Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: July 2020 Page 2 of 7

A “Holy Spirit” Church

July 27 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 14-16 and Psalms 27

Chapter 14 clearly indicates how Churches ought to be functioning in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This means that individuals within the Church need to “step up” and function in The Spirit and that all Spirit-filled Christians should be encouraged in this direction.

What did the apostle Paul have to say about this? – “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” (1Corinthians 14:26)

This is how a “normal” Church service should be. We should have to put a halt to “prophecy” because too many people want to use the microphone. We should all come ready to edify the Church and we certainly should be praying in the Spirit to build up our faith. How do I know this? – The Apostle Jude says – “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 20)

Paul exhorts – “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (1Corinthians 14:15) – “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself,” (1Corinthians 14:4) – “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” (1 Corinthians 14:18)

By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul instructs that we should be speaking, praying and singing in the Spirit. This kind of “tongues” is simply a prayer language – people speaking to God, not to other people. There is also an utterance of tongues that can be used to address the Church. Tongues + Interpretation has similarities to Prophecy. Prophecy is the “speaking” gift that Paul encourages in the Church because the Church can easily understand it and be blessed.

In our Church, we use a microphone so that members can address the assembly and so everyone can be heard (without ruining their vocal chords) because “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” (1Corinthians 14:3) The outcome then is that we build ourselves up by speaking in tongues and we build THE CHURCH up by prophesying. What place then do the other spiritual gifts hold? Wouldn’t it be exciting if we all began using gifts of Healing, Miracles, Faith, Wisdom, Knowledge and Distinguishing between spirits within the Church and – OUTSIDE THE CHURCH Walls? You would not be able to contain the crowds if we began to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts”. (1Corinthians 14:1)

Questions:

1. When was the last time you functioned in one of the “spiritual gifts” Paul refers to?
2. Tell about it.

Dress Code and Attitude

July 26 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 11-13 and Psalms 26

The reason Paul’s teaching sometimes seems difficult for us is that we don’t connect his instruction with the context and time frame it was written in. In this section, Paul was trying to bring order into a Church were chaos ruled. He spoke to them about “dress code” and outward appearance of the men and women in the Church because the way they dressing had great significance. If a woman dressed and looked a certain way, she was advertising herself as a sexually provocative woman or a prostitute. If a man behaved or dressed a certain way, he was saying that he was effeminate. If men or women spoke out of turn in Church services, the entire gathering would become chaotic and this atmosphere would dishonour the Lord. These seemingly insignificant issues were causing problems in the church, and Paul needed to say something so that this assembly could better reflect the glory of God.

Leaving first century customs, dress code and culture aside, we can certainly draw parallels to our present day. We too can make a very clear statement about our attitudes towards life and the things of God by how we present ourselves. Our attitudes, appearance and speech give those who come in contact with us an impression of what a Christian is or is not. As individuals we are unique – we have a certain appearance – we speak with a certain accent or dialect – we may even dress in a unique manner according to our age group or customs of our culture. We also understand that the outward appearance of a man or woman is not nearly as significant as the inward appearance – (the heart). When people meet us, they should come away with the knowledge that there is something very beautiful on the inside of us – the presence of God. Moreover, the Holy Spirit also instructs us individually about our outward appearance. If you wore the colours and “uniform” of a gang member when you came to Christ, it wouldn’t be long before you changed your clothes in honour of your relationship to Christ. If you where a “tough guy” in leathers and chains when you came to Christ, you probably would alter your looks so that people would not fear you anymore but rather be drawn to Christ. The inside of us becomes like Christ and the outward man follows suit.

Communion must have been quite a spectacle in Corinth before Paul straightened the church out. Some people seemed to be bringing picnic lunches complete with lots of booze and having a “binge feast” before the Lord, while their fellow Church members went hungry. Paul told them they were doing more harm than good and that their “communion” was not communion at all. He even went so far as to say that if they were not “recognizing the body of Christ” – and that there would be increased sickness and even death among them because of it. He went on to tell them that collectively, they were the body of Christ. In order to have a proper communion service, all members of the body had to be honoured. Paul caps off this teaching by emphasizing that love for God and love for one another is what really holds a Church together – not the spiritual gymnastics this church seemed so proud of.

Questions:

1. Do we have other “dress codes” in our society that represent rebellion to God or certain sinful lifestyles?
2. What should a Christian “look like” in order to reflect Jesus and relate to the world around us? (Hint – What did Jesus look like? What did the Pharisees look like?

Spiritual Freedom??

July 25 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 8-10 and Psalms 25

The “spiritual freedom” that some of the Corinthian Christians were so proud of seemed to also have a dark side to it. They were boasting about the man who was sleeping with his father’s wife! – Why? – “Because we are all under grace. – All things are permissible for us – don’t you know.”

They were eating food sacrificed to idols because they were “free”, but in the process, some of the brothers were falling back into idol worship – thinking that they could mix idolatry with God-worship. They even seemed to be getting drunk at communion because they were “not under the law” -– “For as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. – One remains hungry, another gets drunk.” (1Corinthians 11:21)

Some time ago, a man came into our church foyer and confronted our pastor, telling him that he smoked pot, got drunk and did all kinds of other things because he was no longer following the “*#”+#^* church rules” – he was under “grace”. As Pastor tried to gently correct his thinking, the man got right up in his face telling him that he didn’t have to listen to any of this “#*^%#”. We somehow persuaded him to quietly make his exit but not before getting a good dose of Corinthian Church deception. There is a very sad ending to this story as the man in question died a very premature drug-induced death as a direct result of his “spiritual freedoms”.

Are we not free in Christ? OF COURSE WE ARE! – Of all people, we have true freedom – freedom from sin and death and judgment – freedom from guilt and bitterness that consumes people – we are free from the grip of the kingdom of darkness but have become slaves of righteousness. We are free from the clutches of the devil and free from the chains that once bound us. We are free to love as Jesus loved us and free to walk in purity. The grace of God gives us the ability and the motivation to say no to sin – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12)

I know I’m preaching to the converted, but we need to be aware that there are all kinds of twisted doctrines out there. Consider, for example the re-occurring news reports of polygamy and the twisted thinking that goes along with it. Without clear thinking and Godly leadership people are prone to believe a lie. Let’s keep praying for all those who stand in the pulpit every Sunday morning – that their teaching would be the pure and simple Word of God preached with power and authority!

Questions:

1. Give another example of people who were deceived by overstating or twisting what should have been “sound doctrine”.
2. Describe how ordinary Christians can have overcoming grace. Hint – it has something to do with pride.

Meddling!

July 24 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 5-7 and Psalms 24

Talk about meddling! This book is certainly an indicator of how “straight-up” Paul was in his teaching and direction to the churches he had planted. He exposed specific sins publicly, corrected the Christians on issues from their private lives (lawsuits), told them to clean up their act in the area of sexuality, let them know that they weren’t really saved if they continued in sin (1Corinthians 6:6-99) – then dove right into the very private affairs of marriage, celibacy, and how the Corinthian people should view these things. His philosophy was simple enough, “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are.” (1Corinthians 5:6-7)

The analogy of yeast is profound because it is the same “illustration” God gave to the Israelites when they celebrated Passover. Everything about this feast, including not using yeast for their bread, was a reminder to the Jewish people that they needed to get rid of sin and be without impurities in their lives.

It is obvious to me that Paul was very serious about HOW these believers were living their private lives. We, on the other hand, live in an age where Pastors are “not allowed” to speak about certain things for fear of offending. This ought not be the case. I’m not suggesting that Pastors “bully” people towards Godliness, or that we should be disrespectful towards people’s private lives – but it is clear that Paul had a vision of the Holy Church of Jesus Christ. It was to be a Church, functioning in godly ways. For Paul, this meant that he needed to keep challenging people to live right. He didn’t wait for them to respond to the “promptings of the Spirit” – if there was sin in the Church then he dealt with it in a very straightforward manner. This seems to have been a pattern in the New Testament Church – whether it was Peter confronting Ananias and Sapphira, or Paul confronting Peter. Nothing seemed too private to be kept quiet if it was going to harm the Church.

How does this all boil down for you and I? I believe that we should not “let things slide” in our lives. We need to be accountable to the Holy Spirit so that the Church can be victorious. There is no victory where sin runs rampant. Revelation 3:14-19 reads, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”

Questions:

1. What is the “balance” between Pastors being respectful of Church members yet challenging the Church to live right?
2. Paul is clearly “judging” the Church in these chapters – how does this approach fit with his teaching in Romans 14:4-13, where Paul forbids judging our brothers?

Growing in Christ

July 23 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 3-4 and Psalms 23

Look out! The Corinthian Church is getting a disciplinary lecture from Paul! Why? – Because of immaturity – they should have known better by now, and they were not doing it right. How could Paul tell they were acting immaturely? Simple – “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?” (1Corinthians 3:3)

Do you want a real lesson in Christian maturity? Go to 1Corinthians 4:5 where Paul instructs, “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

It’s the “motives” of my heart that God takes interest in. Think of what Jesus taught:

– Matthew 5:22 “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”

– Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

– Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

– Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

– Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,”

– Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”

– Matthew 6:17 “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,”

– Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life”

– Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

– Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

All the important moral teachings of Jesus focus on heart issues – motive issues. God wants our hearts – He wants to write His Law of Love on them – He wants to squeeze our hearts – He wants to put His very nature there – He wants us to become like Christ in our hearts and in our motives. What room is there for petty things like jealousy and quarrelling and gossip? None! – for we have been made new. As Children of God, and not “mere men”, we have to get past our petty, worldly mindset. Yet, Church after Church suffers serious hurt because of worldly attitudes. If we have been purchased of God – if we have been washed – if we have received the Holy Spirit – if we understand the nature of Christ and His Holy Gospel, our faith WILL grow enough so that we start doing what Paul taught in this passage.

Questions:

1. Examine yourself and see if there is any jealousy, quarrelling or gossip in your relationships.
2. How have quarrels in the Church affected you in times past?

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