Are Tithes and Offerings Required Today?

Tithes

  • The tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.
  • Any tax, levy or the like, especially of one-tenth.
  • A tenth part or any indefinitely small part of anything.

Offerings

  • Something offered in worship or devotion, as to God.
  • A contribution given to or through the church for a particular purpose, as at a religious service.
  • Anything offered as a gift.

Where did this concept or belief begin?

  • Tithing is 400 years older than the Law of Moses.  Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, gave tithes to God through Melchizedek, the king-priest. 

Genesis 14:18-20 – Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:  “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”  And he gave him a tithe of all.

  • Jacob promised a tenth to God in return for His blessing.

Genesis 28:22 – And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 – You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.  “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

  • When the temple was repaired and cleaned up to be used by Israel after a long period of decline under the reign of King Hezekiah, a storehouse was set up for depositing the tithes and offerings of the people.

2 Chronicles 31:11 – Now Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them.

Why?  What was the practical purpose for tithing?

  • It was instituted by the Law as a way to support the priests who served in the tabernacle/temple of God.

Numbers 18:20-32 – Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.  “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’”  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: ‘When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe. And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the Lord from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord’s heave offering from it to Aaron the priest. Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.’ Therefore you shall say to them: ‘When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting. And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.’”

  • Tithes were mandatory – offerings were optional.

Are tithes necessary today for a Christian?  If we are no longer under the law, but grace, then does the principles of paying a tenth still apply?

Let us take a look at what the New Testament says about giving.

  • The Apostle Paul indicated that the church should function now by means of giving from His people.

1 Corinthians 9:1-14 – Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.  My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Whoever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?  Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?  Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Galatians 6:6-10 – 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.

So we give to help support those who labor in the ministry.  Of course, having a church building also requires funds for practical needs such as:

  • Building payment/insurance
  • Salaries/allowances
  • Telephone/electricity/gas/water/sewer/trash removal
  • Snow removal/lawn maintenance

However, scripture indicates that our giving should also be to help those in our community in need.

2 Corinthians 9:10-15 – Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Hebrews 13:16 – And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

While the New Testament clearly indicates we should be generous and give of our financial means, it is not clear what percentage that should be.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians indicates that our giving should be from a willingness not because it is a duty.  Some have suggested that to put a percentage on our giving is to make it just another law of man.  There are those who God has blessed and they have become very successful in life.  For them, God might desire more than ten percent.  For others, ten percent might be a hardship. 

I think Jesus showed this when he pointed out to his disciples the give of the poor widow.

Mark 12:41-43 – Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two small coins. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;

I think the key in giving today is to recognize that all we have is a gift from God and that He desires to give so that the work of the church can be done and that those less fortunate can be helped.  Giving should be an act of love and worship on our part.  When it becomes just an obligation it has lost its true meaning.

Our ultimate example is Jesus.

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.

Our God is a giving God.  So his children should be givers. 

Sanctity of Life

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?

Webster’s dictionary describes “sanctity” as “Holiness of life and character:  Godliness.”

Life is Holy…why else would He say “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.”   If His game plan was to live in you, why would He not want a dwelling that was holy? 

We are to be God-like.  That is the way He intended us to be.  To be God-like or godly we must be Holy.

Did He not say “Be holy as I am holy?” – 1 Peter 1:16

We often think about the sanctity of human life in relationship to the Roe vs. Wade decision that was made several years ago.  There is more to the sanctity of human life than the issue of not aborting babies.

Life begins in the womb.  God intended that the act of creating another human life would happen between husband and wife, but whether or not that life begins by way of rape, incest, pedophilia, failure to abide by God’s rules, sexual promiscuity or by way of a married couple, that life created is still holy.   The means to become life may have been accomplished in an unholy way, but that new life, make no mistake about it, is holy.

All life is holy in God’s eyes.

Life is a Trinity.  It is physical, it is spiritual, and it is social.

  • Physical body: 

Way back in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, chapter 2, we find the creation of man by God Almighty.

Verse 26 of that chapter states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’”  Verse 27 continues, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

In verse 28 it says, ”God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over’”  He meant there to be a physical union between man and woman. He designed us that way, to come together and produce off-springs.  That was His first command to mankind.  He could have duplicated all down the land one Adam after another and taken a rib out of every one of the Adams and created an Eve, but that was not His intention.  He created us to be truly physical and do the further creation of human life on our own.  And if you look around you, I believe we have done that.

The physical body was created to bring honor and glory to God.  Any violation of God’s intention of the man and woman coming together in sexual union would have corrupted God’s original and only plan for mankind.

Psalms 139:14 – I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You.  When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Did you hear that last phrase “the days fashioned of me, when as yet there were none of them.”   God knew how many days you were going to live when you were still an embryo in the womb.  You are Holy.  

  • Spiritual Body

Our Spiritual Being…that is the real me, the real you.  When this body is laid in the grave and decays, your spirit will live on forever.  If you are a child of God, the moment you draw that last breath, your spirit goes to be with God.   At His coming “the trumpet shall sound, the Lord shall descend.”  “Behold, He comes with ten thousands of His saints.”  He will come with the saints…those spirits of the ones who have followed Him in this life and their bodies shall come forth out of the grave incorruptible and their spirits who have been with the Lord will be reunited in their glorified bodies and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

But what of our spiritual body now?  What is it, where is it and what is its purpose?  It is in fact the breath of God within you and what God intended you to be.  Your spirit resides within you and is you, and directs your path because it is your God given directional compass that guides and directs you in all manner of life.  Now, being a free moral agent you may decide to go your own way and ignore the direction of God, but His Spirit belongs to you. You may insist on rejecting Him, and in that case you will be fulfilling that portion of scripture found in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.

Romans 1:21 – because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Our spiritual body was ordained to have a relationship with the Creator.   All that is within me, within you, cries out to the living God for a relationship.   Job had that relationship when He exclaimed “I know that my Redeemer lives.” 

That part of you that is God is Spiritual.  It desires to worship and praise Him.  It is designed to maintain and lift up the glory of God.  

My prayer is that all I think, say and do will bring glory to the living God.  If in our spiritual walk with God we do that very thing, we will have a happier, more enjoyable life, here on this earth and throughout all eternity.  Jesus said, “I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly.”  Have you partaken of that abundant life?  If you have made Jesus your Lord and Master, you have abundant life.   We tend to think on the mediocre but God wants us to focus on the abundance that He has blessed us with.  “Blessings all mine and ten thousand beside.”     

  • Social Body

Man is a physical, spiritual and social being.  Man was made for fellowship with God and his fellowman.

We all love fellowship.  We love to eat and talk and interact with each other.  God is good and as we fellowship one with another as a body of believers we are finding out a little more about our neighbor across the table and we begin to know them better.  The better we know them socially, the more we know of their spiritual life and their likes and needs and prayer needs.  We begin to interact with one another and become the social being we were meant to be.  Then at the close of the service we pray for one another’s needs and concerns.   That is socialization of the body of Christ as it was meant to be.

One verse says, “We are not our own, we are bought with a price.”  If we are not our own, then whose are we?  Well, we belong to God first, then to each other.  The Word says that “when you come together, let one have a song, let one have a testimony, let one have a praise.”  I Corinthians 12:25-27 “There should be no division in the body, but 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.   You are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

There is unity and diversity in the body for we are all different.  We all have needs physical, spiritual, and social.  Let us minister one to another and thus fulfill the will of God.  Amen and Amen.  Now, go forth and be the man or woman of God you are called to be.  May God be praised.

The Power of God

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

  • Definition:  Man’s Wisdom – learning more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.
  • Example of man’s wisdom:  A statement attributed to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln:

“I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  

1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

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

  • We talk about that power but God talks about purity, faithfulness, obedience, prayerfulness (just to name a few).  Forgiving one another, loving our neighbor as our self, mercy.
  • Wanting the power of God in our lives is fine, but the power of God will only come as a result of the manifestation of purity, faithfulness, obedience, prayerfulness.
  • Wanting the power of God in our lives or ministry is very similar to some wanting a gift.  The gifts are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit but they first need love for God and others.  Then the rest follows. 
  • What gift of ministry can God trust you with? 
  • Are you accountable?
  • The power of God does not come without some personal cost:  In Matthew 17:19-21, Jesus told the disciples that it takes prayer and fasting to overcome unbelief in some instances.  Jesus spoke these words upon the return of the 70 disciples sent out by him: 

Luke 10:19 – “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” 

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 – “Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

  • How many of these have you been through?  If you cannot make it out to church when it rains, do not expect any special ministry gift from God.
  • Strength/power from God comes by way of prayer, faithfulness, reading His Word, loving your neighbor, helping those in need, giving of time, talent, finances, self.

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” 

Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

  • What the Word says about God’s power:

Job 26:14 – “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”

Psalm 66:3 – “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!  Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You.’”

Zechariah 4:6 – “So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.’”

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

Ephesians 1:15-19 – “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”

Ephesians 6:19 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Peter 1:3-4 – “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” –

Christ’s Church

Mark 16:15-20

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

Psalm 118:22 – The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

Acts 4:10-12 -Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

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.

The church is the only thing Christ called His.  He borrowed a manger, a coin, a book, a boat, a donkey and a tomb.  But He called the church, “My church.’

Jesus is the chief corner stone of the church.  Many lively stones are in the building, though some act like tombstones instead of lively stones.  You are a strategic stone and God wants to use you in His building process.

Absolutely no force will prevent the building of the church.  The message to you is that Christ’s church is alive and well, for it is filled with eternal life!  Isaiah stated “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”  If the “me” in that verse is part of the church…then no weapon formed against the church will prosper either.

We cannot remodel the world. 

  • No man-made rhetoric can revive it
  • No political pronouncement can restore it
  • No educational enlightenment can redeem it
  • The world is like a brain-dead body

In spite of its life-support system, it is only a matter of time before death conquers it.  The world’s problem is a spiritual problem of the greatest magnitude; therefore, only a spiritual solution of the greatest magnitude will save it.

Many churches and pastors spend too much time trying to remodel the world.  They try to make it a better place to live.  Many of their activities are commendable.  I am not advocating standing by and doing nothing, letting sin alone, closing our eyes, turning our head and compromising with sin and evil.

However, I am saying that no self-help program can change the course of this world.  Crusaders cannot change it, marchers alone with banner and signs will not change it.  These activities will not produce a man-made millennium of peace like we find described in the Bible.  They will never stop, or even slow down, the spiritual decline and ultimate collapse of this world.  It is simply too far gone.

The greatest good the church can do is to do what Christ intended for His church to do:

  • Take the Bread of Life to a hungry world
  • Give the Water of Life to a thirsty world
  • Carry the healing message to hurting people
  • Use your P.H.D. (Preach, Heal, Deliver)

Politics and social life have invaded our pulpits.  Major ministries have reversed to a political and social pulpit.  They talk more about the president than the Prince of Peace, more about senators than the Savior, more about governors than God, more about the White House than about the house not made with hands.

Politicians promise to remodel this world.  They promise, they grandstand, they kiss babies, they make back-room deals, and they do anything for a photo op or for a vote.  Men who promise to make this world a better place to live will never accomplish a remodeling of this world.  The world is reproducing the same sinful corruption of Noah’s day, Lot’s day, of Sodom and Gomorrah’s day.

2 Timothy 3:1 – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.

God wants us to build His church rather than attempt to remodel this world.  Christ said, “I will” – not maybe, not perhaps, – but “I will build My church.”  Christ has a plan for building His church and you can be a part of that divine plan.

How many want to be in on building Christ’s church?

We must be a team.  It is amazing what people can do when they work together for a common goal.   Genesis 11:6 tells the story of a people who aspired to build a tower to the heavens. 

Genesis 11:6 – And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

  • They had one language – they all spoke the same thing
  • They had one purpose – building the tower of Babel
  • They were one – together in unity

The result was that God said of them, “Nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

WOW!  Would it not be great if the church were like that – what could we not do?

The early church was in unity – in one accord.  At one point over 3,000 had been saved, another time over 5000.  Another time the descriptive word was “multitudes” had been added to the church.

Acts 5:14 – And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.

They had the opportunity for unlimited results.  God said they could do whatever “they propose to do.”  The final result of their unity would be beyond imagination.

Want to be part of a dream team; to be part of a team that accomplishes far more than the church ever imagined.  We can build a church – not a tower to the heavens – not a tower of Babel built on carnality and personal objectives, but a tower of spiritual, Holy Spirit-anointed achievements reaching into the harvest, impacting the world, if we are united as one.  In this unity of purpose and determination, there can be no superstars, just godly men and women who want to make a difference, who want their lives to count.

  • Do you want to make a difference?
  • Do you want your life to count?

We can do beyond anything we have ever imagined if we are one, speaking the same language and focusing on the same mission.  We must not settle for just the survival mode or the comfort zone.  We must reach others for Jesus.  We must not be satisfied until lives and families are changed.  Let us make a difference.  What we need in our churches is for everyone to get pregnant with the love and Word of God and begin having babies…spiritual babies.  Get busy producing baby Christians.  Then, help them to grow.  Quit trying to come up with reasons why you cannot be a soul winner for Christ.  Get up and do something for the Lord.

Win the Lost at Any Cost

Mark 16:15-20

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

As I was leaving the hospital after a visit to see a patient not too long ago, I saw a lady getting out of her car.  She had her hands full including a McDonald’s sack and a drink.  The receipt blew out of the sack and she started for it as I did, but both of us decided that the wind was faster than we were and we both let the receipt disappear in the wind.  I spontaneously remarked, “If that had been money, you would have had it.”  We both laughed and we continued on our way.  However, there was some truth in that statement.  We do what is important to us.  The receipt had simply not been that important.  If it had been a five or ten dollar bill, there might have been a sprint by one of us to catch it.

WE DO WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO US AT THE MOMENT.

Three things that cannot be reclaimed:

  • Time
  • A lost opportunity
  • The spoken word

Several years ago there was a popular song titled, “Tomorrow, Tomorrow.”  That seems to be our thinking many times about doing what God has explicitly told us to do.  Tomorrow, tomorrow.

NOW IS THE TIME TO WIN SOMEONE TO CHRIST.  TOMORROW MAY BE TOO LATE.

Born in Scotland, John Geddie was brought by his parents to Nova Scotia, Canada in 1816.  He began ministry as pastor at Cavendish on Prince Edward Island.  In 1846 he went as a missionary to New Hebrides (now the island nation of Vannatu), where he served for over twenty years.  When, after twenty-four years of toil, he answered his Lord’s final summons and left the earthly scene, December 14, 1872 a tablet, prepared in Sydney, was placed behind the pulpit of the church in Anelcauhat where the beloved missionary so long had preached.  On it was the following inscription:

“In memory of John Geddie, D.D., born in Scotland, 1815, minister in Prince Edward Island seven years, missionary sent from Nova Scotia to Aneiteum for twenty-four years.  When he landed, there were no Christians here, and when he left there were no heathen.”

Always share your faith – and sometimes you can use words.  We are never at a loss for words.  So if we are to witness we need to speak up  NOW.  Someone’s eternal destination is at stake.  If it is at all possible, and it is in most cases, turn the conversation toward God.  It used to be that witnessing meant going door to door.  Now we have phones, blackberries, twitter, Facebook so we are really out of reasons not to witness.

I honestly do not believe that anyone wants to see another person go to hell, but we fail to be the witness we are called to be because of a multitude of reasons.  All of them probably invalid.  You could say the reason you do not witness is that you are out of peanut butter.  It makes as much sense.

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 – We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For He says:  “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.”  Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Jesus at the age of twelve in the temple told His earthy parents that “He must be about His Father’s business.”  That was His example to us.

We too “must be about our heavenly Father’s business.”  We simply have other priorities and we must realize that “NOW is the day of salvation, NOW is the acceptable time.”  We so often think of that statement as pertaining to the sinner and it does, but it also pertains to us, the witness, the Christian, the follower of God.  We have a mandate from Jesus Himself to do so.  The sinner needs to turn from their sin, but the Christian needs to be the witness.

In the text, Jesus was speaking to His disciples.  I ask you, are you and I a disciple?  Then we must get busy.  Be obedient.  Do what it says.  There have been no exceptions listed anywhere in the Bible to not be included in this command as far as I know.  In fact, within this command is also your biblical degree.  Did you know that you have a PhD?  Christ gave all His followers a PhD.  Therefore you are equipped to do what He said.

Now I suppose you want to know what that degree means.  Your PhD stands for PREACH  – HEAL – DELIVER.

Let me ask you another question.  When was the last in-depth conversation you had with someone about their eternal soul?

New York City – 1985 (young man on the street who had never heard the story of Jesus Christ.)

The responsibility to win the lost is clearly within your expertise and you are responsible to fulfill the great commission as much as anyone else.  That is exactly what Christ called all of us to do.  Not just the pastors and teachers, evangelists, deacons, Sunday School teachers, etc.  We all have been given instructions to GO AND WIN THE LOST.  If the church took that command serious, there would not be an empty seat in any Bible believing church.  The command He gave was all inclusive.  For you and you and you and you and you and me.

Matthew 9:37-38 – Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Acts 28:30-31 – Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

Harold Wilmington of Liberty University said of Paul the Apostle, “Everywhere he went he was either causing a riot or a revival.”

John 20:21 – So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Luke 10:2 – Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Jeremiah 8:20 – The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!”

Let me ask you a question:  How many would want to raise your hand and say, “I’ll be responsible for not witnessing or not praying and therefore send two, five, ten or twenty to hell?”  When you think of the great commission in that way, we find that it is a really awesome responsibility, not a suggestion.

Is Christ’s return imminent?  All we have to do is look around.  Signs are everywhere.

If we really believed Christ’s return is as near as we profess, we would be busy praying, equipping ourselves and going forth with power and authority to win the lost.  Time is wasting.

WIN THE LOST…

Souls are crying, men are dying.  Won’t you lead them to the cross?

Go and find them, help to win them.  Win the lost at any cost.

Go out and win, rescue from sin; day’s almost gone, low sinks the sun.

Souls are crying, men are dying.  Win the lost at any cost.

Courtship With God

Revelation 2:1-5

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

  • Courtship with spouse
  • Starts out with ‘There’s nothing, there’s nobody else but you darling.  Then, there’s Monday night football, fishing and hunting with the guys, shopping trips with the girls, etc. etc.
  • Over a long period of time, the church in Ephesus had steadfastly refused to tolerate sin among its members.  This was not easy in a city noted for the immoral sexual practices associated with the worship of the goddess Diana.  We also are living in times of widespread sin and sexual immortality.  It is popular to be open-minded toward many types of sin, calling them personal choices or alternative life-styles.  But when the body of believers begins to tolerate sin in the church, they are lowering the standards and compromising the church’s witness.  Remember, God’s approval is infinitely more important than the world’s.
  • Working at our relationship
  • Budgets, growing families, time pressures.  At times we lose it; we have no more patience, no more love, the war is on.
  • Christ commends the church at Ephesus for working hard, being patient, resisting sin, critically examining the claims of false apostle and suffering patiently without quitting.  Every church should have these characteristics.  But these good efforts should spring from our love for Jesus Christ  Both Jesus and John stressed brotherly love as an authentic proof of the gospel.   In the battle for maintaining sound teaching and moral and doctrinal purity, it is possible to lose a charitable spirit.  Prolonged conflict can weaken or destroy our patience and affection.  In defending the faith, guard against any structure or rigidity that weakens love.

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

1 John 3:18-19 – My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

  • Honeymoon is over
  • First love is gone.
  • Paul had once commended the church at Ephesus for its love for God and others, but many of the church founders had died, and the second-generation believers had lost their zeal for God.  They were a busy church, the members did much to benefit themselves and the community, but they were acting for the wrong reasons.  Work for God must be motivated by love for God or it will not last.
  • Settling in
  • We lose sight of our initial excitement.  There is no more enthusiasm.  (Meat loaf again.)
  • Just as when a man and woman fall in love, so also new believers rejoice at their new-found forgiveness.  But when we lose sight of the seriousness of sin, we begin to lose the thrill of our forgiveness.  In the first steps of your Christian life, you may have had enthusiasm without knowledge.  Do you now have knowledge without enthusiasm?  Both are necessary if we are to keep love for God intense and untarnished.  Do you love God with the same fervor as when you were a new Christian?

2 Peter 1:5-9 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Hebrews 10:32-35 – But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:  partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.  Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

  • Don’t give up
  • He/She still loves you.  After an argument, make up. 
  • For Jesus to “remove your lampstand from its place” would mean the church would cease to be an effective church.  Just as the seven-branched candlestick in the temple gave light for the priests to see, the churches were to give light to their surrounding communities.  But Jesus warned them that their lights could go out.  In fact, Jesus Himself would extinguish any light that did not fulfill His purpose.  The church had to repent of its sins.

He Who Has An Ear – HEAR

Revelation 2:1-7

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,   ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.  But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’

  • The Loveless Church – Ephesus
  • Challenge:  repent and regain your first love
  • Reward:  eat from the tree of life = eternal life

Revelation 2:8-11

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:  “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’

  • The Persecuted Church – Smyma
  • Challenge:  persecution
  • Reward:  crown of life = eternal life

Revelation 2:12-17

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:  “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.  But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

  • The Compromising Church – Pergamos
  • Challenge:  repent and remove the false teachers, the immorality
  • Reward:  hidden manna to eat, white stone with a new name = eternal life

Revelation 2:18-29

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:  “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.  Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.  Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.  “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.  But hold fast what you have till I come.  And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father;  and I will give him the morning star.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Corrupt Church – Thyatira
  • Challenge:  repent and remove the corruption, the sexual immorality, worship of idols
  • Reward:  power over nations and the morning star = eternal life

Revelation 3:1-6

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘these things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.  You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Dead Church – Sardis
  • Challenge:  repent, return to God, strengthening the life that is about to die
  • Reward:  clothes in white garments, Jesus will confess their name before His Father and His angels = eternal life

Revelation 3:7-13

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,  ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:  “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.  Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Faithful Church – Philadelphia
  • Challenge – no commendation
  • Reward:  make a pillar in the temple of God and have Jesus write on them His new name = eternal life

Revelation 3:14-22

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘these things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

  • The Lukewarm Church – Laodicean
  • Challenge:  repent and be zealous for God once again
  • Reward:  sit with Jesus on His throne = eternal life

These messages was to the seven churches, more specifically to the pastors of the seven churches.  They represent all of God’s churches.  Seven = fullness/complete.  They represent churches of all ages from John’s time until the return of Christ.

Revelation 1:20 – The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

  • Spiritual math:

Born twice     =     Die once

Born once      =     Die twice

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. 

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.