A PICTURE OF THE TRUE CHURCH PART THREE
What Paul writes in chapter 12 is very important
towards the spiritual health of the local church
Churches are like hospitals, full of wounded and sick people, but in the church the sickness is sin and the wounds are those we inflict upon ourselves and one another because of sin. I think I know why! I came across this study that said…. Among evangelicals by belief, 66% say they use Facebook at least about once a day, including 49% who say they’re on several times a day. Around 2 in 5 evangelicals (39%) watch a YouTube video at least about once a day. Other social media apps and networks have fewer, but still significant numbers of daily evangelical users: Instagram (22%), Twitter (16%), Pinterest (12%), Snapchat (12%).
These statistics are not problems in and of themselves. Social media can be used to inform and challenge us as we continue in the Christian life. Social media can be a place of gospel opportunities with those outside the covenant blessings in Christ. The inherent problems, however, are intensified by the fact that many Christians are being shaped more by social media than Scripture. This influence creeps into the church which can cause some serious problems to how we look at one another. Over the past couple of years we have seem increased anxiety, depression has weaken the fellowship in many churches, because Christians are being shaped by social media outlets instead of seeking the Scripture.
Before the internet and social networks James warned the body of Christ about this. “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:1-4
How do we avoid this in our lives, in the life
of the local church?
Live In Harmony Within The Local Church Setting. (v16a)
Paul uses the word “Harmony” this has to do with being of the “same mind.” This word “Harmony” is referring to more that doctrinal unity, though that is vital and very important within the body of the local church. The Attributes & Character of God, the Fundamentals of the Faith, the 5 Sola’s, are the foundation to a confessional church. This harmony goes beyond that, Paul would later repeat this admonition. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:4-7
This portion is saying, "What you think of yourselves, think also of your brethren" We are to think of one another, as equally interested in the love of God and the gospel that saves to the uttermost. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, blessed with the same spiritual blessings in Him, and called in the same hope of your calling. We are not to think of one another, as being one richer or wiser than another, do not value yourselves over others in the body of Christ. Paul said, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” Phil 1:27
This word “Harmony” is used to distribute our affections to the whole body. This means being of the “same mind, impartiality” as it pertains to our affections for one another as believers. We are not to reserve our.. Love, fellowship, and affections, for a small group or clique group, within the church. As a local church family we are to find ways to demonstrate our affections towards one another, and especially those you don’t normally associate with in the local church setting. These ties in with what Paul said above. “Outdo one another” showing honor towards one another, especially as the days are evil.
James was very clear about this in his letter. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” James 2:1-9
If there is no partiality with God shouldn’t the
same be true for us?
According to Paul here, we are to distribute in harmony our affections to the whole body of Christ. The church must come first, and be harmonious otherwise everything we do outside the church isn’t going sound so good. (Like an out of tune guitar, an unskilled brass instrument player) Or….. Much like a piano, we have many different “keys” within the body of Christ, the church. Unfortunately, just as a piano’s keys can get out of tune and doesn’t produce the harmonious sound we expect, so too do we sometimes experience disharmony within the church. Just as it is important that a piano be re-tuned regularly by a professional, we too must be tuned by the Holy Spirit. It is only by doing so that we can stay in perfect harmony with our fellow believers.
Paul wrote that our tuning comes from the Holy Spirit, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Gal 5:17-26
What are some ways we can avoid
discord in the church?
Stop gossiping or spreading rumors about one another.
Remember why you're really here.
Keep reminding it's a ministry to serve one another.
Be humble and trustworthy
Lower your expectations
Treat people with respect
Stay in the Word
Welcome interruptions in your life for the sake of the family of God.
Do Not Be Haughty But Associate With The Lowly. (v16b)
“A haughty mind” literally means “minding high things”; Paul is referring to self-seeking pride. It’s not about me, myself, and I; we are to associate with the lowly, not because they are more important, but because they are needier. The church is not a cast system or nobility; Jesus was very clear about this to how we are to consider the lowly man or woman in the church. “He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" Luke 14:12-14
Jesus is not speaking about the act of itself,
but the motive of the heart behind it.
It’s not sinful to invite family, friends and the wealthy influential people to your dinner. It’s wrong when you invite certain people for self-serving reasons, where those who cannot fulfill that purpose, you leave out. “So why bother showing any interest in them, they offer you nothing in return” The haughty motivation is only self-serving, or self-seeking purposes. The self-important, the stuck-up, seek out others who will give them something in return, the same is true in the church, especially at it relates to money or donations. It’s easy to invite well-off people who can give at any moment, but it’s so much more to invite those who have no means for repaying us. The church isn’t about money or banking credit with one another, it’s a place where we treat each other by showing honor towards one another through spiritual growth.
Jesus said in Luke’s gospel, “And he said to them, "Take care, and be on
your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the
abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15. It’s
not about what you have in this life that matters; what you bring to the table,
your accomplishments. It’s
about the gospel transforming for my
lowly state. God sees the heart not what you own, have or who your friends
are. Why do I say that? Jesus would bring this to a point with a parable. "…The land of a rich
man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I
have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down
my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my
goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for
many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you,
and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward
God." Luke 12:16-21
Do not be haughty, proud or boastful, because Jesus extended His grace to the lowly when He came in the form of man.mMary sang what we call the Magnificent. “And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Luke 1:47-49. Mary was overcome that God would notice her, she had no earthly claim to riches, and she was inconsequential according the social norms of the day. The same is true in your life and in mine, God saw your lowly state, because of sin, and He rescued you from your wages of sin to give you eternal life.
Live Carefully To Never Be Wise In Your Sight. (v16c)
We read in Proverbs 3:5-7, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” And as John MacArthur said, “A conceited, self-promoting Christian is a serious contradiction. Every believer should be humbly submissive to the will of God. We are never to place any confidence in the flesh, or in my own wisdom.
Do not think your Christian life is more superior
to your fellow brothers and sisters?
Paul said, “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Phil 3:4-8
Some in their own wisdom believe if the church is more like me; it would be a better church. That’s wrong thinking. Just as, many think the greatest of the church is based on size of their attendance and giving’s. If this is how we gauge the church on the scale of spiritual health, then we are in danger of what Paul reveals here about man’s wisdom.
For example! Lakewood Church (Joel Osteen) is now the largest church in America with more than 50,000 members, according to ChristianPost.com. The 600,000-square-foot, 16,000-seat church is located in the former Compaq Center, where the NBA Rockets once played. What about…… The now closed Crystal Cathedral Megachurch, Founder Robert Schuller; North Point Church, Andy Stanley; Springs Megachurch, Manitoba; Church of the Glades, Florida, has 9,000 people to their weekend worship gatherings.
If asked, are these places spiritually healthy,
and gospel saturated churches? No!
If you investigate these churches that I have just mentioned, you find that they rely on man’s wisdom and secular means to draw and keep people in. But Prov 26:12 says, “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” James said, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:13-17
The wisdom you and I are to be seeking is this! Biblical soundness and faithfully serving Christ. Peter said we are to be in submission to His Word. “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:1-4. Our lives should be driven and shaped by the realities of the gospel. Our lives are to displaying authentic love for the body of Christ. What is the best way to apply these virtues in the Christian
life, in the family of God?
God has given you the transformed ability to serve others because of what the gospel has produced in your sanctified life. It’s supernaturally provided to you through the Holy Spirit because God loves you and desires you fulfill your calling. God has created to be part of a community, the church to serve and build upon already established Cornerstone, which is Jesus Christ. The church is not: a me, and you; and I will see you on the other side, or let’s do lunch, or I am praying for you, but in reality you are not concerned or do those things you say you do. We are a family that loves together, hurts together, prays together; sings together, come around the Lord’s Table together, and live life together. For one reason! The God who loves us with the gospel that saved you from everlasting destruction and torment. Like most things in life, this is neither quick nor easy. But when we make serving the body of Christ as our priority
you won’t be able to imagine life without it.