CHRISTIAN LIFE and WORSHIP
|Death, Debt, Determination, the Devil, Differences of opinion, Disagreements, Discipline, Diversity of talents, Divisions in the Church, Divorce, Drunkenness, Duty, Employees, Employers, Endurance, Enemies, Envy, Equality in God's sight, Eternity, Evangelism, Every Christian has a role in the Church of Christ|
1 Corinthians 15:35-38,42b-44,51-55 - .... perhaps someone will ask, "How is the resurrection achieved? With what sort of body do the dead arrive?" Now that is talking without using your minds! In your own experience you know that a seed does not germinate without itself "dying". When you sow a seed you do not sow the "body" that will eventually be produced, but bare grain, of wheat, for example, or one of the other seeds. God gives the seed a "body" according to his laws - a different "body" to each kind of seed. ....
(Verse 42b ....) The body is "sown" in corruption; it is raised beyond the reach of corruption. It is "sown" in dishonour; it is raised in splendour. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. As there is a natural body so will there be a spiritual body. ..... (Verse 51 ....) Listen, and I will tell you a secret. We shall not all die, but suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, every one of us will be changed as the trumpet sounds! The trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised beyond the reach of corruption, and we who are still alive shall suddenly be utterly changed. For this perishable nature of ours must be wrapped in imperishability, these bodies which are mortal must be wrapped in immortality. So when the perishable is lost in the imperishable, the mortal lost in the immortal, this saying will come true: 'Death is swallowed up in victory', 'O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?'
Philippians 3:20-21 - ... we (as believers in Christ) are citizens of Heaven; our outlook goes beyond this world to the hopeful expectation of the saviour who will come from Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will re-make these wretched bodies of ours to resemble his own glorious body, by that power of his which makes him the master of everything that is.
Hebrews 2:14b-15 - .... (Jesus) became a human being, so that by going through death as a man he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might also set free those who lived their whole lives a prey to the fear of death.
Romans 13:8a - Keep out of debt altogether, except the perpetual debt of love which we owe to one another.
Matthew 15:22-28 - .... a (Gentile) Canaanite woman from those parts came to him (Jesus in the region of Tyre and Sidon) crying at the top of her voice, "Lord, have pity on me! My daughter is in a terrible state - a devil has got into her!"
Jesus made no answer, and the disciples came up to him and said, "Do send her away - she's still following us and calling out." "I was only sent," replied Jesus, "to (the Jews ....) the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Then the woman came and knelt at his feet. "Lord, help me," she said. "It is not right, you know," Jesus replied, "to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs."
"Yes, Lord, I know, but even the dogs live on the scraps that fall from their master's table!" "You certainly don't lack faith," returned Jesus, "it shall be as you wish." And at that moment her daughter was cured.
Matthew 4:1-11 - Then (after his baptism) Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. After a fast of forty days and nights he was very hungry.
"If you really are the Son of God," said the tempter, coming to him, "tell these stones to turn into loaves." Jesus answered, "The scripture says 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'"
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the highest ledge of the Temple. "If you really are the Son of God," he said, "Throw yourself down. For the scripture says - 'He shall give his angels charge concerning you,' and 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone'." "Yes," retorted Jesus, "and the scripture also says 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'."
Once again the devil took him to a very high mountain, and from there showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their magnificence. "Everything there I will give you," he said to him, "if you will fall down and worship me." "Away with you, Satan!" replied Jesus, "the scripture says, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve'." Then the devil let him alone, and the angels came to him and took care of him.
Matthew 10:28 - "Never be afraid of those (man or woman) who can kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul! Far better to stand in awe of the one (God) who has the power to destroy body and soul in the fires of destruction!"
Matthew 12:24-27a - ... the Pharisees .... said to each other, "This man (Jesus) is only expelling devils because he is in league with Beelzebub, the prince of devils." Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is bound to collapse, and no town or household divided against itself can last for long. If it is Satan who is expelling Satan, then he is divided against himself - so how do you suppose that his kingdom can continue? And if I expel devils because I am an ally of Beelzebub, what alliance do your sons make when they do the same thing?"
the Devil - continued
Matthew 13:4,18-19 - (Jesus tells the parable of the man sowing the seed, and starts ...) "There was once a man who went out to sow. In his sowing some of the seeds fell by the road-side and the birds swooped down and gobbled them up......
(From verse 18, he goes on to explain the parable ....) "Now listen to the parable of the sower. When a man hears the message of the kingdom and does not grasp it, the evil one (Satan) comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is like the seed sown by the road-side. .......
Matthew 13:37-39a - (In explaining the parable of the weeds in the field, Jesus describes the devil's role ....) "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man," replied Jesus. "The field is the whole world. The good seed? That is the sons of the kingdom, while the weeds are the sons of the evil one. The blackguard who sowed them is the devil.
Luke 4:13 - And when he (the devil trying to tempt Jesus, as in Matthew's account) had exhausted every kind of temptation, the devil withdrew until his next opportunity.
John 8:44b - "He (the devil) always was a murderer, and has never dealt with the truth, since the truth will have nothing to do with him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks in character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
Acts 10:38 - (Peter talking to the centurion Cornelius ...) You must have heard how God anointed him (Jesus) with the power of the Holy Spirit, of how he went about doing good and healing all who suffered from the devil's power - because God was with him.
1 Corinthians 7:5 - (Paul writing about Christian married couples ......) Do not cheat each other of normal sexual intercourse, unless of course you both decide to abstain temporarily to make special opportunity for fasting and prayer. But afterwards you should resume relations as before, or you will expose yourselves to the obvious temptation of the devil.
the Devil - continued
1 Corinthians 10:14-15,19-21 - The lesson we must learn, my brothers, is at all costs to avoid worshipping a false god. I am speaking to you as intelligent men: think over what I am saying. .... (Verse 19 ....) Now am I implying that a false god really exists, or that sacrifices made to any god have some value? Not at all! I say emphatically that Gentile sacrifices are made to evil powers and not to God at all. I don't want you to have any fellowship with such powers. You cannot drink both the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils. You cannot be a guest at the Lord's table and at the table of devils.
2 Corinthians 2:11 - We don't want Satan to win any victory here, and well we know his methods! (Paul writing in his Second Letter to the Corinthians about the man guilty of sexual immorality).
2 Corinthians 4:4 - The spirit of this world (the devil) has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, and prevents the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, the image of God, from shining on them.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15a - ..... their tactics (that of false teachers ... do not) surprise me when I consider how Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is only to be expected that his agents shall have the appearance of ministers of righteousness -
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.
Ephesians 6:10-13 - ..... be strong - not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God's complete armour so that you can successfully resist all the devil's methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organisations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10a - The lawless man (the anti-christ) is produced by the spirit of evil (the devil) and armed with all the force, wonders and signs that falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world he will come with evil's undiluted power to deceive .....
Hebrews 2:14-15 - Since .... "the children" (of God) have a common physical nature as human beings, he (Jesus) also became a human being, so that by going through death as a man he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might also set free those who lived their whole lives a prey to the fear of death.
the Devil - continued
James 3:14-16 - ... if your heart is full of rivalry and bitter jealousy, then do not boast of your wisdom - don't deny the truth that you must recognise in your inmost heart. You may acquire a certain superficial wisdom, but it does not come from God - it comes from this world, from your own lower nature, even from the devil. For wherever you find jealousy and rivalry you also find disharmony and all other kinds of evil.
James 4:7 - Be humble .... before God. But resist the devil and you'll find he'll run away from you.
1 Peter 5:8-9 - Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and remember that the strain is the same for all your fellow-Christians in other parts of the world.
1 John 3:8-10 - ... the man whose life is habitually sinful is spiritually a son of the devil, for the devil is behind all sin, as he always has been. Now the Son of God came to earth with the express purpose of liquidating the devil's activities. The man who is really God's son does not practise sin, for God's nature is in him, for good, and such a heredity is incapable of sin. Here we have a clear indication as to who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil. The man who does not lead a good life is no son of God, nor is the man who fails to love his brother.
Revelation 9:11 - They (the spirits of evil, here symbolised as locusts) have as their king the angel of the pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek Apollyon, (meaning the destroyer).
Revelation 12:9a - ... the huge dragon (in the heavenly battle with Michael and his angels ... is), the serpent of ancient times, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world ...
DIFFERENCES OF OPINION
Romans 14:1-23 - Welcome a man whose faith is weak, but not with the idea of arguing over his scruples. One man believes that he may eat anything, another man, without this strong conviction, is a vegetarian. The meat-eater should not despise the vegetarian, nor should the vegetarian condemn the meat-eater - they should reflect that God has accepted them both. After all, who are you to criticise the servant of somebody else, especially when that somebody else is God? It is to his own master that he gives, or fails to give, satisfactory service. And don't doubt that satisfaction, for God is well able to transform men into servants who are satisfactory.
People are different - make allowances
Again, one man thinks some days of more importance than others. Another man considers them all alike. Let every one be definite in his own convictions. If a man specially observes one particular day, he does so "to God". The man who eats, eats "to God", for he thanks God for the food. The man who fasts also does it "to God", for he thanks God for the benefits of fasting. The truth is that we neither live nor die as self-contained units. At every turn life links us to God, and when we die we come face to face with him. In life or death we are in the hands of God. Christ lived and died that he might be the Lord in both life and death.
Why, then, criticise your brother's actions, why try to make him look small? We shall all be judged one day, not by each other's standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ. It is written: 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God'. It is to God alone that we have to answer for our actions.
This should be our attitude
Let us therefore stop turning critical eyes on one another. If we must be critical, let us be critical of our own conduct and see that we do nothing to make a brother stumble or fall.
I am convinced, and I say this as in the presence of Christ himself, that nothing is intrinsically unholy. But none the less it is unholy to the man who thinks it is. If your habit of unrestricted diet seriously upsets your brother, you are no longer living in love towards him. And surely you wouldn't let food mean ruin to a man for whom Christ died.
You mustnt let something that is all right for you look like an evil practice to somebody else. After all, the kingdom of Heaven is not a matter of whether you get what you like to eat and drink, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you put these things first in serving Christ you will please God and are not likely to offend men. So let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of one another's character. Surely we shouldn't wish to undo God's work for the sake of a plate of meat!
I 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 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. Yet if a man eats meat 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.
Matthew 5:25-26 - "Come to terms quickly with your opponent while you have the chance, or else he may hand you over to the judge and the judge in turn hand you over to the officer of the court and you will be thrown into prison. Believe me, you will never get out again till you have paid your last farthing!"
Matthew 18:15-17 - "... if your brother wrongs you, go and have it out with him at once - just between the two of you. If he will listen to you, you have won him back as your brother. But if he will not listen to you, take one or two others with you so that everything that is said may have the support of two or three witnesses. And if he still won't pay any attention, tell the matter to the church. And if he won't even listen to the church then he must be to you just like a pagan - or a tax-collector!"
Luke 17:3b - "If your brother offends you, take him to task about it, and if he is sorry, forgive him."
1 Corinthians 6:1-2,5b-6 - When any of you has a grievance against another, aren't you ashamed to bring the matter to be settled before a pagan court instead of before the church? Don't you know that Christians will one day judge the world? And if you are to judge the world do you consider yourselves incapable of settling such infinitely smaller matters? .... (Verse 5b ....) Are you really unable to find among your number one man with enough sense to decide a dispute between one and another of you, or must one brother resort to law against another and that before those who have no faith in Christ!
Hebrews 12:7-11 - Bear what you have to bear as "chastening" - as God's dealing with you as sons. No true son ever grows up uncorrected by his father. For if you had no experience of the correction which all sons have to bear you might well doubt the legitimacy of your sonship. After all, when we were children we had fathers who corrected us, and we respected them for it. Can we not much more readily submit to a heavenly Father's discipline, and learn how to live?
For our fathers used to correct us according to their own ideas during the brief days of childhood. But God corrects us all our days for our own benefit, to teach us his holiness. Now obviously no "chastening" seems pleasant at the time: it is in fact most unpleasant. Yet when it is all over we can see that is has quietly produced the fruit of real goodness in the characters of those who have accepted it in the right spirit.
DIVERSITY OF TALENTS
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 - 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.
DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH
Matthew 12:25b - "Any kingdom divided against itself is bound to collapse, and no town or household divided against itself can last for long."
1 Corinthians 1:10 - ... I do beg you, my brothers, by all that Christ means to you, to speak with one voice, and not allow yourselves to be split up into parties. All together you should be achieving a unity in thought and judgement.
2 Timothy 2:23 - .... have nothing to do with silly and ill-informed controversies which lead inevitably, as you know, to strife.
Matthew 5:31-32 - "It .... used to be said that 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce'. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except on the ground of unfaithfulness is making her an adulteress. And whoever marries the woman who has been divorced also commits adultery.
Romans 7:2-3 - A married woman ...... is bound by law to her husband so long as he is alive. But if he dies, then his legal claim over her disappears. This means that, if she should give herself to another man while her husband is alive, she incurs the stigma of adultery. But if, after her husband's death, she does exactly the same thing, no one could call her an adulteress, for the legal hold over her has been dissolved by her husband's death.
Romans 13:13a - Let us live cleanly, as in the daylight, not in the "delights" of getting drunk ....
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.
Ephesians 2:10 - ..... what we are we owe to the hand of God upon us. We are born afresh in Christ, and born to do those good deeds which God planned for us to do.
Colossians 3:17 - .... whatever you may have to do, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him.
- The following excerpts refer to servants and slaves, and their relationship with masters. The principles can be applied to the responsibilities respectively of employers and employees:
Ephesians 6:5-8 - Slaves (employees), obey your human masters (employers) sincerely with a proper sense of respect and responsibility, as service rendered to Christ himself; not with the idea of currying favour with men, but as the servants of Christ conscientiously doing what you believe to be the will of God for you. You may be sure that God will reward a man for good work, irrespectively of whether the man be slave or free.
Colossians 3:22-25 - Slaves (employees), your job is to obey your masters, not with the idea of currying favour, but as a sincere expression of your devotion to God. Whatever you do, put your whole heart and soul into it, as into work done for God, and not merely for men - knowing that your real reward, a heavenly one, will come from God, since you are actually employed by Christ, and not just by your earthly master. But the wicked man will be punished for his misdeeds, and naturally no distinction will be made between master and man (employee).
1 Timothy 6:1-2 - Christian slaves (employees) should treat their masters with respect, and avoid causing dishonour to the name of God and our teaching. If they have Christian masters they should not despise them because they work for brothers in the faith. Indeed they should serve them all the better because they are thereby benefiting those who have the same faith and love as themselves. This is the sort of thing you should teach .....
Titus 2:9-10 - Slaves should be told that it is their duty as Christians to obey their masters (employers) and to give them satisfactory service in every way. They are not to "answer back" or to be light-fingered, but they are to show themselves utterly trustworthy, a living testimonial to the teaching of God our saviour.
1 Peter 2:18-20 - You who are servants (employees) should submit to your masters (employers) with proper respect - not only to the good and kind, but also to the difficult. A man does something valuable when he endures pain, as in the sight of God, though he knows he is suffering unjustly. After all, it is no credit to you if you are patient in bearing a punishment which you have richly deserved! But if you do your duty and are punished for it and can still accept it patiently, you are doing something worthwhile in God's sight.
Ephesians 6:9 - ..... employers, be as conscientious and responsible towards those who serve you as you expect them to be towards you, neither misusing the power over others that has been put in your hands, nor forgetting that you are responsible yourselves to a heavenly employer who makes no distinction between master and man.
Colossians 3:25 - (Paul is describing the duty of slaves to their masters, and continues ....) But the wicked man will be punished for his misdeeds, and naturally no distinction will be made between master (employer) and man (employee).
Colossians 4:1 - Remember .... you employers, that your responsibility is to be fair and just towards those whom you employ, never forgetting that you yourselves have a heavenly employer.
2 Corinthians 6:4-10 - .... we (Paul and his companions) want to prove ourselves genuine ministers of God whatever we have to go through - patient endurance of troubles or even disasters, being flogged or imprisoned; being mobbed, having to work like slaves, having to go without food or sleep. All this we want to meet with sincerity, with insight and patience; by sheer kindness and the Holy Spirit; with genuine love, speaking the plain truth, and living by the power of God. Our sole defence, our only weapon, is a life of integrity, whether we meet honour or dishonour, praise or blame. Called "impostors" we must be true, called "nobodies" we must be in the public eye. Never far from death, yet here we are alive, always "going through it" yet never "going under". We know sorrow, yet our joy is inextinguishable. We have "nothing to bless ourselves with" yet we bless many others with true riches. We are penniless, and yet in reality we have everything worth having.
Matthew 5:43-45 - "You have heard that it used to be said, 'You shall love your neighbour', and 'hate your enemy', but I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father. For he makes the sun rise upon evil men as well as good, and he sends his rain upon honest and dishonest men alike."
Romans 12:14 - ... as for those who try to make your life a misery, bless them. Don't curse, bless.
Romans 12:20-21 - ... these are God's word: 'Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head'. Don't allow yourself to be overpowered with evil. Take the offensive - overpower evil by good!
Luke 12:15a - ".... be on your guard against covetousness (or envy or greed) in any shape or form. For a man's real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions."
EQUALITY IN GOD'S SIGHT
Matthew 9:10-13 - Later, as Jesus was in the house (of Matthew) sitting at the dinner-table, a good many tax-collectors and other disreputable people came on the scene and joined him and his disciples. The Pharisees noticed this and said to the disciples, "Why does your master have his meals with tax-collectors and sinners?" But Jesus heard this and replied, "It is not the fit and flourishing who need the doctor, but those who are ill! Suppose you go away and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice'. In any case I did not come to invite the 'righteous' but the 'sinners'."
Matthew 21:31b-32 - "..... I (Jesus) tell you that tax-collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God in front of you!" retorted Jesus. "For John (the Baptist) came to you as a saint, and you did not believe him - yet the tax-collectors and the prostitutes did! And, even after seeing that, you would not change your minds and believe him."
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 - .... look at your own calling as Christians, my brothers (Paul writing to the church in Corinth). You don't see among you many of the wise (according to this world's judgement) nor many of the ruling class, nor many from the noblest families. But God has chosen what the world calls foolish to shame the wise; he has chosen what the world calls weak to shame the strong. He has chosen things of little strength and small repute, yes and even things which have no real existence to explode the pretensions of the things that are - that no man may boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 11:11-12 - .... in the sight of God neither "man" nor "woman" has any separate existence. For if woman was made originally for man, no man is now born except by a woman, and both man and woman, like everything else, owe their existence to God.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 - .. 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.
Galatians 3:26-28 - ... now that you have faith in Christ you are all sons of God. All of you who were baptised "into" Christ have put on the family likeness of Christ. Gone is the distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female - you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:19-20 - .... you are no longer outsiders or aliens, but fellow-citizens with every other Christian - you belong now to the household of God. Firmly beneath you is the foundation, God's messengers and prophets, the actual foundation-stone being Jesus Christ himself.
Colossians 3:11 - In this new man of God's design there is no distinction between Greek and Hebrew, Jew or Gentile, foreigner or savage, slave or free man. Christ is all that matters for Christ lives in them all.
Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ is always the same, yesterday, today and for ever.
- These verses are a guide to the background, responsibilities, conduct and rewards of those - the evangelists - who bring the Gospel to non-believers. This is to distinguish them from those, such as ministers, pastors, priests, who serve the Church of believing Christians (see "Church Leaders"):
Matthew 9:36-38 - As he (Jesus) looked at the vast crowds he was deeply moved with pity for them, for they were as bewildered and miserable as a flock of sheep with no shepherd. "The harvest is great enough," he remarked to his disciples, "but the reapers are few. So you must pray to the Lord of the harvest to send men out to reap it."
Matthew 10:11-14 - "Wherever you go (says Jesus, sending out the twelve apostles to preach and heal), whether it is into a town or a village, find out someone who is respected, and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his house give it your blessing. If the house deserves it, the peace of your blessing will come to it. But if it doesn't, your peace will return to you. "And if no one will welcome you or even listen to what you have to say, leave that house or town, and once outside it shake off the dust of that place from your feet."
Matthew 10:19b-20 - ".... never worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be told at the time what you are to say. For it will not be really you who are speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
Matthew 28:18-20 - ... Jesus (following his resurrection, and after meeting the eleven apostles in Galilee) came and spoke these words to them, "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. Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you and, remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."
Mark 5:19b-20 - "Go home to your own people," he told him (the healed madman in the Region of the Gerasenes), "And tell them what the Lord has done for you, and how kind he has been to you!" So the man went off and began to spread throughout the Ten Towns (the Decapolis) the story of what Jesus had done for him. And they were all simply amazed.
Evangelism - continued
John 4:39 - Many of the Samaritans who came out of that town believed in him through the woman's testimony (the Samaritan woman at the well) - "He (Jesus) told me everything I've ever done."
Acts 8:30-35 - .... as Philip (the Evangelist) ran forward he heard the man (the Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Gaza) reading the prophet Isaiah, and he said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he replied, "How can I unless I have someone to guide me?"
And he invited Philip to get up and sit by his side. The passage of scripture he was reading was this: 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his justice was taken away. And who will declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth.'
The eunuch turned to Philip and said, "Tell me, I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this - is he speaking about himself or about someone else?" The Philip began, and using this scripture as a starting point, he told the eunuch the good news about Jesus.
Romans 10:14-17 - Now how can they (who do not believe in Jesus Christ) call on one in whom they have never believed? How can they believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how can they hear unless someone proclaims him? And who will go to tell them unless he is sent? As the scripture puts it: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'
Yet all who have heard have not responded to the Gospel. Isaiah asks, you remember, 'Lord, who has believed our report?' (Belief you see, can only come from hearing the message, and the message is the word of Christ).
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 - ... Christ did not send me (Paul) to see how many I could baptise, but to proclaim the Gospel. And I have not done this by the persuasiveness of clever words, for I have no desire to rob the cross of its power. The preaching of the cross is, I know, nonsense to those who are involved in this dying world, but to us who are being saved from that death it is nothing less than the power of God.
Evangelism - continued
1 Corinthians 3:5-11 - (Writing to Corinth about divisions in the church, and the importance the church gives to different visiting evangelists, Paul continues .....) After all, who is Paul? Who is Apollos? No more than servants through whom you came to believe as the Lord gave each man his opportunity. I may have done the planting and Apollos the watering, but it was God who made the seed grow! The planter and the waterer are nothing compared with him who gives life to the seed. Planter and waterer are alike insignificant, though each shall be rewarded according to his particular work.
In this work, we work with God, and that means that you are a field under God's cultivation, or, if you like, a house being built to his plan. I, like an architect who knows his job, by the grace God has given me, lay the foundation; someone else builds upon it. I only say this, let the builder be careful how he builds! The foundation is laid already, and no one can lay another, for it is Jesus Christ himself.
1 Corinthians 9:4-14 - (Paul in his letter, defends himself as an apostle and evangelist ....) Aren't we allowed to eat and drink? May we not travel with a Christian wife like the other messengers, like other Christian brothers, and like Cephas (the apostle Peter)? Are Barnabas and I the only ones not allowed to leave their ordinary work to give time to the ministry?
Just think for a moment. Does any soldier ever go to war at his own expense? Does any man plant a vineyard and have no share in its fruits? Does the shepherd who tends the flock never taste the milk? This is, I know, an argument from everyday life, but it is a principle endorsed by the Law. For is it not written in the Law of Moses: 'You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.' Now does this imply merely God's care for oxen, or does it include his care for us too? Surely we are included! You might even say that the words were written for us. For both the ploughman as he ploughs, and the thresher as he threshes should have some hope of an ultimate share in the harvest. If we have sown for you the seed of spiritual things need you be greatly perturbed because we reap some of your material things? And if there are others with the right to have these things from you, have not we an even greater right? Yet we have never exercised this right and have put up with all sorts of things, so that we might not hinder the spread of the Gospel.
Are you ignorant of the fact that those who minister sacred things take part of the sacred food of the Temple for their own use, and those who attend the altar have their share of what is placed on the altar? On the same principle the Lord has ordered that those who proclaim the Gospel should receive their livelihood from those who accept the Gospel.
Evangelism - continued
Colossians 1:28-29 - .. naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. This is what I (Paul) am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me.
Colossians 4:5-6 - Be wise in your behaviour towards non-Christians, and make the best possible use of your time. Speak pleasantly to them, but never sentimentally, and learn to give a proper answer to every questioner.
1 Thessalonians 2:3-12 - Our message to you (the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought by Paul and his companions to the people of Thessalonica) is true, our motives are pure, our conduct is absolutely above board. We speak under the solemn sense of being trusted by God with the Gospel. We do not aim to please men, but to please God who knows us through and through. No one could ever say, as again you know, that we used flattery to conceal greedy motives, and God himself is witness to our honesty. We made no attempt to win honour from men, either from you or from anybody else, though I suppose as Christ's own messengers we might have done so. Our attitude among you was one of tenderness, rather like that of a devoted nurse among her babies. Because we loved you, it was a joy to us to give you not only the Gospel of God but our very hearts - so dear did you become to us. Our struggles and hard work, my brothers, must still be fresh in your minds. Day and night we worked so that our preaching of the Gospel to you might not cost you a penny. You are witnesses, as is God himself, that our life among you believers was honest, straightforward and above criticism. You will remember how we dealt with each one of you personally, like a father with his own children, stimulating your faith and courage and giving you instruction. Our only object was to help you to live lives worthy of the God who has called you to share the splendour of his kingdom.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 - You know well that we ourselves are your examples here, and that our lives among you were never undisciplined. We did not eat anyone's food without paying for it. In fact we toiled and laboured night and day to avoid being the slightest expense to any of you. This was not because we had no right to ask our necessities of you, but because we wanted to set you an example.
2 Timothy 1:11-12 - It is this Gospel that I (Paul) am commissioned to proclaim; it is of this Gospel that I am appointed both messenger and teacher, and it is for this Gospel that I am now suffering these things (as he awaits execution). Yet I am not in the least ashamed. For I know the one in whom I have placed my confidence, and I am perfectly certain that the work he has committed to me is safe in his hands until that day.
2 Timothy 4:5 - ..... stand fast in all that you are doing, meeting whatever suffering this may involve. Go on steadily preaching the Gospel and carry out to the full the commission that God gave you.
EVERY CHRISTIAN HAS A ROLE IN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 - ... 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.
Now the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I don't belong to the body," does that alter the fact that the foot is a part of the body? Of if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I don't belong to the body," does that mean that the ear really is no part of the body? After all, if the body were all one eye, for example, where would be the sense of hearing? Or if it were all one ear, where would be the sense of smell? But God has arranged all the parts in the one body according to his design. For if everything were concentrated in one part, how could there be a body at all? The fact is there are many parts, but only one body. So that the eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" nor, again, can the head say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body which have no obvious function are the more essential to health: and to those parts of the body which seem to us to be less deserving of notice we have to allow the highest honour of function. The parts which do not look beautiful have a deeper beauty in the work they do, while the parts which look beautiful may not be at all essential to life! But God has harmonised the whole body by giving importance of function to the parts which lack apparent importance, that the body should work together as a whole with all the members in sympathetic relationship with one another. So it happens that if one member suffers all the other members suffer with it, and if one member is honoured all the members share a common joy.
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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