Ephesians Pt 11

Ephesians 4:17-24(HCSB)17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. 20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. 22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Ephesians 4:17-18, in which Paul describes how some in the church, who were supposed to be God’s friends, were in reality acting more like His enemies. They were doing so because of their “futile”(fruitless, pointless, useless) thinking, which led to a “darkened understanding” and a hardening of their hearts. Paul, then, in one sentence, summarizes for us how this futile thinking shows up in one’s behavior, and how to identify those to whom his cautionary reminder in verses 17-18 applies. It shows up in what Paul refers to, in verse 19, as “promiscuity”. To live in promiscuity is literally to live “without restraints”, to do whatever you feel like doing, regardless of what God or anybody else says about it. Those who are promiscuous decide for themselves what is right or wrong, they do whatever they “feel” is right, they live in total subjectivity and can not tolerate any kind of disagreement or correction (the hardened hearts of verse 18). These first century Ephesians would, in fact, be very comfortable in our post-modern, relativistic society, in which truth and morality (right and wrong) are determined by the sovereign individual rather than the sovereign God. Due to the hardening of their hearts, any attempt at criticism or correction may be seen as “hateful, bigoted, intolerant”, even referred to as “hate speech”. Say unto thine own heart, “I am mine own redeemer.” Life is the great indulgence – death, the great abstinence. Therefore, make the most of life – HERE AND NOW ! Satanism 101. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, there is no wrong there is no right, there is only pleasure and pain, if it feels good do it, if it makes you feel bad then don’t do it. Satanism is all about feelings and what make you feel good, self gratification at all costs. Christianity doesn’t always feel good. Doing what God says doesn’t always feel good but it is the right choice. We cannot go off of feelings. We have to go off of scripture. It should be noted here that Paul uses the definite article with the word sensuality here, referring to “promiscuity”, the form of sensuality which was prevalent in Ephesus at the time, and is still very prevalent in our present culture, the lack of restraint which comes from futile or useless thinking, thinking that the individual is lord, rather than God being lord. This futile thinking and hardening of the heart leads to them “giving themselves over” to promiscuity. Having decided that they will be lord, that they will define truth and morality for themselves, they become enslaved by sensuality, for we are enslaved by what we give ourselves over to. This giving themselves over to sensuality will result in their “the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more”, indulging in whatever kind of “uncleanness” that they feel like indulging in, unrestrained by the word of God or anything else, living with an unbridled flesh and an unchecked will, becoming the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong, or whether right and wrong even exist.

The connection between sexual immorality and idolatry is best understood in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:18(ESV) “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” The bodies of believers are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. Pagan idol worship often involved perverse and immoral sexual acts performed in the temple of a false god. When we use our physical bodies for immoral purposes, we are imitating pagan worship by profaning God’s holy temple with acts He calls detestable (1 Corinthians 6:9–11(HCSB)9 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. 11 And some of you used to be like this. 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.

Therefore I do not believe in “accountability partners” for pornography or sexual immorality if the Holy Spirit is not enough of an accountability partner than no person will be. If you as a christian can masturbate to porn knowing you have the Holy Spirit residing in you, then a partner will be of no help.

The sin you tolerate today will become a stronghold tomorrow. No one ever wakes up and says they want to be a child molester, no one wakes up and says I want to be addicted to heroin, no one wakes up and says “I think I want to be an alcoholic.”. Its starts with one look at a porno, one toke off a joint, one sip of beer.

The enemy is crafty and knows how to deceive. It is his primary job. He will give you a taste of sin a little at a time until you are hooked and so far deep into it you look around one day and say “how did I get here”. It goes back to the sin you tolerate today becomes a stronghold tomorrow.

Genesis 4:7(NLT) You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Our sin problems are a result of a worship problem. When we cant let go of our sin it’s because we don’t fully believe we serve a big enough God or we love that sin more than we love God.

We all worship something, what you glory in you will sacrifice for. If you glory in video games you will sacrifice for it. If you glory in making out you will sacrifice for it.Sexual immorality is idolatry. Anything you put above God or worship instead of God is idolatry.

Romans 6:16 (NLT)Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 

2 Peter 2:19 (NLT)They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

Those who are in sexual immorality have made self gratification their god. They have  enslaved themselves to it and worship it and allow it to control and destroy them. The idol always lies. It tells you you can have your pleasure without any consequences. You don’t just look at porn, engage in sex without being married, etc.  you worship self. And here’s the truth: we’re all worshipers. We are passionately giving ourselves away to someone, to something, to a cause, to a person, to an experience, to a pleasure, to a pursuit, to a passion. We give ourselves away. We give our money, our time, our energy. It’s what we talk about. It’s how our identity is formed. It’s what we commit ourselves to. We’re all worshipers, Christians, atheists, those who are members of other religions, all are worshipers. The only question is who or what are you worshiping?

What you glory in you sacrifice for, what you sacrifice for is what you worship. And make no mistake: Every time you see an image, lust in your heart, go surfing on the Internet, you’re worshiping. You’re not worshiping the Creator; you’re worshiping the created, and it’s idolatry. And the issue goes deeper than just sexual orientation or preference. It goes down to the root issue of idolatry. You can’t simultaneously worship Jesus Christ, the Creator God, and be into porn or sexual immorality, you can’t. You can’t worship the Creator, while worshiping the created. It’s one or the other. So, for some of you, your problem is not just behavioral. It’s not that you just need to change the way you act. You need to alter the God you worship. Sometimes, when we’re sinners, when we think of what we want, we find a way to rationalize, justify, and excuse our behavior.

If you claim to believe in Christ, but are living just as you did before you believed in Him, you need to examine whether you truly believe in Him. Becoming a Christian requires turning from your sin to God (repentance). But repentance is not a one-time event. It defines the lifestyle of a believer. God changes us radically at the moment of salvation by imparting new life to us, but this is followed by a lifetime of changing into the image of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18(NLT)18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

The changed life stems from the transformation that God works in us through the gospel as we put off the old life, are renewed in our minds, and put on the new life in Christ.

In Romans 6 and in Colossians 3:9(NLT)Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds, Paul refers to the putting off of the old man as an accomplished fact. When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him positionally. When He was raised from the dead, we were raised up with Him. We are to figure these facts to be true in our daily practice, so that we will not give in to sin (Romans 6:11(NLT)11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. But, although we died with Christ, in other places Paul commands us to put to death our members that are on the earth.

Romans 8:13(NLT)13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Colossians 3:5(NLT)So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Why do we need to put to death our members if we already died?

We must daily apply experientially the facts that are true of us positionally. So, yes, at the moment we got saved, we put off the dirty clothes of the old life. But, every day we must figure that this is so by putting off everything associated with the old life and putting on the new life in Christ.

God is the creator of this new man. As we saw in Ephesians 2:10(HCSB)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. This shows that the changed life of the believer is not something that we can conjure up by our own will power. God created us anew in Him. But, at the same time, we must walk in the good works that He has prepared for us.

The first step is cognition. God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t know what it means, you don’t have the truth. So the process of spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says. This is the importance of being under spiritual leadership that is steeped in biblical knowledge and truth.

True sanctification begins with renewing your mind. (Greek – Metanoia) You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.

Hebrews 13:8-9(HCSB)8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.

There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always stun your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Good Intentions can’t either. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.

Charles Spurgeon stated the following…

Imagine that there is a pig and I am standing about 100 ft away from a pig. To one side of me is a beautiful 7 course dinner and to the other side of me is a large bucket of slop.

The pig is released, which side is he going to run to? To the slop side of course!

Why? Because he is a pig and that is all that pigs know.

Now imagine if you will that we were able to change that pig into a man, all the while he is eating the slop. What will happen?

The odds are that he will lift up his head and look around at his environment and then spit out the slop he was feeding upon when he was a pig.

Why? Because he is no longer a pig that is able to feed upon slop, but a man needing a form of food to give him nutrition so that he might live.

This man is now a new creature and is no longer a pig.

Now from time to time he may even have pig thoughts about the wonderful slop he once ate when he was a pig. He may even go to the slop bucket from time to time, smell it, look at it. But the moment he feeds upon it what will happen? He will spit it out because he is no longer a pig but a man. Even if he as a man he forces himself to eat the slop, which men are able to do, it will eventually cause him to vomit it all up and make him sick possibly unto death because his body no longer accepts slop because he is a new creature.Now if one thinks he is a man and can still stomach the slop day in and day out, what makes him think he was changed into a new creature in the first place? If he is feeding upon the slop of the world and does not get sick to his stomach, maybe he was never changed into new creature in the first place and to this day remains a pig.

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.

When we are truly converted, we can no longer stomach the slop of the world, the fleshly sin that we once indulged in.

When we entertain the sin, and all of us do from time to time, it makes us sick with guilt and shame because it is the Holy Spirit working in our lives chastening us from the inside out because God loves us as His children. Scripture says that God chastens His own.

Luke 15:11-21(HCSB) He also said: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. 15 Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger!18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’

The son was in the pig slop eating pig pods, stuff that would fill up his belly but give him no nourishment, how much do we take in throughout the week that fills us up but gives us no spiritual nourishment?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11(HCSB) 9 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. 11 And some of you used to be like this. 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.

There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin and it no longer has power over us. Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”

Romans 6:11-12(HCSB)11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter.

God is getting you ready to live with Him forever. He is getting you ready to accept His inheritance. Proverbs 17:3(NLT)Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

How HOT does the fire have to get?? As HOT as we let it.
God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Being saved is a nature change not sin management. The highest a lot of us take it is we teach you to act like us, dress like us, talk like us. Never really dealing with the underlying sin problem. Jesus is the answer to the sin problem.

James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

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Ephesians Pt2 Wisdom and Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-19(HCSB)15 This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

Whenever we read Scripture, we should attempt to determine as much as possible about the original context and purpose of the particular passage of study. This is called hermeneutics, this practice gives us a guide to interpretation and keeps us from going off into false interpretations or from reading our own opinions into the text(Eisegete).  Most of the time, it is easy to determine the purpose of each of the New Testament letters because the Paul refers to specific problems in the congregation. For example, Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians is clear—to expose the false gospel preached by the Judaizers and unfold the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
Galatians 1:6–10(HCSB)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 2:11–21(HCSB)15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Ephesians, however, presents us with some difficulty because Paul does not mention any specific problems troubling the church at the time he wrote. Yet since the letter covers a whole host of basic Christian doctrinal and ethical principles, we can surmise that the pressing need of the believers in Ephesus and the surrounding regions was instruction in doctrine and living so that they might mature in the faith.“a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Wisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in the Bible, are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered.

God wants us to have knowledge of Him and what He expects of us. In order to obey Him, we have to have knowledge of the commands. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. James 1:5(HCSB)If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. God blesses us with wisdom in order for us to glorify Him and use the knowledge we have of Him.

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: 1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV)“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”.

Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments; wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him.

John Calvin writes, “Till the Lord opens them, the eyes of our heart are blind. Till the Spirit has become our instructor, all that we know is folly and ignorance. Till the Spirit of God has made it known to us by a secret revelation, the knowledge of our divine calling exceeds the capacity of our own minds.” At regeneration, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we can see who God is and who we are for the very first time. But after conversion, He continues to work to give us insight into His revealed Word and to deepen our personal relationship with Him.

The “spirit of wisdom and of revelation” is not some extra gift or special blessing received after conversion. Instead, it refers to the work of the Spirit to help all the people of God understand the things of God. If you are a Christian, you possess this Spirit, and He works in the corporate body of Christ to confirm the truth of Scripture, help us understand its meaning, reveal our sin, drive us to Christ, and so much more.

The word revelation simply means a revealing of something or someone. It is to reveal what was before hidden. It’s like opening a curtain or a door and seeing what is behind it. Long ago, God revealed Himself to Abram (later changed to Abraham) (Genesis 12) and then to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) so for Abram and Moses, there was a revelation from God and that was their first ever revelation of God and it changed the course of human history. Through Abraham came the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book where God gradually reveals Himself more and more until finally, Jesus Christ arrives and we see the God-Man live a sinless life and die for the redemption of those who would trust in Him. Jesus Christ is God revealed and through Jesus’ atoning death, He brings us to a knowledge of God the Father as well as God the Holy Spirit so Jesus is able to reveal to us Who the Father and the Spirit are.

There are two types of revelation, General revelation and special revelation. They are the two ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

In regard to general revelation, Psalm 19:1-4(ESV) declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” According to this passage, God’s existence and power can be clearly seen through observing the universe. The order, intricacy, and wonder of creation speak to the existence of a powerful and glorious Creator.

General revelation is also taught in Romans 1:20(ESV) “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Like Psalm 19, this passage teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” Even in the most remote areas there are people who acknowledge the existence of a higher being, a creator as the Native Americans called Him.

Special revelation is how God has chosen to reveal Himself through miraculous means. Special revelation includes physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ. The Bible records God appearing in physical form many times (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4, Exodus 34:5-7), and the Bible records God speaking to people through dreams (Genesis 28:12, Genesis 37:5; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) and visions (Genesis 15:1; Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7).

One of the most important ways in the revealing God is His Word, the Bible, which is also a form of special revelation. God miraculously guided the authors of Scripture to correctly record His message to mankind, while still using their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God determined to have the truth regarding Him recorded in written form because He knew the inaccuracy and unreliability of oral tradition. He also understood that the dreams and visions of man can be misinterpreted. God decided to reveal everything that humanity needs to know about Him, what He expects, and what He has done for us in the Bible.

The ultimate form of special revelation is the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, John 1:14(HCSB)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth..

The author of Hebrews summarizes it best Hebrews 1:1-3(HCSB) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to identify with us, to set an example for us, to teach us, to reveal Himself to us, and, most importantly, to provide salvation for us by humbling Himself in death on the cross.
Philippians 2:6-8(HCSB)who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Jesus Christ is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.

Philippians Pt5

Philippians 2:19-30(HCSB)19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon so that I also may be encouraged when I hear news about you. 20 For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests; 21 all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his proven character, because he has served with me in the gospel ministry like a son with a father. 23 Therefore, I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 I am convinced in the Lord that I myself will also come quickly. 25 But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus—my brother, coworker, and fellow soldier, as well as your messenger and minister to my need— 26 since he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. 27 Indeed, he was so sick that he nearly died. However, God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have one grief on top of another. 28 For this reason, I am very eager to send him so that you may rejoice when you see him again and I may be less anxious. 29 Therefore, welcome him in the Lord with all joy and hold men like him in honor, 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up what was lacking in your ministry to me.

It is clear that the Philippian church is close to Paul’s heart, being a church he personally founded and cared deeply for. It’s these glimpses past Paul’s armor of doctrine and into his caring, loving and affection side that give great insight into Paul’s thought. He is a minister, an apostle, and corrector, and overseer, a debater, a defender of the faith…but he is also a friend who cares deeply about both the church he has founded and also deeply for his partners in ministry. While he regards these men as friends, he also gently demands respect for them because of their virtue as enduring disciples; they aren’t being sent merely on a social call but to shepherd and guard the church, and as such the church is to treat them with due respect.

Paul is offering two additional examples of people who are serving humbly like Jesus and Paul. Timothy and Epaphroditus are examples of “having the same mind” as Christ Jesus.

Timothy is the most well-known of Paul’s co-workers and co-author of the letter to the Philippians. Timothy first appears in as a companion of Paul. Acts 16:1-5(HCSB)Then he went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. Paul wanted Timothy to go with him, so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for them to observe. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily. Timothy was a companion of Paul since the second missionary journey. He was from Lystra with a good reputation among the Christians in the area and Paul often sent him to churches as his personal representative.

Paul describes him in Philippians with very affectionate terms. Timothy is like a son to him, “no one like him,” and someone who has served alongside him for a very long time.  In fact, Paul says Timothy “of the same mind”. Paul calls Timothy his “colleague,” someone who has the same concerns and interests he does.

Paul would like to return to Philippi soon, but since he remains under house arrest in Rome he will send Timothy as soon as he can. Why is Paul sending Timothy to Philippi? It is possible Paul’s imprisonment has raised questions among the Christians in Philippi. Perhaps they were concerned the advance of the Gospel was hindered by the long house arrest, as the opening prayer of the letter seems to imply (1:3-11).  It is also possible they have had no news from Paul as a result of Epaphroditus’s illness. Timothy seeks the interests of Jesus Christ rather than his own. Verse 21 says that “they all seek their own interests,” but there is not subject in the immediate context.  This is another hint of the self-serving minsters from 1:15-16, or possibly the opponents in chapter 3.  Since Timothy seeks the interests of others (in this case, the Philippian church), Timothy is living a life worthy of the Gospel and therefore is quite counter to the culture of Rome.

Timothy has been “proven worthy,” as the church is well aware. The noun (dokimé)proof of genuineness (“approval, through testing”) a test of character in order to determine how genuine that character really is (for example in
2 Corinthians 2:9(HCSB)I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything.),

Also in Romans 5:2-5(HCSB)We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. the word is simply translated “character.” Just as gold or silver has to be tested in order to determine quality and value, a person’s character is tested and shown as they pass through difficulties and trials. Think about how people’s personalities change when they pass through hard times. That is when the “true character” is revealed. Everyone knows an example of someone who appears to have been a “good Christian” (whatever that means), but when they are faced with difficult problems they begin to question or turn away from their faith. Timothy is therefore an example of someone who is living their life “worthy of the gospel.”

Paul makes it clear that joy does not mean the absence of trial. He is making it absolutely, crystal clear that the kind of gospel joy that he has, and the kind of gospel joy that he wants the Philippians to have. He makes it clear in this passage that the kind of gospel joy that he wants them to have and that he wants us to have in every Bible believing, gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting, local congregation of Christians, he wants there to be gospel joy, but he wants us to understand that that is not going to mean an absence of trial. Even in the church, its not going to mean an absence of trial.

We can have Joy in grief. Look at how he proves this to us. First of all, look at v. 27. He’s telling you how glad he is that God spared Epaphroditus’s life. He said, “If Epaphroditus had died I would have what? grief untop of another.” He doesn’t just say that he would have been sorry if Epaphroditus had died, it would have been “grief upon grief.” “I would have had more grief,” Paul is saying. Of course, it would have been sorrowful to lose Epaphroditus, he was ministering to him, but Paul is indicating here that he had other sorrows that they would simply mount upon. Now Paul is a servant of the Lord, serving with gospel joy and yet he characterizes himself as a person that has to cope with sorrow.

Then look at v. 28. There he says, “I’m sending Epaphroditus back to you and one reason I’m doing it is so I will have less anxiety.” Now isn’t that interesting? He doesn’t say, “I’m sending him back so that I won’t have any anxiety at all,” but only, “that I’ll have less.” In other words, he is going to send Epaphroditus back so that Epaphroditus can take them word of the Apostle Paul and so that word can be sent back to the Apostle Paul that the Philippians are doing okay. Because the Apostle Paul is a little worried about the Philippians. He’s a little worried about the petty divisions in the church. He’s a little worried about people in the church that are looking out for number one, instead of being concerned for others in the congregation and seeking the welfare of the whole body. He’s a little worried about them. He is the Apostle. Elsewhere, he says, “the daily burdens of the care of the church weigh upon me.” He’s always thinking about the people of God. And so he says, “I want to send Epaphroditus back so I’ll have less anxiety.” Now, it’s so ironic that Paul would say this because later in this letter what is he going to say to the Philippians? “Do not worry about anything.” And yet, the Apostle Paul here is saying, “You know, I’m a little worried about you Philippians, because I love you, I care about you, and I want you to be well. I want you to be growing in grace, I want you to be secure in Christ, and I want you to know gospel joy. And I’m a little concerned about the congregation.” Here’s Paul wrestling with anxious cares and anxiety for the people of God, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have gospel joy.

Sorrow Not Inconsistent with Gospel Joy

And then, if you look back in vv. 20-21, he talks about Christians who were there with him at the time of his imprisonment other than Timothy and Epaphroditus. And you know what he says about them? He says that he couldn’t send any of them to the Philippians because they wouldn’t look out for the Philippians’ best interest; they would only look out for their own. Ouch! Oh, that would have been discouraging to the Apostle Paul to think, “You know, the only two guys that I can really trust to go back to the Philippians is Timothy and Epaphroditus. The rest of them are immature to the point that they look out for themselves rather than the people of God; rather than for the interest of Christ.” Surely, that must have grieved the Apostle’s heart that he didn’t have more people that could have been trusted to go back on that important ministry and errand to the Philippians.

And yet, the Apostle Paul says these things and they are not inconsistent with his experience of gospel joy. Your experience of gospel of joy does not mean that you enter in this life into a blissful estate in which there is uninterrupted harmony, peace, and utter equilibrium of everything in life. It doesn’t mean there aren’t hard things, disappointments, trials, sorrows, anxieties, and cares. It’s so important for us to understand. There will be a day when there will be no sorrows or cares, no more disappointments, but that’s when we are with Jesus in Heaven.

Paul, in this passage though, is exhorting us to experience a gospel joy now, in the congregation, even though there are still trials and disappointments and sorrows and anxieties. And that’s very important for us, because we will disappoint one another, we’ll let one another down in fellowship, we’ll be disappointed by the lack of maturity in some, we’ll feel the sting of betrayal by others, we’ll be sorrowful at certain events that happen in the family of the people of God, and yet that is not a limitation to gospel joy. It can still be experienced in the body, even in the midst of trials. Because the kind of gospel joy that Paul is talking about does not mean the absence of trial. That is a huge message to learn in the Christian life. I think a lot of Christians are looking for a time in this life when the battle will be over. The battle will never be over until Jesus calls you home or He comes, whichever comes first.

Paul’s so realistic about this isn’t he? Isn’t it refreshing to have Paul utterly realistic about life in a fallen world? He wants you to experience gospel joy, but he knows that troubles are not going away in this world, not even in the church.

The Christian Life is a Life of Companionship

Second, and you really learn this from the whole chapter, but especially from the way that Paul describes the ministry of Timothy and Epaphroditus to him, here is the lesson that he teaches: the Christian life is a life of companionship. The Christian life was meant for company, God did not intend us to go through the Christian life alone. God intended us to need, to depend upon one another and to minister to one another as we walk through this world on the way to the New Heavens and the New Earth.

The Christian life is a life of companionship. How do you see this here? Well, here is the Apostle Paul, who met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus. To whom Jesus personally talked, who was vested with all of the authority of Jesus so that he could raise people from the dead, so that he could heal people, so that he could prophesy by the Holy Spirit, and so that he could speak in tongues and interpret and give words of knowledge. This Apostle had all of the powers of Jesus Christ vested in him by the Lord Jesus and had been taken up into the third heavens and been shown things which are not allowed for a man to tell. And yet, here he is describing to the Philippians what? How he needed Timothy and Epaphroditus. Is that huge?  If Paul needed Timothy and Epaphroditus to minister to him, how much more do we need one another to minister to one another and to be ministered to by one another? Even the Apostle Paul needed godly Christian friends and their help and their support.

Nourished by the Character of Fellow-Christians

Notice how you can tell how he has nourished in his spirit by their Christian character when he starts describing Timothy as being selfless and only interested in the things which pertain to Jesus Christ. And when he describes Epaphroditus as one who was ready to risk his life for the gospel, you can almost see the life flowing back into Paul’s weary spirit in prison. As he just thinks about the character and the deeds of these men he says to the Philippians in essence, “I needed those men. I needed their ministry. I couldn’t have made it without their ministry.” And so, he is saying to them, “Brothers and Sisters, you need one another just like I needed them.”

Do you realize how important that is for this congregation? I think that a good proportion of our congregation would say that they have experienced in the life of this church family real Christian friendship and companionship. They would say that there are a group of people that really know them and love them and care about them and encourage them in numerous ways and are there with them in times of need. I’ve had that testimony from so many of you. But, I know that there are also others that are part of this fellowship who sometimes feel lonely and alone. And who feel as if they still stand in need of Christian friends who will genuinely love them and care about them and be concerned for them and come alongside of them and support them.

My friend, it should be your absolute intention, as a member of this congregation who once upon a time who raised your hand and said, “I will support the work and worship of this church to the best of my ability.” Do you know what one of the most important works of this church is? It is you being Jesus’ family to one another. And it should be your intention that there should not be one member of this church who can say, “You know, I feel lonely and alone and unsupported as I attempt to walk the walk of faith with Jesus Christ in this sin-filled world.” It should be the testimony of every member of this congregation that we are all investing in at least a few other members so that we are all ministered to and we are all ministering, every single one of us. It’s not about just being a taker, every one of us must be a giver, but every one of us needs a few people to give to us in the congregation. That’s how God built us to be. That’s what Paul is talking about here.

The Apostle Paul needed Timothy and Epaphroditus, how much more do you and I need one another? Will you make that commitment today? Friends in Christ, will you start asking the question, as you look around the congregation, “Who needs my ministry? Who needs to be befriended and helped and supported by me?” Don’t wait for me, the Pastor to do that. Don’t wait for the Deacons to do it, they should be doing that, hold them accountable, but don’t expect them to do your job for you. Don’t just expect the Deacons to do it, they’re going to be doing it, they’re going to be involved in the lives of the people of God in the church, they’re supposed to be examples, but don’t expect them to do your job. If you are a member of this church that is your job. And, oh my, there are a few of us and only 4 deacons. It is going to take all of us, together, to do this. And in the middle of this missionary report Paul reminds us that the Christian life is a life of companionship.

Christians Always Seek First the Interests of Christ

Third, Paul makes it clear in this passage that Christians always seek first the interests of Christ. And he does it in the negative. In vv.20-21, you’ll see this. He’s describing Timothy as a man who does what? “He is a man that I can trust to be concerned for the well being of the church.” But then, sadly, the Apostle Paul will comment, “There’s nobody else around here, other than Timothy and Epaphroditus, that is going to be more concerned for the interests of Christ than he is for his own interests.” And in doing that, Paul is, in the negative, commending for you this truth: that Christians always seek first the interests of Christ.

He’s made this point in Philippians 2 about Jesus, that Jesus did what? He did not seek his own interests, but he set aside his interests, so that he could seek your interests. Now, he draws your attention to Timothy, who alone among the circle of disciples was with Paul in his imprisonment, who alone of whom it can be said, “he did not seek his own interests, but he sought the interests of Christ.” In other words, he says, “Timothy is thinking like this: ‘what’s going to be for the best well being of Paul and what’s going to be for the best well being of the church? That must come first.’”Not my interests.

Do you think that way about the church? Can you think of a decision that you have made in a time when you thought, “You know, this would be good for me personally, but I’m not sure it would be good for the church as a whole, therefore, I’m not going to do it. I’m going to do what’s best for the church.” Can you think of a time where you ever changed your mind about anything? It might be as simple as whether you are going to go to a ballgame or on a vacation during some important time in the life of the church and you decide, “You know, it’s more important for me to be there at the church than it is to enjoy myself doing whatever else it is that I’m getting ready to do.” Have you ever thought that way? Paul is commending Timothy to you as a person who did think that way. He thought not just, “Would this be good for me?” But, he thought, “Is this going to be for the best interests of the church?” Paul is commending that to us in the Christian life.

Christians Are Ready to Die for the Work of Christ

Fourth and finally, in v.30, he tells us that Christians are ready to die for the work of Christ. It is the elders’ and my job, not only to equip you to live the Christian life, but to prepare you to die. If we only equip you to live the Christian life and not to face death, we have not fulfilled our obligation. Because, barring the return of Christ, there is one thing that everybody in this room has in common: we are all going to die. And if we do not prepare you to die, we haven’t done our job because every person has a dying day and dying well is as important as living well.

Well, the Apostle Paul in this passage commends Epaphroditus, who was ill and nevertheless risked his life for Paul’s sake and the sake of the Philippian church, because he thought that his life was of less value than the work of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s saying, “I give you a man who is ready to die. Because he understood that when you seek first the kingdom of God, then He will add all other things to you.”

Are you ready to die? Are you ready to die in the work of Christ? That is what the Apostle Paul is holding before the Philippians and before you and me as an example of being like Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ was not only ready to die for us, he did die for us.

It may be sending your children or your grandchildren to the mission field, to a Muslim country where they will die for Christ. Or it may be a willingness yourself to put your life in harm’s way for the sake of the gospel. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that Christians are ready to die in the work of Jesus Christ.

Honor, Submission, Obey and Church Discipline

Matthew 13:57(NLT) And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” When Jesus said, “a prophet is honored everywhere except in his hometown,” the Greek word he used was “atimos” (pronounced at’-ee’-mos). It means to dishonor, to treat as common or ordinary. The word translated as honor from Greek is the word “time” (prounounced tim-may’). It means to value or highly esteem, and to treat as precious, weighty, or valuable.

Applied to our daily lives, we could say:

Honor builds up. Dishonor tears down.

Honor believes the best. Dishonor believes the worst.

Honor values. Dishonor devalues.

If you want a common marriage, dishonor your spouse. Treat him or her as ordinary. If you want an exceptional marriage, highly esteem your spouse. Treat him or her as precious or valuable.

You might say, “But he isn’t acting honorably.”

Remember, respect is earned, but honor is given. If you treat someone with honor even when they haven’t earned it, they might start behaving honorably.

Honor leads us to value church leaders, and give weight to what they tell us. Dishonor leads us to scorn and devalue what church leaders tell us.

Acts 23:1-5(HCSB) Paul looked intently at the Sanhedrin and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience until this day.” 2 But the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing next to him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You are sitting there judging me according to the law, and in violation of the law are you ordering me to be struck?”

4 And those standing nearby said, “Do you dare revile God’s high priest?”

5 “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest,” replied Paul. “For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.

Exodus 22:28 (HCSB)“You must not blaspheme God or curse a leader among your people.” God equates cursing a church leader with reviling God!

When you honor your church leaders, you are honoring God. They are God’s messengers, God’s representatives. We demonstrate our honor of God by honoring the Leaders He has set before us.

Jesus took this cursing one step further. It is not the words you speak that matters, it is the heart attitude you have. You can say “yes” with your mouth but be going “Yea right like I’m gonna do that” with your heart.

Hebrews 13:17(HCSB) : Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls. Church leaders are keeping watch over your souls. That is their job. And how you honor your church leaders will determine the reward of how goes your soul.

The Gospel of Christ is inexplicably tied to the preaching of His Word. If you do not honor the messenger, you dishonor the Word. God honors his servants, for they follow Christ, and He honors His Son.

1 Thessalonians  5:12-13(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

There are many clear scriptures in the Bible about submission to spiritual leaders……and it’s all wonderful. The Bible is very clear on the subject of submission, not just in the church, but also for husbands, wives, children, and employees, to civil, parental, and spiritual authority.

There are a few words in the Bible that are synonymous with submission; Honor, respect, giving, love and humility

Find a person who understands submission to authority and you’ll see a person who is humble, full of love, unselfish, accountable, and personally responsible.

Find a person who does not understand submission to authority and you’ll see a person who is prideful, full of criticism, selfish, self ruled, and spiritually irresponsible.

BIBLICAL SUBMISSION IS NOT SLAVERY, It is a very fundamental principle of life that is to be practiced in the world and the church.

There are many scriptures on how spiritual authority should govern and guide the church as well as instructions about the right response to authority, both civil and spiritual.

Understand the principle of submission and you’ll understand the practice of submission

WARNING: Beware of people who are always finding fault with the leadership of the church and the church it’s self, for they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their heart is rebellious and their fruit is pride and dishonor. They seek to destroy people, the church and even the faith while lifting up themselves and their “cause”. They are bitter against leaders and long for control. Watch out for them for they claim to love God and His commands.

Let’s go to the scriptures about submission to spiritual authority:
Ephesians 4:11-12(HCSB) 11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,

Jesus is head of the church and He has established these offices as well as people to be leaders with authority in those offices over the church. God also has given these leaders the responsibility to serve, oversee, and establish HIS word and commands for HIS church in the earth
Hebrews 13:17-18(HCSB) 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. 18 Pray for us; for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything.

Clearly this is not talking about civil authorities, but spiritual authority. It says OBEY and SUBMIT. (swear words to some Christians). But Paul also said, PRAY for spiritual leaders.

Submission to spiritual authority is about a functional relationship of love and honor, first to God, then to man.

1 Timothy 5:17-20(HCSB) The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, the worker is worthy of his wages. 19 Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. 20 Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid.

Elders serve as the lead overseers of the church, meaning, they’re the ones who oversee. They lead, they’re the ones who have visions. They are the ones who kind of watch out for things. They’re leaders but they also teach and preach the Bible and they protect the church from false teaching. Now that phrase that I just read to you is my summation of what the New Testament teaches about elders. You study it for yourself but what we see is that elders do stuff. They lead and they teach and they protect as God’s authority over the local church.

I’ve noticed that people who have the biggest problem with authority in the church usually carry resentment because they want to be in charge themselves and can’t be.

More than ruling over people, spiritual authority has an obligation to Jesus Christ to love, feed, and protect the flock of God. And God has given them His grace and authority to govern. Along with that responsibility comes instruction, counsel, warning, correction, and even rebuke when necessary. Spiritual authority is more than a title; it is a relationship with people. They stand as servants, ministers, and even spiritual parents in the lives of God’s people.

1 Corinthians 4:14-16(HCSB)14 I’m not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my dear children. 15 For you can have 10,000 instructors in Christ, but you can’t have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

Elders are to be imitatible, meaning that an elder should say, verbally and by their example. Hey, look at my life and do what I do. Do your finances the way I do my finances. Do your sexuality the way I do my sexuality. Do your marriage the way I do my marriage. They are to be imitatible and they’re to be reproductive not just meaning to have a lot of kids but they have a lot of spiritual kids. They have disciples. They have people who are following them the way they follow Jesus. We look for elders at Revival Life Church as people who are already eldering. We look for people who are already pastoring. People that are already producing, making disciples, right. That’s what an elder is. That’s what an elder does

In many instances Paul gave commands to the church and even put people out of the church for disobedience and sin. In fact one time Paul said that the leaders of the church were to turn someone over to Satan that they learn not to blaspheme. Listen to this scripture;

2 Thessalonians 3:10-15(HCSB)10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work of others. 12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ that quietly working, they may eat their own food. 13 Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.14 And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person; don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet don’t treat him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Leaders are to be a strong godly example and to lead in strength and certainty. However, many people are offended by this quality and cry “spiritual abuse”. They are simply offended at God’s word rather than the leader. Along with Spiritual Leadership comes discipline. A lot of people who are misguided will quote this:Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV)“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. ..

Notice this is for if a brother sins against you, it is not in the context of Church discipline when a Shepherd is looking after the sheep, or an Elder is looking after the congregation.

Titus 3:10-11(HCSB)10 Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 (HCSB)6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us.

1 Timothy 5:19-20(HCSB)19 Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. 20 Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid.

Proverbs 12:1 (ESV)Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

1 Corinthians 5:11-13 (ESV) But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Submission isn’t a power struggle but rather a mutual relationship of love, humility and respect.

Submission is a principle that should be practiced in every area of life, including the church, for it is godly order and divine principles for safety and success.

AGAIN; Understand the principle of submission and you’ll understand the practice of submission

Many Christians who do not want to submit to the authority in the church do not want to submit at home.

1 Peter 5:5-6(HCSB) 5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time

This is another example of spiritual leadership and authority

As Christians we are commanded to LOVE and SERVE one another.

Galatians 5:13(HCSB)For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

The real love of Jesus is expressed through submission

This is not about the abuse of a title but rather a mutual relationship of love, humility, and respect that starts with our submission to God first than man.

Here is a Shocking scripture about Civil Authority;

Romans 13:1-4(HCSB)  Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. 2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. 4 For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong

1The correlation between governmental authority or “non-spiritual” authority and God’s authority is very clear.

2God has not only established authority among men but, honors their judgment and punishment

3“The higher powers” or “rulers” are called God’s Servants, Avengers 

4(vs 4) so one could say that they are a type of “spiritual authority”

5First the natural then the spiritual. Why would God expect you to obey the natural authority and not the spiritual authority? Isn’t it God that places pastors and elders over the church to feed the flock of God and to watch over the church?

NOTICE: Only those breaking the law have an issue with the law! It’s the same in the church; only those who hate authority will not submit to authority. But those who understand the principle of authority understand the practice of submission .

Being a spiritual leader in the church is not about the title one has but rather the responsibility of the title.

Acts 20:28 (HCSB) Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God,[a] which He purchased with His own blood.

1 Peter 5:2-3(HCSB) 2 Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

IN THE END:

When you understand the principle of submission you’ll understand the authority of God. The point of submission to spiritual leaders, governmental leaders and parents is love and submission to God first then to man.

Our entire culture is suffering from a lack of understanding of the power and value of honor. And it starts with how we dishonor God.

We are treating God as common or ordinary.

God is not the “big guy in the sky” or the “man upstairs.” He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Jesus is not our “homeboy.” He is the risen and soon-returning King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

In Isaiah 29:13(HCSB) The Lord said: Because these people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service—yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules learned by rote—

It’s time we stop giving God lip service and give him the honor He is due.

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.

Revival Life Church 102815 Apologetics Catholicism & Mardi Gras Pt 2

The origin of the Catholic Church is the tragic compromise of Christianity with the pagan religions that surrounded it. Instead of proclaiming the gospel and converting the pagans, the Catholic Church “Christianized” the pagan religions, and “paganized” Christianity. By blurring the differences and erasing the distinctions, yes, the Catholic Church made itself attractive to the people of the Roman Empire. One result was the Catholic Church becoming the supreme religion in the Roman world for centuries. However, another result was the most dominant form of Christianity apostatizing from the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the true proclamation of God’s Word.

2 Timothy 4:3–4(ESV) declares, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Purpose of the Church pt 3

Acts 2:42-47(NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

According to these verses, the purposes/activities of the church should be 1) teaching biblical doctrine, 2) providing a place of fellowship for believers, 3) observing the Lord’s supper, 4) praying, 5) taking care of each others needs, and 6) Worship

1. Teach Biblical Doctrine

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship,” that’s friendship, “to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul.” People were amazed because God showed up and the Holy Spirit was working. Jesus ascended back into heaven and sent the Spirit, and when the Spirit of God dropped on the people of God, lives were changed in large number, and the world has never been the same.
“And many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” We still see people healed and miracles done because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So here’s what it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” We devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching; we open the Word of God. God used them to teach the Old Testament, to write some of the New Testament, and to be eyewitnesses to others who wrote the rest of the New Testament. Everything connects to apostolic teaching. We believe in the Bible. We believe in the whole Bible. We’re not trying to invent a new religion. We’re not trying to change anything. Our goal is faithfulness to the timeless truths of the Word of God not traditions of man.

2. A Place for Fellowship
We cannot build godly, committed, and society-changing future generations with a selfish hit and miss approach to church.The key to the restoration of our culture and society is not the economy, our healthcare system, or even education, but the tone and temperature of our nation spiritually.  How can cold, lifeless, church skipping Christians possibly be the catalyst for fanning the flames of spiritual renewal and fire in the United States?  This coldness and lifelessness is reflected in the attitude of the Christian who says I don’t need to attend church all that much because I can get my spiritual food online or through broadcast media.  The attitude is reflected in the individual who says I don’t need to go to church because I can commune with God in nature on my own.

The culprits in the current spiritual malaise and indifference in our country are the selfish Christians who fail to consider how they can help, assist, and encourage someone else by coming faithfully to church instead of focusing on and serving their own wants, preferences, needs, and schedules.  That single mindset of coming to church not for what you can receive, but for what you can provide is the key to a true spiritual renewal in our land. When you are not in church the gifts and abilities in you are not made available to others.  That’s why skipping church is selfish and the complete opposite of the example of Jesus, the mission of Jesus, and the commands of Jesus.  If you are a consistent, constant, and faithful church goer, don’t let anything stop you from continuing in your dedication.  If you have become distant, cold, lifeless, and selfish in absenting yourself and your family from the Church, repent and return to a faithful lifestyle and relationship with your local church.

For these reasons and more, church attendance, participation, and fellowship should be regular aspects of a believer’s life. Weekly church attendance is in no sense “required” for believers, but someone who belongs to Christ should have a desire to worship God, receive His Word, and fellowship with other believers.

3. The 2 Ordinances (Baptism and Communion)

Protestants and Evangelicals see ordinances as symbolic reenactments of the gospel message that Christ lived, died, was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven, and will someday return. Rather than requirements for salvation, ordinances are visual aids to help us better understand and appreciate what Jesus Christ accomplished for us in His redemptive work. Ordinances are determined by three factors: they were instituted by Christ, they were taught by the apostles, and they were practiced by the early church. Since baptism and communion are the only rites which qualify under these three factors, there can be only two ordinances, neither of which are requirements for salvation.

Ordinances are generally understood to be those things Jesus told us to observe with other Christians. Regarding baptism, Matthew 28:18-20(ESV) says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
As for communion, also called the Lord’s Supper, Luke 22:19 (ESV) says, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Most churches observe these two practices, but may not necessarily refer to them as ordinances.

So, first question is: what is baptism? What is it?

Romans 6:3–7(HCSB) 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.

It says, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus.” So, first thing I want to say is baptism is all about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus, and what we believe is that we say the gospel and we show the gospel, meaning we’ll talk about Jesus, we’ll say things about Jesus, but then, in something called sacraments, baptism and Communion, we show our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, in Communion, it’s about Jesus’ broken body, shed blood, his death on the cross for our sins, and that’s Communion, the sacrament where we have this outward showing of this inward blessing that Jesus gives. And then, in baptism, we show Jesus’ resurrection. And so these ordinances are about Jesus, and they’re all about his death, burial, resurrection for our sins. And so the gospel is said through preaching and teaching, and it’s shown through baptism and Communion.

What he’s saying here is all of us who have been baptized into Christ—he’s talking about all of us, so baptism shows that you’re connected to Jesus and it shows that you’re connected to the church. So, when we see people baptized, it’s all of us, meaning all of God’s people. There are many denominations and traditions of Christians, but for two thousand years, Jesus’ people have been getting baptized. Doesn’t matter what your race, your income, your gender, your ethnicity, your nationality, or your history, all Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus through being baptized. So, it’s for all of us.

So, one of the reasons we like to baptize people in the church, as the church, is it glorifies God. We believe it also is a blessing and a benefit to the person being baptized.

It’s also an encouragement to the church, and the church gets encouraged to see people are meeting Jesus. And he loves us, and he also loves them. He loves them by name, and when Jesus died for sinners, it includes that person whom he has great affection for. And so, we like to baptize as the church to celebrate as the church,we like to celebrate it so we can all be encouraged together.

And we like to do it publicly so that other people can see the work of Jesus in your life. What if someone was preparing to get baptized, so they thought, “Well, I’m gonna invite my neighbors,” because they’re friends with their neighbors. And the neighbor came to the service, just as a non-Christian, just to support their friend, heard about Jesus, and after they got baptized, they saw their neighbor come forward, repent of sin, trust in Jesus, become a Christian, and get baptized that very same service as well. You just never know what God’s gonna do. So, in obedience, you just go ahead and get baptized, and people see Jesus’ love for you and your love for Jesus.

Because, as he says, “All of us—” so, it’s this joyous celebration, for all of us, “—have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death,” so, it’s about Jesus’ death. Let me tell you about Jesus. Baptism makes no sense apart from Jesus, right?

It’s just getting dunked if Jesus isn’t involved.

Jesus is God, second member of the Trinity, Creator of all things. He comes down from heaven, as a man, takes upon himself human flesh, declares himself to be God. He lives without sin, the absolute, perfect life we should live and have failed to live. And then he goes to the cross and he dies in our place for our sins as our substitute. The death we deserve is the death Jesus endures. And so, baptism shows that Jesus died and that he was buried.

He goes on to explain that, “We were buried.” So, it’s about the death and burial of Jesus. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in a new way of life.

So, here’s what baptism is about: Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus was buried, Jesus rose from death. So, it’s the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus. That’s exactly what he says, which is why when we baptize someone, we’re saying Jesus died for them, Jesus was buried for them, and Jesus rose for them, and they love him, and he loves them. That’s why even in the act of baptism, we are showing Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection. That’s what someone who’s getting baptized is saying. “Jesus is my God, died on the cross for me, was buried, rose from death, and my faith is in him, and my salvation is from him.”

And so, one of the reasons we get excited about baptism is because baptism’s about Jesus, we’re so excited about Jesus. We love Jesus, and we love to see people meet Jesus, and baptism is one of those occasions for celebration.

He goes on to say, “For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” What he’s saying is not only are there benefits and blessings to knowing Jesus in this life, forgiveness of sin, there is also eternal blessings and benefits on the other side of death. That just as Jesus died and rose, those who belong to Jesus will die and rise from death.

And what this does, this utterly transforms how we approach death. It gives us hope beyond the grave. And I have some friends that are struggling with health issues, they are struggling with potential life-threatening ailments and illness, and let me say this: there’s something worse that dying, and that’s dying apart from Jesus Christ. For those who die knowing Jesus Christ, they will die to be with Christ, they will rise to be like Christ, together, forever. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t grieve suffering and death in this life, but we also have hope beyond it because Jesus conquered death.

He goes on to talk about: “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin,” What he’s saying is this: because Jesus died for our sin, we can put our sin to death.

And for those of you who are new to Christianity, we’re talking about sin. We’re not just talking about failures, and faults, and flaws. We’re talking about disobedience and rebellion. That the Word of God gives us the will of God, and when we sin, we’re disobeying, disregarding the very words of God, and that’s sin. And what tends to happen is we assume sin becomes our lifestyle, so we celebrate it, or we tolerate it, or we accommodate it, or we blame others for it, or we try to manage it, or we try to hide it.

Here’s the good news: because of Jesus’ death, we could put our sin to death. Whatever has ensnared and enslaved you, you can walk away from it, just like Jesus walked away from his grave, if you are in Christ.

And when he uses this language of being enslaved, most of us tend to think of slavery in terms of someone or something that we hate overtaking, overpowering, and overwhelming us against our will. When the Bible uses the word “slavery,” it tends to refer to addictions, to sinful mind sets , and compulsions, and activities, things that we shouldn’t do, things that we’re ashamed of. This can include things like alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual perversion, addiction, sin, gambling, gluttony, pride, a lust for control. Whatever it might be, someone or something rules over you like a God and you almost feel powerless to it or to them.

And Jesus comes and he dies so that those false gods, those false lords can be put to death, and just as he rose, we get to walk away from our old life and walk in what here, Paul calls “newness of life.” So, in Jesus, you get a whole new life, and I can assure you of this: it’s true. And a Christian is not one who is yet perfect but is new. Their old life is buried with Christ, their new life is risen with Christ, and they’re on the path to perfection on the other side of resurrection in the presence of Christ.

And so, what Paul is saying is baptism is about all of that! That’s a lot of great theological, biblical truth that gets just unpacked in one act. It’s wonderful. So, when you see people get baptized, realize all of this: Jesus loves them, Jesus loves the church, this connects them with thousands of years of God’s people, this shows us our eternal resurrection, this shows us the love of Jesus, the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus, this shows us that our old way of life can die, that we’re freed from our slavery to sin, and bondage, and Satan, and death, and one day we will have a perfected state, and until that day of resurrection, we have newness of life. So much joy! This is why we call the gospel “good news.” This is all such good news.

Does Baptism Save???

Now, another question comes up. Does baptism save? You hear this one a lot. There are certain Christian groups, cult groups, that will say, “Unless you’re baptized, you can’t go to heaven.” We don’t believe that at all.

The classic illustration is Jesus is on the cross, being crucified. There’s one guy on each side. One guy rejects Jesus, the other guy receives Jesus. That guy never did get baptized because he was being crucified. There wasn’t time for that. And Jesus looks at him and says, “Today, this day, you’ll be with me in Paradise.”

People get really superstitious and think, “Well, if I get dunked by a holy man, that’ll do it.” No, no. Jesus saves. Pastors don’t save, churches don’t save, baptism doesn’t save. Jesus saves. That’s our deep conviction. And what can happen is people want some assurance beyond Jesus. There is no assurance beyond Jesus, friends. There’s nothing more secure to place your faith in than Jesus.

Well, what happens is some people can wrongly think they’re saved because they’re baptized. Catholics believe in infant baptism. Many Catholics know and love Jesus.. Though I want all Catholics to know Jesus, some do, some don’t.

At a funeral once the priest says, I know it’s a sad day, but the good news is even though he didn’t walk with the Lord, he was baptized as an infant so we know that he’s gone to heaven. Just a thought, “He just put salvation in a human act of getting wet as a baby. No Jesus in this thing at all.”

We don’t believe that baptism saves.

Here’s what Paul says in

Ephesians 2:8–10(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 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. and it’s all about salvation, forgiveness of sins, relationship with God, eternal life with God. “For you are saved by grace by grace—” How are we saved? By grace from Jesus, the Jesus who’s God, the Jesus who lived without sin, the Jesus who died for our sin, the Jesus who was buried, the Jesus who rose from the grave, the Jesus that we’re remembering in baptism. That Jesus. Grace from him. Undeserved gift, unmerited favor, unexplainable love. That’s our Jesus.

It says, “You’re saved by grace through faith.” The access to this grace is faith. It’s trusting Jesus. It’s trusting only Jesus, not anything in addition to Jesus, even baptism. There was a church in Galatia—Paul writes a letter called Galatians Galatians 5:10(HCSB)10 I have confidence in the Lord you will not accept any other view. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. 11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated! 

They were saying, “Well, to really be a Christian and have your sins forgiven, you need to believe in Jesus and get circumcised.” And Paul very strongly rebukes them and says, “It’s only Jesus. It’s always Jesus. It’s solely Jesus, because Jesus plus anything ruins everything.” You don’t need Jesus and baptism, you don’t need Jesus and Communion, you don’t need Jesus and speaking in tongues. You just need Jesus. That’s it. Grace from him accessed by faith in him.

He goes on to say, “And this is not your own doing; it’s a gift.” We don’t save ourselves. I can’t save you, the church can’t save you, baptism can’t save you, Communion can’t save you. Jesus saves you. If Jesus saves you, we’d love to baptize you to show how Jesus saved you. We’d love for you to take Communion, showing how Jesus saved you. We’d love you to be a member of the church to celebrate with the rest of God’s family how Jesus saves us. But those things in and of themselves, they do not save. Jesus alone saves.

He goes on. “It’s not a result of works.” It’s nothing that human beings do, including baptism, “so that no one can boast.” See, I didn’t save myself. I didn’t save my kids. Jesus saved me, Jesus saved them. Any boasting is boasting in him. This is who Jesus is, this is what he’s done. We love him, we appreciate him. That’s it.

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.” Here’s the pattern: saved by Jesus, grace from him, access through faith in him, that leads to a life of good works. Baptism is a good work. Communion? Good work. Church membership? Good work. Doing ministry? Good work. Giving generously? Good work. Caring for widows, orphans, the poor, those in need? Good works. We’re not saved by our good works, we’re saved by Jesus to our good works. You get that? We’re not saved by our good works, we’re saved by Jesus’ good works: his life, his death, his burial, his resurrection. It’s Jesus’ works that save us. We’re saved by Jesus’ works to our good works. We live a new life because we’re new creations because of Jesus.

What can happen is parents, sometimes with good intentions, they’re worried about the soul and the eternal destiny of their child, and so then they get a little superstitious. They’re like, “Well, if we put him in a nice outfit, and we take him to a holy building, and we hand him to a holy man, and he puts him in the holy water, maybe that’ll make sure that their sins are forgiven and they’re with Jesus forever.” There’s only one holy man to put your children into the hands of, and his name is Jesus.

Here’s the truth: Jesus decides who goes to heaven, who goes to hell. Whether it’s unborn children that die in utero, whether it’s an abortion or a baby who’s born and has a short life before they can come to understand the grace and the goodness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, here’s the answer: Jesus decides. Are you okay with that?

I’ll tell you what, I am. I trust Jesus to do what’s best, and good, and right. The Jesus that I see who loves kids, and welcomes kids, and says that the kingdom of God was made for kids, and tells us that God is a Father who loves his kids, trust him with your children. Trust him with your children’s children.

Do you understand that? I can’t save your kids by holding them and dunking them in the water, but Jesus can save them, and he loves your kids more than you do, and we trust him to make the right decisions, even with the babies.

But what we don’t want to do is give the impression that getting dunked saves you, because if those kids do grow up, they could look back on their baptism rather than back on their Jesus as the source of their hope for their salvation. And one day, at their funeral, somebody could say, “Well, they hated Jesus and they lived a reprobate life, but they got dunked, so we’re not worried.” And that’s false assurance, because the object of faith is not Jesus.

Repent & Be Baptized

How about you? I want you to respond. For those of you who are not Christians, the problem is sin, the answer is Jesus. He is God. He died and rose to conquer sin and death. He loves you. There’s nothing you can do—here’s the good news. There’s nothing you have to do to become a Christian. Trust in Jesus. Amen? And give your life to Jesus today and become a Christian, and you know what we’ll do? Guess what we’ll do? We’ll baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, showing that your faith is in that work of Jesus. We’ve got a wonderful opportunity to baptize you.

Some of you are here and you’ve been baptized, but you’re not growing in discipleship. You’re not maturing in the grace of God. Jesus doesn’t want you just to be baptized, but also be discipled. The root of a disciple is one who’s disciplined. We want you to grow in a disciplined, Spirit-empowered life for the glory of God. What do you need to repent of? Where do you need to grow? It’s not that you need to become a Christian or get baptized again, it’s that you need to continue forward as a disciple of Jesus, maturing and growing.

Third category, are you someone who, in hearing this, has been disobedient? You are a Christian, you do know Jesus, he does love you. You understand what I’m talking about, but you’ve never been baptized. Why are you disobedient? Obey him. It’s for God’s glory, your good, and our joy, and this will be a great day for you. Be obedient.

And some of you say, “Well, I don’t feel like it.” We don’t feel like being obedient, otherwise it wouldn’t be obedience. Obedience is, by definition, sometimes doing what you don’t feel like, trusting that if you obey, God will change your feelings. Don’t make your decisions on anything other than the commands of God. Jesus says, “Baptized.” That’s what he wants for you. Be obedient to that today. Let us know so that we can baptize you.

And, if you are someone who was baptized in a cult, or long before you knew Jesus, or as a baby and you didn’t have anything to do with it and didn’t come to know him until much later in life, today would be a good day for you to present yourself for baptism, to be baptized, making your own public testimony about your relationship with Jesus.

And some of you will ask, “Well, what about those who disagree with us?“ You know? I see just as many unicorns and leprechauns in this book as I do infant baptisms.” A grand whopping total of nothing. So, I would contend for the position of the Bible.

If you’re here and you disagree with us, and you’re not going to be difficult or divisive, we love you, welcome to Revival Life Church. We don’t want to have a fight, or a debate, or a divorce over this issue, but we all want to obey the Scriptures, and the clear, plain teaching of Scripture is repent of sin, trust in Jesus, and be baptized. And some of you need to do that because Jesus loves you and he wants you to share that with us. Amen?