Love People and Help Them: Luke 4:17ff – The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Jesus. Unrolling it, He found the place where this is written, and He read, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up and heal the pieces of a broken heart, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and to release the prisoners held in darkness. I am called to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor!”
We are Members of God’s Family: Ephesians 2:17-19 – Jesus Christ came and preached peace to you – to you who were far away, and to you who were near. For through Jesus Christ we all now have access to the Father by one Holy Spirit. As a result… we are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.
Equipping the Saints for Works of Service to Others: Ephesians 4:7-13 – to each and every one of us GRACE has been given as Christ Jesus apportioned it… It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the whole body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
God’s Grace Saves us, and Empowers Us: Ephesians 2:8-10 – For it is by GRACE that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, GRACE is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s masterpiece workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Church is Not Theater, and the Christian Life is Not Just About Going to Bible Studies: James 1:22 – Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!
Our Purpose Worship, Our Home Heaven: 2 Corinthians 5:4ff – For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened… because we long to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life! And it is God who has made us for this very purpose!
God has given us the Holy Spirit as a deposit, a down payment, guaranteeing what is to come! …We live by faith, not by sight… So we make it our goal to please Him! Live for Christ.
We are New Creations in Christ! 2 Corinthians 5:15ff – Christ died for all. And those who live in Christ should no longer live for themselves, but for Christ who died for them, and was raised again. So, from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though once we even regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation! The old has gone! The new has come!
We are Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom: All this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Jesus Christ, not even counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal (and offer to all mankind) through us! We implore you on Christ’s behalf : Be reconciled to God!
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
We are God’s Dearly Loved Children: Romans 8 – Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Holy Spirit of Life has set me free from the law of Sin and Death. For what this law (of Moses) was powerless to accomplish because it was weakened by our sinful nature, God accomplished! God did it by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He dealt with, and condemned sin in sinful mankind, so that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us – those of us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Holy Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have the mind set of just doing what that sinful nature desires. But those who live in accordance with the Holy Spirit have the mind set of doing what the Holy Spirit desires… and you, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Holy Spirit of God, if the Holy Spirit of God lives in you (and if anyone does not have the Holy Spirit of Christ, he simply doesn’t belong to Christ). But if Christ lives in you, though your physical body is dead and dying because of sin, yet your own spirit is alive because of righteousness! And if the Holy Spirit of God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead is living in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Holy Spirit who lives in you!
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, we have an obligation… to live according to the Holy Spirit and to put to death the misdeeds of the body – and so to live! Those who are led by the Holy Spirit of God are the Sons of God! For you did not receive a Spirit that will make you a slave again – a slave to fear. No, you received the Holy Spirit of Sonship! And by this Spirit we cry out “Abba, Father!” The Holy Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that “We Are God’s Children!” And if we are God’s children, then we are heirs. We are heirs of God – and we are co-heirs with Christ!
We know that in all things God (our Father) works for the good of those who love Him – and for the good together with those who love Him. Those who love Him have been called according to His purpose and plan. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image and likeness of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that Christ might be the “firstborn” of many brothers.
God is For Us: What shall we say in response to this incredible message? If God is our Father, and He is for us, then who can be against us? If our Father, who loves us so very much that He did not even spare His Own Son, but gave Him up for us all – if He loves us so much that He was willing to do that, how will He not also (along with Christ Himself) graciously give us all things? Who will bring any accusation against those whom God Himself has chosen? It is God who justifies. So who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died – and more than that was raised to life – is right now at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven and is interceding for us.
Christ Jesus Loves Us: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship? Persecution? Poverty or even famine? Danger or war? No! Even in all of these situation we are MORE than CONQUERERS through Christ Jesus who loves us! For I am convinced that neither Death nor Life, neither Angels nor Demons, nothing in the present, and nothing that may come in the future, nor any world power or spiritual Powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all of Creation (physical or spiritual) – nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
The Living Room Like Church, but Not Really
We’re still not sure if “Church” is a good word to describe this ministry. It’s really kind of a mission. Or like coaching in the Christian life. We want to Shepherd people, and Disciple people here in our home – and perhaps one day you will do this in your own home with others! By Shepherding we mean that we want to be involved in your spiritual life with Christ, and by Discipling we mean that we give you what we know of Christ, so that you can do what we do – giving Christ to others.
Hebrews 6:1ff -Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have (because they are) fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
This is a fascinating passage about Shepherding and Discipling. Don’t let the second paragraph distract you too much – its one of those paragraphs that people love to argue about. But here is what we think is important from this passage:
1. There are “elementary teachings” or “basic foundational teaching” in the Christian faith. We need to learn them, and master them, and then move on. These “basics” are: a) teachings about the life of Christ b) teachings having to do with the path of salvation c) teachings having to do with spiritual gifts d) the truth about the resurrection of the dead e) the truth about eternal judgment
2. There is also an advanced level of (teaching, understanding, realization – what is the best word?) in the Christian faith. No, I’m not being a gnostic – this is what the passage says. a) Enlightenment or illumination (Christ is the light of the world) b) tasting the “heavenly gift” c) “sharing in the Holy Spirit” d) “tasting the goodness of the Word of God” e) tasting the “powers of the coming age”
Paul refers to these two levels of spiritual life in 1st Corinthians chapters two and three. Here is writes about three kinds of people: those who are not saved, those who are saved but immature, and those who are mature and “spiritual” believers.
He writes: And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. … these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly —mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.
So we want to continue in our spiritual growth – becoming men and women who are “spiritual” or empowered by the Spirit of God, and who are able to discern matters of the Spirit, and live in the power of the Spirit.