mp3 recordings from our series of messages on 1 Corinthians chapters 1 to 3
mp3 recordings from our series of messages on 1 Corinthians chapters 1 to 3
Just added; Billy McClounie from New Cumnock tells his own story of how through bereavement and the bitter disappointments of life, God brought him on a journey which led him to to saving faith in Jesus Christ
Just added to our series on 1 Corinthians:
Notes from this Message:
Questions from last week:
The Betrothal theory of Matthew chapter 19 has many notable strengths
It has been adopted over the years by a number of very able students of the Word of God: John Heading in his commentary on Matthews Gospel, and Jack Hunter
It answers or rises above the 9 objections we gave last week to the exception clause theory of Matthew 19:9
It has the added strength of having some background in Matthews Gospel in the events of Mary and Joseph, wishing to put Mary away privately due to her conception during the Betrothal period.
“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Mat 1:19)
“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,” (Mat 1:24)
The theory has to my mind 2 weaknesses however:
The context of Matthew chp 19 is that of marriage, it is a question and answer session over marriage, therefore to answer the Pharisee questions about marriage with an answer about Betrothal seems to be a bit off subject. In response to this it is generally asserted with great confidence that Jewish Betrothal went way beyond our Western ideas of engagement and that a betrothed couple had the leak rights of a married couple.
This takes us to the second problem as to the exact character of Betrothal. Despite the confidence of the advocates of this idea that betrothal was so close to marriage that the terms could be used interchangeably, there is really a paucity of biblical evidence for this. We do know that in Deuteronomy 22 When it came to rape that the rights of a betrothed woman were the same as the rights of a married woman rather than being the same as the rights of a single woman. The AV versions also refers to Mary as Joseph’s wife in Matthew chapter 1; although the fact that the Greek words for Man and husband, woman and wife are the same can lead us to overly read into the terminology here. Luke will refer to Mary as Joseph’s espoused wife. We also know that Joseph sought to put Mary away privately during the betrothal period, something, which so far as I can see would have been impossible under marriage.
In the AV Joseph and Mary are referred to as husband and wife during the betrothal period. This seems on the surface fairly strong evidence for marriage and betrothal being synonymous, however consider:
“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Mat 1:20)
ie Mary is not yet his wife!
However in Luke we have a distinction:
“To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” (Luk 2:5)
Considering the history which we have from the OT scriptures on pre marital practices we really are left somewhat in the dark regarding the precise nature of betrothal in a biblical context:
Abraham and Sarah – we know very little
Isaac and Rebecca seem to have nothing in the way of betrothal per se, marriage being arranged by a 3rd party followed by what seems like a more or less immediate marriage
Jacob and Rachel and Leah – any betrothal here seems to have been pretty perfunctory in so far as Laban felt free to substitute Leah for Rachel.
David obtained Michal as a reward for services rendered and Abigail as a consequence of the death of her husband and Bathsheba by a circuitous route
So little authoritative biblical help here.
Our knowledge of what betrothal meant to the Jews therefore appears to rely on extra biblical sources and I personally would hesitate to be dogmatic about that.
Encylopaedia Judiaca: “Shiddukhin as such has no immediate effect on the personal status of the parties – it being only a promise to create a different personal status in the future (Resp. Rosh 34:1; Beit Yosef EH 55). Nor does the promise give either party the right to claim specific performance from the other – since a marriage celebrated in pursuance of a judgment requiring the defendant to marry the plaintiff is repugnant to the basic principle that a marriage requires the free will and consent of both the parties thereto.”
Alfred Edersheim: “ From that moment Mary was the betrothed wife of Joseph; their relationship as sacred, as if they had already been wedded. Any breach ot it would be treated as adultery; nor could the band be dissolved except, as after marriage, by regular divorce.” (p106)
2. Marital Violence
Having considered what you have said about the absence of any exception clauses in Matthew chapter 19 and 1 Corinthians chapter 7, what about the case of marital violence. Is a woman (or man) expected then to stay in an abusive relationship? The simple answer here is of course no. The important issue though is surely, is there any indication in scripture that the Lord does not expect us to stay in those kind of relationships?
If I could highlight however 1 Co 7:10-11 which whilst instructing us not to leave our spouse, Paul then in an uncharacteristic fashion proceeds to tell us what to do if we do leave our spouse; “but and if she depart” (7:11), in other words 1 Corinthians chp 7 combines the biblical and creatorial ideal of marriage; that it is not to be broken with a down to earth realism and appreciation of the true nature of fallen man – that it will not always be possible to stay in a relationship and for a variety of reasons unspecified in the text we may be forced to leave.
Our commitment is to marriage and to the Lord, not to being perpetually abused.
Importantly however, just as the laws of men cannot break the marriage bond neither can the lawlessness of men, we have the liberty to leave but no liberty to try again for someone a bit better than the last one (7:11).
3. Is the believer under Deuteronomy 22?
In Matthew 19:9 you interpret it in the light of Deuteronomy chapter 22 and see that under OT law marriage was effectively annulled by pre marital fornication. Does that mean that you are saying that believers are now under the law of Deuteronomy chp 22?
There are 2 ways you could take this:
a) Either as a NT endorsement of an OT text presenting it’s abiding relevance to all believers at all times, in the same sense as we have the re-echoe of the 10 commandments in 1 Co 6:9-10., not so much as a legal exception clause but as the abiding standard expected by God of those entering into marriage.
We can certainly be assured that as with the law Gods standards have not changed.
(b) It becomes clear however from subsequent texts (Rom 6:14; Gal 2:21; 5:4) that the believer is no longer under law and so whilst the Lord highlights to the Pharisee the only legitimate basis for the annulment of a marriage in the OT we cannot claim this today as a legal right; as a Divine standard, certainly but not as a legal right, because under Grace we no longer have legal rights. I would judge then that whilst Deuteronomy chp 22 continues to reflect the Divine standard of Righteousness, as with all law the NT believer is not under it and would not claim it as a legal right. I would judge that this lies at the root of its omission from Mark and Luke.
4. What about divorced and remarried people?
We have spent a considerable amount of time looking at why marriage is indissoluble and at the absence of any credible exception clauses, so what about when divorce and remarriage is a fait a compli? What is the status of people who have previously been divorced and remarried? Can they be accepted into fellowship or as some have indicated is divorce and remarriage effectively the unforgiveable sin?
Pragmatically I do believe that whilst divorce and remarriage is wrong it is no less the recipient of Divine Grace and restoration than any other sin. I believe that there is very good evidence in the NT that amongst Gods people there were those who had been divorced and remarried:
i. John 4 – The Samaritan woman at the well became the first missionary to the Samaritan, and yet married 5 times! Is it feasible that she would have been excluded from the church which which resulted from her evangelism?
ii. 1 Timothy chp 3 – the elder was to be the husband of 1 wife
iii. In 1 Corinthians chp 7 almost all possible permutations of marriage which the Corinthians would have encountered, are addressed by the apostle Paul, except one; that of those who were previously divorced and remarried! Were such conditions acceptable to the Corinthians; undoubtedly they were (1 Co 5:1ff). A believer coming then to 1 Co 7 who had previously been divorced and remarried would have only 1 section applicable to them (1 Co7:17-24).
3 scenarios presented in this section:
1. Unmarried (v8-9)
2. Married (v10-11)
3. Mixed Married (v12-16)
v12 – There is nothing said in Matthew / Mark / Luke or John about this scenario; “but to the rest speak I, not the Lord.”
Some were obviously entertaining the idea that if they were married to an unbeliever they ought to put that unbeliever away (v12) or leave him (v13).
Why would they have though like this?
For a commendable reason: v14 – Sanctification and holiness
Paul has already taught the defiling nature of relationships with prostitutes in 1Co 6:15-17 and will give teaching on unequal yolk in 2 Co 6:14ff.
Consider through the Word of God the damage done and dangers encountered with an unbelieving spouse:
Solomon and pagan wives
David and Michal – discouraged him
Job and his wife; ‘curse God and die.’
Moses and Zipporah (Ex 4)
Hosea and Gomer (Hosea 1:3ff) – a heart break if thre ever was one
Samson and the Philistine woman and Delilah
What is interesting is the argument which Paul will use to to assure them that it is alright to stay together (v14)
If we are saying that union with an unbelieving partner is defiling then to be consistent we would need to affirm that the fruit of that union is also defiled, that is the child and if we are compelled to put away our spouse we would also be compelled to put away our child, to be consistent; since that is unthinkable, then it must be legitimate to maintain both our relationship with our child and with our spouse.
V15 – The 3rd NT text sited as evidence for freedom to remarry after divorce
‘let him depart’ – permission to depart
‘bondage’ : 1402: ‘douloo’ : to make a slave or servant – never used of the marriage bond
Does this imply the right to remarry?
Problems with seeing a Pauline Privilege in 7:15:
1. Contradiction with 1 Co 7:10-11: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”
2. Contradiction with 1 Co 7:39; “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” (1Co 7:39)
3. The problem of missing scenarios. What about an unbeliever putting away his wife? Why is this not spoken of in verse 15? Technically remarriage would seem only explicitly permitted where the unbeliever leaves? If it is desertion which justifies the remarriage then why is it only desertion by an unbeliever? Why should a believer abandoned by an unbeliever be able to remarry and yet a believer abandoned by a professing believer is not (7:10-11)? What about a woman ‘forced to leave.’ She is not technically abandoned, she has left and yet it may be under threat of violence or her life. If anyone deserves to marry it is surely her. Yet this scenario is not dealt with!
4. The problem of legality again. We fall into the same problems as before with exception clauses. Where we have exception clauses we have exceptions to what? Exceptions are to rules and regulations; this is the language of legality or legalism! We often link legalism with a strict and austere form of Christianity; one with many do nots and thou shalt nots. That can certainly be true. Remember however that the masters of legality themselves; the Pharisees, often used it as a tool for liberalism and immorality where it suited them (cf. Matt 19:3; Mark 7:11); not to impose regulations but to find ways around them!
So who left who? Not as straightforward as you might think! Bear in mind that property and often the children belonged to the husband in Roman law! The husband could ‘leave’ with everything and thus put the woman out – so she physically left the home! Who left who?
When Samson left his Philistine wife; who in reality left who? Samson got up and left certainly and yet was that not as a consequence of his wife in heart leaving him first? Did she not betray his trust and her loyalty to his enemies the Philistines? I’m sure a good lawyer would have a field day with that one. That is sadly what we become when we start to acknowledge exception clauses; lawyers!
You may well say that is just splitting hairs, actually its defining rules and laws and exceptions; for if we have exception clauses that is where we are – under laws and rules!
What about a man / woman leaving the unbeliever?
5. ‘bondage’ : ‘douloo’ : 1402 : to be a slave; this is never used of the mariage bond. It is used of:
Slavery in Egypt (Acts 7:6)
Slavery to Righteousness (Rom 6:18)
Slavery to God (Rom 6:22)
Slavery to man (1 Co 9:19)
Slavery to the world (Gal 4:3)
Slavery to alcohol (Titus 2:3)
Slavery to corruption (2 Peter 2:19)
V15 does not set out to give permission to remarry at all and in fact there is no mention of remarriage, v15 gives permission to the believer to; ‘let them depart’ (v15); permission to acquiesce to the demands of an unbelieving partner who wishes to leave; this is different from permission to divorce and remarry.
Verse 15 is not permission to remarry, it is permission to let them go.
Permission to let them go is only relevant if they are going and thus this is the only scenario dealt with.
Verse 15 is written to diffuse an intolerable tension between a believer trying their very best to be obedient to the ministry of 1 Co7:10; 20-24 and an unbelieving partner who is pulling in the opposite direction.
Just added to our Gospel section; a new message preached by Mr Paul Jenkinson (Galston) from Matthew chapter 7:
Just added, a new message preached from 1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16:
Notes from this message:
1. Picture of a Building (v9)
The Builders (v9)
The Building (v9, 16)
The Building Materials (v12)
2. Place in the Building Programme (v9)
“we are labourers together with God”
Just labourers! Ours is not the role of the ‘architect’ (v10); ours is just to obey the simple instructions to perform the labour’s.
We don’t have the overall plan or drawings, just to obey and to act in faith.
3. Person on whom the Building is founded (v11)
This building must be built consistent with the foundations therefore:
Jesus Christ is “the truth” (John 14:6) – Therefore there is no room for error nor lies; “44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own:for he is a liar, and the father of it. ” (John 8:44)
“God is Spirit” – all that is founded on Christ must be spiritual, materialism has no place (cf. 1 Corinthians chp 6).
“Holy, harmless, undefiled” – no room for sin on this foundation (cf. 1 Corinthians chps 5 to 10)!
4. Principles of Building
‘Gold’ – Righteousness
‘Silver’ – Redemption
‘Precious Stones’ – Wisdom
With so much care and concern going into this building, what is the purpose of it?
5. Purpose of the Building (v16)
Is it self evident?
Sometimes the more self evident the question the more surprising the answer!
Not going to Dwell on what the temple is not, but by considering what it is we may well be lead to acknowledge what it is not:
It is not:
A social organisation
A welfare organisation
A political organisation
I mention briefly what it is not because sometimes the church, the temple becomes modified in order to focus it’s vision / purpose on what it is not.
5. The Purpose of the Building:
The Pattern of the Tabernacle
The Paradox of the Temple
Present Reality of the Church
Purpose fulfilled in Revelation
Pattern of the Tabernacle
“let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 29:45-46)
Paradox of the Temple
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee how much less this house that I have built? ” (1 Kings 8:27)
Present and Personal Reality in the Church
” where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20)
“I will declare thy name unto my brother in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Heb 2:12)
“God is in you of a truth” (1 Co14:25)
Purpose Fulfilled in Revelation
The Temple of God is primarily for God to Dwell (3:16)
A truth it would seem easily forgotten (3:16) : “know ye not”
It ought not to have been forgotten
It was the big lesson
How easily we forget
The Temple was for the Presence of God and not for the profit of men; “a house of merchandise”
The Sabbath was for Man and not man for the Sabbath
God looks not on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.
They had forgotten that they were the temple of God.
If God is present amongst us what should we find?
How about: God?
Evidence of the presence of God?
There is little point in claiming where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name here am I in the midst of them, if there isn’t the slightest evidence of it!
What evidence ought I to be able to see?
1. God reflected in His people
2. God revealed in His Word
3. God realised in prayer
We ought to be touched by and able to see the reality of those symbols:
Gold – Righteousness – seen practically amongst His people. More than just an outward form of Righteousness, more than just a ticking of the box righteousness, more than the righteousness of the Pharisee (Matthew chapter 23), none of the sin of chapters 5 to 10!
Silver – People transformed by Redemption – Reflection of Christ; “if any man be in Christ he is a new creation. ‘ Ought to be the evidence of a people who have left Egypt, sin and slavery behind and who have a higher agenda, a people heading to the promised land, people with vision and with Glory, people saved and redeemed and in dwelt by the Spirit of God and marked by the fruit of Gods Spirit. There ought to be the tangible evidence of people in dwelt by the Spirit of God: Galatians 5:22 22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance:against such there is no law.” A tangible sense of this is possible.
Precious Stones – a different way of thinking? There ought to be evidence of the wisdom of Christ in our thinking, and of the mind of Christ in us (1 Corinthians 2:16). There ought to be evidence of a people living with an eye on eternity (3:13ff). Living and labouring not just for the here and now but for the future and forever.
God Revealed in His Word
If the temple existed primarily for the presence of God, then the practical benefit of that presence for God’s people lay in the provision of God for His people which flowed from that presence.
The temple and tabernacle contained the symbols of that provision:
Lamp – to give light for the way
Loaf – to sustain and feed His people
Priest – with his intercessor ministry for the people, who would bear the care of Gods people on his breastplate of judgment and carry their names on his shoulder.
The temple was a place where as a consequence of Gods presence with them, the needs of Gods people were met. This was not the primary purpose of course of the temple or the tabernacle but it was an inevitable consequence of having Gods presence amongst them. The primary purpose in bringing Gods people out of Egypt was not that God might give them bread from heaven but that they might ‘worship Me.’
It would be very strange if the NT temple for the Living God had less of a provision for God’s people than the OT tent!
Wherever we find the presence of God in the OT, His Presence has a purpose, He is present to:
Bethel – Genesis 28:11ff – The House of God; God is present and God reveals His purpose and communicates to Jacob, on this occasion by means of a dream (Gen 28:12); and with a predictive word of prophecy (28:13-15).
Mount Since – Exodus 4:27 – The Mountain of God (Ex 19:3ff,9,19;20:1ff) – God speaks.
Tabernacle (Ex40:34ff) – God spoke; “The Lord called unto Moses and spoke unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation saying…” (Lev 1:1). God speaks from this tabernacle at times with devastating consequences (Number 16:20ff) – Korah, Dathan and Abiram. God revealed His mind from the tabernacle (Number 27:21).
Temple – 1 Kings 9:1ff – The Lord appears to Solomon the second time and “The Lord said unto him…”
So too then the expectation for God to Speak and to reveal Himself to His people in this new spiritual Temple at Corinth. Not just to keep alive and to repeat what we believe to be true but to have real living communication from God Himself (1 Co 14:23-25).
Reality of Prayer
The dominant theme in the dedication of the temple of Solomon: 1 Kings 8:29-30, 33, 35, 42, 44-45, 48-49; 8:54.
Like many great conversions of the bible, the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch of Acts chapter 8 gets off to a shaky start. Despite searching for God in the right place; in the Spirit given prophecies of the Old Testament, he struggles to understand the big, bold vision of Isaiah of a God given human sacrifice for a lost world (Isaiah chapter 53). How can he understand such a revolutionary concept unless someone should come along side and teach him (Acts 8:31)? God has promised for all who feel discouraged by the daunting task of finding God in such a mixed up world of many religions, that if we seek Him with our whole heart we shall find Him. Philip draws alongside and shows him that the God he is looking for is the Person of Jesus Christ! God is no mere feeling, nor an impersonal force and certainly no religiously minded fable. God is a real person, revealed and encountered in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ makes God knowable. Jesus Christ makes God serious. Jesus Christ gives God opinions. He is not the God who merely rubber stamps my faults and failures to receive me into heaven with a blind eye to my sin. In Jesus Christ God was spat on, whipped, beaten and tortured for sin. In Jesus Christ God takes sin and salvation seriously and personally. Without Him there is no salvation, with Him I am faced with the seriousness of my sin and my guilt before an angry God, a guilt of such depth and severity that it demanded the crucifixion of His Son, but with Jesus Christ I have on offer Gods free salvation by grace through faith.
The Ethiopian grabbed his opportunity, rested in Gods salvation, received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and plunged into the waters of baptism, leaving the old life behind and going on in the strength and the joy of the Lord.
Just added, a new message from Mr Don Stewart (Prestwick) from Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and Ephesians chapter 2:
Dreams can easily become a sycophantic refuge for the apathetic and hypocritical. The ‘good old days’ of Gods blessing can be safely left there, in the past and with it past passions, past power and past progress. The Corinthians, perhaps not uniquely amongst Christians were happy to place men on a pedestal and praise those who had been a help to them in previous days. They lived their Christian life in the dreams of Joel 2:28. What God had done in the lives of others in days gone by was not the issue. Of primary concern to the apostle Paul was what was hindering the work of God in their life in the here and now. Carnality had eaten cancer like into their spiritual life. They were divided by schism, petty jealousies and compromised by the pursuit of personal lusts. For their dreams of others in the past to become a vision for their own future, repentance from their schismatic sins was required and once that had been acted upon, what was wrong with a little Service?
Taken from :
Notes from the message :
1 Corinthians chp 3:4-10
We noted last time the significance of the sin of schism.
That despite the many sins of Corinth:
Moral (chps 5-6)
Material (chp 6)
Marital (chp 7)
Meat offered to idols (chps 8 to 10)
Meetings (chps 10 to 14)
Miracle of Resurrection (chp 15)
Money (chp 16)
That it is schism which is identified as both the:
Of their failure to thrive and lack of spiritual appetite (3:3)
We noted that this was due to the:
Cause of Schism – the flesh, carnality
Character of schism – looks at people and fails to see the Person of Christ who is the real source of spiritual food and growth and maturity
Consequence of schism – it cuts us off from the very people who may be a help to us.
What could motivate believers to work together like seeing the blessing of fellowship with the fruitfulness of that fellowship flowing out.
The irony of the situation at Corinth is exposed in 3:6 – the secret of Paul and Apollos success lay in their fellowship with one another
Principles of service:
The Position of the Servant:
“who then is Paul? ”
What about position and place?
No Prime Minister here.
The servant loses his reputation in that of his Lord and masters.
We are unable to really see Paul and Apollos in their service because they hide behind Christ, they point to Christ
Like John the Baptist of old – just a voice crying in the wilderness
Paul is ‘just a servant’
There are lots of ‘just servants’ in the Word of God.
Have you noticed them?
Possibly not!!! They do it very well!
Rebekah was just carrying some water for Eliezers camels when she stumbled into her destiny as the mother of a nation of Gods chosen earthly people, just a servant carrying water!
David was just a message boy carrying some cheeses, and parched corn to his brothers in the valley of Elah, when he was drafted into Gods destiny to slay Goliath and deliver a Kingdom and claim a Princess for his bride.
Widow of Zarephath was just collecting a few sticks when she was met by Elijah, and had her life and that of her family was miraculously preserved, and she became a type of Gods future dealings in grace with the gentiles and the recipient of the Grace of resurrection in her home! She was just out collecting some sticks.
The little Hebrew maid was just serving in her masters home in Assyria when she became the missing link between Naaman the leper and the prophet Elisha.
Ezra the scribe spent his time, very impractically, just studying his Bible, when he was identified by Artaxerxes as the ideal candidate to add content and substance to the newly constructed temple in Jerusalem.
Don’t despise a little Service!
Some are too big to:
Carry some water – What Rebekah did when she stumbled into her destiny as the mother of a nation of Gods chosen people.
Deliver some cheese – That kind of a service is a stepping stone to slaying a giant, delivering a Kingdom and claiming a Princess as a bride!
Pick up a few sticks – That is what you pick up before God reaches into you heart and raises your son from the dead
Serve in the home – The kind of cleaning task that precedes the cleansing of the leper
Nehemiah was just bearing the cup to the King when he was called to
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Purpose of the Servant
So what’s wrong with a little Service then?
I’ll tell you what, it’s ‘little’
I want big!
The service may be little indeed but notice that all of these ‘little’ services have something in common; they encourage and produce faith in a great God!
To carry a little water? – Genesis 24
“And the man bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord”
That’s quite a result from carrying a little water.
To deliver a few messages (1Samuel 17)
“That all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Sam 17:46)
“all this assembly shall know that the Lord safety not with sword and spear for the battle is the Lords” (1 Sam 17:47)
To pick up a few sticks (1 Kings 17)
“And the woman said to Elijah now by this I know that thou art a man of God and the word of the Lord in the mouth is truth. ” (1 Kings 17:24)
To do a little house work: (2 Kings 5:15)
” Behold now I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel. ”
Not bad for a little below the minimum wage service in Nathan household (2 Kings 5:2)
All of these small Acts of service have something in common; they all draw out praise and worship to the Lord, they all bring Glory to the Lord.
No praise for a great servant!
That’s what 1 Co 3:5 is about
Maybe sometimes that can be a problem!
Maybe I want to be the greatest water carrier in the whole of history?
Maybe I want someone to say, look at the way that boy picks up the sticks, you’ve never seen a stick picker upper like that stick picker upper!
That’s not what service is about, it’s about pointing others and drawing others to Christ.
Purpose of the servant is not thus to:
Keep the camels happy
Build a big roaring fire with the sticks
Leave his brothers well fed and content
Have the cleanest house in Syria
This all may sound a touch absurd but how easy is it to very off on the purposes of God and get side tracked with issues that don’t really matter?
For Gods work to become dominated by entertaining carnal Christians, maintaining buildings, sustaining service and services?
Easy to miss the point: “by whom ye believed” (3:5)
Provision of the Lord (3:5)
There is a plan
Pieces of the jigsaw for which we are individually fitted
God is in control, giving to each sovereignly and bringing together the plan.
“as the Lord gave” (3:5)
“God gave” (3:6)
“God that giveth” (3:7)
There is a theme here!!
God gave – Just as in Salvation, so in Service, it is of Grace!
Productivity of Service
Let us avoid 2 errors:
The mistake of trying to do everything
The mistake of endeavouring to do nothing
There is diversity in service
It can be just as disastrous to undertake a service we are not fitted for (cf. King Uzziah and his attempt to do priestly service) as it can be to fail to undertake a service we are fitted for!
Gods fits His servants for complementary service
So often the Lord will bring 2 men (or more) together to do His will and accomplish His service:
Moses and Joshua
David and Solomon
Zerubabel and Ezra
Peter and Paul
The Word of God is full of such great partnerships, not by accident but by design.
Could God not have used just 1 man to accomplish His tasks from beginning to end?
Surely with the calibre of men at His disposal that should have been feasible?
Moses and Joshua
David and Solomon
Zerubabel and Ezra
Peter and Paul
If all that was done for God’s Glory was achieved by His Spirit; “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zech 4:6). Then surely the servant becomes an object of Gods Grace rather than a means to assisting the Lord.
Was Moses not sufficiently in touch with God to bring the people into the land : “whom God spoke to face to face”
Was David not close enough to Gods heart? “a man after Gods own heart”
Did Ezra not know his bible well enough?
Did Paul lack understanding of Divine truth?
Why split these tasks?
God certainly in Grace uses the diverse talents and gifts He gives to His distinctive servants.
Brought up in the palace by Pharaohs daughter (Heb 11:24)
Educated in the wisdom of Egypt (Acts 7:22)
He had access to Pharaoh
He knew how the Egyptian mind worked
He understand their language, learning, culture and protocols
Who better to go in before Pharaoh than one brought up in a royal Egyptian household?
Who better qualified to lead the people out of Egypt than one who had left Egypt himself?
Mind you it would be hard to lead the people of God out of Egypt if you were still living there in heart or in body yourself.
Who more suitable to bring the people into the land than one of only 2 faithful men who had already been into the land to spy it out?
The qualification for leadership; “be strong and of good courage” (Josh 1:6); “be thou strong and very courageous” (Josh 1:7) is a qualification already shown by Joshua as one of 2 faithful spies who endeavoured to inspire the people to take the land, (Numbers 14:6-9)
Mind you it would be hard to inspire the people of God to go where we have never been, nor where we do not go ourselves.
God used a man to lead people out of what he had already left himself.
God used a man to lead people into where he had already been himself.
I don’t believe that was a coincidence.
Will we ever Lead anyone out of a world we are not prepared to leave ourselves?
Will will ever Lead anyone into blessings we have never come into ourselves?
Not because of any harsh nor arbitrary rules regarding this imposed by God but simply because leading is that; leading!!!
All of this was too much for one man.
David and Solomon
David laid out the resources for the temple (1 Chronicles 17:4; 22:2-4)
It was given to Solomon to do the building
David with his conquests was ideally placed to gather wealth from subjugated people
Not only was WEALTH needed for this temple but there was a need for someone who understood pi – WISDOM (2 Chronicles 4:2)
Nehemiah and Ezra:
Who better to start the building work at Jerusalem than a man who has Cyrus the emperor as his contact and who has the confidence of the throne? Here is the man who can muster the resources to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Interestingly a glimpse into the answer to a question recently asked of me and one which the OT is not written to specifically address; ‘what about the gentile / non Jewish nations in the OT days, did God have any dealings with them?’
Yes He did:
Rahab the Harlot
Ruth the Moabitess
Widow of Zarephath
Nathan the Leper
Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar
Daniel and Belshazzer
Daniel and Darius
Nehemiah and Cyrus
Jonah and Nineveh
Ezra and Zerubabel
Ezra was no Mason nor joiner nor builder
Ezra was a scribe, who had spent his time studying the Word of God:
“Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord to do it and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. ” (Ezra 7:10)
Ezra knew his bible
Ezra had wisdom (Ezra 7:25)
Zerubabel and Joshua built the temple – CONSTRUCTION
Ezra brought content to the building – CONTENT
Zerubabel and Jeshua built the STRUCTURE of the temple
Ezra brought SUBSTANCE to the temple
When we come to serve let us not feel that we must do it all ourselves
Moses and Joshua
David and Solomon
Zerubabel and Ezra
Peter and Paul
Sometimes we might be tempted to look at the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and at those who preach the Son of God, crucified, buried, rejected and resurrected, and to scratch our head and wonder; ‘Is that it?’
God was about to change the world forever, through the service of a converted persecutor of the church;Saul of Tarsus. In Acts chapter 9 Pauls ministry gets off to an ignoble start as he is bundled into a basket and lowered down a city wall at night! Is this the man that will turn the western world upside down? Where is the power in that? The ‘dynamite’ of God lay not in who Paul was but in what he had found in Jesus Christ! This was a Bomb in a Basket. Taken from :