Category Archives: Discipleship

Start Living

A course for new disciples

This 8 part course was written in 2013 to help new Christians (or Christians who felt stuck in their faith) to move forward. It was written and developed by Simon Twist and used at Campbeltown Anglican Church for a number of years. It has been replaced by our Firm Foundations course which uses the book of Colossians to help Christians to truly understand the grace of God and what that means. But Start Living still has a place for anyone who wants to consider 8 key truths that every Christian ought to know. It is supplied here for personal study, Growth Group study or one to one training. The eight lessons are listed below with links to PDF files.

Introduction Lesson

Lesson One: What’s the big deal with God? (We begin with grace)

Lesson Two: Why Don’t We Pray?

Lesson Three: A Guide on Worry

Lesson Four: I Believe in the Trinity

Lesson Five: The Word of God

Lesson Six: A Life of Faith

Lesson Seven: The Community of Faith – Church

Lesson Eight: Sharing Your Faith

Firm Foundations – Study 1 – Colossians 1:3-8

Truly Understanding God’s Grace

Topics covered: The message of hope, love, faith and grace.
Glossary: hope; love; faith; grace; gospel; epistle.

Discussion question

How would you explain the message of the gospel?

Context

After Jesus died and rose again from the dead, and just before he returned to heaven, he told his disciples to go into all the world to tell everybody that he is the LORD of all and that the forgiveness of sins is offered in his name. A man named Saul hated this new religion known as ‘The Way’ and later known as Christianity. But while he was actively resisting Christians, he had an encounter with the risen Jesus. You can read about his story in Acts Chapter 9. He was converted and rather than hating all Christians and trying to destroy this new movement, he was born again and became the most influential disciple-maker the world has known. As he moved among Greek speaking towns, he became known as Paul.

The book of Colossians was written by him, along with his younger colleague Timothy, to one of the churches located in modern day Turkey. Paul had not personally established this church in Colossae nor visited it prior to writing this letter (Colossians 2:1) but his preaching for two years in a lecture hall in Ephesus impacted the whole province which Colossae was part of (Acts 19:10). A man named Epaphras is mentioned in Colossians 1:7, 4:12 and Philemon 23. He may have heard the gospel from Paul in Ephesus, taken the message back to his hometown of Colossae (Colossians 1:7) and continued in mission with Paul but never forgetting his church in prayer (4:12).

The city of Colossae in relation to almost every location mentioned in the history of the bible!

Read Colossians 1:3-8

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

What do you see?

Structure

  • 3-4 God has clearly worked in you
    • (Hearing of the faith and love of the Colossians)
    • Who do we thank for Christians? God the Father.
  • 5-6 Because the gospel has beared fruit in you
    • (Which flowed from them hearing and truly understanding the true message of the gospel)
    • What does the gospel do? It produces love outflowing from hope.
  • 7-8 This gospel is faithfully spread by people through the Spirit
    • (Which is spread by faithful servants by the power of the Spirit)
    • How do we understand God to be at work in this world? By faithful ministers and the Holy Spirit.

(3-4) God has clearly worked in you

“We always thank God…when we pray for you…” Paul along with Timothy are writing this and that is the we. Notice their letter comes in the context of a relationship in prayer for the church. They are not putting themselves as head over the church and telling them what to do but are thankful to God for what he is doing in that church.

“…God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Billions of people across the globe and across history believe in a god of some sort. We speak of him as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is not any god that you can imagine but the true God who has revealed himself to us ultimately through his son. This son is Lord meaning ‘the One in Charge’, the Commander, the Boss of all. He is Jesus, a common name in first century Israel but he is the Christ which means God’s chosen king. But it is God the Father to whom Paul and Timothy pray.

“…because we have heard of your faith…and love…” Paul has heard reports of the church and two things cause him to thank and praise God – their faith in Christ Jesus and their love for all of God’s people. These two observable attributes flow out of the gospel that they heard.

“…faith in Christ Jesus…” Such a small phrase that means so much! It describes a person putting their trust for the future in the hands of a man that they have never met in the flesh! It also describes something that is reportable since Paul had heard of their faith. The Bible uses the word faith, as it should, as a word of confidence and knowledge that produces action. Like trusting that a car will keep you safe as you travel at 110km down a freeway – your faith in the car is evident since you are traveling in it. Likewise, faith in Christ Jesus is seen because it alters the way of life for a Christian. Paul conveys why faith makes a difference in Verses 5 and 6.

“…the love you have for all God’s people…” The second observable attribute of the church in Colossae is their love but specifically their love for all of God’s people! Here is another element of the bible that is important. The whole earth is God’s creation and every human ever living has been made in the image of God. But, the world contains two types of people – those who are for God through Jesus Christ and those who do not know God through Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 2:9 those who have heard the gospel are described as those called out of darkness and into God’s wonderful light and they are described as God’s people. A special possession. The theme of the People of God is one that is carried right through the bible and can be investigated in our God’s Big Picture Plus+ course. When Paul refers to all of God’s people, he is referring to everyone that has declared Jesus as Lord and who believe that he has risen from the dead and that we now have our future hope in him (Romans 10:9-13). Just like faith can be observed, love is observable too in that it is more than a feeling, it produces action of care for others.

(5-6) Because the gospel has beared fruit in you

“…that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven…” The greatest impact of the gospel on a person is their shifted vision of the future. Without the promise of a bright future, the Christian faith would be empty. But we have the promise of the resurrection and a place reserved for us in heaven. John 14:1-6 shares of Jesus’ promise that this is what he has come to give us: eternal life through Christ. See also John 3:16. The worries of this life a put into perspective when we think of eternity. When we know that the future is secure, it affects the way we understand life here and now. Even suffering is placed in the context of temporary trials that test our faith rather than a curse from God. The Christian faith is about hope! Not wishful thinking! But the knowledge that a better future is prepared for us.

“…the true message of the gospel that has come to you.” The faith and love is not something that makes the people of Colossae stand out as amazing – like they are wonderful people by nature. Their faith and love have sprung out from hearing the gospel. The gospel means good news. And Paul uses the phrase, ‘true message of the gospel.’ Many things can be attached to the message of the gospel to make it untrue! Things such as the need to keep the Old Testament law, or the need for baptism in a specific manner, or the need to earn God’s love. Then there is the melding of the true gospel with a specific denomination or preacher or theologian. The true church of Christ is not about which institution you follow or whether you are Calvinist or some other labeled variety of Christian. The true message of the gospel is about Christ crucified for the sins of the world and gifted without charge to all who put their trust (faith) in Christ Jesus. Full stop. The effectiveness of this true gospel when received by a person will not go unnoticed by others because their faith and love will be visible. Lastly, this message has ‘come to you.’ Each generation of Christian are merely receiving the same message that the prophets predicted, that Jesus fulfilled and that the Holy Spirit, through the word of God is taught. It comes to us by word of mouth as people teach the bible in truth.

“In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world…” Paul continues to make the point that Christian faith is not specific to a location or race but is the same message intended for the whole earth to hear because it is the message of the one true and living God, the Father of Christ Jesus. This message gets transmitted from person to person as the true message is retold, believed and received as truth in the mind and heart of the hearer.

“…just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it…” There is no secret to the spread of Christianity. You hear the good news and understand it and you tell others about it and on it goes. Even when the church in Colossae heard it, they spread it around town themselves. The gospel is not something that we keep to ourselves. It is also not something that we just wait for church Ministers to tell. When you get such good news as the gospel, you pass it on! If you heard that the cure for all sicknesses was available and all you had to do was go to a fountain in the centre of town look at it – you’d investigate it and then let everybody know!

“…and truly understood God’s grace.” This is a key phrase to this whole section of Verses 3-8. See, many will hear the gospel taught to them by family or friends or even at church by their own minister BUT will fail to truly understand God’s grace. All of humanity are dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1). We are unable to truly please God because all of us have fallen short of his glory (Romans 3:23). We have lived in darkness and God is only full of light – with no darkness in him. This makes him unapproachable by us. But God is full of compassion and mercy and has sent his one and only Son into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). The end result of our sin is death – that’s the bad news. But the gospel – the good news – is that through Jesus Christ we can be forgiven! See Romans 6:23; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 Peter 3:18. This has been described as the great exchange – our sins for Christ’s righteousness. Imagine us clothed in filthy rags and Jesus standing clothed in dazzling white. Imagine that this represents our condition before God the Father. Now imagine that Christ swaps his bright white and perfect clothing for ours. He takes on our unworthiness and, free of charge, gives us his spotless record. At the cross, he took on the full wrath of God’s judgment for sins that he never committed. He absorbed the punishment for us. He died so that we might live. Grace, truly understood, is that we have done nothing to earn God’s love and we cannot repay Christ for what he has done for us. Grace is God’s love – underserved, unmerited and unable to be repaid – ever. Salvation is about being saved – and you cannot save yourself! God doesn’t save us because he gets something more from us. He saves us and gives us the hope of eternity and we get everything great from him – the privilege of calling Him Father – access to pray to Him at any time – the promise of eternal life without punishment – all at the cost of Christ crucified.

(7-8) This gospel is faithfully spread by people through the Spirit

“You learned it from Epaphras…” See again, the gospel magically come to us but is brought to us and taught to us from someone. The church in Colossae has Epaphras to thank for bringing the good news to them. He is described as a faithful minister of Christ working on behalf of Paul. Where Paul could not come himself, Epaphras was trustworthy with the message so that what he brought to them was the same message. Since it is only the TRUE gospel that gives hope then we want to be receivers of that same TRUE gospel and not an altered one. The word minister is the same as servant or slave. It is not that Epaphras was necessarily paid or appointed with a special role but that his service was to Christ is spreading the gospel correctly.

“…who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” We have read of God the Father who is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and we have heard of the good news traveling around the world by faithful servants of the gospel. This message was of grace and it produced love. Now we are informed that this love is demonstrated in the Spirit. The gospel is not only transferred around the world by the words of faithful servants like Epaphras, it is also illuminated and made real in a person by the Holy Spirit. Verse 9 tells us that the Spirit gives wisdom and understanding. This is why many people hear the faithful retelling of the gospel but do not ‘truly understand God’s grace.’ Instead they remain in the error of believing God only loves those who are lovely and who earn his respect. Humans all have the capacity to love but only the Spirit of God can produce love that is Christ-centred rather than self-centred.

What did we learn?

Christianity is a worldwide phenomenon initiated by God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is all about the message of the gospel. This good news centres on God’s free gift of salvation, which is spread by people telling people the authentic unaltered message of grace. The Spirit of God brings that message alive in people when they receive it and believe it. The outworking of the gospel is Christian love flowing from people’s real trust in Jesus Christ. When God’s true message of grace reaches someone’s ears, the Spirit transforms that person’s life because of the hope that produces faith and love. God’s authentic transforming message is packaged in human relationship but empowered from Himself.

Picture this in diagram form beginning with the will of God and ending with hearts transformed by the gospel of grace…

God the Father → Jesus Christ crucified for sins IS the gospel of grace → Paul preaches this gospel → Epaphras hears it and delivers it back home → people in Colossae hear the true message and truly understand it → faith and love through the Spirit

Now what?

Consider one or more of the following ways that this passage can form a firm foundation for your faith.

  1. What is the true message of the gospel and do you truly understand it? Try and explain it or write it down. Do you have any questions arise in your mind as you try to explain the gospel? What can you do to answer those questions? Lookup the following passages to hear the gospel from other parts of the New Testament:
    1. Ephesians 2:19
    2. Romans 3:23
    3. 1 Timothy 1:15
    4. Romans 6:23
    5. John 3:16
    6. 1 Peter 3:18
    7. John 4:9-10
  2. Faith, hope and love: three great words with great misunderstanding.
    1. Faith, as used in the bible, is about such knowledge of God and his promises that it alters your life because of your trust in him. Read Romans 3:21-28.
    2. Hope, as used in the bible, is about picturing the future that God has promised to those who love him. It is not wishful thinking, but it is imagining something that has been guaranteed to us. Read Romans 8:18-25.
    3. Love is both an emotion and a decision. Love, as an emotion only, is fleeting. Love, as a decision only, is without affection. But love is to choose who or what you are committed to. Jesus said, for example, that you cannot love both God and money. You can choose to love money as both something that provides security and something you will do anything to keep. But to love something that is fleeting itself is foolish. Rather, love God who has given us the gospel of grace. Read Romans 5:8.
    4. Faith and hope are words for this life but love is eternal. Read 1 Corinthians 13:13.
  3. Christianity is a spiritual faith grounded in real relationships. The gospel could not have reached Colossae without Paul or Epaphras. The gospel could not have reached Colossae without the Spirit of God. We do not belong to church for human relationships only. We belong because of the Spirit of God who has brought us into the knowledge of God’s grace and love. We only know this truth, however, because of humans who have also been touched by God’s grace in truth.

1 Corinthians 16

Working with workers

Discussion Question

What does it look like to be a member of a church?

Background (Context)

We’ve arrived at the final Chapter of this letter to the Church of God in Corinth. Paul has written passionately with instruction, rebuke and grand theology that points all to Christ crucified and raised from the dead. Our faith is in Him and Him alone. Our hope is in an imperishable spiritual body like nothing we have known in this age. Our method in everything is love which flows from the love of God.

With a full letter written and delivered to the saints in Corinth, how shall he sign off? We shall see some things to be expected (Verse 13) and yet we discover that after a letter of rebuke, Paul anticipates a positive response from them.

Read 1 Corinthians 16

Follow this link to read the passage on BibleGateway… 

What did you see? (Observation)

Structure

  • Partnership with Jerusalem (1-4)
  • Paul’s travel plans (5-9)
  • How to treat fellow workers (10-18)
    • About Timothy (10-11)
    • About Apollos (12)
      • Faith, (hope) and love (13)
    • About Stephanas (14-18)
  • Final greetings (19-24)

Partnership with Jerusalem (1-4)

“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people…” What is this collection? We see in Verse 2 that it is money and in Verse 3 that it is a gift to Jerusalem. Acts 24:17 describes Paul’s habit of bringing gifts to his people for the poor and to present offerings. In our present Verse, Paul describes the collection as to the Lord’s people – meaning the holy ones in Jerusalem. Just as Paul is writing to the Lord’s people in Corinth, he expects this church to be connected in support to the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. Paul’s theme in Chapter 16 is to elevate the fellowship of the churches throughout the world since they are all of the same faith. It ought to follow that when you are on board for Jesus then you are on board to support one another who are also on board for Jesus. Christianity has never been a solo act or a Lone Ranger faith. We are in it together. His advice on raising the collection in the following verses, despite the exact usage for the money, is a helpful one for us all today. See also 2 Corinthians 8-9 on this topic of financial support.

“…do what I told the Galatian churches to do.” The Corinthians would not know what Paul has told the Galatian churches. He is introducing his instructions as something that is not unique to this letter to Corinth but the same advice he has given elsewhere.

“…set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income…” What Paul says in Verse 2 is great financial advice for anybody trying to use money for something beyond impulse buying and he is applying it specifically to the giving portion of a salary. He is not specifying an exact amount. He is recommending that each person set aside a proportion of their salary – thoughtfully, carefully and intentionally. When Paul arrives, he does not want to see everyone reaching into their wallets to see what spare change they have! At the beginning of your pay cycle, set aside the money that you have decided to give to the work of the gospel. As intentional as we ought to be about our faith and works (and Paul will remind us later in this Chapter) we need to be intentional about our faith and money. As we listen in to Paul’s advice to this church, it would be grand for our groups to stop and consider how we are going in this area. Do we put our money where our faith is?

“…letters of introduction to the men you approve…” Paul does not intend to take the money and run away with it. He plans to write a note of introduction for some men chosen by the Corinthian church and they will send the money with them to Jerusalem. In this way, the fellowship with the churches is strengthened – they will gain mutual encouragement – and the collection and distribution of the money is above board and transparent.

Paul’s travel plans (5-9)

“After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you – for I will be going through Macedonia.” Paul will be going through Macedonia 😉

“…I hope to spend some time with you…” Paul appears unclear of what he will do after reaching Corinth but assures them that he does not wish to simply pass through as he plans to pass through Macedonia. His plans are for mission in Macedonia (including Ephesus) but to stay and be a pastor to the church in Corinth. His rebuking letter ought not to be thought of as coming from an outsider who doesn’t know them or care.

“…if the Lord permits.” A reminder to us always to consider God’s will above our own. See James 4:15; Luke 22:42; Matthew 6:10.

“…I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost…” Pentecost is the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks which took place fifty days after Passover (Deut 16:9-12). It is associated with the promise of divine blessing and Christians came to associate it with the day God poured out His Spirit on the church. Ephesus is in modern day Turkey, north of the Mediterranean Sea. On Paul’s 3rd missionary journey (3 journeys described in the book of Acts) he travelled up the coast from Ephesus, around the Aegean Sea before passing through the region of Macedonia (consisting of towns like Philippi and Thessalonica), this takes him to Athens and then a quick hop down to Corinth. Although he spoke in this letter of staying for quite a while, Acts 20:2-3 tells us that he was forced to keep travelling because of persecution from others (not Corinth). Paul had first visited Corinth on his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 18:1-11) where he stayed with them for 18 months.

“…door…opened to me…many who oppose me.” So, this is Paul’s third journey that he is on and Acts 19 provides reading material for this. Acts 19:8-10 describes a period of 2 years where Paul preached the gospel and the opposition actually created more interest in it!

How to treat fellow workers (10-18)

About Timothy (10-11)

“…see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you…” The church is a refuge for believers. While the world may be hostile, indifferent, uncaring or other toward the gospel, our churches become a network of safe havens for believers alike. Paul aligns Timothy’s work with his. If you treat Timothy badly, you are doing harm to Paul. A cute parallel to the way that Jesus spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5). Timothy was younger than Paul, called a son in the faith (1 Tim 1:2) and Paul advised Timothy not to let others look down on him because of his age (1 Tim 4:12).

About Apollos (12)

“Now about Apollos…” Acts 18:24 introduces us to Apollos. It was friends of Paul who found Apollos teaching from the Scriptures and educated him in the true gospel. Apollos spent time in Corinth while Paul was elsewhere. He was a capable man of God. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for dividing over who was the best leader – Paul was not feeling insecure but wanted the church to be united over the gospel. Each leader does this or that but it is the gospel of Christ that gives life and eternal hope.

“…I strongly urged him…he was quite unwilling…but he will go when he has the opportunity.” Paul has had disputes and disagreements with people with regard to mission (Acts 15:37-40). Here, Paul shares a disagreement between himself and Apollos about when Apollos should go to Corinth. We mustn’t conclude, however, that this was a sharp dispute. It is an example of two people looking to please the Lord. Apollos’ missionary work was not Paul’s mission but the Lord’s. Our work with one another for the gospel does not boil down to setting up a leader and doing whatever they tell us to. It is about unity, peace, discussion and prayerfully moving forward. Paul’s next words may seem out of context but it could very well be an insight into how Paul has responded himself to this disagreement with Apollos…

Faith, (hope) and love (13)

“…Do everything in love.” Verse 13 helps us frame all of our relationships in the church and with regard to fulfilling the commission of the Lord:

  1. Be on your guard. Other texts remind us to be watchful. We are not to be found snoozing, idle, or misdirected in this life. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be alert and sober minded because our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. When Paul and Apollos spoke about their differences, this would have been a great moment for the devil to take a bite! Be careful with every conversation – you never know which will lead to a moment of destruction rather than encouragement.
  2. Stand firm in the faith. The gospel is our firm foundation to stand on. Everything we do must be built up on top of that sturdy ground (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). See also 1 Cor 10:11-13; 15:1; 15:58. The warning to stand firm is given so that those who love the Lord will listen and take heed. Those who do not love the Lord will not take heed of such warnings. Paul is wise to consider what rock he stands on. If this gospel is built upon his logic or strategy, then it is not the gospel. He is wise to seek God’s kingdom and not his own. If Apollos is being pulled in a different direction, then trust God with that decision. Time will reveal if it was the will of God or not.
  3. Be courageous; be strong. Not just a good Colin Buchannan song, this is a charge given to the Lord’s people across the ages (Joshua 1:9). The reason we can be strong is because the Lord is with us. Paul has not been writing to a water-polo club – but to the church of God in Corinth. As God’s people, do not let any forces of nature or man overwhelm you. With Apollos delaying his travel to Corinth and Paul also remaining away for a while longer, the church in Corinth are called to be strong and courageous because God is with them. The absence of a leader does not mean the absence of the Lord.
  4. Do everything in love. He has spoken of this in Chapter 13. Without love, Paul may have shown impatience and no kindness toward Apollos. He desires the church in Corinth to respond in love also.

About Stephanas (14-18)

“…the house of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia…” Paul remembers Stephanas in passing back in 1Corinthians 1:16 when he was recalling the few people that he had actually baptised. Achaia was the province or region where Corinth and Athens were/are located. See Acts 18:2. Stephanas was part of Paul’s first visit to Corinth.

“…I urge you…to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labours at it.” We are getting the theme of this Chapter emerge by bits as we join up the little elements together. Churches everywhere who call on the name of Christ, such as the church in Jerusalem, are all part of the same mission. Giving financially, helping workers feel safe, allowing differences to exist without being divided, and getting behind those who are working hard for the Lord. This is not secret men’s business. It is open and transparent communication of the Lord’s business. It is not a closed ‘inner circle’ faith. All are welcome to hear the gospel, respond and then get on board the mission. With Paul’s direction in Verse 13 we shall be robust to work together and get behind one another.

“…they have supplied what was lacking from you.” The context implies that what was lacking was any refreshment for the spirit. Paul’s letter to Corinth is shaped by Paul’s disappointment with how they are living out their faith. If all he had to work with were the bad reports, perhaps he could dismiss that church as having abandoned the faith. But he has the refreshing visit from Stephanas and co. These men are worth getting behind! They deserve recognition. Not just from Paul but from the church that they have come from. There is a distinction between praising and fan-club-following like Paul was rebuking in Chapter 1 and when someone deserves to be recognised for their work in the faith.

Final greetings (19-24)

“…the province of Asia…” Not to be confused with what we call Asia, this is marked on historic maps as the western side of modern Turkey. Ephesus was the capital.

“Aquila and Priscilla…” They took Paul in as he worked with them as a tent-maker when he had first visited Corinth (Acts 18:1-3). This is a husband and wife team who worked for the Lord (Romans 16:3).

“…in my own hand…” The content may have been dictated but Paul always signed his letters with his own hand (2 Thes 3:17).

“If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!” Paul is not expressing anger toward anybody. Rather, stating the point that anyone found on judgement day without love for the Lord will be cursed. This is the harsh side of the gospel. It’s how salvation works and it’s how church fellowship works. There are those like Stephanas who ought to be recognised because they love the Lord, and then anyone who wants to take the words of this letter with hate can reconsider where they stand with the Lord.

“My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s letter of rebuke ends with a message of love. How people respond to this letter will depend on their love of the Lord! Paul hopes that they will respond with the advice of Verse 13 just as the relationship between Apollos and Paul is preserved on the basis of watchfulness, faith, hope and love. (I have aligned hope with courage and strength because it is based on how hope in the Lord for deliverance).

What did we learn? (Meaning)

Fellowship in the Lord’s work is made possible when the church loves the Lord. Giving financially, being flexible with plans, caring for the weak and respecting the strong and working through different perspectives can all be made possible when we love the Lord. Our faith is not dependant on the church but the church exists and thrives on the energy of faith. We are not alone. We are the church of God. Anybody who does not pursue love for the Lord can consider themselves not part of the church.

Now what? (Application)

Topic A: Planning to invest in the work of the Lord. When you are part of the church of God, our whole lives are given to the work of the Lord. Romans 6 says that we have died and now live for Christ. Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and money. So, what shall we do? Consider everything as though it belongs to God and make life decisions about how you use your money! With your salary, some of it shall be used for daily living, some of it to save for something, and some of it for giving! The rule is to be generous in all things (1 Tim 6:18; 2 Corinthians 9:10-15). Paul equates the gift of the gospel with riches given to us by God – not a prosperity gospel but that we now have everything we need in Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9). Paul had to write the Corinthians so that they would begin to save for the time that Paul came to collect their gift. Saving and giving are both conscious decisions. Spending is a piece of cake! But giving is a spiritual discipline which flows from our response to God’s great gift to us! Without sharing details of income and giving, take time to reflect on what approach people have to getting behind the work of God financially. Note that the church you are a part of is not the only place that you can give money too but it is an important place to give – because we are working on mission together.

Topic B: Dealing with differences without division. The church is filled with people who think differently, have different perspectives and different aims and goals. But when each member shares the same core truth of serving the Lord in all that we do, then these differences will not be about gospel issues but about which is best next. When people have a different view on something (as Apollos and Paul did) it is important to discuss it – otherwise we break fellowship and perhaps assume why the other person is acting in a different way. We need to share points of view, to listen and understand before differences flame into feuds. Then, we ought to go back to the basics of Who is LORD, Who’s kingdom are we serving, be on our guard against the devil taking advantage of us, stand for the faith, trust in God who delivers and then proceed with love.

Topic C: Inside the church or outside the faith. People say that you don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. Of course there is a slither of truth to this since going to church does not make everybody Christian. But when we individually turn to Christ then Christ directs us to community. Paul expects that those who love the Lord will even take a stern rebuke and still remain friends. He expects that the church be filled with Christ-centred souls who love one another on the basis that Christ has loved them. Paul send his love to all of you in Christ Jesus. It wasn’t just to those people he liked but his fellowship is immediately handed out to those who call on the name of the LORD to be saved. Being part of our church is more than just being present when you can. We encourage all to 

  1. know God through Jesus Christ, 
  2. to be a regular member of a church service to encourage the people of God, 
  3. Be connected to a Growth Group. This is not always easy. But these are designed to help the people of God to grow in their faith together and to nurture one another in faith and life.
  4. Be serving at church in a ministry. This may be operating the screens in church, serving in a kid’s program, visiting members at home, praying and many other ministry.
  5. Be active in mission. Praying for at least one other person is where we begin. As a church, we also support local, national and overseas missionaries. But we also encourage one another to be missionaries where we are at.

Being on board at church looks like this. What do you think?