Community is Merely the Effect

God is immortal.  He “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no on e has ever seen or can see” (I Timothy 6:16).  So how do we learn about him?  Through his Word.  And how do we perceive his glory? Primarily through the church.  The body of Christ is the fullness of God (Ephesians 1:23) and the most visible manifestation of God’s glory in this present age (Ephesians 3:10).  And so describing community in the local church is like describing the light radiating from the heavenly throne.  The point is not the community; the point is God.  Community is merely the effect.

– Dever, Mark & Jamie Dunlop; The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive; Crossway; Wheaton, IL; Copyright 2015; Kindle Edition; Page 29

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It Does Not Eradicate, But Empowers Us to Endure

While life in Christ doesn’t prevent us from a facing affliction, it does empower us to endure whatever we may face by God’s grace and for his glory and our good. One example of such endurance is found in Ephesians 3:1 – 13.

– Driscoll, Mark; Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in ChristThomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, copyright 2013; Page 102

Known to God are All His Works From the Beginning of the World

The decree of God is His purpose or determination with respect to future things.  We have used the singular number as Scripture does (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 3:11), because there was only one act of His infinite mind about future things.  But we speak as if there had been many, because our minds are only capable of thinking of successive revolutions, as thoughts and occasions arise, or in reference to the various objects of His decree, which being many seem to us to require a distinct purpose for each one.  But an infinite understanding does not proceed by steps, from one stage to another: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

– Pink, Arthur W.; The Attributes of God; Kindle Edition; page 10

Watching the Early Church Pray for Everything in Joy

Watching the early Church pray for everything for joy:

  1. The Early Christians called on God to exalt His name in the world.  (Matthew 6:9; Psalm 9:2)
  2. The Early Christians called on God to extend His kingdom in the world (Matthew 6:10; Revelations 21:4)
  3. The Early Christians called on God for the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13; Ephesians 3:19; Acts 4:31)
  4. The Early Christians called on God to save unbelievers. (Romans 10:1; Matthew 13:44; Luke 15:7)
  5. The Early Christians called on God for healing (James 5:13-15; Acts 8:7)
  6. The Early Christians called on God for strategic wisdom. (James 1:5; Colossians 1:9, 3:16)
  7. The Early Christians called on God for unity and harmony in the ranks (John 17:20-21; Philippians 2:2)
  8. The Early Christians called on God to help them know Him better. (Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 1:17)
  9. The Early Christians called on God to help them comprehend the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:14, 18)
  10. The Early Christians called on God for a deeper sense of assured hope. (Ephesians 1:16, 18, Romans 15:13, 5:2, 12:12)
  11. The Early Christians called on God for strength and endurance (Colossians 1:11, Ephesians 3:16; Nehemiah 8:10)
  12. The Early Christians called on God for their faith to be preserved. (Luke 22:32, 21:36; II Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 1:25)
  13. The Early Christians called on God that they might not fall into temptation.  (Matthew 6:13, 26:41)
  14. The Early Christians called on God to complete their resolves and enable them to do good work. (II Thessalonians 1:11, Colossians 1:10, Acts 20:35)
  15. The Early Christians called on God for forgiveness for their sins. (Matthew 6:12)
  16. The Early Christians called on God for protection from the evil one.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p.143-146

His Presence, Our Mark as Believers

Not only are we in Christ, He is also in us (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17).  Christ enters into our humanity through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to renew us and to transform us more and more into His likeness.  This presence of Christ within us to make us holy is another assurance that we are believers cannot continue in a life of sin or have a continued cavalier attitude toward sin.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 72

Consider the Example of the Apostle Paul

Consider the example of the Apostle Paul.  He not only referred to himself as the least of the apostles, not even deserving to be called an apostle, but he considered himself less than the least of all God’s people (I Corinthians 1:15-16, Ephesians 3:8).  And toward the end of his life he referred to himself as the worst of sinners and as a monument to the unlimited patience of Jesus Christ.  (I Timothy 1:15-16).

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 42

That For Which We Should Pray For Above All Else

The second way we express our dependence on the Spirit is to pray for holiness.  The Apostle Paul prayed continually for the working of God’s Spirit in the lives of those to whom he was writing.  He told the Ephesians that he prayed God would “strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16).  He prayed that God would fill the Colossians “with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” so that they might “live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way” (Colossians 1:9-10).

– Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Navpress, copyright 1978, page 79