Times of services:
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
Sacrifice and Trusting God
Joe R. Price
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom.12:1). Trusting God is at the heart of sacrifice. Yes, we have been commanded to sacrifice ourselves to God. But, what is it that hinders us at times from sacrificially obeying the Lord? Several answers come to mind, like a lack of commitment and love, worldliness, and negligent. One reason there is little sacrifice in our lives is due to having little trust in God. We sacrifice ourselves to one whom we trust. Where there is little trust there will be little sacrifice. When we trust God we will sacrifice ourselves for God.
Sacrifice “primarily denotes the act of offering” (Vine, 543). Generally speaking, one offers himself to or on behalf of another because he has confidence in that person. For instance, a soldier follows his commander into battle, at great personal risk, because he trusts him. Christ exemplified this quality of sacrifice when he went to the cross. He despised the same of the cross because of “the joy that was set before Him” (Heb. 12:2). He was strengthened to sacrifice Himself for us because he trusted that glory would follow (1 Pet. 1:11, 21; Heb. 2:13; Eph. 5:2).
Sacrificing ourselves to Christ is self-denial; renouncing all for His sake and crucifying my will in order to do His will (Lk. 9:23; 14:33; Gal. 2:20). God sees and rewards our genuine sacrifice for Christ (1 Cor. 15:58; Heb. 6:10; Rev. 2:10). We trust God will reward the sacrifices of our faith (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
According to Romans 12:1, we are urged and compelled to be “living sacrifices” because we receive and trust the mercy of God. Our every thought, word and deed must have God’s will as our motive and His glory our goal. Our time must be sacrificed to Him (for example, in worship, Bible study and teaching, helping others, etc., Eph. 5:16). Our material goods must be sacrificed to Him (for example, by our giving and by helping others (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Remember the rich young ruler? He trusted in his riches and was unwilling to sacrifice for Jesus (Mk. 10:22-24). Our abilities must be offered up to the Lord (Matt. 25:15).
In Christ it is no longer “I” who lives, “but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). We trust God’s merciful grace to save us; therefore we completely sacrifice ourselves to Him and obey Him in faith. May our trust in His mercy grow and our sacrifice of ourselves to Him be complete to do His will (Rom. 12:1-2).
Some time ago, I read an article with this title, “Dare I Fellowship Corinth?” The writer spoke of the prevailing sins of the church at Corinth and that Paul fellowshipped the Corinthian church. It seems the purpose of the article was to reason that if Paul did so with Corinth we should certainly be able to fellowship most anything that is practiced in churches today. In his estimate, it would be difficult to find any congregation today with as many unscriptural practices as existed in the church at Corinth. Therefore, if Paul fellowshipped Corinth, we should not have any difficulty or difference over the question of fellowshipping churches.
This is not a new approach in condoning sinful practices in congregations. Others have made it and many others will continue to make it. Some know better in making such an argument while others possibly are not aware of the positions that they are accepting. What fellowship Paul extended to the church at Corinth in his first epistle to the Corinthians was certainly a fellowship with rebuke. As one reads the epistle, the reader is confronted with the stern denunciations uttered against this church. In the first few chapters, the sin of division and appeal to worldly wisdom are condemned. In the fifth chapter, the church at Corinth is rebuked for condoning the sin of fornication. The brethren were going to law one with another in that which was opposed to the spirit of Christ and there is the rebuke of their behavior in chapter six of this epistle. Among other failures, their abuse of the Lord’s Supper is stated in the eleventh chapter as well as their questioning the resurrection truth in chapter fifteen. What fellowship existed at this time was truly a fellowship with strong rebukes. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (I Corinthians 3:1-3).
When individuals use Paul’s action and demeanor toward the Corinthians as an example for fellowshipping sin in congregations today, is this the fellowship they have in mind? I hardly think so! They don’t desire or sanction the rebukes and denunciations, but rather expect sins to be ignored and peace to exist without any objections to what practices may occur in a particular congregation. Paul pointed out their sins and called upon them to repent. He manifested a confidence in them that they would repent and correct their behavior. When Paul’s attitude toward the church at Corinth is used as an example for fellowshipping sinful practices in churches today, consistency demands that the rebukes and condemnations have a place in that fellowship. However, in most cases, when such things are preached against, the objectors are told to be quiet or “hit the road” with no regard for the scriptures or God’s pattern of truth.
Paul preached truth in every church. He promised the Corinthians that he would send Timothy “who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” (I Corinthians 4:15). I find it difficult to conclude that Paul preached in every church that he fellowshipped sins that existed in some churches. If Paul were living today, it makes you wonder what congregations would have the faith to endure his teaching and say amen to his sermons.
Concerning Paul’s fellowship of the Corinthian church, we need to realize that God in His longsuffering grants churches and individuals an opportunity to repent. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:10). In the writing of this first epistle, the Corinthians were warned of their sins and given an opportunity to repent. According to the scope of the second epistle, it appears that they did repent and correct what needed to be done. “For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance” (II Corinthians 7:8-9). They had sorrowed to repentance! But what if such had not occurred? What if they had turned a deaf ear to the need for repentance and continued in the sinful practices? We must always be careful with the “what if’s”, but it would appear that this would have presented a different scenario. Whatever fellowship existed before their sins were pointed out would cease to be if they continued in defying the will of God. This is what we must not ignore when answering the question, “Dare I fellowship Corinth?” What Corinth do you have in mind…the one that was practicing sin or the one that repented as mentioned in the second epistle? “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (II Corinthians 6:17).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Acts 26:17-20
1. God invites sinners to come to Him, Isa. 55:1-3; Matt.
11:28 (Matt. 22:1-10).
I. GOSPEL INVITATION MUST BE PERSUASIVE.
A. Persuasion to be Saved, Acts 2:40; Rom. 10:13-14
(Acts 17:3-4; 18:4); Acts 26:27-29.
II. GOSPEL INVITATION MUST BE PERSONAL.
A. To the Individual, Acts 2:40-41; 17:30-31, 34.
III. GOSPEL INVITATION IS PLAIN.
A. It must be Relevant, Acts 8:35-37.
IV. GOSPEL INVITATION MUST BE PRACTICAL.
A. Tells What Must be Done to be Saved; Acts 9:6; 22:16; 8:18-24; Matt. 28:19-20.
V. GOSPEL INVITATION MUST BE POWERFUL.
A. Because the Gospel is Powerful to Save, Rom. 1:16; Acts 26:18.
Exposure to Sin
Tens of thousands of people die annually from the results of overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation according to the World Health Organization (“Sun Overexposure Causes Diseases That Kill 60,000 People a Year,” Bloomberg.com). Skin cancer is the most obvious culprit. Other sun-related health problems include sunburn and cataracts (Ibid.).
Because we live in the world we are exposed to sin every day (1 Cor. 5:10). Jesus prayed for his apostles that they be protected from the evil one (Jno. 17:15).
Like sun burns skin, sin sears the conscience, hardening the heart (1 Tim. 4:2). Sun screen protects the skin from harmful UV rays. We must apply “sin-screen” to protect our soul from sin. Some of the ingredients in God’s “sin-screen” are:
1) Put the word of God in your heart. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” (Psa. 119:11). When the word of Christ richly dwells in us there will not be room for sin to thrive (Col. 3:16; Matt. 12:43-45).
2) Live by faith. “…taking up the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16). Like armor, faith protects the soul. How? “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). God gives us ways of escape when we are tempted to sin (1 Cor. 10:13). But, we must look for them. Only when we are living by faith – trusting and obeying God’s word to direct our way of life – will we escape exposure to sin.
3) Remove every hindrance to godly living. “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you…” (Matt. 5:29-30). Every influence that causes us to stumble, every relation that urges us to sin and every practice that is against the will of God must be removed from our lives (Heb. 12:1; Col. 3:5-8; 1 Cor. 15:33-34).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA