1 Corinthians 13
You cannot have opened the Bible long, before in every book, you’re confronted with the royal command, calling us on to fervent love! The New Testament epistles spare no end of space in urging us to fill up this command and there’s not a single New Testament epistle that does not contain some exhortation on love!! Amongst the many beautiful chapters in the Bible, must surely be found the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Outside the life and example of our Saviour, there’s no clearer setting forth of the attributes of love than is found in this chapter.
In this sermon, we place our focus on just one of the fifteen attributes; love thinks no evil. May the Lord speak to all of our hearts on this greatly important aspect of love.
Knowing the Bible for Yourself (Pt. 1)
As one opens the Bible, one quickly comes to discover that what they hold in their hand is not a single book, but a volume of ancient literature (some 66 books). In fact, there are some 780, 000+ words all found sitting within a careful and purposeful grammatical structure with the oldest sections being more than 3 ½ thousand years in age and the most recent, 2000 years! There are many different ways in which God could have communicated his will to mankind; he could have appeared at a given location every fifty years to speak to man in person or sent an angel to speak on his behalf. Instead, God in His sovereign wisdom has chosen to communicate His message to mankind through the medium of written language.
In this first teaching part, we ask the question; “Why do we need to interpret the Bible?” As soon as one begins to read any literature, the need for interpretation comes immediately into play!! This not only applies to the Bible, but all pieces of literature, because the underlying question that inevitably will arise is; “What does that mean?” You cannot escape this question, and as soon as one asks this question, one by default has moved into the realm of interpretation. The aim of all true Bible study is to uncover the plain meaning of the text so as to arrive at the proper understanding of truth. Having understood what God’s Word was to those first receiving it, we are then in a position to correctly apply the Word of God to our lives.
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1 Peter 5:5-6
There are things in this Christian walk that are greatly to be desired, and then there are those things that are indispensable. Love, holiness, faith, and love…these are precious virtues that are not desirables to be added to the list of Christian attributes – these are absolutes!! Added to this list is also found the like precious virtue of humility.
In this sermon, we ponder at length the exhortation found in 1 Peter 5:5-6. We there discover that two different attitudes on the part of man, summon two radically different actions on the part of God. “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble”. Which attitude of heart will you choose to walk in?
I have come to realise that a man can be in love with the concept of holiness and make the fatal error of equating form with substance!! He thinks that because he has the form, he has the substance! Ever do we need to be on guard against this kind of self-deception! What saith the half-brother of our Lord? “…be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jms. 1:22). To hear only and to do nothing about it is to deceive ourselves! Having good intentions and the words to along with it are not the same thing as having the actions to back it up.
The challenge goes forth with strength in this sermon to put rubber to the road and to enter into a life of holiness!!
Sometimes as Christians, we can forget that our Lord not only said that the gate was strait; He said also that the way was narrow which leads to life eternal! Not only a narrow entrance, but a confined path also to traverse; and on account this He said that they’d be few that ever find it!!
This sermon is aimed at two groups of people, of which everyone finds themselves belonging to one. Group number 1, are those yet to enter through the strait/narrow gate. They’ve seen its gloried from a distance and have approached unto it for further inquiry; yet, they’ve still to cross over its threshold. Group number 2 are those who having crossed the threshold of the narrow gate, onto the narrow way, have yet to finish the journey and to cross the threshold into life. May the Lord speak to each heart!
Some 33 parts on and some 65+ thousand words later, we finally come to the final teaching part in our Revelation series. With the old earth passed away, and the former heaven gone forever, John saw a new heaven and a new earth, and the holy city—the New Jerusalem—coming down from God out of heaven. In chapter 21, John described this glorious city, and in the first part of chapter 22, he continues to do the same. There’s no escaping the parallels that exist between the first paradise in Eden, and this second paradise. What was lost in the curse has now at the end, been restored, not only to an equal state but to one far exceeding it in every degree!
The chapter concludes with a series of warnings. The end is at hand and the Lord instructs His Church. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 22:20-21).
We read in Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe”. Man is prone on every side to fear, not least in the face of pending danger. God’s desire is that we would not be overcome by fear, but rather that we would trust Him!
This sermon is an exhortation for the blood-bought children of God, to place their total confidence in the Lord. Where faith toward God abounds, fear has no resting place; but where fear abounds, we can be assured, faith is wanting! “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there”.
The people and the rulers, the soldiers and the criminal —each one hurled their abuse and insults with guided precision—it was open season on the Son of Man. In the eyes of the mob who had gathered to express their contempt of Jesus, the suffering spectacle which hung before them was proof positive that this man was getting all that He deserved of God’s righteous indignation. What were they to make of a suffering King? In truth…not much! However, amongst the taunts and the sneers, a voice of penitence was heard from one of the criminals being crucified alongside Jesus and a plea so profound; “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom”.
In this sermon, we endeavour to unpack this statement to see the priceless treasure revealed therein. We then close by asking the question, what are we doing with the light that God has shone into our hearts. May the Lord speak to each one of us.
Every book has a start and a finish; a beginning and an ending. The Book of Revelation is no exception to this rule and as we begin part 32 of our studies, we cross yet another milestone in our journey through this book. No longer are we going up the mountain...having reached the peak, we’re now descending on the other side of the Jordan, heading towards the finish line. With the New Jerusalem firmly in our sights, we can pick up the pace and encourage ourselves that it was all worth it! The cross, the battle, the war, the struggle; captivities and martyrdoms...all that is now behind us and eternities glories have opened up their arms to receive us in the Lord!
In this teaching, we gain an insight into what is in store for believers in the new heavens and new earth along with the new Jerusalem.
As Christians, we’re never stationary for very long; we’re either moving closer to the Lord or further away from Him. We all experience flutterings from time to time along the way, but it’s over those protracted seasons of drift where we suddenly realise that our love has grown cold, and our standards have fallen. O that the Lord might revive us and kindle again a sacred flame on the mean altar of our hearts in order that we might live wholly and only for Him!!