How does a new believer grow? 2 Peter 3:18 tells us we are all to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. A new believer can grow by reading the Bible, listening to preaching and teaching in a local church, and through worshipping. These are all good disciplines of the Christian life, outlined in Scripture and governed by the Holy Spirit. However, does God have other ways for a believer to grow in the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer is found in His Word and in examining the life of Christ.
Church research has revealed that before the pandemic, only three percent of churches in our country were experiencing measurable numerical growth. This growth was in churches bent on making disciples and spiritually reproducing. Ninety-seven percent of churches were in some form of plateau, decline, or process of closure. When the pandemic hit, these churches struggled even more.
The god of this world seeks to eliminate Christ's influence, which causes even more feelings of crisis and pressure for Christians. Believers are citizens of a greater country, and they walk according to its mission. This can cause conflict with the world.
Last week, we looked at the first two of four virtues found in 2 Corinthians 10:1-6. Passion is seen in calling others to work alongside oneself for Gospel progress. Being principled requires courage to be godly rather than worldly.
The primary application of this chapter is not an individual giving to their local church, but local churches helping one another meet needs for Gospel purposes.
We have been studying the character of the saved heart that desires to share resources to meet the needs of the church Body in order to share the Gospel more effectively. The context of 2 Corinthians 8-9 is that of one church giving to another. The giver's heart is based in the principle that everything we own is God's, not ours.
We will continue to study how the flock cares for itself and is instructed by grace in 2 Corinthians 8:4-6.
The word “grace” begins this section in verse 1 and also appears as “favor” and “gracious” in this passage. Since God’s Word is unchanging, grace teaches every believer how to give in the same way through the Spirit of God. The verb “gave” reverberates through descriptions of intention, motivation, and methodology of how the Macedonians gave.
As we continue to study 2 Corinthians 1, we will see what Paul's ministry meant to interdependent relationships within the church. All the promises of God for personal relationships in the church are presented, received, and fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christian relationships can and should thrive in Him. This does not mean there will be no struggle; but healing and progress can always be found in the Gospel. The unwavering nature of the Gospel message helps us regain spiritual confidence after conflict.
Unity in Christ's body is maintained by more than individual behavior and relationships. It is maintained by having a unified mission.
At first reading, Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 seems to advocate being a little bit wicked. But this interpretation would not fit with the rest of Scripture. Instead, Solomon is showing that excessively applying righteousness and piling on wickedness are both dangerous. We should not come to conclusions about a person's character too quickly.
The next section of Ecclesiastes we will preach illustrates the importance of companionship where isolation reigns.
Looking for Jesus Christ's return motivates us to live in a proper manner. Faithful living is personal and characterized by a loving disposition and moral behavior. God is faithful to enable you to grow on your own, but He also wants you to be helped by others in a local church family. This interdependence will have a supernatural influence inside and outside the church.
Paul talks about two categories of Christians in Romans 14, the strong and the weak. Every believer falls under one category or the other. Both are assumed to be reverent and growing. Both are instructed to keep themselves in the love of God.
We are studying the third section of Romans 12. When people are transformed by grace (Romans 12:1-2) and functioning well in the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8), we are able to love each other as God intends.
Knowing our history and considering the future both bring us closer to each other and the Lord.
The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8, is God's assignment for the church. The task of reaching the world with the name of Christ is bigger than any individual. It is even bigger than the collective group of believers. This task requires the power of God. Thankfully, that which God calls us to, He also empowers us to do. As we continue to grow spiritually, God does the work to accomplish His eternal mission.
The local church is characterized by believers who love one another and are excited to serve together. This delights God's heart. We serve not merely to be busy but to build each other up and be light in the culture. Our influence in the community is only as strong as our relationships with one another in the local church.
"Many a little makes a mickle." This Scottish proverb illustrates how many small things can add up. The local church is made up of many people with Spirit-given special abilities. The combination of these gifts working together is one of the most significant influences in the world.
God has ordained that the Christian life is to be lived not in isolation, but in conjunction with the community of saints. So how is it that Christians, particularly here in America, have become used to amputating limbs off of the body of Christ (which is the local church)? In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, the Apostle Paul refers to the Corinthian believers as being eyes and ears and noses—body parts. This is the same kind of language that Paul uses in Romans 12:5 when he writes that we are members one of another.
The Bible teaches that Christians are to be mutually reliant upon each other. This doctrine is incredibly important and should be a major heading in our ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). However, it has been almost entirely lost in American evangelicalism. Possible reasons include the American way of life that emphasizes independence and the rejection of denominationalism. American Christianity has become a complex collection of isolated congregations and an even more divided and isolated collection of Christians.
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