Thursday, February 28, 2013


Deeply Moving Testimony

Friday, February 22, 2013


Life Anglican Church

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 So the body is not one part but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But now God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. 19 And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? 20 Now there are many parts, yet one body. 21 So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” nor again the head to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, all the more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have a better presentation. 24 But our presentable parts have no need [of clothing]. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, 25 so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. 26 So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. Every church is a miracle. Every church brings together people who are different n so many ways and who otherwise could not get along because of skin colour, cultural differences, educational and personality differences, and brings them together in a fellowship and love that is beyond the capacity of mere humanity. There is a supernatural element involved, as God has called out (Ekklesia) a people for Himself from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). It is at the level of the local church that the great realities of God's purposes in Jesus Christ receive visible expression in the world. There are three important truths about life in the Body given in 1 Corinthians 12 by God. In fact, no healthy church can function without all three of these truths or characteristics 1. The UNITY of the Body: There is only one body of Christ, and only one Head of the Body. The unity of Christ's Church is not a unity of organisation or denomination. It is not a uniformity of thought and life-style. It is a unity produced by the Holy Spirit, who draws every genuine believer in Christ into His Body and establishes his place there. Therefore it is a unity of a common life, given to us by faith in the Lord Jesus. The unity of Christ's Church is a reality which transcends all of the barriers and divisions caused by men. But it must be emphasised that only those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation are part of the Body of Christ. It is quite possible for a person to be a member of a local church or denomination, and not be part of the Church, the Body of Christ. From 1 Corinthians 12, what has happened to each believer that has given them this unity together? What does “13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” mean? 2. The DIVERSITY of the Body: While believers are "one in the Spirit" they are not all the same, for "If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?" The Lord has given each believer a distinct­ive gift or gifts. We are not all the same, for which we may thank God, and the beautiful variety which exists in a local congregation is divinely intended "for the common good" (1 Cor. 12:7). A recognition of this Spirit-given diversity will give us a proper perspective on spiritual gifts. A man who has public gifts must remember that those gifts were sovereignly bestowed by the Holy Spirit and afford no basis for pride. Someone whose gift may seem less significant must remember that, just as every part of the physical body is essential to its proper functioning, so also every gift and every believer is vital and necessary. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that there is a Diversity in the gifts and ministries that God wants us to recognise. We can make two errors; a. being envious of someone else’s gifts b. despising another member of the body of Christ. What correctives does God give us in this passage to these two errors? What effect would these two errors have on the local church if we do not correct them? How may we correct these errors in ourselves, and among others that will provide unity in our diversity in the local church? 3. The INTERDEPENDENCE of the Body: To put it in plain words, we need each other as believers. Because no single believer possesses all of the spiritual gifts, and because another believer has been divinely gifted in an area of our need, our lives are bound together in a connected web of mutual ministry. This is a great New Testament truth. How does the illustration of the Body display the interdependence of the members for one another? Where have you noticed the interdependence of the members of the church working well at LIFE Anglican church over recent months or years? How may we encourage that interdependence at Life Anglican church? Unity, Diversity and Interdependence 1. Unity Organism Unity This unity of which scripture writes is not one which the Christian needs to create, but one which already exists and must be diligently preserved (Eph 4:3). It is based upon our sharing life in one body, the universal church, the body of Christ. All Christians are sealed, possessed, and indwelt by the same Spirit and look forward to the same hope. We possess one Lord, that is, one Supreme Commander, one common faith held by all Christians, and one baptism. Organised Unity Unity, although it cannot be created by the Christian, must be preserved by him. This is to be diligently pursued by an attitude of humility (seeing ourselves as God does, unworthy recipients of His grace). Our humble spirit should be demonstrated by a gentleness and graciousness in our dealings with others. This gentleness should be longsuffering, patiently enduring prolonged irritation. The love which we have for one another should prompt us to put up with the eccentricities of our fellow-Christians. As Ironside put it, “lovingly putting up with all that is disagreeable in other people.” Unity does not imply uniformity. It does not mean that all Christians will think alike or perform identical ministries. It does imply a common purpose and interdependence within the body of Christ. 2. Diversity To every individual within the body of Christ is given a particular capacity for ministry. This capacity (or capacities) is commonly called a ‘spiritual gift.’ Although the particular function involved may not appear to be particularly ‘spiritual,’ the outcome is spiritual benefit to the body of Christ. For example, there is seemingly little difference between writing a check to the mortgage company and one to say Dallas Seminary. The difference is that in giving to the seminary, men are being trained to teach and preach which will bring growth and blessing to many Christians. The man who has the gift of helps may fix the washing machine of one of the saints, not only meeting a very real need but saving money which can be used in the Lord’s work and bringing real encouragement and blessing to the one helped 1. Spiritual gifts are given to every Christian: “… to each one of us was given …” (vs. 7). 2. Spiritual gifts are a gift of grace: “… grace was given …” (vs. 7). 3. Spiritual gifts are a token of the victory of our Lord over Satan, wrought by His incarnation, work of atonement, resurrection and ascension (vss. 7-10). 4. Spiritual gifts are not given primarily for the benefit of the individual, but for the edification of the entire body (vss. 12-16). 5. Spiritual gifts are not contradictory to Christian unity, they are complimentary to it (vs. 16). Calvin put it this way: “No member of the body of Christ is endowed with such Perfection as to be able, without the assistance of others, to supply his own necessities.” Discover Your Ministry Dedicate Your Ministry Develop your Ministry Deploy your Ministry Point How to Discover my Ministry (Romans 12:1- 8) Step 1: Dedicate I urge you ... to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -which is your spiritual worship. (vs. 1) What aspects of our lives should be dedicated to God? Step 2: Eliminate "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. " (vs.2) What patterns of life need to be eliminated from our lives? Step 3: Evaluate For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. How may we sensibly evaluate our gifts and abilities? Step 4: Cooperate Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one Body, and each member belongs to all the others. " (vs 4-5) Implications from Paul's Anatomy Lesson; (See also 1 Cor. 12:1-3 1) · Every member is a minister in Christ's Body. · Every member has a different function. · Every member's ministry is important. · Every member belongs to the others, How might cooperation with other believers lead you to discover what God wants you to do with your life? Step 5: Activate "We have different gifts, according to the grace God has given us... prophesy... serving... teaching... encouraging... contributing .. leadership... showing merry..." (vs.6-8) What do you need to do to get started in your ministry? 3. Community Harmony (Interdependence) = Community CONNECTING PEOPLE TO ONE ANOTHER The gospel creates community. Because it points us to the One who died for his enemies, it creates relationships of service rather than selfishness. Because it removes both fear and pride, people get along inside the church who could never get along outside. Because it calls us to holiness, the people of God live in loving bonds of mutual accountability and discipline. Thus the gospel creates a human community radically different from any society around it. -Accordingly, the chief way in which we should disciple people (or, if you prefer, to form them spiritually) is through community. Growth in grace, wisdom, and character does not happen primarily in classes and instruction, through large worship gatherings, or even in solitude. Most often, growth opens through deep relationships and in communities where the implications of the gospel are worked out cognitively and worked in practically in ways no other setting or venue can afford. The es­sence of becoming a disciple is, to put it colloquially, The essence of becoming a disciple is, to put it colloquially, becoming like the people we hang out with the most. Just as the single most formative experience in our lives is our membership in a nuclear family, so the main way we grow in grace and holiness is through deep involvement in the family of God. Christian unity is more than just a supportive fellow‑ ship: it is an alternate society. And it is through this alternate human society that God shapes us into who and what we are. THE FUNCTION OF COMMUNITY It is natural to think of "community" as a category separate from evangelism and outreach, or from training and discipleship, or from prayer and wor­ship. And of course, we have done this by calling it a distinct ministry front. But to do so can be mislead­ing. Community itself is one of the main ways we do outreach and discipleship, and even experience communion with God. COMMUNITYAND OUR WITNESS Community shapes the nature of our witness and our engagement in mission. The real secret of fruitful and effective mission in the world is the quality of our community. Exceptional character in individuals cannot prove the reality of Christianity. Atheism, as well as many other religions, can also produce individual heroes of unusual moral great­ness. Though such individuals may inspire us, it is all too easy to conclude that these individuals are just that — extraordinary heroes who have set unat­tainable standards for the rest of us. What atheism and other religions cannot produce is the kind of loving community that the gospel produces. In fact, Jesus states that our deep unity is the way the world will know that the Father sent him and has loved us even as the Father has loved him" (John 17:23). Jesus says that the main way people will believe that Christians have found the love of God is by see­ing the quality of their life together in community. As we have often seen in this volume, to be faithful and effective, the church must go beyond "fellowship" to embody a counterculture, giving the world an opportunity to see people united in love who could never have been brought together otherwise, and showing the world how sex, money, and power can be used in life-giving ways. Jacques Ellus, “The Technological Society” provides an analysis of the centrality of “technique”. Our modern society is highly secular; oriented to the concrete and immediate “now” rather than the spiritual or eternal values, and therefore it is rationalistic, placing supreme value on reason, and mechanistic, placing too much faith in the predictability of naturalistic systems and the predictability of the physical order (there has to be a natural law explaining any unusual event). Ellul observes that this modern sensibility shapes everything including our relationships. Relationships are not a good in themselves and therefore something to be desired in and of themselves, but rather are a means to furthering our own selfish and quantifiable interests. In this environment we choose to spend time with people who will open doors for us. Our friendships and social relationships are too often based on their usefulness for reaching our economic and social goals. In other words, we relate to people as objects , not persons. They are a means to an end. The Trinitarian Christian view tells us that we are not to use people in this way. People are worthwhile in themselves and relationships are not to be sort as a means to some selfish end. “The church is…made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together…because they have all been saved by Jesus Christ and owe him a common allegiance… They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake”. -D A Carson Tim Keller writes; One of the most important ways that the Christian church embodies the gospel is in the unity of Christians who are different from one another—temperamentally, culturally, and racially. We need to show the world that people who cannot live in love and unity outside of Christ can do so in Christ. When it comes to building actual relationships across racial and cultural barriers, we quickly come up against a host of attitudes, rooted deeply in our own cultural customs and ways of thinking, that make it hard to accept and respect people of other groups. We are “natural enemies.” The gospel works to overcome these attitudes. We are sinners saved by sheer grace, and we need to draw out the implications and live in total consistency with that. • The strength and deep consolation from Christ should make us less needy. The term “vain conceit” connotes being hungry for honor, recognition, and status. If we have profound joy, encouragement, and consolation from Christ, we should not need the approbation of others. • The “participation of the Spirit” means that all Christians are one, despite their differences. We may have diverse opinions, temperaments, or cultural mindsets— but the fact that we all participate in the Spirit should be more important than political, intellectual, or cultural differences. • The remembrance of the mercy of God should first humble us and second be a model for us. God’s care and provision for us was completely unmerited and undeserved, so we should humble ourselves before others. Jesus turned away from personal glory and gain voluntarily, deliberately, and decisively. He shows us that the way to lead is to serve. The way to find fulfillment is not to seek fulfillment but look to the fulfillment of others. When we believe the gospel, we receive a profound union with others who believe, even though they may be radically different from us in every other way. We should be making close friends with people from groupings, classes, or races who, apart from the gospel, we’d never know or care to know. We are a distinct, unique community—a group of people who have distinct ways of doing nearly everything. We are a counter-culture in which we help each other become distinctive in everything we do: • how we use money and possessions • how we conduct relationships and family life • how we do our work • how we love and serve the poor and marginalized, and so on. We should be accountable personally to some others. We should have shared enough of our lives with others so that they see whether we are growing in Christ and can support us. Community requires availability. You must not be too hard for others to reach. • Community requires frequency. There must be plenty of time shared together regularly. • Community requires a variety of practices: • eating together • recreation and often attending church together • learning together (Bible study, reading, and reflection in general) • personal counsel, comfort, and specific accountability for behavior • commitment to constant reconciliation and forgiveness • deeds of service and justice and witness done together • prayer, worship, and making music together • Community requires sharing home and living space through hospitality with others. • Community requires sharing our resources, and feeling a sense of responsibility to others

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