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“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
There are many places where Jesus warned against the danger of false motives. In giving, He reminded us that we must not give our tithes in order to receive glory of people (Matt. 6:1–4). He also warned us against praying to receive applause of people; prayer is for conversing with God rather than a speech to be heard and admired by people (Matt. 6:5 – 6). He warned us against displaying our personal godliness by revealing our private spiritual disciplines so as to win the approval of people (Matt. 6:16–18). Regarding these two things, Jesus was talking to his disciples about proper motivation. He declared that all worship and service should be motivated by the single desire to please God.
A motive is something which “moves.” What the mainspring is to the clock, motives are to the Christian, what the motor is to the automobile. Motives certainly do affect our lives in many ways. Some examples of these are:
- Selfishness — everyone likes to feel important;
- Self-gratification — we like that which pleases us personally, and we like to have our own way;
- Self-interest — it is human nature for each of us to look out for the best interest of self. We find it easy, even if unconsciously, to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
One does not have to be an expert in motivational research to know that the above motives are inadequate for those who would invest their lives in the Service of God and others most effectively.
When examining the early church in the book of Acts, we discover what it was that made the church so effective. Just as well, we see that they did not serve purely out of love. They were human beings like us, and they served out of mingled motives rather than the pure motive of love for God and love for others.
The early church achieved one success after another in what appeared to be an impossible assignment with tremendous handicaps. The book of Acts is a thrilling success story. What were the motives of the early Christians? Can we have the same motives today? Why did the early Christians witness so faithfully?
They discovered the joy of being a bearer of good news (Acts 2:41 – 47; 5:42; 8:8). In obedience to the command of the Lord, by word of mouth, they spread the good news of his resurrection. They proclaimed God’s love for sinners and his desire to forgive sin. They could not conceal the good news that death had been defeated and that the grave had been robbed of its victory. This was such wonderful news that it brought joy to their hearts just to bear it. For them, witnessing about the saving acts of Jesus Christ was natural. Not to have done so would have been unnatural, inhuman, and unchristian for them. They received great inward joy through witnessing.
The early church recognized and responded to the authority of the crucified but risen and living Lord (Matt. 28:18b; Acts 2:36; 5:29). They believed that God had resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and had bestowed upon him the authority of lordship. They believed that this gave Jesus the right to issue orders and to command their time, talents, testimony, and treasure.
These early Christians believed that it was right for them to obey Christ even if this obedience brought them into disfavor with both religious and civil authorities. At the risk of being imprisoned and beaten, they chose to obey the Lord.
Many of today’s Christians consider obedience as being optional. There seems to be little recognition of the present lordship of Jesus Christ. Consequently, disobedience characterizes the modern Christian more so than does obedience. Perhaps this is why the church is not effective today. Perhaps this is even why the world seems to be changing so drastically towards evil. It certainly has some effect, not only on the Christian, but on the world surrounding him as well. The motives of the Christians of the early church were a strong sense of duty, the desire to be obedient. This is the critical element that helped motivate the early church to be a faithful witness to their generation. They paid dearly for their motives, and their sacrifice made it easier on the church which was to follow. But today, there has been a moving away from what they gained in the world, and it is none more evident as it is in the USA, where everything seems to be “fundamentally changing.”
Yes, the early church suffered the shock of persecution (Acts 8:3–4). It was this persecution that scattered the early Christians, even though they were very nationalistic and felt that Christianity was a Jewish movement. They were prejudiced against Gentiles to the extent that God put forth special efforts to reveal that the Gentiles were also included in his love and purpose of redemption (Acts 10). Had it not been for the persecution that stirred up the church in Jerusalem, it is highly possible that Christianity never would have gained worldwide significance. The early Christians went everywhere preaching the Word, not because of the compulsion of compassion, but because they were scattered by persecution.
They could have given up on Christianity. They could have just quit. But, they were surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6). The Holy Spirit came into the church on the day of Pentecost to equip each believer to be a spokesperson for God (Acts 2:17–18). He came to lead, guide, and teach the disciples as the Lord had taught his apostles (John 14:26). The book of Acts is the dramatic account of divine initiative on the part of the Holy Spirit and human cooperation on the part of our Lord’s disciples. They lived and labored in fellowship with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is still in the heart of each believer and in the church to carry on the work of the Lord today. We need faith to believe and accept that He is present; we need to surrender and cooperate with Him. We need to pray for His power as one of God’s best gifts (Luke 11:13).
The early church believed that all people separated from Christ were lost from God and did not know the way home (Acts 4:12). Have you ever been lost in a wilderness or desert? Were you ever lost as a child in the park or in a large department store? Can you remember the fright that filled your heart when you realized you were separated from loved ones and that you were in a position of danger? The unbelieving world knows that something is wrong, but many do not know what it is. People have a deep, unsatisfied longing in their hearts that the world, with its treasures and pleasures cannot satisfy. The Bible teaches, and experience verifies, that Jesus Christ provides the answers to the mystery and meaning of life.
The early church believed that people were lost from God and living under the condemnation of sin. They believed that humankind’s only hope of forgiveness was through faith in Jesus Christ. They believed that they had been entrusted with the good news that would make it possible for people to be saved from hell and to heaven where the deepest longings of the heart would find full satisfaction in continuing fellowship with God. Because they wanted all people to be saved, they continued to bear their witness.
It was the natural, normal, and proper thing for a Christian to talk about the joy and satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior both in time and for eternity. Consequently, day by day and week by week in the temple, in the synagogues, on the highways and streets — anywhere and everywhere — these early disciples bore their witness. With mingled motives, they loved, they labored, and they lifted men and women toward God. May the same motives command our intellect, our emotions, and our energies in the Service of God and of a needy world.
In today’s world, when a person turns to God’s word, it is important that they find it. The Devil is a master deceiver. He can make you feel as though you are absolutely at peace being wrong. He can’t change dirt into ice cream, but he can make you think you are eating the most delicious ice cream when all the time you are eating dirt. Likewise, he can do the same with the Bible. He can make you think, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you have the right words of God when all the time you have a counterfeit. Martin Luther discovered this a long time ago and he was eventually killed for speaking out about it.
Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
I trust as you look on the Bible Comparison charts included, that you will get some semblance of the deception that Satan has put in place as a policy to cause God’s people to become weak and anemic. I hope these will open your eyes.
The Purpose of the church-EXAMINED.
The purpose of the church is multi-faceted, but it revolves around one—only one—activity. That activity is the winning of souls. In short, it is telling others how to be saved, encouraging them to get saved, and leading them in the process of being saved. We are very plainly told in the Bible that, “…he that winneth souls is wise.” (Pro. 11:30). The activity of winning souls stands over every endeavor a Bible believing church is involved in. It is paramount, un-negotiable and vital. If you do not think so, then you are sadly mistaken.
Today, the church has evolved into some kind of conglomerate, some kind of multi-functional business venture (emphasis on “business venture). Like some Good Samaritan club, people come together to escape the harsh attacks of evil that they withstand throughout their week. It takes the place of some good, wholesome fun that can be found no place else in the world. And, it becomes an educational source where people can go and have their morals sharpened by the word of God. Of course, all of these are not wrong, but they have somehow upset the cart; the scales have become out of balance. Where at one time soul winning was the most important thing, now it has been replaced by all of the rest. Instead of being slightly off, the church has now become grossly out of balance in the area of winning souls.
In what areas do many churches weigh heaviest? In what areas do they invest the bulk of their resources? They are vast and range from small group encouragement sessions to being the vassals of the distributors of Christian books and programs. I have been to churches where they canceled meetings so they could show the super bowl. I have preached in churches that were divided right down the middle. On each side of the aisle sat the two prominent families of the church along with their supporting families. The poor pastor was stuck right in the middle of the feud. I preached at one church where I actually did no preaching at all. The auditorium was exactly like a movie theater auditorium and the “stage” was full of rock band equipment. All they did was play Christian rock music and there was no mention of Jesus, salvation or the Bible anywhere. My preaching was the privileged task of being the guest of honor in the very front row center. This is only a small sample of what some churches now call “preaching the gospel.” It is what they have replaced for winning souls. No one in any of those churches even thinks of winning someone to Christ, let alone actually trying to do it. Yet they are all “busy about the Lord’s work.” In fact, there have been some people who have left churches where I pastored who said, “I can’t grow. In everything you say, you always say something about winning souls. Could you please stop telling me that?”
Now, to have support groups, encouragement and structure for Christian growth is truly important. It is good to have classes to teach how to rear children the Biblical way. Classes of marriage and handling of finances are necessary and the Bible speaks of these subjects and many more like them. It is necessary for Christians to, “Bear one another’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2). It is good to be glad in the house of the Lord (Acts 2:46) and to be encouraged by the singing and worship (Col. 3:16). Not every moment of the Christians life must be winning a soul. Every soldier needs time to regroup and rearm. He even needs time away from the battle to resort. The problem is, that most churches have remained stuck in the regroup, rearm and resort area and no one is actually in the battle. They have forgotten that you cannot win a war with only the rear echelon. You must have the fighters. And, in the army, every soldier is a soldier first and foremost.
One day Jesus approached Peter and Andrew while they were fishing, He did not ask them to join a fellowship. He did not offer to them a support group. He didn’t even offer them an answer to their personal problems. What He told them was, “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19). He wanted to make them into soul winners. He intended to teach them how to tell others about the gospel (good news) of salvation. He wanted them to be equipped to carry that gospel to others throughout their entire life. And, that is exactly what they did, and they did it at the hazard of their own lives. They never lost sight of the main goal. They never got their number one main order out of sight. They always had their “prime directive” before them. The Jews of old would carry God’s word in little boxes strapped to their foreheads called–frontlets (Deu. 11:18). This was in command to God’s directive to have no other Gods but Him (Exo. 20:3). It was their main mission to teach this to their children and this is how they would remember. Too bad the churches of today do not have spiritual “frontlets”. Too bad they keep forgetting their number one mission.
The apostle Paul said, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22). Though he taught many of God’s principles of help to the church, he still never lost sight of this first command given by Jesus (Acts 1:8). He was committed to even going to the uttermost parts of the earth, and he was pretty successful about it. Even though he had all the cares and concerns of helping the different churches, making a living and dealing with the little concerns of life, he still found time to win souls.
We all know the gravity of the situation; the importance in winning a soul (James 5:20). It is a life and death matter for the one who is won. But in a certain sense, it too is a life and death matter for a church. Where the members of a church are not actively trying to win souls, the church, like a dried up piece of fruit, will die on the vine. It does so because the Christians within dry up and die on the vine. You can always tell those who are drying up because they present reasons why they cannot do it. Listen! People can do anything they want to do if they want to do it bad enough. Churches (dead churches) are filled with people who side-step the command to win souls by replacing it with a little program and then soothe their guilty souls by convincing themselves that they are really serving the Lord. It is really amazing how many churches spend more energy and resources in humanitarian aide rather than Godly aide.
So, let us end on a good note. Let us end on the assumption that you have determined you are going to do something about pleasing God in this area of winning souls. John 4:36 says, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” I hope that you will receive wages abundantly for your eternal work. I pray that you both reap and sow. I look forward to that for you personally and for the church as well. It would be fantastic to have a church full of those who can rejoice together—rejoicing that can only come from laboring in the field. The church does not ever need to be a dry, dead place. The only way to keep it alive and vibrant is to win souls. This is our purpose—to win souls. There is no other way around it. Nothing can replace this God given formula for joy.
There is a big move in the Christian world to build communities rather than churches. In this they are following the former example of President Barak Obama. They try to organize a community into a viable force to work with, then they can fix themselves up as leaders (or rulers) of that community.
In the roots of the word “community” can be seen the word “common.” From this word also comes the word “communism.” An “ism” is a belief of practice of a religious sort. You can see that community building is done not much differently than communism is done: do things for the people that they deem helpful to themselves in the immediate, so you can control them later down the road. For Biblical example to this, Christian Community Organizers turn to the Book of Acts where it says the believers had, “…all things common.” (Acts 2:44; 4:32). What they had in common was a result of loving God. It was not community of people having a great time together.
If you were to build a community, you could be able to accomplish this task by simply being an investor. You could buy up some land and build some houses on it for people to live in, hence–community. The people would be unified in where they lived, but not necessarily in heart or belief. It is easy to build a community by having a bunch of fun activities for people to do. Therefore, Christian community building is doing anything fun so people will come to your community activity. It is accomplished by not doing or saying anything that may be offensive to another, even at the expense of truth. Christian communities therefore side-step the job of evangelism and go straight to the fellowship aspect of a church; they are a “partial church” heavily stressing fellowship and overlooking obedience and truth. Paul warned of such deceitful activities when he said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ear from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4:2-4) Today, that equates to having Christian communities who have fun getting together, but could care less about enduring sound doctrine. Their ears itch to have some teacher teach them how to have fun, food and fellowship only.
Jesus gave himself for the church as a husband is supposed to do for his wife (Eph. 5:25). He did not give himself for a “common unity.” Jesus plans to present the “common unity of believers”–church; to himself holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27). Not any old community. He will not present a community of non-believers without spot or wrinkle to himself. It is the church that He is working on to perfect. It is the church that makes up the body of Christ.
God called us to start churches. Churches not only encompass a “common unity of believers,” but first and foremost prepare the individual for presentation to the Lord. Churches seek to carry out the great commission first and fellowship second. Herein lies the great problem–People would rather have the fun, but not do the work of the Lord. Or, they call their service to the community “fun stuff”, their work for the Lord when it is not. Before ascending into heaven, He only gave us one job to do–win souls.
Jesus loves the church as a whole, not just when believers get together to “feel good” about themselves as some sort of modern day “AA” support group. The Christian community organizers would have you to think that the word “church” is some sort of archaic word that has negative or bad connotations. That is a lie. How can Jesus ever use a word that would go out of date? He is eternal and therefore His words are eternal, else one could easily believe that the gospel is archaic. The church does not go out of date. It is contemporary. People are easily deceived because the Devil has worked very hard to dilute and discredit the true church with alternatives (like “communities”). What has happened, is God’s people have given up on God because they are selfish. They don’t want to do anything but be entertained, unless it is something THEY want to do and not something GOD wants them to do.
There are things that are important to us in life, but nothing is more important than the soul of a person. The soul is the part of man that lives forever. It is the part of man that feels pain or joy; happiness or sorrow. It is the center of the man.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” It is a wise and profitable thing to be a soul winner because it pleases God. He has a high evaluation of the soul winner. It is one of the dearest things to the heart of God. Consequently, it pays enormous eternal dividends. A man who turns people to righteousness is wise because he is laying up treasure in heaven. Conversely, a Christian who is occupied with trivial matters of life is unwise. Majoring on minors is foolish. Therefore, not to win souls is to be guilty of the sin of folly.
If we are to be wise, we should actively be involved in soul winning of some kind. If we don’t know how to win a soul to the Lord, we should learn how to do so.
When is the last time you led someone to the Lord? Have you ever won someone to the Lord? There is no shortage of people that need to hear the gospel. They are wondering aimlessly through life, believing a lie that is leading them to hell.
There is however, a shortage of Christians who are willing to tell the lost about salvation. There should not be, but there is. We need to be not so. Mason County is in great need for the Lord Jesus Christ—and who will tell our neighbors? The Devil will have them hear all of his doctrine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by every means possible. The Lord left the job of spreading the gospel up to us.
Spreading the gospel is not doing good deeds for others. It is not living a right life or even helping the poor. Spreading the gospel is to actively tell people how they can be saved; how they can know for sure they are going to heaven.
These are the last days that we are living in. We live in a unique time. No other people have had so much at stake as we have. We are like the anchor runner in the relay race of life. Lets not drop the baton. Lets not run out of steam on the last lap. Lets give it all we have Got. Souls lie in the balance.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
God gives certain responsibilities of the marriage to each other. For the husband, God commands that we love our wives. Love is the principle thing that holds a marriage together. Love is the greatest motivator of all. Unfortunately, the world teaches a false definition of the word love. People today think that love is a feeling, especially related to sexual contact, but it is not. Love is the supreme denial of self and exaltation of someone else. In short, it is giving. This is the love that God is talking about when he commands husbands to love their wives.
As a human being it is natural for our love to be directed to others. As a father our love can be directed to our children. But, as a husband there is a special kind of love that is to be directed only to our wife. The world would like to say that there are degrees of love, but there are just different aspects of love. There is a special kind of love that only our wife should enjoy and no others. It is our obligation to make this exclusive to her. This love, we share with none other. We don’t share it with our children, our family and certainly some other woman. It is a special love and it should be proclaimed so that everyone else knows that we love our wives differently than anyone else in the world. If you have waited for God to show you His perfect will, then she is your special gift from Him that completes you as one whole being (Eph. 5:31 …and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.). That makes her special beyond the reaches of all others in the world.
Husbands should follow the example of Christ when loving our wives. Our Lord loves the church and He shows it by the way He provides for it, protects it and leads it. Likewise, it is our jobs to take the leadership roles in our marriages so that our wives have the protection, provision and prowess needed to feel loved.
Protection of our wives does not end with simply not letting someone hurt her physically. There is emotional and spiritual protection that must be provided for as well. Husbands should be vigilant to not allow our wives to be emotionally hurt. Emotions run deep and are difficult to heal. If we do something that we shouldn’t and end up hurting our wives emotionally, the Bible has the only prescription for the healing process in being quick to reconcile (Eph. 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:). Protection of our wives can best be done by keeping the Devil away from our marriages. It is not that Eve wandered away from Adam when she was tempted, but the question must be asked, “Why was Adam not there in the first place? Why was he not protecting her spiritually?”
Providing for our wives, does not end with bringing in the paycheck. Although we like to make jokes about it, wives have many more needs than money. They have other physical needs as well as emotional and spiritual needs. Our wives need to be encouraged. They need to be praised and made to feel good about themselves so they have confidence to make it through yet another evil day. It is our job as husbands to provide this praise and not just be running them down all the time. We need to provide spiritually for our wives by providing the right environment, both at home and outside of the home. This is not just “letting” them go to church; it is BRINGING them to church. Let them know you lead in the spiritual protection of your marriage. Read the Bible with them. Initiate spiritual conversation with them.
The prowess that our wives deserve does nothing other than to help us and the entire family. She should be able to “be all she can be.” In fact she should be encouraged to do so. Let’s be our wives best cheer leader. Help her; let her take the classes she has been wanting. Encourage her. Provide leadership and instruction for her when dealing with emotional issues specific to women. Don’t try to isolate her. Encourage her to develop spiritually on her own as well as with you.
Give of yourself for your wife. This is the action of love. The Lord Jesus Christ gave of Himself to the Church. We don’t learn all of the ramifications of this immediately. It takes some time. Likewise, let your wife have the adventure of exploring how much you love her by examining how much you give of yourself to her. As Christians, when we see the love of Christ, and how it is demonstrated to us, it does not take long for him to become our hero. We can be our wives’ hero as well. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen because we demand it. We become her hero by consistently showing how much we give of ourselves to her.
Husbands, lets take care of our responsibilities of loving our wives. Let’s build them up, for they are our same body. Lets make our marriages better by taking the leadership role and not expecting anything in return.
I was out walking with my grandson. He picked up something off of the ground and started to put it in his mouth. I took the item away from him and I asked him not to do that.
“Why?” my grandson asked.
“Because it’s been on the ground; you don’t know where it’s been, it’s dirty, and probably has germs. Sometimes germs make little boys sick and not feel good” I replied.
At this point, my grandson looked at me with total admiration and asked, “Grandma, how do you know all this stuff? You are so smart.”
I was thinking quickly and said to him, “All Grandmas know stuff. It’s on the Grandma Test. You have to know it, or they don’t let you be a Grandma.” We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but he was evidently pondering this new information.
“Oh…I get it! He beamed, so if you don’t pass the test you have to be the Grandpa.”
“Exactly,” I replied with a big smile on my face.
Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
While God is a God of love, He is also a God of hate. We know that God loves His Son Jesus, and that He hates sin, but it doesn’t end right there. He loves many more things. As we read the Bible, we can see that He loves mercy, truth, humility and kindness to mention just a very few. But here, in this one passage of Scripture, He gives a concentrated list of some of the more important things that He hates. They are all self-explanatory and even the child can understand what they are. However, when God gets to sowing “discord” among the brethren, He is now dealing with the church only, for we in the church are: brethren.
Discord is any attempt to gender disagreement or difference of opinion. It is attempting to put at variance or opposition to the rest of the body. It win’s it’s evil victory when it produces angry passions of dispute or contest between persons. It’s method of attack is to clash; it does not disagree with a proper attitude of love and therefore seeks it’s own exaltation. This is what the Lord HATES–discord AMONG THE BRETHREN.
You cannot have a group of people where people do not talk about other members within the group. It is common and natural to do so because; well, they all have something in common–the group. Discord therefore, has nothing to do with talking about other members in the group. It has to do with talking about others with the intent to divide and hurt the group. God hates this very much and will not long abide it within the church He is trying to build. It is important to remember that because I will come back to that later.
The greatest example of attempting to sow discord amongst the group (other than the Devil himself) was Judas Iscariot. He thought he could sell out the Lord and divide the group. He was motivated by greed and self. He wanted to be and feel important. He could be up there with the big wigs setting the direction of actions for the nation, but in fact he was used. Yes, the Pharisees used him, but more so, he was used by the Devil to carry out his attack on God’s work. That is what people who sow discord amongst the brethren do today. They are being used by the Devil and they don’t even realize it. They are an instrument of his destruction, yet they cannot see it, and like Judas, the Lord will separate them from the group in His own time. Until that time, they will be continually frustrated that they are not able to gain foothold, because the Lord protects His flock.
Some might say, “Doesn’t the Bible say that we are supposed to divide the word of truth in 2 Timothy 2:15?” Well, not exactly. It says there that we are to “RIGHTLY DIVIDE” the WORD OF TRUTH. This is not for sowing discord, but in being able to interpret it properly. If you continue to verse 16, the next thing it says is that we are to “…shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” So, when a person is continually trying to sow discord amongst the brethren, God’s answer for this is to “shun”. This is not done in the old Quaker or Mennonite sense, but it means to don’t converse with them. Why? Because even if your guard is up, and even if you are determined to change the subject if you hear something divisive, the problem is that you still hear it. You can’t take it back. You can’t get it out of your mind. It is imbedded there and the Devil knows that. Your mind will ponder it, even if you don’t discuss it with anyone else, the seed is planted and it begins to grow into it’s evil work. So, the best thing to do is tell the person that you will not entertain any part of that subject, and if you persist, then I must leave. If there is no change on their part, and they persist in sowing discord, then it is best to not even fellowship with them. Love them, but don’t listen to someone who is saying things that are dividing up the brethren. Once it is in your mind, it will eat you up.
If you think you are unintentionally sowing discord amongst the brethren, then you need to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Then the best rule of thumb is to hold your tongue (James 3:5, 6, 8). Learn to be a good listener and not a talker. If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.
If you are not sure if you are saying divisive things or not, you need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to put His finger on that part of your life and identify it. You will know if the peace of God comes upon you. You will know if you are being true to yourself or not.
The vehicle of discord is GOSSIP. Gossip is a truly destructive thing. I am not talking about talking about each other. That is not gossip. Gossip is when you a person speaks idle tales; tattles; or tells destructive things about each other. You can always tell a gossip because they like to talk allot. They talk so much that it is difficult to end a conversation with them. They also like to say the same thing over and over. And, the subject of their conversation does not brag on or build another person up, it tears others down. Their conversations therefore, are usually filled with self exaltation at the expense of others. And this is where the discord comes in. To promote self, you must put down others, hence–discord.
Recently our church has come together with one common cause. The Devil does not like it when we are united. His attack will come in many forms, but all with the intention of sowing discord amongst the brethren. I trust this article will give you some insight on how to recognize it and what to do when you identify it. May God bless you richly as you serve the Lord.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Listen! What do you hear? I mean, what do you hear about Jesus? Is it something YOU don’t agree with? Or, is it something from the Bible that you just don’t like? This is the case with most people. They don’t like the way a preacher preaches or they don’t like the message God has given him. Perhaps it “steps on their toes” a little bit and they think, “He’s preaching at me.” These kind of people do not love truth, and they are greatly mistaken on the power of God. Like Lucifer, they lift themselves up with pride and deny the presence of God by pawning it off on a man. Huh? They think the preacher is preaching instead of God preaching through him. In other words, they have lost faith in the power of God.
So, because they don’t want to humble themselves, they start shopping for another teacher to tell them what they want to hear. They would rather turn their ears away from the truth than search their hearts to see if God is speaking to them? They are so “right with God” they never have a reason to go to the prayer bench.
Listen! What do you hear? Do you hear God, or do you hear your own self?
Rev. Ron Coale, Pastor
Ephesians 4:1-3 1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Every Christian has a vocation; a job given to them from God Himself. In this passage of Scripture God very clearly tells us what it is and gives a Job Description so we will not be confused about anything. It is broken down into three parts:
- Walk with lowliness, meekness and longsuffering.
- Forebear one another in love.
- Keep the unity of the Spirit.
If every Christian were to concentrate on living this way, there would be happy, productive churches for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since this is a personal vocation, it does not require, nor does it suggest that every Christian should help their brother or sister to fulfill their assigned role. Indeed! These three things are something each Christian must do on their own; they don’t depend on the reaction of the brethren to suggest success.
Each and every Christian must work on these things alone. Therefore, I ask you: Are you walking a lowly, meek and longsuffering life? Are you forbearing one another in love? Are you doing what you can to keep the unity of the Spirit? Perhaps, perhaps not. Possibly, you don’t understand what these three things mean.
Lowliness, meekness and longsuffering.
Walking in lowliness means that you put others first. This is a direct attack on the pride that tries to rule every man’s life. To put others first, you must first swallow you pride and put others first. If you like to talk, then you be quiet and let others talk instead. If you like to be the center of attention, then you give the attention to others instead. If you think in your heart that you can do better than the teacher, then you give that up and reckon the teacher is better than you. If you think about another person, “you just don’t know what I am going through”, then you think, they understand something about what I am going though. It means to put yourself down. I don’t mean to talk bad about yourself in the presence of others (like saying, “I’m so fat.”). I mean–put others first and brag on them. There is nothing like bragging on others to keep your pride in check. You can always tell a lowly church member because they are bragging on their preacher and bragging on their church.
Walking in meekness means to be mild or gentle; to be soft tempered. This speaks directly to submission. Pride thinks, “I’m better”. Meekness says, “I give up.” Not in the sense that you throw up your hands in the air and discontinue trying to do better, but in the sense that you quit striving with others. You cannot have a fight if one person just gives up. It would look silly because one person would just be swinging at the air (1 Cor. 9:26). When trying to have a conversation with someone, and another person keeps butting in overriding everything you say, just give up. Stop competing with them to get your word in. When thinking, “the pastor is just preaching that because he knows I’m…”, just give up and reckon God is working through him. When people are saying something bad about your church, and you feel tempted to say bad things too, just give up and realize that no church is perfect and you are going to do your very best to make things better. Stop waiting for the others to do it–submit to your heart’s complaint.
To walk in a longsuffering manner means to be patient. Here is where many Christians fail the most; they don’t give God a chance to answer their prayers concerning the state of their church, brethren or pastor. They want something to happen now, or at least pretty quickly. They tend to forget about the patience of God. At times they may even be giving God ultimatums without realizing it. When God doesn’t answer the way they want, or when God’s answer is NO, they think there is no answer so they need to make some change on their own–usually leaving the church for something else. Instead of telling God, “If you don’t answer my prayer by next month, then I will know you are saying leave this church,” exercise longsuffering and tell God, “You will have to take me out of this church so I will know it is you doing it instead of self.” Instead of saying, “I am going to spend my summer fishing on Sundays,” say “God, if you want me to miss church and go fishing on Sundays, you’re going to have to stop me. Be longsuffering in your walk and realize that God is doing something in your life because of it.
Forbearing one another in Love
Two things to consider in this one statement: Forebear and Love. The two go hand in hand. It is almost impossible to have one without the other. This speaks directly about how a Christian is to relate to other Christians. They are to love each other and at times that means you have to “hold them up.” Really, to love someone you have to put up with allot, but it doesn’t seem that way because you love them. To get an idea of the concept “forebear” you should think about a soldier carrying a wounded comrade off the battlefield. It is not easy to pick them up and sling them over your shoulder while the bullets are flying all around you. It is not easy to bear his weight along with the weight of your own pack, ammo and weapon. It’s not easy to feel his blood running down your back and arm. But, he rescues his buddy, putting his own life at risk, because he loves him. This is how Christians should treat the brethren of their own church. They should put their own life at risk to do the difficult thing for the brethren because they are wounded and incapable of functioning at the moment. They need to be restored. What we need in the church are “spiritual medic’s” instead of selfish back stabbers. Churches need not be full of “feel good, muckey muck, goody two shoes” Christians. They look and feel good on the surface, but underneath they have no guts. We need the “medics” who can rescue and restore their brothers in Christ. Instead of saying, “That’s a great idea, but don’t ask me to do it”, why not say, “Let me think of some ways that I can help out.” Instead of saying, “Sounds good! I’ll pray for you.” Say, “Let’s pray together about this right now.” Instead of thinking, “He should have done it this way or that way,” think, “I wonder if there is anything I can do to help him improve it. I don’t want him to think is all alone and abandoned on the battlefield. I’ll ask him as soon as he is done speaking.” Bearing the burdens of others doesn’t mean taking them away from them. It means to help them as a team would do.
Keep the Unity of the Spirit
This speaks of a common cause. the USA is full of people from diverse cultures and race. Each have their individuality, yet are united as well. On certain things, a Californian will never be able to understand a New Yorker. Still there are other things that the two will fully understand each other. I don’t like to say these are things of “common ground” as much as I would say that these are the things that make them both the same; the things that they choose to unite them–their nationality.
In the case of a Christian, and more importantly a church, these “things” are one: the Spirit of God. Corporately, all Christians have the Holy Spirit that unites us all, but there is a spirit in each church as well. I am talking about the body of Christ being comprised of individuals, all having the Holy Spirit, congregating in the same location because they are all similar. Eyes being where eyes should be; toes being where toes should be, etc. In this sense they are all of the same body, but in the right location in that broader body and God is the one who places you where He wants you (1 Cor. 12:18-20). To keep the Unity of the Spirit means to stay where God placed you in His body and not attempt to fulfill a role that you were not designed for. When being an eye, and trying to hear like an ear, you become a rogue cell and that is called cancer. The body (or church) does not need cancerous Christians. It needs Christians who are Unifying the body by fulfilling their purpose; doing what they were designed to do.
These are the jobs that God gives to every Christian. Unfortunately, many Christians are not fulfilling their designed purpose. They have either dislodged themselves and are floating around freely in the body, or they have become cancerous (not dislodged, but fulfilling some other purpose not intended for the part of the body where the Lord placed them.) Oh that churches had Christians who would fulfill their job description. We then would have strong, exciting and vibrant churches. Not places where you go to “feel good” about yourselves, but places that were strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
What is a friend? The world has its idea of what a friend is. They usually count a friend as being a resource; someone who can help you or give you things when you have needs. This kind of approach usually goes like this: “Oh good, they have a tractor. That will be good for me when I need one.” Some people, like the Chinese, take this one step farther with their principle called Guang Xi. This means that you keep trying to expand your “friend” base so you have access to as much resources as possible. Even though you may not like the person at all, if they have something you might need in the future, you call them friend so you can get access to it. In the world of politics, we call this corruption.
Even though Christians are in the world but not of the world, they still make friends; it is just that their basis for friendship has changed. For the Christian, a friend is a trusted confidant to whom you are drawn, or who is drawn to you. They are a companion and an ally, whose love for you is not dependent on your performance or what you can provide for them. Finally, and most importantly, a friend to the Christian is someone whose influence draws you closer to God.
Philippians 3:18-19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Paul experienced people who called him a friend but they were not. His sorrow over this was they were the enemies of Jesus Christ. This left no or little basis upon which to build a friendship. These “friends” were those who served fleshly appetites. They found humor in their shame and they had no concern for eternity. They were interested in the three greatest foes to the Christian: the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
If you develop friendships where you don’t have the fundamental basic foundation in common, you are doing a disservice to that person and to yourself. That friendship is doomed to failure. If you find yourself in this situation, you should ask yourself, “Why am I even interest in this friendship? Is my motive so that it will benefit me? Or, is God putting us together?”
Developing the right kind of friendships can be difficult. It takes understanding of how friendships are established. The Child of God should approach making friends with the determination of “if you reject Christ then you must also reject me, for He is my greatest friend.” When asked to compromise or violate the Scriptures: smile and say, “No thank you. I’ve committed my life to Jesus and I don’t want to displease Him by doing that.” It is important to let God choose your friends, based on their needs and desire for God’s help and not worldly ambitions or desires.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
Everyone has a limited capacity for friendship; you can’t be friends with everyone. Still, some people have more friends than others. This does not mean that some people don’t have any friends at all; each person has a different capacity for numbers of friendships and everyone has the capacity to develop intimate friends.
There are four levels of friendships:
- Acquaintances: With acquaintances, there is occasional contact and general conversation. Information is shared, but it is that which would be public anyway. For acquaintances, you are determining the spiritual basis for a friendship. People might have from 100-1500 acquaintances in their life. They are not friends—they are acquaintances.
- Casual Friends: Unsaved friends can only be casual friends. Some specific information is shared usually regarding goals, plans, etc., For casual friends you are usually trying to identify any positive qualities for the basis of a closer friendship (i.e. Is there a basis for fellowship?). People might have from 25-100 casual friends in their life.
- Close Friends: Close friends are those whom there is a basis for fellowship. This means they share with you common beliefs, standards and goals. Close friends can become mentors or mentored. They are those whom you become involved with projects together. People might have from 7-25 close friends in their life.
- Intimate Friends: These are those who are commonly called: “Best friends.” They are always available. Not only do they provide encouragement, but they are close enough to be able to tell you of blind spots in your life. It is the sharing of Godly standards and common goals that allows this deep level of friendship. People might have from 4-6 intimate friends in their life.
There is the Biblical basis for making friends. Now that there is a little more understanding of how friendships are established, lets make friends the right way: God’s way.
All too often I am amazed at the so called “Christian Community” for their lack of understanding God. In fact, it has been perplexing. When I think of what God did in my life; how He saved me from the grip of death, cleansed me and set me in a noble place with Him, I feel like I owe Him my life. I am sure that others feel the same, but their sacrifice to Him seems to be so misguided.
When it came birthday time or Christmas, a time when I would be receiving gifts, I hoped I would get something I liked. In fact, I went a little beyond hoping and dropped hints to Mom and Dad in order to give them good ideas. I always loved it when they asked me, “What do you want for your birthday?” or “What do you want for Christmas?” Sometimes I got it, and sometimes I didn’t. But, I can tell you, when I got the thing that I wanted–the thing I asked for–I was happier than when I got something I didn’t ask for. Now that I am older and can look back on that, I wonder why that is? I think the answer lies in my present relationship with God. You see, as a born again child of God, I know that He has asked me for certain things–there are certain things that He would like from me. When He gets them, He is much happier than when He gets something He didn’t ask for. God greatest request of me; The thing that is on the top of His list of things He would like, is that I love Him more than anything else and that I love others as I love myself (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).
So, how do I accomplish this one request which contains two aspects? He told me how I could do that. He told me that I should win souls. This one activity encompasses loving God (Doing what He told me to do.) and loving others (showing them the way of life). It is by no accident that I use the phrase “showing them the way of life” because if I used the phrase “preaching the gospel” people might get confused. The phrase “preaching the gospel” has become so diluted that no one can really interpret it anymore. This is where my perplexity begins.
The gospel that we are to preach; the gospel that pleases God; the one that is at the top of His “wish list,” is the one that results in another soul being saved. If you have any merit as a Christian at all, then you know what I am speaking is true. You know it because you were once unsaved and someone told you how to accept Christ as the atonement for your sins. You know it! You might have been saved for so long that you have forgotten it; or, you might have backslid from it, but you know it. You know it because the Holy Spirit is in you and He is constantly urging you to tell someone about God’s substitute for their sins. You know it! You are either ignoring it or you are evading it, but you know it!
Some people think that “preaching the gospel” is:
- Having a nice social where they all get together and have tea and cookies and bring a guest.
- Sell Amway or other self-marketing items
- Help people with their chores (i.e. wash their car; cut their grass; do their shopping; etc….).
- Joining ecumenical “Christian” activities.
- Letting their kids go to church while they stay home.
- Singing in the choir.
- Talking with the preacher.
- Reading their Bible.
- Supporting para-church groups.
- Helping others in their churches.
- Being friendly to people of other churches.
- Not offending anyone.
- Living a good life.
- Supporting the Red Cross.
- Feeding the poor.
The list is practically endless. If you think about it, many of these things are really good things to do. In fact most of them are good things to do. But, the gospel is not good things–It is good news of a certain kind. It is the good news that Christ came and died and shed His blood so that you can be free from your punishment if you so choose to accept THAT THING HE DID FOR YOU!
There is another grossly misused phrase amongst the so called “Christian community”. It is the phrase “accepted Christ” or “accepted Jesus.” To be saved, a person does not need to accept Christ or Jesus as much as they need to accept what He did for them, and that He alone could do it because HE IS GOD! To be saved, you must accept what He did, and who He is. It is a little incomplete to ask someone, “Have you accepted Jesus?” You must accept who He is, what He did and how He did it.
So, we have an army of so called “Christians” who have taken salvation freely, but after that, they could care less for the rest of the world. They are saved. They are living out their Christian life, getting along with others, being good church members, helping the elderly, etc… but they are not giving to God what He asked for. At the top of His wish list is: souls to be saved. That is what He wants. But what He gets is a bunch of “good stuff”, but it is not what He asked for. Just like I would feel a little rejected by getting clothes, a new lunch pail, shoes, toothpaste, or patches for my old jeans, the Lord God gets from us–GOOD WORKS, and feels a little unloved.
Can you imagine how God would feel if you brought to Him some souls that you worked hard to get saved. Have you ever opened the gift and said, “WOW! Just what I asked for! Thank you so much!”? Wouldn’t that be great if God could say the same thing over your life? Or, do we keep giving to Him a bunch of good junk? He wants us to love Him and love others. How does Christian involvement in ecumenical groups do that? Think about it! You know! You know what He wants First! You know because He told you. If you are not on track with that, then you are either ignoring Him or you don’t care.
Text: Psalm 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
The most critical part of any structure is the foundation. It supports the whole thing. It must be built right for everything it supports to be right. Of course, if the structure strays from the foundation, then it will be perverted.
1. What Are Our Foundations?
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
A) Foundations are Physical
Our society was built on certain principles, morality and ideals. Those being outlined in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, in which there is an acknowledgement of a Creator (GOD), who is our chief cornerstone. The mindset of the framers of these documents reveal their interpretation in Black and White and can be read by all. It’s in our history which cannot be changed no matter how angry it makes the rebellious progressive liberal feel. IN GOD WE TRUST.
The foundation of our society is not in the government, it is in God. The government does not teach you about God, the church does. That is the whole purpose of not allowing the government to meddle in the business of the church, but to allow the church to influence the government. It is the church (using the Bible) that is supposed to teach the foundational principles of our society such as:
- GOD— You ought to have God in your home, in your conversation and amongst your friends.
- Prayer–We ought to have prayer often in private, as well as public. We should not be ashamed to talk to God.
- Biblical Morality— We should do right before God and our neighbors.
- Marriage— We should love that husband or wife. Nothing should be more important to us other than God. Not any hobby, interest, children or anything.
- How to raise and educate Children
- How to live in a Free yet governed Society
These are the foundations that our society is built on. And, this is the foundation that we must continue to build upon.
B) Foundations are Spiritual
The foundation of a persons life is either in one of two places: God or self. We will either trust in God and His instruction or in our own understanding. If we trust in our own understanding, our life will crumble because our foundation is in self. But, the person who trusts in the Lord and makes Him the foundation, their life will not have need or want. You cannot have a correct foundation of Society without a correct foundation of the individual.
2. How are our Foundations Destroyed?
To destroy society, there must be an attack on individuals first. To bring down a building, you destroy the pillars that are holding it up. There are three very distinct elements that are constantly attacking the foundation of man that have the goal of bringing down the structure.
A) Foundations are Destroyed by Sin
Sin is any transgression of the Law of God. It is an offence against a personal lawgiver. It attacks a persons fundamental belief and subjection to God. It causes a person to rebel against God and therefore move off the true foundation.
B) Foundations are Deceived by Satan
The Enemy of God wants to destroy mans faith in a sure foundation (Isa. 28:16). He does this through deceit and deception. He offers alternatives that are almost the real thing. They look, smell, taste, feel and sound like the real thing and this is how people go astray. They think they are on the sure foundation of Christ when all the time they are following their own way of righteousness. (Examples: false Bibles, false churches, religion, false gods, idols, ism’s, government, etc.) The alternatives he makes available are:
- Advertising (lust)
All of these are forms of promoting self.
C) Foundations are Dieafied by Self
Self is the biggest enemy of all. Naturally, man wants to follow self. He must get control of self and do what is right. Self is the largest of all addictions and is difficult to ignore. Anyone who has given up smoking, drinking or drugs can attest to the difficulty in gaining control over the control of self. Self wants what self wants. It wants to be its own foundation. It wants to be pre-eminent. Anything else requires humility, but self is full of pride. It is often accompanied with phrases that heavily incorporate the word “I”.
3. What can we do about Destroyed Foundations
Psalm 11:7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
When the foundations are destroyed, the righteous can turn to the Lord, for He loves the righteous.
Righteousness always has something to do with relationship. How do we do that?
A) Repent of Sin
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Repent is to change your mind and your way. It requires action. It does not just end with words. It must be acted upon. Our nation cannot experience repentance without the personal repentance of its people.
B) Return to the Lord
Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Coming to the Lord with a repentant heart is what provides forgiveness. Forgiveness is what is needed to erase the past and allows for the new start. Forgiveness is essential for the foundation to be reconstructed, repaired or reclaimed.
C) Remain in His presence
Repenting is like being sorry for doing something. It is like taking something that is wrong out of your life. But, you must replace it with something good or it is quite likely that some sin will fill the void in it’s wake. You must come to the Lord, but more importantly, you must continue to walk with Him. You must keep on top of the right foundation and not waiver off to the side.
Today, there are more preachers than ever who are selling out on the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to accommodate worldly Christians, they begin to compromise on their convictions. In order to entice the world to come to their churches, they compromise on God. Instead of giving people what they need, they give them what they want; a dangerous thing to do indeed! Like the parent who always gives in to their child and gives them everything they want, instead of what they need, they raise up spoiled, rebellious, selfish church members, who “shop” for churches instead of letting God lead them.
When preachers sell out for what is convenient instead of that which cost, they are not acting like men. They are most probably being run by their wives. Every Christian is commanded to (1 Cor. 16:13) “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” This goes especially for preachers. Why would God have to exhort Christians to be a man about things? Because some men take the timid way out. They are too afraid of the tough road of watching, standing and being strong. They capitulate into the Devil’s hands. Preachers wives are not innocent in this either. If they were standing behind their men, satisfied to be their wives instead of needing self-gratification somewhere else, then preachers would have encouragement at home. In fact, Preachers wives can be key to the success of the ministry of pastors.
I cannot think of one pastor who has been successful in the ministry who did not have his wife satisfied to be his supporter. Notice I didn’t say that she “claims” to support her husband. I mean she is a keeper at home first. A lady who takes care of the burden of the home life in a large way so he is free to give his time to the ministry. I do not mean an anchor who actually holds him back. This takes sacrifice on her part so most pastor’s wives take this on as their purpose in life and are satisfied completely in it. No man will be able to “be strong” “like men” should be when he has to be mama at the same time, but their are few exceptions to this rule.
When things get out of whack, and God has to remind us to be strong like men should be, He says it for a reason. Not only is there a “selling out” on the home front, but their is a selling out on manhood as well. This is mainly accomplished by worldly influence. This is usually seen in trying to be “all things to all men” while at the same time, NOT trying to get people saved.
The devil would like to replace soul winning with anything appealing, (or even logical), except soul winning. Charts and status and figures, all meant to be helpful, are in fact hurtful because they lead a preacher away from soul winning. I have sat in on evangelism meetings that did not mention one peep about soul winning at all. Oh, there was talk about development and planning in a logical and methodical way, but winning a soul was no where in sight. Weak, worldly, feminine Preachers allow planning and organizing to replace soul winning. As I said before, it is not bad to plan and organize, but to stop there, and not win souls, is the great demise.
It is sad that God has to remind men to “get a backbone.” If preachers did, then they would be certainly less miserable in the ministry. In this area they are actually putting themselves, their families and their churches in bondage. So God has to remind us to not only get a backbone, but to, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1).
I guess God knows our nature is to return to the worldly way of doing things. Of course, the worldly way is a way of bondage that is hard to break free of once we are weighted down with it’s burden. He knows that the temptation to return to doing things like everyone else would be so strong that He had to tell us to “Stand Fast!” Is there anyone reading this article who needs to know what that means? Is the inference not clear? Does anyone who has been truly saved not know the liberty that comes with Christ? Why then do Christians, (and even preachers), feel that the ministry is a burden? Why do they feel in bondage? It is because they have moved away from Christ. They have entangled themselves with the worldly way of doing things. For preachers, this may mean trying to do things “like all of the other churches do” so they can build a congregation of hapless drones. They want to please all of the Christian prima donna’s (def: a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team.). They become a compromiser in the name of “being called”, but they are no more called than Jack-the-Ripper. Instead of carrying the burden the Lord has placed on them, they would rather have the burden of worldly entanglement. Preachers who are thus, are not called at all. In fact they are not even preachers. All Biblical preachers suffered persecution and loss. Some were turned on even by their own families. Some died stranded and alone. Others were tortured and killed. They certainly didn’t achieve such wonderful fates by tickling the public’s fancy.
Real preachers strive. They strive for the faith of the gospel. They strive for unity of the mind and spirit. Philippians 1:27 tells us to “…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” God must have known that the ministry would not be a “bed of roses.” He must have known that it would take some fighting; a little bit of blood, sweat and tears. He must have known that the Devil would try to get preachers to “cash it in” for an easier, more elaborate and fulfilling “ministry” than the one He assigned them to. Preachers sell out easily because the going gets tough. They are constantly surrounded by negative news; people always tell the preachers the bad things that are happening in their life. Preachers are constantly being criticized and talked about behind their backs. In so doing, the “brethren” are actually tearing down everything that they worked for while at the same time “talking it up” to their faces. It is not a job for the weak man; and there are many of them who “think” they are called because all they see is the wonderful aspects of the job without ever delving into the inner workings. But, when they do, they throw up their hands and surrender.
They surrender first on doctrine. This is because doctrine divides, and it needs to be divided correctly (2 Tim. 2:15). Compromising of doctrine is the first step to a long and lonely downhill fall away from God. Most preachers give up on this first because it takes work; it takes a lot of time in the study to make sure you know what is correct and what is not. So, the preacher with a wet noodle for a backbone will depend on what someone else wrote in a book and teach it before they will put in the effort to study for themselves. It would be wonderful if they would take a pop quiz every once in awhile. I do so by asking if the congregation has any questions. That is when I am on the “hot seat”, and I have learned much about doctrine by my study for the answers to those questions.
After doctrine goes out the door, then everything else follows suit: (dress, music, interests, books, denominations, salvation, baptism, communion, etc.) they become weak, sickly “sharers” of the word; and I am not sure you can even call it that. It is ungodly (2 Tim. 2:16)! It is manly! It eats up the body of Christ all in the name of “being fair to everyone.” It is in error and it overthrows the faith of some (2 Tim. 2:18), starting with their own families especially.
When all is said and done, preachers, like everyone else, are commanded to, “…stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thess. 2:15). There is a tradition (Def: The handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another.) to uphold. If preachers would just hold fast to that which they have been taught instead of constantly trying to improve on the plan, then the Christian world of today wouldn’t have near the problems that it does. It is good to improve on one’s understanding of self, but the plan was given by God Himself and needs no improvement. In fact, it is a perfect plan: go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Win souls. Show people how to be saved. Train up the Saints so they can win souls as well. This is God’s plan and there is no improvement upon it. What it lacks is preachers with a backbone who are truly called to stand up and stand fast. It needs preachers who won’t SELL OUT for that which is convenient.
What creates church growth? Are members responsible for growth of the body of Christ? Jesus used an analogy from farming to explain the manner in which the kingdom of God grows (Mark 4:26-29). Once the farmer plants the seed, it grows by itself. Although fruit comes through the miracle created within the seed, the farmer has to work hard to prepare the ground for productivity.
So it is with church growth. The apostle Paul explained that he had planted churches, Apollos had watered, but it was God who gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). So how do Christians plant and water so God’s church can grow?
Empowering members to grow.
I more prefer to call this, “Allowing members to have ownership in their church.” Every member of a local church needs to feel that it is his/her church. This is a vital area in which a member can use their talents for the Lord; an area in which they can serve God, and thereby be an active part in the Body of Christ. Otherwise they become like a cancerous or foreign object. If they a member has no ownership in their church, then they will not consider it to be “their church.” These are those who fall away because they are not really connected to anything. Find something to do in your church and be a part of the body.
Using your God-given gifts to serve God and your neighbor.
God has given each member in the church certain talents that no one else has. When He leads you to a particular church it’s that He has a purpose for those talents to be used for that church’s growth. Most obviously, it would be impossible to have piano in the song service if there were no piano players willing to use the talent that God gave them. Other talents are more subtle; like fixing things, electrical work, greeting, or cleaning, just to name a few. Find out what you can do and do it in the church.
Use your passion, fire, and enthusiasm for the church.
Everyone is passionate about something. When Jesus gave sight to the young man who had never seen, He told him to tell no one. But the bible says he, “…went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter…” (Mark 1:45). He was passionate about telling others what happened to him. Some things which people are passionate about are such things as: sports, music, babies, family, health, cars, work, etc. You can tell what people are passionate about by listening to what they are continually talking about, especially after the service is ended.
Support the structure and function of the church.
When you support the structure of the church, you are building the church. Supporting the structure of the church shows respect, honor and love for it. Many churches die simply because they are filled with members who say they love the church but, do not support it. It is not supportive to tell people you love your church when you talk bad about its members behind their back. Taking an unsaved, potential member aside and warning them off about some member you don’t like is actually tearing down the church. It doesn’t matter how much you say you love the church, your actions are destructive. Paul faced this exact situation among some of the churches he planted (1 Cor. 1:10-13).
It is not necessary to agree with all of the structure of the church, but it is necessary to support it. And where you disagree, use prudence in not voicing it inappropriately.
Pray for and acknowledge inspiration in the worship services.
Prayer is necessary on all fronts. It improves the Believer’s relationship with God. However, it is vital to pray for God to inspire all aspects of the worship service. We did not come to church to hear a man give a speech or lesson. We came to hear what God has to tell us. It is vital to ask God to talk to us and give us exactly what we need in our life. Unfortunately, it hurts to get our “toes stepped on” by the message being preached. And we often blame the preacher for “preaching at me” and forget that God can use the preacher to deliver HIS message. We need preaching from God to shake us deep down in our souls so we can grow as believers. When the members of the church grow, so does the church. Pray that God will not only inspire the message, but the music, giving, specials, fellowship and our own hearts as well.
Form friendships with other members and do things together outside the church.
Everyone knows that a family cannot grow when each member of it only comes together for one or two hours a week. It is impossible! Likewise, the church cannot grow when its members only interact with each other one hour a week. It is crucial for church growth that the members develop friendships with each other and have fellowship outside the church. I know the main complaint about this is: “I don’t have anything in common with anyone else.” Unfortunately, you neglect to see the folly in such a statement—you have church in common. If you are a family with children, your kids may be friends. Why not get together and do something. How about invite someone over to eat? This is a basic and common thing for people to do so they can get to know each other.
When members have their friendships outside the church (with non church members), their hearts are slowly and subtly drawn away from the church. Therefore, the church not only doesn’t grow, it begins to shrink. It is important that Believers hold each other up. This principle is illustrated when the Israelites were battling Amalek. They prevailed over Amalek when Moses’ hands are raised up, and they lost when he gets tired and lowers his hands. So, Aaron and Hur helped him hold up his hands until the battle was over, and Israel won (Exo. 17:10-13). So must we support members when they are in time of need. This is easier when we become friends and we know what each other is going through.
Sharing your Christian life by example and story.
For the church to grow, it is essential that Believers share their faith with others. They must do everything they can to compel people to come in and hear the message of the Bible. Everyone knows the old saying: “talk is cheap.” This is very true and it indicates that talk is worthless. If then it is worthless, what then is of such value that it can make a life change in someone else? Of course, it is the life story of the Christian. The example of a believer living for God is the most powerful way to witness. When people see the life of a truly dedicated believer, and how it is lived, they are affected to their core. Your life story always supersedes what you say. Even children know this at a very young age. They will listen to mommy tell them to not get started in some bad habit, but if their mommy does it, they will eventually do it as well.
The best way to grow the church through witnessing is to tell the proper life story.
Possess sincere love for the other members.
Love accomplishes much good in growing the church. When members have loved one for another, they tend to be more tolerant and willing to accept anyone. Not only that, everyone wants to be loved; they want to experience true sincere love. The world is severely lacking in sincere love. It exists in many families, but in few other places. Since God is love and you cannot truly say you know God if you don’t have sincere love (1 John 4:8, 16), a church can never grow because you cannot grow a church without God. People know that you truly love God when you have love for each other.
It takes effort to love. You have to work at repressing your ugly thoughts about those whom you don’t like too much. But then you have to go the extra mile and set yourself aside and love the person in spite of what your feel. Love, among many other things, is the giving of self.
When a church is first formed, it is little more than a fledgling. It takes time and effort on the part of everyone for it to become established and for a root to go down into the fertile ground. Without the patient diligence of adhering to these outlined principles, it will never take hold and be able to support itself; it will always need a support to be tied to. It cannot be done by just the pastor alone. It cannot be done by just the faithful few. Everyone has to chip in and help. All hands must be involved. So, we must each ask ourselves, “which of the eight characteristics is my weakest?” Ask God for strength and allow Jesus to lead you to grow.
Which are your strengths? Use them to serve Jesus and his church.
He painted a sign advertising the pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.
“Mister,” he said. “I want to buy one of your puppies.”
“Well,” said the farmer, as he wiped the sweat off the back of his neck, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”
The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”
“Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” he called. Out from the doghouse ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain-link fence. His eyes danced with delight.
As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring in the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared; this one noticeably smaller. In a somewhat awkward manner the little puppy began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up. This was clearly the runt of the litter.
“I want that one,” said the boy pointing to the runt.
The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”
With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up the leg of his trousers. In doing so, he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg and attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”
Sinners need that same sort of understanding! Praise the Lord there is a Savior who loves sinners and understands us like we are. At the same time He never condones our sin. He is holy and He hates sin. However, He knows what we are made of and He knows what we face in our lives day by day. “…he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”, Psa. 103:14. How does He have this kind of information about humans? He lived as one for 33 years. “…and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”, Phil. 2:7-8!
As we look at the portrait John paints of Jesus in John 8:1-11, a picture develops of a Sympathetic Savior. He doesn’t show One who is soft on sin, but of One who loves sinners and reaches out to them in grace, forgiveness and love. That is the Savior I want to address in this article: Jesus, The Sympathetic Savior.
According to the account, there was a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. She was guilty before the face of the Lord and before the world. Adultery is a vile sin, but it is no worse than any other. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”, James 2:10. Even if we never committed any sin with our bodies or our minds, we would still be guilty before the Lord!
- Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
- Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
- Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
We are all as guilty as this woman, our problem is that we simply won’t admit to it. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”, Pro. 28:13.
In their haste to bring this woman to Jesus, her accusers probably didn’t give her sufficient time to get properly dressed before they brought her into public. However that may have been, she was certainly humiliated by the public accusation and disclosure of her sin.
Sin is a shameful thing! No matter how skillfully it is hidden from the eyes of others, Jesus knows all about it and one day it will be revealed before all. “Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon housetops.”, Luke 12:3. Saddest of all, the truth about your profession will also be made public one day. In Matthew 7:22-23 we are told, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Wouldn’t it be far better to get everything right with the Lord and have nothing to fear then? There will come a day of judgment and of full disclosure. We are clearly told about this in Rev. 20:11-15 which tells about the Great White Throne Judgment.
Her accusers were absolutely correct! According to the Law, she deserved to die (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). There was one small problem here: Where was her partner? Both were supposed to die for this sin! The man may have been part of this scheme to attack Jesus. He may have been allowed to slip away. Nevertheless, this woman was guilty and she deserved to die.
Nobody gets away with sin! The penalty of it will always come due “…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”, Eze. 18:4. There will come a payday someday! The only hope any sinner has is to run to Jesus. He offers the only hope anyone has in this world or the one to come. He is the only way. “…no man comethi unto the GFather, but by me.”, John 14:6. In there effort to humiliate this woman and to discredit the Lord, they brought her to the best possible place. They brought her to the very man who could deal with her past and her problems and who could make it all right. Never think that Jesus doesn’t care for you. He is the sinner’s Friend! Even in His day, He was known to hang out with notorious sinners, (Luke 7:34; Luke 15:2; Luke 19:7). Jesus isn’t concerned about His reputation, He is only concerned with your eternal soul!
These men had it in their heads to pin Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. If Jesus simply let the woman go, then He would be seen as being easy on sin and could have been arrested for being in violation of the Law. If, however, He gave permission for the woman to be killed, He could then be accused before Rome as an upstart and a seditionist, and He would have destroyed His reputation as being the “friend of publicans and sinners”. They felt that no matter what Jesus said, He had no wiggle room.
These religious men are just like legalists in our day. They couldn’t have cared less about this woman, her sin, her soul, or her eternal destiny. All they cared about was pressing their agenda, and their brand of righteousness. Things haven’t changed! All Pharisees are the same!
Their plan might have succeeded with any ordinary man, but they were dealing with Jesus Christ, and He simply refused to play by their rules! When they tried to stump Jesus, They discovered that they had met their match. While they were talking to the Lord, He just knelt down and began to write on the ground. He had no use for their pettiness and lack of love for sinners.
What did Jesus write? Well, for 2,000 years, men have tried to solve that little mystery. The deep theological answer is that: We don’t know! However, maybe He wrote:
- The Ten Commandments. After all, it was his finger that wrote them the first time!
- Perhaps He wrote their names in fulfillment of Jeremiah 17:13.
- Maybe He wrote out Lev. 20:10 and Deut. 22:22.
- Maybe He simply wrote their girlfriends names in the sand.
Whatever the Lord wrote on the ground, it surely got their attention. He knows how to speak to hearts! How much better would it have been for them to come to Him by faith and miss all that exposure and punishment!
But they didn’t and they were exposed. When Jesus did speak, He said, “He that is without sin among, let him first cast a stone at her.” Jesus wasn’t requiring that any judge be sinless. If that were the case then no human would ever be able to render judgment in any matter, even in a court of law. Jesus was saying to these hypocrites, “He that is free from this particular sin, let him first cast a stone at her.” Adultery can be committed with the head and the heart just as surely as it may be committed with the body!
At this point, all the shouting came to a stop and all that could be heard was the dropping of their rocks and the shuffle of their sandles as they stole quietly away. These men had been exposed before their fellow man, the accused lady and most importantly before the Lord. Giving them the benefit of the doubt that when they saw themselves as they really were, (Perhaps the most painful realization of all), they stopped calling for the death of this woman. One of the hardest things you can face is yourself as you really are! However, when you see yourself as being sinful, then you can do something about it. Paul would have went to Hell had he not been brought face to face with himself on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). When we are convicted of our sins, then is the time to come to Jesus. He is the only One who can deal with Man’s sin problem!
Only Jesus could have cleared the Temple after that fashion and when the last rock had hit the Temple floor, Jesus stood up and faced this sinful woman. As He stood before her, He was the only One the world has ever known who was qualified to take up the first stone, as well as the rest, and stone her to death. When she faced Jesus, she was facing the ultimate judge! She had reached a place in her life where it was just her and Jesus. It always comes down to that! Eventually, somewhere, someday you are going to have to face Jesus. Probably He has given you opportunities in this life to come to Him. What have you done with them? You will either receive Jesus at one of life’s encounters, or you will face Him on judgment day. Which would you rather it be? In the end, it always comes down to just you and Jesus. And, what you do with Him will determine where and how you spend eternity!
The only One qualified to throw a stone refused to do so! Jesus dealt with her on the basis of compassion. The religious men had condemned and considered her as good as dead, Jesus however, saw someone worthy of His love and worth salvaging. When she came to Jesus, she received 2 great blessings that forever changed her life. These same 2 blessings are the gift of God to all who receive Jesus as their Savior.
1. By her simple confession of Christ as Lord, salvation became her’s. That is all there is to being saved! Rom. 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved!” It doesn’t get any easier than that! Even small children can comprehend that truth and make it real in their lives. What about you? Have you taken this step of faith? Anyone who wants to be saved can be saved through faith in the shed Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! (Rev. 22:17; John 3:16; John 6:37.)
2. All of her life, she had been subject to the God of this world, Satan. She had been a prisoner of her own lusts and desires, (Eph. 2:1-3). Jesus, however, came and unlocked the shackles that held her bound in sin and He set her free! Imagine for a minute what happened the next time she saw her lover! Jesus specializes in taking wasted, ruined lives and saving them by His grace and restoring them to usefulness. Every person who comes to Jesus for salvation receives this new lease on life. The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17). We get a chance to begin again, and this time, we actually have a chance of making something out of our lives.
Maybe. Like this woman, your life has been wrecked and ruined by sin. Maybe you have been hurt by religious people. Maybe you are looking for a compassionate Savior, One who will make everything right. Why don’t you come to Jesus? He cares about you just like you are. He loves you and wants to save you. He wants to deliver you from your bondage. He wants to set you free. Therefore, He invites you to come to Him today. If there are issues in your life that need to be settled, Jesus is the place where they be taken care of forever. Will you bring your life to Jesus and let Him make it over?
God gave mother a wonderful quality. In the Morning Glory, January 8, 1994, Ilion Jones writes that, “On the great biographer Ida M. Tarbell’s 80th birthday, someone asked her to name the greatest persons she had ever met. She responded, ‘The greatest persons I have ever met are those nobody knows anything about.'” She was referring to her mother.
“Once the New York Times was asked to help a group of club women decide on the twelve greatest women in the United States. After due consideration, the editors replied, ‘The twelve greatest women in the United States are women who have never been heard of outside of their own homes.'” They were talking about someones mother.
Jones concludes, “I ask you, who was greater, Thomas A. Edison or his mother? When he was a young lad his teacher sent him home with a note which said, ‘Your child is dumb. We can’t do anything for him.’ His mother wrote back, ‘You do not understand my boy. I will teach him myself’. And she did, with results that are well known.”
Usually, the greatest people who have had the most influence in our lives are people that other people would not care about one bit. Chief of these people is our mother. Our mother will pour her life into us so that we can stand firm in this cruel world. Our mother loves us like no one else can; who, no matter what we have done, continues to love us.
There is no use denying the fact that we are literally connected to our mother long before we have any other attachment with any other human being. Our mother carries us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 9 months in her warm and comfortable tummy. This “bond of bonds” cannot be cut, broken or torn asunder by any hurt we may give them. Our mother is so important to us that we have wisely set aside a national day to honor her (Eph. 6:2; Exo. 20:12).
Our mother can never be replaced. There are instances where children have to be raised by their fathers or someone else, but if they have been born into this world, they have a mother. God arranged it that we cannot enter this life without first knowing and experiencing the love of our mother. No matter if a child has been raised in a motherless home or not, there is still the beginning influence of this wonderful woman who carried them and bore them into this world (Gal 1:15). But this is not the cased for the vast majority of cases. Most of us are born and then raised too, by our mother.
Mother is the most influential person in our lives. In most cases, she is with us more than anyone else, especially in our younger years. Mother is our companion, as well as our protector and teacher. At times it may seem that mom is not present, but God gave mom’s an amazing ability to use all of her senses toward us. Every mother has had an experience where she has detected something wrong, when no other has been able to. They dropped what they were doing and ran to our side knowing that we have just began choking on something. In fact, their senses are so good that they can even detect when we are about to do something dangerous even BEFORE we are engaged in that certain dangerous activity.
When my mother would instruct me about “laying down the law”, she always had the uncanny ability to read my face. She would tell me, “And wipe that look off of your face young man. I can read your face like a book.” Only someone who loved you very much; could be so “in tune” to you that they could “read your face like a book.”
Have you ever wondered why children have to play “under mothers feet” all the time? It is because they feel safe there. If they are near their mother, then they know that they are being watched over. It may be difficult for the mother as she moves around the house doing her daily chores, but it is great for the children. When push comes to shove, I’ll bet you’ll find out that most mothers would rather know where their children are anyway.
Mothers can provide comfort unlike anything else in the world. If I was outside playing with one of my children and they accidentally got hurt, they would look at me with contempt and go running to their MOTHER! Dad just could not provide the same comfort as their mother could. All it takes is some hugs from their mother, and a “kiss on the boo boo,” and everything would be all right.
Mother is crucial to our development, but moms are often overlooked or taken advantage of. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He told John to take care of His mother (John 19:26-27). Not that Mary was unable to take care of herself, but after Jesus died, there would be a big hole in her heart where her son used to be; a piece of her would be dying too because, after all, He literally was a piece of her.
We should appreciate all that our mothers do for us. We should show them honor. It is sad that at times we need to be reminded to pick up the phone and call our mother and tell her we love her. I call my mother every week because I want her to know I care about her.~ Pastor Coale
Christian rights group China Aid says the faithful are worried that the church demolition could be a sign that the government is tightening its grip over the spread of Christianity in China
Everyone knows that this great country of which we live won it’s war for independence from England. Independence is the nature of the USA. If a country had blood coursing through it’s veins, then ours would run hot with independence. In many of the countries of Asia or Europe, when asked of it’s people, “In one word, how would you describe Americans?”, they would say, “Independent! Americans are very independent.” We pride ourselves on our independence. We know nothing else than to think that independence is something that everyone should enjoy, so much so, that we send our youth to rally it’s cause on their behalf.
It is a wonderful thing to be independent because it speaks of freedom, but it is not good to be independent from everything. There are two things from which we can never be independent: God and people! As much as a person might want to think they are independent from these two, they can never be. We are all created beings of the true and only God, and we are all conceived from, birthed, and raised by people.
The is a fine line between being independent and being rebellious. To be independent is to be free from an unrighteous cause, whereas to be rebellious is to be free from something that is good. When you are in an overbearing situation from which you are not morally or legally bound; to through off that overbearing situation and seek another more righteous is when you are gaining independence. But, rebellion is when you are already in a righteous situation and you pridefully and arbitrarily decide you are going to be independent from that situation, then you are rebellious. Think of it this way: to be independent is to rebel; to rebel from something good, or to rebel from something bad. You are rebellious when you rebel from something good, but independent when rebelling from something bad. AND, it depends on if you are the rebel or the rebelled from on how you will look at it.
There is no one more righteous and just than God. He is so righteous that He is called–HOLY. Any move for independence from Him is not only a rebellious act, but originates from a rebellious spirit as well. Because of His holiness, and our being created in His image, it is pure rebellion to desire to live independent of Him. As far as God is concerned, the whole world is full of rebellious people (“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Isa. 1:2). Any person living independent of God has become a god to himself, because he rejects God’s position of authority over him. This is the sad state of the world that we see around us today. Man submits himself to things, this is true, but he will not submit to God. This is rebellion.
The anointed Cherub–Lucifer–was lifted up in pride and eventually rebelled from God (Eze. 28:14-16). So, rebellion begins with pride–pride in thinking that you are better than others; pride in thinking you can do better if you could do it your own way. This is how Satan deceives people into rebelling from the righteous and holy God. He begins by whispering little hints of prideful things into the conscience of man. Soon, man begins to see himself as being smarter and better than God. From there, rebellion takes its course. Rebellion in turn leads to independence of God. God’s created being, made in His very own image, is independent from Him and refuses to submit to what is right. All because Satan has worked to make man think prideful things. Anytime we realize we are thinking prideful things, we should take note that we are on the path of rebellion from God.
Of course, total rebellion from God does not happen all at once. It happens in increments until we are overcome with a rebellious spirit. Satan’s legions work on one thing at a time. The most common are an independence from Bible reading, church attendance, prayer, tithing, etc. Each of these is a chink in the armor of submission to God. We may think that we don’t need these things, but we do. We may think that we can do without one of these things “just this once”, but once leads to another. Soon, we are overcome and then the Devil concentrates on the next. It is all influenced by pride, which leads to rebellion, which leads to independence. Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, tithing and witnessing are all pillars which hold up our Christian life. When one crumbles, the others are soon to follow. You can tell if you are subject to these if you ever find yourself saying, “I used to read my Bible, pray, tithe, etc.” Or, “I remember when I…” Or, “I need to get back to …”. These are all signs of living a life of independence from God; the process has taken place and snuck up on you: Pride–Rebellion–Independence!
On this Independence day, as we celebrate our independence from a wicked heavy handed rule, which led to the establishment of this great country, let us reflect on this one thought: “Am I living independent from God? Am I a rebel from righteousness?”
In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 we are told, “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” A then steward is somebody that is given something valuable to take care of, and he is supposed to take care of it for his master. Not only that, a steward is to be “faithful” because he has goods delivered to him that don’t belong to him. Such is every one of us who is given stewardship of God’s money. We understand about God giving us money and us using it as the Lord would have to do. But here we are talking about a different kind of stewardship. We are talking about the “mysteries of God.” We are talking about stewardship over something that has been given for the purpose of teaching to others.
What are these mysteries? There are seven of them in the Bible and they are committed to preachers to teach to others. I will briefly describe them as follows:
1. The Mystery of Godliness.
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
This verse is the greatest verse in the Bible on the Deity of Jesus Christ. If you don’t have a King James Bible you won’t be able to find this mystery defined. All other bibles change this verse in order to take away the deity of Christ. They change the phrase “…God was manifest in the flesh…” to something else. God being “manifest in the flesh” means that God showed up as a baby and later grew up to be a man. It cannot be explained how He did this. Why? Because it is a mystery how it happened. He came down to this earth as a baby, and a woman took care of Him, just like every other baby. He experienced every facet of growing up as a human male.
2. The Mystery of the Indwelling Christ
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Paul says, “This mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This means the “mystery” is that Jesus Christ is inside the saved man. It can’t be explained how: “Christ” is “in you, the hope of glory”. It can’t be explained how a sinless, perfect Saviour would stoop down to come in and dwell inside a wicked, sinful vessel. Not only that, it can’t be explained how Jesus could be in a vast multitude of saved people all at the same time. There isn’t many individual Jesus’. There is one Jesus and he dwells within each believer. This is a mystery and can’t be explained how it happens. It is the mystery of the indwelling Christ.
3. The Mystery of the Body of Christ
Ephesians 5:30-32 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The Bride of Christ in this age is espoused to one husband so it can be presented a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). This means that every one who is a Believer is all espoused to the same person: Christ. All men and women wind up married to Christ as one unit. How can you explain it? It can’t be explained. It’s a mystery. As far as the spirit is concerned, we are joined to Him right now (1 Cor. 6:17). The marriage has already taken place, but as far as the body is concerned the marriage hasn’t taken place. Our physical bodies are down here and His is up there (2 Cor. 5:6-8). It can’t be explained. We are supposed to believe it. Paul said, “This is a great mystery” (Eph. 5:32).
4. The Restoration of Israel
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
This mystery deals with the restoration of Israel. The mystery is that God is not through with Israel. And even though God may look like He’s through with Israel, He’s not! Someday God is going to take the Jews and bring them back to Palestine (He did that in 1948), and after the Jews have been reduced down to about four or five hundred people, God is going to get them saved in the Tribulation and convert them to Jesus Christ. That’s the mystery of the believing remnant of Israel which is going to turn to God. Romans 11:28-29 says that “as concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” This means that we should love the Jews. Yes, some Jews out in the world are unlovable characters. It doesn’t matter what you think of them, you’ve got to love Israel and take care of it. If you don’t, the Lord will fix you. In Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:28). When a Jew gets converted, he’s no longer a “Jew.” He’s a Christian.
5. The Mystery of Babylon the Great
Revelation 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Revelation 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
She is a woman out in the wilderness seated on a beast. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. This is a “mystery.” It is something you’re supposed to believe, but you can’t explain.
The woman is a city that reigns over the kings of the earth. She has a golden cup in her hand full of abominations (Rev. 17:4). And, she is arrayed in purple and scarlet. There is only one city that is built on seven mountains (v. 9), that reigns over the kings of the earth, whose symbol is a golden cup: ROME. The Lord said that that city was a whore (v. 1). She’s a prostitute who sells herself for money. She has such influence that she runs the kings of this earth. She will sell out what she believes and what she professes in order to get along with the world. She’ll let her own priests get killed in Africa if she can get control of Africa. She might even get in a black pope.
6. Mystery of Iniquity
2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
The mystery of iniquity is the mystery of the Antichrist. His number is 666. He has a sign: it’s a kiss. He has a salute: its two fingers. He has a letter: it’s an X. And he has a name, a religion , a face, and a mark. There’s more information in the Bible on him than there is on any other man in the Bible outside of Jesus Christ Himself. He’s the Antichrist.
7. The Rapture
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The final mystery is the Rapture. It is the disappearance of the Body of Christ in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. There are two kinds of people. Those who are alive when the Lord comes are to be caught up without dying. Those that are dead will be pulled up out of the ground. If you’re mortal, you’ll be caught up without dying and put on immortality. If you’re dead and buried when the Lord comes back, then you’re down in the ground rotting and you’re corruptible, and you come out of the grave and put on incorruption. The ones that are buried can’t stay in the ground. The live man goes up without dying; and the dead man goes up, and the grave can’t keep him down.
Calvary covers it all
A. J. Gordon was the great Baptist pastor of the Clarendon Church in Boston, Massachusetts. One day he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?”
“I trapped them out in the field.”
“What are you going to do with them?”
“I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.”
When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.”
“I’ll give you $2 for the cage and the birds.”
“Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost — paying for them with His own precious blood. “That boy told me the birds were not songsters,” said Gordon, “but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!'”
This is what Jesus did for each saved saint of God. He set us free from the cage of sin in which we are trapped. It is only by His precious blood that the door of sin is open and freedom is at hand. Jesus paid for our sin. He is the only one who could ever pay for it, because His blood is pure and sinless. Ours is not. No matter how much we may cry out that we don’t belong in the cage of sin, our blood is still sinful. What binds us, what holds us is the sinful blood contained within our veins. As it bleeds out, more is produced in it’s place, and it is just as sinful as that which it replaces.
Our problem is a blood problem. Let me simply say it like this, “we have bad blood.” Yes, there is bad blood between us and God, and it can never be purified. We can only have an advocate who will accept us, and then present us to the Father based on the pure blood coursing His veins—That is what Jesus Christ did.
The door is now open. The way is made clear. There is nothing standing in the way that would hinder us from leaving the cage of death. But, sadly, there are many who will not venture into the open air of the heavens. With fear or pride they huddle in the back of the cage, making excuse after excuse about why it cannot be real. At the same time, they witness (over and over again), another one step to the edge and soar with open wings, into the open free air. How terrible life must be for those who live in fear. How hopeless life must seem for those who will do anything but stretch their wings and fly.
If you are not saved today, I hope you will come to your senses and get right with God now. ~Pastor Coale
Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The Lord Jesus clearly warns that doing good works is not enough to allow a person to go to heaven. Yes they are good things to do, but they will not “earn” passage through heaven’s gates. The first and utmost requirement is to do the will of the Father which is in heaven. If that is not accomplished, everything else has no meaning at all.
What is the will of the Father? It is that we come to him based on the merit of Jesus Christ. That means to understand we are sinners who cannot pay for our sin; to understand that the Father accepted the Lord Jesus Christ’s payment for our sin; and that if we accept that payment for us, then based on Jesus’ faith, God will forgive us and allow us in.
Too many people put emphasis on doing good works to go to heaven. They like to keep control of their destiny. But, my friend, you must put your destiny into the hands of Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour.
The Book of Romans
The book of Romans is the first doctrinal book of the New Testament. It sets the tone for understanding all of the following books that apply to the church age.
- Hand write the entire book in English. Write it in a notebook and turn it in for credit. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Keep a notebook of content taught in class or from watching the videos and turn it in for credit. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Take exam for the course, (Can use handwritten Romans notebook for reference). This will be 25% of your total score.
- Memorize verses: 3:10; 5:6; 5:7-8; 5:12; 6:10; 6:23; 8:28; 10:9-13; 12:1-2. Verses must be recited in person or over the phone by an authorized instructor. Arrangement for time must accommodate the instructor. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Textbook: King James Bible.
- Assignments are due before credit will be given for the class.
Title WORK SHEET VIDEO 1. Chapter 1 Work Sheet 1 1:1-2; 3-7; 8-15; 16-20; 21-32. 2. Chapter 2 Work Sheet 2 2:1; 2-11; 12-24; 25-29. 3. Chapter 3 Work Sheet 3 3:1-8; 9-18; 19-25; 26-31. 4. Chapter 4 Work Sheet 4 4:1-3; 4-8; 9-13; 14-16; 17-21; 22-25. 5. Chapter 5 Work Sheet 5 5:1-2; 3-5; 6-11; 12-17; 18-21. 6. Chapter 6 Work Sheet 6 6:1-7; 8-11; 12-13; 14-17; 18-23. 7. Chapter 7 Work Sheet 7 7:1-3; 4-6; 7-13; 14-25. 8. Chapter 8 Work Sheet 8 8:1-9; 10-16; 17-25; 26-28; 29-30; 31-39. 9. Chapter 9 Work Sheet 9 9:1-5; 6-13; 14-24; 25-29; 30-33. 10. Chapter 10 Work Sheet 10 10:1-11; 12-21a; 12-21b. 11. Chapter 11 Work Sheet 11 11:1-6; 7-11. 12. Chapter 12 Work Sheet 12 12:1-3. 13. Chapter 13 Work Sheet 13 13.1 14. Chapter 14 Work Sheet 14 14.1 15. Chapter 15 Work Sheet 15 15.1 16. Chapter 16 Work Sheet 16 16.1
There was a famous American pastor who went to Africa to preach for a summer. He preached in many countries while there. The crowds who came to listen were various, but always large in numbers. After finishing with a crowd of over ten thousand souls, he and his hosts were headed to a town where there was expected to be three thousand. But the country that he was in did not have a very stable government. That particular day, the government ceased the sale of gasoline that morning. On the way to the church, there were cars lined up all over the sides of the road. Some were left abandoned; others had frustrated owners camping out in them. It was a dreary and ominous sight for the American pastor, especially when earlier a tremendous storm blew in. There was lightning and thunder all around the area. On the way to the church that morning, the American pastor thought to himself, “There probably won’t be very many people in church today. In a church of three thousand, if half of the people come, it is going to look pretty skimpy today.”
When they arrived at the building, it was about half full of people milling around preparing for the service. But it didn’t stop there! People continued to trickle in all throughout the morning until the building was “bursting at the seams.”
First they prayed. They prayed for a good hour. He thought it would never end. He had never experienced anything like this before. Then there was singing and praising. It bubbled over into exuberant exaltation of the Lord in dance (proper dance) and joy. There was such an atmosphere of love and praise for the Lord that the pastor was even able to “get his ‘jam’ on.” He then preached for about an hour, but when he finished, as the storm raged outside, the faces of the people looked surprised. The song leader stepped up and the singing began again. Then there was prayer and more testimonies of praise. There was such praise for the Lord that the shouting and elevating of Jesus spilled over once again to jubilant song and dance. Some were standing with outstretched arms; some were kneeling at the altar. Some were smiling and shouting; others were crying and shaking their heads in sorrow and deep conviction. He sheepishly, but willingly joined in praising Jesus right along with everyone else. An announcement was made and the people began sitting, still shouting with joy. Eyes turned to the pastor and he quickly deduced that they expected more from the word of God.
He preached yet another full sermon. At the invitation, the altar was full. Then prayer broke out in the building once again. Five hours had passed. First it seemed like the church would be empty, but it filled. Then it seemed like you couldn’t pry the people away. Amazed by this display, he asked the national pastor, “Why aren’t these people leaving?”
“Things are different between Africa and America. The people here, THEY NEED GOD. You see, the people here have nothing. Some of these people have walked 2 and 3 hours to get here. They don’t even know if they will eat tomorrow, let alone have a job. These people are a devastated people without God. They live one day at a time. There is such a desperate need for God over here, that every time there is an opportunity to come face to face with God, and be in His presence, they take advantage of it. They can’t afford excuses, or compete with television shows or radio. They NEED to be in God’s presence.”
As I listened to this story, I began to wonder about that very simple, yet convicting phrase: “We need God here.” It was a shocking and unexpected answer from that simple African pastor: “WE NEED GOD HERE!” He was not saying that Americans don’t need God as well. Nor was he criticizing American churches. He was stating a simple and plain fact. It was truly how the African pastor saw things from his position. Having been in several third world countries myself, I can relate to that statement. Having lived in third world countries for a big chunk of my life, I can see that statement formulate into a vision. At no fault of the general American, there are just too many choices, especially in the way of “religions” competing over their interest. At no fault of their own, the general citizen of this country has an abundance of food, water, health care and shelter available to him. In short, there are very, very few instances in our great land that cause our citizens to be driven to their knees, yearning for an opportunity to be in the presence of God because they have no food, water, shelter or food, just to make it another day. There is not much real NEED of GOD HERE in our great land.
Friends, because we don’t have that situation here, does not mean that we don’t NEED God. Everyone needs God. We all need God. I need God, and so do you. So far, God has not driven us to this realization. So far, God has granted us a reprieve from such a destitute situation; a situation where there is no other place to turn to but Him. For now, He has left us to ourselves. We can turn to our government, families, and charities for help. The lines at the food banks are not full of starving people so far.
For now, God has given us the “choice” to need Him or not, but it might not be that way for long. I know that this is something that most of my fellow countrymen cannot “relate to” because they have never seen anything like that with their own eyes. They have only heard stories about such situations, or seen it on T.V. I assure you that there is a big difference between seeing it on T.V. and seeing it in person. Let me go even farther than that. There is a big difference between seeing it for your self, and living it in person, but when you do, when you have absolutely no other place to turn to but God, you will crave the presence of God. I don’t mean coming to the end of your rope in such a sense that you can’t figure out any other way to fix your problem except asking someone to pray for you. You know, the kind of problem where you have already solved it, but you just can’t grasp the resolution because it lies just outside of your reach. I am talking about the kind of problem that has no resolution. These are the kind of problem where you absolutely NEED GOD to live another day. These are the real big problems. These are those that drive you to God and keep you there. The kind of problems where you not only welcome an opportunity to be in His presence, but are disappointed if you cannot be there.
So I ask, “Do you need God?” Do you need Him so much that you would not so much as lift up your eyes unto heaven, but smite your breast saying, “God, be merciful to me—a sinner.” (ref. Luke 18:13). How poor are you?
I am not saying you need to be poor. I am asking, How much do you Need God? It shows in your desire to be in His presence.