The Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)
Will not the judge of all the earth do right? Genesis 18:25 IN THIS ISSUE
In this month’s issue: 3.
The Tragedy of the Self-Sufficient
Ask and it Shall be Given to You
Five Secrets To Discovering God's Will
Which Wall Is Your Ladder Against?
The Final Conflict (Revelation 12)
Mathew Bartlett (UK)
Faith-builders Bible Study Mark 6
Derek Williams (UK)
The God of Psalm 139
Derek Williams (UK)
In Depth Study – 1 Cor. 12:12-31
Mathew Bartlett (UK)
Edwin & Lillian Harvey (USA) Daniel Irving (USA) Sonja Burketh (USA) Daniel Kolenda (CfaN) Ken Legg (Australia)
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Living Word Magazine is published in the United Kingdom by Sharon Full Gospel Church, 7 Park View, Freeholdland Road, Pontnewynydd, Pontypool, NP4 8LP Editor: Mathew Bartlett 1
Faithbuilders Bible Study Guide – Mark
The Prophet of Messiah: Zechariah
The Prophecy of Amos
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Jubilant Jeremy Johnson (CHILDRENS)
The Blessings of God’s Grace
The Donkey Boy – Tales from the Life of Jesus (CHILDRENS)
Faithbuilders Bible Study Guide – Gospel of Matthew
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The Tragedy of the Self-Sufficient An extract from “Royal Insignia” by Edwin & Lillian Harvey
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Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God (2 Cor. 3:5). I HAPPENED to pick up a copy of a magazine a while ago, and I noticed an article which was called “Ten Ways To Get Rid of Fear.” What a title! So I started reading. I guessed pretty well what the man would have to say, but I thought I would have a look. It was the usual stuff written by a psychiatrist. In the last of the ten points, he said, “Have faith.” And I pricked up my mental ears for a moment, and then turned over the page. It continued, “Have faith in yourself. You’ve gone through before, you’ve struggled through in the past, you’ll get through again.” You may smile . . . but there’s an ache in my heart, and that is no exaggeration. That is the tragedy of modern philosophy— self-sufficiency.
by one, gadgets, gimmicks, and all— they fell apart. They were useless, hopeless, and I found there was only one way. I am so ashamed that the eventide of my life has come and I have used it so seldom. And that way is when I am flat on my face before the Lord and say, “Lord, it is up to You. I am helpless and destitute.” Destitute! Destitute! Destitute! That is where I have to get in my life and program and service. After I had been in Chicago for five years, a man rang me up from a church board in New Jersey and said, “Pastor Redpath, our church is without a pastor. Do you know anybody who would fill the pulpit?” I mentioned three or four men whom I knew.
The fact is that I am poor and desperately needy. There is a sense in which I want the Lord never to take me off my knees, for it is when I am there, that I am in the place of miracles. I am destitute. This was David’s conviction about himself. He said, “I am poor and needy.” . . .
He asked me everything under the sun about their education—what university did they attend, what degrees did they have? What about their families? When he ceased the long conversation of about fifty minutes, he said, “Thank you so much for telling me about these men. It is very good of you, but you know, none of them are big enough for our pulpit.” I hope he didn’t think I was rude, but I could not let him go without saying, “Sir, are you sure you do not mean they are not small enough?”
You should have seen some of the brilliant ideas I had in order to try to reach men for Christ. They were terrific, smashing, legion. But—one
I tell you, my friend, if you are a Christian leader, or in the pulpit, or singing, or teaching a Sunday School class, or if you are doing anything 3
for the Lord—it isn’t the big shot, the big man that God wants—it’s the broken man. God uses the man whom He has crushed until he is nothing but a door mat for people to walk on in order that they might come to Jesus. . . . I honestly believe that one of the curses of twentieth century evangelical Christianity is that we are not destitute. We’ve become desperately self-sufficient. Indeed, so great is the craze for higher education that we train young people today to be self-sufficient, to major in the things in which they will succeed—to be a big shot. I’m not saying anything about education. Get the very best you can, but I want to remind you of what Paul said about selfsufficiency. Paul was a man of outstanding education, the brilliant theologian of his day, and he said, “Our sufficiency is of God.” Two thousand years have gone by and the situation is no different. Our sufficiency, our help, our hope is not in programs, not in a theological degree—not in anything but the Lord!—Alan Redpath. Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. And self-dependence only comes to its end, with some of us, when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to that place of self-helplessness and defeat. — James H. McConkey.
And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. Ps. 106:15
Ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. Luke 11:8-10 Image © Eti Swinford From an article by Daniel
Irving: read the whole article, and a range of other Bible studies at THE LAMPSTAND The Lord does not qualify this commandment or set any prerequisite upon receiving. What about obedience? What about holiness? Are these not prerequisites? We might understand why the Lord did not place any prerequisite upon the asking when we consider it is precisely these things we are our asking for! We are to “seek His kingdom and His righteousness.” Therefore it does not follow that righteousness and sanctification would stand prerequisite to asking for righteousness and sanctification. If we are asking for those things God commands us to ask for (ie. His kingdom and His righteousness) this contemplates some measure of faith in itself. Therefore the Lord can assure us that “everyone
who asks receives.” Persistence in asking itself demonstrates Faith. And what is being sought from heaven? Those things of the kingdom of God; those things alluded to by Paul when he writes: But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: I Cor. 1:30 To obtain Christ is to obtain these precious things of eternity. To rightly perceive the Lord’s teachings on receiving from heaven, involves some perception of the true object of our petition. If our desire is set upon eternal things, God will satisfy that desire with His own holy nature, which is Christ. But conversely, if our desire is set on earthly things, there is every reason to believe God will satisfy that desire as well. 4
This should be a warning to us, lest our desires be wrongly directed toward things other than knowing God through the Person of Jesus Christ. The rightly-oriented hope is set upon those things of God’s kingdom as Paul expresses: But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: I Cor. 1:30 If our hope is rightly-oriented in the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, then we are rightlyoriented to receive of God’s Spirit. The Principle of Receiving Spirit from God The prophecy of Isaiah expresses this principle of receiving Spirit from our Creator and Lord: Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people on it, and spirit to them that walk therein: Is. 42:5 God expresses what is His purpose in given men life and giving men spirit. The purpose is righteousness. Not moral conduct, but that righteousness expressed by Paul when he wrote: But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and
righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: I Cor. 1:30 The righteousness brought as God feeds us with His own eternal being; the Spirit of His Son, slain for sinners is the righteousness of which Isaiah speaks. This is the kingdom brought by God. On the other hand, God gives life to all humanity. Isaiah’s prophecy state that God, “gives breath unto the people on it.” Indeed, God gives spirit even to all things, as we learn from the 104th Psalm: O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom have You made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches. So is this great & wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small & great beasts. There go the ships: There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon You; that You may give them their food in due season. What You give them they gather: You open your hand, they are filled with good. You hide Your face, they are troubled: You take away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. You send forth Your spirit, they are created: and you renew the face of the earth. Ps. 104:24-30 Whether the creature understands or does not understand, he is continually in need of the liberality of God for anything good. The very spirit of the creature comes from God. And when God withholds His Spirit from the creature, life
itself is withheld. God gives them of Himself in order that they have consciousness and vibrancy. And man is no exception. God gives “drink to very beast of the field” so that even “the wild asses quench their thirst.” His liberality goes out to men of every stripe. Jesus did not say without a basis in spiritual things, that our Father in heaven “sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” The creature has every reason to hope in the liberality of God to bring them the things to prosper in this life. For we read of God’s provision for men, that He brings: wine that makes glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart. Ps. 104:15 Man’s needs might be a bit more complex than the “beast of the field.” For man is made to worship God and to offer up spiritual sacrifices in righteousness. This truth is no-less true even if men be ignorant of it. Man rejoices in such things as; music, literature, drama, relationships, food, nature, only because God gives him life and the spirit to give these things vibrancy. When God withdraws His Spirit, these things cease from meaning. They become hollow shells, without substance, without the life which the Creator gave. This is why Paul warned those he preached to lest they forget the God who gave them the essential joy of natural life itself: 5
Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. Acts 14:16-17 Something truly miraculous and wonderful was occurring. God was intervening in the natural creation in order to bear a witness to the brutish things of this world that they must stop, and consider the declaration that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In their brutish-condition as creatures they had been blessed by God in the form of “rain from heaven & fruitful seasons, filling our hears with food & gladness”. But now God had a higher calling for men. They were being called into the righteousness of Jesus Christ; invited to share in God’s eternal nature; that they would not have to perish as part of the cycle of temporal life lived by the brute, wherein their Creator will: take away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. You send forth Your spirit, they are created: and you renew the face of the earth. Ps. 104:29 There is a new Spirit that God will give men that will allow men to offer up the sacrifices of righteousness that come from His own eternal being. These are the sacrifices of walking in the love demonstrated by Jesus Christ.
Giving Thanks Another Daily Moment of Thought from Sonja Burketh One of my favourite scriptures in the Bible happens to be, For this I will give thanks and extol You, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing praises to Your name. 2 Samuel 22:50 Those that know me will automatically know why. Two of my favourite things to do are located within the passage: Giving God thanks and singing His praises If it were possible I would spend twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week doing just those two things. If you've been around church at any point in your life, then you have witnessed someone providing examples of both. Some are more radical than others. Some more reserved. But no matter the extent of the outward expression, the purpose is still the same: to give God thanks.
Times when my finances are not matching up with the ever increasing demand instead of becoming overly depressed I begin to thank God for the ability to earn at least some money in a honest way. When my youngest child starts to work on my last nerve I have left instead of becoming angry I begin to thank God for a healthy child. When I don't have the food my body is craving I begin to thank God for the peanut butter and jelly. When my dear hubby makes a mess of the kitchen instead of making a fuss I thank God he cared enough to prepare a meal. And for all of these things I can see the divine graces of God. This is why I have come to know showing gratitude toward God is a mood change. It is hard to stay in a negative mind-set when you focus on the positive things that are happening in your life. Now I must admit I find myself thanking and praising God in a very
Along life's journey we will eventually come to realize and understand that God deserves our gratitude. Not so much for what He does for us, but just because of who He is.
radical way. But for me I have had so many hills to climb and I know it was God who has seen me through each and every one that I just can't help myself. And I would not have it any other way. Notice I did not say He has changed all of my situations, but because He is there for me I can say "Thank You God" Here is a little secret I have found. Telling God thanks does not just have to happen in church. Automobiles, homes and outside while enjoying a walk I have found to be great spots. Try it one time wherever you may be and see if it doesn't immediately change your perspective. Here's a word of caution, thanking God while driving can be a little tricky. Especially if you are listening to a song of which the lyrics are doing the same. So in that case I advise using a little wisdom. Or the person you might rear end may not be as thankful. Image ÂŠ Godfer
BE HAPPY GIVE THANKS
However, do you realize that showing gratitude towards God is a mood changer? A very powerful one! Showing gratitude has a way of chasing away despair, depression, anxiety and anger. Although our situations may not be the way we would like them to be, when we say, "Thank You God", we have automatically focused our mind on something to be thankful for. 6
Five Secrets To Discovering God's Will A Bible Study by Daniel Kolenda (CfaN) Photo: © Sebastian Grecu
An extract from Daniel’s new book- Live before you die. £9.99 BUY NOW. Secret #1 - The Kingdom Comes First Imagine you are a member of the crew of an aircraft carrier in the US Navy. Like all the other crew members, you have been assigned a Repentance is You such might an oftenspecific task. be a misunderstood mechanic or a landing concept. signal Contrary officer. mightmany have people a prestigious to Youwhat think, position as a top gun fighter pilot or repentance is not a dirty word. It’s something as modest as a janitor. notWhile just for sinner who thethespecific roleswants and will vary to to functions get saved, nor is itfrom just person for those person, every crew member is who are committing gross sins and ultimately working toward the same living in blatant immorality. For the objective: to fulfill the mission of child of God repentance should be that vessel.
a lifestyle. To repent means to In theto military, on your “turn,” changedepending one’s mind and position and rank, you may or may direction. not be privy to the overall purpose for which your ship has been
Butdeployed, here isbutwhere many people in God’s kingdom our misunderstand. commanding officer We tend has made to think the ultimate objective clear, and if we of repentance as primarily turning keep this mission before our eyes, it away from something, as in turning will help us to discover and fulfil away from making a oneGod’s will sin for and our lives. Regardless of the specific role wechange each are hundred-eighty-degree to called to play, God’s plan for us will the opposite direction. But this is always be aligned with the larger missing the real point. For mission, and we can eliminate any example, sinner turn initiativeathat is notcould in sync withaway it. from a sin and still be lost. In fact, So what is God’s supremethat agenda in there are many religions teach our world as revealed in Scripture? morals abstinence from We needand look no further than Jesus, various sins, but way thattheincomplete and of who was in every and full expression of God’s will in itself does not save anyone. action. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus Therefore, from the Christian prayed: perspective, what you turn away from is not really the issue. It is what you turn to that makes the difference.
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10, NKJV). The prayer Jesus taught us to pray will one day be answered; God’s kingdom will come, and His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven! Let’s fast-forward in time to see what this glorious fulfilment will look like. Consider the amazing words of 1 Corinthians 15:28:
“And when all things shall be subdued unto him [Jesus], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” That God may be all and in all. What could be more complete than this? What could be more thorough than this? No more darkness; no more sin. Only righteousness in every corner of creation, God’s will being done everywhere all the time. We see prophetic glimpses of this all throughout Scripture, even in the Old Testament. Isaiah and Habakkuk both declare, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14; see also Isa. 11:9). A more thorough covering could not be articulated. It is a total and complete saturation. The last chapter of the Bible paints a prophetic picture of what creation will ultimately look like. Revelation 21:4 says, “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, 7
neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Isaiah 11:6 describes a time when wolves and lambs and leopards and goats will lie down together and be led by children. Redemption has been the divine agenda since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, and throughout human history God has been working diligently and unrelentingly to this end. Both Old and New Testament scriptures contain hundreds of references that run from start to finish in a seamless thread of single-minded intention. In fact, according to Acts 3:21 every one of God’s holy prophets since the beginning of the world has spoken about the restoration of all things. Those prophecies will be fulfilled, the prayer of Jesus will be answered, and God’s kingdom will come. What a day that will be! This is what we long for. This is what we pray for. This is what we work for—for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! Regardless of what we do as an occupation, we all share a singular calling and mission in this life: to build God’s kingdom on earth. This is why our “ship” has been deployed. This is the business we should all be investing in, and if we find ourselves moving in any other direction, we can be sure we are moving away from God’s will for our lives.
Grace: The Power to Reign by Ken Legg
the next, (Luke 12:13-21). He said in another place, ‘What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?’ (Mark 8:36 NKJV). He challenged a driven Martha to examine whether her obsession for service was divinely led or self-imposed. In contrast to Martha, Mary had learned to sit at the feet of Jesus until she knew His will and then she acted. Her ladder was well positioned.
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Which Wall Is Your Ladder Leaning Against? You may have heard the saying that many people spend their whole lifetime climbing a ladder, only to discover when they get to the top that it is leaning against the wrong wall!
After His ascension Jesus confronted a fanatical Saul of Tarsus who was on his way to Damascus hunting down Christians to imprison or kill them. Like many Jews at that time he had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge, (Rom.10:2). His ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. After this dramatic encounter Saul became Paul, the greatest apostle for Christ. He spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel he had previously hated. You can read his testimony of how his ladder switched walls in Philippians 3:1-9. Don’t wait until you get to the top of your ladder
Jesus often challenged people to consider whether they were pursuing the right goals. For example:
Even after salvation the Holy Spirit leads us to re-position various ‘ladders’ in our lives. Here are a few examples of this in my life:
He told a parable about a ‘fool’ who spent His entire life amassing wealth for this world but was totally unprepared for
I used to approach the Bible as a rule-book or a handbook of doctrines, topics and issues. But I have since come to see that it is 8
all about Jesus. As a result of discovering this master-key my whole ministry has been transformed and my one desire in teaching is to unveil Him in all His beauty and majesty. I no longer practice ‘dead works’, i.e. works done in attempt to get God to do something for me. I now understand that everything He wants to do in my life is by grace. It has all been paid for by Christ. The only works I now want to engage in are ‘good works’, i.e. works done in response to His amazing love for me and works which He leads me into. I now see the church as Christ has revealed it in His Word – His body and future Bride. I understand that it is a work in progress and refuse to spend my time standing on the sidelines fault-finding and criticizing. I am committed to the local church and seek to edify it in love. I have learned that success as a leader is not measured by the size of our church, but how many of those I lead are growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. I could add so many other examples to this list. Sometimes it is a very humbling experience to discover, and even to have to confess to others, that we got it wrong. But if my ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall I would rather know now than when I get to the top.
The Cosmic Scope of the Conflict The conflict is cosmic because it involves all things and all of history. The signs John sees in heaven are further visions to help us make sense of the time of the end.
Revelation 12 The Final Conflict
The description of the woman is quite clearly a reference to the nation of Israel. Then Joseph dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me." So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?" (Gen 37:9-10) V2 Israel is here seen as being caught up in a cosmic conflict, which is connected with the plan God formed for mankind before the creation of the world. Israel travailed to bring forth a child - a person born into her sorrows, acquainted with her suffering, and obviously a Jew by birth. God’s plan for mankind is bound up with the nation of Israel in as much as this child was to be born through that nation. Victory not only for the nation but the human race depended on her offspring, who was to be God’s champion in the conflict. Born of a woman, born under the law, this man-child is not 9
only a Saviour for Israel, but the Saviour of the world. He is the seed of the woman that would bruise the serpent’s head. The corresponding sign appears. Satan appears as a fiery red dragon, an evil beast enflamed by his pride and his lust for power as well as by his hatred and anger against God. He had been created as Lucifer, the brightest and most beautiful of all God’s angels - who being lifted up in pride thought to make himself as great as God and led 1/3 of the angelic host in his futile rebellion. He - and they - were cast out of heaven - as Jesus said (Luke 10.8) “I beheld Satan fall as lightening from heaven.” Seeing that he had failed in his effort to oust God from his throne, Satan next attempted the ruin of God’s creation, by seducing Eve and leading mankind into sin. God’s sentence was that the seed of the woman would be his final undoing, which explains his eagerness to do all in his power to destroy this infant as soon as he is born. In every way, as he moved on the murderous Herod, roused the anger of the men of Nazareth, possessed Judas to betray God’s Son and stirred up the crowd to shout for his crucifixion, Satan tried every means to destroy the Son of God - without any success.
The Certain Victor in the Conflict v5, where in a moment the narrative sweeps through the
life, ministry, death, resurrection and exaltation of Christ - who is caught up victorious to God and his throne. Christ will inherit all nations and rule them with the strict discipline of divine authority - a rod of iron. It is important to remember that the battle has already been fought and won by God himself. The Conqueror will yet return to claim his rightful possession. The cross is the final - underline that - breaking of Satan’s power every subsequent victory over the evil one can be attributed directly and only to the work of God in Christ on the cross. The victory we have is simply His victory shared with us. That is why it is written: we overcame him by the blood of the lamb - it is the basis of Christian victory. Because he is the conqueror, we have been made “more than conquerors through him who loved us!” As Stephen Olford says, “We are more than conquerors for every attack is simply a means by which I show them who is already the winner.” Although at the present time, Satan is still called the accuser of the brothers - venting his fury against God’s children and accusing us to God himself, our victory is certain, for Christ has shed his own blood that we might be justified. The scripture says: “ Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.” (Rom 8:33)
He might accuse us all he likes day and night, and it makes no difference, for our standing with God is secure through the blood of Christ, (1 John 1.7). Hence, “they overcame him by the blood of the lamb.” Our victory is secured by the sacrifice of Christ. Christ has shed his blood for all men, but it is only those who believe in him that receive the benefits of his sacrifice. God set him forth as a propitiation through faith in his blood. Rom 3:25 That is why our victory is also secured by the confession of our faith. “They overcame him by the word of their testimony”. Romans 10.9-10 shows how our faith is connected to our confession. that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom 10:910 The confession of our faith is the word of our testimony. We have trusted Jesus as Saviour, we have been born again of his spirit, we have received eternal life - no one can take this away from us - a faith which leads us to our home in heaven. Our victory is secured by the confession of our faith. 10
Since we are now citizens of heaven, our hearts are no longer set on the things they once were. Rather than things of earth, we set our hearts on things above If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:1-3 That is why they overcame him, because they loved not their lives to death. No longer loving this world, we have our hearts set on things above, knowing that what we have in heaven is better and more lasting, for it is eternal. Our victory is secured by the sacrifice of Christ, by the confession of our faith and by our anticipation of heaven, for there is a certain victor in the conflict, our Lord Jesus has already triumphed.
The Approaching Conclusion of the Conflict Although John’s vision conveys this important theological and historical information, it is not intended to be historic but prophetic. John is writing about the time of the end. That is why Satan is depicted as having seven heads and ten horns, for these speak of the dominion he is granted on earth for a brief time at the end of the world. These matters are dealt with more fully in later chapters.
Satan’s dominion will last 3 ½ years or 42 months - we have already encountered references to this time period in the book of Revelation, a period referred to as the time of Jacob’s trouble, or the time of the end. Jesus referred to this period when he said: For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. Mark 13:1920 It seems evident that the events described in v7 are the immediate prelude to this time of trouble. V7 War breaks out in the heavenly realms. This is the realm ruled at present by Satan (Eph. 2.2-3). Daniel was told that this would happen immediately prior to the end of the world. "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Dan 12:12 Daniel was told these things
would happen at the time of the end. "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Dan 12:9 The result of this heavenly assault on the powers of darkness is that Satan’s power is cast out (permanently) of the heavenly realms- that is, restricted to the earth itself. His power will be manifested as never before on earth, but only for a brief time. For it is on earth that the conflict will be concluded. There is still a battle to be fought on earth, for Satan will seek to persecute and destroy all those who are faithful to God and have Christ’s testimony. He will unleash terrible evil and violence upon earth, but the faithful shall be protected and saved by God. What was left of her seed - the remaining faithful Jews. It is at this time that he turns his spite on the nation of Israel - for no other reason than they are God’s chosen race for bringing Christ into the world. Since he cannot reach Christ himself, he means to destroy the woman who produced him - Israel. That is why Satan sets up his throne in Jerusalem. This is not the first time Satan has tried to wipe out Israel, he tried with Haman in the days of Esther - He tried with Adolf Hitler. He will try again. But yet again he will fail. Whatever flood of water or violence spewed out of the 11
devil’s mouth, creation itself is moved to deliver the woman, as when God parted the Red Sea before them and destroyed the Egyptians. God promises that these faithful Jews would be protected and provided for so that the wrath of the serpent would not reach them. Those in the heavens rejoice to see Christ’s total authority and victory, but the earth will suffer woe at the hands of a wrathful devil, who now knows that he has a short time left - no more than a few years. Further details of how this assault on earth and Israel will be carried out are given in the next chapters. But ultimately Christ will face and defeat his enemies personally - see chapter 19 & 20 - and all these events are building up to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and great glory.
Conclusion As we approach the final conflict, we rejoice that we serve the certain Victor. He isn’t waiting to become Victor - he already is. He is just biding his time, not as men do, but in order to give all men everywhere the opportunity to repent and be saved before he comes to exert his rights, to take his throne, to punish the unrepentant an set up His kingdom on this earth. With John we can pray and mean with all of our hearts - even so, come Lord Jesus.
The Faith-builders Bible study series The ‘Faith-builders Bible study series’ has been developed a useful resource for today’s students of God’s Word and their busy lifestyles. Pastors, home or study group leaders and indeed for anyone wishing to study the Bible for themselves will benefit from using Faith-builders studies. Each volume is the result of many years of group Bible study, and has been revised again and again to be relevant, challenging and faith building whilst remaining clear and easy to understand. Each chapter had thought provoking questions to aid study and sample answers are provided. Below are the study notes for Mark chapter 6.
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Mark Chapter 6 (an abstract) ‘Faith-builders study series’(UK) hasImagebeen ByThe Derek Williams & Bible Mathew Bartlett © Rorem developed a useful resource for today’s students of God’s Word and their busy lifestyles.
Pastors, home or study group leaders and indeed for anyone wishing to study the Bible for themselves will benefit from using Faith-builders studies.
Mark Chapter 2 (abstract) Rejection 6:1 Now Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. Jesus now leaves the area where he has done so many miracles and returns to the area in which he was brought up and to his home town of Nazareth. He was often referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth” although he was born in Bethlehem and his forefathers were originally from there. Nazareth was however the home town of Joseph and Mary. We are told in Matthew 2:23 that it was foreordained that Jesus should live in Nazareth and thus be called a Nazarene. When Paul was brought before Felix the Jews accused him
If anyone wanted to find Jesus on Image © Rorem Eachavolume of many years group of being member is of the the result sect the Sabbath dayofthey knew Bible where study, and has been revised again and again to be called the “Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). to look during the service times, in relevant, challenging and faith building whilst remaining This is what some called the the synagogue. He would have only clear and easy to understand. followers of Jesus. Mark makes a read and taught from the scriptures pointEach of thechapter fact that the disciples at the invitation of the synagogue had thought provoking questions to aid followed him.and This sample is significant in as he would not have done so study answers arerulers; provided. much as they were all from the area of his own accord. These people Below are the study notes for chapter 2. been taught by other that Jesus had up to this point had regularly worked in. Now they had to decide rabbis from the scriptures but never Buy paperback now for £7.99 either to stay with their families and before had they heard any speak friends or goEdition with him to £2.01 an like Jesus did “for he taught them as Kindle only unfamiliar area. They chose to stay one having authority and not as the with him. scribes” (Matt. 7:29). But it would seem as if they were not so amazed 6:2 When the Sabbath came, he at what he had said as to how this began to teach in the synagogue. man whom they had known from a Many who heard him were child and whose only schooling astonished, saying, ‘Where did he would have been the little he had get these ideas? And what is this received at the synagogue had this wisdom that has been given to him? 12
By Derek Williams & Mathew Bartlett (UK)
wisdom, and where he had got the power from to do such mighty miracles that they had heard about!
6:6 And he was amazed because of their unbelief. Then he went around among the villages and taught.
6:3 Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren't his sisters here with us?’ And so they took offense at him.
Now it was the Lord's turn to be amazed and this was at their unbelief, their lack of faith. He leaves Nazareth and we are not told that He ever visited it again and went to other towns and villages in the area. It is unbelief that stops the hand of God from moving.
Their lack of knowledge and understanding brought remarks of contempt from them as to his lowly station in life “only a carpenter's son”. His mother and his family still lived among them and were but common people. They were not prepared to accept him as the “Son of God” in spite of the proof that was presented before them, neither did they want to accept him as a man whom God had taken a hold of and empowered to be a prophet just because they knew him and his lowly background so well. They were ignorant of the ways of God and of whom he chooses (1 Cor. 1:27-29). They were “offended” or correctly he became a stumbling block to them (1 Pet. 2:7-8). 6:4 Then Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, and among his relatives, and in his own house.’ So Jesus quotes an old saying “a prophet is honoured in all countries but in his own and among relatives and in his own house he is rejected”. If our Lord and Saviour was so treated can we expect any better treatment? 6:5 He was not able to do a miracle there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. Because of their rejection and unbelief he could not do any miracles there except to heal a few who had faith enough to receive.
Sending Forth 6:7 Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two. He gave them authority over the unclean spirits. In Mark 1:14 we saw that Jesus called the twelve disciples to be with at all times so that he might teach and prepare them to go forth to preach. Now we see him sending them out for some practical experience of what he has been preparing them for. We could liken it in today's world of someone being on employment training and being sent out on placement to put into practice what they have learnt. He calls them to him and gives them precise instructions about how to do the job. They must not go alone but in pairs so that they may be company for each other; that they may strengthen the hands, encourage the hearts and be a help to each other (M. Henry). This is a rule that we should apply to our evangelism; we should not go it alone when we are sent into the highways and byways. (Personal witness, one to one as opportunity is given is different). He “gave” them his 13
power and authority over unclean spirits. It may be more correct to say that he loaned them this for the period that they were sent out for apart from when he sent out the seventy (Luke 10:1-20) we do not hear of the disciples doing any further miracles until after Pentecost. 6:8 He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff — no bread, no bag, no money in their belts They were to travel light taking with them, a stick to help them walk (in Psalm 23 David refers to the Lord's staff being a comfort to him in his walk through the valley of the shadow of death), no food, no money, for they were to prove the Lord as the one who provides. 6:9 and to put on sandals but not to wear two tunics. They were to wear sandals, in readiness to travel and preach (this reminds us of part of the armour of God in Eph. 6:5, a readiness to preach) and only one coat which suggests that it was summer time. 6:10 He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the area. If they were offered hospitality in a home they were to remain in that place for as long as they were in the town and not go from house to house as this could cause offence to the first person who had freely taken them in. 6:11 If a place will not welcome you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ If they were not received or welcomed in any community and if
their message was not listened to, they were to leave it. As they left that place as a symbolic act they were to shake off the dust of that place from their feet as a witness against them of their rejection (see Acts 13:50-51). The closing words of Jesus to the disciples “it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement” would suggest that there will be various degrees of punishment for unbeliever's (Matt. 11:22). 6:12 So they went out and preached that all should repent. And so the disciples were sent forth and followed Jesus' instructions to the letter and preached the gospel to the people calling on them to repent. 6:13 They cast out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. And because they did as he instructed them their ministry prospered, many were delivered from demons. Although we are not told in the preceding verses that Jesus instructed them, nevertheless he must have done so, as they anointed the sick with oil they were healed (James 5:14). In between the time of the disciples being sent out (verse 7) and their returning to Jesus (verse 30) Mark fills us in on what became of John the Baptist. 6.14 - 15. Now King Herod heard this, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead, and because of this, miraculous powers are at work in him." Now King Herod heard this, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the
baptizer has been raised from the dead, and because of this, miraculous powers are at work in him." The miracles that Jesus was doing reached the ears of King Herod and it pricked his conscience for he immediately thought that it was John the Baptist raised from the dead that had come back. From his reaction we can assume that Herod had no difficulty in believing in resurrection and that if anyone could be raised from the dead then the matter of miracles would be a natural consequence of this. Others thought that it was Elijah come back and some that at least He must be one of the prophets. 6:16 - 18. But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised!" Herod himself had sent men, arrested John, and bound him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother 22 Philip's wife, because Herod had married her. For John had repeatedly told Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herod was convinced that it was none other than John. The reason why Herod had John imprisoned was because he had repeatedly and boldly declared the truth to him that he had and still was committing sin by marrying his brother Philip's wife Herodias that was against the law of God. 6:19 - 20. So Herodias nursed a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not because Herod stood in awe of John and protected him, since he knew that John was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him, he was thoroughly baffled, and yet he liked to listen to John. 14
Therefore, Herodias was enraged with John and held a grudge against him but she could not carry out her revenge against him because Herod had a fear of John. He knew that he was a just and holy man and this was why he had up to now protected John from the evil plans and purposes of his unlawful wife Herodias. Although what John said disturbed him Herod still liked to listen to him. 6:21 But a suitable day came, when Herod gave a banquet on his birthday for his court officials, military commanders, and leaders of Galilee. However, when it was Herod’s birthday party and all the high dignitaries were there, an opportunity was given to Herodias to get her own back on John. 6:22. (NKJV) And when Herodias' daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you." He also swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom." During the festivities Herodias’ daughter came and danced before all the guests and because this greatly pleased Herod he rashly promised her on oath to give her whatever she wanted even to half his kingdom. 6:24 So she went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist!" The daughter who was obviously ruled by her mother went straight to her and asked what she should ask for. This was Herodias’ chance
and she did not hesitate to say the execution of John the Baptist. 6:25 - 26. Immediately she hurried back to the king and made her request: "I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter immediately." Although it grieved the king deeply, he did not want to reject her request because of his oath and his guests. So she returned to the king and told him she wanted the head of John the Baptist presented to her on a plate. Although he deeply regretted what he had said he could not refuse her request because of the oath he had made before all his guests. 6:27 - 28. So the king sent an executioner at once to bring John's head, and he went and beheaded John in prison. He brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. Just as Ahab listened to Jezebel (1 Kings 21:25) so Herod yielded to his wife and by making a rash oath to her daughter he put himself in the position of doing something that he knew was wrong and John the Baptist was executed. We should be very careful concerning any oaths that we might make especial those to God. They should be considered very carefully and not made on the spur of the moment. 6:29 When John's disciples heard this, they came and took his body and placed it in a tomb. When Johnâ€™s disciples hear about this they came and took his body and buried it in a tomb.
Miracle of Provision 6:30 Then the apostles gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. On their return to Jesus the disciples were very eager to tell all that they had done and said during their evangelistic tour of the towns and villages. They were as excited about it as children would be in reporting the results of a project they had successfully completed for their teacher. However, keep in mind the exuberance of the disciples when they returned to Jesus from their successful evangelistic outreach and in contrast their utter helplessness and lack of faith in responding to His challenge to feed the people and their fear when He came to them walking on the water. 6:31 He said to them, "Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while" (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat). However, the Lord saw that the work had taken its toll upon his disciples and that they were in need of a rest. There are times when the Lord calls us aside for a while that we might wait upon Him and be renewed in strength (Isaiah 40: 31). 6:32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to some remote place. So He apparently planned a little quiet holiday for them away from the crowds but Jesus was never taken unawares and knew what was about to happen. 6:33 But many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they 15
hurried on foot from all the towns and arrived there ahead of them. Many of the people recognized who they were and when they saw them getting into a boat they rushed round to the other side of the lake and met them there. 6:34 As Jesus came ashore he saw the large crowd and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things. When Jesus looked upon the people He saw them as lost sheep having no shepherd to protect, provide or guide them (Isaiah 53:6; Jer. 50:6, Ezek. 34:6 ). As much as His disciples needed a rest the needs of the people were greater and so moved with compassion He could not turn them away and so He ministered to them. Who else did they have to turn to but Him? (Ps.23:1; Isaiah 40:11; John 10:11) 6:35-36 When it was already late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is an isolated place and it is already very late. Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something for themselves to eat." Perhaps by now the disciples were feeling a bit put out of having been done out of their little holiday and wanted to get rid of the people as soon as they could. When they saw it was getting late they asked Jesus to send them away that they might find themselves some food to eat. 6:37 (NKJV) But He answered and said to them, "You give them something to eat." And they said to Him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?"
The God who has all knowledge of me, is everywhere present with me and is all powerful â€“ PSALM 139 Image ÂŠ Subbotina
The Omniscient God (having infinite knowledge and understanding) V1. For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. O LORD, You have searched me and known me. The Psalmist, who is David, is very conscious of having come under the scrutinizing eye of Yahweh (the title LORD being in capitals signifies this name) the great "I AM THAT I AM". The one who searches all hearts (1 Chr. 28: 9). We are told in Rev. 1:14 that the Lord Jesus Christ, as John saw Him on Patmos, has eyes like a flame of fire - like laser beams that penetrate right through to the very soul. There is no part of a person that can remain hidden from Him. The Psalmist realises that it is for his own good that the Lord has done this, otherwise he would not have survived it. Having been searched in this way he also realises that there is nothing concerning him that the Lord does not know (1 Kings 8:39, Hebrews 4:13). This particularly applies to those who know the Lord and belongs to Him (John 10: 27). He expresses no fear or dread of God knowing all about
him in this way. Neither should we, for in our realisation of this truth we can take comfort in the fact that knowing the best and worse about us He forever loves us, also that we do not have to hide anything from God because we cannot. V2. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. He Knows - "my sitting down". The times when our faith fails, when we question God and fall into despair, when we fail, when we sin, when we are luke-warm towards Him. "My rising up." When we are on fire for Him, rejoicing in His goodness and loving-kindness to us, when we know that, through Christ we can do all things (Phil. 4:13), when we are more than a conquerors (Rom. 8:37). "My thoughts." Before we even think them God not only knows about them but why we will think in the way we do, the reason, purpose and motive behind them. V3. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. "My Path." When we go about our ordinary and sometimes mundane 16
duties whether it is in employment, housework or pleasure and leisure, God surrounds us with His love and care also when we are at rest. All that we do and all that involves us God is familiar with. V4. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. "My tongue." There is not a word that passes from our lips that goes unnoticed by God, He is fully aware of the meaning, the motive and sincerity or falseness in it being uttered. 5. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. "hedged - behind." The enemy and enemies of our souls may be all around us but the Lord is behind us to keep us safe from any sudden attacks. "Before us". He goes before to prepare the way and to take the full brunt of any direct attacks. "Your hand." is upon us to keep us steady and from going astray, to lead us to walk in the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3). V6. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. This section of the Psalm ends with the psalmist suddenly realising that although he has a limited knowledge of God, what he does know is more than enough for him to fully take in. And although today through the revelation that we have through Jesus Christ we have perhaps a greater understanding we still only "see through a glass darkly - we know in part" but when we see Jesus face to face then "we shall know even as also we are known" (1 Cor. 13:12).
The Omnipresent God (Present in all places at the same time) Image: ÂŠ Andreus
V10. Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. Even in such a place God's hand will be there to guide us for He "makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters" (Isaiah 43: 16). But more than this God's right hand, that is His powerful hand, takes a hold of us. It is not our hold on God that keeps us but His hold upon us. Jonah found this out when He tried to run away from God - he went to the foot of the mountains and thankfully for him, he found that God was there and heard his cry and saved him (Jonah 2). In verses 11, 12 this could have been the expressed desire of David when he had sinned in committing adultery and murder for he did try to cover it up but found that he could not.
In verses 7 - 10 the psalmist is not expressing a desire to run away from God but poses a series of hypothetical questions. V7. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? First of all he asks where can he go to escape from the spirit of God who knows and understands all things concerning him, then, where can he flee from His presence ? The answer can only be "God is wherever I am, He fills all space". He is wherever I shall be and wherever I could be. However, let us make certain that we are always where God wants us to be and not expect God to follow us around wherever we want to go.
V8. If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. "In heaven" - of course we would expect to find God in heaven. Many people would like to confine Him there. "In hell (Sheol - grave)". If I should die and go to paradise (the place where the faithful went before Jesus Christ came) even there God's spirit and presence will be. V9. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, "Wings of the morning". These are the sunbeams of the rising sun which he uses in his imagination to travel to the deepest part of the seas 17
V11 - 12. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. Men believe that the darkness of the night will protect them from being discovered in their evil deeds. We are told in John 13: 30 that Judas Iscariot went out into the night to betray Jesus. And in John 3: 19 Jesus said "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil" But the darkness and light are the same to God for "He is light and in Him is no darkness at all" 1 John 1:5. and 7 "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin"
he did not evolve form any other creature. V15. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. "My frame" - The Lord saw the seed of the man and woman, the act that brought about his conception in his mother's womb '(lowest parts of the earth)" where he grew. The New Living Translation "You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb." V16. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
The Omniscient is also the Omnipotent (having unlimited power) Image: ÂŠ Cerenzio
V13. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. "Inward parts" - It is only the allpowerful God who could make humanity out of the "dust of the earth" (Genesis 2:7). It is He that has put every organ inside the body to function in order to maintain life. "Covered me" - put all my parts together in my mother's womb, encasing them with flesh and bone. The ending of this section of the Psalm in this way turns his mind to the way he was made and so.....
"My substance - unformed" When he was in the embryo stage God knew all about every part of his body before they were fully formed, God knew what he would look like. He knew his name and character. Every day of his life was known by the eternal God who had a plan and purpose for his life.
V14. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
V17 - 18. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
He praises God for the care that He took and the precise and perfect way he made man. God did not just take a handful of dirt and throw it together - He did not speak the word and it was done - He "made man in His own image" (Genesis 1:27). The Psalmist had a spiritual understanding of this. He knew that it was God that made man and that
So far in the Psalm we have heard David's thoughts about God but next David pauses. If David has thoughts about God then surely God must have thoughts about him too. When he stops to consider these David declares them to be very precious (loving, wise and considerate) and too great in number for him to count.
Our In Depth Study 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 By Mathew Bartlett Photo © Xxknightwolf
Scripture taken from the NET Bible®.
Our In Depth Study. 1 Corinthians 9:1-27 By Mathew Bartlett Photo © Godfer The Diversity of the Body of Christ Characteristically, throughout this passage Paul employs this spiritual teaching to rectify a practical problem at Corinth. Some who had received unusual endowments of the Spirit thought themselves superior to those who did not have the same gifts, whilst those without the gifts envied those who had received them and became resentful and dissatisfied. Although the Holy Spirit has apportioned different ministries to different people, this is not a basis for division. God's purpose is that by working together we may all progress toward the same goal - to be like Jesus. Every believer makes up part of the body of Christ and possesses some gift from God, and all these gifts are to be used for the sake of the body as a whole. Paul’s comparison of the church to the human body should not lead us to conclude that the body of Christ is merely a thought lesson. It is a spiritual reality which may best explained by analogy to the human body. 12:12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the
Scripture taken from the NET Bible®. members of the body -- though as a proof text for those many -- are one body, so too is commentators (such as Carson and Packer) who wish to argue that the Christ. ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ is Just as the human body has many contemporaneous with conversion parts and organs, each having and not the ‘second blessing’ different functions, so is the body of purported by the classical Christ. No single part of the human Pentecostal movement. However, it body - organ or limb - is able to live is certain that Paul had no intention on its own, for each part depends of raising this subject at all in this on all the others. In the same way, verse; his aim was rather to although every member of the counteract the division which the church has differing gifts, none of Corinthians had fostered through them exist on their own, but all are their pride in the spiritual gifts they part of the same body and depend had received. Notice how he on each other. emphasises that one Spirit has brought us all into one body; and 12:13 For in the one Spirit we were that again that we have been given all baptized into one body--Jews or one Spirit to drink. Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Since Paul does not join in the controversy, neither shall we. His It is by the operation of the Holy point in this verse is actually quite Spirit that we have all been simple: not about when Christians included in this body - the body of are baptised in the Holy Spirit, but Christ. Being born again of the same that following this baptism they are Spirit, whether we are Jews or baptised in the same Holy Spirit. Gentiles, slaves or free, we have all become children of God. The 12:14 For in fact the body is not a conditions of salvation (by faith in single member, but many. Christ) and therefore the conditions of membership of Christ's body are The different parts of our bodies are designed to carry out differing the same for all. functions. It would be absurd to This verse has been the cause of expect them to perform functions much contention, and has emerged for which they were not created. So 19
it is in the church. Every member of Christ's body has a different contribution to make, but all are essential. If they are spiritually healthy, then the parts of Christ’s body will function correctly, each doing the specific task which Christ has assigned to it. As Matthew Henry says: ‘How blessed the Christian church, if all the members did their duty!’ If any part of the body fails to do their work (perhaps as a result of spiritual backsliding), then this puts stress on other members of the body, who have to compensate for the lack of one part. Having broken her right elbow, a close friend of mine had to learn to eat with her left hand - not an easy thing to do when you are right-handed! The most stressful thing in any office, factory, or other work environment, including in the church, is when things which need to be done are left for others to do; for this usually leads to a few people becoming grossly overworked. 12:15-16 If the foot says, "Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body," it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. And if the ear says, "Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body," it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. Paul's ludicrous illustrations show how no member of Christ's body can be thought all powerful and no part considered useless. What we do does not make us part of the body of Christ; rather, what we do is the result of our being part of that body. If all parts have different functions, yet all parts have an equal share in the dignity of this body. Whilst the ears are for hearing, not sight, they are no less essential to the well-being of a person than the eyes, which although they have vision, cannot hear.
12:17 If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing? If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell? If all the body were used for seeing how would we hear anything? If all the body was devoted to hearing, how could we smell anything? By applying this truth to the church we observe both the importance of diversity and the principle of unity in diversity. If everyone was a teacher, they would have no one to teach. If everyone planted churches there would be no one to pastor existing churches. If everyone devoted themselves to preaching, who would see to the day to day business of the local church? If everybody becomes a pastor, who will be left to teach the children? In my own local church, if there was no one to drive the minibus which brings neighbourhood children to church, our Sunday school teachers would have no children to teach. So whilst we're not all gifted to lead worship, we can't all write songs, and we are not all evangelists; yet there are many varied aspects of God’s work which are mutually dependent: we all have an essential part to play in the great work that God is doing. 12:18 But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided. The unique part which God has given to us in the body of Christ was foreordained by Him before the foundation of the world, as we read in Ephesians 2:10: for we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. Regrettably, I have known some Christians withhold their labour from the most basic tasks, since they have wanted to reserve their efforts for avenues of service which 20
might one day produce spectacular success – yet those avenues never open to them. Some imagine that if they could be like someone else, then they would accomplish great things for God. But God has made us to be what we are and has put us where He wants us to be. We must never neglect the gifts which God has given to us, even if we think them insignificant. Nor must we suppose that other members of the body will take over the part which we neglect, for only we can fulfil the function God has given to us. 12:19 If they were all the same member, where would the body be? If the whole body tried to be what only some parts are intended to be, then God’s perfect purpose for the body would never be accomplished. How can God's purpose for any church be fulfilled if all its members are trying to be what they're not? For ‘each church is in miniature what the whole aggregate of churches is collectively, the body of Christ.’ 12:20 So now there are many members, but one body. In God's order, there are many members but one body. Barnes says, ‘God has formed the body, with its various members, as he saw would best conduce to the harmony and usefulness of all’. 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor in turn can the head say to the foot, "I do not need you." Just as the hand cannot say to the eye, I don't need you, so no part of Christ's body is independent of the rest. Barnes says, ‘those that are most talented and most richly endowed with gifts cannot say to those less so, that there is no need of their aid.’ 12:22 On the contrary, those members that seem to be weaker are essential.
Those who appear weak and lacking in ability are not to be despised by those who are stronger and more able. Those who seem feeble are necessary, since we could not live or perform our duty to God without them. They may be the sick, elderly, or the disabled, but their service, although sometimes less visible, is no less vital. Those greater gifts, such as the evangelist or pastor, can never hope to fulfil their ministries unless the more lowly ministries fulfil theirs. The great crusades of well-known evangelists are often attended by many thousands. But who has invited these thousands? Was it the elderly mother who regularly witnessed to them and encouraged them to come to Christ? Was it the spouse who faithfully lived out their Christian life as a witness before their partner which finally brought them to seek Christ in the gospel rally? All these unnamed disciples, and many more besides, have worked together to bring the harvest home. No evangelist ever has, and no evangelist ever will, succeed in his ministry without the healthy function of the entire body of Christ. 12:23 And those members we consider less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our unpresentable members are clothed with dignity. Some parts of the human body are presentable - we do not usually cover our faces when we go out, but we would not dream of going out with our bottoms uncovered, and so we bestow on them the honour of a covering! Evidently, rather than despise the less respectable parts of the human body, we honour them with our care and attention. Again, although the illustration seems ridiculous, the truth of it must be applied within the church. Those who are of lower rank, are less favoured than others with spiritual endowments, or who are
physically or mentally weak, or who lack ability, should never be overlooked. They must be shown the appropriate level of care; the attention bestowed on them must correspond to their need, not their ability.
pastor will soon notice that he or she is struggling.
12:24 But our presentable members do not need this. Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honor to the lesser member.
Paul broadens his description of the church as Christ's body by explaining that if one member suffers, all the others are affected. Literally, we all experience the sufferings of every single member of the body.
We have no need to bestow extra effort on the presentable parts of our bodies. The greater honor referred to is the greater attention, labour and care which must be bestowed on the less presentable parts of the human body. Seemingly, if God has blessed me with some useful gift, it is because He saw that I lacked something within my life, which only my service for Him could provide. 12:25 So that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another. God has arranged the members of the body in this way so that every member should have equal concern for all the others. However, Paul does not mean that we should bestow care on the weak at the expense of the strong. We must also be careful not to neglect the needs of our stronger brothers and sisters. A person may have a weak heart and strong teeth, but do they, in order to take good care of their heart, neglect to brush their teeth? Of course not! Many spiritual problems and divisions have arisen in churches because the pastor has shown care for the needy members but thought that the strong would not need his loving help and caring ministry. Morris is right when he observes that ‘no special care is to be lavished on one member to the detriment of other members’. Indeed, any church congregation which prays more for their weak and sick members than for their 21
12:26 If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a member is honoured, all rejoice with it.
‘When a thorn enters the heel, the whole body feels it, and is concerned: the back bends, the belly and thighs contract themselves, the hands come forward and draw out the thorn, the head stoops, and the eyes regard the affected member with intense gaze (Chrysostom)’. On the other hand, if one member is honoured (given glory), then we can all rejoice together with them; meaning that there can be no rivalry in the church. 12:27 Now you are Christ's body, and each of you is a member of it. In summing up, every believer is part of the body of Christ, but each has a different function. 12:28 And God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. God has set certain offices in the church, all of which are allotted different tasks. The emphasis Paul makes here is not so much on their distinction as on the unity of their function. Whilst it appears that Paul lists these ministries in order of the authority exercised by each, his intention is rather to stress the vital importance and interdependence of them all. The teaching that every member is of equal worth in the
sight of God should never lead us to conclude that God has not appointed those in positions of authority within His church. People do not choose to make themselves apostles or pastors, but God has assigned them to this position of responsibility, and they will give an account to Him for it. We will consider these ministries, in the order in which Paul lists them.
Apostles These are delegates sent by Christ to represent Him on earth. In this context they are Christ’s ambassadors to the church, although their ministry is largely as His ambassadors to the outside world.
Paul’s argument. We are each called to fulfil different functions, with each one of those functions being vital to the life of the body as a whole. 12:31 But you should be eager for the greater gifts. And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison. We must all guard against the fault of lamenting our own lack of gifting or ability. Even if our talents are below average, we remain responsible before God to employ those that we do have in His service. Paul's advice is that we must covet earnestly the best gifts not for our own benefit, but that we may use them to edify the church.
Prophets These are enabled through divine grace and revelation to make known the mind and will of God to the church, sometimes especially with regard to future events.
Teachers These give instruction in knowledge of God from teachings of His written word.
Then are those who perform miracles, those with gifts of healings, helps (those who take a turn, or bring relief), governments (those who direct the affairs of the local church), and those who give messages in tongues. Clearly this is not an exhaustive list (for example prophecy and the word of wisdom are left out), but it is sufficiently diverse for Paul to make his point. 12:29-30 Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform miracles, do they? Not all have gifts of healing, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all interpret, do they? Evidently, not everyone is an apostle and not everyone works miracles. That is the whole point of 22
The question every child of God must ask is not ‘what can Jesus do for me?’ but ‘what can I do for Jesus?’ Every believer should take the opportunities of service for Christ which are ready to hand and which they are capable of. It is good to seek God for His gifts and enabling so that we might serve Him effectively. Yet in chapter 13, Paul goes on to reveal what is greater than all gifts, and that is the Christian love which ought to be expressed by their use - for love is the greatest tool for building up the church. Image © Salvador Ceja
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