Saturday, March 31, 2018

Called to Be Saints - 1 Corinthians 7 – Marriage Matters

This post is part of a series. To access the previous and future segments, click on the “1 Corinthians” label on the left.
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Getting Married – 7:1-9
“The things about which you wrote …” 7:1
Two opposite extremes, both wrong:
1 Cor 6 - Hedonism: whatever feels good is good.
The body does not matter. Do as you please.
Physical “sin” does not affect the soul.
1 Cor 7 - Asceticism: whatever feels good is bad.
The body is not spiritual. Punish and deprive it.
Marital relations do not benefit the soul.
So their letter, their words: “It is good for a man …”
Getting Married – 7:1-9
“But because of immoralities …” 7:2
Get married!
One man. One woman.
Heterosexual. Monogamous.
Meet the needs for which God designed marriage.
God made man and woman to love, depend on, fulfill, and complement each other.
Do not deprive each other.
         1. Your body is not your own, but your mate’s.
         2. Increased temptation to sin may result.
Getting Married – 7:1-9
Why get married?
Gen 2:18 “Not good – alone – helper suitable.”
Gen 1:28 “Multiply.” 2:24-25 “One flesh.”
Gen 24:27 “Isaac – Rebekah – comforted.”
Gen 29:20 “Jacob – Rachel – few days – love.”
Ruth and Boaz. Priscilla and Aquila.
Eph 5:22-33 “As Christ and the church.”
1 Tim 3:2, 12 Overseers and deacons.
Gen 26:8; Prov 5:15-19; Song 2:3-17; 4:1-7; Heb 13:4
His Needs, Her Needs, by Willard Harley
An Attractive Spouse
Domestic Support
Family Commitment
Financial Support
Honesty and Openness
Recreational Companionship
Sexual Fulfillment
Staying Married – 7:10-16
The Christian can have a sanctifying influence on his or her mate and children, which they otherwise would not have. Who know? You might save them all!
Being Content – 7:17-24
Our secular world thrives on trying to make us discontent, then offering us contentment … at a price.
“I’ll be content if, when, as long as …”
“I would be content, but …”
“I cannot be content, because …”
And there is no end.
Eccl 1:8; 5:10-12
Luke 12:13-21
Being Content – 7:17-24
Contentment results from seeing your current situation as that which God has assigned, that to which He has called you. 7:17
         Circumcised or Uncircumcised
         Slave or Free
         Gain your freedom if possible; be content if not.
         Change your perspective.
         Better to be a slave, free from sin …
         Than a free man, enslaved to sin!
Living Single – 7:25-40
Is marriage the best option for everyone?
1 Cor 7:7 “Yet I wish …” “Each one has his gift.”
1 Cor 7:8 “Widows … unmarried … good …”
1 Cor 7:11 “Remain unmarried … be reconciled …”
1 Cor 7:27 “Do not seek a wife.”
1 Cor 7:28 “Trouble … spare you.”
1 Cor 7:40 “Happier if she remains as she is …”
The most effective life ever lived was that of a man who never married: Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus noted this option for others.  Matt 19:10-12
Living Single – 7:25-40
Why not marry?
1. Pressure from the “present distress.” 7:25-27
2. Problems “in the flesh.” 7:28
3. Passing of this world. 7:29-31
4. Preoccupations of marriage. 7:32–35
A “single” focus on the Lord, without divided interests. Fewer cares, expenses, burdens, conflicts. Undistracted devotion. Greater flexibility … availability … mobility.
5. Pledges from fathers or fiancés. 7:36-38
6. Permanence of marriage. 7:39-40
Living Single – 7:25-40
Paul’s instructions to the unmarried:
“Remain as you are.” 7:25-31
“Devote yourself to the Lord.” 7:32-35
“In this matter, do as you wish.” 7:36-38
         A single man may marry his fiancée.
         A father may allow his daughter to marry.
         Such will do well; the single will do better.
“Do not necessarily seek remarriage.” 7:39-40
         A widow may remarry in the Lord.
         Staying single is advised.
Living Single – 7:25-40
Married Christians help each other “live single” – with a single (shared) focus on the Kingdom of God.
Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters …”
Matt 6:33 “But seek first …”
Matt 7:13-14 “Narrow gate … wide gate …”
Phil 3:13 “This one thing I do …”
Col 3:17 “Whatever you do, in word or deed …”
Jesus was both single … AND single minded.
John 4:34 “My food …”

Monday, March 26, 2018

Keys to the Kingdom – The Sermon on the Mount - 06 RESPONSE-ABILITY

What could be sweeter than revenge? So much in our society, especially the movie and entertainment industry, promotes personal, angry, hateful revenge. The audience is led to want the hero to be filled with rage and adrenaline, and to strike the villain personally, painfully, and brutally. And the viewers feel a sense of satisfaction when that happens.
Is that right? What does Jesus teach His disciples on the mountain?
God ordained judicial retribution. If one broke the law, the judges were to carry out God’s prescribed punishment that fit the crime. They were to act swiftly, decisively, and impartially. They would thus express God’s authority and deter others as well. But the Jews had heard that they could personally be vindictive and return evil for evil. What would Jesus say?
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Reading: Matt 5:38-42
Mt 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
God’s Prescription: Lex Talionis
Latin for the law of judicial retribution.
What you take you will lose: no more, no less. Eye, tooth, hand, foot, burn, bruise, wound.
Key: godly judges, not incensed individuals.
Ex 21:22-25; Lev 24:17-22; Deut 19:16-21
Matt 5:25-26; 7:1-2; 25:31-46
Rom 13:1-7; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11-15
Ex 21:22 “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Le 24:17 ‘If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death. 18 ‘The one who takes the life of an animal shall make it good, life for life. 19 ‘If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him. 21 ‘Thus the one who kills an animal shall make it good, but the one who kills a man shall be put to death. 22 ‘There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the Lord your God.’ ”
Note especially Deut 19:16-21, which specifies that the Lex Talionis was to be administered, not by angry individuals, but by appointed judges. (Our nation’s founders followed this principle in setting up our system of judges and courts.)
Dt 19:16 “If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, 17 then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. 18The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. 20 “The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. 21 “Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
Jesus recognized the proper role of the judge and the court as well.
Mt 5:25 “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
Jesus insisted that God is the ultimate Judge who will impartially carry out the Lex Talionis.
Mt 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
Jesus taught that sheep would be rewarded and the goats cursed, again with the idea of fair judgment.
Mt 25:31-46 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats …
Paul by inspiration also emphasized the judicial role of God-ordained governing authorities.
Rom 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Paul wrote of the great Day of Judgment to come.
2 Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
John saw the books and the Book of Life.
Re 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Note the statue of Lady Justice, always blindfolded.
Multiple warnings to judges in Scripture re: no partiality, no bribery, etc.
God’s Provision: Fairness
A way to judge evil acts objectively and blindly.
A way to fit (yet limit) the penalty to the crime.
A way to deter others with fear of punishment.
Deut 13:11; 17:13; 19:20; 21:21; Eccl 8:11
A way for victims to seek and ensure justice.
A way to prevent personal, hateful revenge.
Dt 13:11 “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you.
Dt 17:13 “Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.
Dt 19:20 “The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.
Dt 21:21 “Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.
Ec 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.
God’s Precaution: Non-Retaliation
Pr 20:22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”. Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.
Pr 24:29 Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
1 Th 5:15 Never repay evil for evil …
1 Pet 3:9 No insult for insult, but blessing …
1 Th 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
1 Pe 3:8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
God’s Preventive: Love
Apparently the scribes and Pharisees had minimized the following commands, given by God to prevent the very thing that they wanted to justify – hateful revenge.
Lev 19:17 “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”
5358 נָקַם [naqam /naw·kam/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 1413; GK 5933; 35 occurrences; AV translates as “avenge” 18 times, “vengeance” four times, “revenge” four times, “take” four times, “avenger” twice, “punished” twice, and “surely” once. 1 to avenge, take vengeance, revenge, avenge oneself, be avenged, be punished. 1a (Qal). 1a1 to avenge, take vengeance. 1a2 to entertain revengeful feelings. 1b (Niphal). 1b1 to avenge oneself. 1b2 to suffer vengeance. 1c (Piel) to avenge. 1d (Hophal) to be avenged, vengeance be taken (for blood). 1e (Hithpael) to avenge oneself.
5201 נָטַר, נָטַר [natar /naw·tar/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 1356; GK 5757 and 5758; Nine occurrences; AV translates as “keep” four times, “keeper” twice, “reserve” twice, and “grudge” once. 1 to keep, keep guard, reserve, maintain. 1a (Qal). 1a1 to keep, maintain. 1a2 to keep, guard.
Man’s Perversion: Revenge
“Do unto others as they have done unto you.”
“Don’t just get mad. Get even!”
“To overcome evil, become (more) evil!”
“Hate, don’t wait! Settle the score plus more!”
“Gun them down! Beat them up! Blow them out!”
Isaac or Herodias?
Gen 26:12-25 – Conflict Over Wells
Isaac: “Let it go! Re-dig another well!”
Mk 6:14-29 – Conflict Over Marriage Law
Herodias: “Let it grow!” “Chop off John’s head!”
What Isaac and Herodias share: Response-ability.
Christ’s Pro-Action: Response
When insulted with a slap, turn the other cheek.
When sued for one’s shirt, offer your coat also.
When coerced into service, go a second mile.
When begged for money, give, do not turn away.
Whatever happens: response-ability.
Christ’s Practice: Salvation
Lk 23:34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
1 Pet 2:23 … while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross …
1 Pet 2:21 “an example … walk in His steps …”
The ultimate example of response-ability is Jesus Himself. Even when beaten, blindfolded, spit upon, and ridiculed, He was still response-able – able to choose His response. The result? Our salvation from sin, and our model to follow when we are mistreated.
Possible hymns:
None of Self and All of Thee
More Like Jesus
Angry Words
Lord, Speak to Me

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Called to Be Saints - 1 Corinthians 5-6 – Goals of Godliness

5-6 Goals of Godliness
Serious about SIN
Serious about SOLUTIONS
Serious about SALVATION
Serious about SEXUALITY
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Serious About Sin – 1 Cor 5
When we are serious about sin …
We rise above the world’s definition of morality.  5:1
We humbly mourn over evil and its effects. 5:2
We prove our love for the sinner. 5:3-5
We, as an assembled body, act as a whole. 5:3-5
We respect the Lord’s name and power. 5:3-5
We “hand [the sinner] over to Satan.” 5:3-5
When we are serious about sin …
We affirm the final judgment, heaven, and hell. 5:5
We keep sin from spreading. 5:6
We “celebrate” the “Passover feast.” 5:7-8
We distinguish “insiders” from “outsiders.” 5:9-13
We purge the evil. 5:13
We offer the way back home. 2 Cor 2:6-8
Serious about Solutions – 6:1-8
Disputes and conflicts are quite biblical!
Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abram and Lot, Sarai and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac – shall we go on?
The apostles, Pilate and Jesus, Paul and Barnabas …
So how do we resolve them?
To whom do we turn?  6:1
1 Cor 6:1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?
Serious about Solutions – 6:1-8
To resolve conflicts with each other …
We first remember who we are. 6:2
We see the bigger picture. 6:3
We seek a wise mediator. 6:4-5
We refuse to shame the church. 6:6
We realize that to fight is to admit defeat. 6:7a
We prefer to suffer harm, not inflict it.  6:7b
We admit that we could be at fault.  6:8
We dare not be “not-right” before God.  6:9
We act as those transformed by grace. 6:9-11
Serious about Salvation – 6:9-11

Serious about Sanctification – 6:9-11
“Don’t you know … unrighteous will not inherit …”
“Such were some of you.”
“But you were washed, sanctified, justified.”
1. Washed: baptized (Acts 22:16; Tit 3:5)
2. Sanctified: set apart to be saints
3. Justified: declared right with God
Double trouble: sin’s guilt and power
Double cure: justification and sanctification
Context: that’s why we resolve unrighteous conflicts!
Serious about Sexuality – 6:12-20
Slogan in Corinthian church: “All things are lawful!”
If certain acts are lawful, does that make them moral?
         Are they beneficial?
         Might they enslave me?
         Do they please God?
         Could they destroy my soul?
Slogan in Corinthian church: “Food --- stomach!”
If the stomach is for food, is the body for immorality?
Serious about Sexuality – 6:12-20
How does our culture justify returning to Corinth?
“It’s consensual.”
“It’s legal.” “It’s acceptable.”
“It’s my body. It’s my choice. I am entitled.”
“It’s ‘safe.’”
“No one will be hurt. No one will know.”
“There will be no lasting consequences.”
“God made me this way.”
“God wants me to be happy.”
Serious about Sexuality – 6:12-20
Greek philosophy: body as a prison, with no real value.
In that case, why not live for pleasure? Hedonism.
If the body has no ultimate value, why not?
Godly philosophy: body as a temple, holy for God.
He raised Jesus’ body and will raise ours.
Your bodies – yes, bodies – are members of Christ.
Sexual sin joins Christ’s members to a prostitute.
Joined to Christ in spirit – not with him/her in flesh.
Flee! Gen 39:7-12; 1 Tim 6:10-11; 2 Tim 2:20-22
He bought your body. Glorify Him with it!

Monday, March 19, 2018

What is the “Church of Christ?”

I recently received an email from a fine college student, whose Baptist friend wanted information about what he called “Church of Christ beliefs” and “Church of Christ Churches”. He had asked, “Is the Church of Christ biblical?” “What is the history of the Church of Christ?” He had studied various denominations. He was very curious about the differences, and he really wanted to go from what the Bible says.
As I wrote this student a reply I realized that other young people – and those of all ages – are asking the same kinds of questions. So I have posted my reply here.
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Dear ______,
Thank you for getting in touch with me! Great questions!
Many of our religious neighbors have been told that “Church of Christ” is a denomination like “Baptist” or “Catholic.” They will talk about “Church of Christ beliefs,”  ”Church of Christ preachers,” and even ”Church of Christ churches!” They will ask, “What does the Church of Christ (or ‘your church’) teach about this or that?” They may have even been told that the “Church of Christ” began in the 1800s, was started by someone like Alexander Campbell, and follows the doctrines that he or someone else developed. They may have been told that we think that only “our denomination” is going to heaven.
When a person researches “Church of Christ” online, they will often see this kind of denominational language. Then these sites will list various teachings and traditions of this so-called “Church of Christ” denomination. Those who write such things do not understand who we are. That is why certain beliefs are listed on these sites that many of us do not accept as true.
We are not a denomination. We have no councils or other governing bodies beyond the local congregation. We have no creed book that we follow (except the Bible). We have no rules for membership except the Bible. We are congregations of Christians. “Churches of Christ” is a biblical phrase that simply means “congregations that belong to Christ.” 
Rom 16:16 All the churches of Christ greet you.
Nobody “joins” “our church.” We don’t own a church! When a person obeys the Lord as Acts 2 teaches, God adds that person to His church. God added you and me to His church (that belongs to Christ) when we repented of sin and were baptized for the forgiveness of our sins. You and I have never joined any denomination or agreed to follow any teaching that we cannot see for ourselves in the Bible.
We simply choose to be Christians. We want to believe, teach, and practice what the New Testament teaches the church and Christians to do.
Jesus built one church, and He called it “My church” in Matt 16:18. It is one church, not a denomination or a group of denominations. It belongs to Christ. In other words, it is Christ’s church, or the church of (that belongs to) Christ.
The Bible says: Eph 4:4 There is one body (church) and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
The Bible forbids divisions (denominations). 
1 Cor 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
So, if we do what the Bible teaches, we are members of that original church! Christians! Disciples of Christ! We are not “Church-of-Christ Christians.” We are just Christians, because, when we repented of sin and were baptized, God added us to the church - His church - Christ’s church.
Our plea is for people to abandon ALL denominations and to return with us to the original pattern that God gave the original church.
The Bible simply does not describe or authorize the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the Community Church, etc. 
So when someone says, “What does your church teach about ...?” - or “What does the Church of Christ teach about ...?” I always change the question to ... ”What does the Bible teach about ...?”
So if they ask about baptism, the Lord’s Supper, elders and deacons, a cappella singing, or anything else that seems “different” from various denominations, I take them straight to the Bible for the answer.
For example, Southern Baptists typically teach that one is saved before baptism. In other words, they are told that baptism is not necessary for salvation, because it is a “good work,” and we are not saved by works. The Bible teaches differently! Baptism is not a good work at all. It is an expression of faith and repentance that God requires. This is very clear in Acts 2:38; Rom 6:1-4; 1 Pet 3:21; Gal 3:26-27. This is not a “Church-of-Christ doctrine,” as if it belongs to some denomination. It is the Bible’s clear teaching! So it’s the truth, not because you and I agree with it and do it, but because God said it!
The Bible never - never - never calls Christ’s followers “Baptists,” “Catholics,” “Protestants,” or any other man-made name. The Bible does not refer to ANY denomination. They all started long after the Bible was written.
All the apostles and first-century Christians belonged to the same church - the one church - described as beginning in Acts 2.
So when someone asks about “Church-of-Christ” history, how the church began, etc., I will often study Acts 2 with them.
If they will believe and do what the Bible teaches in Acts 2, God will add them to the same church - the one church - that began that day. And they will be Christians, nothing more or less. Then we can teach them about the faith, practice, and worship of that original church. As we do that we will teach them what that “church belonging to Christ” or “church of Christ” was taught about singing, the Lord’s Supper, etc.
Here are two blog posts I have written, that you and your friends may want to review.
Good News! An Evangelistic Bible Study Based on Acts 2
Are You a Christian? Are You Saved? Are You SURE?
Please write again! God bless.