Paul

Finding comfort in Christ

For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favour bestowed on us through the prayers of many. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:5-11

The Apostle Paul wrote this introduction, roughly 3 years after spending 18 months in Corinth establishing their church. In these 3 years and in the years that followed, Paul and his companions had experienced terrible ordeals; beatings, stoning, lashings, dangers from robbers, dangers from the Jews, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea and dangers among false brethren (2 Corinthians 11:26); he would spend many nights thirsty, hungry and cold outside without clothing. Yet he spoke and wrote with confidence, “our comfort is abundant through Christ”, “we have set our hope on Him”, “He will deliver us”.

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What time is it?

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about the “Mexican Standoff” series, I have been quite ill over the past month and am just now starting to recover. Earlier today I was reading one of Paul Washers sermon transcripts and this quote really stuck with me…..

It is though with one hand God is holding back His justice against this world and with another hand He is pleading for men to come, but one day both hands will be dropped. You know that don’t you? ~ Paul Washer

I realised that for almost 2000 years this world has had the Gospel of Jesus Christ; from the apostles, missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and every Christian man and woman who has proclaimed, defended and shared it with the lost throughout the world. Paul brought it to Spain, Peter brought it to Rome, Philip to Asia Minor, Wesley, Whitefield, Judson and Gardiner to the Americas. There are very few places left on Earth where God’s Word has not been heard and every day His people are risking their lives to reach them with the truth so that they may be saved. Thank God that even in the most hostile nations tens of thousands of people are still coming to faith in Christ Jesus.

True Christians can clearly see the wickedness of the world today, the increase and acceptance of sin, many being led into false teachings, the rise of false prophets…..we shouldn’t be surprised of course, we’ve had almost 2000 years notice. We are looking for the coming of the day of God and a day where all this wickedness ends but don’t forget on that day both hands will be dropped; the unsaved will be without excuse as Gods justice is unleashed.

Now more than ever it’s time to stand firm, never be deterred in doing the work God has given you, the world won’t like it, they’ll oppose you, mock you and even persecute you for they also know the time is short. Even as Christians our lives here are still like a vapour, gone in a moment, so please don’t waste an opportunity, we’ve had 2000 years already but our work isn’t done until the Lord calls us home.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?…..
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. ~ Romans 10:14-17

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” ~ Mark 16:15

On Stony Ground…..

“The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. “Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” – Luke 8:5-8

This is one of the few parables which is found in Luke, Mark and Matthews Gospel books, I believe that it’s importance was repeated for a very good reason, both applicable among the disciples of Christ’s day as well as among the modern disciple of today. All Christians (especially young ones) need discipleship, it is not an optional extra of the Christian life but an essential. In the wild, lions will pick off the young and the weak among their prey, our enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) is no different, those who are weak in their faith, knowledge or discernment are easy pickings for the enemies lies and deception.

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Love and Tolerance

Never forget that the same apostle Paul who wrote…

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

also wrote…

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and avoid them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
– Romans 16:17-18

While Paul would have been the first to proclaim his love for others, he was never tolerant of sin, hypocrisy or those wolves who sought to deceive Gods children. There is a simple lesson here that all Christians should learn…

Never confuse love with tolerance
Never confuse intolerance with hatred
Never confuse meekness with weakness

Just because we love someone does not mean that we must be accepting of everything they do,  just because we as Christians do not tolerate sin and speak out against it does not mean that we hate the sinner. Yes, we are to be meek and humble as Christ but we must always stand strong in our faith, ready to rebuke or exhort when necessary and boldly proclaiming the Gospel wherever we go.

When the Perfect Comes…

Do you know what has changed, regarding the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Spirit and the Church from the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2? NOTHING!

The people have changed, Christianity has splintered and changed but the Holy Spirit has not, He cannot!

After describing the Spiritual gifts in his first letter to Corinth, the apostle Paul goes on to say that one day they will cease and be done away with. Many think that this happened when the apostles died, however these were bestowed by the Holy Spirit to true Christians in the Church and were never dependent on specific people, in this case the apostles. Why would God only send these gifts for 60 years then end them?

We see in 1 Corinthians 13:10 that these gifts cease…..”when the perfect comes”, in other words when Christ returns and the new Heaven and Earth are established. This hasn’t happened yet! Of course when the Lord returns the gifts will no longer be needed, the purpose of the Paraclete (Holy Spirit) was to witness and undertake Christ’s office in the world after He returned to the Father. The Holy Spirit is Christ’s substitute on earth, equal with Him and not limited to one place as Jesus was in His earthly body.

Tongues and Interpretation will no longer be needed as all of the redeemed saints and Heavenly Host will speak the same language as it was before the tower of Babel. Wisdom and Knowledge will cease (as a gift) as we will no longer see through the glass darkly and all Prophecy will have been fulfilled. Gifts of Faith, Healing and Miracles will have no purpose as there is no more sorrow, pain, sickness or death. Discernment becomes unnecessary since those who have been saved will be with the Truth (Christ Jesus) in God’s Kingdom while the father of lies, demons, false teachers and the unrepentant sinners will be eternally separated from us in the lake of fire.

Yes there will come a day when the gifts of Spirit will cease, when this Church age ends and Christ returns but that day hasn’t come yet.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away – 1 Corinthians 13:8-10