peter was praying at least three times a day. 

Psalm 55:17 – Evening and morning and noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.

  • Peter was just a man.  He had got hungry, he did not immediately recognize God’s leading.  He was subject to the prejudices of his time and culture. 
  • Peter obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit. 
  • He went with the men.
  • He “entered” the house of Cornelius.
  • He rejected worship from Cornelius.
  • He preached the “good news” to the Gentiles.
  • God Clearly Shows that Prejudice Does Not Belong in the Church

Romans 10:12 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

Galatians 3:27-28 – For as many of you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek (German or Spanish, American or Russian, black or white, Anglo-Saxon or Hispanic), there is neither bond nor free (educated or uneducated, rich or poor, sophisticated or simple), there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 6:9 – And you master, do the same things unto them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven and there is no partiality with Him.

Partiality means favoritism, distinction, bias, conditional preference.  The word denotes a biased judgment, which gives respect to rank, position, or circumstances.  God shows no partiality injustice, judgment or favorable treatment when dealing with people, and He expects us to follow His example.

Christ’s Return

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Note that this Epistle has a reference to the Lord’s return in all five chapters.  Let us look at them for a moment.

1 Thessalonians1:10 – “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

1 Thessalonians 2:19 – “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”

1 Thessalonians 3:13 – “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 – “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.  For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.  But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.  Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

  • In the passage in chapter 4 Paul settles the distinction of those who are alive and those who have died at the Lord’s return.  In Paul’s day most expected Christ’s return very soon, in their life time, but at this point the saints were beginning to die and their hope was in grave question.

2 Corinthians 5:8 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,”

Acts 1:11 – “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Matt 24:30 – “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

  • Some confusion exists as to the end time and Christ’s return.  They are two separate events.

  • 1 Thessalonians speaks in detail of the coming of Christ for the saints
  • 2 Thessalonians speaks of the coming of Christ in judgment.
First ComingSecond Coming
Christ comes to claim His brideChrist returns with His bride
He comes in the airHe comes to the earth
Tribulation followingMillennial kingdom established
Immediate departure of saintsMultiple signs precede
Message of comfort givenMessage of judgment given
Change is a mysteryChange is predicted throughout Bible
Believers are judgedGentiles and Israel are judged
Israel’s covenants not yet fulfilledIsrael’s covenant is fulfilled
Believers only involvedAll people are involved
The church received into the presence of LordIsrael brought into kingdom age
  • If we are planning on being a part of the first of Christ’s return, His return for the Church, then we had better not ignore the admonition of Chapter 4.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-12 – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing”

1 Thessalonians 4:18 – “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”