Saturday, July 25, 2009 Repent–An Editorial Sent to the BHP NewsChronicle
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
I am writing about the current state of affairs in America and the World. Things go better if people obey God and live by His Word. Think of a world where there was no crime, all were humble, we thought of others first, we loved and lived in justice, and we were all righteous. AIDS would all but die out in a generation because we abstained until marriage and were faithful to our spouse– of the opposite sex. But we are living in a time of lies and confusion. Truth has been subtly twisted, and now many of us have fallen for a new doctrine that calls evil good and good evil. A case in point is where the beauty pageant contestant was vilified for her righteous comments on belief in marriage being between a man and a woman, and the homosexual who proud of his flagrant sin seems to be lauded somehow. Let’s be clear, God’s Word defines right and wrong, and the scripture calls homosexuality an abomination (Lev 18:22). Gal 5:19-21 states that the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Here is a new doctrine that is false, and has crept in to our minds so that we accept it as God’s own doctrine– tolerance. God is holy and commands us to be holy. How tolerant was God of Sodom and Gomorrah when he destroyed them by fire for the same sin so many in America are proud. God is not tolerant of sin. We live under a new covenant, but we should not mistake forgiveness with tolerance. We who believe were bought with a price. If God was tolerant of sin in His presence, then Jesus would not have had to die. God will divide sheep from goats. Those who have believed and therefore followed Christ will inherit eternal life, those who don’t will inherit hell– eternal death. We have tolerated a slip into apostasy. We have tolerated lies and now we as a nation and world are about to reap what we sow. The generation in leadership and coming to lead are ignorant of the Truth– God’s Word is Truth. No one seems to read the Bible but preachers, and lies have infiltrated even our churches. Not all, but many speak lies, and so few us know to call them on it because so few of us know the word for ourselves. The way to fight lies is with Truth, and since man is corruptible we must look to God’s Word. If we always clam up, scared that we might offend, how will the Truth be heard.
We are loosing our rights, our standard of living, our freedoms, democracy at a blinding pace. We elected our government I think in part due to immorality, loss of a work ethic, lack of self responsibility, and foolishness. We have believed we can have something for nothing and that money grows on trees and therefore believing we can have entitlements without a thought to the fact that we must somehow fund these programs– and it will be by taxes. We are punishing ourselves by our own actions. The solution for America is to repent and to repent we must turn to the Lord and His Word and live by it. Until then, times will continue to grow worse. I want America to be a nation under God, we will not be unless we submit to Him. Some don’t want to be a Christian nation– shame on them!!
Posted by ggambre, 8:37 PM, Permalink Tags: christian-nation, repent
Comment (0) Sunday, July 19, 2009 The objective of war and life of a Christian The Simple Objective
I realized after my introduction to the war we are in that I got into deep matters, wishing to stress that we fight spiritually and in heavenly realms, by our fighting the will of the flesh. Satan desires the things of men rather than God. Our fight therefore has to due with our carnal mind and heart, and our soul as we must submit it to the Holy Spirit. To fight satan, we must fight the flesh– or to put it another way, the spirit of man–meaning the fleshly minded will of man that is disobedient and that wills against God. Not all fight satan spirit to spirit, but all fight the will of the flesh.
So, the church must fight to conform to the Spirit, and we must reach out to the unsaved– the lost– to bring them to Jesus and His salvation. I began to think of the fight we are in and the objectives. There is war strategy that says strategy requires an objective. Not only this, but the best objectives must be simple. To describe the fight we are in, and have been in, I realized, as a wise revelation from God, that it would require simply copying the Bible word for word. I could not describe the battle better than God, I could not leave out anything He deemed important, and it is clear that it is the handbook of our struggle. From early in the account of Eden, there is the fall of man, to the promise of Jesus that, “surely I am coming soon,” whereby we look forward to that day when He judges man and we inherit the promises, and the war is over. The struggle is from beginning to end, and we look forward to the day when those who endure to the end, will be saved.
So what is the simple objective or objectives of the large collection of scriptures we know is the Word. The bottom line of scripture is Love. The Torah– the law– is summed up, as Christ says: in loving God with all our heart, mind, body, and soul; and loving our neighbor as ourselves. God is love. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy. So how does that show the bottom line is love. In the Lord’s supper during Passover with his disciples before his death, He says, “This is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Now the testimony of Jesus, by John the Baptist, is that He was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is by his blood– a new testament. But why did he do this? He loved us. We love God because He first love us. God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. So we have grace by faith, but we would lose sight of the bottom line if we forget that it is because of Love. And so He loved us and he commands us to love Him and love each other. Now how does he command us to love? 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and loves God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
To be a child of God you must love God. Without love, you cannot be a child of God. It is a command to love God, and by the command we are children of God, but it is a command like telling your child to breath to live, he must breath to live or He dies. God commands love, but does not force it. We choose, but like the child, we spite ourselves to deny such love that God gave us. Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends. And so the command and the example.
This is the objective– to imitate Christ. Eph 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. We should walk as Christ. When he says He is the way, He is the example of how we should walk. He spoke the Word to us also, and obedience to this is also the Way. Hear and do. Referring back to love, the way we show love is obedience. John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. He also says that “Apart form me you can do nothing.” The objective of a Christian, who is in spiritual war by nature of his being in a world contrary to God, is to imitate Christ and the Father. This is done by love, which is evident, proven, and expressed by obedience. And by walking as Christ walked– Christ being not only an example but the perfect example. So Christ is the object of our worship, under the Father who gave Him all power and glory, but not only this, He is the example to look up to, and emulate. Not only is He the example but, (Heb 2:17) Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. He is the perfect example that cares and desires the best for us, in love
So the objective is to be like Jesus. This requires love. Love of God means obedience. He is the Way through this war. We will have eternal life in Him. He loves us, so we must love Him. He has conquered sin and death and the works of the devil. By faith we have the victory, and we will endure to the end by following in the footsteps of our master, and a lover that is closer than a brother– Jesus Christ our Lord. And the world will see our light shine and be drawn to the Lord by the change of our being, as we walk more and more like the Lord. Jesus we love you. Thank you God.
Posted by ggambre, 9:42 PM, Permalink Tags: gambrell, goal, greyson, imitate, love, objective
Comment (0) Monday, July 13, 2009 The War We Are In A prayer delivered on Friday, March 27, 2009 by Greyson Gambrell
at Shabbat Shalom Messianic Congregation.
Lord I pray a prayer asking you to prepare your children for war.
But I realized it is better to pray that we please You – even make You delight in your inheritance – even us your children.
But I pray for war, that we be prepared to fight.
We are perfected in praise – praise of You
I thought of the bottom line and your commands, of love.
Can we win with love?
Was not the command of love from the beginning – to love the Lord and love each other?
Did not these commands pass through the lips and tongue of our sweet Jesus? Sweet, but commander of Heaven’s armies.
I asked, “will this give us victory?”
You said, “Obey My commandments.”
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
When You were raised You conquered death and sin. Even our faith is the victory. You have already conquered, we have only to believe, to live out victory. Yeshua is victory.
But I persisted. What Lord, should we have to fight and be strong?
We have armor:
A helmet – salvation, hope
A breast plate – righteousness, purity covering a heart that yearns for water from the river of life in New Jerusalem.
Sandals – prepared to speak & speaking, declaring the Good News. Hosanna! Come to the Lord, His yoke is light.
A belt – binding, the truth – Thy Word is true
A shield – the shield of Avraham. I believe. Let me retain your Word to say no in evil & temptation. Yes to discerned wisdom and truth.
A sword – Your Word. Let me attack. God’s word is mightier than you. The sword I yield is greater than me. God Himself is in my hand to fight as long as my heart is true, and I am in His glorious hand. “How beautiful are the feet that bring the Good News.” Salvation is from Jesus.
What are our tactics, strategy? It is for God to have mysteries, it is for kings to know and search them out. Lord Your Spirit is our king. Reveal Your plan. Reveal Your battle plan.
Let us be clear on our mission as we need to know.
Let us obey without faltering, stumbling, willingly – like good soldiers.
My heart was content with this prayer. God is God. He knows all things, we will not fall due to His part in the fight. If we fail it will be due to our short comings. A righteous man may fall, but thanks be to Jesus, he will always rise. Why? True righteousness is from the Lord and Him only. Ask the Father and He will answer by touching His finger to your heart.
Ah Lord, my eyes tear up! Yearning does not describe it. You are my everything. Teach me to draw a bow and wield a sword, and in Your city to come, I will tell a tale of how I fought at the Lord’s right hand. Praise Ya. Hallelujah. Even so, come quickly!
The War We Are In
Lord willing, I plan to write the next few blogs about the spiritual war we are in. I have meditated on the subject and talked with others of faith and had some ideas crystallize about this war. It is spiritual in nature and real. By faith we know God, an invisible God, exists. Some may have doubts along the way that attack our faith. Maybe for a new Christian– or possibly even a more mature Christian– we could even question if there is a God. This is a fiery dart attacking us spiritually. Whether this is a person, demonic, or satan himself; we are in a spiritual war. But whether we believe or not there is a reality. There is a God or there isn’t. By faith we know it, we have spiritual eyes that see it, but even if we do not, God still exists. The same with spiritual warfare, we can believe it is real–which is proven in Scripture– or not, but it exists. Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Gal 5:16 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. I learned this in the KJV and I believe it stated the two “war” against each other. The original text in Greek is what determines the exact translation, but these are the sides of the war: God, and therefore His Spirit, vs. the flesh, and therefore satan. Note I do not say satan, and therefore the flesh. There was peace between God‘s spirit and mans flesh, while satan existed. Jam 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. And so, when Eve lusted after the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil– delighting in its appearance and desiring to be made wise–she bit the fruit, instantly birthing the first sin of mankind, and creating enmity between God’s Spirit and man. As it says in Col 1:21, “And you, who once where alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his (Jesus) death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became minister.” Now Eve and Adam had enmity in them when they sinned. Lucifer had fallen, but our enmity between our flesh and God’s Spirit had not occurred until our– mankind’s– sin had occurred. When we– mankind– were obedient there was no enmity between us and God’s Spirit and therefore no war. Satan had not attacked– or tempted– us, so he was enemy to God, but not us. But the Scripture says the flesh is against the Spirit. This came by our fall, and we too ate of the same fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, spiritually. How? By disobedience. So now the battleground is in us– our flesh. Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So our fleshly mind is against God, but as we stated Jesus reconciled in his body, by his death, us. So look, why do we still have a struggle if we are reconciled. We are now new creatures in God, right now, but we have not yet realized all things in Christ until we are resurrected in his likeness. As Paul puts it, “For the good I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” Rom 7:19 So we fight with our own flesh and its desires and lust, but when saved we are dying carnally, and living more and more to Christ. Remember how God said to Adam that “in that day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Adam–man– died spiritually that day, as he did not die in the body because he live many years afterward. So spiritual death is in man until reconciliation– by belief in Christ, and newness of life, by his blood; and the full reconciliation comes when we have a body like Christ‘s. Since that sin of Adam, we either are enemies of God and dead, and in communion with satan; or friends with God and alive in Christ, and in communion with God in the Spirit. But there still remains our flesh, that is contrary in its desires, that will be contrary, until we are resurrected or changed in the twinkling of an eye. Thanks be to God that we have a change from this filth of flesh we cannot be relieved of without God’s grace!!! We are born again, but we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, until our advocate with the Father judges righteously with grace– the Word that he spoke judges us, and he speaks to the sheep, “Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” So all this is to come to the point that we fight against the spiritual forces of satan’s kingdom in the heavenly places, but our souls, being one in Christ, as we are his body, fight this war in ourselves. I would not say “we have met the enemy and it is us,” but I do say we fight evil and satan by fighting the will of the flesh. How do we fight the will of the flesh? Mar 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.” The war we are in involves people. It is not in a battlefield on land, or at sea; no it is internal to people. It is a battle over souls: one, those in the church, the body of Christ, those who believe in Jesus, and two, over the souls of the rest of the world, the unsaved, who are in the power of satan, and who we should pray for and strive to lead to Christ. I want to define the war of a soldier of Christ. The enemy is the will of our flesh, satan, and the counter of Christ– the spirit of antichrist. We are one in Christ, and the world is one in the antichrist. We fight the will of the flesh, satan, and the spirit of antichrist by repentance in us– the church, and by proclaiming the gospel of God to the unsaved. 1 Jo 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 Cr 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. So what have we learned? The war is in people. It is between the will of the flesh and the Spirit. This is the battle ground of the prince of this world–satan. The goals are many, but fundamentally the Bible is about love. The war is over souls: ours, the truly believing, born-again, obedient, Christians, and the souls of the world– the lost, the dead. In the church we fight the will of the flesh by repentance, in the world by proclaiming the gospel. Both these require love of God and your neighbor. After all the sum of the law is love. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. We are to love our enemies!!! So we have identified our enemy– the flesh, satan, and the spirit of the antichrist, where we fight–within people, and the fundamental aim of our side of the war–love . The fight is flesh vs. Spirit, death vs. life, dark vs. light. Again I say, our victory is by faith. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and he did. We must believe, and this means obey the Word, and this faith, if we endure to the end, will see us to this victory. Jesus love conquered sin and death by his death and resurrection: let us take on his yolk, and learn from him–follow suit– and love. Jesus come!!!!!!!
Predestination or Freewill
A Biblical Point of View
Many people have a stance on this issue. No doubt there are differences between individuals and churches. My thought is that the denominations should strive to find unity in the Bible. It is ,after all, God’s word that is the final authority. We should always ask, “What does the Bible say.” If it has direct words or one can use reason to understand its precepts then we can be sure that God and his word are infallible and can be used for doctrine. 2 Tim 3:16 “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Eph 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” We are in the days where we are in a fight with Satan. How can we fight if all Christians are huddled each one to their own corner, not being able to come to unity, and many times not wanting to? We are brothers and sisters to Christ himself, if we obey him and humble ourselves to his instruction The Word. Christ is the Word in flesh. Let us make the attempt to sort out differences in between us using the Bible and his unifying Spirit that leads us to all Truth.
One such topic that seems to split the church is the topic of freewill and predestination. I see from what I have read in the Bible there is no need for a split or debate. My view, which is derived strictly from the Bible, and not based on church doctrine, is that—even if the two sides seem juxtaposed—those both exist and are not mutually exclusive.
Freewill is obvious to mankind. If Adam and Eve did not have freewill when they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then God being a holy and just God could not condemn them or even curse them because Adam and Eve would be solely under the control of God. If He let them be under the control of Satan, then God who decided that they were under the control of Satan could not hold them responsible but must hold Satan responsible. And for further example of freewill just simply look at your life. Aren’t you the one who makes your decisions? Many times I asked the Lord to decide for me what direction to take. Even then I feel that the Lord wants me to choose for myself. I can glorify God if I take this highway or this road home; what matters is do I glorify God either way. We are creatures made with reason and through our freewill we show our love toward God. It would be hard to fall in love with a robot because it wouldn’t choose to love you, but simply would always do what you command. We have trials and tribulation to prove our love for God. Enough said.
Predestination is a little trickier subject. Let us turn to the Word. Rom 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” There we find the word predestination and it tells us that God had made the decision beforehand of the destiny of Christians. Some believe that this means that in general the decision that a group of people would be saved and that they were predestined for glory. Let us dig deeper. 2 Thes 2:13 “But we ought to always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” God chose us in the beginning having foreknowledge and power of who would be saved. 2 Pet 1:10 “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,…” To elect is to choose and this means that God chooses his disciples. One could argue this means that in general God chose nebulously some group some how to be saved without choosing the individuals. This doesn’t make sense to me, but let’s see what the Bible says and what precedents are there in the Bible. In Rom 9:10-24 we see that individuals as well as peoples—like Israel—are chosen. “Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before their twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you ,O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” Some of us are the objects of his mercy and some are prepared for destruction. Jesus in prayer gives us his understanding of this in regard to Judas and the disciples. John 17:12 “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” One way to understand this is found in John 6:65, Jesus said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
So there is predestination in the individual and there is freewill—freedom to choose. How do you reconcile both? I think the difficulty stems from the fact we are not God and our little eyes don’t have the vantage point of almighty God. God enables us by his Holy Spirit, but our decision to receive his forgiveness, believe in Jesus and his saving death and resurrection on the cross, and live a life worthy of repentance is by freewill. With the view of freewill we see the need to be righteous and repentant. With the view of predestination we see the need for thanksgiving to the Lord for forgiveness and salvation. Praise God for his salvation. Pray for those not saved and that he would use you for bringing others to salvation. Live Love.
–As Christians we often throw around notions like peace without really pinning the concept down.
–We serve the Prince of Peace, but do Christians really have peace while here on earth?
–“Peace is the blessing of a lack of conflict, especially war.”
–Hopefully this sermon will help you to understand how you have peace in some ways now, and in other ways you are in a fight that won’t end until you inherit a new body in New Jerusalem.
–When God has peace on His terms then final peace will be found.
–There are four situations of peace that I will consider:
2. Between us and God.
3. Between us and the world.
4. Inside of us.
What about Peace from war
First: We know there will be wars till the end. Final peace from wars will only come when we go to be with Christ in paradise.
What about between us and God.
We serve the Prince of Peace—
Isaiah 9:6 (NASB95)
6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
John 14:27 (NASB95)
27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
–What kind of peace did He leave with us?
Romans 5:1–3 (NASB95)
Results of Justification
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
Notice He gives us peace with God, and yet there is still tribulation and therefore conflict.
–The peace referred to is peace between you and God.
–When you are born again by believing in the Gospel, the Gospel of peace, Jesus’ blood cleanses you of your sins.
–Before there was enmity between you and God, but because of Jesus death on the cross Peace is made between you and the Father–When you believe in Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:19–22 (NASB95)
19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—
Jesus righteousness is imparted to you and your sins are forgiven as far as the east is from the west.
What about with the world?
James 4:4 (NASB95)
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
2 Corinthians 6:14–15 (NASB95)
14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
This doesn’t mean to be antagonistic with non-Christians, but we have a fellowship with other Christians in the body of Christ, and we are in conflict with the world.
John 15:18–19 (NASB95)
Disciples’ Relation to the World
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.
19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
We should not compromise our principles to be diplomats; rather we are in a struggle with the world and the prince of the world—satan.
John 16:33 (NASB95)
33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
We do not hate or judge, but entrust our victory over the world to Jesus, and we fight in the right way.
Romans 12:18–21 (NASB95)
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We do not have peace with the world rather we fight according to the way Christ commands us, blessing instead of cursing and loving our enemies.
Finally, Christians have an internal struggle.
Galatians 5:16–17 (NASB95)
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Listen to the struggle of Paul:
Romans 7:19–25 (NASB95)
19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
What can we do to have peace in our selves when we have a struggle between our fleshly will and our inner man that wants to do the will of God?
Romans 8:12–14 (NASB95)
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—
13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
We can have more peace in ourselves as we conquer the deeds of the flesh, and bring ourselves under the control of the Holy Spirit.
When we are led by the Lordship of the Spirit we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit.
Lo and behold self-control and Peace are fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22–23 (NASB95)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
So what can we gather from all this.
We can lead others to peace with God
As far as the world’s relation with God, we can reach the world with the Gospel
Isaiah 52:7 (NASB95)
7 How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
As far as peace with the world, we can be peacemakers, and fight evil with good.
Romans 12:18 (NASB95)
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Psalm 34:14 (NASB95)
14 Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
Romans 12:21 (NASB95)
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
And as far as peace within we can submit ourselves to God.
Romans 8:6 (NASB95)
6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
If you feel a call to make peace with your heavenly Father, I want to invite you to make a decision to ask for God for forgiveness and simply believe that Christ, who was perfect, took your sins and became a curse for you on the cross, but was resurrected the third day, so that if you believe in Him you may have eternal life.
Numbers 6:24–26 (NASB95)
24 The Lord bless you, and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
Mark 2:21–22 (NASB95)
21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results.
22 “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
The Old is not like the New. It can’t be stitched together. One can’t be put in the framework of the other.
Galatians 3:21–26 (NASB95)
21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.
22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Deuteronomy 18:15–19 (NASB95)
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.
16 “This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’
17 “The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well.
18 ‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
19 ‘It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.
John 8:26 (NASB95)
26 “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”
Hebrews 8:7–13 (NASB95)
A New Covenant
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
8 For finding fault with them, He says,
“Behold, days are coming, says the Lord,
When I will effect a new covenant
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
9 Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers
On the day when I took them by the hand
To lead them out of the land of Egypt;
For they did not continue in My covenant,
And I did not care for them, says the Lord.
10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
11 “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
12 “For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.”
13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
Ezekiel 36:26–27 (NASB95)
26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Joel 2:28–29 (NASB95)
The Promise of the Spirit
28 “It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
29 “Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Galatians 3:2–5 (NASB95)
2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
New Covenant has to deal with your heart.
It has to do with God’s commandments written in your mind and heart.
It has to do with following the Spirit and putting to death the deeds of the flesh.
Galatians 5:18–25 (NASB95)
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Romans 8:1–14 (NASB95)
Deliverance from Bondage
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—
13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
The fulfillment of the Law is by faith in Jesus Christ.
Now life is given to us by living in the Spirit of God, the deeds of the flesh lead to death.
The commandment of God is not now the Law of Moses.
But where murder was a sin under Moses, the Spirit leads us to the same commandment written on our heart.
Judge for yourself, does God’s Holy Spirit lead you to kill.
We now have a permanent most effective sacrifice forever for our sin—that of Jesus on the cross once for all.
The new Covenant is by following the commandments of God, but not the letter of the Law of Moses, but by the leadership of the Spirit and His commandments written on our hearts.
Sunday, October 4, 2009 My Testimony
I told you that I was going to tell my testimony that changed my life, and I hope and pray that this won’t be misunderstood, but rather that it may be used by the Holy Ghost for your benefit. I do not want to make anything out of myself by pride out of this. That said, I don’t know anyone with a similar experience and for me to come to terms with these events has been anything but easy. My true intent is for more to come to salvation in the name of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Meshiach), and that the true church, those who truly believe and obey, to be stronger and stronger, built up even to the head which is Jesus Christ.
Here goes. I remember when I was young—maybe four—my mother told me the gospel—that Jesus was perfect and took my sins and died for me, and that if I believed, that I would have eternal life. I don’t remember things well, but this event I remember. I believed at that moment, and just knew that this word was true, and I believed in Jesus. I remember my reverend teaching me so that I could take communion. I started reading the Bible as early in life as I could read. As I recall, I listened to the minister preach beside my parents and was expected to learn from the message, just as they were.
I believed, but it seems to me now looking back, I did not have a living faith like I thank God I know I have now. To me, there seems that I saw a lot of scripture as rules to be obeyed—which they do contain—but now God’s Spirit is stronger than ever in me and I hear—spiritually—His voice. The best way I know how to say it is that I don’t have a heart of stone but of flesh, and I have a whole spiritual rebirth that I know started, since I was born, when I believed the gospel, but has grown especially after the events I’m going to tell you. I believe I started on this path young, but in my teenage days I lost joy, and I think I became legalistic, and I would say my heart was not yearning for the Lord like now, but maybe religion to me was mental. I do want to say, we are to love God with our minds and hearts, but I had lost the heart.
When I left home for the Navy, I lost more than heart; I became a vile man. Not initially. I attended church for a while, but that faded. Then I started drinking heavily, and this led to many other sins. Some, I wish to carry the knowledge of those events with me to the grave. I would debate things of God and Scripture in conversations on watch, but then would make the vilest comments to others soon after. I would curse using God’s name, and worse things–in my mind, beyond that. You may be asking yourself why even disclose this? It is because I do love as commanded—but the reason is not to follow some rule, but to tell you of the grace I have found, the peace, the reconciliation with the God of the Universe; I love because He loved me. And I want to tell you, it is real. Change is real. God, though invisible, nevertheless is real. I want you to know, I am certain of this, God and His movement in my life, is real, and I have felt God turn His face from me, and then I realized what was within me—that is, Him. These things you can’t touch, true, but every man knows he has a soul, and whether he lies to himself or seeks truth, the spiritual, the intangible, is just as real as the emotions we have, even though we can’t touch them.
I felt that I was mistreated in the Navy. Now, hopefully a little wiser, I know that I brought so much on myself. I was wrong and my attitude was wrong. I got out of the Navy and had a chip on my shoulder. I hated people. I hated corruption in people with authority. I wanted to be left alone, and I always was a loner in many ways, but now I was a true misanthrope. I attended college for a semester, and didn’t know what was happening, but I was losing my mind. I will say this ahead of time, I strongly believe that this whole episode was spiritual, yet I realize too, now, that I have manic-depressive illness, and at the core of this problem is that I can’t sleep without medicine.
I started having my reality change—my perception. I began to read things into what normally is just minutia, and commonplace. I was very lonely, and started self-medicating—drinking, just to sleep. I did well in school, except English, and was working part time, but my world was falling apart. All this was to change (transform) my character—my being. I have always hidden much of what I truly feel, and this trait became more and more difficult and amplified, because I couldn’t relate anymore to others. This forced me to confide in God later, but first God pushed me to Himself, by perception and events. I understand now that Jesus knew what was in man, and was lonely and had to confide and have His most deep fellowship with the Father. He being without sin had only One who understood His mettle and whom He could understand fully—to relate. I had to turn upwards about these things, not being able to relate to others.
One day in my dorm room, I felt the weight of God’s hand on me, and I was forced to my knees. There was no option but to kneel. I asked, “What do you want?” I had started reading my Bible, and had read in The Revelation, about letters to seven angels of seven churches, and Christ said something like, “He who has ears, let him hear.” I felt like I heard—that is, spiritually. I also read of two witnesses, and was moved, I believe spiritually, to do just that—witness. I was ‘in the spirit’, but also confused about many things, because as these things took place, I was under attack by the devil. Not to mention, to act on things that are not concrete, but by faith, is extremely difficult at first. Faith takes practice, and is strengthened by using it. Let me mention this, one can have faith in things not true, which I have in the past, but knowledge of God’s Word, discernment, true doctrine, and deep fellowship with the Holy Spirit—The Spirit of Truth, leads one to truth.
Anyway, I took off, left school, and believing people could somehow hear me, I began witnessing to the world, or so I thought, in my truck. I went driving, by faith, and had no destination in mind but went, I believe by the Spirit. One thing I know now, that I was trying to force things by faith, and God I believe did not grant me all of my requests, to teach me that faith in faith, however strong does not do anything for a Christian, it is faith in the source of all power—God. We can do nothing apart from Christ.
I drove around, and that night tried to sleep outside of Kingstree, SC. What happened this night has to be one of the moments of time that made an impression. I was praying, and felt haughty, that I was going to do spiritual battle with satan. One thing that is ridiculous is how I was a patsy to the devil, in how I lived an unrighteous life, and here, after reading a few passages in the Bible I felt I was going to take him on. I screamed into the night air, “Bring it on, bring it on…” Then as I lay upside down in the truck, looking out the window, I saw a demon or the devil gliding toward me. I felt his evilness, and screamed in sheer terror, “Jesus help me, Jesus help me…” I think the Lord did not rescue me immediately to teach me many things, but one obvious thing was to not be haughty. By the way, I want to urge you to fight the devil, but don’t play-act or come half-hearted or ill prepared. You must fight with all you have, and even then only by the power of Jesus and God can you succeed. Please listen to this. I felt my soul and his fighting within me, and dealt with his temptations for a period after this. I can’t describe the feeling that you want to crawl out of your skin when you fight a spirit within. This was to make me grounded in God, in His Word. Another point I want to make is that every Word from God is precious; you must believe in it and live by it as if it was water in the desert, or food in a survival situation. I can’t underscore this too much; it is your life. I fought with this demon or the devil—I am led to believe it was satan himself, and I used the armour of God described in Ephesians. Let me make a similar point, the armour there described comes by prayer and the Word. Cherish and live by His Word.
From there I went to the mountains in North Carolina, and ended up calling my parents I think the next night. I was in a state of mind where I was in deep concentration and in a spiritual state. That’s the best way I know how to describe it. After a while at my parents I was driven to leave—I believe by the Spirit. I say this because the only voice in my head has always been my own, but the origin of voices may be from God or another–maybe some tempter. So I do know the net outcome of this journey was for the strengthening of faith, hope, and love, and this is not from the devil; so I have to reckon by discernment and the witness of the Spirit confirming, that this driving force and purpose was from God. Again, hide the Word in your heart and live by it; we walk by faith not by sight. The just will live by faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. His Words are Spirit and Life. Listen to me!!!
I went traveling around the countryside praying and speaking out loud with no one in the truck with me. I realize now that at the very least God was witnessing to me. Also, I was sensitized to the end of time—at least things prophesized in The Revelation and throughout the Bible. I was shown many things during this time, and was to wrestle with God on the things shown me—that is, spiritually. I have seen one vision I know, and other than that dreams, and also the Spirit communicated to me through observation of things around me, or daydreams, or experiences due to perception, but mostly through wrestling with God on things, and without scripture these things would not hold the same validity. I say wrestle—I was not fighting, but I have felt a piece of the power of God that fully drained my whole being, and due to this, afterward, I grew stronger. I wrecked my truck in Illinois, and got a bus to Chicago, then to Montana. I rented a car to El Paso, walked to Juarez. I went to Chihuahua, then to Mexico City—all the time with the purpose of witnessing. I used to talk to people in parks, on the bus, on the street. By the way, I learned broken Spanish on the fly. Then I went to Chiapas, near Guatemala. I was baptized by two men in San Raphael, near San Lucas. Through men and God and His Word, I believe that baptism, is an act of obedience by faith, an answer of a new conscience to God, and it should be by water, and representing dying to ones sins and rising like Christ from the dead, the action should be immersion. It does not save, nor does it supersede the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, but some did not receive the Holy Spirit until this baptism, and by obedience, when some did, they underwent this Holy rite. Jesus being perfect, not needing any cleansing, was baptized in the Jordon, to fulfill all righteousness, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him, for an example to us. I learned this in Mexico.
I began to wonder at what I was doing, and hadn’t called my parents since leaving. I regret what I did to them, and my reason that I didn’t want them to interfere because they didn’t understand what was going on, did hurt to them. I went back to Mexico City and called home at the Embassy. I reached an uncle and they got a flight for me back to the States.
Back home I went through a very difficult time, even under medication, and remember one night where I saw much revealed—things from God, and, the devil knowing this, and being the pervert he is, I underwent great temptation and I believed many false lies and false ways. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Him. God’s Word is true. Salvation is of the Lord. Listen to me!!! I was led as by a nose hook, to even believing I was God, and then later the devil. Don’t be misled; learn the Way from God’s Word. There is no other Way, none, there is no other Way, all other ways lead to destruction, outside darkness, gnashing of teeth, weeping, torment, and one’s part of the lake of fire. Be grounded in God’s Word. Please listen!
After this God allowed me to resume some normalcy, and be able to work. I was medicated, and could sleep. I worked as a carpenter some years, and went back to school, studying physics. I remained focused on the Bible. I had some times when I was moved by the Spirit during this time. One time was right after 9/11. I fought with the devil this time also, and fell again. Not eternally, but I don’t know how to describe how one can fall into such starkly wrong doctrine, but I did, and I know that I had studied the Bible and believed all my life, but was found lacking. You do not know the wiles of the devil, until you have fought like this. Live by God’s Word! Since these things, I believe if you ask people about me, I think all will have to say I am a spiritual man, but also I have love—true love. I write these bogs out of love. My glory is God. My everything is God. My concern for you is Godly. I saw these things and went through these things for a reason. The times ahead—even now—are not good. The tempter is after your soul. You may want to ignore the Holy Spirit, and be lost. I have seen enough of Hell, not having even really been there to know that I don’t want any part of it. And the Hell I went through was temporary, so it is no Hell at all. But more than the negative of Hell is the abundant life in Christ Jesus. To learn of the Father, marvel at His Way, swim in His love, feel and be in his indescribable peace, know true joy, be free of sins gripping and binding shackles, to have hope, to relish in the joy of all that He is and that He makes His home in you. I am a witness to the change God has made in my soul and heart. I felt the pangs of evil seep into my heart when I believed in anything but God’s truth, but I feel the burning of the Holy Spirit, full of love and truth and freedom and joy, now, a spring of water coming from within, welling up to everlasting life. The satan would like you to think that what I am saying to you is nonsense, and smoke and mirrors, a jumble of words to make oneself feel good and positive. But listen, the Good Shepherd calls His sheep, and knows them by name, and His sheep know His voice. Spiritually, do you feel a yearning to love God? When you hear truth, that Jesus—being the only one who could take your sins, and pay the price for you, because He was perfect, and that, not to hold sin in your face but to love you forever, do you hear it. Man, hear it!!! Live by God’s Word!!! Love God!!!
I only hope that what I have gone through you can learn from, and that Jesus longs for you to come to Him, and find Him. I love you Lord Jesus.
Main Purposes and Roles of the Church
Greyson M Gambrell
Theology Ministry 504
June 11, 2011
The church has many directives and commands concerning its operation and reasons for existence. Just like there are many commands and instructions for believers in the Scripture, there are many commands and instructions for the church, the believing body of Christ which consists of gathering together of believers in Christ. The Greek ekklesia comes from ek kaleo, which means to call out, and has come to mean assembly. The corresponding Hebrew has the meaning of assembly, congregation, gathered and called out also. Thomas Oden makes a great point that “there is nothing more fundamental to the definition of the ekklesia than that they are loved by the son with a love willing to risk all for the beloved.” (see Eph 5:25). As one looks for the root and underlying theme of the Bible and God’s main point, one see’s that salvation has a common thread throughout. More underlying and giving reason to God’s plan of salvation is the fundamental principle of love. God is love. The law and the prophets hang on loving God with all one’s heart, mind, strength, and soul and loving one’s neighbor as one’s self (see Matt 22:40). In the New Testament, Jesus directs us to love one another, just as He has loved the disciples at that time and loves all of them now (see John 15:12). Christ’s followers are to not only love themselves but love others outside of the church (see Matt 5:46). We are even commanded to love our enemy (Matt 5:44).
In analyzing the main purposes of the church, certainly loving up, in, and out seem to be fundamental to its purposes and roles. In Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, he understands “the purposes of the church in terms of ministry to God, ministry to believers, and ministry to the world.” Certainly the action carrying out the love up, in, and out is through ministry. He names the ministry to God as worship, ministry to believers as nurture, and ministry to the world as evangelism and mercy.
These seem logical as the main points of the purposes of the church, but there are some functions of the church that also apply as functions of the church. For instance, the administering of the sacraments is fundamental to the church. Perhaps this could fit under love of God, but it does not fit nicely to the three ministries of love up, in, and out. Luther even defined the church as “the congregation of saints in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the sacraments rightly administrated.” Also seen in this quote of Luther preaching, seems to be a fundamental purpose for the church. This may fall under nurturing or edification, but is so clear as a role it deserves special notice. In loving one another the church must have fellowship koinonia and have sincere and real brotherly love for the bretheren. Church discipline falls under edification, but is more than reproof by peers and deserves inspection individually. Collective prayer and intercession are important in the various roles of the church. One purpose that rises from the relationship of God with man is the fact that the Holy Spirit indwells the church. This is a role that rises from the loving intimacy of God with His church. Finally, the church has an enemy and is in a fight with satan and his host, and without a choice must be engaged in spiritual warfare.
So essentially there are three main purposes of the church: worship, edification, outreach; but also sacraments, preaching, fellowship, church discipline, prayer, housing the Holy Spirit, and spiritual warfare are also functions of the universal and local church. The next to last mention of the Holy Spirit is not due to its importance. It is the Spirit that really enables the church to fulfill the other purposes. Millard Erickson in Christian Theology writes, “Dwelling within the church, the Holy Spirit imparts his life to it. Those qualities which are his nature and which are spoken of as the fruit of the Spirit, will be found in the church: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). The presence of such qualities is indicative of the activity of the Holy Spirit and thus, in a sense, of the genuiness of the church.” The church has unity and identification and purpose because of the Holy Spirit. Without God’s Spirit the church is another social gathering. It is a function and definition of the church that God dwells in man by the Holy Spirit.
Stanley Grenz comments on worship, “We are to be a worshipping community, offering to God the glory due His name. For this reason we may appropriately speak of the church as being gathered to worship.” Worship is important in its own rite. Grudem puts it this way, “Worship in the church is not merely a preparation for something else: it is in itself fulfilling the major purpose of the church with reference to its Lord.” Worship in the Old Testament was for the praise and exaltation of God. In the Psalms and The Revelation and elsewhere worshippers are represented as recognizing and declaring His greatness.
Edification and nurturing are the aspects of loving one another in Christ. This is done by preaching but as Erickson phrases it, “Note that edification is mutual up building by all members of the body, not merely the minister or pastor.” There are many vehicles for edification. Obviously preaching and teaching in the church are some. This is the primary means for instilling and maintaining the common commitment to shared values and mission of the church community. Luther says, “The surest mark of the true church is that in it one hears the pure gospel proclaimed.” Most assuredly if the truth is being preached, then people should be in the process of being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This is done by preaching against sin and for change brought about by instruction on how to live and what to believe. This is by exposition of the Word of God and is a necessary function of the church. This was also modeled by Jesus as He taught in the synagogue.
Edification should also be done by members as they help each other in their walk with Christ. Part of edification is when the churches members minister to the needs—both material and spiritual—of each other, while sharing burdens, encouraging and admonishing, and nurturing. Education and teaching are also means of edifying by instruction other the pastor (see 2 Tim 2:2). The Koinonia calls for Christians to work together, have fellowship, and edify one another in this fellowship, up to the head which is Christ. Christians are to love each other and build each other up so they are more Christ like. We are to share each other’s burdens and help each other when one is struggling.
Something that is obvious to edification but often neglected or ignored is the importance to have church discipline. The point of discipline should be edification and especially redemption. Brad Harper and Paul Metzer explain in Exploring Ecclesiology:
While Christ’s grace is a fierce grace demanding repentance and life change, it is grace nevertheless. As the gospel of God’s grace in Christ is no shallow system of behavior modification, neither is church discipline. Grounded in the gospel, it is always a call to respond to the unconditional holy love of God. Only when church discipline arises out of this foundation can it be redemptive.
Church discipline is Scriptural and was described by the Lord as recorded in Matthew 18:15-17. Jesus describes rescuing a brother from sin by personally accosting that person by a lay member, not the pastor. Then the protocol is to get more to confront the sinner. Finally the church must excommunicate the person for a season. This function is part of the church and is like a person cutting off a cancer it is necessary to continue on in health. Calvin believed that “love for one another required just and nurturing discipline of the church body.” This is a role that some churches seem not to show outwardly. So much apostasy is tolerated today that the true recourse for sin is not taken when really church discipline is necessary for the bride to keep herself. This is a purpose of the church as much as worship, even though neglected, because the redemptive work of Christ is expected to be practiced by the church as His body.
Evangelism is clearly directed by Jesus to the apostles and disciples of Christ by the Great Commission and in the period of the forty years after the resurrection. This, according to Grudem, is the primary ministry that the church has toward the world. Certainly, the truth of this statement lies on the everlasting importance of the nature of spreading the Gospel. Evangelicals simply equate “evangelism with the verbalization of the good news, asserting that the outreach mandate of the church lies squarely on the task of declaring the gospel message throughout the world,” according to Grenz. If the Church does not evangelize, Erickson goes on to say, “it will become spiritually ill. For it will be attempting to function in a way its Lord never intended.” The final goal of evangelism should not just be saving people, but making disciples that are taught to obey all Christ commands. The church is always within one generation of being extinct. The attitude of Christians in America is evident how within one generation the climate toward Christianity can claim. China is an example how powerful a simple message of Jesus Christ’s Gospel is hard to keep down even in a climate of repression and persecution. These purposes of the church do not necessarily have a priority but should we neglect the evangelization command we are sick and that local church is set up for death if there is no influx of new believers.
Part of outreach to the world is also simply ministering to the outside world with service. Grenz writes: “our task, however, is not limited to the expansion of the church’s boundaries. Rather, it includes sacrificial ministry to people in need. Outreach, therefore, entails service.” George Boardman mentions, “It is the mission of the church to serve God by serving man. The church is a workshop, a teacher, a reformer, a peace maker, an up builder; in brief the church is God’s agent in administering His kingdom on earth.” This falls under Paul’s eagerness to help the poor, and James’ description of the church taking care of orphans and widows. This is hands on ministry, and as a witness to the world waiting to criticize the church, it is hard for someone to speak ill of acts of mercy and righteousness in love.
The sacraments of God are given by God for the church to administer. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two essential sacraments that God has given for members of the church. Baptism is for a confession to God and pledge of a new conscience to God that the individual believes in the Gospel and that that Christian identifies with Christ in the death and resurrection of Christ by the act of Baptism. It is an initiation in to the church. The Lord’s Supper is the remembrance of the sin sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the fact that one has eternal life and forgiveness of sins by the body and blood of Jesus. Communion is the central sacrament because of its center being on the Gospel of Jesus.It may be arguable that there are other sacraments, but at least there are these. Thomas Oden writes, “the right and proper use of the sacraments is a sign of authenticity in the church.” Oden relates how Luther argued “(against medieval scholasticists) that only word and sacraments are necessary to the existence of the church, and (against left-winged spiritualists) that without word and sacrament there can be no church.” The number of rites given to the church to follow are not many, but the ones given where given by the instruction and example of Christ and therefore must be reverently and obediently observed. It is left to the church as a function for it to administer. This is an extremely important function of the church to obediently carried out.
Finally, the act of spiritual warfare seems to be left out of the purposes of the church by many of the writers of systematic theologies. Perhaps it is included under some other section of their writings. It is a de facto situation that the church is in spiritual warfare with satan and his hosts. Part of the function is to fight not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. Jesus, immediately after being baptized and in many ways beginning his ministry, was led to the wilderness to fight the temptations with satan. This fight was not just defending ones faith by resisting temptation, but was offence by use of the sword of the Spirit by use of the word of God. Christ as our example shows that we must fight against the wiles of satan by spiritually fighting. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church but that does not mean it will not wage a great war against Christ’s church. If satan fought against the King, what about His kingdom. I think that this purpose is ignored to our harm. It is our command to overcome evil with good, that does not change the fact that it is an all out war with satan and his forces. The victory is by Christ and is attained by the church by faith. If the church ignores that it is in war with satan, then it is deluded and obviously cannot fight effectively.
These purposes are not all inclusive, but through research it seems that it covers many of the purposes of the church of Christ. The church is the body of Christ and is the beloved bride of Christ. The body, as the wife, should look to the husband as a faithful wife seeking to be obedient to her husband. We are to be about fulfilling the role of becoming a chastened bride and we should fulfill all the functions and purposes of the church. The better the church understands the purposes why it exists and what functions is entrusted with, the better it can please God and function well as Christ’s believers and body inhabited by the Holy Spirit. With God’s help the church can fulfill its purposes and functions and please God who is the head of all things. Many churches focus on just worship. There are many purposes of the church and the church would do well to see to all facets of the responsibilities are seen to and addressed. Studying this subject is very informative about the nature of the church and sheds light on what the church is to be about daily and when gathered. Faithful application of effort to these purposes can make the church more effective and will definitely make the church more healthy and powerful.
Boardman, George. The Church. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons,1901.
Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998.
Grenz, Stanley. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1994.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.
Harper, Brad, and Paul Metzer, Exploring Ecclesiology. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009.
Oden, Thomas. Systematic Theology. Peabody, Ma: Hendrickson, 2006.
Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christ Theology. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2008.
 Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), 265.
 Thomas Oden, Systematic Theology (Peabody, Ma: Hendrickson, 2006), 273.
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 867.
 Grudem, 865.
 Erickson, 1049.
 Stanley Grenz. Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1994), 490-91.
 Grudem, 867.
 Erickson, 1066.
 Erickson, 1064.
 Grenz, 472.
 Oden, 299.
 Grenz, 496.
 Brad Harper and Paul Metzer, Exploring Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009), 176-77.
 Don Thorsen, An Exploration of Christ Theology (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2008), 323.
 Grudem, 868.
 Grenz, 502.
 Erickson, 1063.
 Grenz, 504.
 Ibid, 505-06.
 George Boardman, The Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons,1901), 45.
 Harper and Metzer, 358.
 Ibid, 362.
 Oden, 300.
 Oden, 272.
How to Remain Connected to the Vine: A Plan to Sustain Spiritual Health
First, I think one key is to accomplish the work that God sets in front of oneself as this sustains one spiritually. Jesus said He had food to eat that the disciples didn’t know about, this was to do the will of the Father. This does not mean that a pastor has to fill all the roles that everyone has in their mind for them, but His job is described in scripture and involves caring after the Lord’s flock. I have a busy schedule now, but the work I do involves training in this Masters of Ministry program. I try to learn with all my ability the useful things in each course so I may be a better witness. The things on my plate I try to do in the name of the Lord and I think that means to the best of my abilities and in His strength. I think the Lord sustains a person to do the chores set before one and actually it spurs one on to do more because it is the will of the Father. The key I think is that the will of the Father may be to delegate and let disciples step up to do certain tasks, to enable a pastor to be in the Word and have a lot of devotion time to pray.
Prayer and time in the Word are essential to everyday life for a Christian. I can tell when I feel dry spiritually. I need His Word to nourish me and I need communication to commune with God and draw close to the Lord. Praying sets a person up for God’s guidance and presence in one’s life. A man or woman of God must be men and women of prayer by definition. I think that scheduling a set time on the calendar to pray safeguards that time and ensures time for this foundational activity of a man of God. I think that it is important that the instruction of praying without ceasing, which takes discipline and the Holy Spirit, be something always something to be pursued. I fall short in this command, but when on a walk or in the car or even while at work or recreation one should be in constant prayer. There should be time set apart for prayer but on the other hand prayer should be a constant in all times. I think that Jesus modeled needing time that He withdrew and that this was a special time of prayer. My plan is to set apart a chunk of time to pray each day, and not only this, but if I feel dry or emotions telling me I need a special time of withdrawing then I know that I need to do just that withdraw and pray. Even fast if need be. An Olympic athlete goes all out in his training and doesn’t apologize for doing what is necessary to assist in him winning. As men of God we sometimes still want to leave one foot as regular people and one foot attempt to be spiritual when proper. I think that living like Jesus and walking like He did is by nature radical and we need to do radical things like seek God through fasting and prayer by withdrawing and other ways to seek God in a deep way. The Spirit intercedes with groans and so often we want to damper our yearning for God because it may be misunderstood and it is not normal. Right now I want to chisel out a half hour devoted to prayer and shoot for more than that each day. This is very important for me now as I am very busy, but also take advantage of times when I can pray all during the day also.
I think time to read the Word and let God speak to one’s soul is vital. Blocking out time for this is important because a preacher who is not being shown precepts and truths from God is not in tune with what the Spirit is desiring that the preacher share with God’s flock. I am not a preacher now but I am dry spiritually without God pouring out His Word into my heart. I need time daily to be searching and seeking in God’s Word. I want to try to be more disciplined and schedule time in the morning to read and in the evening also. I am more alert in the evening but I think that starting the day with the word is very important and is a way I fall short. I read how Billy Graham read five Psalms each day I think in the morning. I have always looked up to Billy Graham as a true man of God.
I think devotion to education about the Bible and subjects that can assist one in their witness are important also. For instance, learning Hebrew and Greek, and maybe another language to speak to others about the word is a goal of mine.
All this also requires time to decompress and rejuvenate and right now I am trying to walk about a half hour each day to help keep my body in shape, which is not the case now. I think that entertainment is important to a limited degree. I find TV useless and actually temptation in many ways. I think that it is important to have interests that one can do to enjoy life, but it is also important to prioritize these under God’s work.
I work at a cabinet shop and am keeping myself busy reading and painting and many other pursuits. I believe God has me where He wants me. I’m just glad I’m His.
Hey. Making cabinets and active in church. I am a deacon and teach Sunday school. Helping my uncle Bruce. Learning piano (key board). I thank God for good days. Love all my friends. Jesus is the Way. Don’t go through life and miss the only way to eternal life. Love y’all. Greyson