The Greatest Aim Of All

His wife said to him,

"Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"

This was the response of Job's wife to all that was happening in their lives at the time that Satan was permitted to move against Job.

What would you do if you had the same things, that God was allowing to have happen to Job, happening to you?

Followers of Jesus Christ are told to ‘walk by faith and not by sight’, but how prepared are we for the realities of that calling?

What does it mean for the modern Christian?

God has not left us alone. He promised that He would send another to comfort, strengthen and empower us in doing the will of our Father in Heaven. God sent the Holy Spirit in a very special way on the day of Pentecost, nearly two thousand years ago.

However God's Spirit has also been at work amongst God's people for many more thousands of years.

There is a lot we can learn from God's previous dealings with the human race so that we can avoid some of the attitudinal and other types of mistakes that we humans tend to make.

When it comes to 'walking by faith and not by sight', Israel has a lot to show us of both sides of the coin, getting it right - and also the mistakes that we can avoid.

We are going to look at a few things here that are very much on God's heart for this point in the history of the church. And in doing so we will look at some large chunks of Scripture, and see what our response as genuine 'latter day saints' - (not Mormons!) should be to many of the modern pressures that we face as followers of Christ.

For although the types of pressure and the areas in which they fall may appear to be different to the kinds of pressures that God’s people may have faced in previous generations and points of history, pressure is pressure, and God’s ways are still God’s ways.

Israel — Called to Trust in the Invisible God

A few thousand years ago in the time of the prophet Samuel, God had led His people Israel for many generations through a series of prophets, other leaders, and guides, each raised up in their turn by His Holy Spirit.

The whole process relied however on Israel maintaining its relationship with the Lord. When Israel did not do this God was prepared to let things get pretty bad while Israel were not keeping to their first love for Him.

At those times an enemy could be all but destroying Israel before they would really turn to the Lord and seek His deliverance. This wasn’t what God looked for.

 His best intention would have been for a consistent relationship with each Jew and not just what we could now call a 111 or 911 (depending where you live) emergency only relationship with God.

Unfortunately, as is so common for us humans, Israel instead of looking to God, looked at the other people around them, and seeing what they had, thought they would be better off with that.

The World Around Us

Israel looked and saw that the countries around them had organised defence forces, with organised officers, and at the top of them all a king or princes who organised everything as they thought necessary.

Israel had none of these things at all.

Instead when the need arose God intended that Israel was to call out to the Lord Who would defend them by His Own power and might. Often through raising up a leader of the moment by His Holy Spirit to lead (there were many men) or just advise (also one woman - Deborah) Israel in God's will.

Sometimes God would help Israel absolutely supernaturally with out Israel having to do anything at all. More often though He would indicate how they were to approach the enemy, or give Israel some other strategy (that in itself might make no sense at all), but which God would eventually fulfil if they trusted Him, working things together by His Holy Spirit.

(For example, on one occasion God told Israel while under attack that they were to wait until they could hear the sound of soldiers marching in the tree tops!

2 Samuel 5:24

24 “As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.”

This, the general nature of God's dealings with Israel, was to continue throughout the whole Old Testament record.

Give Us A King Who We Can See!

In stead of continuing to exercise such faith fully in the Lord, many Israelites decided early in their history that they did not want to exist in this way. They said that they wanted instead to be like the other nations, and so to have a king that they could see to lead them out in battle and govern them. (Not one Who told them to wait to hear soldiers marching in the tree tops!)

From a mere human point of view, it made sense. Every organisation needs a captain — some one in charge. Israel did not visibly seem to have any one permanently in charge, and the nations that were around them did have a person in charge and they were always seemingly doing well. While Israel was not doing well by their own estimation of things.

Israel was at a very low ebb in its affairs. Their near enemies the Philistines were oppressing them to such a degree that they were not allowed to even have blacksmiths among them to sharpen their farm tools.

For the Philistines reasoned that if Israel had blacksmiths, they would make swords and things for themselves to fight the Philistines with. So all Israel had to take their farming implements down to the Philistine blacksmiths to be sharpened and adjusted.

Israel didn't ask the Lord why they were so badly oppressed, and what God required of them for Him to make their situation better. Instead, Israel looked at the world and decided that they just wanted to live with what the other countries had obtained in a worldly way.

And to get all this they now wanted a king that they could see!

This all happened during the time that God was guiding Israel through the prophet Samuel. God saw all this as a direct rejection of Himself. Speaking to the prophet Samuel God says

1 Samuel 8:7

7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected Me as their king.


Samuel was a person dedicated for the Lord's work by his mother even before conception! He grew up under the care and teaching of God's high priest Eli. And so Samuel was a man prepared throughout his whole life for the purposes of God.

Reading from chapter eight of the book of First Samuel in the Old Testament. (As with most of the readings here this one is taken form the New International Version - NIV - of the Bible. The small numbers at the left of the paragraphs, are the verse numbers from within each chapter.)

1 Samuel 8:1-22

1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel.

2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.

3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.

5 They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."

6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.

7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.

9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."

10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king.

11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.

12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plough his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.

13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.

14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.

15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.

16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use.

17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.

18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us.

20 Then we shall be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD.

22 The LORD answered, "Listen to them and give them a king." Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Everyone is to go back to his town."

Was God happy with this state of affairs?

Again reading from 1 Samuel this time from chapter 12:

1 Samuel 12:1-20

1 Samuel said to all Israel, "I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you.

2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and grey, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day.

3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed?

From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right."

4 "You have not cheated or oppressed us," they replied. "You have not taken anything from anyone's hand."

5 Samuel said to them, "The LORD is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand." "He is witness," they said.

6 Then Samuel said to the people, "It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your forefathers up out of Egypt.

7 Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the LORD as to all the righteous acts performed by the LORD for you and your fathers.

8 "After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the LORD for help, and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your forefathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place.

9 "But they forgot the LORD their God; so he sold them into the hands of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them.

10 They cried out to the LORD and said, 'We have sinned; we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.'

11 Then the LORD sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies on every side, so that you lived securely.

12 "But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, 'No, we want a king to rule over us' —even though the LORD your God was your king.

13 Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the LORD has set a king over you.

14 If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God—good!

15 But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers.

16 "Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!

17 Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call upon the LORD to send thunder and rain. And you will realise what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the LORD when you asked for a king."

18 Then Samuel called upon the LORD, and that same day the LORD sent thunder and rain.[This destroys all their crops wiping out a very major part of their economy.] So all the people stood in awe of the LORD and of Samuel.

19 The people all said to Samuel, "Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king."

20 "Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.

Why do followers of Jesus read the Old Testament and yet are not required to keep to all the detail of the Old Testament?

We are looking at a lot of writing from the Old Testament here, so it will pay for us to have a clear perspective of the role and place of the Old Testament for a New Testament believer. If you love Jesus then you are a ‘New Testament believer’.

It is recorded in the New Testament that the Old Testament writings have been passed down to us to help us, among many things, to not make the same mistakes as Israel did in their lives with God.

Not so much on rules and regulations (see Acts chapter 15) but in attitudes towards God and each other, and in learning what God is like and modelling ourselves upon Him. (More on this later.)

Although nothing of the Old Testament is wrong as such, God has given us a better relationship with Himself through His Own dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus established the ‘New Testament’, - a new contract or treaty if you want to think of it as something like that, between God and mankind.

Jesus came as the fulfilment of everything that God had had written about Him in the Old Testament writings.

The New Testament is not the first arrangement that God has established for certain periods of time with the human race. The Old Testament itself records a number of arrangements set up by God for mankind. The last and perhaps the greatest of these old arrangements was what is known as the Law of Moses. This is recorded in the Old Testament in the ‘book’ called Leviticus and the ‘books’ around that part of the Bible. (The word ‘bible’ means a collection of books or a library, and they were each originally on their own scroll, not bound as one book as we mostly see the Bible today.).

The division of the Bible called the Old Testament, really simply describes everything that happened before the current dealings of God - called the New Testament. The New Testament remains in force until Jesus Himself returns in the clouds of the sky, for every eye to see. So there will be no New Age for mankind until the Lord Jesus Himself physically returns from heaven.

In the previous Testament, the Law of Moses provided a method established by God for a person to become an Israelite (a Jew). The provisions of that Law then set out the way that any person under Moses’ Law would be put right with God and have their sins ‘atoned’ for. And when atoned for, not be remembered any more by God.

God also provided in the Law of Moses for certain blessings to come upon people who kept to the religious works that that Law required in order to please God; and certain curses for those who broke any part of the Law.

The Law has a number of elaborate requirements for sorting out sin, and definite immediate punishments for certain sins including death by stoning. But the Law of Moses did not have any provisions in it for the ultimate cleansing of people of all sin. That was predicted to happen with the coming of Jesus.

Jesus came in line with everything that is written about Himself in the Old Testament, and while not setting aside any part of the Law of Moses, Himself did something very special for any one who responds to God’s message (called the gospel).

Any person who utterly trusts in Jesus, follows what He says and believes in what He achieved by dying on our behalf upon the cross, receives the promises that Jesus has made. And they can look forward to a bodily resurrection from the dead, just like God the Father gave Jesus. Such a person has been given another very special gift as well.

For such a person, Jesus has kept all the requirements of the Law of Moses perfectly, on their behalf, - for them!

So the warning of the New Testament is that you don’t try to keep the provisions of the Old Testament (sometimes called the Old Covenant) that is IF you really believe that Jesus has already done everything that is necessary to be done on your behalf. Otherwise by trying to keep some of the Law of Moses while missing any part of it out, you would end up under the curse of the whole book of the Law!

So believe instead that Jesus has done it all for you!

That is what the New Testament means when it says that we can not be put right with God through what is called in there, ‘works’. That is the ‘works’ required of a person under the Law of Moses.

Another kind of unacceptable ‘work’ is anything else that a person tries to do from just their own thinking, or another religious teaching, to win God’s favour. Anything that is outside or additional to the message of God called the gospel, is useless.

The only thing that will please God is our faith in His Son, and what Jesus had to say about how we must be saved from the punishment of God for our sins. That saving message of Jesus is called the ‘good news’ or the gospel.

As We Read The Old Testament

So as we read the Old Testament portions quoted here, lets not try to imagine that we are looking for a pattern of how to please God, but rather the sense of the kinds of attitudes of heart and faith in Him, that God wants to see growing in us.

Part of growing as a followers of Christ obviously involves our interacting with other people who believe in Jesus as well. God calls the whole of his followers throughout the entire world, His Church. Also, where we live, this Church exists. It is made up of every one near us or who we are interacting with as well, who believes in and loves the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pause and think about that. The ‘church’ is not some building down the road, or just some group that meets in a hall.

To be able to understand God’s plan for our lives then we also need to have a clear picture of what the church is and what it is not. For part of following Christ is being part of His Body or church, in a real and not a theoretical way.

The church is the community of believers who love Jesus and each other. Jesus’ Church knows no divisions or boundaries. Neither geography, race, nor station in life is a cause of any division in the Church - which is also known as the Body of Christ.

God likens His church to a Body. And as for every body there is a head. That Head is the Lord Jesus Christ. By having a head who the church and each member must look to for its decisions, God maintains the unity spoken of earlier.

For by His Spirit God communicates His decisions, wisdom, counsel, and guidance to His people both individually and all together.

When we look at what is seen as the church today people observe a lot of divisions, pettiness, and even just straight stupidity. How has this come about over the centuries? The things that can divide even the real church include:

1. People trying to be THE leader (minister, pastor, super-elder or whatever) instead of leaving it to Christ,

2. People holding to other ideas (teachings, doctrines, dogmas) than what Jesus has said, and

3. Overall people not being prepared to submit themselves to the Spirit of God, and also not loving each other whatever the cost

4. Related to the point above, people living from mere human understandings (called the ‘flesh’) and ignoring the wisdom of God.

5. From the point above, people and demons (evil sprits) having organisations, fellowships and denominations set up to organise God’s people other than in the things He is saying.

Is The Church Structured Like Israel?

So when we look at Old Testament examples as we read our bible, we need to bear in mind that there is an important distinction to be made between our lives and Israel's. As suggested before, not every actual detail of what God did with Israel applies to us. We are different from Israel in many important ways.

Israel had a high priest appointed from among the descendants of Aaron, we have Jesus. Israel eventually had a king from amongst the descendants of David, and so we have Jesus. Israel were to keep the commands given through Moses, we follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Which illustrates just a few of the important differences.

Out Of Nothing

Israel was a nation that God had made out of a barren woman, and a man who was basically too old, Abraham.

Genesis 18:10-12

10 Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.

11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.

12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?"

By faith Abraham and Sarah believed God that, while they were near a hundred years old, would have a son, Isaac, through whom would be descended all the people that we know today as Jews. And so by the word of the Lord and the faith he gave to them, it happened. Descended from Isaac's son Jacob (Abraham's grandson) are the tribes of Israel of our day, many thousands of years later. In Jacob’s day, Israel went to live in Egypt, where they eventually, many generations later, ended up in slavery.

By the times of Samuel (where we started), God had by many out right miracles led Israel out of slavery in Egypt through his servant Moses, and into the land that God had sworn to Abraham that He would give to Abraham's descendants to live in, and posses, - Palestine.

Israel was then a nation in the world, as it is now again. As a country it had definite borders and everything that goes along with that kind of thing.

Followers of Jesus now on the other hand are not made up or run like a country in the world today. We are a 'spiritual body'. It is a mystery not something spooky, just a point that God has made to make it plain that we are not a political or other type of organisation, as man would organise things in the world. 

The Body of Christ

What are we then?

To get to grips with what the church is in the world today we need to fully understand Who Jesus is, and what He accomplished while physically here on earth. Then we need to also look at the role of God the Holy Spirit among and in believers today.

In Scripture God has His people of the Old Testament referred to as the 'Commonwealth of Israel'. We need to remember that God created Israel out of nothing so it is His possession. Although many in Israel today may not presently acknowledge the Lord, God loves Israel very much, even though many others hate them. Jesus is after all Himself a Jew.

Israel was and is God's personal possession, and Jesus is Israel's King, whether in the past or today they yet acknowledge the fact.

The day is coming when all Israel that remains during a most terrible war, will turn and cry out for the Messiah — The Chosen One — Saviour — Jesus, to come and rescue them. And Jesus will physically return in the clouds of the sky to do so! We will shortly look at some Scripture that tells us more about these things, but first we will see how still in these days God tells us of important things even through the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

The Place of Scripture

God's Holy Spirit Inspired the Scripture Record

God has caused there to be a collection of 66 books collectively known as the bible, which His Spirit inspired to have written down through men. These books contain a wealth of things that God wants us to know about. However not all the things recorded as having been spoken in the Scripture are themselves inspired by God.

There is an important distinction to make here.

For example the words of people having private conversations with each other. People even planning to do evil and sin, the words of demons, and the words of Satan himself, are all also recorded in the Bible, but no one would ever try to say that God was Satan's inspiration for what the Devil is recorded as having said in the Bible.

In fact even the words of a donkey talking to its owner, that God empowered to speak its own mind, are recorded in the Bible!

And in the New Testament it is recorded that Satan himself tries to quote Scripture (with out the help Spirit of God), against the Son of God, Jesus — Who is the Word of God Himself!

The Devil still tries to do the same thing to us today, through other people, circumstances, and sometimes just straight into our minds.

So you can see that it is very important to get the correct 'handle' on a piece of Scripture before believing that it necessarily applies to your life.

For example although Abraham and Moses were told that God's men must be circumcised, and both refer to tithing, neither of these things apply to a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ today, as a law to be kept, or as a faith requirement (see Acts 15).

So Jesus is the Word of God come in human flesh — a body just like yours and mine, and the bible is the sacred record of those things which the Holy Spirit has inspired directed people to write down and record.

The Word of God - Getting the Bible in the Right Place

What does the phrase ‘Word of God’ mean?

Even though some people do, the Bible does not actually call itself the 'word of God' in the way that the Bible does tell us that Jesus is the ‘Word of God’.

This small point can become quite important as there are some who say that the Bible is the Word of God, and that as the Bible says that Jesus is the Word of God, then they either imply or state that therefore Jesus is the Bible in some mysterious way, or even hint at believing that the Bible is Jesus!

That kind of thing is not too unlike saying that when we break bread and drink to remember the Lord’s death until He returns (known also as the Lord’s Supper), that the bread actually turns mysteriously into the actual body of Jesus and the wine turns into the actual blood of Christ. But none of these things are true.

If you have celebrated this meal together with other followers of Christ, you will know by experience that the bread never turns into human flesh, and the wine never turns into human blood in our presence.

The danger of calling the bible the ‘Word of God’, is that in modern English it doesn’t quite mean what it should.

The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God

Now before we go any further, it helps to bear in mind that when some people say that the Bible is the Word of God, what they mean to say is that “the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God”. Which would be a far better and more accurate way of saying what they actually meant.

Where some groups of people tend to enter error in actually calling the bible the ‘Word of God’ is however in at least two quite different, and dangerous directions.

1) Hyper-prosperity Movement:

“It is written in the Bible, The Bible is the Word of God, God must do it for ME NOW or He is denying His Own Word / Himself!”

This error normally involves ignoring the context in which a statement appears. Sometimes the statement that the person is trying to bend God’s arm over, was not even spoken by God or His servants at all. God is not going to feel bound to necessarily honour anything that He did not actually say or mean in the way that someone is using it - even if it is written in the Bible! The bible is not a magic book, nor does God give any power to its words when they are used out of context.

The Bible is not a magic book? Sometimes bits of it are used as formulas to try and make things happen. This has actually led to forms of witchcraft or sorcery in some groups. Galatians 5 warns even followers of Christ against the sin of witchcraft:

Galatians 5:16-26

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;

20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions

21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

“So I say, live by the Spirit ..” and “But if you are led by the Spirit” are key phrases in all this. Earlier in the Letter to the Romans, Paul even says,

Romans 8:11-15

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.

13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

God wants us to be led by His Holy Spirit, and to rely upon Him to even make the Scriptures make sense to us. Paul even writes that:

Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

There is a second group that also teaches that the Bible is the ‘Word of God’ and who then make some wrong conclusions out of it.

2) Dispensationalists

“There was a special period of time while the first disciples of Christ were still alive when the gifts of the Holy Spirit like healing, tongues and so on were in action, but they all passed away when the last original ‘apostle’ died.”

Does the bible show that Jesus or His first disciples taught that that would be so?

Emphatically No.

Then how can these people teach this?


They simply use a formula approach. And it is a good example of what not to do with the Bible. First of all they argue that the whole Bible is the ‘Word of God’ using a scripture from one the four main ‘gospels’.

John 10:34-39

34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?

35 If he called them ‘gods’, to whom the word of God came— and the Scripture cannot be broken—

36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

37 Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.

38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

Then they take a scripture from earlier in the gospel of John:

John 1:1-5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 He was with God in the beginning.


3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Now all Christians accept that this Scripture refers to the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively.

Here the false trick comes in. A scripture in 1 Corinthians 13 is picked up and combined with the above ones.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

The claim is that: the perfection referred to here is the ‘Word of God’, and that as the ‘Word of God is the Bible, and as the Bible has come, the gifts of the spirit have passed away. They are the imperfect to help us until the perfect (the bible) came.

A convincing sounding argument on its own, but one which falls down on some very major points.

The perfect is Jesus in this case. There has never been a perfect copy of the Bible throughout the whole of Church history. Even the much esteemed King James Version had major flaws in it. (I,.e. Hebrews chapter four verse eight in earlier copies of the King James ran along the lines of -

Hebrews 4:8

“For if Jesus had given them rest”(AV - KJV) where the verse correctly reads along the lines of:

“8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not afterward have spoken of another day.” (NKJV)

In fact a very major error.)

The second error is that the first scripture does not command us that everything that we call the bible today is to be called the ‘Word of God’.

John 10:35

“If he called them ‘gods’, to whom the word of God came— and the Scripture cannot be broken ..”

It does say that the written record of what God said can not be broken.

Underneath it all is the fact that the English word ‘word’ means less than the New Testament word ‘word’ which is ‘logos’.

The OLB Strongs references gives us the following regarding the use of the phrase ‘logos’ when referring to Christ:

In John, denotes the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God, his minister in creation and government of the universe, the cause of all the world’s life both physical and ethical,

which for the procurement of man’s salvation put on human nature in the person of Jesus the Messiah, the second person in the Godhead, and shone forth conspicuously from His words and deeds.

The language in which the New Testament was written uses the phrase ‘word’ to cover such things as:

i.   the principle which controls the universe

ii.  the soul of the world

iii. the generative principle in nature

iv. commonly used for ‘reason’ as well as speech

The equivalent Hebrew word ‘_memra_’ was used for the manifestation of God, and the ‘Wisdom of God’.

So we can see that the biblical word ‘word’ be it Hebrew or Greek (Greek is the language that the New Testament was written in - Hebrew for the Old), means a lot more than the simple English word ‘word’!

There is no way that we can equate the Bible we hold in our hand today as being equal to Jesus the Son of God (— the principle which controls the universe). Surely when He the perfect comes —  Jesus —  the imperfect like the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we know them today will pass away, as the bible records God’s servant Paul was told to write for our benefit.

However, until the perfect —  Jesus comes, the gifts of the Holy Spirit will be as important a part of the lives of everyday followers of Jesus as they ever were in the days of Jesus’ first followers!

In many situations the word ‘word’ in a New Testament sense can also mean ‘message’.

Where the Lord states something emphatically in the Bible, then that is His 'word' to us. Especially if the Holy Spirit has made it stand out to us.

Followers of Jesus have always throughout the centuries believed that as it was inspired to be recorded by the Holy Spirit, the Bible is the only reference text in which we should find the 'emphatic' commands of Jesus and His fist servants written down. Commands that we all must follow. And a great many of those commands are quite simply to do with love and truth and being separate from all that is ‘dirty’ and sinful.

Not only has God made the Scripture (the Bible) available for our help, but He has done something even far more marvellous.

In just the same way that the Son of God came into the world to help humanity, so to the Father has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to convict men of sins, of judgement coming, and to speak of Jesus and our Father in Heaven.

For the person who obeys the message (gospel) of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit does some even greater things as well.

The Author Of The Bible Living Inside Us!

While physically here on earth the Lord Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, lead us into all truth and remind us of the things that Jesus says to us.

When a person turns to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness of sins and seeks to lead the new life that Christ gives them, the Holy Spirit comes to help and empower them to do that, and to embolden us to speak to others about the Lord Jesus Christ. He will also confirm that message about the Lord Jesus Christ with ‘sign and wonders’. That is miracles, healings and other amazing workings of His Own making.

These gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12. There is where you can find a good checklist of the kinds of gifts that God actually gives believers. You can use that checklist to pretty well test any other kind of ‘spiritual manifestation’ — a spiritual happening or a spirit showing itself in some way.

When the Holy Spirit comes in power into someone’s life, the person either starts speaking in tongues or prophesying or doing some other supernatural and powerful thing mentioned in the New testament as accompanying the work of the Holy Spirit.

These are things beyond the fruit of love that grows in a person who loves Jesus. They are 'power' gifts to help build other believers up, show the power of the kingdom of God through miracles and healings, and build the person themselves up in their spiritual life (like when privately praying in tongues).

If you are truly a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, God will do this for you. If this has not already happened, then really pray and ask God for His Holy Spirit. Also think over the things that Jesus has said to you, and whether or not you have put them into practice. For Jesus says that the Spirit of God will be given to him who obeys, with out measure. That means with out limit!!!

Have you given up any sin or thing that God has indicated you must yield to Him? have you been baptised in water in acknowledgement that Jesus is forgiving your sins? Has God personally spoken to you or made something in the New Testament, or through something a more experienced Christian has said to you, stand out to you U as something that you need to do (or not do)?

Believe and obey God in anything that He shows to you.

Are you perhaps a person who has known of the Lord's ways but is not fully walking in them? Seek God in repentance for His loving mercies which are new every morning, and God's Holy Spirit will richly dwell inside you!

The Lord Jesus also promised that sometimes God's Spirit will tell us of things to come, that is things yet to happen.

The Holy Spirit can speak to you in many ways. Through making a piece of the Bible stand out as mentioned above, or straight into your 'heart', or even occasionally through a sincere believer speaking from their heart out a loud what they believe God is saying to them for you (sometimes this is as ‘prophecy’).

God will sometimes even speak in advance of ‘things to come’.

On the grand scale, an example of God's Spirit speaking in advance of events is found in the Old Testament, in prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled, and in what are known as a Messianic Psalms.

An example of an Old Testament Prophecy that foretells some things yet to happen is found in the Old Testament book of Zechariah reading in chapter 13 verse six forward. (Zech 13:6 — see again how the short cut references work in the bible.)

This 'prophecy' covers some of the things already mentioned above about the actual day that Jesus returns here to rule the earth. Now although Jesus body is now 'glorified' and has spiritual properties (the same as we will get at the resurrection) he was raised form the dead in the same basic body He died in. So the marks of His crucifixion are still in His body ("Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever").

So this particular reading from the Psalm starts by quoting what some one will ask Jesus when they see the wounds that he took on our behalf in dying upon the cross.

Zechariah 13-14:6-21

6 If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.'

7 "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!" declares the LORD Almighty. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.

8 In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it.

9 This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'"

Zechariah 14:1-21

1 A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you.

2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.

3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle.

4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost.

7 It will be a unique day, without daytime or night-time—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light.

8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.

9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses.

11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

12 This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.

13 On that day men will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other.

14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing.

15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain.

18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

20 On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar.

21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty.

Messianic Psalms

Psalms were songs that God inspired some people to write. As the Psalms of the Old Testament were inspired by God's Spirit, sometimes these very special songs contain information beyond the ordinary praises of God.

As mentioned before there are Messianic Psalms that God has had placed in the Old Testament. These Psalms speak prophetically in advance about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.

Messiah means the one chosen or appointed by God the Father (in archaic speech — Anointed One). In Greek it is the word Christ. Jesus here means basically the One Who Saves.

This following Psalm, written many hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth born of a virgin, describes the exact scene that was to unfold around the cross when Jesus sacrificed Himself - for His Father's will, and the sake of humanity at large.

The Psalm 22 is reproduced in full, it was written under the hand of King David of Israel, a direct ancestor of Jesus.

Psalm 22:1-31

1 For the director of music. To the tune of "The Doe of the Morning". A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no-one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honour him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfil my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him—may your hearts live for ever!

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it.

Jesus quoted this particular Psalm as he hung on the cross. There was said to be a custom among Jews at that time, that when a man started quoting the beginning of a Psalm, the people around him would start singing the rest of the Psalm.

Any Jew present at the crucifixion who upon hearing Jesus start this Psalm, would have at least either thought out, or quietly spoken out, the rest of the Psalm. If you take the time to read the descriptions of the crucifixion of Jesus recorded in the New Testament in the Gospels of Matthew Mark Luke and John, you will find a number of the details written in the Psalm, many hundreds of years before, are carried out at the cross.

By the cross, Jesus death purchased us back from the judgement of God. As sinners we were at the resurrection of the dead to be found guilty according to our actions and God's words.

Jesus by willingly suffering on the cross, trades places with any one who will believe in and follow Jesus, in having done this for them. Instead of coming up at the second resurrection for judgement, a believer will bodily be raised form the dead at the first resurrection for eternal life, and take part in the coming glory when Jesus rules this earth personally from Jerusalem in Israel as described in the reading from Zechariah given earlier.

The Lord Jesus accomplished some more things on the cross as well. According to God's own wisdom, when Jesus willingly died upon the cross, He disarmed Satan and his demons from being able to harm God's believers, and Jesus also made a way for non-Jews to become part of the Commonwealth of Israel, part of God's Chosen People without having to be circumcised and become Jews as the Law of Moses required.

This does not mean that a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ becomes a citizen of the modern political state of Israel, but a member of God's house hold, a child of His, a son — sharing in the inheritance of all things that God the Father has given His Son the Lord Jesus Christ!

The Place of the Writings of the New Testament

Just as we have seen the way that God has written things in the Old Testament that point to things yet to come, so also He has given direct advice in the New Testament writings that inform us on how we might live as members of His household, knowing how to please Him in this life.

While we await our resurrection of the dead, we first have to outwork our salvation here on earth with fear and trembling.

Although still here on earth we are said to be 'in the world but not of it'.

This means that we are to live according to God's good pleasure and not the way that the world does. Living God's way includes obeying the laws of the land, except where they directly contradict God's ways.

For example if a country lets people get abortions and gives them a legal piece of paper to get one, this does not make the matter right with God. Or where a country allows people to divorce except for martial unfaithfulness this does not necessarily make the matter right before God either.

In fact there are circumstances where two Christians can never divorce each other as far as God is concerned no matter what the Government of a country says.

You can not have sex with any one or thing other than the person (of the opposite sex) that you are married to.

So in the same way homosexual and lesbian arrangements for living and sexual activity are never accepted by God and His people no matter what the laws of a country or statements of the world have to say.

(But remember that the greatest sin is not believing in the One that God sent, not believing in the Lord Jesus!)

Neither amongst God’s people do woman teach men nor do they take authority over them; and wives are submissive to their husbands no matter what feminism says. Husbands love their wives and children obey their parents in the Lord. Christian workers work for their bosses (even non-believing ones) as if they were working for Jesus Himself!

These are just a few of the contemporary areas of difference between 'the world' and the 'Kingdom of God'

However if a country says that there is a speed limit while driving motor vehicles, or such things as that there are taxes to pay, then a believer keeps to such laws to honour God before all people, and keep their conscience clear before God.

For when a believer is baptised (put under water) in deciding to follow Christ and belong to Him, they are making a promise by that action to keep a clear conscience before God.

1 Peter 2-4:4

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—

5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6 For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,"

8 and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority,

14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.

18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2

1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives,

2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes.

4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,

6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

10 For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.

11 He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?

14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."

15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

17 It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,

19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison

20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,

21 and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also— not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience towards God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

22 who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

1 Peter 4:1-11

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

In the New Testament, no one ever goes to 'Church' …

You may start to see that the church is not so much an organisation, rather that we are here talking here about the whole of life. The Life of Christ in us and amongst us.

The original word for church in the New Testament means 'called out'. That is called out from the world to separate themselves to God. And in the sense that the New Testament uses the word, church never describes an organisation, like a sports club or something.

In fact in the New Testament, no one ever simply goes to 'Church' meaning a building as we see used by various religious organisations today.

However the New Testament does talk about the church gathering.

The simplicity of the matter is that the church of Jesus Christ, is the people who believe in and have been baptised into Him.

The Scripture when describing the work of the Holy Spirit amongst us, doesn't only have the Holy Spirit giving out gifts of tongues, prophecy, miracles healings etc .. No, the Scripture states that we are all baptised [immersed] by one Spirit into one body. And we should also note that the scripture does not record that the Holy Spirit baptises us into many different bodies, churches, fellowships, or other organisations.

The centrality of the unity of the church of Christ, must be absolutely paramount in our minds at all times when looking at the mess of things that make up what people call churches today. We can not for a moment leave this absolute truth behind or put it aside in trying to justify or fit in any of the wrong things that go on in God's name in the modern world.

Love and Truth

God intends that at least two things shall provide the glue to bind the church together. Love and truth. A love of the truth, and a sincere (truthful) love.

The apostle John writing in his last two letters (just before the book of Revelations at the end of the New Testament), links love and truth together in an extraordinary way:

2 John

1 The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth—

2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us for ever:

3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love.

4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.

5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

7 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.

9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.

11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

12 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.

3 John

1 The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

3 It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.

4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you.

6 They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.

7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans.

8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.

9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us.

10 So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

13 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink.

14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.

If the church is not then an organisation as such how does it function, what is it?

Jesus likens His followers to being a bride, His bride, who He is coming back to get at His return. Now I doubt that there would be a woman on the face of this earth who would like her husband or husband to be to treat her like an incorporated society or registered business company!

Yet this is how some people have tried to present the church.

The church is the body of Christ, you and me as we jointly live with Christ as our real head. That's all.

And just as God has outlined how He wants His people to live so to He has established how we will function when we the church come together. There are four helpful chapters in first Corinthians, 11-14 inclusive. In one Corinthians 14:26 God has the following written:

1 Corinthians 14:26

26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

God had His servant Paul write a lot ,more information to us as well on these things.

Someone might ask,

“but who was this information meant for, even us modern people who are so much cleverer than the people of those days? After all we travel in space now, have computers and modern medicine. We are so much cleverer! Aren’t we?”

Humans today are no wiser than any one who has ever lived on the planet before. We might have more technology but that has nothing to do with wisdom. Use of latent intelligence, and wisdom, are two entirely different things.

Have a look at the way that the letter of first Corinthians is addressed:

1 Corinthians 1:2-3

"2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ— their Lord and ours:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Are you part of those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and yours? Yes, then there is stuff in this letter which is as relevant for you as it was for the first people who received it nearly 2,000 years ago!

But why are Paul's writings significant or important, and how important?

Listen to what Peter has to say and note the warning given (2 Pet 3:15-):

2 Pet 3:15-18

15 Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him.

16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.


18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever! Amen.

Concerning Paul's letters, Peter says "unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction" and so calls Paul's writing Scripture.

Paul in his letters makes extremely plain when he is expressing a private opinion but otherwise writes expecting us to receive what he is writing as the 'command of the Lord'.

For example, regarding how we meet and function as church, Paul even says in first Corinthians 14:

Corinthians 14:37-40

37 If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.

38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Paul directly says that the instructions that he is giving in his letters are the Lord's commands. Now who is going to be able to come up with anything better than what the Lord Himself says is the right way?

A Note On Modern Cleverness

Intelligence measures the ability of a person's brain to process information at a certain speed in certain areas of life. Its a bit like talking about the CPU of a computer or the power of a motor car.

And just as the speed of the motor engine, or the speed of a CPU of a computer tell you nothing about the programme that is going to be followed by the machine, so too intelligence tells you nothing about how the intelligence is being used.

That’s where knowledge, and wisdom come in here. And that means knowledge of God personally and wisdom that comes from Him alone.

Wisdom is very important. It is not the same as common sense.

When we come to the knowledge of God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, God promises to make us new creations from the inside out, culminating with our being bodily raised from the dead in a body that can never be corrupted or get sick again! We will live for ever.

Part of dealing with the inside, is to give us a new heart, and a new mind known as the mind of Christ.

Does that mean that God gives you a brain or a physical heart transplant? By no means!

It means that as described in Romans eight we can choose to let God's spirit guide and lead us starting from the deepest attitudes of our hearts to the smallest thoughts of our minds.

Like a robot?

NO way!. God lovingly wants to join Himself to us in a way that will guide and lead us so that we are more and more becoming in our nature like His Son Jesus.

God promises to write his laws upon our hearts and to put them into our minds.

This means that God's Holy Spirit wants to help us live for Him teaching and guiding us in the right way.

Romans 8:5-32

5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.

13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?

25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

The Body — The Church — There Is No Difference

Corinthians 12:27-31

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?


30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

In the body of Christ God places certain 'gifts' — people to help us in all this. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor teachers, and other gifts. There are two lists, one in Ephesians four, and another in the Scripture from first Corinthians (chapter 12) quoted above, and another set of references in Romans chapter 12.

Are these 'gifts' like the people who run an organisation, like say a sports club, a school or a business?


Is a local group of Christians like a religious 'club'? Is that what a 'church' is?

Some things called churches, centres, fellowships, assemblies or what ever are indeed in that sense a religious club or society.

However that is not what God is speaking about in the Scripture when the word church appears.

If these gifts or people are not like the officers who run a sports club (chairpeople, presidents secretaries etc ..) then what are they and what do they do?

Ephesians four says that the main gifts (apostle, prophet, evangelist and so on) are there to prepare God's people for their works of service, to provide stability so that God's children are not tossed all over the place all the time by different ideas from clever and cunning people who are trying to sound spiritual. (People who are using human or demonic intelligence to try and replace the wisdom of God)

Have a read of it for yourself, Ephesians chapter four.

There is one piece in that scripture that says (speaking first of Christ):

Ephesians 4:10-25

10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,

12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

13 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.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.

21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body.

So even here when talking about the functioning of some of the different parts of the body of Christ we see that God is speaking about the importance of putting off our former way of life and thinking. And no more so than how we might think about a group of people and how it would be run.

It may be said that however the world would work out to do it, God has a better way. And that is what He calls us to, individually, and as a body of people. God’s better Way!

Are these Ephesians four people then leaders of the body? Are they the head or heads?

Yes the men mentioned in Ephesians four are leaders in the body of Christ, however they can never be the head for there can only ever be one head, Christ Himself. Whether you look at the smallest gathering of the church or the whole church throughout the planet, Jesus is personally present and head of every gathering and individual. (With special provisions within marriage: the husband is the head of his wife, and Christ the head of the man.)

Ephesians 5:23

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.

So What Form Does Leadership In The Body Of Christ Take?

Carrying on our the theme of things in the Kingdom of God being different than in the world, let us look at what the Lord Jesus says ..

Mark 10:42-45

42 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,

44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Within these few verses we see so much of the heart of God revealed. When we read Ephessians four did we see the main gifts given to 'Lord it' over the people of God? Or did we see phrases like 'preparing the saints for the work of the ministry'?

God's leaders in the church are not like kings or chiefs.

If you look carefully through the New Testament, you will find that leadership in the Body of Christ is generally always referred to as a number of leaders and not as one man.

In the Old Testament there was frequently a one leader situation. The New Testament shows us something new.

For there is one man at the head of the Body the Church, He is the Lord Jesus Christ God come in human flesh. There can never be a replacement for him from the smallest of groups to the biggest.

For Jesus promised that whenever even only two or three believers had been brought together in His name (implied — by the Holy Spirit) there Jesus will always be in the midst of us.

If we truly believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has been raised physically from the dead, and will also be present with us as He promised, by His Spirit - then there is no vacant position to be filled!

This is a serious matter.

'Obey' Your Leaders In The Lord

What then about the part of the Bible that says 'obey' your leaders in the Lord?

Note first that it is in the plural 'leaders'

Lets open that verse up. It is found in the letter to the Hebrews towards the Book of Revelations, and in chapter 13.

We will also look at another time that the English word 'obey' is used (in Ephesians five), but before we do lets notice something very simple.

Jesus says that leaders in His body will not exercise great authority in the way that the leaders of the gentiles do. Now 'obeying' someone would mean that that person had just the kind of authority that Jesus says they won't have.

So before we go any further we can see that there is an apparent discrepancy between what Jesus says, and what the Holy Spirit had written in the letter to the Hebrews (where ‘obey’ is written). Or is there?

Not if you read the New Testament in the language that it was originally written in, the common Greek of its day. Greek had much the place in the world at that time, that the English language enjoys today. Greek enjoyed international use. So although many of the first Christian workers were Aramaic or Hebrew speaking Jews, the New Testament was written in Koyne (common) Greek for the benefit of all mankind.

That language uses a number of different words for 'obey'. We will cover the main two here.

In Ephesians chapter five children are told to 'obey' their parents in the Lord.

Ephesians 5:1

"1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."

The word obey here is very strong it is the Greek word upakouete from hupakouo (Strongs number 5219) it is given in the form of the language that means it is a command.

However when we turn to the Scripture in Hebrews 13:17 mentioned before, we find that a very different word is used in Greek.

peiyesye from the word peitho (Strongs number 3982). This word here means be open to being persuaded by your leaders/guides in the Lord.

A whole world of difference from the way that children are told to obey their parents, or soldiers their commanding officers, or Sarah obeyed her husband Abraham.

This problem with bible translation is not a frequent one, but something that should be checked out if parts of the New Testament seem to contradict each other when read in an English bible.

It is an important point here though.

The true meaning of the word used in Hebrews 13 lines up correctly with what Jesus had already said as recorded in the gospels.

This represents a very different kind of church to one that would be organised in a worldly way.

We are not free as Israel did to ask God for a king, or pastor or Leader with a big 'L'. God has already given us Jesus!

To try and appoint someone to take a place reserved for Jesus is a very serious matter indeed.

Remember from the first Scriptures reproduced at the beginning of this writing, how God showed His displeasure when Israel rejected Him as their king and sought to have a king that they could see like the worldly nations around them.

Instead God has given elders in the local situation, not as a committee of one particular group, but as ministries that look after the church in their area. And elders are told to pastor/shepherd (its the same word in the bible) the believers that God gives them care for.

However nothing any one of them does is to separate or split up the body of Christ in any way, note Paul's warning to the elders of Ephesus when they came down to the sea port of Miletus to see him off on a ship. He not only warned them of savage wolves that could come in among them but also of one of their own number trying to draw the disciples of the Lord away to follow them by distorting the truth in some way. From Acts 20:

Acts 20:28-31

28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.

30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

Paul makes the point that he had warned them about this with tears for three years day and night! It is important to God, more important than we would make it by ourselves.

God does not intend that believers be divided at all.

Man and demons have caused things to be different at this point of human history.

We have a long way to go to sort things out.

What Can We Do?

First and foremost we must act with humility and be constantly seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We must make sure that we do nothing to support or create a false type of fellowship life amongst believers.

We can encourage people to gather and observe what has already been laid out for us in the New Testament. And ask God to appoint or have elders that He has already appointed, recognised. This does not mean that we should elect a committee, but seriously seek the Lord's leading and wisdom on the matter, and remember that God is not in a rush with these things.

It is never wrong for believers to meet and encourage and support each other in the faith.

We should strongly seek God for such to happen.

Above all we must all do our best in God's leading to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

If you have started to read the New Testament you will probably have realised that the state of the Body of Christ is not what it should be when compared with the overall picture that God gives us in the New Testament. Nor does this state of things line up with what God writes in our hearts by His Holy Spirit.

If people seriously pray about where God has them in their life and seek earnestly to be led by Him in ALL things then God will bring to pass what He wishes.

It is as simple as that!

If however we compromise and just join man made or demon made religious clubs, then we will never see what God has purposed fully brought to pass in our lives.

In the trinity, God the Father is greater than all. And God has appointed Christ head of the man and the man over the woman. Without putting any religious officials in between at all.

1 Corinthians 11:1-3

1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

3 Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

Paul provides in the first verse reproduced above some very sound advice, he says follow his example — as he follows the example of Christ.

Even the apostle Paul does not demand that believers follow him because he has a position in the church, but only as much as he follows the example of Christ Himself.

So we should do like wise and not place other people, men or woman as the Pastor in our life, other than Christ Himself.

That position is reserved for the Lord Himself as King David says in Psalm 34,

"The Lord is My Shepherd"

That does not rule out the need and importance for people to realise when God is wanting to use one or more older brothers in our life. For God wants it to be so. But such a person or people do not become God to us.

Christians trapped in so-called churches or other groups that place an unscriptual burden of false leadership upon their lives, are to be loved and prayed for.

People under such false leadership can be very strong and domineering as they reflect the nature of the ‘power’ or false authority that they are under. Do not let yourself feel inferior to them, or a less spiritual person. Remember that they will use Scriptures out of context and put Scriptures together that do not belong together, to try and talk you down.

Be on your guard and do not let such people burden you with the false yoke of slavery that they struggle under. Be especially aware and careful of their false religious leaders. Their words can be as poison to your heart and confusion to your mind.

Rather by example of Christ's excellence, show them as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-13 that there is a more excellent way, the way of love. And in doing so, never deny the truth!

Being Church Together

Simply seek to be in real relationships with any one in your neighbourhood that you believe is a true believer. Spend time with each other, help each other. And as you identify who is actually following Jesus (with whatever problems or faults that they are still working through) love each other.

Get together for meals with free wheeling Holy Spirit led prayer, bible reading, songs to the Lord, people using their spiritual gifts for each other, teaching, whatever God lays on individuals hearts, all being offered back to God as a part of coming together.

As a part of your meal together solemnly take the ‘Lord’s Supper’ remembering Jesus’ death and accomplishments for us by that death till he returns to physically gather us up to meet Him in the air.

If you do this and observe the other teachings found in the New Testament, you will find that you will be functioning together as real church, without trying to have a church.

Help and encourage each other in moving in the spiritual gifts. Recognise who God is using in particular ways. If someone is leading lots of people to know Jesus and baptising them, encourage that person to keep it up.

If some one is helping people who have become new followers of Jesus, encourage that person to keep doing it. Even financially if that is necessary. Look after the poor and those sent by God to other places to do His work in its many forms.

It doesn’t matter what day you meet. Find some time that is convenient to as many people as possible. There may be some amongst you who are trying to attend some sort of religious church or something on Saturdays or Sundays. Don’t be focused around trying to please all the different groups that such people might belong to. Keep focused on the Lord Jesus Christ and what He is doing.

Let God point out other people who are gathering in similar ways around you and encourage each other. Don’t form an organisation or form agreements with others meeting near you with out the specific and very clear guiding of the Holy Spirit.

Avoid even any so-called combined meetings. Just because you are gathering with people who have been invited to combine with other such gatherings, don’t do it with out the very clear leading of the Holy Spirit.


Without crowning any kings, recognise when God’s Holy Spirit starts to use certain men in leadership roles. Look at their lives and note the teachings in Titus and the letters to Timothy to see what sort of things that you should see in the lives of leaders.

Remember however that even with leaders appointed by God, you are wanting to hear the words of Jesus through their lips and need to always be aware that that is what God wants you to listen for.

It will become obvious who are God’s leaders in an area. They are the ones that you can reliably go to if you are sick, or even call to your bedside if you are very ill. And God will help you as they pray, if you have need of such special prayer.

They are the ones who hold unswervingly to the ways and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they will very often be very humble men considered of no account perhaps in society.

Their love and devotion to Jesus is unquestionable, and if married their submissive wife and children similarly show the same kinds of qualities.

The role of such men is to guide the affairs of the church and take care of believers in their area.

Not as a ruling committee, but as a real live extension of Jesus shepherding His lambs and sheep through the ‘elders’ that He has chosen by His Holy Spirit.

From time to time the Holy Spirit will make it very plain that certain such men are to be set aside specifically for such work. God will take the initiative in this matter. He may choose to use travelling ministries (apostles and prophets) to help us identify who such elder/overseers are, or God may in some other way make it plain, just who it is that we should give such formal recognition to.

Once appointed, and unless such people turn away from the Lord to live in sin again, the appointment can not be undone by any normal means. So we must never be in a rush to consider such matters and should enter into the whole thing very slowly and as Scripture records, with prayer and fasting.

Serving God and Mankind - Ministry by God’s Grace

Essentially all ministry (serving God and mankind) is an extension of the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ through people who have voluntarily laid down their lives for Him. All ministry happens by grace. That means that God appoints people out of His goodness and own merit to do things for Him. We may observe God’s goodness and merit in such people, but that is only there because they have been loving and obeying Him for some time. It is nothing of the person’s own making.

If you see a person who calls themselves a Christian but is lying, getting high on alcohol or drugs, being sexually immoral, cheating, or stealing or the like all the time, then you are seeing a person who is not letting God’s grace take effect in their life. They are letting the flesh life and the Devil run them, and most probably are not at all even a follower of Christ. Calling themselves a follower of Christ, they shame Him, and we are told not to associate with such a person at all. Let us not be or become such a one.

Grace means that something has come freely from God according to His own love and goodness. If a person lets grace into their own life they will find that it transforms them and makes them like the giver of the grace, and their heart will freely overflow with gratitude to God.

Jesus Christ is God’s abundant provision of grace to us. He willingly and freely suffered on our behalf by dying on the cross. He paid the full price for our sins so that we could freely receive forgiveness - freely at no charge to our account at all. Instead God wipes clean all the debt of sin that stood against us!

“Grace”, “gratitude”, “gratis” and like words in the English language are all from the same word family and incorporate all the essence of what grace means. In other older languages the same word stem also means to praise, and give thanks with song. This then is why we find that the work of God in us gives us such an unspeakable joy, and desire to thank, praise and be useful to the One Who has lavished such a love upon us and given His all for us.

It is in that grace that God’s community of people, the church, is called to live and flow. Flow so that this grace can outflow by the Spirit of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ into the neighbourhoods where God has His people living.

For God wants the message about His Son to have the highest priority in the lives of all of His people. As someone once said, “you are either at the front-line of the work of God or you are supporting others to be so”.

For by His power and authority, Jesus will build His church. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will have His good news spread everywhere.

Are you willing to go? Are you willing to support?

To tie it all together

Ephessians 2:8-22

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

9 not by works, so that no-one can boast.

10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)—

12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,

16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,

20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

God has provided apostles and prophets to be the foundation of the church, with Jesus as the “Chief Cornerstone”.

That means that the men God calls ‘to go’ and act on the Lord Jesus’ behalf (basic meaning of the word apostle) and those He calls to speak for Him (basic meaning of the word prophet), as both these ministries work together and look to Christ for their instructions, they provide the basis of the Body of Christ active here on earth.

The activities of apostles, prophets and evangelists (announcers of the ‘good news’) set things up and get people saved. Pastor/Shepherds (mostly elders/overseers) look after people and Deacons (servers) the needful physical things, as the apostles and prophets tend to move on.

Evangelists can sometimes be more local as the Holy Spirit leads, but elders tend to remain in a local area unless the Lord directs them on to some other specific form of activity.

But God has something for everyone to do! We are all members of the royal priesthood:

1Peter 2:5

you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Corinthians 12:1-28

1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.

2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.

3 Therefore I tell you that no-one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no-one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.

6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,

10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.

13 For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.

16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.

17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?

20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don’t need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don’t need you!"

22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

23 and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,

24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honour to the parts that lacked it,

25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

In summary then, if we put the basics recorded in the New Testament into practice and actively seek the leading of the Holy Spirit to do so - as we see evidenced in the New Testament, then by God’s grace, God by His Spirit will cause everything to come together, and He will fill in the details for us.

If we make real, even sacrificial, practical love our aim - then it will happen by God’s grace and power.

And Jesus Christ will have something that He sees as giving Him honour and Glory and through Him pleases and shows our love for our Heavenly Father - our greatest aim of all!