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The Great Exchange For Service – intercession Part 10 of 5 – Digging Deeper into the uncompromising Gospel of the Kingdom of God – Don’t allow division to cause you to settle for crumps when you can have a full course meal

#TheGreatExchangeForService #Gospel #compromise #conformity #motivational #motivation #prosperity #historical #GospelOfTheKingdom #GoodNews #maturity #kingdom #division #separation #command #believers #behavior #faults #peace #joy #righteousness#intercession #unity #peace #disunity #pride #Christian

Subject – The Great Exchange For Service – intercession Part 10 of 5 – Digging Deeper into the uncompromising Gospel of the Kingdom of God – Don’t allow division to cause you to settle for crumps when you can have a full course meal

OTAKADA.org content count 42,338

 

25thof November 2018

 

Blog link:  https://www.otakada.org/the-gospel-of-the-kingdom/ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Dear Brethren, welcome to our 10 of 5thseries dealing with division in body of Christ predicated on the different versions of the gospel of the Kingdom of God in our midst. We will drill down the various versions of the gospel message out there and how the bible explains what the gospel of the kingdom of God really is with the intent that it will help us discern, engage and intercede for the misled brethren. We have put together five (5) versions of the gospel messages that does not pane out with the true gospel message and how we should handle them.

 

Let us start with the bible… 20 bible referencesprovided hereunder for your reading and meditation to help drill the message home…

 

Key verses:

 

Galatians 1:9 – If anyone preaches any gospel to you than what was you have received, let him be accursed.

 

Matthew 4:23New King James Version

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

 

Luke 4:43Contemporary English Version

 

But Jesus said, “People in other towns must hear the good news about God’s kingdom. This is why I was sent.” 

 

Act 10:38

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him

 

Matthew 12:28

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

 

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you

 

Matthew 19:24

And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God

 

Matthew 21:43

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits if it.

 

Matthew 24:14 New King James Version

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come

 

Mark 4:10-12,26-32

10-12 When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people—

Whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing,
Whose ears are open but don’t understand a word,
Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven.”

 

26-29 Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!

30-32 “How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.”

 

26 And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should [f]scatter seed on the ground,27 and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. 28 For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

 

30 Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”

 

 

Acts 1:3,7

To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of things pertaining to the kingdom of God.7 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 

Mark 16:15-18

 

And He said to them, “God into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved: but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe; In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

 

Galatians 5:19-24 The Message (MSG)

19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

 

 

Romans 14:17

17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 

 

1 John 3:8

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

 

Luke 10:5-11,16

But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the labourer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘the kingdom of God has come near to you.’

But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’16 He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.

 

John 6:28-29,33,35,51

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he comes to Me shall never thirst. 51I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

 

Matthew 6:9,10

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 

 

Matthew 7:15-16

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

 

 

Continued…

Many religions have their own “gospels,” and they announce good things. However, they lack supernatural power to deal with people’s sin and rebelliousness and to transform their lives. They lack the power to heal a sickness or to deliver someone from mental or emotional oppressions. They are substitutes for the true gospel.

Even in much of the church, parts of the gospel message have been diluted or abridged into various human versions that lack power.

 

In some cases, these human versions are even anti-power. The message of the gospel of the kingdom is not being presented as it was by Jesus and the early church. These significant elements have been left out: A call to wholehearted repentance and manifestation of God’s presence by healing, signs, wonders, the casting out of demons, and the raising of the dead. As a result, the church has become accustomed to hearing an incomplete gospel..

 

Paul said in Galatians 1:9 – If anyone preaches any gospel to you than what was you have received, let him be accursed. As we call believers to unity, it is imperative that we all work from the same biblical perspective. God wants to restore the true gospel in the church, so that the good news can be preached to the world as it ought to be. Let us look closely at what we have out there.

 

1 – The Historical Gospel

 

Many Christians of various denominations are fixed in a historical, traditional gospel that lacks the presence and power of God They believe in a God of history but not in a God who is with us today – a God  whose name is in the present tense: “I am who I am”. IF we can’t bring Jesus to the here and now, then His death, resurrection, and ascension to the throne at the Father’s right hand in heaven have no meaning or purpose for our present circumstances.

 

2- The “Future” Gospel

 

The mentality of much of the modern church is to present a gospel that simply proclaims forgiveness of sin so that a person can go to heaven when he or she dies. Although that is certainly part of the good news, it is not the whole gospel of the kingdom. It says nothing of reigning with Christ on earth now with dominion authority and power.

Other believers reflect a different aspect of the future gospel. They believe that God can bring healing and deliverance to the people on earth. Nonetheless, since their mind-set is always that God “will” do these things, they never receive or minister them. For example, they may say, “I believe that God will heal, deliver, prosper and bring revival at some point.” In other words, it will happen later, at an unspecified time in the future. Yet God is the God of the now. It is true that He acts according to His sovereignty. However, these believers keep waiting for something that God has already promised and that Jesus has already provided through His death and resurrection

 

3- The Social Gospel

 

While the “future” gospel focuses on heaven, the social gospel centers exclusively on the earth; its advocates seek to relieve societal problems, such as hunger, poverty, and injustice. Addressing people’s physical needs and concerns is central to kingdom living, because God wants us to love others as He loves us. However, they often downplay or ignore the spiritual element of a relationship with God the Father through Jesus His Son. They do not seek or rely on God’s supernatural power, through which people can be healed physically, emotionally, and mentally, and through which they have access to God’s abundant provision, power and strength. Therefore, they do not present the complete gospel.

 

 

4- The Gospel of Conformity

 

This human “gospel” leaves people in a spiritual stagnant condition, unable to move forward, retaining their sin and never regaining their authority in Christ. It neither deals with the rot of rebellion nor challenges people to change, so that they are left in sickness, scarcity, and oppression. A gospel that doesn’t produce change is contrary to the kingdom message of repentance that Jesus preached, and it fails to bring about the transformation that Paul urged believers to actively seek.

 

5- The Motivational and or Prosperity Gospel

 

This is a “self-help” gospel in which God’s Word is spoken without power; the cross and the resurrection of Jesus are not proclaimed, and the supernatural is absent. It is a gospel adapted to what people want to hear, and it fails to confront them with the destructiveness of their sin, in an effort to avoid offending them. Its main purpose is for people to walk away feeling satisfied with themselves and encouraged to reach their personal goals. While it is good to have goals and to accomplish them, Jesus came to announce much more than that. (Matthew 6:33)

The gospel of the kingdom lovingly confronts us with our iniquity and challenges us to live in holiness through the resurrection life of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus message does not leave us comfortable in our sinful nature.

 

The other version of the motivational gospel is the prosperity gospel. Please understand that God promises prosperity, and He wants to give us His provision and abundance but if all we think about is money and material goods, forgetting holiness, prayer, and serving others, then we have put the cart in front of the us.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

In concluding, churches and ministries that don’t preach the gospel of the kingdom produce a complacent Christianity. They make no room for the supernatural, and they do not believe that all things are possible with God. This is precisely why we do not see the manifestations of God’s power in the church which is the evidence that God is at work in our midst.

 

As we engage with our brothers and sisters in small groups,  fellowships and churches, we need to discern the type of gospel at play.  We need to lovingly point out these issues while praying for our brethren that the veil be removed from their eyes that they will walk in ALL that Christ came to give us all and proclaim aright to the world around us. But to abandon and not engage with other believers is folly and recipe for disaster waiting or already happening in our midst.  

 

We travel the whole world to get a convert and make them sons and daughters if the devil. Jesus’s rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees apply nicely here.. Matthew 23:15– “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves… Message says – “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him, you make into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.

 

Prayer:Our heavenly Father, as we seek the unity of the Spirit amongst the brethren, open our eyes to discern the wolves in sheep’s clothing amongst us as in Matthew 7:15 Luke 10:3. We ask that You expose them for who they really are. If they are unrepentant, we as that You silence them for Your name and Your work sake.  Grant unto us boldness and courage to confront and to pray for our misled brethren to amend their ways. As we humble ourselves and are willing to learn from you, help us to stay through to the authentic gospel message to the very end. As many that seek the manifestation of Your power and presence to heal and deliver, Lord visit them today, give them the revelation of You. Heal the sick, provide for those who lack and bring comfort to the brokenhearted in Jesus name we have prayed with thanksgiving.

 

Shalom!

 

Monday Ogwuojo Ogbe – E-discipleship at Otakada.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Great Exchange For Service – intercession Part 10 of 4 – Disagreement and Division over Lifestyle differences between Younger and Older believers – How do you handle it? Criticism

#TheGreatExchangeForService #criticism #maturity #division #separation #command #believers #relationship #worship #hair #dress #behavior #faults #peace #joy #righteousness#intercession   #unity #peace #disunity #pride #Christian #grace #humility #problem  

Subject – The Great Exchange For Service – intercession Part 10 of 4 – Disagreement and Division over Lifestyle differences between Younger and Older believers – How do you handle it? Criticism

 

OTAKADA.org content count 22,337

 

18thof November 2018

 

Blog link: https://www.otakada.org/the-great-exchange-for-service-intercession-part-10-of-3-solving-the-problem-of-disunity-by-the-corinthians-example

Introduction

Dear Brethren, welcome to our 10 of 4thseries dealing with division in churches especially between the older and younger believers in Christ over differences in lifestyle and how these breeds toxic criticism amongst the brethren that causes division within and between churches and how best to handle it. Issues like day of worship, what one eats or drinks, how one keeps the hair or dresses has divided churches. Let us look at what Jesus and Paul has to say about these in scriptures below to help provide core content relevant to this challenge and how these issues were dealt with then and how we can apply them now to foster unity in the body of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key verse:

Matthew 7:3-5 The Message (MSG)

A Simple Guide for Behavior

1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor

Romans 14:1- The Message (MSG)

Cultivating Good Relationships

14 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

2-4 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10-12 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,
    “every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
    that I and only I am God.”

So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

13-14 Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

15-16 If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

17-18 God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

19-21 So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

22-23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

 

Conclusion:

Divisions in churches often occur when disagreements over lifestyle issues grow into major arguments and church splits. Paul warned the church not to pass judgement on younger believers whose faith is still young and growing. The kingdom of God is about goodness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Anything outside this is of the evil one. Jesus went on to emphasis the importance of assessing our own stand, confirm that we are standing before we are qualified to point at other’s faults and failings. What we eat, what we wear, how we dress, where and when we worship should not divide us.

Prayer:Dear Lord God, thank You for the simplicity in walking with You. Help us to be led by Your Spirit always and not to be a stumbling block to others in the race of faith. Your Spirit is love, joy and goodness. Cause us to do an internal audit of ourselves continually so we can stand blameless before you. Help us to open ourselves and welcome all who names the name of Christ and extend the heart of love in Jesus name we have prayed with thanksgiving.

DECLARATION

By authority in the name of Jesus Christ, I speak to every raging storm in the lives of those who are reading this blog today, I join my faith with theirs, be it in relationships, health and finance, we proclaim peace be still, be healed and be restored in Jesus name we have declared with thanksgiving

 

Shalom!

 

Monday Ogwuojo Ogbe – E-discipleship at Otakada.org

 

 

 

 

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The Great Exchange For Service – intercession Part 10 of 3 – Solving The Problem of Disunity By The Corinthian’s Example

#TheGreatExchangeForService #Corinth #grace #division #separation #command

#intercession   #unity #peace #disunity #pride #Christian #resources #grace #humility #problem #https://www.otakada.org/the-great-exchange-for-service-intercession-part-10-of-3-solving-the-problem-of-disunity-by-the-corinthians-example

Subject – The Great Exchange For Service – intercession Part 10 of 3 – Solving The Problem of Disunity By The Corinthian’s Example

OTAKADA.org content count 14,336

11th  of  November 2018

Blog link: https://www.otakada.org/the-great-exchange-for-service-intercession-part-10-of-3-solving-the-problem-of-disunity-by-the-corinthians-example

 

Key verse:

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

  1. Now I am calling you over, brothers, 

       on account of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 

               in order that you might keep speaking the same thing 

               and that there might not continue to be divisions among you, 

               but that you might be mended 

                      through [having] the same mind 

                      and through [having] the same opinion.

  1. for it has been shown to me 

               concerning you, my brothers, 

               by the men from Chloe, 

               that quarrels continue to exist among you.

  1. Now [what] I’m saying is this: that each of you are saying,  

        “As for me, I am of Paul,” 

        and, “As for me, I am of Apollos,”

        and, “As for me, I am of Cephas,”

        and, “As for me I am of Christ!”

  1. Christ has been divided!

               It wasn’t Paul who was crucified for you, 

               neither were was it into the name of Paul that you were baptized!

  1. I’m thankful to God that I baptized none of you 

               except Crispus and Gaius,

  1. in order that no one might say that you were baptized into MY name.
  2. Now I did also baptize the household of Stephanus. 

               As for the rest, I don’t know if I baptized anyone else.

  1. For Christ did not commission me to baptize, but rather to evangelize – 

               [and that] not by sophistication of words, 

               so that the cross of Christ would not be nullified.

Some Illustration to reflect on:

Tuning fork: A.W. Tozer, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to be come ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” (The Pursuit of God)

  1. The Problem – introduction:
  2. Situation in Corinth 
  3. The church in Corinth was divided over a lot of issues:
  • They were arguing about whether or not Christians could eat meat offered to idols, 
  • They were arguing about whether or not Christians could marry, 
  • They were showing off with spiritual gifts in order to prove that some were more spiritual than others,
  • People were interrupting public worship by disorderly conduct,
  • They were aligning themselves behind one Christian leader and criticizing the rest of the people in the congregation who were aligned with a different Christian leader,
  • They had a feminist group vying for power, 
  • Even during communion, they were dividing into rich people at one table and poor people at another,
  • and Christians were suing each other in the public courts.
  1. Since Paul had planted the church in Corinth, he had kept tabs on the church:
  • Paul seems to have paid a second visitto Corinth before writing his epistle, For in 2 Cor. 12:4; 2Cor. 13:1-2, he speaks of his intention of paying them a third visit, implying he had already twice visited them. 
  • During his three years’ stay at Ephesus he could have easily hired one of the many ships that travelled between Ephesus and Corinth and revisited his Corinthian converts. 
  • This second visit was probably a short one (compare 1 Cor. 16:7); and was probably painful and humiliating to Paul as he saw (2 Cor. 2:1; 2 Cor. 12:21), the scandalous conduct of so many of his own converts. (JFB)
  • Apolloshad gone to Corinth with letters of commendation from Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:28-19:1), but apparently left because of factions in that church (1 Cor. 1:10-12) and returned to Ephesus. When Paul urged Apollos to go back, he declined (1 Cor. 16:12).
  • Paul then sent Timothyover to Corinth to put an end to the factions (1 Cor. 4:17), but the outcome was uncertain (1 Cor. 16:10.)… 
  • Some of the household of Chloewho were familiar with the situation in Corinth had also brought word to Paul in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:5-7)
  • The church in Corinth also had sent a committee(Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus) to Paul in Ephesus.
  • And Paul had also already writtena brief first letter to the Corinthians directing them “not to associate with fornicators.” (1Cor. 5:9-12) That letter probably also mentioned the fund-raiser he was organizing for the poor in Jer­usalem (1Cor. 16:2) So 1st Cor. is actually Paul’s 2nd letter to them.
  1. Verse 12 mentions 4 factions in Corinth: For the most part we can only guess:
  • “I am of Paul” party:
  • May have been people converted under Paul’s ministry
  • Perhaps baptized by Paul
  • Probably liked systematic theology because that’s how Paul taught
  • Probably also were hard-core about the Gospel for Gentiles
  • Paul also had refused to be supported by a patron, but rather worked for his living at Corinth, so he may have been the blue-collar working-man’s apostle of choice
  • Apollos Party: 
  • From Alexandria, Egypt – maybe black.
  • Came after Paul and baptized people. “I planted, Apollos watered” (3:6).
  • Preferred his teaching style – philosophical, rhetorical, eloquent.
  • Maybe like a Barak Obama.
  • Cephas Party: 
  • Aramaic for Peter (Jn. 1:42).
  • The “real” apostle.
  • Probably name-droppers, not representative of Peter himself.
  • Probably Judaizers (Gal 2:11-14), who insisted that Gentile converts get circumcised and follow Jewish food laws and customs.
  • Christ Party:
  • Perhaps they weren’t willing to submit to any of the apostles.
  • Perhaps they thought they could hear straight from God and didn’t need the Bible.
  • Perhaps like the Christian Church of today, they got fed up with everybody’s denominationalism and conflicting creeds and tried to form a non-denomination which had “no creed but Christ” and turned into just another denomination.
  1. Archaeology and house church size in Corinth
  • Some amount of splitting up would have been natural in a home-based church. 
  • Romans 16:23 – Gaius’s house was where the church in Corinth initially met. 
  • Thistleton cites archaeological evidence that churches in that era tended to break up and meet in two different homes once they got up to 40 people in attendance. 
  • Dividing into multiple meeting places because no one place is big enough for everybody to meet is fine. 
  • There may even be cultural reasons to preserve and enjoy different historical worship traditions. 
  • But splitting over schools of orthodox doctrine or splitting over interpersonal conflict was not o.k. in Paul’s book.
  1. Clement testified to continued divisions in Corinth in 95AD
  • First Epistle starts, “The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.
  • …we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be universally loved, has suffered grievous injury…
  • (Chapter 45) Ye are fond of contention, brethren, and full of zeal about things which do not pertain to salvation. Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit… Why are there strifes, and tumults, and divisions, and schisms, and wars among you? Have we not [all] one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ? Why do we divide and tear to pieces the members of Christ, and raise up strife against our own body, and have reached such a height of madness as to forget that “we are members one of another?” Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how He said, “Woe to that man [by whom offences come]! It were better for him that he had never been born, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my elect. Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones.” Your schism has subverted [the faith of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all… 
  • Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved. But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the renown of your far-famed brotherly love. It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession, that such a thing should be heard of as that the most stedfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumour has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves.
  • (Chapter XLVIII.) Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end to this [state of things]; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love… Let a man be faithful: let him be powerful in the utterance of knowledge; let him be wise in judging of words; let him be pure in all his deeds; yet the more he seems to be superior to others [in these respects], the more humble-minded ought he to be, and to seek the common good of all, and not merely his own advantage.
  1. We see here some of the solutions proposed by Clement of Rome, a godly man a generation after Paul, but let us look at what Paul himself writes in I Cor. 1 about the solution to this problem:
  2. God’s solution:
  3. Fight against church splits by maintaining a unified front and working to be mended in the same thinking patterns.
  4. The father of Alexander the Great perfected a fighting technique that made the Macedonian army almost invincible. It has been nicknamed the “Turtle” formation, because the soldiers would form patterns where everyone’s shield was positioned facing the enemy so that the whole army was covered by a “shell” and not vulnerable to arrows. 
  • Imagine what would have happened, however, if two soldiers were to get mad at each other and turn their spears and shields to face each other? They would then become vulnerable to the enemy’s arrows because their shields wouldn’t be facing the enemy anymore. As Christians, we need to maintain a unified front so that we don’t get taken out by our own in-fighting.
  1. Paul’s words in v.10 are literally “keep speaking the same thing” rendered “agree” in the modern English versions.

 

  1. Paul uses a term for mending fishing nets (Mt. 4:21) toward the end of v.10 – translated “perfectly joined together/united/made complete” in some versions. The word means “to put in order, restore to former condition” . 
  2. How do we get this restoration?
  • By being of the “same mind and same judgment/opinion/purpose/intention/thought.” 
  • This means that Christian unity is a thinkingunity, not a mindless ecumenism. 
  • We achieve that unity by studying the same Bibletogether and coming to the same conclusions on the major issues together. It is unity in knowing sound doctrine.
  • Calvin explains that the “same mind” means having the same faith in God, and “judgment” means having a will to loveyour brother.
  1. God’s Call to unity in:
  • John 17 – Jesus prayed that His people would be one as He is one with God.
  • Eph 4 – One lord, one faith, one baptism
  • Phil 2 – have this mind in yourselves which was also in Christ…cross
  1. Solution #1: Maintaining a unified front and growing together in the same Biblical thinking patterns.
  2. Keep Christ central rather than yourself.
  3. ILLUSTRATION: Tuning fork: A.W. Tozer, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to be come ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” (The Pursuit of God)
  4. v.10 “I exhort/beseech/appeal to you by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
  5. v.13 – “Is Christ divided?”
  • Absurdity of a cutting Jesus in half and the two halves doing different things
  • “We murder, to dissect” – William Wordsworth
  1. “Was Paul crucified for you?”
  • By this bit of humor, Paul puts the focus back on the centrality of Christ
  • We were redeemed by Christ in His death. When you were baptized into Christ, you were enlisted under his banner and will never have any other spiritual lord.
  1. “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
  • Baptism was to be in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Mt. 28:18ff – not anyone else.
  • It doesn’t matter who baptized you. It doesn’t matter if that person was a fake Christian who left the church later. What matters is that you received the sign and seal of your covenantal relationship with God.
  1. “Jesus is enough. He is substantive enough to be the basis of your unity… If [you] would be Christ-centered instead of people-centered or issues-centered,  disunity will take care of itself.” 
  2. Preach the cross rather than getting involved in intellectual rabbit-trails.
  3. Don’t get off on the rabbit trail of baptism. Keep the cross central. Some of us were immersed, some were effused, some were sprinkled. Some here were baptized as infants, others as adults. It’s over now; don’t get worked up over whether you got wet the “right” way. The Bible doesn’t teach us to make issue of how you were baptized. Christ’s work on the cross is what saves you, not your baptism.
  4. (v.17)  “not with sophistication/wisdom/cleverness/eloquence of words/speech lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect/void/nullified/emptied.”
  • Calvin: “No effect if… just eloquence and show… the teaching of the gospel… should savor of the nature of the cross… despised and contemptible rather than glorious in the eyes of the world… The … Corinthians were tickled with a silly fondness for high-sounding style, hence they needed… to be brought back to the abasement of the cross… the gospel in its simplicity without false ornament.”
  • In Corinth, the cosmopolitan merchants were using Christianity as a way to gain social status.This has been a problem throughout history. 
  • Today, missionary friends in majority-world countries have told us that most seekers want to become Christians so that they can move to wealthy nations and get wealthy. It’s a constant struggle to explain to people who come with worldly motives that becoming a Christian is about being a follower of Jesus. It’s about the way of the cross.
  1. Identify your unique calling and stick to it.
  2. “I was not sent to Baptize but to Evangelize” v.17
  3. Paul’s commission in Acts 9:15 does not mention baptism.
  • The chief thing for Paul was to make Jesus known to “Gentiles, kings, and the Children of Israel”
  • Doesn’t mean he repudiated baptism – Paul obviously baptized Crispus (the former president of the synagogue in Corinth) and Gaius and everybody in Stephanas’ house
  • (and, by the way, I Tim. 3:4 says that Paul considered a man’s children to be part of his house.)
  • Exposure of public to gospel is the first step, the apostolic calling. Church development happens after that – that’s apparently what Apollos was good at.
  1. What is your calling in life?
  • What have I noticed in the Bible that God commands me to do?
  • What do I love to do?
  • What do Godly counselors urge me to focus on?
  • What opportunities has God opened up for me already to do?
  • When these things line up, you can be confident that you have a calling.
  1. Once you are clear on your calling, don’t get distracted from it. Keep it front and center. This will help the church stay unified.
  2. Jesusis another great example of this kind of focus on calling. His calling was to save the world (John 12:47). He was perfectly capable of judging the world and being a great king, but He didn’t take that path when He was sure that His father wanted him to save the world through dying on the cross. While Jesus was suffering for our sins on the cross, He could have called a thousand angels to rescue him and kill all the bad guys, but He didn’t because He knew He needed to stick to His calling. Without His death there would be no church to call into unity.

Follow Christ’s example. Stick to your calling. Preach the cross. Get yourself out of the way and keep Christ central. And present a united front with your fellow believers by working to be of the same mind. And by God’s grace, this church will not break apart. 

Prayer: Dear Lord God, visit us today. Cause us to focus on You and what You stand for.  Help us to take attention off ourselves and let it rest on You. Help us to keep You central in everything that we do while allowing channels of engagement with our brothers and sisters in the faith despite our deferring styles and method of worship. You have a purpose and plan for every one of us that fits perfectly into Your grand plan. Open our spiritual eyes Lord to see and to pursue this without distractions and help us to present a unified front with our fellow believers always to the glory, honour and adoration of Your name, in Jesus name we have prayed with thanksgiving

 

Shalom!

Monday Ogwuojo Ogbe – E-discipleship at Otakada.org

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The Great Exchange For Service – intercession Part 10 of 2 – Subtle Issues that Divide Us and How to Respond

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Subject – The Great Exchange For Service – intercession Part 10 of 2 – Subtle Issues that Divide Us and How to Respond

OTAKADA.org content count 14,335

4th of November 2018

Blog link: https://www.otakada.org/the-great-exchange-for-service-intercession-part-10-of-2-subtle-issues-that-divide-us-and-how-to-respond

Key verse:

John 13:34-35 New International Version (NIV) – A New Commandment to All Believers in Christ

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Ephesians 4:14-16 New Living Translation (NLT) – You don’t have all that it takes, we need each other!

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Mark 1:23-27 New Living Translation (NLT) – The Devil is in Our church gatherings, dividing us – Beware! – Don’t open yourself up to manipulation by the evil one.

23 Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil[a] spirit cried out, 24 “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

25 But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.

27 Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!”

1 Corinthians 11:28-30 New Living Translation (NLT) – Don’t be in a hurry to take communion, check yourself, it can cause, sickness and even death! Don’t mess with God, God does kill Christians too! Remember Ananias and Sapphira

28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ,[a] you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.

2 Corinthians 10:2-8 New Living Translation (NLT) – Stop fighting in the physical!

2 Well, I am begging you now so that when I come I won’t have to be bold with those who think we act from human motives.

3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 [a]We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 6 And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

7 Look at the obvious facts.[b] Those who say they belong to Christ must recognize that we belong to Christ as much as they do. 8 I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority.

Dear brethren, welcome to the month of November and continuation of our second series on the need for unity in the body of Christ. We will be looking at those subtle issues that divide us and how we should tackle them. Enjoy the reading and take decisive action to engaging other believers as part of one body in Christ today! Our disunity undermines our message to the lost. There are many that are waiting on the sidelines to see sanity in us believers, don’t be seen as hindering Gods work of redemption among men.

While some divisions or disunity among Christians are obvious, others are subtler. Why does God allow it? Is it because He wants to make it hard on us? Or are the reasons as old as the church itself? Satan has always been involved in the church. It is notable that the first place Jesus cast out a demon was in the synagogue, which was Jesus’ church (Mark 1:23-27).

The devil has always been at work in the church. I guess he felt if he couldn’t beat them, he would just join them. His ways are subtle, so it is important to see how he has caused such division. With this in mind, let us explore the methods of this master tactician and how we can overcome his influence.

  1. Inability to Understand God’s Paradox

Honest people who are sincerely seeking God can come up with very different notions about the teachings in the Bible. This is because God has purposely put paradox in Scripture. He doesn’t want us to approach Him through knowledge, but rather through childlike faith. It is His paradox that confounds knowledge and the wisdom of the world.  Here are a few paradoxes in Scripture: law and grace; predestination and free will; one God in three; Christ as God and Christ as man; salvation by grace and work out your salvation with fear and trembling; judge not and he who is spiritual judges all things (Isaiah 55:8-9).

If I only believe in the law of God, I may become motivated by fear of God, which affects my intimacy with Him. If I only focus on grace, I may not fear the consequences of sin. Both sides of the paradox must be balanced by each other. The Corinthians received the message of grace and then began to sin with reckless abandonment. They believed they were no longer under the law. The result was death and sickness in the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 11:30). In the same way, Jesus taught us grace and love, but was unwilling to cast aside God’s law (Matt 5:17-19).

Every doctrine that divides the church has paradox in it. We will begin to know the true spirit of God when we can embrace both sides of the paradox by faith. Only then can we say all things are predestined and yet I have free will to choose. Only with God is such a thing possible. We say that we believe, with God, all things are possible, but then deny that paradox is possible. Childlike faith has no problem accepting the impossible. When Christians begin to appreciate each other’s viewpoints without feeling threatened, we will no longer be separated by the paradox of God; we will be united in the spirit of love.

  1. Confusion of Temporal with Eternal Principles

There is much confusion over temporal and eternal truths. As I stated earlier, many Christians want to argue over a particular viewpoint in Scripture without considering the passages in paradox to that viewpoint. Because we want God to fit into our logic box, we discard any nonconforming Scripture, or simply ignore it. If we acknowledge the opposite Scriptural reference, our doctrine must be modified to accommodate both Scriptures. In the temporal, God’s law is still in effect. By this I mean we have consequences by not following the law. I hear the principle of grace being preached from many pulpits, too often at the expense of the law. The grace is an eternal law that is applied to our eternal spirit, but it should not give us the idea that we can sin with no temporal affect.

In the natural, if you break the law, you will suffer the consequences. If you are speeding and you get a ticket, you might argue to the policeman that you are not under the law, but I doubt it would do any good. The eternal law of grace will keep us out of the lake of fire but will not keep us from the consequences of violating the law in the temporal. Obedience to the law doesn’t save us, but it will keep us out of a whole bunch of trouble. The confusion over law and grace has caused many Christians to be entrapped in sin and division (Romans 7:7-8).

Confusion over the temporal and eternal principles often divides the body of Christ. True wisdom comes when we can be gracious with brothers and sisters who have not yet come to a fuller understanding of the temporal and eternal truths. Jesus said to His church, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin (John 8:34). In other words, Satan can gain great authority in our lives if we reject the commands of Christ.

  1. Incorrect Motives of the Heart – 1 Cor 13:1-3

When did God ever make our relationship with Him and people about knowing all things, gifts of the Spirit, or pious acts? Too often we make fellowship too much about gifts, doctrines, good works, and sacrifice. According to the Scripture above, none of these things matter to God if they are not motivated by love. All gifts of God are wonderful, but they are not an evidence of a right heart. They should never be seen as a badge of spirituality. Even our sacrifices to God do not impress Him if we are not motivated by love.

The true mark of a Christian is not his knowledge or doctrine, but rather is the spirit of love. Satan has deceived Christians into believing that fellowship must be based on particular viewpoints and doctrines. How sad to see the division in Christianity because of differing doctrines. Too often Christians accuse one another of heresy, blasphemy and the like, thereby becoming an accuser of the brethren. We must be careful not to take on the role of accuser. This role belongs to Satan and we should always steer clear of it. If I am motivated by anger and hatred, how can I say the love of God abides in me (1 John 4:20)?

We need to understand that God is perfectly fine with differing levels of understanding. Not all children learn at the same rate or are they the same in gifts and personality. We should never be angry or hateful when a brother has been taught or experienced a differing view. There is truth in most doctrines, but perhaps the balancing paradox has been overlooked. One person may have come out of the bondage of fear and can only see the grace of God, while another may have come out of the bondage of anarchy and appreciates the discipline of law. One may focus on law while the other focuses on grace. One might be caught up in gifts while another might be focused on the Word.  Why should either focus upset us? Rejoice that they have received understanding of God’s truth, especially when they needed that part of the truth at a critical time in their life. 

Be patient and love your brethren and perhaps they will be more attuned to what God has taught you. Both sides can be wrong if motivated incorrectly. If my focus on the law is because I’m afraid God will get me, then I am really motivated by the spirit of fear, not love. If I take advantage of grace and violate the law, I am motivated by the spirit of selfishness, which has no love in it. The subtlety of wrong motives divides the body of Christ.

  1. The Religious Spirit – Luke 9:51-56

What is a religious spirit? A religious spirit is when we take the Word of God and use it to destroy others. It was the spirit of religion that found reasons to put Jesus to death though there was no evil in His actions. Too often we have been deceived into thinking we are defenders of the faith when really we have succumbed to a religious spirit. From the Great Inquisition to an argument in Sunday school, the religious spirit disrupts and divides.

The reason Jesus rebuked the disciples is because, in one moment, they threw out the teaching of Jesus to love your enemies and those who despitefully use you. Instead they wanted to kill an entire population of people in the name of Jesus. While they thought they were righteous, Jesus’ rebuke showed them that their true motive was evil before God. Think about it—they wanted to murder everyone in the village, including women and children, in the name of God!  

“When Satan spoke through Peter, Jesus sternly rebuked him as well. But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men'” (Matt 16:23). Peter had no idea that the thoughts that came into his mind were not his own. Jesus pointed out the true author of his words and would have nothing to do with them.

The religious spirit is a divider of the body of Christ. Its purpose is to cause us to be caught up in doctrines and disputes rather than yielding to the Holy Spirit of love (1 Tim 6:3-5 & James 1:12-13).

We are not approved by our knowledge of God or our doctrines; we are approved by what manner of spirit we are. Does the spirit of love rule your heart, or are you ruled by disputes and self-righteousness?

It is time for the whole body of Christ to come together to present a unified spirit of love to the world. The religious spirit is hated by the world. Even they can see it is full of hatred, murder, and condemnation. It is time in these last days to say, “I love my Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Charismatic, Methodist, and Pentecostal brethren even though we are all striving to better understand the paradox in Biblical doctrine.” None of us have arrived yet.  We all agree Jesus is Lord and it was God who sent Him to give us life eternal. Maturity in Christ is not gauged by the knowledge of God but by the Spirit of God in us (2 Cor. 10:5).

Prayer: Dear Lord God, we pray for Your body of believers today, by the authority in Your name, we tear down every subtle walls the enemy has built up between us to divide us and re-establish the wall of love amongst us because You said, people will know we are Yours by the love we have for one another independent of institution, creed, doctrine and unspoken rules in Jesus name we have prayed with thanksgiving. Make us one Lord in Spirit, Amen.

Shalom!

Monday Ogwuojo Ogbe – E-discipleship at Otakada.org