As Christ's body, the church is called to carry on His mission and ministry on Earth. Jesus showed compassion, mercy and justice — often taking a detour or going out of his way to minister to the needs of others. The secular world and the unsaved have taken these on as humanitarian causes, but as Christians we are also called to preach the Gospel. Demonstrating compassion, mercy and justice alone are not enough to draw people to Christ. We must preach, with words, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Pastor Gary Wilkerson continues the series on 1 Corinthians discussing the relationship between pastors and the church. Both teachers and congregants must be able to discern the wheat from the chaff. Many false gospels are being preached in the church today — ranging from prosperity gospel on one end of the spectrum and a gospel of poverty on the other end. Many church attenders just want their ears tickled. Pastors cannot be afraid that they are going to offend their congregations.
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is addressing the issue of eating food offered to idols. In the U.S. this isn't a topic we really have to face, but many Christians around the world are persecuted because of it every day. As Americans though, there is still something to be learned from these verses. Much of the American church has become idolatrous in that many come to church each Sunday for what they can get out of it, rather than giving their all to Jesus — expecting nothing in return. We put God's blessings in front of God Himself.
In 1 Samuel 3, Scripture tells us that Saul got rid of the witches in the land but shortly after invited them back. This is often mirrored in our lives as sin is always trying to find a way back into our lives. We have to understand that we were created to be Christians and we were created to fight for this pure lifestyle. We're in a battle for our lives. Battles, though, will reveal your character and true love. Once won, the battle isn't over, but the enemy is always working on a new way to attack. Our hope is any weapon formed against us will not prosper.
Earlier in 1 Corinthians Paul was dealing with unrighteousness, tolerance of sin and a lax attitude toward holiness, but now he turns his attention toward dealing with excessive self-righteousness. Legalism is subtle and can seem like holiness, but it is just as sinful as sexual immorality and other sins. Self-righteousness is born out of self-love and loathing of others — seeing other Christians as average, subpar and not pleasing to God. The legalistic believer is concerned more with performance and appearances — creating lists and rules of holiness that aren't found in the Bible.
Do your daily circumstances overwhelm you? Do you always see the negative in any situation? Are there people in your life who are always a spiritual drain because of their negative outlook on life? How do you not be anxious in these situations? Scripture encourages us not to be anxious about anything. We are to rejoice in the midst of our struggles. We take our needs to God with thanksgiving. When we do this God's peace for all of our trials is promised to us.
To be a true worshipper you must have a revelation of worship from God. God is seeking those who will truly worship Him. He is longing for us. This worship is not birthed out of what we can gain or answered prayer. It is about what we can give to God. This worship is about honest pursuit of purity in our lives. True worshippers also have resilience to be faithful to the calling on their lives. Jesus often spoke of finishing the work of His Father. A worshipper will not give up when things are difficult because they know God has never forsaken them.
The Israelites were aware of God's glory and presence. This was a covering to them and was also their protection. The nation of Israel illustrated this covering many ways, one of which is their prayer shawl called a chuppah. When they prayed they came into the presence and covering of God. The Jewish people also used this chuppah in their marriage ceremony. The couple that was making a covenant with one another made this commitment under the covering of the chuppah, representing their covenant with God in every aspect of their marriage.
In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 5, Paul grieves over the church because they had accepted immoral sexual practices that not even the unsaved around them would tolerate. Their hearts had grown so cold that they didn't even recognize it as sin anymore. Oddly, later in these verses, Paul goes on to talk about unleavened bread. Like the leaven that gets into the bread, sin can get into our hearts and “rise” or get “puffed up.” Turning to the Old Testament to see how unleavened bread was prepared, we are given an example of how to have an “unleavened” or pure heart.