CHRISTIAN LIFE & WORSHIP
1 Corinthians 6:12-13a - As a Christian I (Paul) may do anything, but that does not mean that everything is good for me. I may do everything, but I must not be a slave of anything. Food was meant for the stomach and the stomach for food; but God has no permanent purpose for either.
Hebrews 12:16 - Be careful ... that none of you falls into impurity or loses his reverence for the things of God and then, like Esau (brother of Jacob, Genesis 25:19-34), is ready to sell his birthright to satisfy the momentary hunger of his body.
Matthew 5:27-28 - "You have heard that it was said to the people in the old days, 'You shall not commit adultery'. But I (Jesus) say to you that every man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her - in his heart.
Luke 16:18 - "Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery. And so does any man who marries the woman who was divorced from her husband."
Romans 7:2a,3a - A married woman .... is bound by law to her husband so long as he is alive. ..... (verse 3a ....) This means that, if she should give herself to another man while her husband is alive, she incurs the stigma of adultery.
Hebrews 13:4b - God himself will judge those who traffic in the bodies of others or defile the relationship of marriage.
Romans 14:20b-23 - I (Paul) freely admit that all food is, in itself, harmless, but it can be harmful to the man who eats it with a guilty conscience. We should be willing to be both vegetarians and teetotallers (not drinking wine) if by doing otherwise we should impede a brother's progress in faith. Your personal convictions are a matter of faith between yourself and God, and you are happy if you have no qualms about what you allow yourself to eat (or drink). Yet if a man eats meat (or drinks wine) with an uneasy conscience about it, you may be sure he is wrong to do so. For his action does not spring from his faith, and when we act apart from our faith we sin.
Ephesians 5:18 - Don't get your stimulus from wine (for there is always the danger of excessive drinking), but let the Spirit stimulate your souls.
1 Timothy 5:23 - .... I (Paul) should advise you (Timothy) to drink wine in moderation, instead of water. It will do your stomach good and help you to get over your frequent spells of illness.
Matthew 5:21-22a - "You have heard that it was said to the people in the old days, 'You shall not murder', and anyone who does must stand his trial. But I (Jesus) say to you that anyone who is angry with his brother must stand his trial ....."
Ephesians 4:26-27 - If you are angry, be sure that it is not out of wounded pride or bad temper. Never go to bed angry - don't give the devil that sort of foothold.
James 1:19-20 - In view of what he (God) has made us then, dear brothers, let every man be quick to listen but slow to use his tongue, and slow to lose his temper. For man's temper is never the means of achieving God's true goodness.
Philippians 3:2 - Be on your guard against these curs, these wicked workmen, these would-be mutilators (the pro-circumcision "Judaisers") of your bodies!
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 - When you (the new Christians in Thessalonica) suffered at the hands of your fellow-countrymen you were sharing the experience of the Judean Christian Churches, who suffered persecution by the Jews. It was the Jews who killed their own prophets, the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus, and the Jews who drove out us, his messengers. Their present attitude is in opposition to both God and man. They refused to let us speak to those who were not Jews, to tell them the news of salvation. Alas, I fear they are completing the full tale of their sins and the wrath of God is over their heads.
Titus 1:10-16 - ... there are many, especially among the Jews, who will not recognise authority, who talk nonsense and yet in so doing have managed to deceive men's minds. They must be silenced, for they upset the faith of whole households, teaching what they have no business to teach for the sake of what they can get. One of them, yes, one of their prophets, has said: "Men of Crete are always liars, evil and beastly, lazy and greedy." There is truth in this testimonial of theirs! Don't hesitate to reprimand them sharply for you want them to be sound and healthy Christians, with a proper contempt for Jewish fairy tales and orders issued by men who have forsaken the path of truth.
Everything is wholesome to those who are themselves wholesome. But nothing is wholesome to those who are themselves unwholesome and who have no faith in God - their very minds and consciences are diseased. They profess to know God, but their actual behaviour denies their profession, for they are obviously vile and rebellious and when it comes to doing any real good they are palpable frauds.
2 Timothy 2:14 - Remind your people of things like this (living the Christian life), and tell them as before God not to fight wordy battles, which help no one and may undermine the faith of some who hear them.
Titus 3:8b-11 - Subjects like this (again, living the Christian life) are always good and useful but mind you steer clear of stupid arguments, genealogies, controversies and quarrels over the Law. They settle nothing and lead nowhere. If a man is still argumentative after the second warning you should reject him. You can be sure that he has a moral twist, and he knows it.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 - Your pride in your church is lamentably out of place (Paul writing to the church at Corinth about problems of sexual immorality). Don't you know how a little yeast can permeate the whole lump? Clear out every bit of the old yeast that you may be new unleavened bread! We Christians have had a Passover lamb sacrificed for us - none other than Christ himself! So let us "keep the feast" with no trace of the yeast of the old life, nor the yeast of vice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of unadulterated truth!
Matthew 3:1-2,5-8,11 - .... John the Baptist arrived, preaching in the Judean desert: "You must change your hearts - for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived!" ..... (Verse 5 ....) The people of Jerusalem and of all Judea and the Jordan district flocked to him, and were baptised by him in the river Jordan, publicly confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said: "Who warned you, you serpent's brood, to escape from the wrath to come? Go and do something to show that your hearts are really changed. .... (Verse 11 ....) It is true that I baptise you with water as a sign of your repentance, but the one who follows me is far stronger than I am - indeed I am not fit to carry his shoes. He will baptise you with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3:13-17 - .... Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. But John tried to prevent him. "I need you to baptise me", he said. "Surely you do not come to me?" But Jesus replied, "It is right for us to meet all the Law's demands - let it be so now." Then John agreed to his baptism. Jesus came straight out of the water afterwards, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting upon him. And a voice came out of Heaven saying, "This is my dearly-loved son, in whom I am well pleased."
Matthew 28:18-19 - ... Jesus (after his death and resurrection) came and spoke these words to them (the apostles), "All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. You, then, are to go and make disciples of all the nations and baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
John 3:5 - "I assure you," said Jesus (talking to Nicodemus the Pharisee about the need to be born again), "that unless a man is born from water and from spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Acts 2:38 - Peter told them (the Jews visiting Jerusalem for Pentecost), "You must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 8:12 - .... when they (the people of Samaria) had come to believe Philip (the Evangelist) as he proclaimed to them the good news of the kingdom of God and of the name of Jesus Christ, men and women alike were baptised.
Baptism - continued
Acts 8:35-38 - .... Philip (the Evangelist) began, and using this scripture (of the prophet Isaiah) as a starting point, he told the eunuch (the Ethiopian on the road to Gaza) the good news about Jesus. As they proceeded along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look, here is some water; is there any reason why I should not be baptised now?" And he gave orders for the carriage to stop. Then both of them went down to the water and Philip baptised the eunuch.
Acts 9:17-18 - .... Ananias (a disciple of Jesus living in Damascus) set out and went to the house, and there he laid his hands upon Saul (Paul, blinded during his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus), and said, "Saul, brother, the Lord has sent me - Jesus who appeared to you on your journey here - so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got to his feet and was baptised.
Acts 10:46b-48a - Then Peter exclaimed (after the gift of the Holy Spirit had come on the centurion Cornelius and his Gentile household), "Could anyone refuse water or object to these men being baptised - men who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did ourselves?" And he gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.
Acts 16:13b-15a - There we (Paul and his companions at Philippi) sat down and spoke to the women who had assembled. One of our hearers was a woman named Lydia. ..... She was already a believer in God, and he opened her heart to accept Paul's words. When she and her household had been baptised, she appealed to us, saying, "If you are satisfied that I am a true-believer in the Lord, then come down to my house and stay there."
Acts 16:29-34 - .... the jailer (in Philippi, after finding Paul had not escaped from prison during an earthquake) called for lights, rushed in, and trembling all over, fell at the feet of Paul and Silas. He led them outside, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and then you will be saved, you and your household." Then they told him and all the members of his household the message of God. There and then in the middle of the night he took them aside and washed their wounds and he himself and all his family were baptised without delay. Then he took them into his house and offered them food, he and his whole household overjoyed at finding faith in God.
Acts 18:7-8 - ... he (Paul) left them (the Jewish synagogue in Corinth) and went to the house of a man called Titius Justus, a man who reverenced God and whose house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, with all his household, and many of the Corinthians who heard the message believed and were baptised.
Acts 22:16 - (Following his arrest in Jerusalem, Paul recounts his encounter with Christ on the Damascus road) .... what are you waiting for? (asked the disciple Ananias). Get up and be baptised! Be clean from your sins as you call on his name.'
Baptism - continued
Romans 6:3-5 - Have you forgotten (Paul writing to the church in Rome) that all of us who were baptised into Jesus Christ were, by that very action, sharing in his death? We were dead and buried with him in baptism, so that just as he was raised from the dead by that splendid revelation of the Father's power so we too might rise to life on a new plane altogether. If we have, as it were, shared his death, let us rise and live our new lives with him!
Ephesians 4:4-6 - You all belong to one body, of which there is one Spirit, just as you all experienced one calling to one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of us all, who is the one over all, the one working through all and the one living in all.
Colossians 2:11-12 - In Christ, you were circumcised, not by any physical act, but by being set free from the sins of the flesh by virtue of Christ's circumcision. You, so to speak, shared in that, just as in baptism you shared in his death, and in him are sharing the miracle of rising again to new life - and all this because you have faith in the tremendous power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 3:21 - .... I (Peter) cannot help pointing out what a perfect illustration this is (Noah and the ark) of the way you have been admitted to the safety of the Christian "ark" by baptism, which means, of course, far more than the mere washing of a dirty body: it means the ability to face God with a clear conscience. For there is in every true baptism the virtue of Christ's rising from the dead.
Philippians 4:8b - If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good.
Matthew 26:69-75 - All this time (while the arrested Jesus was before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem) Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a maidservant came up to him and said, "Weren't you with Jesus, the man from Galilee?" But he denied it before them all, saying "I don't know what you're talking about." Then when he had gone out into the porch, another maid caught sight of him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied it with an oath - "I don't know the man"! A few minutes later those who were standing about came up to Peter and said to him, "You certainly are one of them, you know; it's obvious from your (Galilean) accent." At that he began to curse and swear - "I tell you I don't know the man!" Immediately the cock crew, and the words of Jesus came back into Peter's mind - "Before the cock crows you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.
1 Timothy 1:12-16 - I (Paul) am deeply grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ (to whom I owe all that I have accomplished) for trusting me enough to appoint me his minister, despite the fact that I had previously blasphemed his name, persecuted his Church and damaged his cause. I believe he was merciful to me because what I did was done in the ignorance of a man without faith, and then he poured out his grace upon me, giving me tremendous faith in, and love for, himself. This statement is completely reliable and should be universally accepted:- "Christ Jesus entered the world to rescue sinners". I realise that I was the worst of them all, and that because of this very fact God was particularly merciful to me. It was a kind of demonstration of the extent of Christ's patience towards the worst of men, to serve as an example to all who in the future should trust him for eternal life.
Hebrews 12:15 - Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others.
BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS
- These are found at the beginning and end of most Letters of the New Testament; are sermons on the Christian faith in their own right; and often of great beauty:
Romans 1:7 - To you all then, loved of God and called to be Christ's men and women (or saints), grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope.
15:33 - The God of peace be with you all, amen.
16:20b - May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
16:25-27 - Now to him who is able to set you on your feet as his own sons - according to my Gospel, according to the preaching of Jesus Christ himself, and in accordance with the disclosing of that secret purpose which, after long ages of silence, has now been made known (in full agreement with the writings of the prophets long ago), by the command of the everlasting God to all the Gentiles, that they might turn to him in the obedience of faith - to him, I say, the only God who is wise, be glory for ever through Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 1:3 - ..... grace and peace be to you from God the Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ!
16:23-24 - The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you and my love be with you all in Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:2 - May grace and peace come to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
13:14 - The grace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ, the love that is of God the Father, and the fellowship that is ours in the Holy Spirit be with you all!
Blessings and Prayers - continued
Galatians 1:3-5 - Grace and peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to the Father's plan gave himself for our sins and thereby rescued us from the present evil world-order. To him be glory for ever and ever!
6:18 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, my brothers, be with your spirit.
Ephesians 1:2 - .... grace and peace be to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
3:20-21 - Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine - to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen!
6:23-24 - Peace be to all Christian brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Grace be with all those who sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:2 - .... grace and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ the Lord!
4:23 - The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Colossians 1:2b - .... grace and peace be to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
4:18b - Grace be with you.
1 Thessalonians 1:1 - To the Church of the Thessalonians, founded on God the Father and Jesus Christ the Lord, grace and peace from Paul, Silvanus and Timothy.
3:11-13 - So may God our Father himself and our Lord Jesus Christ guide our steps to you. May the Lord give you the same increasing and overflowing love for each other and towards all men as we have towards you. May he establish you, holy and blameless in heart and soul, before himself, the Father of us all, when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all who belong to him.
5:23-24 - May the God of peace make you holy through and through. May you be kept in soul and mind and body in spotless integrity until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is utterly faithful and he will finish what he has set out to do.
5:28 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Blessings and Prayers - continued
2 Thessalonians 1:2 - .... grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
2:16-17 - May the Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father (who has loved us and given us unending encouragement and unfailing hope by his grace) inspire you with courage and confidence in every good thing you say or do.
3:16 - Now may the Lord of peace personally give you his peace at all times and in all ways. The Lord be with you all.
3:18 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
1 Timothy 1:2b - .... grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our master.
6:21b - Grace be with you.
2 Timothy 1:2b - .... grace, mercy and peace be to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord.
4:22 - The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
Titus 1:1-2,4 - Paul, servant of God and messenger of Jesus Christ in the faith God gives to his chosen, in the knowledge of the truth that comes from a God-fearing life, and in the hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before the beginning of time - (verse 4) ..... to Titus, my true son in our common faith, be grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our saviour.
3:15b - Grace be with you all.
Philemon 3 - .... grace and peace be to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
25 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, amen.
Blessings and Prayers - continued
Hebrews 13:20-21 - Now the God of peace, who brought back from the dead that great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, by the blood of the everlasting agreement, equip you thoroughly for the doing of his will! May he effect in you everything that pleases him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
13:25 - Grace be with you all.
1 Peter 1:1a,2 - Peter, messenger of Jesus Christ, sends this letter to (those) .... whom God the Father knew and chose long ago to be made holy by his Spirit, that they might obey Jesus Christ and be cleansed by his blood: may you know more and more of God's grace and peace.
5:10-11 - And after you have borne these sufferings a very little while, God himself (from whom we receive all grace and who has called you to share his eternal splendour through Christ) will make you whole and secure and strong. All power is his for ever and ever, amen!
5:14b - Peace be to all true Christians.
2 Peter 1:2 - May you know more and more of grace and peace as your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord grows deeper.
3:18 - ....... you should grow in grace and in your knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ - to him be glory now and until the dawning of the day of eternity!
2 John 3 - ..... I wish you, in all love and sincerity, grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father's Son.
Blessings and Prayers - continued
3 John 1 - The elder (John) sends this personal letter to his very dear friend Gaius with love in the truth.
14b - Peace be with you.
Jude 1b-2 - ..... to those who have obeyed the call, who are loved by God the Father and kept in the faith by Jesus Christ - may you ever experience more and more of mercy, peace and love!
24-25 - Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glory without fault and with unspeakable joy, to the only God, our saviour, be glory and majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before time was, now, and in all ages to come, amen.
Revelation 1:4b-6 - Grace and peace be to you from him who is and who was and who is coming, from the seven Spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, first-born of the dead, and ruler of kings upon earth. To him who loves us and has set us free from our sins through his own blood, who has made us a kingdom of priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and power for timeless ages, amen.
22:21 - The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all his people.
the BODY OF CHRIST - THE CHURCH
Romans 12:3-8 - As your spiritual teacher I (Paul) give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don't cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God had given to you all. For just as you have many members in one physical body and those members differ in their functions, so we, though many in number, compose one body in Christ and are all members of one another. Through the grace of God we have different gifts. If our gift is preaching, let us preach to the limit of our vision. If it is serving others let us concentrate on our service; if it is teaching let us give all we have to our teaching; and if our gift be the stimulating of the faith of others let us set ourselves to it. Let the man who is called to give, give freely; let the man who wields authority think of his responsibility; and let the man who feels sympathy for his fellows act cheerfully.
1 Corinthians 12:4-13,27-30 - Men have different gifts, but it is the same Spirit who gives them. There are different ways of serving God, but it is the same Lord who is served. God works through different men in different ways, but it is the same God who achieves his purposes through them all. Each man is given his gift by the Spirit that he may make the most of it.
One man's gift by the Spirit is to speak with wisdom, another's to speak with knowledge. The same Spirit gives to another man faith, to another the ability to heal, to another the power to do great deeds. The same Spirit gives to another man the gift of preaching the word of God, to another the ability to discriminate in spiritual matters, to another speech in different tongues. Behind all these gifts is the operation of the same Spirit, who distributes to each individual man, as he wills.
The human body is an example of organic unity
As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, so it is with the body of Christ. For we were all baptised by the Spirit into one body, whether we were Jews, Gentiles, slaves or free men, and we have all had experience of the same Spirit. ....
(Verse 27) ..... Now you are together the body of Christ, and individually you are members of him. And in his Church God has appointed first some to be his messengers, secondly, some to be preachers of power, thirdly teachers. After them he has appointed workers of spiritual power, men with the gift of healing, helpers, organisers and those with the gift of speaking in "tongues". As we look at the body of Christ do we find all are his messengers, all are preachers, or all teachers? Do we find all wielders of spiritual power, all able to heal, all able to speak with tongues, or all able to interpret the tongues? No, we find God's distribution of gifts is on the same principles of harmony that he has shown in the human body.
the Body of Christ - continued
Ephesians 4:15-16 - .... we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head. For it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints with which it is provided, grows by the proper functioning of individual parts to its full maturity in love.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 - In any big household there are naturally not only gold and silver vessels but wooden and earthenware ones as well. Some are used for the highest purposes and some for the lowest. If a man (or woman or child) keeps himself clean from the contaminations of evil he will be a vessel used for honourable purposes, clean and serviceable for the use of the master of the household, all ready, in fact, for any good purpose.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate