Ephesians Pt27 Praying for Boldness

Ephesians 6:18-20(ESV)18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Romans 12:12-13(ESV)12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Paul is writing to the church at Rome to encourage them and explain to them the characteristics of a true Christian. One of the characteristics that is recurring through most of his letters is prayer. Prayer is communication with the Father. If we do not pray how will we every communicate with Him?

If we live with our spouse and only communicate when we need something from them how great of a relationship we would have?

How come most of the time when we pray it is because we are someone we know is in a bind?

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 

This tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words.

Ever had an awkward moment where a fellow Christian asks you to pray for him and you’re not sure that what he wants you to pray is a good idea? Here’s something that’s never out of place to pray in those situations—that God would be glorified in the matter.

In John 14:13(ESV) Jesus promised, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In every circumstance, it’s appropriate to pray “that the Father may be glorified” in it.

Let’s “pray for one another,” and pray biblically.

Prayer for one another is a Christian responsibility.

Believers are commanded in James 5:16(ESV)16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. From verse 13-16 it is a paragraph about praying in faith for those who are sick.

The rest of the New Testament makes it clear that the responsibility for Christians to pray for one another isn’t limited to prayers for the sick. Repeatedly, the Apostle Paul pleads, in 1 Thessalonians 5:25(ESV)“Brothers, pray for us” 2 Thessalonians 3:1(ESV) Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,

One of the four chief characteristics of the church in Jerusalem after Pentecost was that “they devoted themselves to … the prayers” (Acts 2:42(ESV)42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Can anyone doubt that these corporate prayers included much prayer for each other?

While intercession for others may have become more common among believers after Pentecost, it wasn’t unusual in the Old Testament period. For instance, the prophet Samuel assured his fellow Israelites: 1 Samuel 12:23(ESV) “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you”

The main point is Paul is asking for prayer for boldness to speak the mysteries of the gospel. Ephesians 6:19-20(ESV) 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

John Calvin in his Institutes of Christian Religion states “Since then he arms and equips us by his power, adorns us with splendour and magnificence, enriches us with wealth, we here find most abundant cause of glorying, and also are inspired with boldness, so that we can contend intrepidly with the devil, sin, and death. In fine, clothed with his righteousness, we can bravely surmount all the insults of the world: and as he replenishes us liberally with his gifts, so we can in our turn bring forth fruit unto his glory.”Such boldness springs only from confidence in the divine favor and salvation. 

The single term that best describes the way God wants his gospel given is boldness. And because it’s translated various ways, even faithful students of Scripture might overlook its frequency. Boldness (parrhesia) is used forty-two times in the New Testament. It is translated “openly,” “freely,” “plainly,” “with confidence” but most commonly some form of the word “bold.” A bold witness is not a pushy witness. A bold witness is not a loud witness, unless it needs to be. Boldness is not obnoxiousness. It’s not rude or demanding. Boldness is the furthest thing from some wild-eyed preacher screeching in the streets, “You’re going to hell!” Boldness is clear, direct communication in the face of potential opposition, nothing more or less. According to Proverbs 28:1(ESV), it is a characteristic of the God’s children: “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Are you bold for Christ?

Acts 4:23-31(ESV)23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

We live in a lukewarm society at best. It’s filled with “feel-good” churches and false teachers. Satan tells us these problems are small and shouldn’t matter to us. Satan tells us, “As long as they believe in Jesus, it doesn’t matter what else they do.” It’s not true. We can open the word of God and see there is a proper way for everything, whether it’s how we worship in church or how we live our every day lives.

The fact is, not every church is doing right. We have so many different denominations in today’s time. Obviously not everyone can be right if our beliefs are so different. The need for boldness is real. This world needs truth straight from the Bible, and boldness is required to teach this. Sometimes as Christians we are made to feel like the minority. In situations like this, it’s tough to stand against the crowd, but God will reward us for defending the truth.

1 Corinthians 9:16-18(ESV)16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

The simple fact is we should never be ashamed of our beliefs if they are correct. These beliefs come from God himself. God wants us to boldly stand up for the truth. Don’t beat around the bush and make light of your beliefs. Be bold! Show scriptures to show answers, and leave it at that. In a world filled with so many lies and so much evil, God needs bold Christians to stand up and fight for His truth. God makes the rules, not us, so it’s not up to us to change or pervert them. We can bring others to Christ if we are bold and show the truth.

To proclaim the gospel, we must exalt the Lord Jesus, confront sinners with their guilt and the danger of judgment, and offer God’s grace to those who repent.

  1. To proclaim the gospel, we must exalt the Lord Jesus.
  1. TO EXALT THE LORD JESUS, WE MUST DEFLECT ANY GLORY AWAY FROM OURSELVES.

B. TO EXALT THE LORD JESUS, WE MUST TELL PEOPLE WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE HAS DONE.

2. To proclaim the gospel, we must confront sinners with their guilt and warn them of impending judgment.

3. To proclaim the gospel, we must tell of God’s grace to the repentant.

So whenever you get an opportunity to talk to someone about spiritual matters, seek to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. The sinner needs to know who Jesus is and what He did. Don’t hesitate, out of fear of giving offense, to confront the sinner and warn him of impending judgment. He needs to feel his guilt so that he realizes his need for a Savior. And, don’t fail to offer God’s grace and forgiveness to everyone who will repent.

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Ephesians Pt10 Jesus gives the gifts

Ephesians 4:7-16(HCSB)7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift. 8 For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people. 9 But what does “He ascended” mean except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth? 10 The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. 11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

Have you ever been “church shopping,” trying to find the perfect church for your family? People look for programs that will help them and their children grow in the faith. This is backwards thinking. The Church is not about us, it is about Jesus Christ. If the Church is a Temple, a “dwelling place for God in the Spirit”, then the Church is God-centered, not John and Mary Doe-centered. We should be approaching the Church as Christ’s Arms, Hands, and Fingers in the world, not to point out where we need some scratching and massaging, but to ask: How can I help? Where can I serve? How can I make this local manifestation of the Temple of God a more pleasing place for God to dwell?

In his book The Empty Church, historian Thomas C. Reeves says: “Christianity in modern America . . . tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as love of God. There is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain. What we now have might best be labeled ‘Consumer Christianity.’ The cost is low and customer satisfaction seems guaranteed.”

There are two seas in Israel. Both are fed by the same source of life, the Jordan River. The Sea of Galilee is full of life. The area around the Galilee supports an abundance of wildlife.  In contrast, the Dead Sea is lifeless. Nothing lives in the sea and few living organisms are found around the Dead Sea.

So, what is the difference? Why is one full of life and the other dead? If you look at the map, the answer is quite obvious. One sea gives; the other only consumes. The Sea of Galilee takes what it needs from the Jordan River, multiplies the gifts and then passes the water on downstream. The Dead Sea takes water and hoards the water, never passing any water on. The Dead Sea only consumes. The water in the Dead Sea evaporates, leaving behind salt, thus making the Sea lifeless.

How about you? Our source of life is Jesus Christ. His love flows in us and replenishes us. He restores us. He redeems us. He is our Savior. He is our everything. Are you hoarding His love or passing that love on because of your gratitude to Christ? Are you replenishing others around you or just draining them? How about in church? Are you sitting on the same pew weekend in and weekend out just being a consumer? Is it time to start producing more for the Cause of Christ instead of only consuming?

Consumer Christianity is KILLING US.

You understand consumerism. America is made up of consumers. Companies make stuff and we consume it. That’s the cycle of economics which is based upon the law of supply and demand. Demand drives the process. And who does the demanding? Consumers…also us…people. Consumerism is predicated upon our choice to purchase things based on our preferences and needs. If we have a family of six and we need a vehicle which can carry all of us together – Mini van here we come. Healthy consumerism drives a healthy economy and the freedom to choose is at the core of this. That’s why capitalism thrives in countries where the people are free to make their own choices. Consumerism, however, does not make for a healthy church.

What happened? You became a consumer and didn’t realize it. Trained by a culture that worships at the altar of “my needs and wants” you actually fell into the same trap and applied it to your relationship with Jesus and His church. You chose a church based on how it would meet your needs rather than how the Lord wanted you to fit in the body. The reason this is so deadly is that it’s exactly opposite of Jesus’ dream for His Church. God is the one who sets members in the body as He wills…that’s not our prerogative.
1 Corinthians 12:18(HCSB)18 But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. The church was never to be an inward focused people looking to meet their own needs. We were to always be an upward focused people looking to love God and others extravagantly.

When we approach choosing a church the same way we approach where to buy our groceries we step into a consumer mindset which we carry with us during our entire lifetime in the church. We will then complain when the “goods and services” offered are not up to our liking. We will look to “management” to make changes to satisfy our needs. And if our needs are not met, we will vote with our feet, because everybody knows, “the customer is always right.” Is this Jesus’ dream for His church?

“Each one of us” refers to those to whom Paul wrote Ephesians 2:8-9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. If you have not been rescued from God’s judgment (that’s what saved means) by God’s undeserved favor (grace) through faith in Christ’s death as your substitute, then nothing else that I am going to say in this message applies to you. You must receive God’s gracious gift of eternal life before you receive His gracious spiritual gift that enables you to serve Him. If you think that you can earn salvation by serving God, you do not understand the gospel.

In the ancient world, when conquering generals returned home they would bring a procession of prisoners of war as a sign of their victory, and in celebration, give gifts to the populace. Paul quotes Psalms 68 and offers us this image — of the conquering Christ bestowing gifts upon his citizens, the Church. Psalm 68:18(HCSB)You ascended to the heights, taking away captives; You received gifts from people,even from the rebellious, so that the Lord God might live there. He has vanquished his enemies in the “lower, earthly regions” and has now ascended to the heavenly realms where his citizens are enthroned alongside him at the right hand of God.

The poetic picture is that the Lord’s people were in trouble and the Lord came down and delivered them. Then He ascended again into heaven as the victorious warrior. Paul applies this directly to Christ. Second, the verse pictures Christ ascending into heaven after securing victory over His enemies. This includes Satan and his evil hosts, as Christ defeated them at the cross. But it may also allude to all of us who were formerly his enemies, but who were brought into willing submission at the cross. We are now His willing captives, ready to obey the One that we formerly hated. Third, after His ascension, Jesus gave gifts to His church. The picture is of a victorious warrior, receiving spoil after his victory and then distributing that spoil as gifts to his people.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 Paul gives two lists of spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10(HCSB) 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages, to another, interpretation of languages.

1 Corinthians 12:28-30(HCSB)28 And God has placed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, managing, various kinds of languages. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all do miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in other languages? Do all interpret? As in Ephesians 4:4-6, he follows a trinitarian outline.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7(HCSB)4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

1 Corinthians 12:11(HCSB), 11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills. Twice he states that each one has a gift. Each Christian has a gift.

Besides Ephesians 4, the other text is 1 Peter 4:10-11(HCSB), which groups all of the gifts under the general headings of serving gifts and speaking gifts: 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. Note, again, each one.

So if you have received God’s gracious gift of salvation, you have also received His gracious spiritual gift to use for His glory. It is for His glory and His glory alone that we receive any gift.

UNDERSTAND THIS: CHRIST DISTRIBUTES THESE GIFTS ACCORDING TO HIS SOVEREIGN PURPOSE.

Paul emphasizes this each time he speaks about spiritual gifts.
Romans 12:4-8(HCSB)4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of one’s faith; 7 if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; 8 if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness. Here he mentioned that God has given each these gifts and they differ according to the grace that God has given to us. In 1 Corinthians 12:11, he attributes the distribution of the various gifts to the sovereignty of the Spirit. Here (Ephesians 4:7), it is, “according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

We cannot be jealous when someone has a gift we do not have. We have to bow before His sovereignty and accept how He has gifted us.

SINCE CHRIST GAVE THESE GIFTS, WE MUST USE THEM AS HE DIRECTS.

He is the sovereign Lord who distributes gifts according to His purpose. Thus we are accountable to Him to use the gifts that He has given as He directs.

Some are given leadership gifts to equip the rest of the saints for ministry. But every Christian is “in the ministry” in the sense that every Christian has a spiritual gift and will give an account to God for how he used it. Also, there is no place for grumbling when you serve the Lord. The very fact that you, a former rebel, are serving the Lord Jesus Christ, is pure grace! Think of where you could be, without hope and without God in this world, living for vain pleasures and headed toward eternal punishment. When you’re tempted to quit serving the Lord because someone hurt your feelings or didn’t appreciate you as much as he should have, stop and think about the undeserved privilege of serving Him! But, serving Christ, especially if we should be persecuted as Paul was, only makes sense if Christ is who He claimed to be.

Apostle

“Apostle,” the Greek noun apostolos, comes from the verb apostello, “to send away to achieve an objective.” The noun means “delegate, envoy, messenger.”

Are there apostles today? Some deny that there are. Others see a present-day apostolic role. As far as we are concerned the original apostles are no more but the office of apostle is usually found in people who plant churches.

Prophet

If apostles seem a bit obscure to twenty-first century minds, so do prophets. “Prophet” is the Greek noun prophetes is used of “a person inspired to proclaim or reveal divine will or purpose. Every time a person preaches he is doing the work of a prophet, proclaiming the Word of God.

Evangelist

“Evangelist,” the Greek noun euangelistes, comes from the noun euangelizo, “bring good news, announce good news.” The noun means “proclaimer of the gospel, evangelist.” Local congregations today need men and women as gifted evangelists who bring the gospel to people so their hearts can be changed and have faith in Christ. Local church evangelists are also important because they can instruct other church members how to effectively share their faith.

Pastor

“Pastor” is the Greek noun poimen, “shepherd, one who serves as guardian or leader.” The idea of shepherd as leader was present in the ancient orient. The king is referred to as shepherd in documents and inscriptions in Sumeria and Egypt. Dr. William Yount says this: What is the role of the pastor? Some say the pastor is primarily a prophet, proclaiming the Word of God. Others say a shepherd, nurturing and protecting  the church. Still others  say a leader, managing and administrating the work of the church. Each has its importance, but church leaders must balance all three if congregations are to grow in a healthy way. Yet underlying all these roles is the fundamental calling of the pastor: to “equip the saints for works of service.” that is, to teach.

Teacher

“Teacher” is the Greek noun didaskalos, “teacher.” The Hebrew title “rabbi,” sometimes used to address Jesus, uses this word. The Great Commission includes this vital teaching function — “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20). Teaching was “the ministry of the Word” (Luke 1:2; Acts 6:4).

A good case can be made for considering pastors and teachers as two sides of the same ministry. Too many of our people are biblically illiterate. Too many of our children don’t really know the stories and message of the Bible that will bring them to salvation.Leaders who teach are so important to the work of the local church.

The church is sick. This results from what Dallas Willard calls the “Great Omission from the Great Commission.” The third command of the Great Commission “teaching them all things what­ soever I have commanded you” has been omitted from serious application by the modern church. There are grand plans for evangelization and stewardship but rarely is anything but lip service paid  to discipleship. Why because disciple ship is messy. Discipleship is what brings people from spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity.

Ephesians 4:14(HCSB) Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.
One positive result from maturity in a believer is not being tricked by false teaching. Those who are “no longer children” can stand against lies and deceit. The goal is to avoid being “carried about by every wind of doctrine.” False teaching changes regularly. Those who are immature can easily be fooled into thinking false teaching is accurate.

This can take place in two ways. First, believers can be deceived by “human cunning.” This is the power of human persuasion; a smooth talker can wield influence over others. Second, a person can be deceived by “craftiness in deceitful schemes.” These are evil plans that may appear good but actually promote something false.

Pastors are to be “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). Jesus is the Model. Pastor Washburn wrote, It is enormously significant that the only time the term pastor is used to describe the spiritual gifts given to undershepherds of the churches, it is directly connected to the gift of teaching: pastors and teachers.

David Hixon reflected his understanding of Paul when he remarked  that the

…pastor’s primary role according to Eph­esians 4 is not to be preacher, or an evange­list, or a counselor. His primary responsibility is to equip or to prepare God’s people to do the work. The church needs to grow and mature through the ministry of the laity and not primarily through,the works of the paid staff.

Hixon wrote, “Many of our people are seduced by false teachers because we, as pastors, have not done our job in growing them up in Christ Jesus. Discipleship is the key to avoiding an infantile ministry.”

Suhling remarked that

…the goal of the teacher is spiritual  maturity in the believer. If this is not achieved, then the result will be that the believer will be like one who is foolish and inexperienced when it comes to doctrine and practice. Indeed, the immature believer will be like a cork tossed about on rough water or a weathervane at the mercy of a hard uncer­tain wind when it comes to believing the right teaching.

Washburn summarized Paul’s thrust this way:

[There is a] popular new approach to church­manship that strives to appeal to the baby­ boomer church-shoppers by offering the most exciting and joyous worship product in the community market. Laboring to tickle the fancy of the worship experience consumer may fill a pastor’s church with warm bodies, but it does little to foster commitment, involvement, and true discipleship.

So what alternative did Paul offer? What is the option? Ephesians 4:15(HCSB) But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. Here is the kicker. Here is the definitive word from Paul on church growth: to “grow up into Him.” Leonard Griffith explained the difference between growing and growing up like this:

Academic learning leads to knowledge, but not necessarily to maturity. Some adults with high IQs remain psychologically children. This is the difference between “growing” and “growing up.” Is the church seeking only to grow or is it growing up?

Churches grow up in Christ by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15a). The truth Paul referred to is the gospel, but “speaking the truth” involves much more than saying religious words. Believers cannot speak the truth until they know the truth experientially ( epignosis ). Believers cannot speak the truth effectively until they exercise it in daily living, solving problems biblically.

Dr. Al Mohler  – As a theologian, the pastor must be known for what he teaches, as well as for what he knows, affirms and believes. The health of the church depends upon pastors who infuse their congregations with deep biblical and theological conviction. The means of this transfer of conviction is the preaching of the Word of God.

We will be hard pressed to define any activity as being more inherently theological than the preaching of God’s Word. The ministry of preaching is an exercise in the theological exposition of Scripture. Congregations that are fed nothing more than ambiguous “principles” supposedly drawn from God’s Word are doomed to spiritual immaturity — which will become visible in compromise, complacency and a host of other spiritual ills.

Why else would the Apostle Paul command Timothy to preach the Word in such solemn and serious terms: 2 Timothy 4:1-2(HCSB) I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.

Pastors deal with people in different ways and most people will not understand this. They will expect us to love everyone the same. Calling out false teaching is love for the flock. Showing the congregation what heretics and false teachers sound like is one of the most loving things you can do. It keeps them from falling into damnable heresies. Preaching sound doctrine is sort of a vaccine to bad doctrine. John MacArthur says “One of the greatest problems with the modern day church is  lack of biblical discernment. The church basically suffers from spiritual AIDS. It could die of a thousand heresies because its immune system is so totally deficient”John MacArthur(2015 Ligonier Fall Conference)
Preaching and Teaching sound doctrine builds up the immune system of the church. It shows the congregation the truth so when the false comes they know the difference. Waiting for the false to come then showing the truth is not correct nor effective. It is like trying to get a flu shot after you have the flu.

Ephesians 4:16(HCSB) From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

Only when the whole church, the whole body is exercising their gifts can the church function as it is supposed to. This can only be done by leadership and teaching the truth of the Word. This comes by the way of sound doctrine and pastors, rebuking, correcting and encouraging the flock. He must protect the flock from false teaching and expose it for what it is.

Ephesians Pt9 Unity

Ephesians 4:1-6(HCSB)Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

While many in today’s world are engaged in celebrating “diversity,” the Bible places an extraordinary emphasis on the value of “unity.” While there is diversity in unity, the glue than binds us in unity is our beliefs on the Lord, faith, baptism, the church and the Spirit. The Persons of the Godhead are a ultimate tri-unity of absolute perfection.

It is difficult to find a church within the framework of New Testament history that did not experience some level of discord. The church in Jerusalem was troubled with Judaizers (Acts 11:1-3(ESV)Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
Acts 15:1(ESV)But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

Galatians 5:7-12 (ESV)7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

The Corinthian church goers had their own conflicting features that gave excessive flattery to leaders (1 Corinthians 1:10-17(ESV)10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Even the beloved Timothy in Ephesus had to deal with people who refused to repent and have their name for all eternity in scripture. 1 Timothy 1:18-20(HCSB) 18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle, 19 having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have suffered the shipwreck of their faith. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them, and I have delivered them to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

Acts 15:36-39(HCSB)36 After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers in every town where we have preached the message of the Lord and see how they’re doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark.38 But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. These examples by no means exhaust the list, but you get the idea there have been disagreements throughout the church and some ended in “being handed over to Satan” and some just ended and Paul actually says Mark is very useful to him in ministry in 2 Timothy. This is the same Mark that wrote the Gospel of Mark.

Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is a document that addresses unity. The first three chapters provide a theological basis for unity; the final three are principally concerned with the practical implementation of “unity of the body” in Christ. In 4:1-6, God’s inspired apostle lays down a micro-platform for unity that concerns the two main sources of discord among those who profess to follow Christ. One has to do with temperament, the other with teaching. The recognition of these two problematic areas could go a long way towards healing division.

Paul frequently refers to himself as a “prisoner” (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; Philippians 1:13; Philemon 9,13; 2 Timothy 1:8). He is both a prisoner “of Christ” (3:1) and a prisoner “in the Lord” (4:1). The apostle was a prisoner literally on many occasions during his ministry (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23), and specifically when he penned this letter to the church in Ephesus. But in a richer sense he had become the prisoner “of” Jesus in that he had surrendered his self-interests to the bondage of his Lord for whom he gladly suffered. Too, his relationship “in” the Lord placed his sufferings in an altogether different dimension. There is no nobility in hardship when one is distanced from the Savior.

In the pursuit of Christian unity, it is absolutely crucial that a person understands and appreciates the importance of the belief system he has embraced. Christianity is the sole avenue to God. It is not merely “a religion,” or a great way to live. In view of this foundational truth, the plea that Paul wrote is appropriate.

Christians must (Ephesians 4:1(HCSB)“walk worthy of the calling you have received”. The “calling” is God’s invitation (Acts 2:39(HCSB)39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”)Romans 8:30(HCSB)30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. How did He call us? by means of gospel preaching (2 Thessalonians 2:14(HCSB)14 He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ., to people who are accountable, to partake of the blessings of the kingdom of heaven by means of the “in Christ” relationship (Philippians 3:14). Those who respond to the message, and submit in obedience, are designated as the “called”.

The term “walk” (peripateo—“to walk around”) refers to the entire “sphere” of one’s existence. Christianity is not a mere sideline, nor is it a spiritual “hobby.” It is a consuming passion. Christian conduct must measure up to the pattern imposed by God.

Sin is a disruptive force, it always divides, separates, and splinters. It divides a man within and against himself. It has produced the constant fight and struggle which we are all aware of in our own lives and in the life of the church. Consequently, the central object of salvation, in a sense, is to re-unite, to bring together again, to reconcile, to restore the unity that God created before sin and the fall produced this terrible havoc between God and man, between men, and within man himself.

So the unity that we have in Christ is part of the grand design. Thus, one of the peculiar marks of the Christian calling is to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Unity is not a general spirit of friendliness or fellowship. Nor is unity some common aim or series of aims. UNITY IS A PRODUCT. It is the result of all that Paul has been saying in chapters 1-3. It is the product of the cross and God’s work in Christ. There can be no Christian unity unless it is based on the teaching of correct biblical doctrine. Since Christian unity is a result of God’s work in Christ, it is not something that we are to aim at for the sake of unity.  In order for a church like ours to be in unity we must rally around a few fundamental beliefs. While we desire to be inclusive and accepting of others and their scriptural beliefs – at some point there has to be a line in the sand that we will not cross.

The Inerrancy of Scripture

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection

Jesus sinlessness

There is ONLY one true God

The Virgin Birth

The Trinity: The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit

The existence of an eternal Hell

The necessity of belief in Jesus Christ ONLY as savior for salvation,Jesus + Nothing= Salvation

For us to be in unity with others we have to agree upon these close handed issues.

UNITY IS “OF THE SPIRIT” It refers to the unity provided by the Holy Spirit. It is a unity which we can never produce.

UNITY IS ORGANIC Unity is living and vital. It is not mechanical. Christian unity, the unity of the Spirit, is a unity which starts within and works outward through organic life like we see in a flower or in the human body. The unity of the church is organic in character. She is not a collection of parts. She is a new creation, a spiritual body created by God in Christ. The old has been done away in the this body. There are no longer the distinctions of man. There is no longer Jew and Gentile . . .

The analogy of the human body explains the nature of this unity.

(1) The human body is first, an organic unity. It consists of many parts: toes, fingers, hands, feet, legs, eyes, ears, etc. But it is not a collection of parts put together as in an automobile or as in a house. It begins from one cell which begins to develop and to grow and shoots off little buds that eventually make up the varied parts. This is an organic and a living unity by creation. So is the church, spiritually speaking.

True, when a person believes in Christ, he is joined into union with Christ by Spirit baptism and becomes a member of the body, but by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, he is not merely and add on. He miraculously and spiritually becomes an organic part of the body of Christ.

Some of the parts are covered, others are within the body and are unseen, but nevertheless, very important. Some gifts are more in the fore front, they are more obvious and others less so, but all are essential to the effective work of the body.

There is far more to unity than a mere atmosphere of friendliness. There also is the unity of truth. Truth is consistent, hence there is the sacred reminder that Christians “all speak the same thing,” and that there be “no divisions” among us. Rather, we are to be “united with the same understanding and the same conviction” (1 Corinthians 1:10(HCSB)10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. While this goal never will be achieved absolutely in a society of flawed people, it must be sought vigorously.

There is one baptism,when Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers about “one baptism,” he was reminding them that, regardless of their background or nationality, they all served the same Lord, shared the same faith, and had experienced the same baptism. By reminding the church that they all had a similar testimony and that they were all partakers in the same Holy Spirit, Paul encouraged them to work together for the cause of Christ so that the message of redemption would continue to spread throughout the world (Matthew 28:19).

The “one body” is identified as the “church” in its universal capacity. That “body” consists of many “members,” yet is “one” in its essential composition (1 Corinthians 12:12). The expression “one body” is thus the equivalent of “one church” (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18,24). While there are many local congregations of “like kind” that make up that one body (Revelation 1:4), the modern practice of many denominations proclaiming varying doctrines, is a manifested apostasy from the gospel truth. Paul affirmed that Christ is the “Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23); none outside the “one body” is promised salvation.

The imagery of the “body” further suggests that all direction to the “members” is received from the “head,” Christ (Ephesians 5:23(HCSB)23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.; Colossians 1:18), and such excludes popes and councils.What sort of sideshow monstrosity is a creature with one “head” and yet “many bodies”? Moreover, if the body is to function as God intended, unity among its members must prevail. 1 Corinthians 12:12(HCSB)2 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.. If there were no cooperation between the nervous, circulatory, respiratory systems, etc., could any body function?

In his comments upon this “one body” phrase, Baptist scholar Justin Smith laments the sad reality that the modern system of “Christendom,” with its divisions into many “sects,” is not consistent with the New Testament pattern. He purposefully declined to identify “causes” or to assign “responsibility”; he simply noted the error of the current status of the numerous conflicting “bodies” (1890, 60-61).

But the cause is quite transparent; it lies in a denial of the New Testament as the sole pattern for church organization, and the responsibility rests with all who applaud the diversity of coexisting with different religions, denominations and cults. They choose to remain entangled in that maze of a self-willed religion instead of standing for biblical sound doctrine.
What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8(HCSB)They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.8 Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.”, the teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1(HCSB)Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons,), and the teachings of God (John 6:45(HCSB)45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me—). Here, at Revival Life Church we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. The primary object of doctrine is God; the secondary object is all things in relation to God. Doctrine teaches us to see God as the one from whom and through whom and to whom all things exist, and doctrine directs our lives to this God’s glory. Sound doctrine delivers us from the snare of false teaching (
Titus 1:9-11(HCSB)9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it. 10 For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism.11 It is necessary to silence them; they overthrow whole households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly., which otherwise threatens to arrest spiritual development (Ephesians 4:14(HCSB)14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. and to foster  discord in the church (Romans 16:17(HCSB)17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them.

Unity does not imply uniformity. It does not mean that all Christians will think alike or perform identical ministries. We unify when our doctrines are alike, we are not to be in unity when our doctrines are not the same. Sound doctrine is important because our faith is based on a specific message. Our eternal destiny depends upon hearing “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation”. Sound doctrine is important because the gospel is a sacred trust, and we dare not tamper with God’s communication to the world. Our duty is to deliver the message, not to change it. Rather than alter the apostles’ doctrine, we receive what has been passed down to us and keep it “as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). Sound doctrine is important because what we believe affects what we do. Behavior is an extension of theology, and there is a direct correlation between what we think and how we act. For example, two people stand on top of a bridge; one believes he can fly, and the other believes he cannot fly. Their next actions will be quite dissimilar. In the same way, a man who believes that there is no such thing as right and wrong will naturally behave differently from a man who believes in well-defined moral standards. In one of the Bible’s lists of sins, things like rebellion, murder, lying, slander and gossip are mentioned. The list concludes with “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9-10). In other words, true teaching promotes righteousness; sin flourishes where “the sound doctrine” is opposed.

Sound doctrine is important because we must ascertain truth in a world of falsehood. “Many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). There are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock (Matthew 13:25; Acts 20:29). The best way to distinguish truth from falsehood is to know what the truth is. Pastors will deal with people in different ways and most people will not understand this. They will expect us to love everyone the same. Calling out false teaching is love for the flock. Showing the congregation what heretics and false teachers sound like is one of the most loving things you can do. It keeps them from falling into damnable heresies. Preaching sound doctrine is sort of a vaccine to bad doctrine. John MacArthur says “One of the greatest problems with the modern day church is  lack of biblical discernment. The church basically suffers from spiritual AIDS. It could die of a thousand heresies because its immune system is so totally deficient”John MacArthur(2015 Ligonier Fall Conference)
Preaching and Teaching sound doctrine builds up the immune system of the church. It shows the congregation the truth so when the false comes they know the difference. Waiting for the false to come then showing the truth is not correct nor effective. It is like trying to get a flu shot after you have the flu.

Titus 1:9 (ESV)He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 2:1 (ESV) But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 (ESV) Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

2 Timothy 4:3 (ESV)For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

1 Timothy 6:3-5 (ESV) If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

2 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV)Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

This unity of which Paul wrote is not one which the Christian needs to create, but one which already exists and must be diligently preserved. It is based upon our sharing life in one body, the universal church, the body of Christ. All Christians are sealed, possessed, and indwelt by the same Spirit and look forward to the same hope. We possess one Lord, that is, one Supreme Commander, one common faith (one system of fundamental truth) held by all Christians, and one baptism.

Most importantly, as Christians, we are to see one another in the light of the cross. Fellow Christians are those for whom Christ died a horrible and painful death so that He might exchange His righteous perfection for their sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). How can we not extend to them the love, compassion, and grace of our heavenly Father? How can we demean, criticize, and defame those covered with the precious blood of Christ? Were we not slaves to sin when He called us, hopelessly lost, dead in our own transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)? But we are now slaves of Christ, slaves to righteousness, and as slaves of the Master, the task before us is not to quarrel and demand our needs be met but to reflect His grace and love to those who are also His by His mercy. A church full of such people enjoying their “common salvation” will be a true, biblical church unified in, and earnestly contending for, the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Doctrine and what we believe

What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8(ESV)7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”, the teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3(ESV)Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. and the teachings of God (John 6:45(ESV)45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—;

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12(ESV)9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. Here, we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. The word translated “doctrine” means “instruction, especially as it applies to lifestyle application.” In other words, doctrine is teaching imparted by an authoritative source. In the Bible, the word always refers to spiritually related fields of study. The Bible says of itself that it is 2 Timothy 3:16-17(ESV)16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.. We are to be careful about what we believe and present as truth. 1 Timothy 4:16(ESV) Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Biblical doctrine helps us understand the will of God for our lives. Biblical doctrine teaches us the nature and the character of God, John 4:24(ESV)24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”, the path of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9(ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 10:9–10(ESV)9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved., instruction for the church (1 Corinthians 14:26(ESV)26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.;

Titus 2:1–10(ESV)But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior., and God’s standard of holiness for our lives 1 Peter 1:14–16(ESV)14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Corinthians 6:18–20(ESV)18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. When we accept the Bible as God’s Word to us (2 Peter 1:20–21(ESV)20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.),(There is only one interpretation of scripture, not many) we have a solid foundation for our doctrine. There can be disagreement within the body of Christ over secondary points of doctrine, such as eschatology, church organization, or the style of music. But truly biblical doctrine is that which incorporates the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and draws conclusions based on that which seems most closely aligned with the character of our unchanging God.

Those “untaught” in sound doctrine are most prone to twisting the Scriptures “to their own destruction” 2 Peter 3:16(ESV)16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

The Object of Sound Doctrine

Sound doctrine is important because what we believe affects what we do. Behavior is an extension of theology, and there is a direct correlation between what we think and how we act. For example, two people stand on top of a bridge; one believes he can fly, and the other believes he cannot fly. Their next actions will be quite different. In the same way, a man who believes that there is no such thing as right and wrong will naturally behave differently from a man who believes in well-defined moral standards. In one of the Bible’s lists of sins, things like rebellion, murder, lying, and slave trading are mentioned. The list concludes with “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9-10(ESV)9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,. In other words, true teaching promotes righteousness; sin flourishes where “the sound doctrine” is opposed.

Sound doctrine is important because we must ascertain truth in a world of falsehood. 1 John 4:1(ESV)Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. There are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock (Matthew 13:24-25(ESV)24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.;

Acts 20:28-30(ESV)28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. The best way to distinguish truth from falsehood is to know what the truth is. They teach bankers to identify counterfeit bills by making them handle real money, that way when the fake shows up it is easily identifiable. Therefore it is imperative to your walk that you know the truth from the beginning.

Sound doctrine is important because the end of sound doctrine is life.
1 Timothy 4:16(ESV)16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. Conversely, the end of unsound doctrine is destruction. Jude 1:4(ESV)4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Changing God’s message of grace is a “godless” thing to do, and the condemnation for such a deed is severe. Preaching another gospel (“which is really no gospel at all”) carries an anathema:(a curse,damnation) Galatians 1:6-9(ESV)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Sound doctrine is important because it encourages believers. A love of God’s Word brings “great peace” (Psalm 119:165(ESV) Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble., and those “who proclaim peace . . . who proclaim salvation” are truly “beautiful”
Isaiah 52:7(ESV)How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

A pastor has a mandate from scripture to hold to sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it.  Titus 1:9(ESV)9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Therefore I do not care if you think a Pastor should not be “arguing in a public forum such as Facebook, because the bible tells us to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine.

God loves us; and in His goodness He has given us the good gift of doctrine that we might learn of Him and of His gospel, and that we might please Him in our walk. Doctrine is the teaching of our heavenly Father, revealed in Jesus Christ, and transmitted to us by the Holy Spirit in Holy Scripture, and it is to be received, confessed, and followed in the church, to the glory of God’s name.

What we hold to as doctrine; the five solas, doctrines of grace and the Baptist Faith and Message, also the 2nd London Baptist Confessional(1689).
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are:

•Sola Fide, by faith alone.

•Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.

•Solus Christus, through Christ alone.

•Sola Gratia, by grace alone.

•Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

Faith alone (Sola Fide)

Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice. Our justification does not rest on any merit to be found in us, nor upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ’s righteousness in us, nor that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura)

The inerrant Scripture (the Bible) is the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. It is denied that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Christ alone (Solus Christus)

Our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father. It is denied that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

Grace alone (Sola Gratia)

In salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is denied that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)

It is affirmed that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. It is denied that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

We adhere to a very high view of scripture and sees to derive our theological formulations based solely on God’s word. We focus on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. We also maintain that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.

Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin. The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil and sick. Man is a slave of sin. He does not seek for God. He cannot understand spiritual things. He is at enmity with God. And, is by nature a child of wrath.

God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him.

Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect.otherwise His death would have atoned for the sins of the whole world and no one would go to hell.

When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God.
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ.

Ephesians 1:3-10(ESV)Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 2:1-10(ESV)And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Romans 5:7-8 – For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:12,19 – sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned… by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners

John 10:3-4(ESV)3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

John 10:25-29(ESV)25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

John 6:37,44,65(ESV)37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

John 3:16-20(ESV)16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)10 as it is written:“None is righteous, no, not one;11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good, not even one.”

1.  We believe in the one true and living God, in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who is invisible, personal, omnipresent, eternal, dependent on none, unchanging, truthful, trustworthy, almighty, sovereign, omniscient, righteous, holy, good, loving, merciful, long-suffering and gracious.

2.  We believe that Almighty God has revealed all that is necessary to life and salvation in the sixty six books of Holy Scripture which are the Word of God.   All Scripture was given by inspiration of God, is infallible and inerrant, and is the final arbiter in all disputes. Its authority is derived from its Author and not from the opinions of men.

3. We believe that God made our first father Adam perfect, holy and upright.   He was appointed representative and head of the human race thereby exposing all his offspring to the effects of his obedience or disobedience to God’s commands.

4.  We believe that Adam fell from his original righteousness into sin and brought upon himself and all his offspring death, condemnation and sinnership.

5.  We believe it is utterly beyond the power of fallen man to love God, to keep his laws, to understand the gospel, to repent of sin or trust in Christ.

6. We believe that God, before the foundation of the world, for his own glory did elect an innumerable host of men and women to eternal life as an act of free and sovereign grace.   This election was in no way dependent upon his foresight of human faith, decision, works or merit.

7.  We believe that God sent his Son into the world, conceived of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, unchangeably sinless, both God and man, born under the Law, to live a perfect life of righteousness, on behalf of his elect people.

8. We believe that God’s Son died at Calvary to effect propitiation, reconciliation, redemption and atonement for his elect people. God bore testimony to his acceptance of his Son’s work by raising him from the dead.

9. We believe that God’s Son ascended to the right hand of his Father and is enthroned in glory, where he intercedes on behalf of his people and rules over all things for their sake.

10. We believe that God the Son has poured out the Holy Spirit to work alongside the preached Word. The Spirit of God regenerates the elect sinner and draws him irresistibly to faith in Christ the Saviour.

11. We believe the elect, who are called by grace, are justified in the sight of God on account of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ which is received by faith alone.

12.  We believe that such as are regenerated, called and justified shall persevere in holiness and never fall away.

13. We believe that baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper are gospel ordinances belonging only to regenerated believers.

14. We believe that the local church is under the authority of Christ alone.The communion of saints, however, requires recognition of and fellowship with other churches.

15. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ shall come again to raise the dead, both righteous and unrighteous, and that the righteous shall enjoy everlasting life and the wicked endure everlasting punishment.

For more detailed exposition on our beliefs you can look it up in the Baptist Faith and Message.

Submit to the Government

Question & answer  Truth about Being Subject To Governing Authorities & the laws Of the Land…Romans 13:1-14 …Im sick of the political arena On The News Im not About Politics But People need a spiritual aspect ..Gods will

Government is one of the facts of life in this world. All of human history has shown that we need to be governed. Not surprisingly, the Bible speaks to government. Here are five things the Bible teaches us.*Challies.com*

Every government is put in place by God.

John 19:11(HCSB)11 “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”

Romans 13:1(HCSB)Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.

God uses even sinful governments to do his will.

Jeremiah 25:8-9(HCSB)“Therefore, this is what the Lord of Hosts says: ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, I am going to send for all the families of the north’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘and send for My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will bring them against this land, against its residents, and against all these surrounding nations, and I will completely destroy them and make them a desolation, a derision, and ruins forever.

Acts 4:27-28(HCSB)27 “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.

We ought to pray for those who govern us.

1 Timothy 2:1-2(HCSB)First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

We should honor and submit to those who govern us.

Jesus said to them, Mark 12:17(HCSB)17 Then Jesus told them, “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

Romans 13:1-7(HCSB)Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. 2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. 4 For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. 5 Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience. 6 And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks.7 Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.

1 Peter 2:13-17(HCSB)13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor[b] as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 

17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.

All human governments will eventually end and Jesus will reign over everyone forever.

Isaiah 9:6-7(HCSB)For a child will be born for us,a son will be given to us,

and the government will be on His shoulders.He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7  The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.

Revelation 19:11-16(HCSB)11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. 13 He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. 14 The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. 15 A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd[d] them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. 16 And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

27BC-14AD: Augustus Caesar “The first Roman Emperor” He reigned during the life of Jesus Christ.

14AD-37AD: Tiberius “The Emperor who trusted Sejanus and lived in Capri”

37-41AD: Caligula “The Evil Emperor who proclaimed himself a god”

41-54AD: Claudius “The bumbling Emperor who married the infamous Messalina”
James–A.D. 44-49

Galatians–A.D. 49-50
1 Thessalonians–A.D. 51

2 Thessalonians–A.D. 51-52

54-68AD: Nero “The mad tyrant who blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome” He wed Pythagoras in a formal same-sex wedding by first putting on a bridal veil that made Nero the “bride” and Pythagoras the “groom.”

Every symbol of a classical marriage was present at this ceremony: a dowry, marriage bed, torches, and witnesses. Tacitus, the great Roman historian who records the event, even alludes to the fact that Nero engaged in coitus with the man in front of all the guests, stating that “everything was public which even in a natural union is veiled by night.”

In A.D. 67 Nero ordered Sporus, a free man, to be castrated and then married to him. He allowed the boy to take the role of “bride” while Nero played the “groom.” After extravagant public ceremonies that were celebrated in both Greece and Rome, they lived together as supposed “husband” and “wife.”

According to Tacitus, Nero engaged in “every filthy, depraved act, licit or illicit.” During his reign he captured Christians and, after fixing them to stakes, burned them in his garden at night for a source of light. He is known for numerous brutal executions, including that of his own mother. He committed suicide in June of 68.

1 Corinthians–A.D. 55

2 Corinthians–A.D. 55-56

Romans– A.D. 56

Luke–A.D. 60-61

Ephesians–A.D. 60-62

Philippians–A.D. 60-62

Philemon–A.D. 60-62

Colossians–A.D. 60-62

Acts–A.D. 62

1 Timothy–A.D. 62-64

Titus–A.D. 62-64

1 Peter–A.D. 64-65

2 Timothy–A.D. 66-67

2 Peter–A.D. 67-68

68-69AD: Galba “The old man the first in the Year of the four Emperors”

Hebrews–A.D. 67-69

69AD: Otho “The greedy ruler who lasted just three months” Timeline

69AD: Vitellius “The man who killed his dissolute son” Timeline

69-79AD: Vespasian “The Emperor who built the Colosseum” Timeline

Jude–A.D. 68-70

79-81AD: Titus “The Emperor who destroyed the temple in Jerusalem”

John–A.D. 80-90

81-96AD: Domitian “The evil emperor who murdered thousands of Christians” Domitian ordered himself to be styled the “Lord and God,” and was worshiped with divine honors. Christians were murdered in great numbers during the reign of the tyrant Domitian. Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and St. John, who was boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos. At that time a group of pagans were celebrating the feast of Catagogion, a festival in which they carried images of their gods about the streets. Timothy met and scolded them for their idolatry. Timothy was quoted as saying, “Do as you please!

And what if pleases you is a trap? What if it is a bond that will take your life from you before you have even lived and chain you to regret and dissatisfaction? Jesus came that you might have life and life abundantly! Why accept the chains of sin when you can live free in His Spirit!”They beat him with clubs, and he died two days later. 

1 John–A.D. 90-95, 2 John–A.D. 90-95, 3 John–A.D. 90-95 ,Revelation—A.D. 94-96

Rotten or Graceful Speech?

Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid. Then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.The same words that hurt can heal, it’s a matter of how you pick them. There are some people that aren’t into all the words.There are some that would have you not use certain words.

There are around 400,000 words in the English language and there are 7 of them that are really bad. 399,993 to 7. They must really be bad. They’d have to be outrageous to be separated from a group that large.That’s what they told us they were, remember? “That’s a bad word!”  No bad words, there are bad thoughts, bad intentions, and but words?!(George Carlin – 7 Words you can never say on TV)

We ought to have the freedom to use language contextually and not be bound by religiosity. That doesn’t mean that we ought to cuss like a sailor, but words have power… even what our culture considers offensive. (To be clear, I don’t often agree with under-girding theological assumptions that drive his use of foul or provocative language at various times)

I hear people use this verse alot Ephesians 4:29(NASB)29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” I wonder what determines unwholesome speech? Does the pop culture? Does the FCC? Do the religious people? Nope. The answer comes in the second part of the statement: “…only that which is good for building others up ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS.” This statement both relativizes cussing and invites contextualization. The test, does using this word tear someone down or build up? If it doesn’t tear them down (because it is part of a language they understand) then we ought not live in a legalism that the Scriptures don’t impose.

Isaiah 5:20(ESV)Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  We are supposed to use good words for good things and bad words for bad things, the problems start when we mix them up. When we start to assume certain words are bad and certain words are good. Or we allow culture to dictate what is good and what is bad instead of letting scripture tell us.

Bible Translations are filtered through a bit of political correctness. As a pastor one of my goals is to instill a passion to interpret and believe what the Bible actually says into you guys. Not what we want it to say, but what it really says in all its grit and occasional offensiveness. Cleaning up God’s word is like telling a chef he didn’t prepare the meal correctly for the patrons.

But religious people have been covering up obscene language in the Bible for centuries. Jewish scribes in the middle ages, who copied the Hebrew Old Testament used as the base for all English translations, edited out some vulgar words and replaced them with nicer ones. For instance, God originally prophesied through Zechariah that women in Israel would be raped by wicked, invading armies. The word God inspired is shagel, and according to Hebrew linguists, shagel is an obscene word that describes a sexual act. But whenever God said shagel  as in Deuteronomy 28:30(ESV)30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit.;

Isaiah 13:16(HCSB)Their children will be smashed to death before their eyes; their houses will be looted, and their wives raped., 

the Masorites replaced it with the more tame shakev—“to lie with.” And all of our “literal” English translations agree that the word from the middle ages is better than the one spoken by our Creator.

The Bible is full of obscene language. Ezekiel would have been never allowed to speak in another American church if he spoke the way he did in his day today. He talks about huge penises, female genital fluid produced at sexual arousal, and large quantities of semen being “poured out” on Israel—God’s wayward whore. Ezekiel 16:26-37(ESV)26 You also played the whore with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, multiplying your whoring, to provoke me to anger. 27 Behold, therefore, I stretched out my hand against you and diminished your allotted portion and delivered you to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. 28 You played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied; yes, you played the whore with them, and still you were not satisfied. 29 You multiplied your whoring also with the trading land of Chaldea, and even with this you were not satisfied.

30 “How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, 31 building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment. 32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! 33 Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. 34 So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different.

35 “Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the Lord: 36 Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, 37 therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness.

Ezekiel 23:16-21(ESV)16 When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoring lust. And after she was defiled by them, she turned from them in disgust. 18 When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. 19 Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt 20 and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. 21 Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.”

 

Modern translators edit out the vulgarity so that Ezekiel can be read in church. The apostle Paul was so enrapture by the scandalous grace of God that he did what we considered the greatest sin of all, he assumedly cussed! “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as skubala, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8(NET). The Greek word skubala is more vulgar than crap and dung, and as harsh as s**t. Either way, most translations dim it down by using words like “rubbish,” which means trash, not excrement, or “dung” which is more accurate but far less offensive. And yes my friends, that word is a first century cuss word.

In some ways, it’s understandable that we don’t want to be using this type of language in church. But, on the other hand, the Gospel is offensive. Grace is scandalous. And that’s the real point. The biblical prophets sometimes use offensive language, but not to produce shock for its own sake. Edginess was never the goal, and neither was some vague notion of Christian “freedom.” God’s messengers used vulgar images to shock their religious audience out of complacency. Because sometimes the goodness of God becomes lost in the fog of Christianese rhetoric and religious routine, and the only way to wake us up is to use provocative language.

So how do we reconcile Ezekiel’s filthy tongue with Ephesians 4:29(ESV)? 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Does this outlaw all forms of vulgarity? Not exactly. The word for “corrupting” (sapros) literally means “rotten, decaying, unwholesome.” The whole point is not to forbid certain words that are labeled “cuss words” by its culture, but all speech that does not “build up.”

Paul’s warning here does include using obscene or vulgar language that tears someone down, reflects worldly motives, or in any other way that’s unfit for a redeemed way of life. But “corrupting” primarily refers to slander, gossip or any other speech that tears someone down. Paul refers to the dangerous power of words, all words, when used to dehumanize another human being. Gossiping about a fellow church member, dropping a belittling comment on a blog or Facebook post or holding up a hateful sign at a gay-pride parade are all good examples of “corrupting” talk.

But if your Gospel presentation is putting your moralistic crowd to sleep, or if a pharisaic friend is more concerned about proper speech than an addiction to grace, then you may need to tell him that his Christ-less church attendance is nothing more than a bloody tampon until he clings to the Cross, as Isaiah did Isaiah 64:6(NET)We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.

The Bible makes this abundantly clear. Ephesians 4:29(NASB) tells us, 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 

1Peter 3:10(ESV)“For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”
James 3:9-12(ESV) summarizes the issue: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

James makes it clear that the lives of Christians—the “brothers”—should not be characterized by evil speech. By making the analogy of both salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring (which is uncharacteristic of springs), he makes the point that it is uncharacteristic for a believer to have both praise and gossip, perverse, or corrupt speech come from his/her mouth. Nor is it characteristic for us to praise God on one hand and curse our brothers on the other. This, too, is uncharacteristic of a true believer. Gossip is like a secret craving. We say we don’t like it, but when it’s within reach, we almost can’t resist it. We get a sudden appetite to know what we don’t know… about somebody else.

Why is it so hard to stop? Proverbs 18:8(HCSB)A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being

No, you might think. Not me. I’m not into sharing the dirty details about a person’s life just for fun. But gossip comes in many flavors, and it involves listening as well. Proverbs 17:4(HCSB)  A wicked person listens to malicious talk;[a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways:

1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.

2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

In the book of Romans, Paul reveals the sinful nature and lawlessness of mankind, stating how God poured out His wrath on those who rejected His laws. Because they had turned away from God’s instruction and guidance, He gave them over to their sinful natures. The list of sins includes gossips and slanderers Romans 1:29-32(HCSB)29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. 32 Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them. We see from this passage how serious the sin of gossip is and that it characterizes those who are under God’s wrath.

Another group who were (and still are today) known for indulging in gossip is widows. Paul cautions widows against entertaining the habit of gossip and of being idle. These women are described as “gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to” 1 Timothy 5:12-13(ESV)12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.. Because women tend to spend a lot of time in each other’s homes and work closely with other women, they hear and observe situations which can become distorted, especially when repeated over and over. Paul states that widows get into the habit of going from home to home, looking for something to occupy their idleness. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and God cautions against allowing idleness to enter our lives. Proverbs 20:19(HCSB)The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth.

Women are certainly not the only ones who have been found guilty of gossip. Anyone can engage in gossip simply by repeating something heard in confidence. The book of Proverbs has a long list of verses that cover the dangers of gossip and the potential hurt that results from it. Proverbs 11:12-13(HCSB)12  Whoever shows contempt for his neighbor lacks sense, but a man with understanding keeps silent.13 A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.

The Bible tells us that Proverbs 16:28(HCSB)A contrary man spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Many a friendship has been ruined over a misunderstanding that started with gossip. Those who engage in this behavior do nothing but stir up trouble and cause anger, bitterness, and pain among friends. Sadly, some people thrive on this and look for opportunities to destroy others. And when such people are confronted, they deny the allegations and answer with excuses and rationalizations. Rather than admit wrongdoing, they blame someone else or attempt to minimize the seriousness of the sin. Proverbs 18:7-8(HCSB)A fool’s mouth is his devastation, and his lips are a trap for his life.8 A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.

Proverbs 21:23(HCSB)The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble. So we must guard our tongues and refrain from the sinful act of gossip. If we surrender our natural desires to the Lord, He will help us to remain righteous. May we all follow the Bible’s teaching on gossip by keeping our mouths shut unless it is necessary and appropriate to speak.

Jesus explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Sooner or later, the evil in the heart comes out through the mouth in curses and swearing. But when our hearts are filled with the goodness of God, praise for Him and love for others will pour forth. Our speech will always indicate what is in our hearts. Luke 6:45(ESV) “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks”.

Sin is a condition of the heart, the mind, and “the inner man”, which is manifested in our thoughts, actions and words. When we gossip and use rotten speech, we are giving evidence of the polluting sin in our hearts that must be confessed and repented of. Thankfully, our great God is 1 John 1:9(ESV)“faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. When this happens, we receive a new nature from God (2 Corinthians 5:17), our hearts are transformed, and our speech reflects the new nature God has created within us.

In the end the battle for purity in the mouth is fought in the heart, because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” If we see this, we won’t be as surprised with what Paul says in Ephesians. It is not what you might expect. We might expect Paul to admonish us to clean up our language. We might expect him to talk about words that are not vulgar or rotten or corrupt, but are pure and wholesome and creative and clear. But Paul doesn’t do what we expect.

Instead of proposing clean language, he proposes a whole new way of thinking about language. Instead of saying, “You don’t need dirty language to communicate your intention,” he says, “The root issue is whether your intention is love.” In other words the issue for Paul is not really language at all; the issue is love. The issue is not whether our mouth can avoid gross language; the issue is whether our mouth is a means of grace. You see he shifts from the external fruit to the internal root. He shifts from what we say to why we say it. That’s the issue.

Ephesians 4:29(NASB)29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Let no rotten talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good for edifying, as fits the occasion [literally: good for edifying of need—meeting a particular need is in view] that it may impart grace to those who hear.

Do you see the shift? He doesn’t say, “Let no rotten talk come out of your mouth, but instead let fresh clean talk come out of your mouth.” He says, “Let no rotten talk come out of your mouth, but ask this: Is my mouth a means of grace? Am I meeting a need with the words that are coming out of my mouth? Am I building up faith into the people who hear?”

This is exactly what Paul does here in verse 29. He says, “Let no rotten talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good,” and then he shifts from the what to the why, “for edification to meet a need that it may impart grace to those who hear.” It is not Christian just to stop swearing. It is not Christian just to put good language in the mouth instead. It is Christian to ask the deeper, internal question: am I speaking now to edify? Is your mouth a means of grace?

Ephesians 5:1-5(NLT)Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

A Christian is a person whose rotten root within has been made new by grace through faith in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The grace of God has taken the hate and anger and resentment that spill over in mean and vulgar and irreverent language, and has covered them with the blood of Christ and killed them along with the old unbelieving self.

How can you make your mouth a means of grace for others when you don’t hope in the grace of God for yourself? It is out of hopeless hearts of discouragement and frustration and anger and bitterness and resentment that all rotten and hurtful language comes.

But if you as a believer stop and think for a moment that Christ has died for your sin, that God has promised to work all things together for your good, that he has given you his own Holy Spirit for the specific purpose of sealing you for the day of redemption, then surely a deep and confident hope will be the root of your life. And up through that root will flow the sap of grace, and out onto the branches of your life will come the fruit of a whole new way of talking.

The question for your mouth will not merely be the moral question: Am I avoiding dirty words? But the Christian question: Am I building the faith of others by what I say? Is my mouth a means of grace? Am I frightened and anxious and angry about my life, or am I filled and overflowing with hope that the Spirit of God will keep me safe for the day of redemption?

Purpose of the Church Pt7 Tithe and Offerings

Acts 2:45(ESV) And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

1 John 3:16-18(ESV)16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Ezekiel 16:49-50(ESV) Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.

James 2:14-17 (ESV)What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Seven Biblical Reasons to Tithe

1. Honoring an Old Testament Principle

Tithing honors an Old Testament principle of how God provided for the ministers he called and the expenses of their ministry.

You recall that in the Old Testament God designated one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi, to be the tribe that would have the ministry of the tabernacle and the temple. So instead of giving them a portion of the land, God said that these vocational ministers of the tabernacle should live off the tithes of the other eleven tribes. In Numbers 18:20–21(ESV) God said to Aaron,

You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting.

When we tithe today, we honor a principle found here. Some of God’s people are called not to do moneymaking business in the ordinary ways. They are called to be pastors and ministers and missionaries and ministry assistants, and so on. The rest of God’s people (call them “lay ministers”) are to be gainfully employed and support the “vocational ministers”—and the costs of that ministry. In the Old Testament God laid down that this be done by tithe.

If the question is raised whether Jesus, in the New Testament, continued this principle for the sake of his church, one of the strongest arguments that he did is Matthew 23:23(ESV) where he says,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

So Jesus endorses tithing: don’t neglect it. It is not as essential as justice love and mercy; but it is to be done.

Yet one might say that he is only talking to Jews in an essentially Old Testament setting. Maybe so. But there is another pointer that the principle was preserved in the early church. In 1 Corinthians 9:13–14(ESV) Paul says,

Do you not know that those who perform sacred services [in the temple] eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar [of sacrifice in the temple] have their share with the altar?

In other words he reminds the church that in the Old Testament economy there was this system in which the Levites who worked in the temple lived off the tithes brought to the temple. Then he says in verse 14:

So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

A church should definitely provide for the financial needs of its pastor(s) and any other full-time ministers. First Corinthians 9:14 gives the church clear instruction: “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” We pay people to prepare and serve our physical food; shouldn’t we also be willing to pay those who see to our spiritual food? And, honestly, which is more important—physical food or spiritual food—based on Matthew 4:4?

1 Timothy 5:17–18(ESV)“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’” There are several points made in this passage. Church elders should be honored, and this honor includes wages. Those elders who serve the church well—especially teachers and preachers—should receive double honor. They have earned it. It would be cruel to work an ox while denying it grain, and we should take care not to treat our pastors cruelly. Let them share in the material blessings of the congregation they serve. Are not pastors worth more than many oxen?

There is nothing spiritual about making a pastor “suffer for the Lord.” Yes, a pastor has been divinely called to his ministry, but it does not follow that a congregation should say, “Let God take care of him.” God says the local church is responsible to take care of him and his family. Caring for the spiritual needs of a congregation is an important work—probably more important than other things we normally spend money on, such as meeting our physical needs, maintaining our vehicles, and entertaining ourselves.
1 Corinthians 9:7.

It is true that the apostle Paul supported himself as he ministered in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:12). He drew no salary from the Corinthians. But he made it clear that he did this as a voluntary sacrifice on their behalf, “that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel” (verse 18). Paul did take wages from other churches (2 Corinthians 11:8). His arrangement in Corinth was the exception, not the rule.

The least Paul is saying is that those who spend their lives in the service of the Word of God should be supported by the rest of the Christians. But since he draws attention to the way it was done in the Old Testament as the model, it seems likely that tithing would have been the early Christian guideline, if not mandate.

In other words when we tithe today, we honor a principle and plan of God that sustained the ministry in the Old Testament and probably sustained the New Testament ministry as well.

2. Honoring the Creator as Owner of All

When we release a tenth of our income and give it over to the ministry and mission of Christ in the world, we honor the Creator rights of God who owns everything, including all our income.

One objection to thinking of a tenth of our income as especially belonging to God is that ALL our money belongs to God. Psalm 24:1(ESV)The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.

That is absolutely true. What you do with every cent says something about your view of God and what he means to you. And what your values are in this age. And what you think your few years on earth should be spent for. That’s true.

But God is wise and knows us deeply. He knows that there is something wrong with the husband who answers his wife’s complaint that he doesn’t give her any time by saying, “What do you mean, I don’t give you my time? ALL my time is yours. I work all day long for you and the children.” That has a very hollow ring to it if he doesn’t give her any “especially time.” Giving her some evenings together and some dates does not deny that all his time is for her, it proves it. This is why God declares one day in seven especially God’s. They are all his, and making one special proves it.

And this is the way it is with our money and God. Giving God a tenth of our income does not deny that all our money is God’s, it proves that we believe it. Tithing is like a constant offering of the first fruits of the whole thing. The tenth is yours, O, Lord, in a special way, because all of it is yours in an ordinary way.

I believe the tithe should be the first check we write after the income deposit is made in the bank. And when you write it, you put a seal over what’s left: GOD’S. The tithe reminds us of that, and proves that we really believe it.

3. The Antidote to Covetousness

Giving away a tenth of our income to the mission and ministry of Christ is an antidote to covetousness.

The last of the Ten Commandments says: “Thou shalt not covet.” Jesus said in Luke 12:15(ESV) “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of covetousness [or greed].” And in Colossians 3:5(ESV)5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Paul calls covetousness “idolatry.” Wanting things too much is incredibly dangerous for your soul. Hebrews 13:5(ESV) says,

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have.

Every time you give a tithe, you must deal with the desire for what you might have bought for yourself. To give is not to buy. And that weekly crisis is utterly important to maintain. We must fight covetousness almost every day. And God has appointed an antidote: giving. He tests us again and again: what do we desire most—the advancement of his name or 10% more security and comfort and fun? As Jesus says, Matthew 6:21(ESV)21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Tithing is one of God’s great antidotes to covetousness.

4. Governing Ever-Expanding Spending

The fourth reason is almost the same as the last one, but not quite. When we go to the tithe and beyond, as I am suggesting we should, it puts a governor on ever-expanding spending.

There is an almost infallible human rule: spending expands to fill the income. This is why you could have a book a few years ago entitled Getting By on $100,000 a Year. If you make more, you buy more, and the things you buy have to be stored and repaired and insured. Spending begets spending. If you have less at your disposal, you spend less. And most of the time you don’t even think about it. I spend absolutely no time thinking about world cruises and $30,000 cars. But if I made two or three hundred thousand dollars a year, pretty soon things like that wouldn’t seem any more strange to me than all the stuff I buy now—because I could afford it.

If this is true—if expenses almost inevitably expand to fill the income—how shall we restrain ourselves from accumulating more and more stuff and more and more expensive stuff, and looking to the world like we have all the same values they do in our little earthly prelude to eternity? The answer is that as our income grows, we move beyond the tithe. We resolve to give a greater and greater percentage of our income to advance the kingdom. This puts the brakes on our natural impulse toward luxury.

2 Corinthians 9:6–14(ESV) 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

Two Kinds of Giving

Notice first that in verses 5, 6, and 7 two kinds of giving are contrasted.

▪Verse 5: “So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren to go on to you before me, and arrange in advance for this gift you have promised, so that it may be ready not as an exaction but as a willing gift.” (Literally: “not as covetousness but as blessing.”)

▪Verse 6: “The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (Don’t give sparingly; give bountifully, generously.)

▪Verse 7: “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (Don’t give begrudgingly; give freely and cheerfully.)

Three descriptions of how not to give, and three descriptions of how to give:

▪Verse 5, NOT as an exaction or covetously; verse 6, NOT sparingly; verse 7, NOT reluctantly or begrudgingly.

▪BUT, verse 5, as a willing gift; verse 6, bountifully; verse 7, cheerfully.

How Not to Give

Let’s think for a moment about bad giving. In each of these three descriptions the essence of what’s wrong is the desire to hold back. There is giving! But it’s coming from a heart that wants to hold back.

Take the word “sparingly,” for example, in verse 6. If I say, “Spare my life!” I mean, let me keep it; don’t take it from me. If I say, “Spare no effort!” I mean, hold back no effort. Give all the effort you can! When Paul said, “God did not spare his only Son,” he meant, God did not hold him back. He didn’t keep just for himself. He shared him.

So to give sparingly is to give from a heart that deep inside wants to hold back. There are enough external constraints and pressures to make us give something. But the real feeling of our heart is not to think of how much we can give, but how much we can keep.

That’s how not to give.

How to Give

Take the positive side now. In verse 6 the word is “bountifully.” In the Greek it’s the same word as the one used in verse 5. Literally, it means give on the basis of blessing. Our giving should rest upon the great truth that God is a bountifully blessing God, and then our gift in turn should be a bountiful blessing to others. Verse 7 says, it should be “cheerful.”

So giving bountifully means giving from a heart that wants to share things. Something has happened in the heart so that the basic desire is now to give and share as much as possible instead of keep as much as possible. It’s as though there was a magnet in the soul that used to be turned so that it pulled possessions into itself; and now something has happened to turn it around to the other pole so that it pushes things out toward others.

God as Giver Before Our Giving
Verse 8 talks about God’s giving on the backside of our giving, that is, the giving he gives first that enables us to give: “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance [or: make every grace abound to you], so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.” So here he says very clearly that God wants to be known as a bountiful God. He is able—he omnipotently able to give us whatever we need in order to be generous. He IS a giver in this affair, not a Taker.

Free and Generous Giving
Verse 9 picks up an image that Paul used in verse 6, namely, the image of sowing seed. In verse 6 he said that if you sow bountifully, you will reap bountifully. Now in verse 9 he gives an illustration taken from Psalm 112:9(ESV) of a person who sows seed bountifully. “As it is written, ‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.'”

So the sowing of seed in verse 6 and the scattering of seed in verse 9 is the free and generous giving of help to meet the needs of people. And this generosity is called righteousness in verse 9.

Now in verse 10 he takes that Old Testament quote from verse 9 and brings out its relation to God. He is the one who gives the seed for scattering and he is the one who will bring a harvest from this righteousness. “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources [lit.: ‘your seed’ or ‘your sowing’]”—so there God is the Giver on the back side of our giving again: he gives the seed so we can scatter it abroad as verse 9 says.

God as Giver After Our Giving
Then verse 10 goes on and says, ” . . . and he will increase [or: cause to grow] the harvest of your righteousness.” Now what does that mean? Well, “righteousness” in verse 9 is the generous scattering of seed to those in need. The harvest of righteousness is probably what grows up as a result of this scattering. In other words, “God will increase the harvest of your righteousness” means the same as “He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Bountiful sowing is righteousness. Bountiful reaping is the increased harvest of this righteousness.

So the point of verse 10 is that God is the Giver, not Taker, on both sides of our giving: he gives seed before we give so that we can sow it generously; and he gives harvest after we give so that we are rewarded for our generosity.

The great truth of this text is that God wants to be known and trusted and loved as the Giver not the Taker in this whole affair of giving. Otherwise all our giving is draining, burdensome, oppressive, legalistic, and sparing. And who needs it!

5. God’s Way of Bringing About Good Deeds

The fifth reason for going to the tithe and beyond in our giving is that this is God’s way of bringing about many good deeds for his glory.

At the end of verse 8 Paul says that when you sow bountifully and cheerfully, you will “have an abundance for every good deed.” The goal is good deeds. Excess money is for good deeds. These are the things that make your light shine and cause people to give glory to your Father in heaven. If you lay up treasures on earth, people have no reason to think your Father in heaven is glorious. You look like you love what everyone else loves. According to Titus 2:13(ESV) Christ died “to purify for himself a people who are zealous for good deeds.”
2 Corinthians 9:8 says that the aim of material bounty is “for every good deed.” Verse 11 says, “You will be enriched in everything for all liberality.” Excess money is given to us so we can show where our treasure is by giving it away.

So the fifth reason for going to the tithe and bountifully beyond is that this is God’s way of providing for many good deeds.

6. God’s Way of Providing for You

The sixth reason for pressing to the tithe and beyond is that it is God’s way of providing you, the tither, sufficient money for your needs.

Giving is a way of having what you need. Giving in a regular, disciplined, generous way—up to and beyond the tithe—is simply good sense in view of the promises of God. Verse 6 says, “He who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.” Then verse 8 says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you that always having all sufficiency . . . ” In other words the “bountiful reaping” promised in verse 6 is explained in verse 8 by God’s pledge to give a sufficiency for us and an abundance for good deeds.

This seems to be Paul’s way of expressing Malachi 3:10(ESV)10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

This is an amazing challenge from God. Test me, he says. You think you can’t afford to tithe? Well test me. And what we will find when we test him is that we cannot afford not to tithe—and beyond! This is the only safe way to handle our money. Jesus once said, in Luke 6:38(ESV)Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap.

This is not a guarantee of getting rich. It’s a guarantee of “an abundance for every good work” and sufficiency for yourself.

7. Proving and Strengthening Our Faith

Finally, in our giving we should press toward the tithe and beyond because it will prove and strengthen our faith in God promises.

There is an absolute correlation between faith in the promises of God and peace of mind in giving away what we may think we need but don’t. Hebrews 13:5(ESV) Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; [why? because of a promise] for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”

Every time you doubt that you can live on 90% of your income, let the glorious promise of God strengthen your faith: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19(ESV).

What tithing boils down to is a faith issue. Do we trust God’s promises? Trust God. He will never fail or forsake you. He will supply all your needs.

Excerpt from John Piper