The truth

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The ministry and composition of ministers of the gospel

Bible Preacher

TWO IMPORTANT TRUTHS THAT PAUL IS SEEKING TO COMMUNICATE TO THE CORINTHIANS IN THIS SECOND LETTER IN THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE:

  1. THE GOSPEL HUMBLES MAN AND EXALTS GOD
  2. CHRISTIAN MINISTERS ARE JUST MEN

In this letter he puts his hat off and tells of his weaknesses.

 preacher of clay

“…we ought to pay for the privilege of preaching the glorious gospel entrusted to us…”

In this chapter describes the ministry that we have – of preaching the gospel and then goes on talk of what sort of people ministers are – they are jars of clay holding a great treasure.

 

1)      Our ministry

It is given to us, by the mercy of God – we do not deserve it. What implication does this bring to us?

a)      We do not lose heart – But having it by the mercy of God, then we do not give up on ourselves or on its effectiveness (efficacy).(v.1)

b)      We renounce all methods that not gospel-like (v2)

c)       We commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. No fear of men in telling them the truth.

d)      We are not to blame for those who fail to receive the gospel (the gospel is only veiled to them because they are perishing (vv.3-4)

e)      We proclaim Jesus Christ (not ourselves) (vv.5-6)

 

2)      Our composition

a)      We are compared with treasure in jars of clay (we are weak, and very fragile)

b)      We are a display of the surpassing power that belongs to God and not us

c)       Consider the pressures of the ministry of the gospel that ministers experience. We are a paradox, e.g.

-          we are afflicted in every way but not crushed

-          perplexed but not despairing

-          persecuted by men but not forsaken by God

-          struck down but not destroyed

-          when I am weak then I am strong

Paul talks of the difficulties of being in the ministry. While prosperity produces vice, problems produce virtue!

The purpose of these present troubles:

The purpose of the paradox and the difficulties in Christian ministry is that we may share in Christ’s problems so that we may be like Him (v.11). This yields the highest glory to God. But this is not the only purpose, the present difficulties are also particularly used of God for edification of your hearers – those to whom you minister (vv.12, 15). . At the Westminster Chapel 1969 with D M. Lloyd-Jones said that after diagnosed with Cancer and he was asking himself … what is God communicating to others through my present problems?

Moreover, it is good for us to be afflicted so that we may be able to understand the surpassing worth of the glory that our hope holds (16-18). For in these difficulties we learn to look not on things that are transient, but to the things that are unseen and eternal.

This way we experience more and more of Christ’s power working in us. Suffering should produce thanksgiving and praise to the Lord and resilience.

There should be no despair when we are suffering there is the process of constant renewal taking place in us for our sanctification. In our suffering there is the wonderful prospect of eternal glory that changes our ideas, vision and perspective.

preacher of clay 2


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Sola Scriptura

Scriptures alone!

bible

I want reaffirm the basic Christian truth of inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The 66 books of the Bible are the only inspired and fully authoritative words that ought to guide every church and every Christian. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are equally and in every part the Word of God, without any error, a sufficient and final revelation of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience. They must be received as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. No other writings should be accepted as Word of God or as having any such authority.

The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church’s life, but the evangelical church today has separated Scripture from its authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too often, by the culture or by emotion with the advent of Charismatic movement, commonly called the Word of Faith or health and wealth gospel or prosperity gospel. Many purport to be prophets as if more divine revelation is being given or as if the Scripture is not sufficient and final. Miracles have the biggest role to play among many Christians because many follow those who purport to perform miracles even when they don’t! Miracles, even as used by the Lord, were signs to authenticate both the message and person of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Saviour of Sinners. This is why the Lord said that the Scripture cannot be broken, that it is infallible!

Pastors have neglected their rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness, and as its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction. The result is ‘worship’ that is sensual and man-centred. Such worship can neither be pleasing nor acceptable to God. Worship has to be both truthful (guided and informed by Scriptures alone) and spiritual, guided and actuated by the Holy Spirit.

Rather than adapting Christian faith to satisfy the felt needs of consumers, we must proclaim the law as the only measure of true righteousness and the gospel as the only announcement of saving truth. Biblical truth is indispensable to the church’s understanding, nurture and discipline.

Scripture must take us beyond our perceived (physical) needs to our real needs (spiritual) and liberate us from seeing ourselves through the seductive images, cliche’s, promises and priorities of mass culture. It is only in the light of God’s truth that we understand ourselves aright and see God’s provision for our need. The Bible, therefore, must be taught and preached in the church. Sermons must be expositions of the Bible and its teachings, not expressions of the preachers’ opinions or the ideas of the age; it must neither be drama nor miracles, but the Word of God that is able to make people wise for salvation. We must settle for nothing less than what God has given us.

The work of the Holy Spirit in personal experience cannot be disengaged from Scripture. The Spirit does not speak in ways that are independent of Scripture, for He is the One who inspired their writing (2Peter 1:21). Apart from Scripture we would never have known of God’s grace in Christ. The Spirit illuminates Scriptures so that we are able to understand and believe it. The Spirit was given to lead us into all truth by teaching and reminding as the Lord told His disciples. The biblical Word, rather than spiritual experience, is the test of truth. Scripture alone is the rule of faith and practice for Christians.


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To Whom Shall We Go?

When you face Crises, Anxiety, Fear, Guilt, Poverty, Homelessness, Hunger, Old Age, Divorce, Wars, Sickness, Alcoholism, Drugs, Problems.

To whom shall we go when we are in a crisis situation? To whom shall we go when we labour and are heavy laden because of sin and all of its consequences? In the final analysis all crises result from sin. To whom shall we go when we need help?

To whom shall we go when troubled by guilt? To whom shall we go when we are filled with fear, when we are anxious and worried? To whom shall we go when we become seriously ill? To whom shall we go when there is trouble in the family? To whom shall we go when we are filled with doubt? when we need guidance? when we need strength? To whom shall we go when we lose our jobs, and when there is no food on the table?

To whom shall we go when we are worried about the evils that prevail in our nation? when we are afraid about nuclear weapons? when we are concerned about the immorality all around us? when we are fearful about the violence and crime that threaten us all?

To whom shall we go when our marriage is on the rocks? To whom shall we go when our children ask us how they should live? when they start staying out late? when they reject our guidance – to whom then shall we go?

To whom shall we go when all alone? when the weakness of old age comes upon us? when sickness and death stare us in the face? when faced with the death of a loved one? To whom shall we go?

To whom shall we go if our home is destroyed by flood or fire? To whom shall we go when our car breaks down and fails its MOT? To whom shall we go first in every crisis, in every need?

Going to the right person

In purely material terms it is acceptable to go to those who are experts in their own fields. For the broken-down car we go to the mechanic. For repairs to the house we go to the builder. For the rewiring of the kitchen we seek an electrician.

It is in spiritual crises that people blunder horrendously. Over and over again they wander from one counsellor to another. If they have a drink problem they try the hypnotist. If they have a marriage problem they go to their general practitioner for medication. If they have problems disciplining their children they go to the headmaster. If sex is a problem, then they write a letter to an ‘agony aunt’ in a magazine.

Now there is no denying that sometimes those counsels can give some help, but very often their words do not reach the heart of the problem. They can give harmful advice. They can prescribe sinful cures. They can even encourage immoral actions.

To whom shall we go? Some read their horoscopes for guidance. Others go to séances and try to reach the dead. Going to them is like seeking light in the deepest and darkest dungeon. It is a horrible thing to fall under the influence of those who seek the dead.

To whom shall we go? Some go to drugs. Some go to pubs. Some go to cults of all kinds. Some go to communes. Some go on the road. Some emigrate. Some say they go to science, but who was there when the heavens and the earth were made? Who can run a controlled experiment and print out the proofs and say, ‘God did not create. It all came out of nothing, by chance’? The scientist has no more answers than anyone else to the final questions – Who made me? what is the purpose of life? what lies beyond the grave? who is God? To whom shall we go for answers to these questions? The psalmist tells us, ‘Vain is the help of man’. They are all creatures like ourselves.

To whom shall we go – in every crisis, in every need, material or spiritual? Jesus tells us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Go to Him, whatever the dilemma.

‘Come to me!’

Go to Him for forgiveness. He has come into the world to deal with its greatest problem, human sinfulness and rebellion against its creator. He has taken the guilt of our sin to Himself and so has suffered under its load – not for His own wickedness, for He had none, but for ours. Receive that peace which they know whose sins have been forgiven by Jesus Christ.
Go to him for the protection of everything that is yours. Does that sound strange? But there was a man who once had an axe-head retrieved when it had fallen into the water. Remember how the shoes of the Israelites did not wear out in the desert. God rules also in the material things of the world, and does He not tell us to ask Him for daily bread?

Go to Him when you know that death draws near. He is the Resurrection and the Life. He has felt the sting of death and tasted its bitterness in a way that we who trust in Him shall never know. He has warmed the bed of death by lying in that tomb for three days. Death is not cold and fearful to those who have gone to Jesus Christ.

Go to Him, for He has all the resources of heaven and earth at His command. Compare that with what man has to offer you. Jesus can help in any need. By His power you can ford any river, cross any mountain and bear any burden. You can do everything He asks of you with the strength which He supplies. By Him you can forgive seventy times seven. By Him you can love your enemies. By Him you can turn the other cheek when men smite you. If it’s hope you need, you will find it in Him. If it’s patience you pray for, you’ll receive it from Jesus. If gentleness is your longing, then the fullness of gentleness is found in Jesus Christ. His resources are never exhausted. If the whole world should go to Him, He could cope. Go, then, to Him.

Go to Him, for He is accessible always. Wherever and whenever you need Him, He is there. ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’, He says. He is never indifferent to our condition, never annoyed that we are troubling Him again, never untouched by our pain, and never too preoccupied with other things. He won’t mock us, nor turn us away. Instead, He invites us to come to Him, and He promises us rest. Go, then, to Him! To whom else can you go?

Geoff Thomas

(Pastor ALfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwytth, Wales)


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Spiritual diet for Christian Couples in Courtship

 

First, we must recognize the four forms of Biblical truth by which God has

communicated to us:

  • principle,
  • precept,
  • practice,
  • prudence.

We might parallel these four truth forms to four food groups – protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

If we are missing any from our spiritual diet, we will not be properly nourished. Our spiritual health is dependent upon our feeding regularly from each of these four truth forms. To omit any from our spiritual diet will promote malformed and diseased spiritual lives.

  1. Principle:

Principle is the first truth form and is defined as a general truth by which God has ordered His creation. Our responsibility, of course, is to discover and apply God’s principles because they are an expression of His very character.

Don’t let that last statement escape you: as an expression of the very character of God, His principles are by nature applicable to all cultures. It sounds like the Bible is very relevant after all!  

2.    Precept

 

A second truth form is precept, a direct command of God that is rooted in principle, such as “Pray without ceasing” (1Th 5:17). To uncover the underlying principle behind a command, simply ask the question “Why?” Why are you to pray without ceasing? Because you are in a dependent, loving relationship with God—that is the intrinsic principle. And unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, you should normally assume that a Biblical command is applicable to you and your culture.

3.    Practice 

The third truth form, practice, is a Biblically defined exercise of a principle. Many Christians wrongly assume that the practices in Scripture are generally “culturally bound,” yet Paul declares just the opposite when he explains, “[Timothy] shall bring you into remembrance of my ways [practices] which be in Christ [principles], as I teach every where in every church” (1Co 4:17; cf. Phi 3:17; 4:9). Old Testament scholar Dr. Richard Pratt, in his interpretational guide entitled He Gave Us Stories, puts it this way: “In many cases a sharp distinction between form [practice] and meaning [principle] cannot be justified.

 

The New Testament does not merely insist that believers affirm abstract theological principles; it also requires us to follow forms and structures in the church. In many cases, the forms and the principles are largely inseparable. We do not need to contextualize the Biblical teaching; we need to teach and explain the requirements of Scripture.”10 Thus, we should usually understand that a Biblical practice is relevant to all cultures unless there are sound reasons to the contrary

4.    Prudence

Prudence is the fourth truth form by which God has communicated to us in His Word. It is the wise personal application of a principle. Does this make prudence optional? No, Solomon tells us that to ignore prudence rashly is sin: “He that sinneth against me [Wisdom] wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Pro 8:36). Once you have concluded that a particular path would be prudent, to do otherwise would be sinful since the motive could only be to please self rather than Christ.


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Is there only one way to God?

Important questions:

  1. Are all religions the same?
  2. Are all views of God the same? (Some religions have many gods, others only one).
  3. Are there any differences that really count?
  4. Surely don’t the gods of the different religions vary immensely?

What the Bible Says 

In the Old Testament God taught Israel to be totally separate and distinct from the other nations who worshipped different gods. He also showed Israel what He was like to them
in a very special way. This was in order to teach them and the world that He was different from all other gods. He alone was the true, almighty, holy, powerful, just and loving God. He made it clear that he did not want Israel to get involved with other gods.
When Jesus Christ was on earth He declared,

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Peter declared,
“There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Paul referred to those who preached “another Jesus whom we have not preached” (2
Corinthians 11:4).

There is false teaching and a false message, which pretends to be the true. The Bible tells us that there is a heaven and a hell, and we can only come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said,

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Christ is the only entrance to the narrow way. He has said to us,
“I am the way…”

He has also said to us that He is the door.

Salvation is not what we do… it is what Christ has DONE!

In the Word of God we are taught that we can do nothing whatsoever to contribute to our
own salvation, and must rely only and entirely, by faith, on what God has done in giving us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for sinners and rise again. The broad way is the way men prefer because it is a way that offers them something they can contribute towards their own salvation, and makes them feel they are not so bad after all.

True Christianity
True Christianity is unique. It stands on its own as being completely different from all other faiths. All other religions, apart from true Christianity, tell men and women that they can work their way to heaven with a bit of help. This is not the message of the Bible. The Bible says,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9).

The Bible makes it clear that there is nothing we can do by way of works, to try and ‘get right’ with God. We must trust in the works of the Lord Jesus Christ – His life, death and resurrection – which He did on behalf of sinners: on behalf of all who will trust in Him.

False religion says, “Do this work and God will accept you.” True Christianity says, “Trust in all Jesus Christ has done – despair of ever saving yourself by your own efforts and look to Him to save you.” This is what the Bible teaches. Jesus Christ calls us to, ‘Come to
Him’ and receive the salvation which only He can give.

Have you come to Christ and found the forgiveness of sins?


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What are the marks of a true church of God?

 

There are at least 5 marks of a genuine church:

1. The pure preaching of the word of God (Acts 2:42, 20:20,27, 1 Timothy 1:3-7,18-20, 4:16, 6:3-5,20, 2 Timothy 1:13, 2:1- 2,15, 3:14-17, 4:1-5).

What is preached must be the Christ-centred gospel. Pure preaching has to humble the pride of man by showing man to be a needy and helpless, poor and wretched sinner who needs God’s mercy and the grace of Christ to be saved. Pure preaching has to exalt the glory of God in Christ by showing Jesus to be the one and only hope for sinners from whom there is full pardon for sins and eternal.

2. Biblical leadership (Acts 6:1-6; 1& 2Timothy and Titus)

There are only two officers prescribed in the bible for each church – the elders and the deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1Timothy 3:1-13). Elders also called pastors or overseers/bishops provide spiritual oversight to the church (preaching & prayer). Each church is also to appoint men who cater for their material needs called deacons. Both officers must be blameless in their character, family life and ministry, to qualify to serve in the church of Christ.

3. Genuine membership:

While everyone is welcome to attend church, only genuine Christians form the membership of the church. As Christians we are to be a family, committed to each other; to love, accept, and forgive each other until death or God’s call causes us to part.

We are to live in Jesus Christ and take his commands seriously. We are to help one another grow toward Christian maturity by: bearing one another’s burdens, encouraging one another, exhorting one another, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, building up one another, teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another, living in peace with one another, regarding one another as more significant than ourselves, caring for one another, exercising our spiritual gifts to serve one another, being kind and tender-hearted to one another, being devoted to one another, accepting one another, forgiving one another, loving one another and greeting one another.

4. Right administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism is only for true believers of any age. Whoever shows his/her faith by desiring to be fully committed to Christ and to the local church (Acts 2:41-42).  Baptism must not be administered to a person because they were born of believing parents or went through a Bible class (therefore infant baptism is unacceptable). Baptism should be in the name of the triune God (Matthew 28:19). Baptism should be performed by immersion in water because:

1)     The Greek word for baptism means ‘plunge, dip, immerse’;

2)     All the examples of baptism in the Bible show that it was by immersion (Mark 1:5 “in”, 1:10 “out of”, John 3:23 “much water”, Acts 8:38-39 “down into” and ‘up out of”);

3)     It is a symbolism of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12).

The Lord’s Supper is for the members of a local church and saved visitors from other true local churches. It should be celebrated according to 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.

  1. 5.     Right application of discipline to members who do not live according to the word.

God’s church is holy and must be preserved as such. A little leaven (sin) left undealt with in one person will affect the whole church (1 Corinthians 5:6). Therefore, those who indulge in sin must be purged from the church so that the church can remain in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or blemish (Ephesians 5:27). Christ is coming to His church as bride that is holy in His own sight (not in sight of men. The church prepare for His coming by rejecting sin and excommunicating unrepentant members.

When evaluating your church, please consider that your feelings must be subjugated to conform to the truth of God’s Word. You must not evaluate any church based on your feelings, tastes and preference.


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How to prepare an expository sermon:

 

  1. Identify & open the passage and read it
  2. Pray for your personal understanding, illumination of the Spirit
  3. Read the passage thoroughly in its context (reading both the material before it and the one after it). Study it looking at each of the words – what they say and what they do not say. Consider the grammar – is it singular or plural? What tense is it in? etc.
  4. Read the commentaries (Listen to what the Lord has revealed to others on the same)*
  5. Make notes
  6. Make an outline
  7. Ask questions to do with the passage
  8. Ask questions that relate to people in relation to the matters addressed by the passage (How does this relate to the hearers now?)
  9. Ask question of how the passage may be implemented. (What does the Lord require the hearers to do, not to do, believe, change, improve, understand, etc)
  10. Pray for the understanding of your hearers, for attention, Spirit of God to move them to obedience,
  11. Pray for the delivery of the sermon – with clarity, simplicity, profundity, fruit in salvation

 

* Much carefulness is needed in choosing good commentaries

 You need to meditate on a passage before you preach it so that you may be not only familiar with it but also have applied it on yourself.

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