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.
Paul continues to call the Corinthian believers alongside himself to participate in protecting the church. Every believer has a role to build up and protect the church, not destroy.
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.
2 Corinthians 10:1-6 cover several spiritual virtues that protect both churches and the Gospel upon which the church is founded. These virtues should be owned and lived by every believer.
In Luke 19:11-27, Jesus is approaching Jerusalem and His crucifixion. The following crowd was anticipating Jesus to establish the Messianic Kingdom. He tells this parable to explain the coming delay before His reign.
Too many pastors have been measured by worldly standards of success in this past year in the midst of all the distractions life and culture have brought our way. The real measure of successful ministry is what the all-powerful grace of God is doing in people's lives. Only Jesus Christ can transform a life so completely.
1 Corinthians is a letter to a church that found itself in the most influential and cosmopolitan city of its day. Yet this was a troubled church. The church received the gospel, but it was not governed by it. In many practical ways, the church was governed by culturally-derived mottos rather than mature reflection on the gospel and its implications for life.
This will be true until Christ comes. This purpose is reflected in our church's mission statement: "Grace Church of Mentor exists to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and equipping the saints with the goal of Christ-likeness." Every Bible-believing church has been given this Gospel mission. Our Savior intends us to live His life, and His disciples demonstrated this. Both men and women tremendously affected Gospel progress in their areas in the New Testament.
2 Corinthians 5:11-13
The aspiration of the believer is to please God, whether here on earth or in His presence in Heaven. The Spirit compels us to become more like the Son every day.
A vulnerable person is defined as someone in need of special care, support, or protection because of innate disability or risk of abuse. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians addressed issues of sin and carnality in the church and prescribed corrective paths. The believers there received this rebuke and began to change. Then came another threat to their growth: false ones within the church. In this second letter, Paul has redirected their hearts to the comfort of God, his own integrity and love for them, intentional gospel ministry, and the greater glory of New Covenant. Next he rehearses how wonderful God’s transforming grace is to them on a personal level.
God’s nature is unity (Deuteronomy 6:4). When we are baptized into Christ, we are one with Him and with each other spiritually (John 17:11, 20-22). David and Solomon both praised the importance of unity among God’s people (Psalm 133:1, Proverbs 6:17-19). Anyone who dismisses the unity God has created and spreads strife unnecessarily is considered an abomination. The job of believers in the church is to maintain the unity of the Spirit in peace (Ephesians 4:3, Philippians 4:2). God’s people love what God has provided and persevere in unity.
As Paul continues to write according to his theme of ministry integrity, he turns to the quality of Christian relationships. This is one way people can suffer in a local church. When they are persuaded that Jesus is not enough, their relationships inside the church struggle, and they don't know how to develop redemptive relationships in the community. When unsure of the permanence of their relationship with God, then people have no foundation from which to build other relationships and no message of how the Gospel changed them.
Paul's discussion of ministry with integrity permeates 2 Corinthians through chapter 7. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 can be divided into 5 sections which we will study over a couple weeks.
God created the moon to be the lesser light of the night sky and the sun to rule the day (Genesis 1:16). When the sun comes up, the light of the moon no longer seems bright. Paul makes a similar comparison between the Old and New Covenant in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11, using a typical rabbinical comparison of the lesser to the greater.
The best way to protect the church from religious racketeers is to compare the nature and practice of the false and genuine.
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.
Christians minister and serve because of Christ is resurrected and assures us of our own.
There is profundity in simplicity. Our world is complicated, but God's plan to lead us back to Himself is simple. Human ways to God only lead to destruction.
The church today does not and cannot celebrate Palm Sunday in the same way the original participants did. When the crowds cried, "Hosanna, save now," they were crying out for immediate deliverance from the Romans. The church celebrates Jesus' unique identity which was magnified that day. Palm Sunday gave a window into the hearts of those around Jesus as they responded to who He was.
Observe any living thing, and you will see that God designs His creatures to partner with others. They are not created to exist alone. Birds are always in a flock. Marriage was instituted because "it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). A singer's performance is greatly enhanced by a good accompanist. Those in the trades or any career seek to replicate themselves in an apprentice. Living things do not function well alone.
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