A sermon from February 15, 2015
From his collected sermons, The Way Everlasting. The sermon concerns 1 Corinthians 13, on the call for Christians to love:
For what the theologian defines and the Apostle depicts is illustrated and embodied in our Lord Himself, and what we have to do is to look at Him. “Herein is love.” We do not know what love is till we see it in Jesus, and when we see it there we see Him identifying Himself with God’s interest in us. The revelation is not only made before our eyes, it is made with special reference to ourselves. In Christ’s presence we are not the spectators of love only, we are its objects. Christ exhibits towards men, He exhibits towards us, that wonderful goodness which Paul describes. When we think what our life has been, and what has been His attitude to us from first to last, do we not say, “Our Lord suffers long, and is kind; He is not easily provoked; He does not impute to us our evil. Where we are concerned, where God’s interest in us is concerned, He bears all things, He believes all things, He hopes all things, He endures all things.” These are the thoughts, or rather these are the experiences, out of which love is born in our hearts. We love, because He first loved us All the time it is His love which must inspire ours. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.”
James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 163.
The nature of the “aesthetic” man, and the nature of the “seduction” in this diary are well explained by a couple of quotations. The seducer is predatory,:her weakness is the opening for his action, “When a young girl is emotionally disturb, one an successfully venture much which would otherwise be ill-advised.” The erotic here has no true love for her — only for the sensation which the other person produces.
The bare desire for sensation is further underscored in this section,
Social intercourse, it is true, brings one into contact with the fair sex, but there is no artistry in beginning an affair in such surroundings. In society every girl is armed, the occasion is poor and encountered repeatedly, she gets no sensuous thrill. On the street she is on the open sea, everything acts more strongly around her, everything seems more mysterious. I would give a hundred dollars for a small from a girl I met on the street, not ten dollars for a pressure of a hand at a party; that is an entirely different kind of currency.
As one considers this diary, we see that this seduction amounts to almost all of what we call “love”. Love consists in what another person makes me feel. We remain in love as long as that palpable emotion persists. What we love then is our sensation — not the other human being. When I spoke with a behaviorist psychologist, she explained that what we love about another human being are the pleasurable sensations produced in our nervous system — and that loss was the sensation of the loss of those sensations.
1 Corinthians 13:4–7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
One aspect of the ancient world that we need to keep in mind as we read these verses is the fact that it frequently operated on the basis of informal “patron-client” relationships. In such relationships, a “have” (patron) supported a “have-not” (client) materially. The have-not did not earn or merit such “grace.” The patron or “have” did it for other reasons, such as the prestige of being noble or various other favors a have-not might render. In return, the have-not, the “client,” returned whatever honor or service was appropriate.
In some parts of the Roman Empire, the newly rich would compete for status by accruing as many clients as they could.3 Such clients might be expected to come to the patron’s house once a day and do whatever menial tasks the patron required. In return they would get at least one meal that day along with the possibility of future help. The entanglements of patron-client relationships provide us with a good explanation for why Paul on principle did not receive material support from the churches where he was ministering. He would take support from churches elsewhere, such as the support he received from the Philippian church while he was at Thessalonica (Phil. 4:15–16). But he refused support from the cities where he currently served.
Kenneth Schenck, 1 & 2 Corinthians: A Commentary for Bible Students (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2006), 136. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 9
We were created by God from dust
then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
Our descent goes back to this son of God made from dust
the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
And yet in our trials we can wonder whether God remembers that he created us from dust:
8 Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether.
9 Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?
God does not forget
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
God’s care does not end with the mere remembrance that we are dust. His live will extend to the transformation of our bodies:
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
This end our adoption – the resurrection of our bodies no longer as dust is the hope of the entire creation
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
These articles were written by Dr. Jack Hughes, pastor at Crossing Church in Louisville. He has taught sermon delivery at The Masters Seminary.
The first article concerns proper ministry goals & objectives. Using the example of Jeremiah, he explains that ministry must be judged by faithfulness to God, not normal markers of prestige (numbers, budget, et cetera):
Jeremiah teaches us that God glorifying ministry is about being faithful to obey God’s Word and His calling for our life by proclaiming the truth of God’s Word without compromise. It has nothing to do with us saving anyone, growing our church, or being popular. Yes, we will desire spiritual and numeric growth, but if we focus on that, rather than faithfulness, we will often attract people by worldly means, and the result will be a worldly congregation. If you are thinking to yourself right now, “Well that doesn’t sound very fun,” then you are catching on. Ministry isn’t about you having fun; it isn’t about you; it’s about glorifying God by humbly submitting to His Word. Fun times may be included if God so wills, but they are not the goal or criteria for biblically successful ministry.
Read the rest here: Beware of Worldly Ideas of Ministry Success
The second article concerns church leaders who try to gain control over a a congregation by using unbiblical, ungodly methods. Not trusting in the power of the Word of God, nor the Spirit of God, they rely upon their own power — to the destruction of the congregation, the disgrace of the Gospel, and the sorrow of all:
Men of truth will be known by their deeds. They will be men who have labored to faithfully teach, preach, counsel, and shepherd the flock. They will be men who care for the sheep, who invite people into their homes and show hospitality, who have a history of laboring for the spiritual health of the sheep. Though there is always opposition to men who preach the truth, true believers thrive under the ministries of faithful shepherds; they don’t cringe from them in fear. Faithful shepherds are men of prayer, wise counsel, love, and gentleness. Jesus said you will know true, God-glorifying leaders by their fruit (Mt. 7:15-20). Those leaders that scatter the sheep, rather than shepherd them, are a grief to God and God’s people (Jer. 23:1-2).
Read the rest here: When Church Leaders Abuse Church Discipline
Upon Building After Fires
It is a saying of Florus the historian, concerning the fatal fire of Corinth, in which all the edifices were consumed into ashes and its statues of brass, silver and gold melted into one common mass: the devastating of that wealthy city was an occasion to make the metal of it to be highly esteemed in after ages. The like may be said concerning many buildings, that the flames which have turned them into desolate ruins, have occasioned a following a beauty and stateliness in the second fabrics far above what the first ever had.
How oft have we seen by such accidents the dimensions of buildings enlarged, the forms and models of them much bettered, the whole with much more art and cost enriched, so as to fill the beholders with delight and wonder.
Can man thus improve disadvantages and make burnings and indigested heaps to serve as a foil to his art and skill? Can he effect a kind of resurrection and new-birth to what was once destroyed?
What then can God do, whose power is perfected in weakness, and like the sun shines brightest when envisioned with the blackest clouds and difficulties? Surely he can, yea, and undoubtedly will give a being to the bodies of his martyrs, which the fire hath consumed into ashes and the wind has scattered into distances. He will awake his saints, who have made (for ages) their beds in the grave, and have filled their mouths with gravel and slime of the pit: He will call for his redeemed ones from out of the deep sea, and from the maws of fishes that have devoured them, and give to every one of them, not only the same specific, but the same numerical body, changed in its properties, but not in its essence, clarified angelical perfections but not transubstantiated from a corporeal to a spiritual substance [1 Corinthians 15:44]: Is not all this done already in Christ? Our nature in his body is spiritualized, to tell us, that for possibility it may be, and for certainty it shall be so in us. He is our brother therefore we may be like him. And he is our head, therefore we must be like him in a conformity to his glorious body.
Why therefore should I fear the greatest enemies of life, the fire, the grave and the sea? Is there anything too hard for God? Is not his power and his promise engaged to do that for me which he has done for my Savior? Has he not said that those that sleep in Jesus he will bring with him?
Lord help me to make it my only care to have my life holy,
that my resurrection may be happy;
to live to Christ that I may live with Christ;
and from a Netherlander in the dust below,
may be made a citizen of the New Jerusalem which is above
and rejoice in the joy of thy people and glory with your inheritance.
1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 1, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Corinthians 15:42-58, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Acts 2:42-47, Alfred Poirier, Bonhoeffer, Church Conflict, Conflict, David Allen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Fellowship, Psalm 133, Redeeming Church Conflict, Resurrection, The Peace Making Pastor
COUNSELING PROBLEMS AND BIBLICAL CHANGE
BIBLICAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Redeeming church conflict is less about resolving specific problems than it is about seeing conflict as a means by which God is growing his people into true saints, true eternal children of who are being continuous conformed to his holy image.
—Barthel & Edling, Redeeming Church Conflicts
Conflict resolution is the practical outworking of a cure for a spiritual disease. This week we will first take a look at both spiritual health & the spiritual disease. We will not be going through any of the mechanics of restoration and resolution. The education of a medical doctor does not begin with surgery and medication, but rather with training in disease, germs, health, anatomy, physiology, et cetera; and so, neither will we.
In fact, a too-quick jump to mechanics without an understanding of disease and health can easily lead to worse problems. Therefore, we will look at this situation from the prospective of spiritual mechanics of the heart, before we look to interpersonal mechanics.
II. PEACEMAKING AND FELLOWSHIP
Peacemaking is the act of restoring/developing true Christian fellowship. Peacemaking, understood rightly, is worship and seeks to create deeper, more God-glorifying worship. Peacemaking is an act of love, in that seeks to restore relationships between human & God, and between brother & sister. Thus, peacemaking is based upon fellowship and develops/restores fellowship.
A. Something in Common
Fellowship simply means to hold something in common:
Fellowship (Gk. koinōnía). The communion or common faith, experiences, and expressions shared by the family of believers, as well as the intimate relationship they have with God.
Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 380.
When we speak of “fellowship” we are speaking of communion, holding something in common; we are not speaking of just friendship.
Since fellowship hinges upon having something in common with another, it is type of relationship which can develop quickly and will continue as long as the thing in common continues to draw the people into relationship. Consequently, it is a type of relationship which will end as soon as the basis for the relationship is withdrawn. Thus, it is fundamentally different than most friendships.
We know and experience fellowship at various levels and over various things. Some fellowship is very thin. Employees of a company have a sort of fellowship in common in that they have experiences, concerns, interests which are in common and based upon their common employment. If the group from work goes out to dinner together, they will most likely center their attention on their common interest: work.
To understand Herbert’s poem, you must first understand his text, 1 Corinthians 15:
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
By George Herbert
Death, thou wast once an uncouth hideous thing,
Nothing but bones,
The sad effect of sadder groans:
Thy mouth was open, but thou couldst not sing.
For we considered thee as at some six
Or ten years hence,
After the loss of life and sense,
Flesh being turned to dust, and bones to sticks.
We looked on this side of thee, shooting short;
Where we did find
The shells of fledge souls left behind,
Dry dust, which sheds no tears, but may extort.
But since our Savior’s death did put some blood
Into thy face,
Thou art grown fair and full of grace,
Much in request, much sought for as a good.
For we do now behold thee gay and glad,
As at Doomsday;
When souls shall wear their new array,
And all thy bones with beauty shall be clad.
Therefore we can go die as sleep, and trust
Half that we have
Unto an honest faithful grave;
Making our pillows either down, or dust.
As weary pilgrim, now at rest,
Hugs with delight his silent nest
His wasted limbs, no lie full soft
That miry steps have trodden oft
Blesses himself to think upon
His dangers past and travails done
The burning sun no more shall heat
Nor stormy rains on him shall beat.
The briars and thorns no more shall scratch
Not hungry wolves at him shall catch
He erring paths no more shall tread
Nor wild fruit eat instead of bread
For water cold he doth not long
For thirst no more shall parch his tongue
No rugged stones his feet shall gall
Nor stumps nor rocks cause him to fall
All cares and fear he bids farewell
And means in satisfy now to dwell.
A pilgrim I, on earth, perplexed
With sins, with cares and sorrows vexed
By age and pains brought to decay
My clay house moldering away
O how I long to be at rest
And soar on high among the blessed.
This body shall in silence sleep
Mine eyes no more shall ever weep
No fainting fits shall me assail
Nor grinding pains my body frail
With cares and fear ne’er cumbered be
Nor losses know, nor sorrows see
What thought my flesh shall there consume
It is the bed that Christ did perfume
And when a few years shall be gone
This mortal shall be cloth’d upon
A corrupt carcase down it lies
A glorious body it shall rise
In weakness and dishonor shown
In power ‘tis rais’d by Christ alone
Then soul and body shall unite
And of their maker have the sight
Such lasting joys shall there behold
As ear ne’r heard nor tongue e’er told
Lord make me ready for that day
Then come dear bridegroom Come away.
- The image of a pilgrim was a common one for the Puritans. It derives from the language of Hebrews 11, a passage of Scripture which describes saints who came through the world (this life) as pilgrims with a view to living in a permanent homeland:
Hebrews 11:13–16 (AV)
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
And the language of 1 Peter 2:11:
1 Peter 2:11 (AV)
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Hence we may gather divers grounds, that while we live in this world, a Christian is but a pilgrim and stranger. First, Heaven is his home, and this life is but a way, and he a passenger. And thus David accounted of himself, though a king, yet but a stranger, both himself and his fathers; and therefore, as a passenger, he provides for his journey, he stands not for ill usage, cares not to look after delights in the way, but uses them as advantageous to his journey.
Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 5 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 136.
Resurrection: This imagery comes from 1 & 2 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 15:35–57 (AV)
35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:16–5:5 (AV)
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
The end of sorrows:
Revelation 21:1–4 (AV)
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.