Unity Through Humility

Philippians 2:1-22

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  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.  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.  Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.  But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.

  • Only when unity prevails can there be peace
  • Only when unity prevails can there be harmony
  • Only when unity prevails can the Holy Spirit work in your life
  • Unity must prevail – the only way unity can prevail is for each to be concerned about the other.

Philippians 2:2 – “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”

  • Be like minded
  • Have the same love
  • Be in one accord
  • Be of one mind

Philippians 2:3 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

  • No selfish ambition
  • No selfish conceit
  • Lowliness of mind
  • Others more important than yourself

Philippians 2:4 – “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

  • Look out for others’ interest

1 Corinthians 13 – Love is the key

“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.”

James 2:1-9

“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?  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

  • God is no respecter of persons – we should also not be
  • You shall love your neighbor as yourself
  • The true way to joy is:
  • Jesus first
  • Others second
  • Yourself last

Galatians 3:1-3

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”

  • We must follow the Word in all things

Matthew 6:1-4

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

  • Do good to please God

Christ in Us

Philippians 2:1-11

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  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.

A STRONG CHURCH

  • The Philippians’ Church was a strong church.  When a church is strong, it always has a vision.   It is always working out some strategy to carry forth the Gospel.  A strong church launches ministry after ministry.  A strong church is not complacent.  A strong church is vibrant with things going on that will give glory to God and touch the lives of believers and nonbelievers alike.  A strong church has people in its midst that are always busy doing and going and helping, and inviting, and listening and caring.  A strong church is an active church. 
  • In a strong church there is great need for unity.  With many different ideas and things going on there will always be people with divergent ideas and pet projects.  Unity must be the goal of all involved.  That unity only comes by Christ dwelling in us richly.  There are seven traits in these first four verses of Philippians 2 that will hold the church together and keep it unified.
  • Consolation
  • Love
  • Fellowship in the Spirit
  • Compassion
  • Concern for one another’s joy
  • Humility or lowliness of mind
  • Controlling self-interest or concentration upon oneself

TRAITS TO UNITY

  • Consolation – In this passage the word means encouragement, comfort, solace, exhortation, and strengthening believers to be one in spirit and busy about the ministry of His church.  Christ wants no murmuring, no grumbling, disturbance, or weakening of the unity within the church.  The Spirit of Christ in us is to take the disturbed or upset person and console, comfort, encourage and strengthen them.  Not only are we to help the individual that needs consoling or comforting, but we are to allow that same comfort, strength, and encouragement of Christ to flow through us when we are in need of comfort, encouragement or strength.  Just imagine the spirit of unity that would prevail in a church if all the members would let the consolation of Christ course through them.  There would be no murmuring, grumbling, disturbance – no disunity whatsoever.

John 14:18 – “I will not leave you comfortless:  I will come to you.” 

1 Thessalonians – “Therefore comfort each other, and edify one another, just as you are also doing.”

“Isaiah 40:1 – Comfort you, comfort you my people, says your God.” 

  • Love – There is a comfort of love that is in Christ.  The love of Christ stirs a person to keep the unity with other believers.  The word used here for love (agape) is the kind of love that is selfless and sacrificial.   It is the kind of love that loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved, when he is utterly unworthy of being loved.  It is the love of Christ, the love which He showed when He gave and sacrificed Himself for us.  We did not deserve it and were utterly unworthy of such love, yet Christ loved us despite all.  Imagine the spirit of unity that would exist within a church if every member would let the love of Christ flow though them.  There would be no bitterness, anger, or strife – no action that would hurt another.  Even if the person was as wrong as could be and deserved the most drastic punishment that could be given, the church’s members would sacrifice and give themselves for that person.  This is the answer to unity, the Lord’s spirit of love!  How desperately the church needs its members to let the love of Christ flow through them to each other.

John 13: 34-35 – “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” 

Romans 12:9 – “Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12 – “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” 

  • Fellowship in the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit works mightily in the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord.  He enters the heart and life of the believer to comfort, guide, teach, equip, and use him as a witness for Christ.  The Holy Spirit creates a spiritual union between the new believer and other believers.  He melts and molds the heart of the new believer to other believers.  He attaches all their lives together, and they become one in life and purpose.  They have a joint life sharing their blessings and needs and gifts together – all focused upon their Lord and His purpose.   The church and the believers are to have the same mind.  There are to be no discordant elements whatsoever.  There are to be no differences, no gossip, rumors, or cliques, nothing that would tamper with or disturb the fellowship of the Spirit in the church. 
  • Compassion – Compassion is a must.  Compassion is the same trait that caused Jesus to reach out to us.  The compassion of Christ flowing through us will cause us to reach out to those who have been hurt, to those who are different, to those who withdrew, to those who have been disturbed, to those who have been critical.  Compassion will stir us to reach out to others. 

Romans 15:1 – “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” 

Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one anther’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” 

  • Joy – The believers in a church are to be consumed with joy and to be concerned for each other’s joy.  Joy brings unity to a church quicker than any other trait.  Joy is always disturbed if there is criticism, dissatisfaction, grumbling, murmuring, cliques, opposition, and a host of other divisive negatives.  We are to worship, plan, organize, program, build, staff, finance, minister, and serve in the joy of Christ. The only way we can do that is to be like-minded, to have the same love, to be of one accord, to be of one mind. 

John 15:11 – “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” 

  • Humility (Lowliness of Mind) – A strong and active church will always have two problems to deal with – rivalry and empty glory.  Some people just seem to want to struggle with others. They simply are not mature in the Lord; therefore they give in to gossip about differences, jealousy, envy, desire for position, desire for recognition, opposition, loving flattery, forming cliques.  If they do not get their way or what they want, they fight against the church or other members.  The result is disunity and divisiveness, one of the most terrible crimes within the church.

James 3:14 – “But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” 

Proverbs 20:3 – “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.” 

2 Timothy 2:14 – “Of these things put them (the church) in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.” 

2 Timothy 2:24 – “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” 

  • Some are going to seek glory within the church. The Scriptures call it vainglory, which means empty glory.  Some just want attention, recognition, position, flattery, praise, and honor.  They want people seeking their advice, counsel, and opinion. 

Matthew 23:12 -”And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” 

John 5:44 – “How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” 

  • The church must control self interest.  The members must quit looking out for their own ambition, desire for acknowledgment, for honor.  They must quit worrying about rather or not they are ignored, overlooked, or neglected.  Believers are to concentrate upon Christ and his ministry to people and reaching the world with the glorious gospel of salvation.  They are not to be focused on self.  Every believer is needed to reach the lost and lonely, the shut-ins and helpless, the hungry, the cold, the sinful, the doomed of his community, city, country, and world.

Matthew 19:21 – “Jesus said unto him, If you would be perfect, go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. “

Matthew 25:43 – “I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.”

Characteristics of a Dynamic, Alive Church

Philippians 1:1-11

Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.  And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Dynamic – (Energetic, Powerful, Active, Influential)

A DYNAMIC CHURCH DISCIPLES YOUNG PEOPLE

  • Paul and Timothy – Father and son in the faith
  • Servants together

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.”

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

A DYNAMIC CHURCH SERVICES CHRIST

Word “servant” was doulos in Greek and literally meant “bond-slave.”

  • Slave is owned by his master.
  • Slave exists for his master.
  • Slave was at his master’s disposal 24 hours a day.
  • Slave must obey totally without question.
  • Slave for Christ is the highest title of honor.
  • Moses was the slave of God (Dt. 34:5; Ps. 105:26)
  • Joshua was the slave of God (Josh. 24:9)
  • David was the slave of God (2 Sam. 3:18; Ps. 78:70)
  • Paul was the slave of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1; Titus 1:1)
  • James was the slave of God (James 1:1)
  • Jude was the slave of God (Jude 1)
  • The prophets were the slaves of God (Amos 3:7; Jer. 7:25)

John 12:26- “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

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.”

Colossians 3:23-24 – “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

Hebrews 12:28 – “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

Psalm 2:11 – “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”

Psalm 100:2 – “Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing.”

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS FULL OF TRUE SAINTS

The word saint means to be set apart.  It refers toevery believer who has trusted in Jesus Christ for his salvation. 

  • Initial or positional sanctification – When a person believes in Christ, he is immediately set apart for God. 

Hebrews 10:9-10 – “then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’  He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

  • Progressive sanctification – As a person walks with the Lord he allows the Spirit of God to make him more and more like the image of Christ. 

2 Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

  • Eternal sanctification – On the day when we stand in heaven we will achieve perfection and our sanctification will be complete.

1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 

A DYNAMIC CHURCH HAS LEADERS WHO LEAD BY EXAMPLE

  • Bishops – Ministers – Pastors – Elders – These are men/women who are to oversee, look after and be responsible for the spiritual well-being of the church.
  • Deacons – These are men/women who are to take care of the administrative matters of the church so that the bishop/pastor/elder can concentrate on the spiritual care of the church.

Mark 10:43-44 – “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.”

Luke 12:48 – “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

 John 13:14 – “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

John 21:16 – “He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me’  He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’  He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’”

Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS A PRAYING CHURCH

  • Prayers of thankfulness
  • Prayers for other believers
  • Prayers of joy
  • Prayers for more love and knowledge
  • Prayers for pure lives
  • Prayers for the fullness of God’s righteousness

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS A CHURCH OF FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship means sharing in common, partnership.

Acts 2:24 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship….”

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS A CHURCH OF LOVE

  • Love in knowledge – We need to grow in our knowledge of Christ; we need to grow in our knowledge of one another.
  • Love in judgment – We need to grow in our discernment of what is right and wrong so that we may not offend or cause others to stumble. 

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS A CHURCH FILLED WITH THE RIGHEOUSNESS OF GOD

  • By the power of Jesus Christ
  • To the glory and praise of God.

I Know

1 John

The text or topic is taken from I John, one of the five writings of the apostle John.  Note that no chapter or verse is listed as part of the text.  That is because the word “know” is repeated throughout the five chapters.  “Know” is listed 32 times in the New King James Version.  “Knows” is listed three times and “known” is listed four times.

Another phrase, “from the beginning” is listed nine times.  The phrase, “We write” is listed one time.  Another phrase, “I write” is listed seven times, and “I have written,” five times.    There are nineteen “if” statements and thirteen times John writes about “commandments.”

These repeated phrases tell us one thing.  That is:  By word and by written truth John has passed along to us “from the beginning” these truths.  This is not anything new he is exhorting to us.  Not a new doctrine, not a new idea.  We are not about to receive a new revelation to move us to the next level, a phrase a lot of the TV evangelists use all the time.  It is simply the same gospel truth that our Lord and Savior conveyed to his disciples from the very beginning.  It is the same truth the Old Testament prophets also preached. 

You might ask, what are these truths that are being given again to us in this letter from John?  Obviously, we have not all understood it or he would not have to preach it to us again.  Sooner or later if we hear the same thing that God is trying to speak to us, we may get it.  Maybe!  Duh!

The whole of this book, five chapters and all 104 verses is that we would learn the joy of being in fellowship with our Lord and Savior.  That cannot happen if we fail to walk in the way He has told us.  To walk holy and blameless, which is our “reasonable service.’

Romans 12:2 – 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.

What hinders us from walking in the way He has told us to walk?  John tells us we often take our eyes off God’s Word and listen to what the world/our culture tells us.  He gives us warnings.

1 John 1:4-9 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.  This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 2:1-7 – My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.  Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.

1 John 2:15-17 – 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

A big part of walking in the right way, according to John, is to stay based in the love of God.

1John 3:1-3 – 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. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

1 John 3:11 – For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,

1John 3:16 – By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

1 John 4:7-11 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 5:19-20 – We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.  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.

That Big Word “If”

1 John 1:6

IF we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:8 – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:10 – If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

  • “If” is a little word with a big meaning.  “If” requires actions on our part.  God has already done His part by sending His son as the redeemer for all mankind “if” we believe. 

1 John 2:3 – Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

1 John 2:15 – 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.

1 John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

1 John 2:29 – If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

1 John 3:13 – Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

  • Our relationship with God does not depend on what other do or do not do.  “If” our heart is true, He receives us. 

1 John 3:20 – For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

1 John 3:21 – Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

  • Our hearts must be in tune with Him and His will.

1 John 4:9 – God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.

1 John 4:11-12 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

1 John 4:20 – If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

  • We must love for He has loved us.  No debate, no waffling – we must.

1 John 5:9 – If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.

  • Confidence in Him who brought us into new life will be the witness within that in all things His plans/design will be made known.

1 John 5:14-16 – 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.  If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.

Knowing God Through Love (The Sin of One Oreo Cookie)

1 John 4:7-9

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

  • God Loves You

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.

Let me give you an illustration about our helpless state.  Fad diets are the rage of the land.  Fitness centers all across our country are the in place to be.  Exercise and workout programs abound and yet we eat, eat, eat and our waist lines keep on telling us we need to change.  We simply cannot, for the most part, stop the continued trend of stuffing our face.

Here is a sample of one diet crazed day:

Breakfast

  • One cup of coffee – black
  • One piece of whole wheat toast – dry – no butter, no jelly
  • ½ grapefruit without sweetener

Lunch

  • Two small raw carrots
  • One glass of iced tea without sugar
  • One water cress sandwich on bran toast – no mayonnaise or other spread, you know just bland disgusting stuff to fill the vast expanse of our targeted area.

Afternoon snack – 2:00 PM

  • One Oreo cookie

Approximately 30 minutes later

  • The rest of the bag of Oreo cookies
  • One extra-large helping of rocky road ice cream with an over-sized helping of marshmallow sauce added
  • Washed down by a large vanilla milkshake
  • Two slices of cold left-over pizza
  • A helping of cherry cheese cake
  • Two Babe Ruth candy bars
  • Followed by a large Pepsi.

Oh, the sin of that one lonely Oreo cookie!  That’s the way of our diet.

  • God Demonstrated His Great Love For You

That is sometimes a close example of our spiritual life also.  In 2 Samuel 11 we find the story of King David’s great slip from godly living.  In that story, David looks out from his castle onto the roof of a distant building where he sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing and desire takes hold of his heart.  David goes on to commit adultery after that one look, then on to plotting the murder of Bathsheba’s husband.  All that after one momentary glance, but a glance that consumed him and became his mortal downfall. 

Nathan the prophet came and told David a little story about a rich man taking a poor man’s only lamb and David became enraged.  Nathan responded, “You are the man.”  David owned up to his being responsible and did the right thing.  He confessed his sin, made things right.  But like us, the memory of past sin sometimes lasts forever.  In fact, even knowing our sins are forgiven, the thought of failure burns a scar on our memory that often pains us and wears us down.  And Satan makes sure that you remember.

Galatians, chapter 5, has something to say about the lust of the flesh and enumerates several, eighteen to be exact, although this is not an all-inclusive list of sins that separate us from God.  At the close of this brief passage it states, “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Galatians 5:21.  That is a warning.  But at the beginning of that passage is the hope for all of us in verse 16 where it simply tells us to “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Now, back to the Oreo cookies.  Did you know that there are on the market more than a dozen different kinds of Oreo cookies?  Of course, there is the original kind of chocolate with white crème filling….you know the kind we who are over the hill grew up on back in the dark ages.  They were the kind all the guys in junior high used to get the entire chocolate cookie all over their teeth and then smile real big at the girls and try to gross them out.  Oh, for the good old days.  Now there is the same chocolate kind with double stuff filling, chocolate crème, golden crème, sugar free, spring yellow crème, reduced fat, peanut butter crème, and on and on. 

You know, there was a time when the demarcation of right and wrong was a whole lot simpler than today.  Like the one choice of Oreo cookies we had back when some of us grew up.  Now the young people are confronted with so much more that appeals to their generation.  If one type does not appeal to you, another will.  Satan’s variety pack is up and running.   We did not have the internet or MTV or Victoria’s Secret commercials bombarding us a generation ago. 

It’s all out there…words we only saw scrawled on bathroom walls a generation or two ago are the regular language of kids in kindergarten.  Sin is there and it is dangerous.  It blasts at us from all directions.

1 John 2:1 – My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 – For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

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.

David’s sin had been secret, but it was revealed to him.  Not to hit him over the head and hold it against him, but that he might recognize his failure before God and make it right.  David did that very thing and God, who is abundant in mercy and grace, restored him.  David was, and is, known as a man after God’s own heart.  Why?  Because he failed so miserably.  No, we all fall into that category.  It was because he made it right.  He confessed and God forgave.

Romans 5:8-9 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

  • God Wants You to Love Him

John 14:15 – If you love Me, keep My commandments

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.” 

John 15:16 – You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

  • God Wants You to Love Others

John 15:12 – This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

John 13:35 – By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Walk Together and Bless One Another

Galatians 6:1-10

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.  Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.  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. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

BEAR AND SHARE THE BURDENS

  • Restore a brother who has fallen.
  • Should be done only by those who are spiritual – that is, walking and being directed by the Spirit.
  • Should be done in a spirit of meekness.
  • Should be aware of your own ability to sin.

2 Tim. 2:24-26 – And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil….

  • Support one another.

 Romans 15:1 – We then who are strong ought to bear with the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

  • Beware of spiritual pride. 

Romans 12:3 – For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

  • Examine yourself.  No one can boast when he measures himself and his work against the standard of God’s perfection.
  • Realize your own responsibility.

Romans 14:14 – Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

BE GENEROUS AND DO GOOD

  • Do good to your teachers.

1 Cor. 9:11, 14 – If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?  Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.  

  • Do good to others.

Galatians 6:10 – So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

  • Law of reaping and sowing.
  • God will cause a harvest from our seeds.
  • God will bring the harvest about in His time.
  • Good seeds will bring a good harvest.
  • Bad seeds will bring a bad harvest.
  • While we wait for our harvest.
  • Do not become discouraged.
  • Keep your faith alive and active.
  • Give and keep on giving.
  • Love and keep on loving.
  • Live in an attitude of expectancy.

1 Cor. 15:18 – Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding (super abundant, have in excess, greatly surpass, excel) in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 

Walk in the Spirit

Galatians 5:16

I say then:  Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

WALK IN THE SPIRIT

  • Spirit vs. Flesh
  • Godly vs. Ungodly
  • Holy vs. Unholy
  • Uplifting vs. Detrimental

Ephesians 4:1-3 – 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.

WALK IN UNITY

  • Lowliness (humility) vs. Pride
  • Gentleness vs. Arrogance
  • Longsuffering (patience) vs. Impatience
  • Unity vs. Partisanship

Ephesians 5:1-2 –   Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for a sweet-smelling aroma.

WALK IN LOVE

  • Christ like
  • Servant hood
  • Sacrificially
  • Glorifying God

Ephesians 5:8 – For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out is acceptable to the Lord.

WALK IN LIGHT

  • By example of Christ
  • By example of the Word
  • By the leading of the Spirit

Ephesians 5:15-16 – See then that you walk circumspectly (carefully), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

WALK IN WISDOM

  • Understand God’s will
  • Fulfill God’s will
  • Submit to God’s will

Colossians 1:10 – that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

WALK WORTHY

  • Be fruitful in all things that are good
  • Increase your knowledge of God
  • Be strengthened with His might and power
  • Maintain patience and longsufferign with joy
  • Give thanks always

Christ’s Church – Part 3

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.

Helen Keller was asked one time, “What would be worse than being born blind?”  She quickly replied, “To have sight and no vision.”  John Maxwell says, “Successful people are motivated by a dream beyond them.”  It is something that constantly keeps them going for they are always reaching higher and higher to ultimately reach that goal. 

One of the diseases that can affect the church today is to have no vision.  To not have something that is bigger than they are.  The church can then become complacent and happy in a comfort zone.  This is a dangerous place to be for a church for they will begin to feed on one another rather than being occupied with fulfilling the vision.  A complacent church falls in love with itself and the rest of the world does not matter.

Isaiah 6:1-9 – In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one cried to another and said:  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.   So I said:  “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”   Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”   Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:  “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”   Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”  And He said, “Go, and tell this people:  ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

  1. Isaiah saw God.  When he saw God, he saw a holy God.
  2. He saw himself.  He saw that just as God was holy and perfect, he was needy and imperfect.
  3. He saw others; he looked at the multitudes around him.
  4. He allowed God to change him.
  5. He began to stretch himself.  He began to say, “OK God, allow me to be part of this vision.  Allow me to reach out and be what you want me to become.”

Like, Isaiah, once you have had a glimpse of what God can make of you, you will never be satisfied with what you now are.  God has given to every church a mission, a vision and when we grasp that vision and begin to share it, the church will never be satisfied with status quo.  It will change our attitude and our outlook. 

Church growth/evangelism is not gaining people from other churches.  That is not any different than Farmer Brown moving cows from one feed lot to another. 

One of the biggest problems that has stunted the growth in most churches today is the lack of understanding of the divine purposes of the church.  The church is more than a Sunday worship service, or a social club, it is the house of God.  Jesus Himself said, “I will build my church.”  Let us take a look at two scriptures that give us the understanding of the purpose of the church.

Matthew 22:37 and 40 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…love your neighbor as yourself.  All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

  1.  Love the Lord with all your heart – #1 is very easy to grasp!  It is simply the worship of God.  As a church we are called to worship Him.  Jesus said of worship, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”  The Father is literally seeking worshipers.  We are the church and one of our great purposes is to worship Him.  Worship is not a duty, but a joy!
  • Love your neighbor as yourself – #2 is a beautiful description of ministry!  The church simply exists to minister to people.  People have needs, all kinds of needs.  We are to be in the need meeting business.  We demonstrate God’s love by meeting the needs of those around us, and this means more than just their spiritual needs.  It means emotional, relational and physical.  In the book of Ephesians, we find again this purpose defined in this manner, “For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”  Ministry is the work of the church!  Unfortunately, very little ministry takes place in many churches.  Faithfulness is often defined in terms of attendance rather than service, and members just sit, soak and sour.  Wrong.  We are to edify, encourage, exalt, equip, and evangelize.
  • Go and make disciples – #3 is simply called evangelism.  It is our responsibility to let the world know of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and then to point them to Christ.  A true disciple maker is one who makes disciples and then teaches them to trust in Christ and Christ alone.  As long as there is one person in the world who does not know Christ, the church has a mandate to keep growing.  Growth is not optional; it is commanded by Jesus.  We should not seek church growth for our own benefit, but because Christ wants people saved.
  • Baptizing them – Why is baptism so important to warrant inclusion in Christ’s Great Commission?  It is because it symbolizes one of the purposes of the church:  fellowship-identification with the body of Christ.  As Christians we are called to belong, not just to believe.  As we relate to those who are being baptized in our churches, this is a symbol of the death of the old man and coming alive as a new reborn person.  Your life has changed and now you are identified with the people of God.  Our people must belong to this body.  They must identify with the body of Christ.  If in our churches they are simply a number or a face in the crowd they lose out on their importance in the body of Christ.  They must be brought into the fellowship of the brothers and sisters in Christ and find their place in ministry.  In other words, the church is here to help them have a sense of belonging.
  • Teaching them to obey – Dr. Paul Laverne Walker says, “In the scripture we find the word ‘disciple’ listed 320 times.”  This reveals to us the tremendous responsibility God gives the church today.  We are to make disciples.  The church exists to edify, or educate, God’s people.  Discipleship is the process of helping people become more like Christ in their thoughts, feelings and actions.  The apostle Paul said, “So everywhere we go we talk about Christ to all who will listen, warning them and teaching them as well as we know how.  We want to be able to present each one to God, perfect, because of what Christ has done for each of them.”  Colossian 1:28

We are called to reach them and teach them!  To bring them to spiritual maturity where they may be able to listen and obey the voice of God.  We disciple them to be ministers of the gospel.  One of the saddest things we find in the church today is the difference we make between the ministry and the laity.  We are all ministers of the gospel, and we all have our place in the work of the kingdom.  We are to make disciples and help everyone to find their place in the work of the kingdom.

These are the purposes of the church today.  They will be met in different ways by different churches but the purposes remain unchanged.  We exist to “Edify, encourage, exalt, equip and evangelize.” 

IF WE DO NOT DO THAT WE HAVE FAILED!