Mental Illness and the church

Psalm 34:17-20 (ESV)When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

The Bible teaches that every human being is totally depraved. This doesn’t mean that every person is as absolutely wicked and evil as they could possibly be. That would be utter depravity. Total depravity simply means that sin has affected every facet of the being, including both the soul and the body. Total depravity means that nothing works as God originally intended. Our spiritual desires are affected and distorted by sin. Our intellect is distorted by and affected by sin. And, most importantly, our body has been affected and distorted by sin.

Why do we get colds, headaches, backaches, indigestion and infections? Why do you have migraines, heart problems,kidney stones and glaucoma? We experience these things because we inhabit bodies which have been marked and marred by sin. Paul spoke directly to this when he said: 2 Corinthians 4:16(ESV)16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Our outer self is wasting away. Our bodies don’t work correctly. They fall apart and fail us at the worst times. While we live in this fallen world, we live in bodies that are wasting away.

Paul wrote: Romans 8:22–23(ESV) 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Mental and spiritual matters seem more inseparable than physical and spiritual matters. The fine line between the soul and spirit is hard to navigate. Can our souls be saved, while our minds are “lost”? That doesn’t even make sense. We are whole beings. Yet, just as the Apostle Paul prayed for his tormenting illness to disappear, God offered grace instead of healing. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10(ESV)So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Along with the rest of creation, we eagerly await for the day when Christ will return and we will receive our new, redeemed, resurrection bodies.

Until the day Jesus returns, we will live in a body which does not function as God originally intended. Our brain, which is a key, central, integral part of our body, will not function correctly. Chemicals will become imbalanced. Serotonin will not be properly absorbed. Norepinephrine will be unevenly distributed. Synapses won’t fire correctly. The brain, just like every other part of the body, is prone to illness.

I would argue that if we truly believe in total depravity, then we must accept mental illness as a biblical category. If I believe that sin has affected every part of my body, including my brain, then it shouldn’t surprise me when my brain doesn’t work correctly. I’m not surprised when I get a cold; why should I be surprised if I experience mental illness? To say that depression, anxiety, bipolar, and every other disorder, are purely spiritual disorders is to ignore the fact that we are both body and soul.

Mental illness is not something invented by secular psychiatrists. Rather, it is part and parcel with living in fallen, sinful world.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Treating mental illness as purely a spiritual disorder is very hurtful to those who struggle with mental illness because it points them to the wrong solution. People deal with chronic physical anxiety.They regularly experience a clutching sensation in their chest, shortness of breath, adrenaline surges, and a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach. On rare occasions, the anxiety is tied to something they are worried about, but 90% of the time the physical symptoms they experience aren’t at all connected to worry. Sometimes you may be working away on your computer, not thinking about anything, when a feeling of anxiety suddenly descends.

In those moments,people don’t need to be told not to worry. They don’t need to be told to exercise more faith in the promises of God. They don’t need to be told to snap out of it. What they need is encouragement to persevere. They need to be reminded that, even in the midst of suffering, Jesus is near. They need to be reminded that light and momentary afflictions are producing an eternal weight of glory. They need to be encouraged to press into Jesus.

And… They need to be connected to someone who can help them deal with the physical aspects of anxiety.
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Here’s the unfortunate reality: even if their thinking is biblical, faith-filled, and God-honoring, the physical symptoms of anxiety probably won’t go away. Why? Because most of the time the problem is primarily physical. Something isn’t working correctly in the brain, which in turn causes people to experience the physical symptoms of anxiety.

When interacting with Christians who experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other form of mental illness, we need to treat them as whole people. We need to treat people as both body and soul. Do they need to exercise faith in the wonderful promises of God? Sure. But they also need to deal with the physical aspects of mental illness as well. Doctors are a wonderful gift from God who can offer help to those who struggle with mental illness.

We need to place mental illness in the same category as every other form of illness. When a person experiences chronic migraines, they most certainly will be tempted to doubt the goodness of God. We can serve them by encouraging them that God is good, and that he cares for them. But we also can serve them by taking them to the best migraine specialists in the country.

If we’re going to effectively care for fellow Christians who struggle with mental illness, we need to recognize that mental illness is a real thing. We aren’t only souls. Rather, we are a complex composition of soul and body. Let’s make sure we address both the soul and the body.

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Finding Jesus is NOT the Cure for Depression.

God can heal physical and mental diseases. No doubt. Many physical illnesses are incurable. Mental illness is also incurable. While mental illness can be managed and treated, it never goes away.

For some reason, especially in the church, we often judge people who are mentally ill as making poor choices in their lives or somehow not fully trusting in God. It’s almost as if physical impairments can’t be helped, but mental impairments just require people to simply try harder. If trying hard cured mental illness, then mental illness would be cured, because I don’t ‘know of anyone who tries harder to fit in or just function than people who struggle with these diseases.

There are plenty of Christians who love Jesus with all of their hearts and have committed their entire lives to him, yet they are Schizophrenic, Bipolar, Clinically Depressed or smitten with another illness. There are also Christians who love Jesus, and they struggle with diabetes, heart disease, obesity and a number of other mostly preventable conditions which are actually within their control. Their deaths may not be imminent, but they certainly will come sooner than they should.

A 2008 Baylor University study found the following among church attendees with professionally diagnosed mental illness(es):

• 41% were told by someone at their church that they did not really have mental illness.

• 28% were told by someone at their church to stop taking psychiatric medication.

• 37% were told by someone at their church that their mental illness was the result of personal sin.

• 34% were told by someone at their church that their mental illness was the result of demonic involvement.

The Church is not yet willing to universally embrace what should already be common sense.

3 Myths the Church Perpetuates Mental Illness:

1 Myth: Depression is a choice. | Truth: Depression is not a choice. We need to stop talking about mental illness like it is a choice whether that language is explicit or implicit. In fact, Northwestern University has just developed the first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults. The test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers. Unfortunately, many Christians think that all depression is a consequence of sin and often they do not get the professional help they need.”

2 Myth: Faith means prayer is enough. | Truth: Faith and seeking medical help are not mutually exclusive. We seek medical help for physical ailments so why not mental ailments?

3 Myth: Taking medication is a sin. | Truth: Getting medical help is taking care of one’s self. Taking prescribed medication is not a sin. The Church does not shame cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. Likewise, it should not shame people who get treatment for mental illness. Getting help is a wise decision for any sick person regardless of her belief system.

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Churches should talk about sex more often

The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It was written about and to deal with people just like us, people just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how explicit the Bible really is. They feel the need to censor it and God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6(NLT), and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8(NLT)Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  rather than a pile of crap(Skubala), as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

And let’s definitely not mention the six times in the Old Testament that the Jewish writers referred to Gentile men as those who “pisseth against the wall.”

1 Samuel 25:22(KJV)So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.(At least the King James Version got that one right.)

The point?

God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, politically correct,holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life in a broken world.

Dozens of Psalms are complaints and heart-wrenching cries of despair to God, not holy-sounding, reverently worded sermons. Take Psalm 77:1-3(NLT)“I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help”

And rather than shy away from difficult and painful topics, the Old Testament includes vivid descriptions of murder, cannibalism, witchcraft, dismemberment, torture, rape, idolatry, erotic sex and animal sacrifice. According to Paul, those stories were written as examples and warnings for us 1 Corinthians 10:11(HCSB)11 Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.. So obviously they were meant to be retold without editing out all the things we don’t consider nice or agreeable.

What about Ezekiel 16(which says Whore in almost every verse), God compared Israel’s rebellion using bold, provocative and sexual language that would make our grandmothers blush.

I believe that Scripture includes such graphic material to show how far we, as a race, have fallen and how far God was willing to come to rescue us from ourselves.

God is much more interested in honesty than pietism(sanctimonious, hypocritical, insincere, self-righteous, holier-than-thou,churchy;goody-goody)

And that’s what he gives us throughout Scripture, telling the stories of people who struggled with the same issues, questions and temptations we face today.

Peter struggled with doubt, and we hear all about it.

Elijah dealt with depression; Naomi raged with bitterness against God; Hannah struggled for years under the burden of her unanswered prayers.

David had an affair and then arranged to have his lover’s husband killed. Noah was a drunk, Abraham a liar, Moses a murderer. Job came to a place where he found it necessary to make a covenant with his eyes not to lust after young girls Job 31:1(HCSB)I have made a covenant with my eyes.How then could I look at a young woman?

Modern culture has tried to redefine sexuality as a personal right to be exercised any way an individual wishes. Sexual behavior is considered a personal choice, kind of like a decision to buy a house or rent a condo. At the same time, popular opinion has all but removed the word sin from our culture’s vocabulary. The only sexual expression considered “wrong” is what is deemed distasteful to the definer. However, social acceptability varies so greatly that even the vilest of acts would be considered justified by many. So, before we can determine why sexual sin is such a big deal, we have to define sexual sin.

Fortunately, man has never been given the privilege of defining sin. The One who created sexuality also has the right to set the boundaries for it, and the Bible is clear about the guidelines. When God created the first man, Adam, and brought to him the first woman, Eve, He joined them together in marriage and pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31; 2:18, 24). At that time, God introduced sexuality and set the boundaries for its expression. God created a union between a husband and wife that He called “becoming one flesh”

Genesis 2:24(HCSB)24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.( Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31). He then defined any sexual activity outside of the husband-wife relationship as a violation of His gift. Fornication, homosexuality, pornography, and lust are all violations of God’s intent when He created the sexual act.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10(HCSB)Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality,[d] 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. ,

1 Corinthians 6:18(HCSB)18 Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body.;

Galatians 5:19-21(HCSB)19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jude 1:7; Matthew 5:28;

Hebrews 13:4(HCSB)Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.

So why is the violation of those boundaries such a big deal? The first clue lies in Genesis 2:24 with the words “one flesh.” There is great unifying power within the sexual union. God designed it to involve not only bodies but hearts and lives. Sex was designed to consummate the lifetime union between a man and woman. Jesus said, “What God has joined together let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9). He designed male and female bodies differently so that they could come together in an act of physical intimacy that joins them together for life. They “are no longer two, but one flesh” Mark 10:7-8(HCSB)For this reason a man will leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife],8  and the two will become one flesh.So they are no longer two, but one flesh.. The act of becoming one creates a new entity: a family. This powerful force also brings forth new life. The human race can only be propagated by the coming together of a man and a woman. And, within marriage, God blesses it. Sex is a gift to a husband and wife to make their relationship unique among all other relationships.

God created sex, He created it for us to enjoy, He created male and female with body parts to enjoy one another. Sex becomes “bad” when it is done outside of the covenant of marriage. It is also given as a covenant renewal.

God gave us Married people the gift of sex. There are two gifts after Salvation that God gave us for pleasure, Sex & Taste buds.

There are scriptures that speak about sex for pleasure, there is a whole book written called Song of Solomon.
Proverbs 5:15 (HCSB)Drink water from your own cistern,water flowing from your own well. 16 Should your springs flow in the streets, streams of water in the public squares? 17 They should be for you alone and not for you to share with strangers.18 Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth. 19  A loving doe, a graceful fawn—let her breasts always satisfy you;be lost in her love forever.

However, what God creates as good, Satan perverts. Satan began his defilement in the Garden of Eden with the words “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1). And that challenge to the authority of God continues still. When we use sexuality for entertainment or to satisfy lust, we cheapen the beauty of this powerful gift and defy the One who designed it. We also reap the consequences of our sin. Our sexual disobedience has produced a world of disease, abortion, perversion, child molestation, addiction, and sexual exploitation. God created boundaries for our good so that we could enjoy His gift as it was designed to be enjoyed.

Electricity is a powerful and helpful thing if used correctly. However, misused or abused, electricity can be deadly. The same is true of sexuality. Misused, sex is also deadly. Abusing God’s gift produces problems such as abortion, poverty, rape, adultery, divorce, pornography, and children growing up without fathers. Sexual sin begins with temptation, as all sin does. When we refuse to acknowledge God’s boundaries, we allow lust to dictate our choices. And lust never leads in the right direction. James 1:13-15 (HCSB)13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil,[a] and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

Another reason sexual sin is such a big deal is that it destroys the picture of the unbreakable covenant God has with His people. The Bible uses marriage as a metaphor to describe the covenant relationship Jesus has with His “bride,” those whom He has bought with His own blood (Revelation 19:7; 2 Corinthians 11:2). In the Old Testament, God often compared rebellious Israel to a wayward wife, using adultery as a picture of the most heinous of sins (Jeremiah 3:6). God created the sex act to be a consummation of a covenant relationship—a covenant in which God has participated (Malachi 2:14; Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9). The marriage covenant illustrates God’s unbreakable covenant with us. To engage in sex outside of marriage violates God’s intention and brings serious consequences.

God gave man and woman the joy and pleasure of sexual relations within the bounds of marriage, and the Bible is clear about the importance of maintaining sexual purity within the boundaries of that union between man and wife (Ephesians 5:31). Humans are well aware of the pleasing effect of this gift from God but have expanded it well beyond marriage and into virtually any circumstance. The secular world’s philosophy of “if it feels good, do it” pervades cultures, especially in the West, to the point where sexual purity is seen as archaic and unnecessary.

Sexual sin defiles more than just our physical bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18). It has spiritual significance. Almost every book of the Bible renounces sexual immorality, indicating that God considers it a grave sin. Committing sexual sin is directly opposed to God’s will to sanctify us. Look at what God says about sexual purity. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5(HCSB)For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God.

Romans 13:13–14 outlines the life God desires us to live: 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires. Sexual sin is one more way people gratify the flesh rather than walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Jesus said that the “pure in heart” will “see God” (Matthew 5:8). Unrepentant sexual sin defiles the heart, making it impossible to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we wish to be pure in heart, we cannot engage in sexual sin.

In the New Testament, the word most often translated “sexual immorality” is porneia. This word is also translated as “whoredom,” “fornication,” and “idolatry.” It means “a surrendering of sexual purity”, and it is primarily used of premarital sexual relations. From this Greek word we get the English word pornography, stemming from the concept of “selling off.” Sexual immorality is the “selling off” of sexual purity and involves any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a biblically defined marriage relationship.

Homosexuality is definitely a choice. Just as a man has the choice and is preprogrammed to sleep with as many women as possible but we exert self control to stop us from that, also a homosexual has the choice to sleep with people. Homosexuality is just a deeper perversion. There are six primary passages of Scripture that reference homosexuality: Genesis 19:4-9;
Leviticus 18:22(HCSB)22 You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.

Leviticus 20:13(HCSB)13 If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed a detestable thing. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own hands.

Romans 1:24-27(HCSB)24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.26 This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

1 Timothy 1:9-10(HCSB)We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral and homosexuals, for kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10(HCSB)Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom..

There is a tendency to declare homosexuality as the worst of all sins. While it is undeniable, biblically speaking, that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural, in no sense does the Bible describe homosexuality as an unforgivable sin. Nor does the Bible teach that homosexuality is a sin Christians will never struggle against.

Is it possible to be a gay Christian? If the phrase “gay Christian” refers to a person who struggles against homosexual desires and temptations – yes, a “gay Christian” is possible. However, the description “gay Christian” is not accurate for such a person, since he/she does not desire to be gay, and is struggling against the temptations. Such a person is not a “gay Christian,” but rather is simply a struggling Christian, just as there are Christians who struggle with fornication, lying, and stealing. If the phrase “gay Christian” refers to a person who actively, perpetually, and unrepentantly lives a homosexual lifestyle – no, it is not possible for such a person to truly be a Christian.

Sexuality is God’s design. He alone can define the parameters for its use. The Bible is clear that sex was created to be enjoyed between one man and one woman who are in a covenant marriage until one of them dies (Matthew 19:6). Sexuality is His sacred wedding gift to human beings. Any expression of it outside those parameters constitutes abuse of God’s gift. Abuse is the use of people or things in ways they were not designed to be used. The Bible calls this sin. Adultery, premarital sex, pornography, and homosexual relations are all outside God’s design, which makes them sin.

The following are some common objections to God’s commands against sexual immorality:

1. It’s not wrong if we love each other. The Bible makes no distinction between “loving” and “unloving” sexual relations. The only biblical distinction is between married and unmarried people. Sex within marriage is blessed (Genesis 1:28); sex outside of marriage is “fornication” or “sexual immorality”
1 Corinthians 7:2–5(HCSB)But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

2. Times have changed, and what was wrong in biblical times is no longer considered sin. Most of the passages condemning sexual immorality also include evils such as greed, lust, stealing, etc. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Galatians 5:19–21). We have no problem understanding that these other things are still sin. God’s character does not change with culture’s opinion

Malachi 3:6(HCSB)“Because I, Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.

Numbers 23:19(HCSB)God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?

Hebrews 13:8(HCSB)Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

3. We’re married in God’s eyes. This argument implies that God is cross-eyed. The fallacy of this idea is that the God who created marriage in the first place would retract His own command to accommodate what He has called sin. God declared marriage to be one man and one woman united for life Mark 10:6–9(HCSB)But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female.7 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife],8 and the two will become one flesh. The Bible often uses the imagery of a wedding and a covenant marriage as a metaphor to teach spiritual truth (Matthew 22:2; Revelation 19:9). Marriage is covenant and consummation, just because you are having sex with someone does not make you two married. there must be a covenant first then consummation. God takes marriage very seriously, and His “eyes” see immorality for what it is, regardless of how cleverly we have redefined it. Even when it comes to homosexual marriage.

While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. 1 Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful. According to the Bible, marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6). Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we are not to condone or ignore sin. Rather, we are to share the love of God and the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We are to speak the truth in love.Ephesians 4:15(HCSB)15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15-16(HCSB)15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame..

4. I can still have a good relationship with God because He understands. Proverbs 28:9(HCSB)Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law—even his prayer is detestable. We fool ourselves when we think that we can stubbornly choose sin and God does not care. 1 John 2:3–4(HCSB) contains a serious challenge for those who persist in this line of thinking:This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Hebrews 13:4(HCSB) makes God’s expectation for His children crystal clear: Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers. Sexual immorality is wrong. The blood of Jesus can cleanse us from every type of impurity when we repent and receive His forgiveness (1 John 1:7–9). But that cleansing means our old nature, including sexual immorality, is put to death (Romans 6:12–14, 8:13). Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

First, we are “sanctified,” and for that reason we are to avoid sexual immorality. The Greek word translated “sanctified” means literally “purified, made holy, consecrated [unto God].” As Christians, we are to live a purified life because we have been made holy by the exchange of our sin for the righteousness of Christ on the cross and have been made completely new creations in Christ 2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.. Our old natures, with all their impurities, sexual and otherwise, have died, and now the life we live, we live by faith in the One who died for us (Galatians 2:20). To continue in sexual impurity (fornication) is to deny that, and doing so is, in fact, a legitimate reason to question whether we have ever truly been born again. Sanctification, the process by which we become more and more Christlike, is an essential evidence of the reality of our salvation.

1 Thessalonians 4:3–5(HCSB)For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God. We see the necessity of controlling our bodies. When we give in to sexual immorality, we give evidence that the Holy Spirit is not filling us because we do not possess one of the fruits of the Spirit—self-control. All believers display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) to a greater or lesser degree depending on whether or not we are allowing the Spirit to have control. Uncontrolled “passionate lust” is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19), not of the Spirit. So controlling our lusts and living sexually pure lives is essential to anyone who professes to know Christ. In doing so, we honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18–20).

We know God’s rules and discipline reflect His love for us. Following what He says can only help us during our time on earth. By maintaining sexual purity before marriage, we avoid emotional entanglements that may negatively affect future relationships and marriages. Further, by keeping the marriage bed pure (Hebrews 13:4), we can experience unreserved love for our mates, which is surpassed only by God’s enormous love for us.

What differentiates a Christian’s life from a non-Christian’s life is the struggle against sin. The Christian life is a progressive journey of overcoming the “acts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21) and allowing God’s Spirit to produce the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). Yes, Christians sin, sometimes horribly. Sadly, sometimes Christians are indistinguishable from non-Christians. However, a true Christian will always repent, will always eventually return to God, and will always resume the struggle against sin. But the Bible gives no support for the idea that a person who perpetually and unrepentantly engages in sin can indeed be a Christian. Notice 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Marriage is War with Benefits

Getting married is easy, a 50 year Anniversary is not. To be married to someone for 50 years takes work.  .

For it to work takes 3 people: Jesus, Husband,& Wife. Jesus HAS to be the center of the relationship. and the closer the two move toward Christ the closer they get to one another. The Bible starts with a wedding, and it quickly moves to a war. The story of Genesis is that our first parents are married, and immediately Satan, the enemy of God, shows up, and he moves his war from heaven to earth, and from assaulting God and the angels to assaulting a husband and wife.

If your idea of marriage is that it is always happy, frolicking in the daisies, roses by the bedside, never arguing always getting along. Always “Yes baby whatever you want” it’s probably because you watch too much tv and believe what you’re watching or the people in your life haven’t been really honest with you. Imagine if you were a war veteran and you found out that a friend was just called into active duty. He’s getting a pay raise because of it (benefits increase) and he’s excited to fight for someone.But he has never been to war and doesn’t know about the harsh realities of it. Do you tell him congratulations or do you sit him down and try to prepare him for the reality of war? The veteran should tell the recruit the truth because he cares about his friend. It’s irresponsible to only talk about the positives in marriage and never get warned about the war.

The truth is that marriage is war. A spiritual battle rages between the enemy of God and his people, and God and His people. And for those of us who are Christian, our marriages are on the frontline of that battle, and the closer you move toward ministry, it intensifies, because Satan absolutely hates God. He hates God’s people, and he particularly hates marriage, and he hates Christian marriage, because Christian marriage is a portrait of the gospel. According to the Bible, marriage is a portrait and a picture of something far greater. The Bible tells us that marriage is a portrait and a symbol of Jesus’ love for the church. So marriage is a pretty big deal, beings that we are the Bride of Christ(The Church) He is the bridegroom coming back for a spotless bride and then there will be a wedding feast!! Ephesians 5, where it says that Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to present her to himself as a radiant bride without blemish or spot. The history culminates in Revelation 19 near the end of the Bible with a wedding. Many parables Jesus taught were surrounding a wedding, His first miracle was at a wedding.

Paul says in Ephesians 5:22-33(HCSB)22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
Paul is saying here that husbands should love their wives like Christ loves the church. And so he’s saying that a husband and wife, in loving union, communion, and covenant are kind of like the relationship that Jesus has with the church; that as Jesus leads the church lovingly, and humbly, and sacrificially, so men are to lovingly, humbly, sacrificially lead their families. And as wives respect their husbands, they are showing something of the respect that the church has, or at least should have, for the Lord Jesus Christ, as the head of the church.

Women are called to be submissive to their husbands
Colossians 3:18-19(HCSB)18 Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.19 Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.

Men we are called to Love our wives and Women you are called to obey and respect your husbands there is no variable in this. There is no what if I don’t like him?, what if he is a jerk? Nope, no variables respect your husband. But what exactly is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7(HCSB)Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, 5 does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

In the covenant of marriage, Jesus Christ is the capital-H Head. The Head of your marriage is Jesus, and the lowercase-h head is the husband, and the husband is to be part of the church, and learning about Jesus, and seeing how Jesus loves and serves and sanctifies the church. And then he’s supposed to take those examples from Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, be something like Jesus to his wife, so that she’s cherished, and she’s nurtured, and she’s loved, and she’s pursued, and she’s forgiven, so that she grows in godliness and grace and gloriousness, that the woman is the glory of the man, that she reflects his investment. As a church matures and grows, it reflects the service and the sacrifice of Jesus. So it is with the woman. As she grows, and flourishes, and as her children grow and flourish, it shows the service and sacrifice of her husband and her Lord.

Here’s the bottom line, guys. You need to love her like Christ loved the church. You need to take responsibility like Jesus took responsibility. You need to pursue her. You need to invest in her. You need to care for her. You need to cherish her and nourish her with the grace that God gives you.

So Satan attacks marriages, because marriages are an illustration of the gospel; and if Satan can destroy a Christian marriage, especially a ministry marriage—those couples that are seeking to honor and serve God with their gifts in the marketplace, home, or ministry—then he knows that he can affect generations. He can have their children, and their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren.
The marriage is 100% and 100%. It takes a lot to begin to live together as one. Realize this, Satan didn’t even show up to attack Adam and Eve until they were married. And for some of us, we have this naive notion that if we just get married, then our trials, and our troubles, and our temptations will go away. No, that’s when our enemy comes, and the battle will intensify. The storyline of the Bible is from a wedding to a war, and there’s been a war from the beginning surrounding marriage, especially the marriage of God’s people.

Marriage is also two things.It’s covenant and consummation, according to God’s Word. So first of all, covenant, you’ll find it in Malachi 2. “The LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth.” He’s speaking to the men here. “She is your companion and your wife by Covenant.”

Now, this is the big debate in our day is, is marriage a civil contract, or is it a biblical covenant? A civil contract is really just between two people. It’s more of a business arrangement; it’s a legal arrangement. It’s like two business partners merging into one firm. It’s civil. The Christian understanding, the biblical understanding, is that it is not merely civil but covenantal—meaning, it’s not just two people. It’s two people in God who oversees the covenant. I want to be very clear: that which is civil is civil and that which is covenantal is covenantal. And our view of marriage is entirely guided by Scriptures. And it doesn’t matter what vote is taken or what the politicians or the Supreme Court determine; ultimately, what we care about is what God has said. So it covenantal. This means that it is permanent, that it is exclusive, and that it is sacred.

Marriage is covenantal and it includes consummation. Two people who are sleeping together are not married because they don’t have the covenantal aspect—all they have is the consummation aspect. Two people who are really good friends and love one another and spend time together, but have not entered into covenant and consummated it, are not married.

This is why it’s covenant and it’s consummation: it speaks of this in Genesis 2:24(HCSB)A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife”—there’s the covenant—“and the two shall become one flesh.” there’s the consummation.

Christians think differently about everything, not just this thing. We believe we’re made male and female in the image and likeness of God, that marriage is not just civil and contractual, it is covenantal, it is for one man and one woman, and it is defined by covenant in the presence of God and consummation between the husband and the wife. Some translations say cleave, This word has two ideas behind it. One is to be “glued” to his wife, a picture of how tight the marriage bond is to be. The other aspect is to “pursue hard after” the wife. This “pursuing hard after” is to go beyond the courtship leading to marriage, and is to continue throughout the marriage. The fleshly tendency is to “do what feels good to me” rather than to consider what will benefit the spouse. And this self-centeredness is the rut that marriages commonly fall into once the “honeymoon is over.” Instead of each spouse dwelling upon how his or her own needs are not being met, he or she is to remain focused on meeting the needs of the spouse.

You Were Created To Be One

Husbands and wives: you were created to be one. That’s the way God set it up and that’s the way it should be. So why does it sometimes feel like you’re far, far away from that ideal? Intimacy can suffer when we get away from our God-ordained status of drawing together. Often when we hear the words “intimacy” and “marriage” together, we think the conversation is going to be about sex. And yes, sex is important for building intimacy! But it’s not the only aspect of true marital intimacy. Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, financially, and in every other way, the couple is to become one. Even as one part of the body cares for the other body parts (the stomach digests food for the body, the brain directs the body for the good of the whole, the hands work for the sake of the body, etc.), so each partner in the marriage is to care for the other. Each partner is no longer to see money earned as “my” money; but rather as “our” money. Ephesians 5 gives the application of this “oneness” to the role of the husband and to the wife, respectively. Ephesians 5:21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Sex Plays A Role In Intimacy

Marital intimacy means so much more than just sex. But it does include sex. Because physical intimacy is key to maintaining a long-lasting, deep intimacy with your spouse. Sex isn’t intended to be some sort of obligation or “marital duty;” sex is intended to be a wonderful moment of pleasure and enjoyment! In marriage, the act of sex is one of the most expressive, vulnerable, and wordless ways you can create intimacy, as you and your spouse truly enjoy one another’s company, which is something that today’s readings express wonderfully. So make some time together with your spouse today. Deepen your intimacy physically with one another. It’s biblical!

Sex is renewing a covenant. The original purpose of sex was to “become one  flesh,” meaning a complete personal union. Sex creates deep intimacy, oneness, and communion between two people Genesis 2:24(HCSB)24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh;. In the Bible oneness is not simply a matter of emotion but is always the creation of a martial covenant. In the world view, sex is self-expression; in the biblical view, sex is self-giving.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5(HCSB) A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 4 A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

God created sex, He created it for us to enjoy, He created male and female with body parts to enjoy one another. Sex becomes “bad” when it is done outside of the covenant of marriage.

God gave us Married people the gift of sex. There are two gifts after Salvation that God gave us for pleasure, Sex & Taste buds.

There are scriptures that speak about sex for pleasure, there is a whole book written called Song of Solomon.
Proverbs 5:15 (HCSB)Drink water from your own cistern,water flowing from your own well. 16 Should your springs flow in the streets, streams of water in the public squares? 17 They should be for you alone and not for you to share with strangers.18 Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth. 19  A loving doe, a graceful fawn—let her breasts always satisfy you;be lost in her love forever.

The bible says multiple times in Song of Solomon not to “Awaken love “ before it’s time.

Song of Solomon compares waiting for marriage to guarding a vineyard. In the springtime of the year, when flowers are in bloom and all nature is telling you to go forth, be fruitful and multiply, the woman warns us of the little foxes that can damage the fragile blossoms of the vineyard, with serious long-term consequences for its fruitfulness Song of Solomon 2:15(HCSB)Catch the foxes for us—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyards are in bloom.. She reminds us that the farmer who invests his energy in protecting the integrity of the vineyard will not regret it later, even though the benefits of this painful perseverance won’t be reaped until the time is fully ripe.

Vineyard tending is a long, patient process of waiting and watching in which one failure doesn’t bring the whole endeavor to nothing. The farmer who fails doesn’t have to give up the vineyard as damaged goods. He can repent and rebuild the broken wall tear out the weeds and start again to watch and wait. Equally, while keeping the walls and weeding is important in vineyard tending, it is not the only thing. It’s about taking care of tender blossoms. Tending your sexual vineyard is therefore not simply about actual physical sexual intercourse; it is about protecting your mind from habitual lust, romantic fantasy, and pornography, all of which can have long-term damaging effects. You can have a vineyard whose walls are still intact but whose blossoms have been trampled into the muddy dirt in other ways.

The Bible is full of covenant renewal ceremonies. When God enters into a personal relationship with someone, he is not so unrealistic as to think that mere emotion can serve as the basis for it. He knows that human emotions come and go and that there needs to be something binding to provide consistency and endurance. So God requires a binding, public, legal covenant as the infrastructure for intimacy. It is far easier to be vulnerable to someone who has bindingly promised to be exclusively faithful to you than to someone who is under no obligation to stay with you for more than one night. Thus God demands covenants. But even that is not enough. He regularly gets his people together to reread the terms of the covenant, remember the history of his acts of grace in their lives, and recommit themselves through renewal of the covenant. The ultimate covenant renewal ceremony is the Lord’s Supper. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper renews the covenant made at baptism; through the breaking of bread and the pouring out of wine it reenacts the selfless sacrifice of Jesus to us. In addition, in the receiving and eating of the sacrament it reenacts the giving of ourselves to Jesus. We reenact the total commitment and oneness we have in Christ as a way of renewing and deepening that oneness.

In the same way, marriage is a covenant, one that creates a place of security for vulnerability. But though covenant is necessary for sex, sex is also necessary for covenant. The covenant will grow stale unless we continually revisit and reenact it. Sex is a covenant renewal ceremony for marriage, the physical reenactment of the inseparable oneness in all other areas—economic, legal, personal, psychological—created by the marriage covenant. Sex renews and revitalizes the marriage covenant.

God has built this great gift to bring a couple together. Dr. Stephen Arterburn says it this way: “Sexual pleasure is one of the most intense human experiences. Physically speaking, when a man and woman are together,” he says that, “a chemical is released into the brain called an opioid.” That means opium-like. He goes on to say, “Apart from a heroin-induced experience, nothing is more physically pleasurable. This is a wonderful thing in a committed marriage relationship, because it helps bond two people together and bring joy to living together and building a relationship.” It brings oneness.

See, so when God tells you to be faithful to your spouse, to practice chastity before marriage, to enjoy fidelity within marriage, what he’s saying is, “I want the best for you. I want you to be one with your spouse. I want you to be connected theologically. I want you to be connected emotionally. I want you to be connected mentally. I want you to be connected financially. I want you to be connected biologically. I want you to increasingly grow to be one.”

Marriage is far more than just a man and a woman. When it is covenantal, it includes the Lord Jesus, a portrait of the church and the eternal kingdom of God. And it is for those people who are in the New Covenant with Jesus—they’re in saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And the consummation is not sexual, but it is spiritual, where after the resurrection of the dead and all things are made new, just like a bride would go to live with her husband, so God’s people will go to his kingdom, the place that Jesus is preparing for us right now.

Purpose of the Church Pt6 Compassion

Acts 2:41-47(HCSB)41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

We are on Part 6 of the purpose of the Church, Part 6 deals with Compassion.
Acts 2:44-45 (HCSB)
44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.

The word compassion means: (1) a deep awareness and sympathy of the sufferings of another. It also has a second definition: (2) the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it.

In addition to having the sorrow that is felt for the suffering of others, it is a willingness and an urge to assist them. The word actually means to do something about feeling sorry, to be affected by their situation. It is to enter into one’s sorrow and pain. When we feel true compassion, we will be moved inwardly. Having empathy; to have one’s heart reach out toward the needs of others. To be compassionate, to pity; to be kindhearted. It means to be tenderhearted; to be sensitive and affectionate, to be moved with tender feelings over the pain and sufferings of others.

This compassion will stand ready to assist the one who is sorrowing. Paul preached that God is the source of all the believer’s ability for showing true compassion. In Colossians. 3:12-13(HCSB) Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, exemplified all of the Father’s attributes, including His compassion. When Jesus saw His friends weeping at the grave of Lazarus, He felt compassion for them and wept alongside them John 11:33-35(HCSB)33 When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved. 34 “Where have you put him?” He asked. “Lord,” they told Him, “come and see.”35 Jesus wept. Moved with compassion for the suffering of others, Jesus healed the large crowds who came to Him.
Matthew 14:14(HCSB)14 As He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd, felt compassion for them, and healed their sick, as well as individuals who sought His healing  Mark 1:40-41(HCSB)40 Then a man with a serious skin disease came to Him and, on his knees, begged Him: “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. “I am willing,” He told him. “Be made clean.”. When He saw the large crowds as sheep without a shepherd, His compassion led Him to teach them the things the false shepherds of Israel had abandoned. The priests and scribes were proud and corrupt; they despised the common people and neglected them, but Jesus had compassion on them, and He taught and loved them.

When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded that it is to love God with all our heart, mind and strength. But He added that the second commandment : ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’”
Matthew 22:34-40(HCSB)34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
The Pharisee had asked Him which single command of God is the greatest, but Jesus provided two, stating not only what we are to do, but also how to do it. To love our neighbor as ourselves is the natural result of our loving devotion toward God.

1 John 3:16-18(HCSB) 16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him?18 Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.

Originally made in His image, man is to exemplify God’s traits, including compassion. The Bible is clear that compassion is an attribute of God and of God’s people as well.

There has been so much mercy that God has had upon us. The one thing we need do is to show mercy unto others. Kindness and compassion should overflow our hearts for the poor, aged, lost, lonely, wayward, hungry, empty, orphaned, diseased, hungry, unclothed and hurting. The list could go on and on, of course. The important point for us to see is that the believer no longer has a right to overlook the needy of the world.

What happens in most Church circles is that we tend to get a “CLUB” mentality. If they aren’t like us, dress like us, talk like us, do the things we do, then they aren’t and cannot be a part of us.  We then move out of “being the church” by making the people we are supposed to be loving and compassionate towards, our enemies, and we build up these walls and make them outcasts. WE don’t do any outreaches because that brings in people who are not like us. We start to judge the world, because they act like, well the world. We must not be so offended with the things people of this world do that we make this same people our enemy. Our enemy is the one who controls the world and its passions not the people. Our job is to reconcile people with God, by teaching, preaching, showing compassion, and love. Love is not being tolerant of sin and tolerant of the world’s behaviors but teaching them about Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to change them.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

We are to be Ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country. Sent to a foreign land, the ambassador’s role is to reflect the official position of the sovereign body that gave him authority. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul likens his own calling to that of an ambassador, and he urges all Christians to consider themselves ambassadors for Christ. When Ambassadors got to foreign soil they REPRESENT the SOVEREIGN body that sent them, they DO NOT represent the land they are in.

Christians are God’s ambassadors in that they have been “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel” 1 Thessalonians 2:4(HCSB)Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts. When we speak to men to gain their approval we are no longer Ambassadors, we are now “men pleasers” and we lose our mission to spread the gospel and to teach reconciliation.  As we go through this world, we represent another Kingdom John 18:36(HCSB)36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”, and it is our responsibility to reflect the “official position” of heaven. We are in this world, but not of it
John 17:14(HCSB)I have given them Your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. 15 I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.19 I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth..

Acts 1:8(HCSB)But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we must take the message of our King to the people in our family/neighborhood/city(Jerusalem) in our State/country(Judea and Samaria) and then to the “ends of the earth” discipling men and women everywhere to be reconciled to God. We are all missionaries. And, we are all regular Christians who are filled with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to declare and live out the gospel wherever we go.

James 1:27(HCSB)Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Everyone like to practice religion but not everyone practices true religion, showing compassion. and being unstained from this world.

According to 2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.Now he is a new man. The garment of compassion should be a part of the clothing of a new man. The clothing of compassion should always be worn by the believer. The believer should reach out and try to help others through their suffering. Compassion is the seat of man’s affections. Of all human emotions, compassion is the deepest movement of emotions. It is moved within the deepest part of a person’s being

There is also the compassion of humans told of in the Scriptures. In Matthew 18:27 we read of human compassion being shown. 1 Peter 3:8-9 (HCSB) Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. The world that we live in desperately needs COMPASSION. It is a world of tremendous suffering.

James 2:15-19(HCSB)15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.

James the little brother of Jesus is saying you can say that you believe but the evidence of your belief is in good works! He contrast it by telling people that who are just believing without “good Works” are like the demons but even less because at lest the demons shudder!

Titus 3:14(HCSB)14 And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they will not be unfruitful.

I can state that I am a brain surgeon all I want but unless I can actually operate on a brain then I am nothing more than a poser, a liar, a fraud, a fake. This is the context of these passages, your works of compassion 5will prove that you are a believer!

There are so many people who suffer and keep on suffering never having their needs met. Which causes many in the world to become hardened to others’ sufferings. Many hoard and build up assets when they could be sacrificing and reaching out so that they can meet the world’s needs. This should not be said of the believer. It does not mean that believers should be without the necessities of life. All believers need to have compassion when they see the sufferings of others. Compassion is to be felt by believers to the point they are moved to act. These actions will include sacrificing and reaching out to meet others’ needs.

Notice how compassion will not leave any room for selfishness. True compassion will have a person deny himself so he can help others in their needs and sufferings. As people assist others, they are drawn together. People being united can be done by compassion – when a person shows a feeling for another and sacrifices – reaching out to help each other. A great bond is formed between the believer and the ones that he ministers to.

True Compassion is a result of the poured out life that has been devoted to God and attached to His interests. The trials and tribulations we endure give us the strength and character to be of better use in the lives of others. Because we have been through it, we can help lead them through it, too. It will also make us more confident of our Lord and His working within and through us.

Compassion is not bringing our own needs, ideas, sympathies, or agendas–no matter how needed and good-to a situation. Rather, it is identifying with others, allowing God’s ideas and interests to take us beyond ourselves to the situations of others, and helping to bring them closer to Christ. We are to seek His intervention, but not demand that God fulfill that need. We are to bring ourselves closer to Him and experience His presence and preeminence.

Compassion also gives us the ability to feel genuine empathy and concern for those who suffer distressing physical, mental, or emotional problems, to tolerate it, and even serve them cheerfully. We are to reflect Christ’s love, seeking to alleviate their sufferings as well as motivate others to help. This is a prime aspect of the Spiritual Gift of Mercy; however, not having that gift is no reason or excuse to not act on it

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 (HCSB)12 Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

There is a distinction made here that we are to “to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work”  and then he exhorts the brothers to “warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone” Showing us that even though some of us are teachers and leaders Compassion is everyone’s job.

Eternal Security, Can we lose our Salvation?

SALVATION BY GRACE

A born-again believer does NOT convert to the Mormon faith or become an atheist. When a man claims that he “used to be a Christian,” but now has become a non-believer, he’s a liar. He never was a Christian to begin with. He may have once had the philosophy of Christianity, or the organization of Christianity; but he never had genuine Christianity, which is found by faith in Jesus Christ alone.

You don’t trust Christ one day and then forsake him the next, it doesn’t work that way. A child of God will always be a child of God. God doesn’t disown us because we mess up, Just like a good Father doesn’t disown their child because they mess up. If you don’t have Jesus Christ today, it is ONLY because you never really trusted Him at all. This is why the Bible warns us to make sure we are saved— 2 Corinthians 13:5(HCSB)Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.

Most American churches claim to be saved and have a form of Jesus, but they have religion; not Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Isaiah 59:2 (NET)But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers.

Romans 5:8 (HCSB)But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

According to Romans 5:8, God demonstrated His love for us through the death of His Son. Why did Christ have to die for us? Because Scripture declares all men to be sinful. To “sin” means to miss the mark. The Bible declares “Romans 3:23(NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (the perfect holiness)”. In other words, our sin separates us from God who is perfect holiness and God must therefore judge sinful man. Sin entered in through the fall of Adam,(Romans 5:12When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.)
The doctrine of total depravity is an acknowledgement that the Bible teaches that as a result of the fall of man (Genesis 3:6) every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin. In other words, sin affects all areas of our being including who we are and what we do.

It penetrates to the very core of our being so that everything is tainted by sin and Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)We are all infected and impure with sin.When we display our righteous deeds,they are nothing but filthy rags.” All of our deeds are filthy rags before a holy God. It acknowledges that the Bible teaches that we sin because we are sinners by nature. We are not born “good” you don’t have to teach a child to be bad. You have to teach them how to be good. Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

In all the vastness of our world, in all of the diversity of religious beliefs, there are only two essential types of belief for Salvation, works and Grace. There seem to be many differences between the world’s religions, but they are all essentially the same–they all center around human works. All involve human beings accomplishing a task or set of tasks to achieve a goal and receive a reward. The tasks may be different, the goal may have differing names, and the reward may be called many things (Heaven Paradise, Nirvana), but the principle underlying all of them is the same–Quid Pro Quo, which is Latin for “this for that.” In the world’s religions, salvation (righteousness, oneness with the Infinite, perfect nothingness, or whatever is the term in a particular religion) is earned by what one does. Unfortunately, within this group of religions based on human effort are many species of religion that go by the name of Christianity.

True Bible Christianity, however, “the faith once delivered to the saints,” is totally distinct from the world’s religions in this area as in so many others. The thing that makes Christianity far different from all other religions is the concept of Grace. WORKS

GRACE

1.Salvation is 100 percent a work of God–we are unable, because of our bondage to sin and rebellion, to do anything meriting God’s favor.

2. God reaches down to save people–He conceived the plan, He sent His Son to accomplish the plan–He does 100% of the work.

3. When we experience what the Bible calls the New Birth (John 3:3-8), we are then SAVED, we pass from death to life (Eph 2:1-6; John 5:24; 6:40; 6:47).

4. As a part of the gift of Salvation, we become adopted children of God (Gal 3:26(HCSB) for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”

Galatians 4:7(HCSB)“So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

5. When we sin, God deals with us as a Father to a child (Hebrews 12:4-8(HCSB)“In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or faint when you are reproved by Him, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives. Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline — which all receive — then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
6. God’s Grace and actions are the determining factors in our salvation, even to include His working in our lives to develop a lifestyle consistent with salvation. (Eph 2:8-10; Phil. 2:12-13)

The Grace of God is so simple, yet so profound that it is beyond the greatest minds to fully understand. It stands in opposition to the ideas that most of us have about earning our way in the world, about people getting what they deserve, about “fairness,” and about the independence of human beings. The best simple definition this writer has ever heard for Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

The meaning of Grace behind that simple explanation is one of the most hated teachings in the world because it so totally undermines and removes all traces of human pride. The Doctrine of Grace teaches that we are totally unable to save ourselves, to help in our salvation, to do anything to merit all or any part of our salvation, or to keep our salvation. We are saved totally as an act of God’s will, and we do not deserve it in any way. Indeed, those that are saved are equally (if not more) deserving of Hell as those who actually go there! This is the most important first principle in understanding Grace–no one in the entire human race deserves any consideration from God, we are all rebels and sinners, and we all deserve Hell. Except for His own redemption plan, God could rightfully have sent the entire human race to eternal punishment long ago!

The description Paul gives of believers before salvation, fits the entire human race if they are without Christ:

Ephesians 2:1-3(HCSB) 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

In spite of our fitness for wrath, however, God has exercised His Grace toward us in Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-10(HCSB) 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

What is the meaning of Grace? We were dead spiritually; we were fit for nothing but wrath; we were rebels and in bondage to sin and Satan. In the midst of that condition, God saved us. We exercised faith, which is itself a gift of God (John 6:44-47(HCSB) 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. 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— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God. He has seen the Father.47 “I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.), and God blessed us with the greatest possible gift–eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord! John 5:24(HCSB) 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

John 6:37(HCSB)Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.

What is more, we can add nothing to Grace. Before we were saved, we had nothing to contribute to the process ( Romans 3:10-11(HCSB) 10 as it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one.11 There is no one who understands;there is no one who seeks God.;

1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB) 14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually; and During the New Birth experience, we add nothing to it. The Bible makes plain that the mysterious supernatural experience called the New Birth is an act of God.

You might ask, “If this is all a work of God, where do I fit in the process?” The answer is you must believe, you must exercise faith in Christ for salvation. (Romans 10:9-13(HCSB) 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

Paul and Silas in jail speaking with the jailer

Acts 16:30-31(HCSB)30 Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.). This exercise is not a work, however, because is involves no ability on our part and no effort on our part. That is the hard thing to understand about faith–it is not an action, it is a surrender, a throwing up of the hands and saying, “I can do nothing in myself.”

What are we saved from? In the doctrine of salvation, we are saved from God’s wrath, that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9(NLT) And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation)

1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NLT)For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.

Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation.

Justification by Faith

Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves justification from sin.

What does the term “Justified” mean? The Bible meaning of the word is to be totally blameless and totally guiltless–to be able to stand before God clean and pure in every way. A play on the word helps us to understand its meaning. If I am Justified, it is Just-as-if-I’d never sinned, and Just-as-if-I’d always been holy and done the right things. Remember our helpless position before God–as “children of Wrath,”

Our Father, however, has devised a plan and made a way for us to stand righteous before Him. He has sent His own Son as a Sacrifice on our behalf, (Chapter 5) and those who believe in Him shall have everlasting life, and shall be seen as righteous in God’s sight.

Romans 3:21-24(HCSB)21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

This righteousness we receive is imputed righteousness–that is a theological term which means removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time declaring a sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. God legally declares us to be righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross.

This is Justification, to stand before God with all debts paid, and clothed in the righteousness of His only Son, Jesus Christ. To be able know that you have “peace with God”–there is no more war between you and the Almighty.

Romans 5:1(HCSB) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taken together, the concepts of Grace and Justification by Faith show the uniqueness of the Christian doctrine of Salvation. The message of Grace is God Saves Sinners. It is His Plan, it was His Son who died and rose again, it is His Spirit who enlivens the preaching and witness of believers to awaken sinners to their need of salvation and lead them to faith in Christ.

You are no more justified the first day you accepted Christ than the your last day on earth, you may be more sanctified but you are no more justified. A Christian is justified. Romans 5:1 (ESV)“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” To “justify” means to “declare righteous.” All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and “un-declare” what He had previously declared.

The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, John 10:27-29(HSCB) 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. Both Jesus and the Father have us firmly grasped in their hand. Who could possibly separate us from the grip of both the Father and the Son? Jesus tells us that he gives eternal life to the sheep, the Christians.  He clearly and definitely states that they shall never perish.  There is no qualifier here.  There is no statement such as, “they shall never perish if they remain faithful.”  There is only the clear declaration that they shall never perish.  This inability to perish is a result of the Lord Jesus giving them eternal life.

Furthermore, Jesus says that no one shall snatch them out of his hand, which further emphasizes the idea that those who have eternal life will never perish.  But, can we snatch ourselves out of Jesus’ hand?  No, we can’t because the term “no one” includes the person who is saved.  Therefore, you cannot snatch yourself out of Christ’s hand.

Ephesians 4:30 (HCSB) And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 (HCSB) so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. This tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

What sin is so big that Jesus’ death could not atone for it? There is none that I know of. Every sin that man can commit against God and man, even the most heinous was dealt with at the cross of Calvary. If this is so, then what sin can be so bad that it would cause God to “unforgive” that which He has already paid for?

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers,39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Please understand that eternal security is not a license to sin.  The Christian is regenerated.  He is changed from within–being made a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.)  Those who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit will war with their sin and not seek to abide in it.  Those who declare that they are eternally secure and then go out and sin on purpose in any manner they so choose are probably not saved to begin with since this is contradictory to what Scripture teaches.  1 John 2:4-5 (HCSB) The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him:

Colossians 2:14(HCSB)14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.
This certificate of debt is canceled on the cross not when a person believes. This is crucial to this doctrine because if the sin debt is canceled on the cross, then the sin debt’s cancelling does not depend upon the person’s accepting or rejecting it, and then it become cancelled, otherwise, it would not be canceled on the cross. So, if it’s canceled on the cross, then it’s canceled by the work of God, and God will apply to the redeemed that debt cancellation–when they have faith. If it means that a person ultimately will go to Hell by losing his salvation, then how has the sin debt actually been canceled at the cross?

Salvation is a gift. And therefore, if it is a gift that God gives, it would have to be a gift that God would have to take back. And what would cause Him to take it back? He saved you when you were a lost sinner. Why would He take away your salvation because you fall or stumble or make a mistake or sin?

He’s not going to take your salvation back. He is a giver and He doesn’t take His gifts back. In fact, the Bible says in Romans 11 that “The gifts of God are without repentance.” They’re irrevocable. God doesn’t take His gifts back. And one of those gifts is salvation. And that Scripture is the proof that He won’t take your salvation away from you, because it is a free gift.

The adopting Father chooses the orphan, the orphan does not choose the father. The bible is clear that we were children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3(HCSB) We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. and children of the devil. John 8:44(HCSB)You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. before God chose us as His children. Romans 8:14-17(HCSB) All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

The awesome thing about God is He chose us as His children, then He gives us the tools(Holy Spirit, the Bible, prayer) to draw closer to Him and to keep from sinning and He says He will carry it onto completion.
Philippians 1:6(HCSB)6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Three of the watchwords of the revival of Biblical preaching known as the Reformation were: Sola Fide (Faith alone), Sola Gratia (Grace alone), and Sola Christi (Christ alone). These Latin terms describe God’s salvation plan in a nutshell–He has done it all, and we can claim no credit for ourselves. The result of this wonderful outpouring of His love is our salvation, and that results further in the fourth watchword: Soli Deo Gloria (The Glory to God alone).

Purpose of the Church Pt5 Worship

Worship is a lifestyle

All of life is ceaseless worship. Practically, this means that while worship does include corporate church meetings, singing songs, etc, it is not limited by these things, defined solely as these things, or expressed only in these things because worship never stops. Rather, we are continually giving ourselves away or pouring ourselves out for a person, cause, experience, achievement, or status.

YOU ARE ALWAYS WORSHIPING

Human beings are unceasing worshipers. We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping. Everyone worships all the time. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, and everyone in between are unceasing worshipers. Everyone, everywhere, all the time, is always worshiping. Everyone Worships, the question is what are you worshipping?

What you glory in you will sacrifice for. What you sacrifice for is what you worship.  Example: Drug addicts, porn addicts and alcoholics, they sacrifice family, money, time etc. for what they glory in (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.) there are many others, football, hunting, video games, sports, etc.

What you glory in you will sacrifice for. If you glory in God you will sacrifice all other aspects of life to make sure you are in His presence.

Worship is a lifestyle. People don’t have sin problems they have worship problems. People continue in their sin because they fail to worship the God of scripture.  The highest we take people most of the time is into sin management.

I have seen people glory in football and sacrifice coming to church so they can worship their idol. Seems harsh? Not to God, God wants all of you not just what you want to give him. If you glory in Hunting you will sacrifice for it, God doesn’t say not to do these things but we are not to esteem them above God.

Paul described true worship in

Romans 12:1-2(NLT)12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Also in the passage is a description of the manner of our worship: “give your bodies a living and holy sacrifice.” Giving our bodies means giving to God all of ourselves. The reference to our bodies here means all our human faculties, all of our humanness—our hearts, minds, hands, thoughts, attitudes—are to be presented to God. In other words, we are to give up control of these things and turn them over to Him, just as a literal sacrifice was given totally to God on the altar. But how? Again, the passage is clear: “by changing the way you think.” Renewing the mind – Metanoia in the greek means; change of mind it is where we get the word repentance. We renew our minds daily by cleansing them of the world’s “wisdom” and replacing it with true wisdom that comes from God. We worship Him with our renewed and cleansed minds, not with our emotions. We see this all the time as people don’t come to church, they don’t worship unless they “feel” like it, their favorite song is played, or their favorite worship leader is leading.

We are not to let our worship be dictated by our feelings or our emotions.

Emotions are wonderful things, but unless they are shaped by a mind saturated in truth, they can be destructive, out-of-control forces. Where the mind goes, the will follows and so do the emotions. 1 Corinthians 2:16(HCSB) tells us we have “the mind of Christ,” not the emotions of Christ. Worship to God is holy and sacred.  To pervert and corrupt it with entertainment and what we can “get out of the service” in trying to please and gratify ourselves is nothing short of blasphemy!  The sacredness of true worship must not be sacrificed on altars of entertainment-oriented quartets, choirs, and other entertainment groups.  We are as Hebrews 13:15(HCSB) says to 15 Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.  In worship we must be the participants, not the observers.  We want to please and entertain ourselves.  In Galatians 1:10(HCSB) the question is asked, For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.  Worship is God-centered not man-centered.  When our worship is to please God instead of ourselves, then and only then will our worship be much more meaningful and spiritually uplifting to us and acceptable to God.

When people seek an “emotional high” from worship and don’t get it, they are disappointed and start blaming the song service, the preacher, etc.  The world wants their worship service to be “more entertaining”, thus they are failing to worship God in spirit and in truth.  Where in the Bible can we go to show that our worship is designed to please the worshipper.  The desire to have an experience or an encounter along the lines of mysticism also gives little regard to what God says in the Bible.

Our worship to God requires commitment on our part.  People had rather worship Christ as a baby in a manger than Christ as their crucified savior.  Their worshipping Christ as a baby in a manger requires no commitment on their part.  They feel they can put Him in a box and live the rest of the year as they please.  But worshipping Christ as our crucified savior requires commitment, a complete change of our life, and a willingness to do all that He says. Jesus says in Matthew 10:37-38(HCSB) 37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.  God and Christ must be first in our lives, and this requires that we be committed to them.
There is only one way to renew our minds, and that is by the Word of God. It is the truth, the knowledge of the Word of God, which is to say the knowledge of the mercies of God, and we’re back where we began. To know the truth, to believe the truth, to hold convictions about the truth, and to love the truth will naturally result in true spiritual worship. It is conviction followed by affection, affection that is a response to truth, not to any external stimuli.

Anything Other Than Jesus

1John 5:21(HCSB)“Little children, keep yourselves from idols,” John ends his first letter. with keeping yourself from idols. In other words, don’t see anything but God’s glory in Christ as the source of your greatest joy, deepest satisfaction, and highest authority.

Idolatry can be active in our heart even when we are gathered with the church. Whenever we think we can’t meet with God unless “this or that” is present, we are making a profound statement. If “this or that” is anything other than Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, We have moved into the territory of idolatry.

Of course, God uses means to reveal himself. We encounter him through his word that is read and preached, the Lord’s supper, fellowship with one another, and our songs and prayers. But when we make those means — or more specifically, the execution of those means — the basis of our fellowship with God, we’ve added an unnecessary barrier to meeting with him. We attend the gathering of the saints as idolatrous consumers and judges rather than grateful receivers and servants.

Some of us have Sunday Morning Idols that hinders our worship to the Father.

What are some of the idols we might battle on Sundays?

Musical Excellence

It’s easy to be distracted by sloppy playing, unsophisticated songs, an out of tune guitar, a vocalist who sings sharp, a drummer who drops a beat, or a mix that’s out of balance. That’s why skilled musicianship is commended in the Bible.
Psalm 33:3(HCSB)Sing a new song to Him; play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout.. But rather than just internally criticize what’s going on, I can thank God he uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise.
1 Corinthians 1:20–31(HCSB)26 Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one can boast in His presence.

1 Peter 2:5(HCSB)5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ., We can remind ourselves that Jesus perfects all our offerings of worship through his once and for all sacrifice and that even the most polished performance is insufficient on its own to merit God’s favor.

Musical Preference

Our Worship leaders don’t always pick the songs on our personal playlist. And they shouldn’t. The best music for congregations serves both the lyrics and the unity of the congregation, not our personal likes and dislikes. No song needs to keep us from glorying in our Redeemer. We gather with the body to edify one another. We bring more glory to God by rejoicing that others in the church are benefiting from a song, even if it’s not our personal preference.

Music can’t produce worship, Music helps facilitate an atmosphere of Worship, although music can certainly produce emotion. Emotion is part of the “Soul” We are Spirit, Soul, and Body. Soul is mind, will and emotions.  Worship must come from our spirit and soul. Not just soul, Concerts are in the soulish realm. They make us feel “good” that’s why concerts sell out but worship nights only have a handful of people.
This means we worship from the heart and the way God has designed. When we say “That’s not my style of worship or the music is not my style” you are being self centered and focusing the attention on you.

We live in an “Entertain Me” world. Most of us think the musicians on the stage are there to entertain. The musicians/music is a tool to express praise and adoration to God. The worship team is there to help guide you to an intimate place of worship. They are there to lead you into your own worship to God.

Preaching Skill

Would that every preacher were as gifted, trained, and skilled as some of the more well known preachers of our day. They aren’t. But as long as they’re preaching the gospel and seeking to communicate God’s word faithfully, they’re obeying God — and we can rejoice 2 Timothy 4:2(HCSB)Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. As Charles Spurgeon’s grandfather reminds us, someone might be able to preach the gospel better, but they can’t preach a better gospel.

Experiences

We all love “worship experiences” with God. But the goal of gathering as God’s people is not simply to feel butterflies, but to see and remember something, with true affection. That “something” is the word, works, and worthiness of God, especially as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ 2 Corinthians 4:6(HCSB) For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. If I pursue goose bumps or mere heightened emotion during a meeting, God becomes simply one of numerous options I can choose to seek them from.

Liturgy

Forms and practices are significant when we meet as God’s people to worship him. Our gatherings both reflect and shape our beliefs. But there is no “liturgical perfectionism” we can achieve that will ever make our worship more acceptable to God than it already is in Jesus. Our goal is to do in faith what magnifies God’s glory in Christ most effectively and scripturally. We can and should use biblical elements and proportions in corporate worship. But liturgies should serve us, not rule us. Since God has seen fit to allow freedom in form, so should we.

Every time we gather is an opportunity to glory in God’s grace revealed to us in the crucified and risen Savior. Let’s not let idols keep us from reveling in the inexpressible joy that our sins are forgiven and we have been reconciled to God.

True worship is God-centered worship. People tend to get caught up in where they should worship, what music they should sing in worship, and how the worship looks to other people. Focusing on these things completely misses the point. Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth John 4:24(NLT)For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”


It’s also important to know that worship is reserved only for God. Only He is worthy and not any of His servants When the Angel was talking in Revelation 19:10(NLT) Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.
We are not to worship saints, prophets, statues, angels, any false gods, or Mary, the mother of Jesus. We also should not be worshiping for the expectation of something in return, such as a miraculous healing. Worship is done for God—because He deserves it—and for His pleasure alone.

The Bible is absolutely clear that we are to worship God alone. The only instances of anyone other than God receiving worship in the Bible are false gods, which are Satan and his demons. All followers of the Lord God refuse worship. Peter and the apostles refused to be worshipped (Acts 10:25-26(NLT)As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!”

The holy angels refuse to be worshipped (Revelation 19:9-10(NLT) 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.

Revelation 22:8-9(NLT) 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. 9 But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!”

The response is always the same, “Worship God!”

Now we get to Praise.Praise is the joyful recounting of all God has done for us. It is closely intertwined with thanksgiving as we offer back to God appreciation for His mighty works on our behalf. Praise is universal and can be applied to other relationships as well. We can praise our family, friends, boss, or waiter/waitress. Praise does not require anything of us. It is merely the truthful acknowledgment of the righteous acts of another. Since God has done many wonderful deeds, He is worthy of praise
Psalms 18:3(NLT) I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.

Worship, however, comes from a different place within our spirits. Worship should be reserved for God alone (Luke 4:8(NLT) Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him). Worship is the art of losing self in the adoration of another. Praise can be a part of worship, but worship goes beyond praise. Praise is easy; worship is not. Worship gets to the heart of who we are. To truly worship God, we must let go of our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before God, surrender every part of our lives to His control, and adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Worship is a lifestyle, not just an occasional activity.

Worship can be public praise to God in a congregational setting, where we can proclaim through prayer and praise our adoration and thankfulness to Him and what He has done for us. True worship is felt inwardly, and then comes out through our actions. “Going through the motions” out of obligation is displeasing to God and is done completely in vain. He can see through all the hypocrisy, and He hates it.

He demonstrates this in Amos 5:21-24 (NLT)“I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.

Another example is the story of Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve. They both brought gift offerings to the Lord, but He was only pleased with Abel’s. Cain brought the gift out of obligation; Abel brought his finest lambs from his flock. He brought out of faith and admiration for God.

Abel was the worshipper and Cain was the religious brother, religion will kill worship.  Religion worships out of obligation, true worship is done out of adoration. True worship is not confined to what we do in church or open praise (although these things are both good and we are told in the Bible to do them). It is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of praise and worship is obedience to Him and His Word.

To do this, we must know God; we cannot be ignorant of Him. Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration to our Father.

Worship and preaching go hand on hand with one another.  We worship God for who He is. We listen to the preaching to get a better understanding of who He is so we can worship Him more intimately.
Matthew 7:21-23(NLT)“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Luke 1:34 (NLT)And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man

That word know, “ginosko” in the Greek, refers in this context to an intimate relationship of union and approval. That is the kind of relationship a believer needs to have with Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:3 Paul said, “But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.”. Jesus will not say those words of condemnation in Matthew 7:21-23 to someone who truly loves Him and seeks intimacy with Him.

To begin with, worship is only determined by God Himself, and not everything we do is acceptable to God as worship just because we are sincere or it makes us feel good.

Hebrews 12:28 (ESV)tells us that we must “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” .The Greek word translated “serve” here is a form of the word “worship” and is used 21 times in the New Testament in the contexts of service and worship. Another form of the word “worship” is the Greek word therapeuo—from which we get the English word “therapy”—and this is most often seen translated “heal” in reference to the healing of others. In the New Testament, this word is seen in every case of Jesus’ healings.

When God is truly worshipped He will show up, when he shows up, darkness has to flee, any ailments has to flee, demons flee, people are saved, people enter into a deeper love and intimacy for Him, people are healed and bondages are broken. The majority of healings and salvations happen during a worship service.

True biblical worship is to be first and foremost reverent. This means it is to be done with the understanding of who it is being worshiped. God is holy, just, righteous, perfect, powerful, loving, wrathful etc.

Those who wish to worship biblically must worship God as He is revealed in Scripture. Second, we must worship in truth John 4:23-24 (NLT) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”. This means that it needs to line up according to the truths in Scripture. Adding our own version of worship and “expressing ourselves” is not true worship if it does not accord with the Word of God. Personal expressions of worship are not indicated anywhere in Scripture and can lead to activities that are not God-honoring. True worship is worship in Spirit. Because God is Spirit, true worship is a pure, holy, spiritual worship, the offering of the soul and the homage of the heart rather than merely that of the lips. Finally, true worship will always produce a change in the heart of the worshipper, causing a greater desire to love and obey the God we worship.

If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it isn’t worship. Unless we come out of it with a greater commitment to obedience, it isn’t worship. Jesus said those who love Him will keep His commandments. If we say we love and worship Him, but do not obey Him, our worship is worthless.

True biblical worship of the one true and living God is to be a lifestyle, not a moment in time. Just as they will be in eternity, our lives now are to be lives of total worship of God. When we eat, sleep, work, serve, and live from sunup to sundown, all that we do is to be in a spirit of worship of God. We are not to offer temporary, experience-oriented worship on Sunday, and then lead a secular life the rest of the week. True worship is offered to God from the depths of our inner being in praise and prayer, in song, in giving, and in living, but always based upon His revealed truth.

Worship is a lifestyle, and our manual to this lifestyle is the Bible. God wants an intimate relationship with us. Worship is everything we do, Love people,love our spouse,take care of our family, shine Christ’s light unto the world, help people, etc. It is not just the musical portion of our weekly gatherings. It is supposed to be encapsulated into our whole life. We must lead a life of Worship. Worship is what we will be doing in heaven for eternity. The angels cry Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God almighty. WE will be doing the same.

Purpose of the Church Pt4 Communion

During the Last Supper—a Passover celebration—Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. As He broke it and gave it to His disciples, He said,
Luke 22:19-21(HCSB)19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you. 21 But look, the hand of the one betraying Me is at the table with Me.

Matthew 26:30(HCSB)30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives., He concluded the feast by singing a hymn and they went out into the night to the Mount of Olives. It was there that Jesus was betrayed, as predicted, by Judas. The following day He was crucified.

A study of the Lord’s Supper is a soul-stirring experience because of the depth of meaning it contains. It was during the age-old celebration of the Passover on the eve of His death that Jesus instituted a significant new fellowship meal that we observe to this day. It is an integral part of Christian worship. It causes us to remember our Lord’s death and resurrection and to look for His glorious return in the future.

The Passover was the most sacred feast of the Jewish religious year. Israel had been in Egypt in bondage for over 400 years. They had been oppressed and enslaved. God delivered them by the leadership of Moses through a series of plagues. God’s command was that throughout the generations to come the feast would be celebrated. The story is recorded in Exodus 12.  Finally Pharaoh was so distraught at what was happening in his nation, that he let them go. The final plague, you remember, was the death of the firstborn, the angel of death came and killed the firstborn in every family, the firstborn of man and animal unless you had sacrificed a lamb and splattered the blood on the doorposts and the side beams. Then the angel of death passed by. The lamb was then roasted and eaten with unleavened bread.

There’s a simple principle that comes through in that and it is this, to be delivered from judgment requires death. That’s the first thing to think about. To be delivered from judgment requires death. Second, critical, that death can be the death of a substitute. That death can be the death of a substitute. God was saying, “I will spare you, I will deliver you from this judgment if there is the death of an innocent substitute.” The message of the Passover is God delivers through the death of an innocent substitute. From then on, all sacrifices and this is not the first sacrifice, but from then on all sacrifices were clearly indications that God delivers from judgment by the death of a substitute. But the animal sacrifices weren’t that substitute. No person was ever delivered from divine judgment of any animal. The repeated sacrifice of animals was simply a continual symbol of the fact that God does deliver by the death of an innocent substitute but no animal was ever satisfactory to God and so the sacrifices went on and on and on and on by the millions. And the people waited for a sacrifice that would be satisfactory to God which all those unsatisfactory sacrifices pointed.

Matthew 26:26-30 (HCSB)26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” 27 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.” 30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew doesn’t tell us much about the meal. In fact, he really doesn’t tell us anything about it. Verse 26 says, “And as they were eating,” and that’s all he says. And maybe just briefly I could remind you of what the process was like. There were four cups of red wine to be shared. This is the first of those cups. A cup of blessing and that’s how the meal was initiated. That cup of red wine was mixed with water. In fact, not only mixed with water but mixed with a double amount of water so that there would be no intoxication, no drunkenness. And if they were to imbibe four such cups, it was important that it be strongly diluted. So it would begin with the first cup of red wine, the cup symbolizing the blessing of God upon them.

Following that first cup of red wine there would be a time to wash their hands, not for the sake of physical cleanliness but as a ceremonial cleansing which was designed to symbolize that each participant in this time of remembrance needed personal cleansing. You could not come before God to celebrate His redemption, His deliverance in an impure fashion, and so there was a ceremonial cleansing before they could eat which was to be symbolic of the cleansing of their hearts. And no doubt it was a time for introspection, a time for personal confession of sin as they were celebrating the salvation of God. They wanted to be sure their hearts were clean.

Following that brief time of cleansing of the hands they would indulge themselves in what could be called, in a sense, the first of a couple of appetizers, bitter herbs. The bitter herbs were symbolic of the bondage in Egypt and the bitterness of that bondage when they were enslaved and when life was so terribly difficult. Those herbs would be dipped in salt and vinegar to make them especially bitter and they would be eaten as a reminder of the bitterness of life before the redemption of God.

Following the bitter herbs would come the second cup of wine. At this point, the father if it was in the family, or the head of the table in the case here, the Lord Himself, He would hold up the second cup and with that the more formal part of the Passover feast was initiated. And he would, holding that second cup, begin to describe the significance of this feast. And he would take the people back to the time of Egyptian captivity and he would talk about the deliverance of almighty God through the plagues, and ultimately drowning Pharaoh’s army in the sea and delivering His people in freedom, ultimately into the promised land. And then they would sing the Hallel, and the Hallel is basically Psalm 113 through 118. They would sing perhaps the first few of those psalms together, psalms which exalt and extol God. And then they would drink that second cup of wine.

That was then followed by unleavened bread. After taking a large flat piece of unleavened bread, the host, the father, the head of the table would then break it and distribute it. That unleavened bread was then dipped into a sauce, a sauce usually made out of sweet apples and nuts called keroseth. And that’s the sauce into which they dipped that unleavened bread. Unleavened bread, as you well know, symbolized the fact that they were moving out of Egypt through the redemption of God and there was no leaven in the bread which means there was no influence remaining from the past. In other words, leaven symbolizes influence all through Scripture. Leavened bread means you take something from a past loaf that is fermented, you put it in another loaf but there was nothing from the past to be brought into their new life after redemption and so their bread was unleavened, no yeast in it.

After that, which was in a sense the last of the appetizers, they would engage themselves in eating the lamb. And you remember they were to have a spotless lamb without blemish. That lamb had a very clear prescription as to its character and its slaying. And then they would pursue that eating of the lamb as the high point of the Passover. And, of course, that was symbolic of the lamb that had to be slain and whose blood had to be put on the doorpost and the lintel which was a picture of Jesus Christ Himself, the Lamb of God, who would be slain for the sins of the world. And by the way, at the Passover table there is usually a bowl of water there, a bowl of salt water. That bowl of salt water sits there on the table to remind them of the tears they shed in slavery and also of the parting of the Red Sea.

The accounts of the Lord’s Supper are found in the Gospels (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:7-22; and John 13:21-30). Here’s a scary word of caution: there’s a church in Corinth. It’s not a great church. They’re getting drunk, they’re suing each other, they’re sleeping together, they’re hiring prostitutes. One guy’s sleeping with his mother or mother-in-law. Heads or tails, nasty. They call it pluralism, diversity, openness, tolerance, they had a parade, it looked very official, but God was very unhappy, and he said, “You’re not repenting. You’re claiming to love me and then you’re disobeying everything I say. You’re a bunch of rebellious, bratty kids.” My translation.

Paul includes a statement not found in the Gospels:
1 Corinthians 11:27-32(HCSB)27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31 If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, 32 but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world. 

We may ask what it means to partake of the bread and the cup “in an unworthy manner.” It may mean to disregard the true meaning of the bread and cup and to forget the tremendous price our Savior paid for our salvation. Or it may mean to allow the ceremony to become a dead and formal ritual or to come to the Lord’s Supper with unconfessed sin. In keeping with Paul’s instruction, we should examine ourselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup.

So then, through Paul, God speaks to them, and here’s what he says about Communion: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner.” So, let me say this: there’s a worthy and an unworthy way. In our day of pluralism, tolerance, diversity, it’s, “Oh, no, no, we’re all—” Nope. There’s worthy and unworthy. There’s right and wrong. There’s obedient and disobedient. There’s qualified and disqualified. God’s grace doesn’t just forgive our sin. God’s grace empowers us to put our sin to death because Jesus died for it.

Some of you are partaking in an unworthy manner. You’re in open rebellion and sin. You come to church with your girlfriend and take Communion and then go home and sleep with her. That’s an unworthy manner.

“Will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Here’s what he’s saying. Some of you will say this: “You can’t judge me!” Then judge yourself. If you judge yourself, then no one else will have to judge you. You will see your own sin, folly, rebellion. You’ll come clean with God and his people. You’ll say, “You know what? I got a problem. I need help. I need God’s grace and God’s people to help me fix my sin.” That’s humility, it’s integrity, it’s honesty, so that you don’t have to partake in a way that is unworthy.

Before you take Communion, do you examine yourself? Do you examine your life? Do you consider your sin? Do you take a moment and ask, “Holy Spirit, your job is to convict me of sin. Let me know anything that’s amiss, and I want to get this right and I’m sorry. If there’s anybody here I need to reconcile with, let me go apologize. Is there anything that would keep me from partaking in a worthy manner?”

God always answers that prayer. God never looks at a humble child and willing heart and says, “Well, I won’t help you or speak to you.” God never responds that way. He’s a good Dad. Judge yourself. Stop judging others. Judge yourself. Stop being so frustrated with those who judge you. Judge yourself.

You say, “Well, what happens if I don’t do that? My girlfriend is cute.” “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have,” what? “Died.” Plain literal or figurative literal? This is a real funeral. Imagine that on a Sunday, people are coming up for Communion, dying. You have to step over the body to take Communion. You’re like, “You know what? I’m gonna pray a little more. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Now, some of you here say, “That’s very unloving, very unkind, very mean. That’s very harsh of God.” No, it’s actually very loving, very gracious, very kind, because God treats his people like he treated Pharaoh, begging, pleading, waiting, upping the consequences, and eventually you get so hard-hearted that you both know you’re not gonna repent.

Now, what happens to a church that doesn’t protect holiness? Well, it leads to meals being eaten like Genesis 3. “I want sin, and I want Satan.” And when we partake, we partake publicly. It’s your way of saying, “I personally belong to Jesus, and I personally am part of a people that belong to Jesus.” The first meal is forbidden fruit, and it is the first meal eaten without God in Genesis 3. So, most of you are likely familiar with the story. God creates our first parents, Adam and Eve, in his image and likeness. He puts them in this perfect, amazing garden. How many of you not only love good meals, you love to cook, and the ideal situation would be your own organic, fantastic garden? That’s where he puts them. He puts them in a garden. That means it has all of the fruits, and the vegetables, and the herbs. Everything you could imagine for just feasting and celebration.

And what God tells them is, “You can eat anything you want in this magnificent garden, with one exception, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Do not eat from that tree. Do not partake of that forbidden fruit.” That’s what God says. Now, some people’s view of God is that God essentially creates life as a law garden with a grace tree, meaning, the answer’s no to everything, and there’s only a thing or two that you really get to do. The way God created the world, it was a grace garden with a law tree in the middle. Tons of freedom and joy with one thing that was forbidden.

And what happens is Eve has a conversation with Satan. He’s the serpent; he’s the enemy. Revelation 12 and Revelation 20 say that this serpent, this dragon who comes to have a conversation with her, it’s Satan. It’s the enemy of God. It’s a rebellious angel. And what he invites her to do is to partake of forbidden fruit. And the Bible says that Adam, her husband, was a passive coward. He was there with her, complicit to the whole thing, and they partook of the fruit, the forbidden fruit.

As a result, they received a sin nature. God came searching for them; they hid from one another and God. They blamed each other. God had to clothe their nakedness. They were kicked out of the garden, they were separated from eternal life, they experienced death. By the next chapter, their two sons are fighting and one kills the other.

We inherit a sin nature, Romans 5:18–19(HCSB)18 So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone. 19 For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Because of their rebellion, we all die. Does it seem like a lot, that eating fruit would result in that? You say, really? You ate the wrong thing off of a tree and every human being in the history of the world has a sin nature, is hell-bound, and dies?

It’s not just about eating a meal, it’s about picking a friend. What Adam and Eve were doing is saying, “We choose not to be friends with God. We choose to be friends with Satan. We choose to disobey God and obey Satan. We’re pushing God out of our lives and we’re inviting Satan in.” We don’t just eat meals, we worship, and sometimes eating is worshiping. That’s why Paul says in the New Testament, “For some people, their God is their stomach.”

Eating is a form of worshiping, and when we eat a meal, we’re not just choosing a food, we’re picking a relationship. That’s why Christians pray before their meals. “Lord Jesus, thank you. We welcome you.” Eating is a very sacred thing. It’s a worshipful thing.

And what happens in Genesis 3 is that a meal is eaten without God, and a friendship is forged in rebellion against God, and then the promise is made that Jesus will come and he will make all things new and better. What happens then is they are kicked out of the Garden of Eden and they’re cast away from the tree of life, because had they partaken of the tree of life, they would have lived forever in sin, separated from God. So, it was an act of grace that God kicked them out.

And let me say this: as God’s people take Communion, what we’re showing is, “I’m friends with Jesus and his people.” You can’t be a Christian and not connected to the church. I don’t get this. This is like a dad with five kids who adopts a kid, and that kid says, “He’s my dad, but I don’t have any siblings and I’m not part of the family.” It’s all together. God’s a Father, adopts you, you’re now part of a family. You got brothers and sisters. I don’t get this solo, independent, me and Jesus, rebelling Christianity. It doesn’t make sense. The Bible knows nothing of it. If you’re connected to God, you’re connected to his people.

And here’s what we read in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves.” So, this is ongoing. It’s habitual, it’s common, it’s regular. “To the apostles’ teaching.” First thing, what’s the Bible say? “Fellowship.” This is where Christians hang out and get to know each other.

“And to the,” what? “Breaking of bread, having meals together and praying.” I’ll tell you the easiest way to build a friendship with somebody: have a meal and pray together. Eat together, pray together. Like, let’s say you’re here, you’re married, you’re not getting along. Eat together, pray together, your friendship will grow because God always blesses those kinds of connecting moments. You’re struggling with your friends, try to resolve it over a meal. Start it, end it, bathe it in prayer. That’s how things get worked out relationally.

The day finally came on that Friday when God chose His Lamb and offered Him as a sacrifice, a substitute for sinners and poured out His wrath on that innocent substitute. As we come to the verse that we read, verse 14, it is Thursday night of Passover week. Passover begins with this Thursday night, followed with seven days of the unleavened bread feast which also commemorated the exodus out of Egypt. Millennia have gone by, waiting for an adequate sacrifice. Millennia have gone by with people’s hearts hoping but never being satisfied that a true and final sacrifice had come. But one more day, a few more hours on Friday at exactly the hours of slaughter between three and six when all the Passover lambs had to be killed, the Lamb of God would die in that same period of time.

Slain not by a priest like the rest of the lambs but by God and by His own willing self-sacrifice. He became the perfect sacrifice for sin and this became then the last Passover. No longer did there need to be animal sacrifices pointing, pointing, pointing, pointing to the one who would come because once He came, the shadows all disappeared in the reality.

He had spent all of the night before on the Mount of Olives,telling them about the future, and now He reiterates again, yes there is a Kingdom, yes My death is not the end, yes I’m going to die but I’m going to rise again, I’m going to return to heaven but I’m going to come back and establish My Kingdom. There is hope. His death is not the end. He will be back on earth but not until His coming to set up His Kingdom.

Another statement Paul made that is not included in the gospel accounts is
1 Corinthians 11:26 (ESV)“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”. This places a time limit on the ceremony—until our Lord’s return. From these brief accounts we learn how Jesus used two of the frailest of elements as symbols of His body and blood and initiated them to be a monument to His death. It was not a monument of carved marble or molded brass, but of bread and wine. That’s why Paul writes, 1 Corinthians 11, he gives the whole order for the Lord’s table, he says, “Do this until He…what?…comes.” And then when He comes and establishes His Kingdom, we’ll celebrate the Passover and the Lord’s table with the Lord Himself. It will probably be an evening very much like this only it will encompass all of us in some wondrous way as He again reiterates the memorial of the Passover which looked to the cross, a memorial of communion which looks at the cross as well. Yes He sees His suffering. Yes He sees His coming glory.

What is the New Covenant? The New Covenant is the covenant that is the saving covenant. It’s the covenant of forgiveness and salvation, it’s the covenant by which God forgives sinners and it’s ratified in the death of Christ.

How can God do that? Only when justice has been satisfied. You can only be delivered from judgment when death has been accomplished that satisfies God. It has to be the death of an innocent substitute who is satisfactory to God and that is Christ by God’s own choice. God made Him sin who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. I’ve said this so many times, God treated Jesus on the cross as if He lived your life…so He could treat you as if you lived His. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.

So from now on, there’s a new feast, the new ordinance, a new supper, the Lord’s supper. The bread and the cup reminding us of the Lamb of God chosen by God, sacrificed for sinners, satisfying God’s justice, a life poured out on our behalf so that our sins can be fully forgiven.