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The Local Church
I Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
The “house of God” that Paul is referring to the local assembly of the believers. The Apostle Paul is admonishing Timothy to behave himself in the local assembly of believers; the church. The local church was an assembly in an area of a community. It was the visible assembly of the saints in the New Testament. The church may be in a house, a rented building, or a building that was bought for the purpose of the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In 1 and 2 Timothy Paul the Apostle give Timothy, and every saint in the New Testament, instructions “how” to behave himself in the local assembly of believers in the church.
This behavior includes the following two offices in the local church:
1. The qualifications of the pastor, or bishop, in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and called an elder in 1 Timothy 5:17. These qualifications are for the pastor of the local church.
2. The qualifications of the deacon and his wife, 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These qualifications are for the deacon(s) of the local church.
The local churches were Independent in Authority and Fellowship
Colossians 4:15 and 16, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
Nymphas had a church in his house. This assembly was local in scope, visible, and limited in authority,
There was another church, or another visible assembly of believers, in Laodicea. Paul admonished the two assemblies to share in the reading of the Epistle of Colossians. There were no "bishops," or denominational headquarters, over the two assemblies.
Denominations & the so-called “Universal” Church
There are no denominations in the New Testament. All of the denominations, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, etc… have a starting point in history, a leader, and a religious hierarchy that is unknown in the New Testament scriptures.
There is no “universal church” in the New Testament. There is a “General Assembly,” in heaven of all the saints, “But ye come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the
firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Hebrews 12:22 and 23
All of the assemblies mentioned in the New Testament are visible, local and independent. The Apostle Paul gave detailed instructions for the qualifications of the pastor and the deacon as the visible head of the local church.
Me and a brother in Christ had a discussion about the legalization of marijuana; and it was his stance that since marijuana is legalized in California, it is OK to smoke it, and used Romans 13 to justify his position. In my view, there are many reasons for anyone who calls themselves a Christian to stay away from "recreational" drugs of all types -- and that would be equally true even if they were legal. As to the social implications of the issue and the political process by which this issue is being addressed, I prefer not to comment. There are plenty of things that happen in our society that would get any "normal" person "riled up", but seeking political solutions to our problems or becoming engaged with "the enemy" on the political battlefield is, in my view, a losing game -- especially in this fallen world governed by Satan. What I mean by that is we can stand up for the truth as loyal Christians; but it will most definitely land us in prison (Matt. 5:10; Jn. 15:18; 2 Tim. 3:12; Rev. 2:10). We will never FIX the world -- it is the devil's world (2 Cor. 4:4; cf. Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13; Jn. 12:31; cf. 8:44; 1 Jn. 5:19) until our Lord returns and removes him. If we try to fix Satan's world system we only become enmeshed in it ourselves. The important thing for non-Christians who are debating legalizing "pot" or any other such issue is really "what think ye of Jesus?"
We can certainly have our opinions about these sorts of things (how can we help but have opinions?). But acting upon them in a political way CAN be a trap that at the very least will sap our time, energy and resources, diverting them away from the personal ministry to which Jesus has called us, whatever that may be. There are many other negatives that lie down the road political involvement, and almost no positives, as far as I can see, not, any way, for the person who gets involved (and generally speaking not for the people on whose behalf they get involved, although there are some EXCEPTIONS here since God works in all manner of mysterious ways (cf. Gen. 50:20; Ex. 6:1-8; Josh. 6:1-4; Isa. 45:11-13,15; 55:8-11; cf. Acts 6:22-24; cf. 2 Cor. 5:7). This is also not to suggest that we Christians are "sitting on our hands" and letting "George do it". Quite the contrary. God gives each nation the laws, leadership, and circumstances they really want and truly deserve. In most cases, that means less than ideal situations around the globe. But if as a nation we turned to the Lord with hearts on fire for Him, if we devoted ourselves to seeking Him through His Word in the Name of His Son our Lord Jesus, we would soon have so much prosperity in every way that politics would seem totally beside the point. Of course it will most likely never happen that most people will ever feel that way. But most Christians do not really feel that way. And when they stop reading their Bibles and stop seeking out and believing solid Bible-teaching and stop walking with Jesus and stop serving others, then they become part of the problem instead of part of the solution even if they appear to be standing up for a good cause. That is because the solution, the true solution comes from God (cf. Phil 4:19; Ps. 2:1-6; 121:1-2; cf. 127:1; 146:3-5; Jer. 29:13; cf. Matt. 28:18): He can fix any problem we have, but without Him we cannot fix any problem we have (cf. Isa. 55:6-7) We have to decide whom we are here for and learn what He has called us to do. Going our own way in these matters is always a mistake, even if it is exciting, precedented, and feels good (at first).
I was just making a post in another area when this thought hit me, that I feel enslaved by technology. I want to disconnect everything but find I cannot for fear of being isolated. does this make sense? People come to our home when we invite them for dinner or lunch and yet it does not seem that anyone just stops by anymore for the sake of friendship. When we do get together with family and friends no one actually has discussions, references are to funny utube videos, or a movie, or some recent sporting game mostly they just sit around looking at their phone, texting one another while the person they are texting is in the room.
In the last two years I have not had more that 3 or 4 meaningful conversations with anyone under 30 years of age unless I am teaching and a question comes up. How is that we can be so "connected" and yet so isolated? I go to church and (I love our church and pastor and our church family) it seems when the last amen is said everyone over 40 disappears we have a large congregation for a city of twenty thousand. I get the feeling something is wrong but I can't put my finger on it. We grow by 20 people per year, we have soul winning and special days, we are often told we are one of the friendliest churches in our area. Our pastor is a tremendous preacher and teacher and yet with all these positives. I do not sense the same corporate power of God today I sensed 40 years ago.
I believe that technology is always calling for our attention right now and consequently we never have the time to get alone with God for a couple of hours, to dwell on what God wants to speak to us about one on one, to read the scriptures for an hour instead of reading a couple of verses and a 300 word devotion so we can get back to our friends who never come by to spend an afternoon or evening talking about the Lord.
I saw a picture on Facebook a few days ago that kind of summed up todays understanding of God and salvation. The caption stated "yep I am on my way to heaven, I clicked "like" on a picture and typed Amen!" I am not sure if people under 40 truly understand what "true fellowship" is? I am not complaining per se just wondering how old I really am. I realize I cannot go back 40 years but should I have to go back if we are a New Testament church?
Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
THE NEW BIRTH
Text: John 3 :1-21.
The text at hand shows that there is something that is extremely important to every individual that comes into this world. It also shows that there are some that are aware of it but for the most part, mankind is ignorant of its necessity. This subject is so important that it is the reason that the Bible was written, it is also the reason that the Son of God came to this earth, leaving the glory of heaven, to suffer at the hands of men. It is the reason that you are here in this world now, and as such it is the answer to the age-old question; Why am I here? It is also the reason that the existence of people and nations are recorded as they are in both the Old and New Testament. Nations rise and fall and the history of this world is ordered in such a way that the purpose of it all might result in the redemption of each and every lost sinner, even though they do not know that they are lost.
The subject at hand is the new birth. What is it? Jesus said it this way; ye must be born again. It is salvation, redemption. And as such it points to the fact that there is something deathly wrong with man in his natural state. . For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
There are many things in this life that while you may need them, it is not a matter of life or death---THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. We are all given a certain amount of time here on this earth for the express purpose of finding Jesus and appropriating his righteousness to our account, the result of our failure to accomplish this is spiritual death and a separation from God and his heaven forever. Ver.3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Once the time that we have been allotted runs out there is no recourse, death forever locks us into the condition that we were in when he visited---and it is irreversible.
Our text mentions two subjects; Jesus and Nicodemus. He had heard Jesus teach and now, in the darkness of night, he comes to Jesus. He recognized in Jesus something extraordinary, his spiritual eyes had begun to open and he realized that this man was from God. Ver.2. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. The fact that he came at night also shows that he came secretly and alone. This points to a very important aspect of the new birth; it is personal and the sinner must come to Jesus on a one to one basis concerning salvation. Notice again the command in Ver.7. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. It is directed at Nicodemus alone, though the entire world may be in need of this salvation, this is his time, and Jesus speaks to him in a very personal way.
You may have seen people coming foreword and claiming to be saved, but Salvation is not in coming foreword, it is not in talking to the preacher, it is not in joining the church; it is not in repeating a prayer. Salvation is a personal experience with Jesus Christ, it is in trusting him with your eternal destiny, coming to him in simple faith with the assurance that he can and will save your eternal soul.
This lesson then will convey to us the idea that this new birth is a must. The word, “must”, is an imperative, and Jesus meant it to be, for he said, “ye must be born again”. If the new birth is so important why doesn’t everyone know about it? It is simply because they are spiritually dead, . And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; This is why Jesus had to come; this is the only way that man can become aware of his condition. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
Salvation then, becomes mandatory equipment for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, it is not optional as some believe, and it is the only way to get to heaven. Jn.14: 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
This new birth is to be understood as spiritual in nature, Ver.4-5. Show not only the mistake that Nicodemus made, but answer of the Lord showing the spiritual nature of the new birth. Here he speaks of two births, the first is the natural birth, born of water, and any doctor will tell you that when a baby is born it is a water birth. The second birth Jesus terms, “born of the Spirit”, this is the Spirit of God. This is why we call it a spiritual birth, Ver.6. Says, “That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit”. Jesus then compares the spiritual birth to the wind, meaning that it is a mystery, we can see the effects of it, but it cannot be seen with the eye.Ver.8. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Ver.9. Shows that Nicodemus still did not understand these things. He is still lost. What a paradox; he is standing in the presence of eternal life and yet he does not recognize it. It must be remembered that this man was a master, or teacher in Israel, a spiritual leader, yet he could not comprehend spiritual things. Ver.10.
Ver.13-17. Shows the plan of salvation as well as the purpose and need of a savior.
By speaking to Nicodemus concerning the new birth, he showed him that there was something that he was lacking spiritually, something that he desperately needed. Now he shows him God’s plan to remedy the situation. Notice that God’s remedy is rooted in love, Ver.16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. And it is also predicated on the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God as payment for my sin.
Jesus ends his discourse with Nicodemus by showing why the need of the new birth is so great. Ver.18-19. Man thinks that when he dies God weighs the good and bad that he has done, and if the good outweighs the bad, he goes to heaven. But these verses should show the foolishness of this line of reasoning. When these verses speak of the word “condemned”, it is in the sense of the trial already being over, sentence has been passed and now man only waits the carrying out of that sentence. There is only one thing that can change a judicial condemnation and that is a pardon; this is what Jesus offers. By accepting him as your Savior you can change your status from an enemy of God, doomed to an eternity in hell, to a child of the King. The scripture does not record what Nicodemus did with this information in regard to his spiritual welfare, and history has yet to record what you will do with this information. What will you do with Jesus? The answer to this question will determine what he will do with you in regard to your spiritual state.
Have you ever noticed how insincere we are when we pray? Just today I was thinking about prayer and I thought of praying over a meal. Then the thought came to my mind, "I wonder just how often we truly are thankful for our food, and how many times we just say that we are." It's sad that this should even be an issue, yet it is. We have made prayer so mechanical. I see it in my own prayer life. Certain things I always say in my prayers have become empty words, I pray sometimes, only because I have to. Then when I do open up my heart to God and really pour out my thoughts to Him, I think "Wow, that was amazing!" But shouldn't it always be as such? Shouldn't we open up our heart to God every day? It's no wonder our churches are full of weak Christians, they have no connection with the Father.
I believe very firmly that prayer is for your benefit, not God's! Why would God need us to talk to him? He already knows our thoughts. If pray, then, is for our own benefit, the only person we're hurting through insincere prayer is ourselves. Are we really so petty? Have we become so selfish as to hurt ourselves because we don't want to put forth the effort to talk sincerely with God? It is so sad to me that so many Christians have so little love for their Saviour as to spend so little time with Him! What is the purpose of prayer, if not to express your love and trust for God. We say that prayer, as it pertains to salvation, is simply an outward expression of the heart. Does not the same hold true for your Christian life? We need to check our heart and ask ourselves, "Why are my prayers so empty and insincere?"
SPIRITUAL GROWTH, AS TAUGHT BY SCRIPTURE AND THE SCIENCE OF BOTANY
By Jim Foley
Text: “…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow” Matthew 6:28.
INTRO: In this scripture Jesus gives us an object lesson as to what constitutes spiritual growth, and how it happens. Jesus made the lilies and He made me, and now he describes to me how both biological and spiritual growth takes place. People often create for themselves a great deal of anxiety because they assume there must be some formula they must rigorously conform to in order to make themselves grow spiritually. Spiritual growth is not a secret formula process we must discover for ourselves.
Jesus points to the lilies of the field as an illustration of how natural and spontaneous both natural and spiritual growth is. When Jesus points us to the lilies of the field it is not simply an appeal for us to see and enjoy nature and admire its beauty. Everything in nature, as well as in scripture, is given to teach us a spiritual truth. Natural life and spiritual life are governed, as is everything God has made, by natural law.
Now let’s take a close look at the lilies of the field, and let them teach us about growth, both natural and spiritual. The point we must consider is not just that they are there for us to admire, but rather to consider “how they grow,” as Jesus puts it in our text. Many Christians live with anxiety because they are trying to make themselves grow spiritually. The lilies grow without anxiety. Without taking conscious care or effort the lilies grow naturally into full beauty. There is no conscious toiling to weave the tissues of their leaves. Their complex tissues have spun themselves naturally and automatically.
Jesus follows up by implying that we care-worn and anxious people need not fret about causing ourselves to grow. He implores us to “take no thought” about what we will eat or drink, or how we should be clothed. We mortals create ghosts in our minds and then worry about them. We allow ourselves to be controlled by circumstances rather than allowing God to perfectly order our life.
All men and women who have just a little faith have learned the secret of a composed life in many respects, but when it comes to spiritual growth we do not seem to make the connection. Early on in our Christian lives we settle down at times in calm trust in God, trusting Him to provide the necessities of our bodies. Then by and by we begin to become anxious about spiritual growth, especially when someone tells us we must follow this or that formula if we are to grow spiritually. But how do the lilies grow? They grow by grace, and take no thought, because the growth comes naturally. How does a child of God grow spiritually? He also grows by grace. Yet as we are told by others how to do this, we start fretting about it, and the anxiety comes back. We then have transferred our anxiety from our bodies to our souls. Then our efforts at Christian growth seem only a succession of failures.
Why does this happen? It happens because we forget the lesson of the lilies of the field. Strenuous efforts to grow spiritually are right in earnestness, but are wholly wrong in principle. In both the natural and spiritual realm there is but one principle for growth. That principle is the same for plant and animal, and for body and soul. If we would know that principle, look again and “consider the lilies, how they grow.” There are two characteristics of all growth. They are:
First let us consider the spontaneous nature of spiritual growth. There are three categories by which we may seek for evidence of the spontaneous nature of both bodily and spiritual growth. The first category is Science. We need not be a rocket scientist to understand that the lilies grow of themselves. It is one of the most natural things in the world. They grow automatically and spontaneously, and that without trying, without fretting about it, or without having to think about it.
Take for example a new born baby boy. He begins growing shortly after birth without being aware of it, and is so uncontaminated by the advice of others that it is all automatic. As he grows he eats because he is hungry, and the growth goes on without giving it a thought. He does not fret about the condition of growth, but has a habit of eating and so the result is that growth goes on automatically and naturally. The boy’s parents have no need to tell the boy to grow, for it is a law of nature that he will grow without having to give thought to any process.
Well-meaning people may tell us that the formula for spiritual growth is more prayer, more self-denial, more good works, etc. These are all well and good, but are not the cause of spiritual growth, but the results of it, just as many of our activities in life increase as we grow into a greater and grater capacity for various and greater ventures. The scientific fact is that the soul grows as the lily grows, without trying and fretting and thinking about it.
Another thing that teaches us that growth, both bodily and spiritually, is spontaneous and automatic is experience. Getting back to the example of the boy in the above illustration that grows without taking thought, experience teaches us that he cannot make himself grow no matter how hard he tries. Doesn’t scripture also tell us this fact? No person can add to his stature by taking thought. “And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?” Mat 6:27
The Christian’s life unfolds itself like the lily of the field, from a divine germ planted centrally in his nature, and it grows as naturally as a flower from its seed. Though this flower can be imitated, one can always tell the artificial flower from the real one. This is the distinction between the natural growth of the Christian principles in the life of the Christian, and the moral copy of it. The first is natural and the second is mechanical. There are many artificial Christians marching about in society like little tin soldiers, but little tin soldiers only mimic the real thing.
In the natural world in which we live there are crystals that GROW and organisms that GROW, but there is a real and fundamental distinction between them. The distinction is that the crystal is DEAD, while the organism is ALIVE. The crystal increases, but the organism grows. The organism is from within, while the crystal simply adds new particles from the outside. This is the difference between the true Christian and the mere moralist. The moralist’s works are all an external put-on. The moralist’s so-called meritorious works are all external while the true Christian’s meritorious works are from an internal divine growth. It is the distinction between the true Christian and the hypocrite. Now the crystal may be ever so beautiful, but it lacks the vital principle of a living germ of divine life within.
Another fact that we need consider is that salvation in the first instant is never connected directly with morality. This principle is totally foreign to the thinking of the merely religious pretender since he thinks of his put-on show of morality as earning him salvation. It is true that salvation does demand morality, but the problem is that it demands so much morality that the moralist can never reach up to that level. True salvation results in the perfection of the inner man, i.e., a Christ-like mind. Col 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: There must first be a spiritual awakening that can only be accomplished by God, then comes the natural, internal morality. The moralist, with his external morality, may go a long distance towards perfection, at least in the eyes of his neighbors, but he can never reach true moral perfection, and so he is lost, for God demands perfection in the inner man. Only true spiritual life in the inner man can be perfect, and that life in the inner man of all true Christians is "Christ in you, the hope of glory. And that divine life, i.e., “Christ in you,” is the germ that sparks spiritual growth in the inner man that produces true good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. Divine life always produces good works and so spiritual growth results because God has ordained it, and those ordained good works will flow out of, and give true evidence of, that natural automatic and spontaneous spiritual growth. Life develops according to its type and so out of the Christian’s inner man will flow “rivers of living water,” and “springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. It will be the most natural thing in the world.
Growth is synonymous with a living, automatic process. The Christian is a new creature in Christ Jesus, and he adds cubits to his stature just as the old man (flesh) does, naturally. To use another scriptural metaphor he abides in the vine (Jesus), and because he abides in the vine, and not because he is toiling, but rather because he is growing, he brings forth fruit. Fruit is always because of growth and not growth because of the fruit. The fruits of the Christian’s character are not manufactured things, but living things that have grown from the secret germ. In short they are the fruits of the living Spirit.
Now let’s consider the second great characteristic of growth: mysteriousness. The lily Jesus spoke of grew mysteriously. It pushed up its weight of stem and leaf in the teeth of gravity. How the flower does that, we know not, but observation tells us it does. Along the edges of asphalt paving one often sees plants break the pavement to reach up their leafy heads towards heaven. What mysterious force causes that? It is God who causes it to grow. God has put within the lily the nature to grow. Likewise when the soul rises slowly above the world and pushes up its virtues into the very teeth of sin and depravity, and displays the very image of Christ, it is then as natural for the lily to grow mysteriously from the seed to the flower.
New Christians are often misled into believing the secret of spiritual growth is a strong will, a high ideal, a strong resolve to live virtuously, and the influence of Christian fellowship. We allow that the growth of a lily is a miracle, but then assert that a Christian must resort to self-imposed formulas to grow spiritually. We say the lily may grow naturally and spontaneously, but the Christian must fret and toil to grow spiritually.
A man or woman may, by hard work and self-denial attain to a very high character, but this is not spiritual growth. If such efforts at self-improvement cause spiritual growth then spiritual growth is not mysterious. Jesus Himself spoke of the mysteriousness of spiritual birth and growth when He said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8. The fact that it is mysterious implies you cannot account for it on philosophical grounds such as a favorable Christian environment, charitable works, or efforts at self-improvement. The result of such thinking produces only artificial flowers. You can easily discern where that kind of religion comes from and where it goes. A lot of what passes for Christianity is formed by external influences, social opinions, and the voices of the world, which may be observed and explained. But the genuine thing comes only by the unseen power imparted by the mysterious thing we call the new birth.
True Christians stand out from among the crowd, just as a real lily stands out from all the artificial ones, because of that unseen power that produces spiritual life in them, a life totally different from that lifeless counterfeit of the self-made that call themselves Christians.
As long as anyone tries to manufacture his or her own spirituality, they can never be free from the pressure cooker of trying to measure up. They do not understand that the energies that produce spiritual growth, which results in spiritual improvement, are already there. That energy is the energy of the Omnipotent God Who fills their souls. If they are saved, growth moves them upward just as the lily grows upwards naturally by reason of the energy to grow that is inherent in their cells.
When I was born of the Spirit of God I was hungry for the bread from heaven. That is also the natural result of being born again. It was a pleasure to “taste and see that the Lord was good.” I had “tasted the good word of God” and it made me want more. When one is born of the Spirit of God, growth is automatic. One need not even be thinking of that or even be aware of it. The only thing that can prevent growth in a Christian is not feeding on the word of God. But when one is born of the Spirit of God one has a craving for the bread from heaven, and so eating and growing will go on.
When one is born again growing begins and continues. At first he is satisfied with the “sincere milk of the word.” I Peter 2:2. And as he grows spiritually he automatically develops a taste for the strong meat of the word. “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age.” And so his spiritual growth continues until he becomes a mature Christian. The lily of the field grows spontaneously and mysteriously because that is naturally inherent in its nature. I believe the Lord was pointing out to us that those born of the Spirit of God will just as spontaneously and mysteriously do the same.
Are you growing, or still working at it?
“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (2:25)
“And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (3:10)
In this chapter, and in the last verse of the previous chapter, we see the main reason for clothing. Did you ever wonder why you wear what you wear? Clothing is basically to cover our shame (nakedness). In verse 7 of chapter 3, we see that they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves, because they were naked. They did not know what it meant to be naked before this, and had no shame because of their innocence. Even after the Lord confronted them, they needed to cover their shame, and He provided the skin of the animal, the innocent one, to cover their shame. We see in this a picture of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. He too died to cover our shame, and in Him we are made whole again, and OBtain eternal life. The point I would like to make is that our clothing need not be ostentatious, but simple, as long as it covers us. Anything more than covering our nakedness is pride. Do we need to be adorned with the nicest apparel? Do we need diamond-studded outfits to cover our shame? Of course not. Something much more simple will do. Of course women need to dress modestly, as in Titus 2:9, but even this seems to be speaking of avoiding the showy, attention drawing, and pride building clothing that we often like to wear. It is linked to “gold or pearls, or costly array”, and speaks of dressing “humbly” as much as decently. To “feel good about ourselves” is the worlds’ desire, and ought not to be our desire when it comes to dressing. This thinking is based on pride, which is the bane of all good men and women in every generation. Back to our verses: the shame did not come until the knowledge came. They were not ashamed until after “their eyes were opened” and they became “as gods, knowing good and evil” (3:5).
It is the knowledge then that brought the fear. The knowledge of what? Of good and evil: of the ability to discern between the two. This remains the crux of the matter. When we seek out the flashy, sexy, or showy type apparel, we are merely feeding our ego. This may be hard to swallow, but it is true, nonetheless. We like to offer excuses at to why we dress the way we do, we even try to make it “spiritual”, but the bottom line is pride. For our own satisfaction we want to “look nice”, when we ought to be concerned with covering ourselves. I must be fair, and say that we dress for warmth too, but that is not all the time, and even that should fit the guidelines of “modesty” and humility. Did not our Savior dress “humbly” He deserved spectacular a rOBe of purple, but wore a simple rOBe of white. Folks, be sure your pride shows in the way you dress, and in your appearance in this world; yes, others can see it, even if you will not. It’s for men and women alike.
(Note: The word “modest” in Titus 2:9 means both in a moral aspect, and in a humble aspect. Here is the Dictionary definition of “modest: “
1. Properly, restrained by a sense of propriety; hence, not forward or bold; not presumptuous or arrogant; not boastful; as a modest youth; a modest man.
2. Not bold or forward; as a modest maid. The word may be thus used without reference to chastity.
Text: Rom.16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
1Tim.4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
2Tim.1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
2Tim.2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
We claim to be Christians, followers of a specific way and teaching Jn.14: 6. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. We claim to be guided by the unerring Word of God, the Bible. Yet it seems we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history and repeatedly disregard the warnings of those in the faith that have gone before us.
We have a parallel in the history of the nation of Israel. We can see this parallel in the remarkable scriptures of Duet.1:2-15. An eleven day trip took them forty years! We can see a direct parallel between Israel’s relationship to God and our relationship to God…. how slowly we cover the ground! What winding and turning! How often we must go back and cover the same ground again and again. We are slow travelers because we are slow learners. We might marvel at their unbelief and slowness to OBey, but we, like them, are kept back by our own unbelief and slowness of heart.
The doctrine that we are to hold and pass on is the Word that we have received: The pure, unadulterated truth of God.
The Galatian Church is a negative case in point. Gal.3:1-4. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not OBey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. Saved by grace, but then allowing themselves to be seduced by a perversion of Scripture.
Deut.1:3. And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them; Here is instruction for all who labor in the Word and doctrine: Moses gave what he received from God, nothing more or less; this is the grand principal of the ministry, to bring people in direct contact with the Living Word of God.
The Apostle Paul makes this argument better than I can. 1Cor.2: 1-5. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1Cor.15: 1-3. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
The ‘so called’ church has wholly departed from the authority of the Word of God. In these churches, things are taught that have no foundation in the Scripture. They not only tolerate, but sanction and defend that which is in direct opposition to the mind of Christ. He spoke of them in Mat.15:8-9. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
If you ask for the Divine Authority for their institution or practice, you are told that God has left us free to act according to our conscience. It is considered that professing Christians are left free to form churches, choose their own form of government and appoint their own officers. Can this be true? Are we to assume that the church is worse off than Israel in instruction and authority?
We can see in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the marvelous pains God took to instruct His people in even the minutest particulars concerning their worship and private life. Nothing was left to human arrangement. Man’s wisdom, judgment, reason and conscience had no part in it. There was no place for, “I can’t see this, or, I can’t go with that, or, I can’t agree that this is so.” Such language could only be regarded as self-will, for in that day all the instruction came with, “Thus saith the Lord.” They might as well say they could not agree with God. Are we left to think and arrange for ourselves in worship and service to God? I think not! 1Tim.3: 14-15. These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. He then goes on to show how things ought to be done by believers.
Why are there different doctrines among professing churches? We have possession of God’s Word. We also have division, sects, creeds and denominations, Why? Because they refuse to submit their whole moral being to the authority of the Scripture. Free exercise of thought is the boast of Protestant Christianity.
Such thinking will not stand at the Judgment. Mat.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. Many 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The duty of the servant is to OBey, not to exercise his will. The confusion between so-called churches is due to an unwillingness to bow to Divine Authority.
Mat.7:28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
It is impossible for the Holy Scripture to teach opposing doctrines. It cannot possibly teach the doctrines of Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Church of Christ and Baptist….they oppose one another!
Let’s look at a direct command in the name of Jesus for unity. 1Cor. 1:10. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
The so-called “church”, has departed from the authority of Christ long ago. They gave themselves over to man’s reasoning, feelings and religious perversion. They did not heed the teaching of Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
It is every Christian’s sacred duty to test every ecclesiastical system by the Word of God. If we have no Divine authority, no perfect standard, how can we be certain that we are on the true path?
All that claim to be His church cannot justify the confusion of doctrines that they hold true. 1Cor.14:33. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
If God is not the author of this confusion, then who is? Jas 3:16. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
If we cannot say that “this is the thing that the Lord has commanded”, then we are in error. If a church or religious organization is not in subjection to God as revealed in His Word, what and to whom are they in subjection to? There are only two powers in this world, the power of God and the power of Satan. Satan is the master of deception and mimicry and his masterpiece of all time deception is a false religious system.
Rom.16:17-18. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
What kind of doctrine has God won your heart with? Can you go on to perfection with an opposing doctrine having once known the truth? Rom.6: 17. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have OBeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
The religious liberals will say that there is some good in all churches. My answer is that there is good grain in rat poison too, but it only takes a small amount of poison mixed in with the grain to kill the rat. Any Christian that thinks that he can take what good there is and leave the bad, is ignorant of the nature of evil. Make no mistake; that which is contrary to God’s Word is not of God! 1Cor.10:21,
Confusion on who and what the Church is in this day and time abounds. We believe the Church is not an Israel of any type and that Church and Nations have always had separate functions in both Old and New Testaments. In the last sermon (on Acts 15:1-11) we showed how we are not Israel. In previous sermons we showed how the New Testament Church is an extension of the Old Testament Melchizedek Priesthood, now with Christ as it's High Priest, in Heaven, before God's throne. In this sermon we also show how James uses Amos 9 to show that today the Church is like David's Tabernacle.
In the Old Testament, Israel and Church were in fellowship but when the New Testament came and Christ was anointed king, the Nation rejected Him but the Church received Him. This same picture is found with King David. After God, rejected King Saul and had David anointed King, King Saul and the Nation sought David's death. In seeking David's death, King Saul turns against the Tabernacle (Israel's church) by having the Priests of Nob and their families killed (1 Samuel 22). The surviving priest, Abiathar, fled to David for protection and remained separated from the nation until David was received by the nation. James makes it clear that today the Church is with Christ and the Nation is separated from Christ and His Church. We understand from scripture that Israel is separated from Christ, with the world, into the Spirit of Anti-Christ.
We also show how the Church in Jerusalem, predominately Jewish in faith and nationally Israelite, reconciled their doctrine with these understandings of separation of Church and State and how in order to be a peace with other churches, particularly those churches of the Gentiles and other nations, wrote letters clearing up and resolving the errors and the unsettling doctrines their members had started to spread. Lastly we are shown the divisions of ministry between Paul and Barnabas because of personal differences.
In all this we are given a template for resolving issues between Churches and Ministries, either how to resolve them or how to continue on with ministry without resolving our differences. We show how the resolutions are not based on "forcing" our will upon each other other but rather on mutual cooperation and in the template of Matthew 18, where Christ teaches us how to deal as equals with our brothers. Showing If a resolution cannot be made then we are to separate in peace until it one day it can be made. All the while the primary goal is not to harm and keep pure the gospel ministry, in spite of any unresolved personal differences.
Preached: August 5, 2018 Sunday Night. By Pastor John Young, at Edgecliff Baptist Church, Spokane Valley, WA. https://www.facebook.com/EdgecliffCBC/
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Please pray for the church and college. The following was released from the school: It has come to our attention that allegations of inappropriate conduct have been made against Cameron Giovanelli, a member of our staff. Upon receipt of the notice of the allegations, we immediately placed him on administrative leave of all activities and responsibilities, to conduct a thorough and honest investigation. ..........
Many preachers teach that 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 teaches that the sign gifts will cease, the claim is that the "perfect" of vs 10 is the completed canon of scriptures. However I have a hard time seeing how the completed scriptures were what enable Paul to "know even as I also am known". I am beginning to wonder if this interpretation of this passage of scripture is a knee jerk reaction to charismatic doctrine and chaos? I see it as a definite possibility that what the "perfect" is and what Paul means by "then shall I know even as I also am known" as a reference to our condition in glory, or something of that nature. So I have several questions
1. Does the cessation of spiritual gifts hinge on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12? What other passages of the bible teach cessationism of the sign gifts?
2. Can we know with certainty based on Biblical exegesis that the "perfect" of vs 10 is the completed canon of scripture? or do we just say that because we have heard preachers teach that?
This was the closest to an acceptable explanation that I could find about vs 12, but I still have trouble and feel like it glosses over the phrase "shall know even as also am known"
"The word translated as glass (esoptron esoptron) literally refers to
a mirror. The ancients did not have the technology to make useful mirrors from glass. Rather, they were made from polished metal. Of course, the imagery thereon was not clear, but somewhat fuzzy. The word translated as darkly (ainigma ainigma) is whence the English word enigma derives. Here it has the sense of ‘not clearly,’ or as the Authorized Version renders it, darkly. The idea was of the obtuse imagery of ancient mirrors. The application was to the limited degree of spiritual understanding and knowledge present in the early church ab- sent the New Testament.