1 Corinthians 4.1-21 Follow Up December 4, 2017

What does cross-centered leadership look like in the local church? In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 Paul gives us a small taste of some of the surprising aspects of what leadership should look like in the local church. Even though we are often tempted to value what the world does in leadership, Paul reminds us in this text that leadership in the church is sometimes going to look very different than it does in the world. This is because we worship and follow a Savior who was crucified and despised by the world.

We looked at 3 surprising things we should value in leadership in the local church:

  1. We should value a leadership who knows about ultimate accountability. Leaders in the church are aware that they are ultimately accountable to God. We should desire leaders who don’t just submit to all of our personal preferences, but who seek to be faithful to God first and foremost.
  2. We should value a leadership who is willing to suffer for the Gospel. Sometimes we want our leaders to be successful by the world’s standards because we too want to be successful in that way. Gospel ministry, however, will sometimes involve suffering.
  3. We should value a leadership who encourages and warns. Leaders should encourage us with their godly example, and also should be willing to warn us about sin. We should seek leaders who will hold us accountable in the church.

To help you in your reflection this week, discussion questions and details from Sunday’s order of worship are included below:

1 Cor. 4.1-21 Notes

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

1 Corinthians 3.16-23 Follow Up November 27, 2017

On Sunday we looked at 3 more characteristics of a mature/wise Christian. In 1 Cor. 3.16-23 Paul lays out 3 things that mature Christians should not do.

  1. Don’t destroy the temple. The temple is the church! As God’s people with His Holy Spirit living within us, we are God’s temple, so we should do nothing to destroy that temple.
  2. Don’t deceive yourselves. The world’s wisdom can be very deceptive because it sounds good and is often presented by impressive people in the world. In order to avoid being deceived Paul calls us to focus on the cross and remember that while we may be able to deceive ourselves, we cannot deceive God.
  3. Don’t discount God’s blessings. The world’s wisdom brings false promises, but Paul reminds us that “all things” are ours in Christ. We must never forget that God’s blessings are better than the temporary “blessings” the world’s wisdom promises.

Below are some discussion questions and the order of service from this Sunday to help you as you reflect this week.

1 Cor. 3.16-23 Notes

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

1 Corinthians 3.1-15 Follow Up November 20, 2017

In 1 Corinthians 3.1-15 Paul encourages the Corinthians to mature in the faith, and then tells them what maturity looks like. Often as Christians we think we are mature in the Lord, but we can easily overlook some of the key aspects of maturity that the Bible speaks of. On Sunday we saw three characteristics of spiritual maturity in the local church:

  1. A Mature Church Fights Against Strife.
  2. A Mature Church Values Leader’s Diversity and Unity.
  3. A Mature Church Values Eternal Building Materials.

Below are the sermon notes from Sunday’s bulletin. This includes some discussion questions based on the text, and also includes our order of worship from Sunday in case you want to look back at some of the Scripture references and songs we used as we worshiped the Lord together.

1 Cor. 3.1-15 Notes

I pray you all have a happy Thanksgiving!

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

Matthew 28:19-20 Follow Up November 6, 2017

This Sunday, we finished our miniseries on love and unity in the local church.

If you’ve been with us these past few weeks, you might recall we began our miniseries by looking at the commandments Jesus quoted in Mark 12:28-31; namely, to love God with all of our being—as Deuteronomy 6:5 indicates—and to love our neighbors as ourselves—as Leviticus 19:18 states. The rest of the Lord’s commandments rest on these two. But as we noticed the order of things, we noticed that loving others necessitates loving God, first. So we learned: The foundation to love and unity within the church is loving the Lord above all things.

Last week, we saw Christ deepen the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves by looking at his new commandment to love fellow Christians sacrificially, just as the Lord has loved us (John 13:34). We further noticed that as the church expresses Christlike, sacrificial love to one another, it sets the church apart from the rest of the world in such a way that the world notices we belong to Jesus.

In all this, we’ve seen both our call to love God supremely—our foundation to love and unity in the local church—and our call to love one another sacrificially—our distinctive as the local church. The progression from loving God to loving each other now continues to loving the very work the Lord left for us: The Great Commission. We find it delivered by Christ in Matthew 28:19-20:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

In textual context, Jesus had just been betrayed, arrested, tried, and crucified. He had just died for the forgiveness of our sins (it was his mission). He had just been buried, his tomb being sealed with a massive rock and guarded by Roman soldiers. But with a great earthquake, an angel from heaven rolled back the stone to show its empty state. Jesus had been raised from the dead and was no longer there!

As indicated by Matthew, the angel goes on to tell the women who were present to go and tell the rest of the disciples the good news, and to meet Jesus in Galilee. As they ran to tell the disciples of the resurrection, Jesus also appeared to the women, and he gave them the same instructions: “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10).

Matthew 28 closes with Jesus appearing to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee, where he commissions them with the very words mentioned above (verses 19-20). With those words, he showed them (and us) a command to follow—together—in light of Jesus’s recent death, burial, and resurrection (the gospel).

This leads us to the main point we saw on Sunday: Our loving, missional Savior calls his followers to join him in loving mission, together.

Notice his words again at the beginning of verse 19: “Go therefore and make disciples.” The imperative verb is “make disciples.” This is the central focus of the Great Commission. We are to make disciples of Jesus Christ. So, at the heart of all that we do as a church is a desire to fulfill this command. Yes, our purpose is to glorify God (Ephesians 1:6), but our work is focused on making disciples, a manner in which we glorify God.

Additionally, notice the pronoun in verse 18. It indicates to whom Jesus addresses the Great Commission: “And Jesus came and said to them” (emphasis mine). We often think of the Great Commission in an individual sense, but Jesus gave the Great Commission to them—to his disciples—and by extension, to us, today—to all who have been united in Christ as one body, the church.

So, while it’s true we’re each individually called to obey this Great Commission, the third-person, plural pronoun “them” serves to emphasize the togetherness of our Great Commission. We’re meant to make disciples of of one another, together, as a united body of Christ that loves one another. As we love God supremely as our foundation to Christian love and unity, and as we distinctively love one another sacrificially, we naturally make disciples of one another, together, in fulfillment of the very mission Jesus welcomes us into.

It is important to mention: As we jointly labor in our mission, we must remember to labor not just out of obedience, although obedience is involved, but—more importantly—out of love.

Paul highlights this for us so emphatically in his first letter to the church in Corinth. By the time we reach the 13th chapter, Paul addresses (1) divisions that were evident when the church gathered together and participated in communion together (1 Corinthians 11:17-34), and (2) the use of spiritual gifts within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:1-31), which are meant for the common good and edification of the church (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:26; Ephesians 4:11-12). In light of this, Paul then mentions that all we do with our spiritual gifts is to be done in love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13), with love itself being “a still more excellent way” of doing ministry (1 Corinthians 12:31). Love, therefore, is the superb motive.

Lake Murray Community Church: Our loving, missional Savior has invited us to join him in loving mission, together.

So as we help one another continue committing to Jesus as Master and Lord, and as we encourage one another toward God-glorifying holiness, and as we teach one another all that the Lord has taught, and as we counsel one another with the gospel, and as we equip one another and build each other up toward Christlikeness—all in accordance with the gifts God has given us—we are to do it all in unifying love.

Why must we do it in love? Because Christ lovingly died for us. He came on mission for us, to serve us and to give his life as a ransom for us (Mark 10:45), to make us new creations in himself—holy and acceptable before the Father—that we might walk in the good work he prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).

A follow-up question must be asked: How do we do this work of love-motivated disciple-making?

I believe we find a three-fold answer in the final sentence of Matthew 28: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” With these words, we’re first reminded that the Spirit of Christ is with us as we labor in our mission to make disciples of one another. This encourages us to rely on his spiritual equipping and strengthening, for our work can become difficult, wearisome, and even painful at times. Paul himself seems to have experienced the pain of being deserted by people he invested in (2 Timothy 1:15). So we must remind ourselves to rely on Christ’s spiritual presence within us and among us, that we might keep laboring in lovingly making disciples of one another.

Second, his promise of his spiritual presence also reminds us to rest in him. There will always be work for the church to do, but we must guard ourselves and each other from burning out; we need to rest in his spiritual presence.

Third, because Christ promises to be with us spiritually until the end of this age, it reminds us to also point one another—with great anticipation—to his return. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, as Christians in Corinth are assured of their own future resurrection at Christ’s second coming, Paul charges: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” May we do similarly. May we be steadfast in our mission by reassuring one another of our blessed hope, the future appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

So let’s join our missional Savior in his mission for us. Let’s do it together, in unity. Let’s do it lovingly, in response to his love for us. Let’s do it by trusting in and relying on Christ’s spiritual, ever-present help. Let’s do it “to the end of the age,” reassuringly anticipating his return for us. In all that we do, let’s go and make disciples!

In your small groups this week, take a moment to discuss these questions together: Mathew 28.19-20 Notes. May “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

With love for the Lord and for you,

Pastor Marttell

John 13:34-35 Follow Up October 30, 2017

 

This Sunday, we continued in our miniseries on love and unity within the church by looking at Jesus’s new commandment in John 13:34-35:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

These words were spoken by Jesus on the night of his betrayal—before being arrested and crucified—during his farewell discourse to his disciples. In fact, before saying these words, he had just washed his disciples’ feet.

Now, when you consider that washing people’s feet was a task reserved for non-Jewish slaves in that culture, it makes Jesus’s act all the more remarkable. It was a culture where people walked long distances on dusty roads in sandals, so it was customary for hosts to arrange for water to be available for the washing of feet, again by also providing servants to work in this capacity. But if a servant was not present, the host would certainly not take up the chore himself, as Jesus does.

What enabled Jesus to do this when no one would have done this? John 13:1 tells us: Jesus had “loved his own who were in the world,” and he “loved them to the end” with perfect, humble, selfless, sacrificial, service-centered, saving love. Certainly, by humbly serving his disciples in this way, he foreshadowed his ultimate selfless service that would come on the cross. At the same time, he modeled for his disciples what Christlike, Christian love for one another would look like, and he then spoke the words mentioned above in verses 34-35.

As he does, he shows us both a command to follow and a love to imitate. Which leads us to the main point we looked at on Sunday: Our selfless, loving Savior calls his followers to distinctively love one another, as he loved us.

Notice his words again at the beginning of verse 34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” It’s interesting that Jesus would call the command to love one another a new command. For faithful Jews, there was nothing new about loving one’s neighbors. They would have known the command in Leviticus 19:18: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The reality is God’s people are commanded to love all people:

  • The marginalized and the accepted.
  • The poor and the great.
  • The foreigner and the fellow countryman.

But here in John chapter 13, Jesus gives a new command. He takes his point of departure from Leviticus 19:18 and he deepens and transforms the command to love one’s neighbors. How does he deepen the command? The end of verse 34 tells us: “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

So, the command to love one’s neighbor is not new, but the newness is found in loving fellow followers of Christ just as he had loved his disciples. In light of Jesus’s imminent, upcoming death in the gospel of John, it would seem that loving each other just as Christ implies even a willingness to lay down one’s life for each other. John 15:12-13 reiterates this to us: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” So, again, our selfless loving Savior calls his followers to distinctively love one another, just as he loved us. This is where the newness lies.

God’s people continue to love their neighbors as themselves, but that love is now deepened, that we might love one another just as Jesus loved us. And as we love one another in that way, something amazing happens…

Notice what Jesus continues to say in verse 35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” When the world sees the church—Jesus’s followers—loving one another with Christlike love, the world sees something distinct. In effect, when the church loves one another with Christlike love, it reflects the love of Christ for his own for the entire world to witness. And that distinguishes us!

So we remind ourselves: Our selfless, loving Savior calls his followers to distinctively love one another, just as he loved us.

But what does that love look like? It’s the natural question that arises, isn’t it? As we aim to grow in unity with our Lord, what does Christlike love for one another in the church look like?

For most of us, we can probably admit that one of the more obvious answers is serving one another’s needs. Acts 2:44-45 gives us a picture of the early church doing just that: “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

But I do think we sometimes overlook other (more challenging) ways of expressing love to one another:

  • Ephesians 4:11-12 implies that our spiritual gifts and abilities are for the building up of the church, that we would equip each other and build each other up unto the likeness of Christ. This also implies being willing to submit ourselves to others and allow others to invest in our lives.
  • Ephesians 6:18 and James 5:16 tell us to pray for one another. This also implies a willingness to be transparent with our struggles and circumstances, that others might pray for us and even be able to offer counsel and help.
  • Colossians 3:13 indicates that we love one another by also forgiving one another. This in itself can be challenging, but something even more challenging is also implied: A willingness to ask others for forgiveness.
  • One of the hardest expressions of love within the church is found in Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Counseling one another back to the Lord when a fellow brother has drifted away or fallen in sin can be incredibly challenging, but avoiding it would actually be an unloving thing to do.

So yes, we serve each other’s needs out of Love for the Lord and a deepened, selfless love for one another, but we also equip and disciple each other as we lovingly serve one another, and we pray for each other, and we forgive each other, and we help each other turn back to the Lord when we see brothers and sisters drifting or falling away. And we do all this because Christ has loved us first, and he’s modeled selfless love to us. We see it in the washing of his disciples’ feet. But we see it ultimately in the selfless giving of himself on the cross, that through his selfless sacrifice our sins would be forgiven through faith and trust in him.

My dear church, let’s love each other selflessly, as well. Let’s allow the Spirit of Christ to give us not only a passionate love for the Lord, but also a passionate love for each other, that we might distinctively love one another, just as our Lord has loved us. 

In your small groups this week, take a moment to discuss these questions together: John 13.34-35 Notes. May “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

With love for the Lord and for you,

Pastor Marttell