Jesus Confronts Hypocrisy

John MacArthur, “Jesus confronts hypocrisy”

 

John 7:53 through 8:11, as I read you follow closely in your Bible.  Beginning in verse 53, John writes:

And every man went unto his own house, Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives.  And early in the morning He came again into the temple and all the people came unto Him and He sat down and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery in the very act.  Now Moses and the law commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what sayest Thou? This they said testing Him that they might have to accuse Him.  But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.  So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast the stone at her.  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  And they who heard it being convicted by their own conscience went out one by one beginning at the eldest, even unto the last.  And Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had lifted Himself up and saw none but the woman He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers?  Hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.

Now these verses that we will study this morning, that is verse 53 of chapter 7 through verse 11 of chapter 8, these verses have been a critical battleground. They have been debated and argued about.  And the reason is this, our Bible as we know it, as we have it, is really the result of many many ancient manuscripts.  In the early days of Scripture, the original autographs which God dictated to His writers were copied and recopied and recopied and recopied through the centuries.  When translators go to put it together a Bible, such as perhaps King James in his time commissioned back in 1600, they would gather the evidence of all the ancient manuscripts to find the right text to translate into English.  And so our Bible comes from many ancient manuscripts.  Now, some of the ancient manuscripts include this portion of Scripture.  Some of them do not.  Some of the ancient manuscripts omit verse 53 through verse 11.  In fact, some of them just start right off with verse 12.  Others of them take this section and put it at the end of John’s gospel and make it like a footnote.  Others put it at the bottom of the page like a footnote.  Some manuscripts leave it out but they leave a big blank space there as if something belongs there.  And so there has been a running debate as to whether or not this passage is in or out, whether the Holy Spirit really inspired it, whether John actually wrote it, whether it is intended to be in our Bible or to be omitted. And I want you to understand this, and there is no conclusive evidence either way since some manuscripts have it and some don’t, but in order for us to justify presenting it, I want to ask a few rhetorical questions.

Question number one, do these verses teach truth that violates other Scripture?  The answer is no, they do not.  Question two, do they in fact corroborate other Scripture and substantiate it?  The answer is yes they do.  Third question, is there definite and conclusive evidence that they should be left out?  The answer is no.

Now on the positive side these, do they fit the person of Jesus Christ?  Yes they do.  Do they fit the context?  In other words, do they belong in the flow of verses before and after?  Yes, it fits beautifully. Then lastly, does this record, or these verses, fit John, the author’s, pattern in writing this gospel? The answer is yes.

And I think too that the beauty and the obvious Christ- likeness of this record leads me personally to believe that it is genuine.  It is a magnificent and an important account of forgiveness and condemnation graphically illustrated in this story.  You say, “Well why were some of the manuscripts leaving it out?”  Well there’s no real obvious answer to that.  We don’t know.  It may just be that some of the manuscripts left it out because at first glance they thought that it appeared to sanction adultery, or sexually immorality.  And so they would rather leave it out than confuse the issue, that may be some of the reason.  Legalistic copyists wanting to leave it out, we don’t know.  But the fact that it does not violate Scripture and it does fit the context and it does portray a very beautiful and accurate picture of Christ and beyond all question reveals divine insight and divine wisdom, leads me personally to believe that it is genuine.  And so I feel that we ought to study it.  We certainly will learn and profit by it.

John’s gospel has one reigning continuous never-ending relentless theme, it’s on every page, in every paragraph, it is John presenting Jesus the man as God incarnate in human flesh.  That’s the key to everything in this gospel.  Now I say that because I want you to realize something.  This is not the story of the scribes and the Pharisees.  It is the story of Jesus Christ.  It is not the story of a woman taken in adultery.  It is the story of Jesus Christ that is on every page of John’s gospel.  And you see, they are incidental. What John is revealing here is Christ in all His glory.

Whatever is the case, whatever the reason, whatever the purpose, in John’s gospel in every confrontation Jesus Christ is the issue.  It’s like a camera, you know, you focus the camera on one object and everything else is blurred.  And John’s pen is like a camera and he focuses on the person of Jesus Christ who becomes crystal clear in focus dominant and everybody else sort of fades into a blurred background.  My friend, we are not studying the woman and we are not studying the scribes and the Pharisees, we are studying Jesus, God in a human body.  And He is ever and always on every page the one in focus in John’s literary camera.

Jesus is in Jerusalem now.  He’s finished His Galilean ministry.  He’s come back to Jerusalem, six months…less than six months from the time of this incident He’ll be dead, nailed to a cross.  But He came back to Jerusalem because once again He wanted to present His claims to the people of Judea that they who might believe would have the opportunity.  And so He’s there.  And He’s in the temple and He’s been in the temple and He’s been teaching.  There He is.  Tragically He is the object of hate.  He is the object of scorn.  He’s the object of ridicule by the leadership.  And that’s tragic because at the same time that He was the object of scorn, He was indeed the Savior of the world and they didn’t know it.  So there’s the picture. Blurred is the woman taken in adultery, blurred are the scribes and Pharisees trying to trap Jesus. Focus on Jesus.  And I want you to see in this confrontation four aspects of Jesus Christ.

Four aspects, His humility, His wisdom, His conviction, His forgiveness. Now mark what I said.  This is not the story of a woman, this is Christ and He is being presented in His humility, in His wisdom, in His conviction and in His forgiveness and they are only incidental to His presentation.  It’s all in the context and it’s going to be exciting, you’re going to love it, every minute of it.

First of all, look at His humility…this is just beautiful.

There is no humiliation like being with God and stripping yourself and coming down here to be born and to be spit on and to be crucified.  That is absolute ultimate humiliation.  And Jesus did it.  And we see perhaps in three verses here by implication as clearly a revelation of His voluntary humiliation as there is any where in Scripture and you most of the time would miss it and go right by it, but it’s there…it’s there deep and powerful.

You say, “What’s so significant about that?”  Nothing until you read verse 1 of chapter 8, “Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives.”  Evening shadows were falling.  The people went home.  But Jesus, the creator of all things, had no home to go to.  He was a stranger in His own world.  Where did He go? The Bible says He went to Olive.  His hearers had their comfortable beds.  They had their families. They had their warm fires, for it was October.  But Jesus, a stranger in the world He had fashioned with His own hands, had nowhere to go, no place.  And so He sought His sleep on the slopes of Olive.  And truering(?) the words in my mind in Matthew 8:20 when Jesus said, “The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.”  The world didn’t want Him. Everybody went home but Jesus went to Olive…alone, He crossed the little brook Hidron, ascended the slopes of Olive, passed through the tangled olive trees into a garden that would become a great familiar place to Him, the garden of Gethsemane, likely…alone.  But you know something?  I personally believe that that garden and that bough of olive was the closest place to home that Jesus ever knew.  You know why?  Because there He could be alone in sweet quiet uninterrupted communion with His Father.

But tragic it is that He was a stranger in His own world, a lonely man with a cosmic kind of loneliness. Exiled by voluntary humiliation.  Oh Paul hits that thing right on the head when he says in Philippians 2:6, “Christ Jesus who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” in other words, didn’t want to hang on to His equality, “but made Himself of no reputation, took upon Him the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  That is voluntary humiliation…to leave the glories that He had with the Father to become a babe in a manger, a man spit on and crucified is humiliation.

Have you ever just let your imagination go with thinking of how Christ could have done it?  Oh, He could have had celestial press agents, He could have had great billboards, “Jesus at the temple today,” see.  Do you realize that He could have just flown right over the city of Jerusalem, suspended Himself 150 feet up or so and just preached like this….?  Do you know, if He wanted to, He could have taken His finger and written it in the sky like a skywriter?  Here’s a better one.  You know what He could have done?  He could have written the whole message on the eyeballs of everybody so they had to see it all the time.  But you know what He did?  He got up in the morning, He went over to the temple, He sat down and He taught.

He did it the way men did it.  He did it the way every rabbi before Him had done it, gone in the temple, sat down, cross- legged and taught, that’s what Jesus did.  He’s the God of the universe.  Nothing spectacular, nothing flamboyant, no super thrill maker, this Jesus.

So there He is in His humiliation.  It’s hard to believe.  The ancient of days, the creator of the universe, sitting cross- legged in a temple teaching just those who wanted to hear.

The next time He comes He’s going to come suspended from the sky and the Bible says every eye shall…what?…see Him.  That’s His glorification.  So we see His humility.  Oh, He was humble.

We not only see His humiliation I want you to see His wisdom…His wisdom is astounding.

They have come to trap Him.  “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery and when they had set her in the midst.”

The scribes were men who copied the law.  They were professional secretaries.  They just kept copying scrolls and more scrolls.  They also interpreted and taught the law.  Naturally they would be bosom buddies with the Pharisees who prided themselves on being the legalists.  So naturally the scribes and Pharisees went together arm in arm all the time.  The ones who taught, interpreted and copied the law going around with the ones who loved and kept the law…at least said they kept the law.  And it was custom in those days that whenever there was a difficult question that came up, it was always to be taken to a rabbi.  And so following the pattern, the natural routine thing to do, if they had a question was ask the rabbi.  So they approached Jesus as a rabbi and they’ve trumped up a dilemma.

They know what they’re doing.  They’ve got it all calculated.  And they brought a woman who has been taken in the very act itself of sexual sin and they stick her right in front of Jesus Christ. And this idea of sexual sin that appears to be so terrible to them is no…really no big issue at their time because history tells us, Tholax(?) says, that at the time in which this was happening, the Sanhedrin never enforced the laws of God or of the Old Testament against adultery, not only that, Tholax says many of the leaders of Israel were so constantly involved in adultery that they didn’t dare bring it out into the light.

Now the Jews had serious thoughts about adultery, and rightly so in God’s eyes.  And so from a purely legal standpoint they were right, they had a legitimate case and this woman deserved to die. But they don’t care about that, they just want to use her.  They want to get to Jesus Christ.  So they push her out in the middle of the crowd and they make a display of her before Jesus and the people. Now look at verse 4, “They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery in the very act.”  I can just hear them.  “O Master, this woman was taken in adultery in the very act,” see. And then they add, verse 5, “Moses and the law commanded us that we should…that she should be stoned.”  Oh they’re so sanctimonious.

Then they ask the question, “But what sayeth Thou?”  Humm, there’s the real key.  What sayest Thou?  You say, “Why did they ask Him that?”  Verse 6, “This they said testing Him that they might have to accuse Him.”  Stop there.  All right, now here we meet the hypocrisy of the Lord’s enemies.  I want you to see this.  They brought this woman to Jesus not because they were shocked at her conduct.  They weren’t shocked at all, went on all the time.  Not because they were so horrified that God’s holy law had been broken.  They were phony from the word go.  They didn’t care one wit about her and they didn’t care about the idea of God’s law being violated at that point, they had one thing in mind, they wanted to exploit that sin to trap Jesus.  And with a cold-blooded kind of indelicacy they acted, employing the guilt of their captive to accomplish the evil purpose in their soul.  They were publicly malicious and they wanted to get at Jesus.

Now let me show you what the dilemma is when they ask Jesus, “What do You say?”  Here’s the key, watch this.  They said in verse 5, they lined up with Moses.  Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned.  Now somehow they had gotten back to the stoning where they had been mixed up in the strangulation somewhere in the middle.  Now they’re back to stoning.  They said Moses said she should be stoned.

Now this is a very important thing.  They ally themselves with Moses.  I think they had stones in their hand because of what verse 7 says, and we’ll see it in a minute.  I think they were loaded with stones. And in fact I think they were racehorsing the deal.  Here’s this woman taken in adultery, Lord, what are we going to do with her…what are we going to do with her?  They’re ready to fire.  They’re pushing the issue.  And they tried to get Christ to make a hasty decision.  And this is really exciting. The people revered Moses.  There’s a crowd all around, see, and here’s Jesus in the middle with the woman and the scribes and the Pharisees.  The crowd revered moses…Moses, honored among the most of all the Jews.  Now if Jesus says, “Well I don’t want to go along with Moses’ law,” that disqualifies Him immediately because Jesus has been saying “I came from God, the same God that gave you the law.  I am come not to destroy the law but to…what?…fulfill it.”  If Christ set Himself right at odds against Moses they’d say, “Wow, You didn’t come from the same God Moses did because God gave Moses that law.  And God’s not going to send You to shatter that law.”  And the people would just write Him off just that fast.  So, if Jesus said, “No, don’t stone her,” He would prove that He was not from God by contradicting God’s law given to Moses, see.  And the people would write Him off.

On the other hand, if He said, “Yes, stone her,” two things would happen.  Number one, Jesus had been going around saying He was the friend of sinners, right?  Jesus said, in fact, “The Son of Man is not come to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be…what?…saved.”  I didn’t come to condemn.  Not only that, He said, “I am come to bring mercy,” and so forth and so on.  Now
if He says, “Yes, stone her,” wow, the people would say….”Hold it, You’re a liar.”  Plus here’s really the key to the whole thing.  The Roman law had disallowed the Jews to take the life of anybody.
They could not execute.  And if Jesus had said yes, stone her, they would have fired those stones so fast she wouldn’t have known what happened.  And the Romans would have come and said, “What…” “The rabbi told us to do it…the rabbit told us to do it,” and that would have been it for Jesus.  You see, that’s why I believe they were in such a mad dash to get Him to act. They had those stones ready. “What do You say?  What do You say?”  And as soon as He would have said stone her…voom, that would have been it.  And then the Romans would have come.

There’s the dilemma.  Either go contrary to God’s laws, or go contrary to your professed love and Roman law.  And I can just see them.  What’s He going to say?  And they’re anxious to fire those stones.  They were hoping that He would probably go along with Moses’ law and they could fire those stones and the Romans would capture Him.

Now let me add something here that I want you to get.  Footnote and very important, please get this. The problem here confronting Christ, watch it now, by His enemies is no small local issue.  Catch it. The problem confronting Christ is the most profound moral problem in the entire universe.  You say, “What do you mean?”  Just that.  The real problem here is not to do with this woman.  You know what the real moral problem is here?  This, how do justice and mercy harmonize.  Do you see it? Profound.  That, my friend, is the question of the universe.  How do justice and mercy harmonize? The law of righteousness demands punishment, right?  God is a holy God and holiness burns against evil and holiness cannot allow that which is defiled to enter its presence.  God says you sin, you die, that’s justice, that’s holiness, that’s righteousness.

Now what happens to the poor sinner?  I mean, if God says I also have grace and mercy, how do mercy and justice harmonize?  How can you…how can you give mercy when the sword of justice is swinging in the way?  How can there be grace without destroying justice?  How can God look at somebody and say…Okay, you’re forgiven.  Wow, He just eliminated His justice, it’s inconsistent with His nature.  You see, you have those two things, don’t you?  How…this is the greatest question of the universe…how do justice and mercy harmonize?

Now human wisdom has no answer.  No answer.  But it just so happens that Jesus Christ was the answer.  See, the only answer came in the cross of Jesus Christ.  You know, that’s where justice and mercy harmonized.  God said you’ve sinned, punishment must come.  Jesus died on the cross and what was He bearing there?  Punishment.  Whose?  Ours.  And substitution, He took our place and God gave Him all His judgment and then was free to give us His…what?…His mercy.

You see, in Jesus Christ justice and mercy harmonize.  God says I’ll let Christ take My judgment and give Him justice and I’ll give you mercy.  You see, they asked the wrong question to Him.  They were questioning the one in whom justice and mercy had kissed each other.  Little did they know.  Jesus took our punishment, and even though He hadn’t died yet, listen if the cross is good for us who lived two thousand years after, I think it’s good for those who live six months before it.  The coming sacrificial shed blood of Christ gathered up the sins of all men and bore it and Jesus was the only one in whom justice and mercy could kiss and they did.  He bore our sin and God said your sin is taken care of, here’s mercy, I’ll forgive on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Do you see how profound that question was that they had picked out THE question?  That’s it.  Oh little did they know that they were about to get devastated.  Was grace helpless before law?  Oh, not in Jesus Christ.  Oh, watch this, the second part of verse 6, oh I love this.  You say, “What’s Jesus going to do?  Here they are with their stones?  What do You say?  What do You say?  We’re ready to stone her, what do You say?”  Look at this, it says in verse 6, middle, “That Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.”  What is this?  You say, “What’s He doing?”  Scribbling in the dirt.  You say, “Jesus had better things to do than scribble in the dirt?”  Sometimes.  The best thing to do right now is scribble in the dirt.  You say, “Why would He do that?”  Well I’ve heard sermons…Well, He wrote the name of the cities and He wrote the sins of the men and He wrote this and that, and somebody copied it…” It doesn’t say that.  All it says, “He stooped down and wrote on the ground.” And the italics, it says, “as though He heard them” isn’t in the original either.  He just scribbled in the dirt.  You say, “What’s He doing sitting there scribbling in the dirt?”  Just waiting until He can capture the moment for Himself.

Verse 7, “He lifted Himself up…just calmly stood to His feet”  By this time, no doubt, He had captured the moment.  Not only that, by the protracted pleas of these scribes and Pharisees, He had allowed them to reveal their own hatred and their own animosity to that crowd all by themselves.  Do you see?  Their continued pleading had already revealed the true character of their hearts.  And Jesus calmly stood to His feet.

Oh the master of every moment.  Stood to His feet.  “Lifted Himself up and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  Oh, what a devastating answer.  What a fantastic answer.  He didn’t minimize her sin, did He?  He didn’t get into a debate about Mosaic law, He didn’t get into a hassle with the seventh commandment.  He didn’t set aside the Roman law.  He didn’t do any of those things, He just stared at them and said, “If you think you have the right to be her judge, you’ve got something else coming.”  He devastatingly showed them that they were unfit to be her judges and executioners.  He says, “There is a qualification for judging, it is to be without sin.”

To be without the desire to sin.  Wow.  If you are without the desire to sin, go ahead, throw the stone.  Conviction, power, devastation and they were hypocrites. And there they were, He says, “If you are without the desire to sin…” they were the same people that He had earlier said to, “You’ve heard that you shall not commit adultery, but I say unto you, if a man looks at a woman to lust after her he’s committed adultery in his heart.”  They must have been thinking about that one.

So He says the question is not whether Moses’ law shall stand, the question is whether you’re foul hearts puts you in a position to be anybody’s judge.  So you know what happens?  They came…they brought the woman condemned…you know what happened?  They got condemned.

Oh great defenders of the law, the question is not should she die but whether you think you have the right to be a judge or not.

In other words, He says, you hypocrites, you go around and find a fault over here with this one and you’re so full of sin you have no right to be this woman’s judge or executioner. You see what Jesus has done?  Whose moment is this?  Doesn’t belong to the Pharisees.  And then I love what Jesus did again, just does something to me.  Verse 8, “He just went back and doodled some more on the ground, He stooped down and wrote on the ground.”  He was done.  He just calmly waited for the reaction.  Oh the humanity of Jesus, the master of capturing the moment.  And He left that silent gap when He just did nothing in order that the crowd might muse over what had happened.

Look at the third thing, His conviction, quickly.  Verse 9, “And they who heard it being convicted of by their own conscience,” that’s not embarrassment, folks, that’s pure conviction, “went out one by one, beginning at the old ones,” they had the most to remember, “even unto the last and Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst.”

What should they have done?  They should have fallen at the feet of Jesus Christ in conviction and said, “Christ, forgive me, cleanse me.” They walked away from the only source that could heal their broken souls.  They walked right back into their sin.  You know, conviction does two things, it drives a man to Jesus Christ or it drives them away.

And that left just Jesus and the woman.  “He said unto her, Woman…” that’s good.  He gave her back a little dignity didn’t He? He could have called her harlot, many things, “Woman,” the same thing He called He called His mother twice.  Once at Cana, once on the cross, “Woman, where are your accusers?”  Kind of ironic, isn’t it?  A little irony in it.  “Has no man condemned you?”

“She looked at Him and said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”  You know what that is, my friend?  That is divine forgiveness.  Jesus gave her something the law couldn’t give her.  You know, the law can show you sin, can the law forgive it?  No.

You can’t come to me and say, “Would you forgive me my sins?”  I can’t do that.  You could talk to a little man in a box and he can’t forgive your sins.  Nobody can forgive your sins but God.  He’s the only one with prerogative for forgiveness.

Wow we, you mean you could just go do whatever you want and you’re forgiven?  Terrific stuff.”  No, Jesus said, this is important He said this, if He had said, “Neither do I condemn thee, go,” oh, oh, oh, but He said, “Go and…what?…sin no more.”  Romans 6, “Shall we sin that grace may abound?  God…what?…forbid.”  No, no, you don’t trade on God’s grace.  Don’t trade on God’s grace.  A true believer never takes advantage.  You see, there you have a positional statement…I don’t condemn you.  Then you have a practical statement…go and…what?…sin no more. You see, there are both sides of your Christian experience.  You’re forgiven but that’s no excuse to trade on God’s grace by going out and sinning.  No, no, love doesn’t act like that, does it?  Love does not abuse the object of its love.  So the true believer doesn’t take advantage.

Do you see His humility there?  Humiliation, His humanity.  Do you see His wisdom?  Devastating.  Do you see His conviction?  One by one they just kind of drifted away.  Do you see His forgiveness?  That’s the same forgiveness that I’ve experienced.  You know, I’m no better than that woman, neither are you.  For one day I came to Jesus Christ and you know what He said to me?  He said neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more on the basis of the shed blood of Christ, your sins have been taken care of. And by your faith you are forgiven.  Now go and live like a forgiven man, don’t sin.

1 John 2:2 says, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father…who?…Jesus Christ the righteous.”  He just keeps on cleansing us.

 

Posted in Sermon | Tagged ,

How to Witness

John MacArthur, “How to Witness”

 

In John 15 Jesus says this, verse 26, “When the Comforter is come whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me.” Now the first thing you learn from that verse is that the Holy Spirit is in the business of witnessing. The Holy Spirit has come to testify of the truth concerning Christ. And then it says in the next verse, verse 27, “And ye also shall bear witness,”and He says to the disciples, “because you’ve been with Me from the beginning.” The Holy Spirit then was sent into the world and into our hearts to bear witness to Christ and He therefore bears witness through us.

And we who have been with Christ are witnesses first hand to who He is and what He can do in a life and the ministry of witnessing is committed to us.  Acts 1:8 says, “You shall be witnesses when the Spirit of God has come upon you,” right? So we’re all called then to communicate the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

[in court] … “Reverend MacArthur, you tell us what you saw, what you heard and what you felt.” That was exactly what he asked me. And on those terms, I became instantly a witness. What I saw and what I heard and what I felt made me a viable witness, right? I mean, I was there. And ever since that event, I’ve always thought of 1 John 1:1 where John says, “The things that we have seen with our eyes, and heard with our ears and handled with our hands declare we unto you concerning the Word of life.”

So when you know Jesus Christ and when you have seen Him and heard Him and touched Him in your life, you become one who can speak concerning Jesus Christ, right? I mean, you may not know all the doctrines of the Bible and you may not know every in and out of theology, and you may not have all the little systems and all the little gimmicks and all the little methods and booklets and angles, but if you have walked with Jesus Christ, you’ve got something to say and you can be a firsthand living testimony to the power of Jesus Christ.

Now let’s ask this question, too. What is the element that makes a person willing to be that witness? And I’ve got to be honest with you right at the beginning, it’s sacrifice. There is a price to pay because when you name the name of Jesus Christ and step out, there’s going to be some flack, right? I mean, you can’t…you can’t confront a Godless Christless world and not expect to get some reaction.

Now I can also say this. If you just talk about love and nice things and talk about God is a good guy and don’t bring in sin and don’t confront people with the fact that they live in violation of God, they may not react negatively. But that isn’t the true gospel, either, is it? You’ve got to confront the truth of sin and righteousness and the truth about Jesus Christ.

Sartre wrote a book on life, he called it Nausea, that was the title of it. Really bad approach to life, right? And the main character says, “I thought I could find life in pleasure, in thrills, so I tried all the thrills…all the thrills. And I found that if I was meaningless then I could only bring my meaningless to my pleasure. So I decided that pleasure must be in serving mankind.” He said, “I found it easy to love humanity, it was people I couldn’t stand, right? In the broad terms he could be very philosophically condescending, but in terms of real relationships, couldn’t cut it. So I decided that it must be in intimate love with a person of the opposite sex.” And he said, “Everyone that I touched, I turned into lust and destroyed.” And so at the end he says, “I decided to take my life to remove one more superfluous life.”

Then there’s this whole thing of purposelessness, Edna St. Vincent Malay, you know, says, “Life must go on, I just don’t know why.” And Arthur Miller says, “Life has deteriorated to the miles we get on our Volkswagen.” I mean, there’s nothing there, no purpose. And then there are those people who are literally victims of their own passion and they can’t rise above it. They just can’t rise above it. And here’s this meaninglessness of life.

You know, somebody said to me one time years ago, “Do you get distressed when people don’t respond to the gospel? When they don’t come to receive Jesus Christ?” And I say, “Well there’s a sense in which my heart is sad, but God never called me to save people, He only called me to preach the gospel to them.

[ended page 14 John’s testimony]

 

 

Posted in Incomplete

How to Study Scripture

John MacArthur, “How to Study Scripture”

 

How to study scripture.

Now we’re assuming that you are a Christian and that you know the Lord Jesus Christ and you have received Him as your Savior by faith you’ve opened your heart and invited Christ to come in, take over your life to rule your life to be the Lord of your life. You’ve confessed your sin, you’ve acknowledged that on your own you can’t make it and you’ve received the Lord Jesus Christ.

That the Bible is the revelation of God, that God has written His Word for us. It is the only rule we have for life. It is the only standard we have for behavior. It is the only authority. There may be other things that you learn in life that help you through life, but they don’t have the authority that this does. When the Bible speaks, that is the voice of God. And it is authoritative and it becomes, then, for us, the standard of life.

Now, if that’s the case then it is very important for us to learn what the Bible says. To be able, systematically, to approach the Scripture and find out what it says. Not only what it says but what it means by what it says. There are a lot of people who read what it says but they don’t know what it means by what it says.

The primary thing to do is to study the Word of God. Through it God speaks. Now there are other good books that other men speak through with emphasis on Scripture and application and interpretation but there is no substitute for the Bible. So in the life of every Christian there must be that daily nourishing in the Word of God. It is critical.

First of all, it is necessary to study the Bible in order to grow.  In IPeter, chapter 2, verse 2 says, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow by it.” Throughout the New Testament Christians are spoken of as having been born again.

Now that implies that there is the capacity of life and growth within a new Christian and that, of course, is obvious. We are to be growing. And here he says, Peter does, in I Peter 2, that “We are to grow by the pure milk of the word like babies grow.” If you don’t feed a baby the baby dies, obviously.

The Word is our food. The Word is our sustenance. In ICorinthians, chapter 3 in verse 3, we read in regard to the same thing. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with solid food; for…for this time you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able.”

For example I can say to you God so loved the world, and if you are a brand new Christian you say, “Yeah, I understand that.” That’s kind of milk. But then if I took off and began to develop the character of God, the character of His love, how His love works, what His love is defined at in the Scripture, the depths of all that that concept means, then that gets deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper and gets into the meat aspect of that same simple truth. We say, for example, “God knows everything,” and that’s a milk statement. But we could develop that to the place where it becomes very complex and that would be the meat end of it.

The second reason that it is necessary to study the Bible is to defeat sin. We will never be able to defeat sin unless we defeat it with the Word of God. In Ephesians chapter 6, what is the armor that is used to fight again Satan? What is the one weapon the Christian has? The sword of the Spirit, which is what? The Word of God. The thing that defeats Satan’s temptation is the Word of God. There are a lot of scriptures that relate to that. It says in Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hidden in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee.” When a Christian takes the Bible in, it becomes a preventative to sin.

To give you an illustration just simply from my own life, the more scripture I learn, the more difficult it is for me to sin. You know, I used to be able to sin and just kind of enjoy it. I could enjoy a good sin, just live it us and have a great old time. Now, I can’t even get into one without thinking of fifteen Bible verses. Now, I get just my foot into the deal and “Thou shalt not,” you know. Because I know the truth of God and it’s in my mind, it comes to my mind. If you don’t know the truth of God, the Holy Spirit has nothing to bring to your mind.

Listen. It says in verse 9 of Psalm 119, “Wherewithal or how shall a young man cleanse his way?” How do you clean your life up? People come to me from time to time, and they say, “I wish my life was clean, it’s a mess. How do I clean it up?”
“By taking heed according to Thy word.” You see the way to clean your life up is to learn the book so that it becomes the dominating factor in your mind. You’re like a computer.

Thirdly, to study Scripture in order to prepare yourself for service.  You’ll find that when you get into the service of the Lord, the knowledge of the Word of God becomes your support so that when you get into a tough situation you have confidence in it. It becomes your information, so that when you get into a situation you know the principles to solve the situation, you know how to serve, you know the direction, you know how to operate to please God.

So it’s necessary to know the Word in order to be useful in Christian service. Also added to that would be I Timothy chapter 4 in verse six. “If you put the brethren in remembrance of these things, you shall be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine.” What makes a good minister of Christ? And the word minister, it means servant.

It is necessary to study the Scripture in order to be blessed.  And I know that life is made up of miserable times and happy times. But I also know this, that the more I study the Word of God, the happier I am no matter what the circumstances are. The Word of God makes me happy. That’s really practical.

When you see miserable people, the first question to ask him is; have you studied the Bible today? Simple question. You say, “Where does it say that?” Verse 1 of Psalm 1, “Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law does he meditate day and night.” That’s a happy man. A happy man is somebody who studies the Bible. That’s a happy man.

It is necessary also to study Scripture to help others.  You really can’t help anybody else unless you know something. God never put a premium on ignorance. Your ignorance not only makes you unable to help yourself, but it makes you unable to help anybody else. And Christianity is all about helping other people, isn’t it? How best can you help a person in trouble? By showing them God’s solution to their trouble.

How do we study the Bible?

Well, first of all there has to be some preparation. If you’re going to read the Bible, study the Bible, there are some basic things you have to do to prepare.

Before you can ever study the Bible with any effect, you gotta get rid of what? Sin. You gotta deal with it. So before you approach the Scripture, what’s a good way to start? With confession, a time of prayer. When you lay those things before the Lord and you confess your sin to the Lord, you purify your mind before God and you become a willing and capable pupil of the Word of God. As long as your mind and heart and life is cluttered up with sin, you’re never going to be able to grow. So preparation involves purification and that is a good place to start.

In James 1:21, “Put away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your lives.” Now, there is a general principle there. Sin being set aside, you become able to receive the Word of God and so this is important. So that’s the preparation. Before you study each day you spend a little time in prayer and confession.

How do you actually study? First of all, it’s important that you read.  I decided that the way I learn is by repetition. And I found that that’s what Isaiah said when he said, “We learn line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.”

Now, I’ll tell you how it works. You start with I John; it’s a good place for you to start. I John is not an easy book. It’s a simple book in many ways but it has some great complexities, and you’ll find the more you read it the more meat you will be able to receive. But you take I John, you sit down you read it straight through at one sitting. Now it’ll only take you about 20, 25 minutes because it’s five chapters, and it’s not that tough. You just sit down and read it through.

But anyway, you read it through. That’s it. Just read it through, close your Bible, have a little time with the Lord and then leave.  Now the second day do the same thing, third day, fourth day, fifth day, sixth day, seventh day, you do the same thing. Do the same thing for thirty days. Every day for thirty days you’ve read through I John one time. At the end of those thirty days you will know what’s in I John.

Now, you finish I John, then you go to the gospel of John. Now, you say, “Well, wait a minute, John, that’s 21 chapters. Idon’t have time.” Well, that’s good. You just divide it into three sections of seven chapters, and you read seven chapters every day for thirty days, and then the second seven chapters from chapter 8 through 14, then chapter 15 to 21, see. So the first thirty days you’re reading 1 through 7 over and over and over. The second thirty days, you’re reading 8 through 14, the third, 15 to 21. At the end of 90 days, you’ve knocked out the gospel of John.

Now, beyond reading, it is important that you study.

If you didn’t do anything but just read it and come to church and listen and come to Bible studies and listen, that’s fine, that’s a great way to start. But once you’ve gotten it all read, you’re going to find out that you already are pretty well able to interpret it because the Bible is interpreted best by itself. Some of you who come here know that this is how I do interpret the Scripture. If I want to explain a passage I’ll go to another passage or several other passages to explain that passage.

So by just reading through the New Testament again and again and again, you’ll begin to be able to do that. Now, when you get to the Old Testament don’t do it that way just read it through once and go back and read it through again, and go back and read it through again through your life. Don’t try to read it repetitiously. It’s not that kind of thing that needs to be done that way. It’s just history and narrative, and you can get it pretty well by just reading straight through it.

Now how do you study the Bible? For example, let me give you an idea. What about if you just decided I’m going to study all the prayers of the Bible. That would be a great study. It would take you a long time to do it; you start out in Genesis, find every time there was a prayer there and study about it. What did they say, who prayed, what was he praying for, what was the answer? Terrific! Then maybe you want to say, “I think I’ll study all the prayers of the Apostle Paul.” What a tremendous study that would be. You can make any topic you want.

“I’d like to study the subject of forgiveness. So you could go to the bookstore and you could buy a little book that’s called a topical index, and you could look up the word forgiveness and it would tell you every passage in the Bible where forgiveness is discussed. And you could take that and look them all up, do a little study on that. And that would be exciting.

You could say, for example, “I want to know about God’s judgment so I’m going to go through…I’m going to go through the Book of Isaiah and find everything I can find in there about judgment. And then I’ll know something of why God judges and how He judges and what the response is.”

Another great way to study the Bible is biographically. Take somebody like Elijah and do a study on Elijah. Or take somebody like David and study the life of David. That absolutely is fascinating. Or Joseph, or find somebody really kind of offbeat like Ahithophel, or something like that, somebody who is just kind of a little bit of a strange character. Or take a character that’s not talked about too much in the New Testament and try to dig a little bit and find out all that the New Testament says about him. Maybe somebody like Andrew who isn’t quite as predominant as others.

Now, also in your study, read good books. Whatever your study is going to be on, find some good material on that or get some tapes on that and get some outside input. We have a library here to provide that, and you aught to find a good library wherever your area is. A good Christian library where you can check books out or where you can go and just sit and do some reading in reference books. There are good tapes available that supplement and you aught to purchase good books.

Don’t spend a lot of your money buying popular kind of Christian books; you know what I mean?  That’s fine if you want to check it out of the library or maybe once in a while if somebody gives you one, or you really want to buy one once and a while, but build your library on the books that are going to become reference books that you will use again and again and again.

For example it’s good to have a concordance. Not the one in the back of your Bible, but one that has much more information than that, because that one is very limited.

And then it’s important also to have a topical index. There are many of them. Well, there was a paperback one that I used by R.A. Torrey that was given away by Billy Graham Organization sometime back. There is Monser’s Topical Index, there is Nave’s Topical Bible. There’s all types of topical index books, and all that means is you can go to that book and it will tell you every scripture on any subject you want so you can study it, find out all there is about it. Really a helpful thing to have.

One other thing that I would suggest is that you have a commentary. A commentary is a book that explains the meaning of the Bible. There are many good ones. I’ll suggest probably the simplest one for a new Christian to use would be Wycliffe, Wycliffe Bible Commentary. One volume, you can look up any passage in the Bible and it gives you a basic explanation of what it means. Very, very helpful.

Okay, in studying the Bible then, you want to study subjects, you want to study outside books so that you’re studying in the Bible and you’re studying those who have commented on the Scriptures as well.

 

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Bible Questions and Answers, Part 1

John MacArthur, “Bible Questions and Answers, Part 1”

 

Is salvation based on accepting Christ as Savior and Lord, or does He become Lord later?

Very often, you hear testimonies, and somebody will say, “Well, a long time ago I accepted Christ as Savior, but only recently have I made Him Lord of my life.”  Have you ever heard that?  That’s very common.  Or, “I received Christ.  I believed in Him, but He never was Lord until just recently.”

Turn in your Bible, first of all, to Romans chapter 10 verse 9 says this … “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as…what?…Lord and so believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”  Isn’t that interesting?…”If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as…what?…Lord.”  Listen, friends, you don’t make Jesus Lord.  He is Lord.  That’s who He is.  If you receive Jesus at all, you receive Him for who He is.  Another Scripture.  Philippians chapter 2 verse 9.  This is really a simple question.  It’s easy to answer.  “Wherefore God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, things in Heaven and earth and under the earth…Now watch…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is…what?…Lord.”  That’s who He is.  For somebody to say, “I received Him as Savior, but just recently I made Him Lord,” you didn’t make Him Lord at all.  He already is Lord…So when you receive Him, you receive Him as Lord.  Salvation is confessing Jesus as Lord of my life.

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How can you know if a small child has been born again?  What evidence?

I see my little kid, and he’s…he says he’s saved, but he doesn’t read his Bible all the time, doesn’t pray and lead family devotions, and, you know, and I don’t see a whole lot of the fruit of the Spirit in his life.  Well, how do I know whether this is just the child, or whether he’s been saved?”  There’s only one way to know that a child can be saved, and that’s because the Bible says he can, because he’s really too young to manifest all of the things that indicate it.

“Jesus called a little child to Him…in verse 2 of Matthew 18…set him the midst and said, ‘Verily I say unto you, except you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same as greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  And whosoever shall one such little child in My name, receives Me…Now watch…For whosoever shall offend one of these little ones who…what?…believe in Me.”  There it is. Jesus said that a little child could believe in Him.  Listen to this.  If somebody believes in Him, what is he?  Saved.  Can a child be saved?  Yes.  By the authority of the Word of God.  Do you want any better authority than that?  When he believes, that is salvation.

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Somebody said, “How do you know when you’re saved?”

I think there’s really three ways to know you’re saved, maybe.  No. 1 is to believe the Word of God.  The Bible says this, “But if thou shalt believe in thine heart and confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus or Jesus as Lord, thou shalt…what?…be saved.”  If you believe in Him and you’ve confessed it to Him, you’re saved.  The first way you believe it is because the Bible says so.

The second thing is…because the Spirit testifies to that.  In Romans 8, it says in verse 14, “That the Lord sends His Spirit in us reminding us that we are the sons of God and crying out in us, ‘Abba! Father!'”  Testimony of the Spirit.

The third test to know you’re saved is the testimony of other people who look at your life.  The Bible says, “By their fruits…what?…we shall know them.”

There’s three ways to know you’re saved.  Because you believe the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit testifies in your heart that you are redeemed, and because your heart longs to know God and to express to God and to talk to God and to sense God, to love God; and, thirdly, because those around you see the evidence of it in your life.

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Does God answer every salvation prayer?

That’s a good question.  Is there ever anybody who prays to be saved and gets refused?  Well, there’s a clear answer to that, I think.  The clear answer to that is in John 6:37.  “All that the Father gives shall come to Me.”  That’s the sovereign side of it.  That’s God in action.  John 6:37, that’s God in action.  “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me…but watch…and him that comes to Me I will in no wise…what?…cast out.”  Yes, God answers every salvation prayer.  “Him that comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out.”

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How do you get life everlasting?

How do you get life everlasting?  By what?  Believing on Him.

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Will people who accept Christ but remain Catholic be saved?

Well, I’ll answer it this way.  It does not say in the Bible that if a man is not a Catholic, he shall be saved.  You could be an anything religiously and be saved.  We have said in the past, from time to time, that…that a person could not really be a true, historic Catholic in the full sense of the word and also be a Christian, because truly being a Roman Catholic, their whole area of theology is not compatible with salvation by pure and simple act of grace on the part of God.

But you could be a Christian and a poor Catholic, frankly; and there are some wonderful Christian people who remain in a Catholic framework.  That is not an issue of salvation.

The question is answered simply yes.  A person could remain a Catholic and still be saved.  You could remain an anything, but the chances are, if you really get plugged into what Christ is doing, and you really see the Word of God as it ought to be, you’re going to gravitate to somewhere where you’re going to hear what you ought to hear.

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If God is such a loving God, why does He send people to hell?

Do you know that there’s no verse in all the Bible that says God sends people to hell?  There is a verse that says He has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell.  Once a soul is in hell, God has the power of eternal destruction on that soul; but it nowhere says God sends people to hell.  The Old Testament says that God said, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.”  Second Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is long suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  In Romans chapter 9, it says that, “There are people fitted for destruction.”  Passive verb, God isn’t even in on it.  Watch this.  Here’s the complexity.  God accepts all the responsibility of salvation and gives man all the responsibility of damnation.  Always in Scripture that’s a man’s responsibility.

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There are questions like why did God allow sin?

And the why questions are very difficult when they get into the nature of God.  He did allow it, and that suffices the…the issue, because we just don’t know why.  We can speculate why He allowed it.  The theologians have done that for years.  That’s called the problem of theodicy, or why God permitted evil.  Maybe the best solution to that question is to simply say He allowed it in order that He might destroy it.  By that I mean this.  If there is a right, there is a left.  If there is an up, there is a down.  If there’s an in, there’s an out.  If there’s a good, there’s a…bad.  And so if there was goodness, there was always potential evil; and maybe God allowed evil to exist in order to ultimately destroy it, so that it could no longer again exist; and that’s what Heaven is all about.

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God cannot sin, so how could Christ have been tempted by Satan to sin?

Now, as I said before, you know, when you ask about how and why questions, and you’re dealing with the nature of God, you have a very difficult time in answering.  How does God do this, or why does God do this are extremely difficult questions.  But I do think the question shows one thing that we must make clear.  It says, “God can’t sin, so how could Christ have been tempted?”  Now, watch, you must understand that there is a difference between being tempted and what?  Sinning.

Listen, can you be tempted and not sin?  I hope so.  I mean if…if you can’t, we’re in real trouble.  Of course, I can be tempted and not sin.  Why?  Because temptation is not sin.  Temptation is to bring about sin, and in 1 Corinthians 10:13, listen, “There has no temptation taken you but such is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will, with the temptation, make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  Listen, there is a difference between temptation and sin.

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Is there any such thing as a healthy sense of guilt?

That’s a good question.  When is it right and when is it destructive?  Well, there’s a lot of talk about that, and there are a lotta people trying to get off the hook on the area of guilt.  Not too many years ago, there was a great big blowup in evangelical circles over the factors of guilt; and people were going around saying that the Christian should never feel guilty for anything.  That we’ve been forgiven, totally forgiven, totally liberated, totally set free, and that any guilt is artificial, unreal, and self-imposed, and do nothing but destroy us.  It really bordered on antinomianism or lawlessness.

Well, pain is good.  It’s good, because it tells you your body has a problem, right?  If you don’t feel any pain, you just go on injuring yourself, and you don’t know what you’re doing.  I don’t know what you call it, but there is such a disease as that.  There is such a problem as people who can’t feel pain, and they can be terribly ill and have no idea.  Therefore, they can seek no remedy. And so it is that in the area of spiritual life, in the area of the soul, the soul needs to be warned when its sick.  I really praise God for guilt, real guilt, because I wanna know when I’ve violated God’s law.

Now, if you can’t forgive yourself when God’s forgiven you, if you’ve… if you’ve taken care and you understand that God’s forgiven your sin, and you’ve confessed it and repented of it, and it’s still hanging on and pounding your brain, then your…you’ve moved from real guilt into psychological guilt, and that’s destructive.

Psalm 51, “When my heart is broken, God wants a broken, a contrite heart,” when there’s real sin; but once sin is repented of, and once sin is turned from, and sin is taken care of, God doesn’t want us playing God with our own lives and browbeating ourselves with needless, destructive psychological guilt.  Forgive yourself.  God has.  So there is a need for real guilt.  Incidentally, Psalm 51 is the best Psalm to study on the area of guilt.

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What is true fellowship?

Well, if you wanna know what fellowship is, the first thing you have to do is look at 1 John chapter 1 verse 3.  “That which we have seen and heard…John says…declare we unto You that You also may have fellowship with us.”  Now, here it comes.  “Truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”  Now, whatever our fellowship is, it’s with each as believers, and it’s with the Father and the Son; and you know that Paul talks about the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t he? So the fellowship with the Trinity, and the fellowship with the saints, what is it?  The word is koynonaas, the noun form, koynoniahis the adjective form; and in the feminine form here, koynoniah. The noun form koynoaas, from which we get the basic root, has the idea of a partner.  Fellowship means partnership.  Now lemme hasten to say this; and I…I have some of this in…in the book on the church, The Body of Christ, so I won’t go into detail, but the word fellowship means partnership; and once you receive Jesus Christ, you’re a partner with Him.  Is that right?  How long does that partnership last?  Forever.

Fellowship means partnership.  Now, Christians come along very often and say, “Well, so and so’s out of fellowship.”  Can you…could you be out of fellowship?  That would be tantamount to losing your salvation.  All…all you’ve done when you’re outta whack with God is you’re not out of fellowship. You’re not cut off the partnership.  You’re still a joint heir with Christ.  You’re still a partner with Christ, and He’s not ashamed to call you brother, according to Hebrews.  You’re still one with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and every other believer.  You’re still in the body.  You’re still in the fellowship.  You’ve just forfeited the joy.  So don’t say you’re out of fellowship.

You see, fellowship is our common unity, our common life, our common oneness in Christ and with each other.  True fellowship is the partnership we share with the Trinity and with each other.  We’re one great partnership.  Now that’s the positional fellowship, but how does fellowship operate?  Well, I believe true fellowship isn’t, you know, eating cookies and drinking punch.  True fellowship is ministering to one another, isn’t it?  It’s exercising the ministry of the partnership.  True fellowship is me meeting your need.  True fellowship is you meeting my need.  I like to think that fellowship embodies all the one anothers of the New Testament:  confessing your sins one to another, rebuking one another, exhorting one another, edifying one another, comforting one another, praying for one another, teaching one another, admonishing one another.  All of the one anothers.  That’s real fellowship.  When you get together and exercise the one anothers, you’re exercising the prerogatives and the ministries of fellowship…

What is true worship?  Well, again, you know, we all grew up with a lotta misconceptions.  That worship is where you have a very somber choir in long robes, a few stained glass windows, and a loud organ; and you say, “We’re going to worship.”  What is worship?  I believe this – worship means adoration or praise.  Really, here it is.  We sang it earlier.  Worship is whatever glorifies God.  Would you agree to that?  Whatever honors Him, whatever exalts Him is worship.  So all you gotta do is find out what honors Him.

He’s glorified in our righteousness, in our holiness.  He’s glorified when we recite His wonderful works.  He’s glorified when we love Him. He’s glorified when we minister to one another.  He’s glorified when we believe Him.  He’s glorified when we confess sin.

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Is it Biblical to serve communion in your home?

It sure is, and I really think it’s a great thing, and I’m anxious, as our children grow older, to be able to share together with them in a time of communion around our family circle together.  Just to show you how it was begun in the home, Acts chapter 2 says, “They continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house.” One of the customs of the early church was to share in communion from house to house.

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Can a person bring glory to God and not be in God’s will?

That’s a good question.  The answer is yes, but it’s very painful.  Do you remember Exodus 14:17?  It says this, “I will get Me honor from Pharaoh.”  Boy, what a statement…You see, “If Pharaoh will not respond to Me and give Me glory, I’ll take it.”  Yes, you can be out of God’s will and God will get glory from you ultimately, because all things ultimately will redound to His glory.  Then the person asked, “Can you be in God’s will and not give Him glory?”  No, because being obedient glorifies God.

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“What does Romans 12:1 mean?”

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual worship.”  What does it mean?  Well, let’s look at it part by part.  “I beseech you,” this is love.  This is not law.  He’s not saying, “I command you.”  He’s saying, “I beg you.”  This is love.  “I beg you, therefore.”  What do you mean therefore, Paul?  “Well, I’ve just given you 11 chapters of doctrine.  Now, on the basis of 11 chapters of doctrine, I’m gonna ask you to behave a certain way.

Listen to me, the Word of God never enjoins behavior out of a Christian until it lays a foundation of doctrine.  The Bible always says, “This is so.  This is so. This is so.  This is so.  Therefore, this is the way you are to live.”  Right?  That’s why we say, you know, so often in a church when a person just keeps telling people how to live without giving ’em Biblical bases and doctrinal foundations, their whole motivation is artificial.  They’re doing it because they’re afraid not to do it, not because they understand why they’re doing it…You know, when you say to somebody, “You don’t need a reason, just do it, because I said so.”  That’s not good enough.  God never does that.  God never requires something out of somebody without any reason.  Paul says eleven chapters of doctrine.  Do you realize that for eleven chapters in Romans, he hasn’t asked anybody to do anything, really?  Oh, a few little hints here and there about mortifying the body in Romans 8.  Just a few little glimpses of it; but, basically, the entire eleven chapters is this is what God’s done.  This is what God’s done.  This is what God’s done.  Finally, in twelve, “Therefore, I’m asking you, by the mercies of God, all that He’s done for you, all these eleven chapters of mercies, you present your bodies.”

The word present is an airistactiveinfinitive.  A once for all.  Perostaysi, it’s a once for all act.  Once for all present, and it’s a temple term.  It means to bring something to God.  What does He want?  Your body.  He wants your body.  He wants your abilities, your mind, your hands, your feet, your mouth, your ears, your eyes.  He wants you.  What for?  He wants you as a living sacrifice.  You know what a living sacrifice is?  Well, you say, “That’s kind of a strange term, isn’t it?”  It is, because most sacrificed are what?  They’re dead.  You say, “What is a living sacrifice?”

Somebody who submits to God’s will, whatever the cost.  That’s a living sacrifice.  He says, “Because of all that God has done for you, present your bodies a living sacrifice.”  Listen, you’re already holy.  You’re already acceptable.  Who made you holy, and who made you acceptable?  Who did?  Christ.

So will you just present yourself?  That is your required spiritual worship.  God wants you.  He doesn’t want bulls and goats, and He doesn’t want dead animals.  He wants you, and He wants you to be a living sacrifice.  That is wiling to pay the supreme price…for Him.  I suppose if…if I got over in Boola Boola Land and got in the proverbial pot.  Some natives were gonna boil me for lunch, I suppose I could muster my courage and die for Christ, right?  Suppose I wouldn’t have much choice.  Suppose He’d give me grace, don’t you?

That isn’t the issue.  The issue isn’t can I at one time die for Jesus.  It’s can I every day, every day, every day sacrifice my dreams, my hopes, my will, my wants for His.  See?  It’s living sacrifice.  I bring my body into submission to His will.  A living sacrifice.  That’s what God wants out of us, beloved.

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What should be our attitude and action toward brethren who walk consistently disobedient to God’s Word?

Matthew chapter 18 tells us how we regard a brother who is disorderly or who is continuing to be disobedient.  Matthew 18:15 says, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone…If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”  Now, you’ve got a sinning brother, the first thing to do is privately to go to him and tell him of his fault.  If he listens to you and changes his behavior, you’ve gained a brother.

Verse 16, “If he won’t hear you, take one or two more so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established.”  Take two or three witnesses, again, confront him with his sin.  If he doesn’t hear, doesn’t alter it, the third procedure, Verse 17, “If he neglects to hear, tell it to the church, the highest court, the local assembly, and he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man.”

You see what happens to somebody who fails to submit to the authority of the church?  They actually render themselves as a pagan outside the authority of the church.  So there it tells you what to do with such a person.  You are to go to him.  Then you are to go to him with two or three witnesses. Then you are to bring it to the church.  If he doesn’t hear, you are to treat him as an outsider.  To carry this a little bit further, turn to 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 and verse 6…says this, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that continues to walk disorderly and not after the tradition which he received of us.”  If somebody will not repent, he has been brought to the church, he does not accept the discipline of the church, you put him out.  He is rendered as a pagan.  You are to separate or withdraw yourselves from that brother that walketh disorderly.

Somebody who continues to walk disorderly, you are to go to that individual.  If he doesn’t hear you, you and two others or one other are to go to him.  If he still doesn’t hear, you are to bring that to the attention of the leaders of the church.  If the church cannot get out of him a change in behavior, the church is to dismiss him and treat him as a pagan who is outside the authority of the church.  When that occurs, you are to severe your relationship with that man, and that he may be ashamed of his behavior.  You say, “But what’s gonna happen to him?”  Don’t worry about that.  If he God’s child, God’ll take care of him.  He may, according to 1 Corinthians 5, “Come to the destruction of the flesh, but his soul will be saved, because he belongs to God.”  Now, when you have no company with him, you count him not as an enemy yet, but you admonish him as what?  Your warnings are always loving and gentle.

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What should be our attitude toward those who have convictions about infant baptism and healing, etc.?

Now, here, we are not dealing in the area of sin, but here we are dealing in the area of doctrine; and maybe not really in the area of primary doctrine, but in the area of the certain peripheral doctrines, not that they’re unimportant, but that they are rather peripheral than basic to the Christian faith.  Whether somebody believes in infant baptism or not has nothing to do with sin in their life.  It probably has something to do with the background they’ve been raised in, right?  It has something to do with their denominational heritage.

Somebody like that or somebody who believes in a certain view of healing, believes in healers or whatever, may not be the manifestation of sin.  It may be the manifestation of Biblical ignorance at one point or another.  But that’s different than outright, overt sin.  What is our obligation to those brothers and sisters who hold a wrong view of a certain practical doctrine, or a wrong view of any doctrine?  It is simply this.  The Bible says we are to edify one another.  We are to take it upon ourselves to instruct those who do not understand.

The Bible simply says that we are all to be involved in teaching other people.  “I am to commit the Word of God to faithful men…according to 2 Timothy 2:2…who, in turn, are to commit it to other faithful men who will pass it on.”  Godly women are to teach younger women.  Godly men are to teach younger men.  We are constantly to be instructing people in the Word of God.  We shouldn’t be shy.

We shouldn’t be bashful.  Certainly, the chances are, if they’re really committed to the Word of God, they’ll be glad to hear if you have an argument and an answer and a solution that is scripturally supportable.  I never hesitate to take an opposing view to some group that I’m speaking to if I can defend my position.  Never hesitate.  Why?  I feel I owe it to them to tell them the truth.  That’s different.  Instruct them.  The second thing that I would say to you, if you find that they are not open to that instruction, is major on the things that unite you, not on those peripheral things that divide you.

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Does the Bible teach that restitution is necessary?

For example, does money need to be repaid that has been taken dishonestly?  I know Zacchaeus told Jesus he would repay four times, and that’s Luke 19 you recall, but Zacchaeus was not commanded to do so.  Does Jesus expect this of us, or is asking forgiveness of God enough in God’s sight?  Well, that’s a very important question.  Lemme hasten to say this.  Forgiveness does not eliminate the need to do right.  Forgiveness for the believer is in the cross, right?  And it isn’t a question of asking forgiveness for some sin.  That’s been taken care of.  The reason that Zacchaeus repaid what he had taken dishonestly was because he was being obedient to the law of God.  The law of God does require restitution.

Lemme call your attention to several passages.  Exodus 22 in verse 1, it says this, “If a man shall steal an ox or a sheep, or kill it or sell it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.”  So Zacchaeus, you see, was pretty much operating on Exodus 22:1 principles.  Restoration was required.  Forgiveness did not remove the need for restitution.

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What is a balanced Christian life with regard to food, sleep, and work?

Well…nothing is forbidden, but I think God intends for us to eat that which is good, “And He looked on His Creation and said, ‘It’s good.'”  And I think God expects us to enjoy eating.  You know why?  Because He made flavor.  Did you know that?  He made flavor, and then He gave you taste buds to enjoy it.  God did not make a bland, all food taste the same.

But, obviously, like anything else, there should be moderation.  Now, I don’t know enough about the medical aspect of it to know all the balance of diet and so forth and so on, but it’s obvious to me that God has created in the world a balance of food.  We talk about the food groups.

Now, I’m gonna tell you a few other things about sleep.  I’ll give you a little sleepy theology here. Back in Psalm 127, there’s some interesting things about it.  You know, it never says in the Bible, “Go to sleep.”  It only says, “Get up.”  Did you know that?  God knows you’re gonna go to sleep sooner or later…It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible, “Get eight hours.”  Doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that you wanna make sure that you fully get your rest no matter what doesn’t get done.  But I’ll tell you some interesting things about sleep.  You know what it says?  “Don’t loo…loose sleep over worry…Psalm 127…except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it.  Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.”

You wanna sleep sweet?  Study the Bible.  You got insomnia?  Open the Bible.  It’ll put you right to sleep.  No, I don’t wanna say that.  You know what it’ll do?  It’ll make your sleep sweet.  Your mind will think of good things.  See, your sleep will be sweet.  Study the Word of God.  You won’t have any fears.  Great, then.  I’ll tell you another way to sleep well.  Sleep sweet.  Ecclesiastics 5:12.  You know, the people who sleep the best?  The people who are tired.  You know how to get tired?  Work. Ecclesiastes 5:12, oh, this is good.  “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet whether he eats little or much.”  Some people say, “Oh, I can’t go to bed on a full stomach.”  If you’re tired, dog tired, you could go to bed lying on the plate…

Now, what’s the main idea of all of this?  The main idea in Scripture is this.  Regarding sleep, don’t overdo it.  That interesting?  Nothing in the Bible about, “Get sleep.”  You’re gonna get it, folks, when you need it.  You’ll fall in there and…and get it.  Look at Proverbs 6.  Here’s the way the Bible looks at it.  Verse 6.  “Go to the ant, thou sluggard!”…You know what a sluggard is?  Guy doesn’t get outta bed.  That’s a sluggard.  “Go to the ant, you sluggard!  Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no guide, overseer or ruler, provides her food in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.”  He works.  You look at an ant.  You ever see an ant sleeping?  Work.  Always moving.  “How long will you sleep, O sluggard?”  That’s what to say to your husband at 11:00 Saturday morning.  “How long will you sleep, O sluggard?…See?…When will you arise out of your sleep?…and his answer…Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands.  Just a little longer… and then the reply…So shall your poverty come like one that traveleth, fast, and thy want like an armed man.”

 

 

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Marks of True Spiritual Service, Part 3

John MacArthur, “Marks of True Spiritual Service, Part 3”

 

I’d like to read, as you follow, verse 8 through the first part of verse 16.

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world, for God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit and the gospel of His Son that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making requests if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you; for I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift to the end you may be established, that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, but was prevented thus far, that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor, both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise. So much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome, also, for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”

Now we’re talking about spiritual service and we’re seeing that the apostle Paul, in verses 8 to 16, opens up his heart. And in all of those statements that I just read to you, which don’t really seem to flow logically, you may say they’re kind of random. But if you say that you’ve missed the point, because there is a marvelous flow as he opens up his heart. In writing to the Romans, people he’d never met, he wanted them to get to know him. And there’s no way for people to get to know you better than for you to open up your heart to them. And so he shares with them not his theology first, not his doctrine, not his convictions, not his goals and purposes in terms of the calling of God, not his ministry, but he shares with them his heart. He opens up the inside and gives them his life.

And I think this is the focus for all of us who serve, and we’re all called to serve. Romans 6:22 says that. We have become servants of Christ. We’re all called to serve. And I think that the principles of spiritual service that Paul reveals from his own heart become models for all of our service. We may not have Paul’s apostolic calling. We may not have his remarkable and unique gifts, but we can sure have his motives and his attitudes and his desires.

Now the key phrase, would you please notice, is in verse 9. And it’s the phrase, “For God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son.” He’s talking about the heart of service, spiritual service, not the outward but the inward. The statement, “I serve with my spirit,” he uses the word latreu. It’s always used for religious worship or religious service. It came to mean the inner worship of the heart. And he is saying that my true-hearted, worshipful, whole-hearted service to God is along these lines. And surrounding that statement, he gives us insight into how he served. He doesn’t talk about a lot of his activities, a lot of his methods, just his heart. And he says, my service is the true service of the heart.

What do we see in Paul’s statement here? The first mark of true spiritual service is a thankful spirit. Verse 8, that’s where he begins: “First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” Paul’s heart was a thankful heart. He was always thankful for other people. And we went through that in many of his epistles. It is characteristic of true spiritual service that it is marked by a thankful spirit. You show me a person who serves the Lord grudgingly, who serves the Lord with grit in his teeth, who serves the Lord bitterly, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t serve worshipfully from the heart, because a worshiping heart is a thankful heart. And the reason you can be thankful no matter what happens in your service is because you’re just thankful to have the privilege no matter what happens.

Secondly, we learned that true spiritual service is marked not only by a thankful spirit but by a concerned spirit. While on the one hand you’re thankful, on the other hand you’re concerned. Verse 9, he says: “Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.” You show me someone whose heart is constantly in prayer over his people and I’ll show you someone who serves from the heart. It isn’t just showing up and doing your thing, it’s caring enough to pray, thankful to God for what was done and yet deeply concerned for what was not yet done. True spiritual service involves a thankful spirit and a concerned spirit.

Thirdly, a willing spirit, verse 10: “Making request,” he says, “in my prayers if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” This is tremendous. He is praying for them and he is saying to God, I’m willing to be the answer. I know you have problems in Rome and I’m praying for you and I’m asking God to let me be part of the answer. That’s a willing spirit. That’s not praying at arm’s length. That’s praying and saying here am I, Lord, send me.

And then we’ve already learned that spiritual service is marked by a submissive spirit. The end of verse 10 says, “I would like to have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” In other words, everything has to be ordered by God’s perfect will. There’s no panic. There’s no trying to stretch yourself out, trying to gain your reputation, trying to broaden your influence for personal reasons. There’s an utter submission to the will of God.  The true servant of God submits all his plans to God’s will. He’s not in the business of competing with God.

Fifthly, true spiritual service is marked by a loving spirit. Verse 11: “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift to the end you may be established.” Now I’ll ask you a very simple question and you can answer it easily in your mind. What one thing makes people want to give to others? What is it? It’s love. It’s love. “For God so loved that He (what?) gave.” It’s love that makes us want to give.  His desire was not for himself but to give something to them. That’s so important. True love is always measured in what it gives, not ever in what it takes or wants. Love would take anything, it would accept anything, and return only the highest good to the one who offended. That’s what love would do. Love always gives back good. It always seeks the best, no matter how it is abused or wounded.

And by the way, when you serve like that there is a reciprocating joy that comes.

Number six, still reviewing, true spiritual service is marked by a humble spirit. I just love this. Verse 12, he says, “I want to come and see you and be with you and establish you, (that is, and I like this) that I may be comforted together with you by our mutual faith.” That is so gracious. He is saying, I want to come and give you a spiritual gift and establish you and oh, I also want to be comforted by you as well.

Now let’s go to the final marks of spiritual service. A fruitful spirit, a fruitful spirit, verse 13: “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you.” Then he tells them that the reason he didn’t come was that he was prevented by the Lord. “I wanted to come to you in order that I might have some fruit among you, even as also among other Gentiles.”

Paul’s view of the ministry was—now listen to this—that it was a quest for spiritual fruit. The ministry—and you have to keep this in mind because it’s so easy to lose this—the ministry is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end. The purpose of preaching is not preaching; the purpose of preaching is fruit. The purpose of ministry in music tonight is not ministry in music; it is fruit in your life. It is to get you to think about divine truth. It is to touch your heart. The purpose of any ministry is not the function itself; that is only the means to the end. The purpose is fruit, product, result. The quest for spiritual fruit was the mainspring of all apostolic activity. Jesus said, “I have ordained you that you should go and bring forth (what?) fruit.” John 15:16: He sent them out to bring forth fruit.

Let me tell you something. A person who serves with the heart, a person whose spiritual service is genuine, is only content with fruit. Some people are content with prestige. Some people are content with pure acceptance. Some people are content with money. You know, the devil even pumps that thought into my mind, you know that? A couple of weeks ago I was going through a low time in my life and I was thinking, you know, I just am not seeing the fruit that I want to see in the lives of our people. I had the thought, “What do you care? You’re saved. You’re going to heaven. Look at all the rest of the people who are going to heaven. You’re well paid. I mean, at the worst, you’ve got a good job, a lot of security. They’re nice to you. Pat your kids on the head. Like your wife. You can’t lose.”

Well, you see, you can be pressured by Satan to settle for something far less than what you ought to settle for. My reaction to that was, “Uh, I am not content to be taken care of, appreciated, have a nice thing going on. The only thing that makes me happy in the ministry is fruit.” That’s all, result. And if you can settle for something less than that, then your service is external not internal. I’m here for the fruit, folks, I’ll promise you that. That’s true. And when God shows me that there’s more fruit somewhere else, I’ll probably be somewhere else, because I only live for the fruit, to see God’s Word go forth and do its work. In 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verse 6, it says, the farmer that labors, works hard, kopia, sweats, does it because he gets to be the partaker of the fruit.

Now look at the beginning of verse 13: “I don’t want you to be ignorant, brethren.” And that little phrase is used by Paul many times and it is a phrase for emphasis on essential truth. Paul uses it when he talks about the doctrine of salvation. He uses it when he talks about the doctrine of Satan. He uses it when he talks about the doctrine of the second coming. He uses it when he talks about spiritual gifts. He uses it in a lot of very key places and he uses it again here. It’s like saying, “Get this and get it good because I don’t want you to miss it. I want you to know that I wanted to come desperately in order that I might have some fruit among you.” He’s in effect saying I’m not interested in the amount of the love offering, I just want the fruit.

Keep this in mind. You can measure your commitment to Christ—now listen to this—by whether you are more concerned with what happens in others’ lives than you are with what happens in your own. Do you really get lost in what happens in the lives of other people?

Now what is fruit?  Basically in the Scripture, three things constitute fruit. One, that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, right? That’s what I call attitude fruit. Those are all attitudes: Love’s an attitude, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Those are attitude fruit. Fruit is attitude. Paul is saying I want to come and see you with the right attitude, an attitude of love and joy and peace and gentleness and goodness and faith and meekness and self-control; Galatians 5:22 and 23.

Well, fruit is also action. That’s right. It’s not only attitude, it’s also action. Fruit is what you do. In Romans 6:22, “But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness.” And there he’s talking about holy living: The fruit of your lips, which is praise; the fruit of your hands, Philippians 4, which is giving; the fruit of righteousness, which is the behavior of your life. So, you have attitude fruit and action fruit. He says, not only do I want to see you with the right attitude I want to see you with the right action.

Can I stretch you to a third kind of fruit? First, attitude; second, action; and third—are you ready?—addition, addition fruit. Well, what do you mean by that? Well, Paul says, I want to have some fruit among you even as among other Gentiles. Well, what kind of fruit are you talking about, Paul? I think he’s talking about converts, don’t you? First fruits, as he mentions in Romans 16:5, the first converts in an area. Fruit are the people that come to know Jesus Christ and are added. That’s why I call it addition fruit, to the body. Paul desired to save men. He said that in 1 Corinthians 9:22, to see men saved.

You know, I can promise you that I don’t think I could survive a ministry of maintenance, just getting a group of sanctified saints sitting around looking at each other; got to have fruit. And that’s the joy of service. I get just so excited about testimony after testimony after testimony of how God has changed lives. That’s what it’s all about.  Well, you know, [so much] folly of the world. They don’t even know what they’re talking about. And you know, to be able to crash into that world and bring somebody to the truth, that is what living is all about. That’s what it’s all about. Oh, don’t ever get indifferent to that. True spiritual service is fruitful in spirit.

Number eight, true spiritual service is also marked by an obedient spirit; a thankful spirit, a concerned spirit, a willing spirit, a submissive spirit, a loving spirit, a humble spirit, a fruitful spirit and an obedient spirit.

Paul continues to talk … He says, “I am debtor both to the Greeks and the barbarians, to the wise and the unwise.” He says I have an obligation. The ministry for me is not a whimsy. I didn’t say one day, “Let’s see, I could be a tent maker, go into my own business, build a tent plant. Or, I could be an attorney. I could be a lawyer with my logical mind. I might even become a politician. Or, I could become a preacher of the gospel…eenie, meenie, miney, mo.” No, he didn’t do it that way. For him it was a debt. It was an obligation to God. He owed a debt to God.

So, Paul had a thankful heart. He had a concerned heart, a willing heart, a submissive heart, a loving heart, a humble heart, a fruitful heart, and an obedient heart. He was going to fulfill his debt. And that’s what faithfulness is all about, see. He would obey at any cost. On his way to Jerusalem, they told him he was going to be imprisoned and all of that and he says, “I don’t care. I’m going to finish what the Lord has given me to do.”

 

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Marks of True Spiritual Service, Part 2

John MacArthur, “Marks of True Spiritual Service, Part 2”

 

I invite you to take your Bible and open it with us to the first chapter of Romans. Romans, chapter 1. We’re looking at verses 8 through the first part of verse 16 of this tremendous opening chapter in Paul’s epistle to the Romans.

He had never been to the Roman church. He did not found the church at Rome. Most of the people there had only heard of him and did not know him personally, although as chapter 16 indicates, he was acquainted with some of them. But before launching into this masterful presentation of the gospel, which some have called the Christian constitution, he feels that because they do not have a personal relationship one with the other that he ought to open up his heart and let them see in, that they might better understand him and better be able to accept what he teaches.

And so, as we look at verses 8 and following, we see the quality of his life, the character of his service to Christ, the motives that moved his heart. And in so discovering, we find a pattern for ourselves. All Christians are called to be engaged in service to Christ. None of us is exempt from that. Best rendered is our service when we understand the apostle Paul and why he served the way he served, for he presents for us an unequalled example. He wants them to really understand his heart so that as they read the rest of the epistle, they’ll sense not only the theology but the living breathing apostle behind it.

Now the key phrase in verses 8 through 16 appears in verse 9 and that key phrase is this phrase, “For God is my witness,” and here comes the key phrase, “whom I serve with my spirit.” Paul says I serve God with my spirit.

Now you’ll remember that the word “to serve” here is the word latreu, which is always used of religious service, always in the New Testament. And sometimes the word is translated “worship.” Paul says I serve, or I worship, using the same word for either thought because the truest kind of worship is service and the truest kind of service is worship. And so he says, I serve God with a service of worship and I serve with my spirit, or in my spirit. And what he means by that is from deep down within me. It is not superficial. It is not shallow. It is not external. It is not liturgical. It is not formal. But I serve and worship from the deep inner man of the heart. That’s the way he served, from the heart. Unlike some of the legalistic Jews, unlike some of the ritualistic pagans, he served from the heart.

It is as Ephesians 6 puts it, serving not with eye service as men pleasers but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. It is doing God’s will from the heart, not because you have to but because you want to more than you want anything else. It is that spiritual service that we saw in Romans 12:1 and 2, presenting your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual service, and not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may know and prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

He didn’t serve because of some superficial temporal acclaim. He was willing to wait until he got home, the ultimate home, to receive what God had for him.

Now, let’s go back to Romans 1. When someone serves with their spirit wholeheartedly, not as men pleasers, not eye service—that is looking around to see who’s watching—but when you do it with a whole heart, what kind of service is that? And I think in these verses Paul gives us the ten marks of true spiritual service, and they really act as a check list for all of us. I know in my own mind, I’ve been checking myself off on these for the last month as I’ve been thinking them through, the marks of true spiritual service.

Number one—and we covered the first three last time, just going to mention them to you—was a thankful spirit. In verse 8, “First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” One who serves from the spirit is always thankful, always finds plenty to be thankful about. Not going around griping and complaining and bitter because things don’t go the way that they feel they should go. And even when things are tough, they’re thankful. And by the way, as Paul was writing this epistle, there was a plot by the Jews to murder him. But instead of being upset and filled with anxiety over his own problems, he was filled with thanksgiving over what God had done in the Roman church.

But that is the way it is with people who serve from the heart. They are thankful people. They don’t have to have everything. They don’t have to have all the blessings. It all doesn’t have to come their way. They can be just as thankful, in fact, usually more so, when it comes to someone else. An unselfish thankfulness; that characterized Paul and that proves to me that his service was with the spirit.

A second mark of one who is truly serving in a spiritual way is a concerned spirit. Not only a thankful spirit but a concerned spirit, verse 9, “For God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.” Unceasingly and always, that’s redundant, but that’s how it was with Paul. I pray for you all the time. I am thankful for what God has done and yet I am deeply concerned for what has yet not been done.

I can identify with that as a pastor. I thank God for what He’s done in this church and yet I unceasingly pray to God for what I see that has not yet been done. And I think the intensity of prayer measures the intensity of concern. Paul had a concerned spirit. This is a remarkable statement. He says I unceasingly pray for you always, even though he did not found that church and he did not know those people. Most of us can’t even muster up intensity in prayer over people we know very well.

True spiritual service is marked by a thankful spirit and a concerned spirit and thirdly, a willing spirit. And I like this.  Verse 10, he says, “I make request as I pray, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” In other words, there was such honesty and integrity in his prayer that he also prayed himself right into it as a solution. “God, I want to pray for the Romans and I’d like to volunteer to be the one You use to answer my prayer.” Boy, that is the integrity of prayer. When you can pray for somebody to come to Jesus Christ, for somebody to be matured in the faith, and pray that God will make you the tool, then there’s real integrity in your praying. Paul was a volunteer.

Let’s go to fourth principle: a submissive spirit, a submissive spirit. The end of verse 10, he says, “By the will of God.” I want to come and I want to be with you and I want to be the instrument if it is the will of God. And he says the same thing at the end of the epistle, chapter 15, as I read, verse 32: “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God.”

In other words, though he was highly motivated, thankful, concerned and willing, he was regulated by a commitment to the will of God. I think the Lord was his example, who said, “Not My will but Thine be done.” And that is the way we are to pray, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” We are to be conformed to His will. And Paul lived his life that way. He was utterly concerned with doing the will of God from the heart.

In the fourth chapter of James, I think, there’s another good word. It says, verse 14, or verse 13, “Come now, you that say tomorrow or today we’ll go to such a city and continue there a year and buy and sell and get gain.” In other words, we make our plans for the future, you’re going to go do this and so forth. “You don’t know what will be on the next day. For what is your life? It’s a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away.” It’s puff and it’s gone. “You ought to say, ‘If the Lord will we shall live and do this or that.’”

In other words, the limiting factor in everybody’s life is the will of God. The true servant is totally submissive to God’s will. So Paul submits himself. He was resigned to God’s will and it didn’t matter what it brought him, whether it brought him pain or pleasure. And that isn’t fatalism. That is confidence to know that God has the best plan. That’s not fatalistic.

And so, Paul prays and he pours out his heart, but he says I only want God’s will.

The score of God’s plan is set forth in the Bible. And in the measure that I learn it, submit myself to it and live, or seek to live, in accordance with it, I shall find myself in joy and in harmony with God and His plans. If I set myself to fight against it or disagree with that which comes forth, there can be no peace in my heart and life. If in my heart I seek to play a tune that is not the melody the Lord has for me, there will be nothing but dissonance. Prayer is learning to play the same tune that the eternal God plays and to play it the way the eternal composer wrote it and meant it to be played.”

Maybe that helps you. God’s sovereignty puts out the foreordained tune to be played. Prayer is learning to play in tune. But even when we’re out of tune, it doesn’t mess up the celestial orchestra. Fortunately we hear them but they apparently don’t hear us when we’re out of line.

Paul sought the advance of God’s glory through God’s kingdom and God’s will. So, listen, now. True spiritual service, and let’s sum it up fast, is seen in being thankful for what God has done, in being concerned for what is yet to be done, being willing to be the one to do it if it fits God’s will. That’s the only way to live. That’s true spiritual service. Those are the marks.

Can I give you a fifth mark? A loving heart, or a loving spirit, verse 11: “For I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift to the end that you may be established.” Why did you want to come, Paul? Why were you so concerned? What is it that drew you? I really believe it was not some personal gratification, but it was something that he wanted to give them:

“That I may give you some spiritual gift.” And you tell me, what is the number one quality of love? What does love always do?  Gives. “For God so loved the world that God (what?) He gave…”

That’s what love does. Love gives.

I know in my ministry here, week after week and month after month and year after year as we preach and teach the Word of God, sometimes you can say to yourself, “Boy, you know, I wonder whether anybody’s hearing what I’m saying. I wonder whether people appreciate the Word of God. I wonder whether they appreciate me.” You know, you get that kind of a “poor me” kind of complex. “And they don’t really understand the effort and all that’s going.” And maybe you feel that way about your class sometime or about the ministry you’re involved in. But you have to remember that as long as you look at the ministry as something you give, you never have that problem. If you look at it as something you’re going to get, you’re going to get all twisted and warped. Paul says, I want to come because I want to give you something. I want to give you a spiritual something to establish you.

The word “cherish” means “body heat, to warm with body heat.” We warmed you with the warmth of our body, our person, like a mother does a little baby, and we were so affectionately desirous, we longed for your presence and fellowship. And because of that we were willing to have imparted unto you not only the gospel but our own souls because you were so dear unto us. Paul says, I loved you so much I would have given you my soul, let alone my message.

And the main characteristic of love is unselfish giving.

I could go around and I could hold your hand and come visit you and pat you on the back and do all kinds of nice things like that. And I’d like to do that. In fact, there are lots of days when I’d like to do that. But I don’t want to give you something superficial. I don’t want to give you something physical, something human. I want to make the necessary sacrifice to feed you the living Word of God because that’s spiritual, that’s deep, not cheap and shallow. So, you may say you love someone. But if you don’t impart to them the Word of God in depth, it’s questionable.

That’s where Paul was at. His heart of love wasn’t just a sentiment; it resulted in wanting to give them a spiritual gift that would firmly establish them in the faith. That’s the true spirit of service. You’re not looking for some superficial goal.  << good conversation >>

Paul had a humble spirit, a humble spirit.  He says, “I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift to the end that you may be established, that is that I may…” I mean, let me correct that. He says, “Let me fill that out so you don’t get the wrong idea like I’m the great gift who’s going to come in and dump on you. I mean that I, too, will be comforted together with you by our mutual faith.” Isn’t that good? He says I’m not coming in as the expert and I’m going to come and give some spiritual gifts. No, I..I..I.. what I mean is I’ll give you and you’ll give me and we’ll give each other. That’s humble.

I guess there are some people who think they have nothing to learn. They’ve got it all to give. What kind of a spirit is the spirit of true spiritual service? A thankful spirit for what God has done, always thankful, always thankful. A concerned spirit for what yet needs to be done, always prayerful. And a desire to be used by God to do what needs to be done if God wills. And all of this is born out of a heart of love. Yet, with all of that passion and all of that desire, there is never a feeling of superiority, never lording it over them but rather the humble heart that says, “Hey, I’ll come and give you some spiritual gift and I know in return that you’ll give some back to me.”

John Calvin wrote, “Note to what degree of modesty his pious heart submitted itself so that he did not disdain to seek strength from inexperienced beginners. He means what he says, too, for there is no one so void of gifts in the church of Christ who is unable to contribute something to our benefit. Ill will and pride, however, prevent our deriving such fruit from one another.” End quote.

I had dinner with someone not long ago and they kept saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry to be telling you this, I don’t know why I keep talking. I keep saying these things. I know you’re probably not…I’m sorry, I apologize.” And I kept saying, “I love this, this is terrific, I mean, this is building my soul, I’m having a wonderful time.”

And I’m saying, “Why shouldn’t I be (listening) to you?” “…Well, I mean, I…I…I’m just…you know, I’m nobody.” I hear that all the time, and the assumption that they have nothing to offer.

“Oh no, I appreciate you saying that but I know…” Really that happens all the time. “I know I’m boring you to death, and I just go on and on and on.” And I’m having the greatest time of my life. I’m not saying a thing and it’s refreshing. And I’m just listening and somebody’s pouring out their heart and telling me what God’s doing and I’m loving every minute of it and they’re trying to deny me the privilege.

The greatest theologian that ever lived, the apostle Paul, is ready to humbly learn from a bunch of new Christians in Rome that he’d never met. The humility of the pure in heart. The humility of the pure in heart.

The indicator of a true-hearted servant: humble. What does it mean to be humble? You say it means to say, “Oh, I’m nothing, I’m less than a worm, I’m…I’m…” No, that’s just dumb to talk like that. That’s not humble; that’s just dumb. What does it mean to be humble? To be humble means simply to consider the needs of others more important than your own. Jesus considered that our need was so great that He ought to leave heaven to meet our need. And He did it. And He humbled Himself. Humility is to look not on my own things but the things of others, to consider others better than myself, even those I teach.

What is the attitude of a true hearted servant? He’s thankful, always thankful. Check yourself. Are you always thankful? Or do you complain and gripe? He’s always prayerful because he knows that, although he can thank God for what has been done, there’s a lot that yet needs to be done. And he’s always willing to be the solution to the problem if it’s God’s will, so that he’s submissive to that. And it all comes out of a loving heart that seeks to wrap itself around others, not only for what it can give, for what it can receive. That’s the spirit of true service.

 

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Marks of True Spiritual Service, Part 1

John MacArthur, “Marks of True Spiritual Service, Part 1”

 

People serve the Lord for many reasons. There are some people who serve the Lord because of legalism; they’re afraid not to. They serve the Lord because they think that’s what He requires if you’re to get into the kingdom. There are some cults that even teach if you don’t go to the mission field for a couple of years, you’ll never make it. There are people within the framework of Christianity who serve the Lord strictly because they feel bound to do that or else God may pop their balloon, make life miserable for them.

There are people who serve the Lord for prestige sake. They want to make a reputation. They want to be highly esteemed. They want to lord it over men. They want to seek a chief seat. They play the role of Deotrephes, who loved to have the preeminence.

There are some people who serve the Lord because they want to be thought righteous. They want to be thought of as holy, as godly, as religious. There are some people who serve the Lord because of peer pressure. Everybody else is doing it and they’ve got to get on the bandwagon or they won’t be accepted in the group.

There are some people who serve the Lord because they’ve been forced to do it by somebody else, maybe their parents perhaps even, who have intimidated them in years past and they’re still bound by that intimidation.

You can serve the Lord for many reasons, out of your own ego, out of fear, out of legalism, out of intimidation. But none of those is true spiritual service because all of that is external. It’s all functionary. It’s all going through the motions, cranking it out. I might add there are some people who serve the Lord, believe it or not, out of money. They do it for filthy lucre sake. Jesus, nowadays, is a commodity that sells, in case you haven’t noticed.

But all of these show an external kind of service. We could call it serving in the flesh, for external reasons. And what I want to share with you tonight out of Romans chapter 1, verses 8 through 15 and right into the beginning of verse 16, is something very different from that, and that is true spiritual service.

Now let me go a step further and say that all of us who may serve the Lord from time to time because we really have a pure motive can find ourselves drawn into the other kind of service.

All of us find ourselves fighting off emotions and bad motives, improper motives as we serve Christ. And as we look at the apostle Paul in Romans 1:8 to 16, I think we might get a glimpse of the right motives. And maybe the Lord will really begin to reinforce in our hearts the perspective of true spiritual service.

Now he has already introduced the gospel in the first seven verses of Romans in a brief summary of what he’ll unfold in the sixteen chapters. He’s already introduced the gospel. But before he moves into its full explanation, which begins in the middle of verse 16, before he gets into that unfolding explanation that runs the length of the book, he wants to open up his heart. And it’s most important for him to do that because the people in Rome basically don’t know him. And there might be the question, first of all: Why is this man whom we’ve never met writing us this long epistle? Secondly, this great apostle to the Gentiles, why has he never come to our city? Doesn’t he care about us? Is he going to treat us at arm’s length?

And so, I believe he wants to answer the question of why he is writing and why he has not come. And the answer is very simple. He’s writing because he cares so deeply about their spiritual maturity, and he hasn’t come because, although he’s wanted to so desperately, God has never allowed him to come. But he has to say that so they’ll understand. The Romans had never met him and the only way they could get an insight into his heart is if he opened his heart to them. And so, what we have right here in verses 8 to 16, the first part of the verse, is the apostle opening his heart to reveal the character of his service to Christ. It’s a tremendous passage.

Verse 9: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son.” And the phrase that jumped out at me was: “whom I serve with my spirit.”

Paul had been raised in Judaism. He knew the Pharisees. He knew the Sadducees. He knew the scribes, the chief priests, the elders. And he knew the externalism. He knew that the service was so much mechanics, so much activity, so much formality, so much routine, so much liturgy. They served with the flesh. They served in the physical, in the external, in the superficial. And he grew up in a Gentile world and he knew how the priests of the pagan gods served. They served externally out of fear that if they didn’t do it the god would step on them and crush them, or bring calamity on their city or their town or their country. All of it was so shallow and so superficial. He had seen so much religiosity. He had seen so much phony functioning in the name of religion. And he sums up his whole approach in the statement: “God whom I serve with my spirit.”

And I believe what he’s saying is that my service comes from deep within me, not from the outside, not from the external. In my service, in the gospel of His Son, which gospel he has already alluded to in the first seven verses; when I serve God in the gospel of His Son, I serve with my spirit. In other words, my inner man is what motivates me. My inner man is what drives me. It isn’t what people think. It isn’t what they pay me. It isn’t peer pressure. It isn’t legal obligation. It’s in my heart to do this. It’s in my spirit to do this.

We use the word “spirit” sometimes in that same way. We may watch an athletic team participate or an athlete participate in some sport and we see him lethargic, indifferent and just going through the motions. On the other hand, sometimes you see somebody just go all out, just put out everything and we tend to say, “That is spirited play.” He’s got his whole being in it. In fact, when I was in college we used to give an award on the football team called the esprit de corps award, for the one who rendered the greatest spirit, really had his heart in it.

He never served the Lord without a wholehearted commitment. That’s the only way to go at it. So he distinguishes himself from the hirelings. He distinguishes himself from those whose labor was formal and outward and pretense and insincerity. He separates himself from the traditional heathen cultic priests and the scribes and the Pharisees. And he says, I serve God with my inner man. And the allusion to the Holy Spirit here is irresistible. I see in the spirit also the Holy Spirit behind the scenes. “I serve with my spirit.” But his spirit had been long energized by the Holy Spirit of God. His service then is the real stuff.

In fact, the word “to serve” comes from the Greek verb latreu. It is used in the New Testament only for religious service, always for service to God, except two times it’s used for service to idols. But it always is used for service to God, divine service. And frequently the word is translated “worship.” It always has fascinated me that this word exists in the New Testament and can be translated either to serve or worship. We think of worship as stained glass windows and pipe organs. You’ll notice we have not a pipe organ and no stained glass windows. We don’t want you to be confused. People think of worship as external. But the Bible says the same word that means worship also means—what?—service. The greatest worship you ever render to God is to serve Him.

Now frankly, for Paul, that meant a total all-out commitment. Look at Romans 12:1, Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies (watch this) a living sacrifice.” Oh, that’s a great phrase. “Present your body a living sacrifice.” That means one that is ever willing to die if need be. That’s how deep the commitment, holy. And by the way, that is already holy: “Holy, acceptable unto God, which is your (what?) reasonable (or spiritual) service.”

Now what does this involve? If we are to serve the Lord in the right way, what does it really involve? What are the ingredients? Let me give you a test.

What are the marks of true spiritual service? How can you look at somebody and tell that they’re really serving with their spirit?

I think there are ten marks of true spiritual service. First, number one, true spiritual service is marked by a thankful spirit, a thankful spirit. Look at verse 8. First, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”

You know, if there’s anything you learn about Paul, it’s that he had a thankful heart.  He was always able to see God’s purposes being accomplished. He was always able to see God’s kingdom advancing. He was always able to see people being saved. He looked for that. He focused on that. And he expressed what I believe you find in the heart of all true servants of God, the man lived out an attitude of gratitude.

Now Paul expresses his thanks. He doesn’t say, “Thank you, Romans.” No, thanking the Romans would have been flattery. And he doesn’t say, “I’m so thankful for what God has done for me.” That would have been selfishness. He says, “I thank God (not the Romans) for what He’s done (not for me but) for you.” He got just as much joy out of somebody else’s success as he did his own.

Even when you can’t find things in your own life to be thankful for, if you’re really living the kind of life you should, you can find myriads of things that God’s doing in somebody else’s life. And you should be just as thankful for those; in fact, in the spirit of Philippians 2, more thankful.

And so, Paul had a thankful heart even though his life was being plotted against, even though he was heading to Jerusalem where he had been warned that he would become a prisoner and perhaps lose his life. His great concern was the kingdom of God, not his own hide. So he was thankful. He was thankful in the midst of his distress because the joy came in the advance of God’s kingdom, not in his own success.

Notice just a couple of other notes in verse 8. He says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ.” Always the Mediator, one mediator between God and man; the only way he could come to God was through Jesus Christ. “No man comes unto the Father,” said Jesus, “but (what?) by Me,” John 14:6. Jesus is the one, says the writer of Hebrews, who has opened the way so that we can boldly come into the presence of the Father to seek mercy in the time of need. Apart from Jesus Christ I warn you that God would be nothing but a consuming fire. The reason He is my God is because the intimacy has been made possible by Christ. And so he comes to serve his God through Christ with a heart of thanksgiving.

I’ve always said, you know, if you’re not thankful, the reason is you think you didn’t get what you deserve. And let me just tell you; if you really got what you deserved, you’d get hell forever.

A thankful heart is essential to true spiritual service. If you’re trying to serve the Lord without gratitude in your heart for what He’s done, you’re serving in the flesh for other than proper motives. Thankfulness, let me tell you, is an attitude that will always find a cause, always. It will always find something to express itself.

Second point, true spiritual service is characterized by a thankful spirit and a concerned spirit, a concerned spirit. And here is a marvelous duality. While there is deep gratitude, at the same time there is concern for what isn’t being done.

Look at verse 9, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing, I make mention of you always in my prayers.”

What do you think the content of his prayer was? What did he pray for the Romans? Lord, there’s one of them that’s got a twisted ankle. Lord, one of them’s trying to debate about whether they ought to buy a new chariot. What do you think the content of his prayer was? Lord, I want to pray for that Roman church; they need to add an education unit. What do you think he was praying about?

Well, I’ll give you a little insight. You want to see some of his prayers? How about Ephesians 3? This is what he writes to the Ephesians and this letter probably got circulated around a lot more places than the Ephesians. But in verse 14, this is a typical prayer of Paul. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now I’m going to pray. That last phrase may or may not be in the manuscripts, but he says, “I’m praying now to the Father and this is what I’m going to pray.” Verse 16, “That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may settle down and be at home in your hearts through faith and that you would be rooted and grounded in love and able to comprehend with all saints the breadth and length and depth and height and know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you will be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Now that’s a pretty hefty prayer. Pray that you would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, that Christ would settle down and be at home in your heart, that you would be filled with an understanding of love, that you would know the love of Christ that passes knowledge, that you’d be filled with the fullness of God, that you’d fulfill the ability to do abundantly above all you can ask or think and unto Him be glory in the church. It’s all spiritual stuff.

You go to Philippians and he prays again. Chapter 1, verse 9: “And this I pray.” What are you going to pray, Paul? “That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, that you may be filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.”

You look at Colossians and he prays again in chapter 1, verse 9: “For this cause, we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and the desire (here it is) that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will and all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing by the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might according to His glorious power unto all patience and long- suffering with joyfulness, giving thanks unto the Father.”

I mean, it just keeps going like this. Second Thessalonians 1, same thing, verse 11, “Wherefore also we pray always for you.” And what do we pray? “That our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him.”

You look at the prayers of Paul—and I’ve just given you some samples—and the content is all spiritual. He prayed for their heart to be knit with the heart of God. He prayed for their knowledge, that they might know God’s will, and for their obedience that they might do it. He prayed for them. We emphasize praying for individuals but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be praying for groups as well. Paul did.

You can see that he served out of a true heart because he had a thankful spirit and a concerned spirit. You show me a person in a ministry who doesn’t exhibit a positive, affirming, joyous, thankful heart and who doesn’t spend time in constant prayer for his people and I’ll show you someone who serves in the flesh. On the other hand, you show me someone whose heart is filled with thanksgiving for what he perceives God is doing and yet whose heart is so filled with concern that he’s ever and always praying on behalf of his people and I’ll show you someone who ministers in the Spirit.

Let me give you a third point, and we’ll quit at this one tonight. That leaves seven for next week. A willing spirit.

verse 10, “Now in my prayers I make a request.” What is your request, Paul? “If by any means, I mean, anyway it could be done, by any means, I don’t care what it is, at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. And while I’m praying for you, I’m asking the Lord somehow by any means, I don’t care how He does it, just to get me there.” That’s a willing spirit.

Now those are marks, people; true spiritual service. And you need to examine your own heart and your own life to see if they’re part of your service. That’s only the beginning. Now I don’t want you to get so intimidated you don’t come back next time. I’m listening to this, too, you know. It isn’t easy for me either. But I think you get the message, don’t you? Paul really served with a spirit. Down deep in his heart he was committed to serving Christ.

You know what happens when you serve this way? I’ll just give you a little hint. You know what happens when you serve this way? All of a sudden when you serve out of your spirit and God is moving, amazing things begin to happen. I can tell you that.

 

 

 

 

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