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Handling our Differences – 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

April 26th, 2010

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Paul is dealing with the issue of litigation in the church in Corinth, when there were rock star lawyers and suing people was a way of making money. Paul reserves his harshest words for this topic – he wants the church to feel ashamed for such behaviour. In our present day and culture, we may not be taking others to court but we do hold grudges and take vengeance on others.

Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that they have forgotten the following:

1. Themselves

  • They have forgotten their identity – who they are – and their destiny – where they are headed – as the people of God
  • All the saints (that is, anyone who has saving faith in Christ) will one day rule the whole world, including the angels
  • We are God’s ecclesia – His people – so we should be able to sort out our differences amongst ourselves
  • Paul is furious that they were making the Church look like any other organised religion that is just about ripping each other off. He is keenly aware that the world is watching, and so should we be
  • Jesus prayed that His people would be one, would be unified
  • We know better than to get revenge on each other
  • Paul is NOT advocating covering up sins within the church and keeping them secret. He wants the city to see the church as genuine, open and humble, shining for Jesus, and civic authorities have been put in place by God – so there are times when we need to bring issues out into the open for the sake of justice
  • However, this is about personal grievances and wanting money

2. Their Master

  • We follow the example of Jesus – He suffered, forgave, was merciful, took mistreatment without retaliating, was loving, and did not take vindication against others
  • We betray Jesus by not acting like Him and getting revenge
  • However, we can’t just try our hardest to be like Christ – we’ll never make it in our own strength. We are innately sinful – we long for personal vindication in our hearts. But Jesus took all this on the cross – our sin and also the sins committed against us
  • Jesus at the cross gave us a righteous standing with God and the power to live righteously. He was disempowered so that we could be empowered and reign with Him for all eternity
  • Although we as God’s people continually treat Jesus with contempt, He never once gets back at us even though He has every right to
  • Ch.3 – we have everything in Christ. This is why we can suffer losing money, personal grievances, etc
  • Dwell on the fact you have been forgiven – he who has been forgiven much, loves much
  • There’s an illusion that holy people just choose miserable, hard things for sake of it. But the truth is, it’s all done in faith and knowing that they have a destiny which cannot compare – e.g. Abraham
  • We’re not advocating being doormats – we do need to seek justice when necessary

3. Their story

  • If you spend your life grabbing and getting, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If you try to hold onto your life, you will lose it – but if you give it up for the sake of Jesus, you will find it
  • In this passage Paul lists any and every kind of person who lives to gratify their own pleasures. He is not picking on certain people, e.g. homosexuals – but having a go at everyone who lives for themselves
  • We have a new story, a different story to the rest of the world
  • You’ll live a joyless life if you live for yourself – everything you try to grab becomes cheap
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. True peace is always costly and God is the ultimate peacemaker – we are called to follow His example
  • None of this is easy but it becomes easier the more you grow in your relationship with Jesus

Running the Race – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

April 20th, 2010

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Paul here is warning against apathy, against the danger of assuming that once you become a Christian, it doesn’t matter how you live your life. He wants to show us what could be lost out on and uses the image of a race to do so. It is not an apathetic image but rather a one of a passionate exhortation to work, labour, etc.

1. Training

  • It is all-consuming preparation – full time, constant, habitual
  • The athletes who want to win think differently to other people
  • It requires discipline – to train when you don’t feel like it or aren’t in the mood
  • We have to train as Christians – same application for getting the most out of our relationship with God, to do great things for God with our life: we have to press through and persevere
  • We also encourage one another to press on
  • We are always fighting against the temptation to give up and throw in the towel, because following God’s will is never easy. But there is more we are capable of than we realise, we are able to handle more than we realise – because of the grace and power of God
  • Training requires focus – you have to turn your focus away from other things
  • The PRIZE:
  • Many people think this is heaven, to obtain eternal life, but Paul already knew he was going to heaven because of his faith in Christ and the fact that God had saved him. Eternal life is a gift to be received not a prize to be won.
  • The prize is the reward of a life lived with God. Not every Christian will receive the full reward of their life – some people will be saved ‘as one through fire’ – with nothing to show for their life, nothing achieved for God.
  • God saved us for good works – we have a unique plan for our life.

2. Seeing

  • We all pursue different prizes in life – but all apart from the reward of doing God’s will are perishable, they do not last
  • We need to SEE the imperishable prize before us – we need to see the end goal
  • Paul saw that goal and was obedient to the vision
  • We have to see the end, have to have it in sight to keep going
  • Don’t be so short-sighted – see something better than this passing age
  • JESUS is the only reason we get to take part in the race in the first place. He has gone ahead and run the race for us, and now we get to run our own race with His help and power.

Sacred Mums – 1 Corinthians 7:14

March 15th, 2010

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We often neglect the subject of motherhood, but it is a relevant topic to all of us – at the very least, we were all born of a mother. It is also an incredibly important and significant role within the church, and should be viewed as such. It is means whereby Jesus can be taken into the home and the family, even if the mum is the only Christian in that place (which is mainly who the apostle Paul is addressing in this verse). Mums can bring godly influence.

The Bible esteems motherhood and holds it in great honour, because it is a calling and a gift from God. There are 6 aspects of this calling:

1. Undervalued calling

  • Motherhood is not valued highly in our culture and it is seen as “unfashionable” now to have children.
  • Mums often feel a sense of shame and embarrassment to say they are “just a mum”.
  • It is not seen as a “real job” – even though it is tough, demanding, 24-7 work!
  • Our culture has wrongly evaluated motherhood – but the Bible evaluates it in the right way, and so we need to view motherhood through scripture.
  • Dorothy Patterson – motherhood offers something no other job can: to work with the people you love the most and want to please the most.

2. A noble calling

  • 2 Tim 1:5 – Paul talks about how Timothy came to faith in Christ because of his grandmother and his mother. These 2 women literally changed the world through their role as mothers.
  • The fifth commandment is a command to honour both our mother and our father (Exodus 20:12).
  • The book of Proverbs continually lifts up mothers and their role and demonstrates their influence (e.g. 1:8, 23:25, 31:1).
  • Mothers get to do work on a child’s heart by the grace of God. The heart of a child is what matters – mothers are to shepherd it towards Jesus. All children are born sinful and foolish, and need their hearts to be transformed by God (which only He can do).

3. A warrior’s calling

  • Motherhood has a weak image but the fact is that actually mums are at war.
  • Ephesians 5 – the passage about spiritual warfare – comes right after Eph. 4 – the chapter about how family/domestic life should work. Home is where the battlefield is.
  • Mums need to battle for their children (e.g. in prayer).
  • Gen. 3 – God describes how the power of evil will affect domestic life and in particular, motherhood.
  • Mums need to be a force for God in the home.

4. A rewarding calling

  • Mums can have faith that there will be seasons of blessing, fruit, reward and fulfilment.
  • Prov. 31:28: ‘Her children rise up and call her blessed’.

5. A spiritual calling

  • If God calls, He also equips with grace and power from His Holy Spirit.
  • Mums need to be continually filled with the Spirit, carrying the presence of God.
  • Mums can trust God to act on their behalf.
  • God cares especially deeply about single mums – covered by the term “widows” in the Bible. Psalm 146:9.

6. A God-revealing calling

  • Motherhood reveals something of the character and heart of God.
  • Gen. 3 – God promises that through children, He will defeat the power of evil. Through one child in particular, Jesus, He did this – He reversed the curse.
  • God is also like a mother to us (Isaiah 49:15).
  • God abandoned His own Son so that He would not have to abandon us.

Jesus, Marriage & Divorce 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, 10-24, 39-40

March 8th, 2010

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The apostle Paul is still addressing the same problems that the Corinthians had with sex and marriage being “unspiritual”, and believing perhaps that they should leave their marriages in order to be spiritual. But Paul embraces marriage and lifts it up the same way as Jesus. Paul shows that this is teaching from Jesus (v.10 – ‘not I, but the Lord’).

The Greek/Roman culture had a very low view of commitment and a very liberal view of divorce. However, the Christian view on these matters is clear – ‘the wife should not separate from her husband. . .and the husband should not divorce his wife’ (v.10).

To understand marriage and divorce we need to go back to Jesus’ teaching on it in Matthew 19:3-9. Jesus quote from the beginning of Genesis – going right back to when God created man and woman and there was the first marriage.

One Flesh

  • A couple become one when they are married – that is what they are.
  • It is a sacred, miraculous thing that reflects the mystery of the Trinity (one God in three Persons).
  • It is so profound and therefore should never be taken lightly.

Covenant Love

  • Our culture teaches that love and marriage is built purely on romantic love, but this does not make a marriage work. Romantic love is indeed a gift from God and should definitely be a part of a marriage, but it is not the foundation on which to build a marriage. We need to get our idea of love from the Bible.
  • Covenant love – choosing to love someone, choosing to commit yourself to them – is what makes a marriage work. Reflected in wedding vows – “Will you love” not “Do you love”.
  • The phrase ‘hold fast’ in this passage is key (v.5).
  • God loves us with covenant love – we look to reflect that love in our marriages.
  • Jeremiah 3 – God experiences divorce and betrayal personally, and that is why He hates it. The rules that allowed divorce were made because of sin and the hardness of the human heart – but it was never God’s intentions. He wants covenant love on display.

Recognising Reality

God understands human sinfulness and has compassion for victims, and so there are cases where divorce may be acceptable:

  • v.9 – sexual immorality is grounds for divorce. The bond of covenant love has been broken, and the victim is spiritually “widowed” so free from that bond.
  • Desertion can be grounds.
  • These things are never black and white though and must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the elders of the church. Reconciliation should always be explored because it is God’s intentions to restore.
  • If divorce was legitimate there are also grounds for remarriage – again not a black and white issue, and needs to be brought to the elders.
  • Incompatibility? This is a myth. A marriage is made up of 2 sinners! There is always going to be incompatibility, and there will also be seasons of hardship.
  • Married the “wrong person”? v.20 – remain in the condition you are in.

We need to work at our marriages:

  • Jesus came to give us a new heart so we can do things like commitment and covenant love.
  • Commit to physical love – safeguard your marriage from temptation.
  • Make your marriage holy – make it the thing you refuse to give up on.
  • Model Jesus & the gospel – beautify your spouse.

Singleness, Life-stage and Contentment – 1 Corinthians 7:17-40

March 1st, 2010

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The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth, addressing (amongst other things) the issue that sex and marriage is somehow “unspiritual”, Paul rebukes the idea. This is relevant to us today because this thinking is still prevalent in modern Christianity – that somehow marriage, sex and physical pleasure is “wrong” and unspiritual and shouldn’t be enjoyed. However, everything created by God is good (Genesis 1) and is to be enjoyed as long as we enjoy it as a gift from God rather than as a god itself. Also, Paul teaches that to forbid marriage is demonic teaching (1 Tim. 4).

Paul does have a place for singleness though. He agrees to an extent with the Corinthians that singleness is good, but for completely different reasons.

For those who are married – it is important that they hear this message because they are part of the Body of Christ, and need to know what the Bible teaches about singleness.

Paul’s message to all is this: let each person lead the life he is in, the life God has called him to. We don’t necessarily need to change our situation in order to live for God, or alter our conditions in order to be more spiritual – we can be pleasing to God, glorifying and worshipping Him in our current circumstances (marital state, job, etc). Think about the example of Joseph – He served and glorified God when he was a slave, a prisoner, etc.

Why honour singleness?

1. Practical reasons (it’s a gift)

  • v.7 – it is a gift from God, a blessing – as is marriage.
  • The context of Paul’s letter – ‘in view of the present distress’ (v.26) – it made singleness a wise option.
  • Singleness is not a command from Paul, but a suggestion motivated by genuine compassion (v.25, v.40).
  • It does not mean that you will never be tempted, or that you will love every moment, or that you won’t struggle with loneliness – but God does give grace for every season, and He always knows what He is doing with our lives.
  • Singleness is a precious season where it gets to be just you and God – He cherishes that time He has with you.
  • It is not permanent.
  • It is a gift to be used for the Church. You are to use your gift (whether singleness or marriage) as a way of blessing the Body.

2. Spiritual/eternal reasons:

  • In the Old Testament, the emphasis was on marriage and child-bearing to maintain a legacy and be fruitful. Jesus changed all that – we now leave an eternal/spiritual legacy.
  • Isaiah 53 – Jesus is fruitful and has spiritual offspring, despite being single.
  • The spiritual family we are a part of is greater than any physical family.
  • Isaiah 56 – we have a name better than sons or daughters.
  • In Jesus Christ we possess all things.

1 Corinthians 7: 1-2, 6-9, 25-38. Singleness and Marriage

February 15th, 2010

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Parts of this passage are potentially confusing; ‘It’s good for a man not to have sexual relations with a women’. This seems to contradict Genesis 2 and other scriptures. However, Paul (the writer of this letter) is quoting their (the Corinthians) opinion back to them, this is obviously something they would have said. The bible teaches that sex is good and encourages it wholeheartedly within marriage.

But as well as promoting marriage Paul believes that there is a wonderful role for singleness and is
keen to honour it. Singleness is a unique calling and can bring a liberty to follow God. The bible elevates a certain kind of singleness; for some kind of callings of God singleness can be appropriate.

The church needs to look after and dignify singles and families should be hospitable to them and serve them.

In our culture marriage has a very bad reputation and this has led to people embracing singleness or avoiding marriage for the wrong reasons, even within the church.

People in the church are nervous about marriage and can stay single for some of the following wrong reasons;

  • Concerned that they are loving their prospective partner more than God. They feel they’ve developed a unhealthy devotion which deflects from their relationship with God. Don’t be hooked into false spirituality, If that isn’t a tension we are balancing in courtship perhaps we should question the relationship?
  • The ‘Who is the one mentality’ is also to be avoided. God restored you to sonship not to be a robot. We’ve been given ability to make decisions and choose our own partners.
  • Guys can be picky, they can have a picture of beauty that isn’t biblical. Obviously you need to be attracted to your bride but physical beauty is quite secondary.
  • For some women misinterpretations of what a spiritual man is can hold people back. Don’t look for the ‘platform gift’ or christian eloquence, look at the heart.
  • Fear can hold people back but we can be set free by knowing God. If we are fearful we are then not really enjoying God. If we are exposed to the love of God it will overwhelm fear.

We can make marriages our God and try and make them perfect, this is not possible. There has only ever been one perfect husband.

Story of the bible is one of a husband and a bride.God pursues us as a husband to a bride  He is perfectly faithful to us and utterly beautiful. To see proof of this look at the cross of Jesus Christ where the greatest husband in history died for his wife, the people of God. He is faithful enough to be tortured and murdered for us.

1 Corinthians 6 v 12 – 20 Sex and Purity

February 1st, 2010

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The first experience of sex in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2) was without shame, there were no hang ups. But Adam and Eve fell away from God into rebellion and immediately were ashamed. One of the many results of our rebellion is a sense of shame and embarrassment associated with nakedness and sexuality. We now no longer use sex to worship God but now we can worship sex itself.

God’s model for us is to enjoy sex within a covenant relationship, a lifelong marriage commitment made before God of the body and soul to one another.

In sex we are looking for pleasure
We are designed to look for and find our pleasure in God. God intends pleasure for us and ultimately only He can give it to us. We look for it elsewhere but it can only give limited returns.

Sex is a magnificent gift from God but in itself it makes a terrible God.

In sex we are looking for love and security
We crave physical intimacy because we are looking for love, support, security, protection etc. Again God intended that this need was ultimately fulfilled in Him and Him alone.

A lifestyle pattern can develop of desiring physical intimacy and this, or the person who gives it, can become our saviour.  This can lead to a blinding dependence on people which can lead to abuse.

Defilement and the answer
The reason we are left feeling defiled is really the same reason we feel guilt. We feel guilt because of guilt. We feel defiled because we are defiled.

In the end something has to objectively be done to set us free and the fullest true answer is what Jesus alone can do. Through real repentance, which is rediscovering the person we should have been worshipping in the first place, we can be free. The route to freedom is finding our joy in Jesus.

Through the cross we can receive forgiveness and also cleansing from our sin. Part of the work of the cross is the removal of shame from us. It’s taken away. In our place Jesus has became the scapegoat, he became shame for us.

1 Corinthians 6:12 – 7:5 Why is Sex Such a Big Deal?

January 25th, 2010

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Sexual freedom is supposed to bring liberty but instead it enslaves and controls people. We think that somehow our physical bodies are disconnected from the spiritual. We think that what we do with our bodies doesn’t affect us but it does. Jesus was a physical man after the resurrection and is now still a physical man.

The sexual act creates a union, we become one flesh. It is created to take place in a marriage relationship. Marriage itself is a foretaste of something greater, it points to our union with Christ, we are his bride. Also, sex points to something better, something greater. God created sex to point to the joy we’ll experience in eternity with him. Knowing God is profound union, sex is a picture of that.

Our application
We should flee from sexual immorality and deal ruthlessly with temptation

1 Corinthians 5 – Judge or Don’t Judge?

January 18th, 2010

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Healthy Discipline

The purity of the church needs to be maintained. It must, therefore, be characterised by an atmosphere of ongoing submission to the will of God. Sin, once clearly identified in the community and in individuals, must be acknowledged and brought to repentance. When it is simply tolerated and perpetrators are allowed to carry on as if nothing mattered the purity of God’s people is compromised and threatened.
 
The more it is unquestioned the more dangerous this is – both for the church (which is affected by the bad yeast – v.6) and for the individuals themselves (who need the redemptive effect of discipline. It is meant to act as a safeguard – provoking people to a reality check and a sense of the serious condition. The goal is not to punish people but bring them to their senses and, thereby, draw them back into fellowship based upon true repentance).
 
We can be tempted to simply let things carry on unchecked and even congratulate ourselves on our ‘tolerance’ but in reality we are bringing danger on the people of God. The reality is that all of us practice some kind of ‘intolerance’ in certain contexts.
 
Discipline means that those who are not living a repentant life are not treated as if they are. This is NOT the way to treat non-believers. It is not our business to discipline non-Christians who know no better. We are not to be taken out of the world – not at all! So we must maintain our friendships with the lost and retain a totally non-judgemental attitude to them. But those who make out that they are believers but live an unrepentant lifestyle should know our position very clearly and not feel comfortable around us.
 
This is in line with the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 18. The goal is redemptive and it’s supposed to work.

CCK Stories

December 16th, 2009

Throughout the autumn at CCK we’ve been showing videos each week of various CCK members sharing stories of how the gospel has changed their lives.

cck-stories

These videos have served as excellent demonstrations of the tangible evidence that Jesus changes our lives, heals our broken situations, lifts us out of our addictions, carries us through times of difficulty or illness and offers us complete transformation. There are so many examples of God’s faithfulness and care in the stories shown in these videos, and they point out that the gospel is impacting people from all walks of life; whether you are an ex-rapping drug dealer or a woman provoked by the miracle of  her newborn child.

They are excellent tools for evangelism and would make great viewing for those who would find these testimonies helpful or provocative. These videos are like seeds that can be very easily sown. That’s why we have put them all together in one place! It’s really simple to forward this page on and share these stories to those who may need to hear them.

Here they are on the CCK website; CCK STORIES

And here they are on CCK’s YouTube channel; CCK STORIES

Exclusive; here’s a video unique to the web; CCK elder Matt Davis tells his story; MATT’S STORY

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