The Main Street Church of Christ welcomes William Ralston as our associate minister preaching God's word to the entire world
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Hebrews 11: Without Faith, it is Impossible to Please God
The Hebrews writer says in Hebrews 11:6, that it is impossible to please God without faith, and that the components of this faith is the existence of God, the moral government of God, and knowing that God will reward those who strenuously search for Him. Before this point in Hebrews 11, the Hebrews writer offers examples of those who were justified in this exact same faith. Paul elaborates on this in Romans 4, regarding that it is not through the law or the circumcision that Christians are justified, but through the faith like the faith of Abraham.
I Corinthians 13: The Love Chapter
The chapter falls into three divisions: (1) the absolute necessity of love [I Corinthians 13:1-3], (2) the characteristics of love [I Corinthians 13:4-7], and (3) the permanence of love [ I Corinthians 13:8-13]. Despite this classification, I Corinthians 13:13 evidently stands apart. The disorders of the Corinthian church are continually in view. Both the positive and negative attributes of love in I Corinthians 13:4-7 are clearly the opposites of conditions among the Corinthians. Also, such words as "tongues ... prophecy ... knowledge ... faith so as to move mountains cannot be understood, except as references to the miraculous gifts at Corinth. This chapter should never be construed as merely an abstract teaching on love, parenthetically inserted. The situation at Corinth was the center attention.
I Corinthians 12: Members Of Christ's Body
This and the following two chapters were written to correct disorders which had arisen in the Corinthian church over the question of spiritual gifts, especially with regard to envy and strife over the relative importance of various gifts. The great test of all spirituality is its relation to Christ and his spiritual body the church. So-called "gifts" that led to the denunciation of Christ or any conduct that contravened the will of Christ were not of God, but of the devil. "Gifts" that take people away from the church are not of God's Spirit at all, but are derived from the evil one [I Corinthians 12:1-3]. There is diversity in the unity of the church, since the Lord has not given the same gifts to all Christians [I Corinthians 12:4-11]. The great metaphor of "the body" is developed as a figure of Christ's spiritual body, the church [I Corinthians 12:12-31].
The Corinthian Church and the Lord's Supper
This and the following three chapters are usually construed as Paul's corrective admonition regarding the "worship services"; but since the first paragraph [I Corinthians 11:1-16] undoubtedly refers to social customs, there being even some doubt of its application to any worship service whatever, there is no need for adherence to such an outline. Throughout this epistle, the apostle Paul dealt with miscellaneous church conditions and disorders, making it nearly impossible to fit the epistle into any form of classical outline. The first paragraph regards the veiling of women [I Corinthians 11:1-16], and the second teaches concerning the Lord's supper [I Corinthians 11:17-34].
I Corinthians 10 & 11: Communion
This and the following three chapters are usually construed as Paul's corrective admonition regarding the "worship services"; but
since the first paragraph [I Corinthians 11:1-16] undoubtedly refers to social customs, there being
even some doubt of its application to any worship service whatever, there is no need for adherence to such an outline. Throughout this
epistle, the apostle Paul dealt with miscellaneous church conditions and disorders, making it nearly impossible to fit the epistle into
any form of classical outline.
The first paragraph regards the veiling of women [I Corinthians 11:1-16], and the second teaches concerning the Lord's supper [I Corinthians 11:17-34].
I Corinthians 10: "Do What It Says"
In I Corinthians 10:1, Paul refutes the impression that the Lord's Supper and Christian Baptism causes immunity to any contamination from idolatry; baptism is an antitype of Israel's passing through the Red Sea [I Corinthians 10:2]; the spiritual food of the Gospel is an antitype of Israel's manna [I Corinthians 10:3]; the spiritual drink from the rock that was Christ is an antitype of water from the cleft rock [I Corinthians 10:4]; Paul warns of the results of disobedience by bringing Israel up as an example [I Corinthians 10:5]; baptism and partaking in the Lord's table does not cause immunity to sin [I Corinthians 10:6]; a warning about idolatry [I Corinthians 10:7]; a warning about sexual immorality [I Corinthians 10:8]; a warning about testing God's obedience to His law [I Corinthians 10:9]; the Old Testament is an example and warning to Christians [I Corinthians 10:11].
Hebrews 13: Hospitality to Strangers
We're speaking on the first two versus of Hebrews 13. These are worthy indeed of standing thus alone as a divine injunction of the greatest importance, speaking directly to our mission here at the Main Street Church of Christ. Our brother! He stands before us, like ourselves, made in the image of God, an heir of eternal life, and a beneficiary of the blood of Christ; and our love should reach out to him with all of the emotional thrust of which the heart is capable. And who is my brother? Not him alone who belongs to my little circle, but the "stranger," as taught in these verses, that man we may never have seen before, but a man in extremity, needing love and compassion in a world that has little of either, such a man as that befriended by the Good Samaritan. Every man is my brother; for, if I miss him in Christ, I shall hit him in Adam!
I Corinthians 9: The Christian Race
Paul exhorts Christians to earnestly contend in the contest of Christian life. "For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them." [I Corinthians 9:19] Our God has put in us the ability to alter history by our decisions. "To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." [I Corinthians 9:20-23] "And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet..." [Acts 22:2] Many times we are guilty of doing the opposite and placing unnecessary stumbling blocks. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?" [I Corinthians 9:24] "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable." [I Corinthians 9:25] "But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." [I Corinthians 9:27] If we want to be a professional athlete in the race of Christian life, we need to do what professional athletes do.
I Corinthians 8 & 9: Hospitality for the Saints
Paul established four timeless principles of Christian behavior in the course of his writing on this subject, these being: (1) that what is permissible behavior for one man may, in certain circumstances, be dangerous and sinful in another; (2) that no Christian conduct should be evaluated solely from the standpoint of knowledge, but in the light of the love of brethren, with regard to its possible influence upon others, and in the light of what others may think of it; (3) that no Christian has a right to practice anything, however innocent it may be to him, if in so doing he shall damage the faith of another; and (4) that whatever is done, even to the weakest member of the body of Christ, is also done to Christ himself, and that weakening or destroying the faith of even the least and weakest of Christ's members is a sin of the greatest magnitude against Christ himself. "A pleasure or an indulgence which may be the ruin of someone else is not a pleasure but a sin."
I Corinthians 7: Difficult Christian Answers
Like many other chapters which are sometimes labeled "difficult," this one contains some of the most instructive teaching in the New Testament, and affords glimpses of the apostolic method which add greatly to one's faith in the integrity of the apostles. This is one of the most interesting chapters in the New Testament, due to the nature of its being Paul's apostolic answers to no less than six questions propounded in a letter from the church at Corinth. Paul starts with the duties of married Christian couples [I Corinthians 7:1-7]; The question of singleness and celibacy [I Corinthians 7:8-9]; The question about divorce [I Corinthians 7:10-11]; The question about Pagan-Christian marriages [I Corinthians 7:12-16]; Becoming a Christian does not wipe your pre-existing obligations from you [I Corinthians 7:17-24]; The question of Christian fathers arranging marriages [I Corinthians 7:25-38].
Psalm 51: The Ultimate Prayer for Forgiveness
There may be no more impassioned or beautiful prayer for forgiveness and renewal in the Bible than here. The poet's wrongdoing has overwhelmed him. His remorse and his plea are intense. David accepts personal responsibility for what he's done [Psalm 51:1-9]. Four different words for sin: transgressions [Psalm 51:1,3]; iniquity [Psalm 51:2,5,9]; evil [Psalm 51:4]; sin [Psalm 51:2-5,9]. David's multiple petitions for forgiveness [Psalm 51:1,2,7,9,14]. David's prayer for renewal [Psalm 51:10-13]. David's vow to offer spiritual sacrifices [Psalm 51:14-17]. David's intercession for Jerusalem [Psalm 51:17-18].
I Corinthians 6: Flee Immorality, Seek Righteousness
A vast proportion of the whole Corinthian population participated in such sins as are catalogued here in I Corinthians 6:9-10; Paul calls attention to the conditions from which they had been rescued by Christ [I Corinthians 6:11]; The purpose of the body is not the gratification of its appetites, but it is for the Lord, a reference to the indwelling of the Spirit [I Corinthians 6:13]; We will be raised through the power of God, [I Corinthians 6:14]; Protesting the incongruity of debasing such members of Christ in immorality [I Corinthians 6:15]; The true Christian, having been joined to the Lord through his conversion from sin, is one in spirit with the Lord [I Corinthians 6:17]; Flee fornication [I Corinthians 6:18]; Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God [I Corinthians 6:19]; Glorify God in your body [I Corinthians 6:20].
I Corinthians: Church Discipline
Paul starts with ferocious rebuke of the grossest of sins [I Corinthians 5:1]; Mourning the prideful boasting of such sin [I Corinthians 5:2]; Paul reminds that he is among the church in spirit, and can rebuke such sin remotely [I Corinthians 5:3-4]; Paul denounces these sins in the strongest and most potent language possible [I Corinthians 5:5]; Paul reminds the church that such sin can destroy the entire church [ I Corinthians 5:6-8]; He reminds the church not to keep company with the worst sinners among them [I Corinthians 5:9-11]; Paul's main point is that the church must not tolerate the presence of evil in its midst [I Corinthians 5:12].
People Believe What They Want to Believe
There have been many so-called "messiahs" throughout history. There have been revolutionaries, religious leaders and self-proclaimed saviors - but which of these was able to raise himself from the dead? "So the Jews said to him, 'What sign do you show us for doing these things?' Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'" [John 2:18-19]. Speaking of His life Jesus declared: "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." [John 10:18]. Jesus had to leave us, so that the Holy Spirit could be sent; "But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judge." [John 16:6-11]. "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing." [Acts 2:32]. People believe what they want to believe. Those who are willing to believe can find plenty of proof through the scriptures and through common-sense logic. "For those who do not believe, no proof is sufficient - for those who do believe, no proof is necessary." [Unknown Author].
Paul Rebukes Contented Wealth
Paul refutes any notion of approval of factions, instead rebuking factious leaders in Corinth [I Corinthians 4:6]. God gives to every man life, talent, ability, opportunity, health, personality, strength, everything that he is or has [I Corinthians 4:7]; Paul strongly disapproves of the pompous and overblown leaders of both the church and city of Corinth [I Corinthians 4:8]; Paul draws the pictures of himself and fellow apostles as "the last and most worthless band" brought fourth to die in the great arena, where all view the spectacle, [I Corinthians 4:9]; Paul rebukes the disgusting development and moral ugliness of the behavior of his child, the Church in Corinth [I Corinthians 4:10-13]; Paul isn't trying to be rough or harsh, but corrective as a father would be to his children [I Corinthians 4:14].
I Corinthians 4: Stewards of the Mysteries of God
Paul and Apollos are to Jesus as doctors serving under a principal physician [I Corinthians 4:1]; Trustworthiness was the outstanding characteristic of a good steward, and it was that which Paul brought into view here [I Corinthians 4.2]; The Lord, the righteous judge of all people [I Corinthians 4:3]; The only judgment that matters will be from by the Lord at the final judgment, and people do not have sufficient competence to judge one another, or themselves [I Corinthians 4:4-5].
The Penal Disposition Theory
The foundation of Paul's teaching is stated concisely in I Corinthians 2:2 - "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified". The Gospel is the most lofty and important concept to ever enter the heart of man and should never be considered less important than "deeper" concepts of the Bible. The Gospel of Christ is offensive [John 3:19-20]. Our job is to point to Jesus [John 1:29]. Paul laboured to condemn the world of sin in order to make the need for radical salvation clear. When Christ comes he will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgement [John 16:8]. If we don't preach on God's attitude on sin and lawlessness, how is the Holy Spirit to bless us? There is none holy like God [I Samuel 2:2]. He is righteous and kind [Psalm 145:17]. Just as a pig doesn't understand that he's filthy, we by nature don't know that we're sinful, and just as a pig would not be allowed in a palace with his filth, we in our sin cannot be allowed in God's presence. God is just by nature, and therefore must judge sin. He is also merciful, and therefore He put into place a system to redeem us from sin, beginning with the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament and culminating in the sacrifice of Christ. In light of Christ's love and sacrifice for us, what sort of people should we be toward each other?
I Corinthians 3: The Foundation of the Church of Christ
Paul begins to change metaphors in the last two words of I Corinthians 3:9: God's building. Paul lays the foundation of Christ, others continue the building [I Corinthians 3:10]. No other foundation but Christ [I Corinthians 3:11]. Paul explains in metaphor how the Church must be made. The first three materials are True Christians, the latter of worldly-minded hypocrites [I Corinthians 3:12]. The Church surviving the day of judgment [I Corinthians 3:13]. Persons led to Christ through the efforts of any Christian may defect from the faith, proving themselves wood, hay or stubble [I Corinthians 3:14-15]. The true temple of God, therefore, has never been anything else except the church of Jesus Christ our Lord [I Corinthians 3:16]. "It is clear what is meant by the judgment of God: it may refer to suffering loss, but also to eternal life." [I Corinthians 3:18] Admonitions of previous behavior; correction in where wisdom comes from [I Corinthians 3:19]. "Human thought is fruitless in the sense of not producing anything of spiritual value that redeems man from sin..." [I Corinthians 3:20] Paul condemned the sin of their calling themselves after the names of men [ I Corinthians 3:21]. Here the Christian is viewed as the possessor of everything in Christ [I Corinthians 3:22]. Affirmation of the Corinthian church as being of Christ, in Christ [I Corinthians 3:23].
I Corinthians 3: Trust in God
Paul pointed out that even apostolic authority was not absolute and that even he himself and Apollos were but stewards of Christ, their first concern being to please the Lord, and not to accommodate their teaching to win favor with false teachers. He stated that the lower courts of conscience and public opinion were inferior to the judgment of the Lord [I Corinthians 4:1-5]. We agree with Adam Clarke that a more logical division of the chapters would have been to extend chapter 3 through the fifth verse here. In I Corinthians 4:6, Paul pointed out that his use of his own name and that of Apollos was not to be construed as an admission that he and Apollos had actually headed any divisive parties in Corinth, but that he had used these names figuratively for the purpose of teaching against all divisions. Most of the remainder of the chapter deals with the false teacher, without naming him, ending with a dramatic promise that he would return to Corinth, the Lord willing, and that the Lord would enable him to vanquish the false teacher and set the Corinthians once more in the right way of humility and service. He severely condemned their vain-glorious boasting, egotism and conceit [I Corinthians 4:7-21].
I Corinthians 2-3: A Call to Maturity
We speak wisdom, however, among them that are full-grown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor among the rulers of this world, who are coming to naught. All Christians begin as "babes in Christ" [I Corinthians 3:1]; but through prayerful study and growth they may attain unto the "stature of the fullness of Christ" [Ephesians 4:13]. To all who are thus full-grown is revealed a measure of the knowledge of God's wisdom. Paul's blunt reference to this truth states that it forcefully applies even to "the rulers of this world." Not even they ever attained to any wisdom whatever in any manner comparable to the wisdom of God, the proof of it being that they themselves "are coming to naught." And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ [I Corinthians 3:1]. The SPIRITUAL were those who, after conversion, had continued to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, no longer continuing as "babes in Christ." The CARNAL were those who were continuing to live like the unconverted, full of envy, jealousy and strife.
I Corinthians 1:17ff - The Weak Things of the World
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." [I Corinthians 1:18]; God will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent [I Corinthians 1:19]; The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom [I Corinthians 1:22]; Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men [I Corinthians 1:24-25]. God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise and what is weak in the world to shame the strong [I Corinthians 1:27]; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are [I Corinthians 1:28], so that no human being might boast in the presence of God [I Corinthians 1:29].
I Corinthians: Divisions in the Assembly
Firstly Paul had heard of the contentions among the Corinthians by them which were of the house of Chloe. The apostle reproves their dissensions, and vindicates himself from being any cause of them [I Corinthians 1:10-17]. States the simple means which God uses to convert sinners and confound the wisdom of the wise, etc. [I Corinthians 1:18-21]. Why the Jews and Greeks did not believe [I Corinthians 1:22]. The matter of the apostle's preaching, and the reasons why that preaching was effectual to the salvation of men [I Corinthians 1:23-29]. All should glory in God, because all blessings are dispensed by Him through Christ Jesus [I Corinthians 1:30-31].
I Corinthians: The Formation and Development of the Assembly at Corinth
During his second missionary journey, the Apostle Paul had come to Europe for the first time (around 51 - 54 AD). He also came to Corinth via Philippi, Thessalonica and Athens [Acts 18]. There he remained for 18 months for the Lord "had much people in this city" [Acts 18:10]. Paul began his ministry of preaching the gospel in the synagogues of the Jews. Quite a few came to believe in the Lord Jesus. But when other Jews refused the message, Paul withdrew from them and spoke to Greeks also. This is how a large assembly of Jews and Greeks came into existence in this city as a result of the apostle's activity [I Corinthians 4:15; Acts 18:4]. Corinth was a large seaport and commercial city on the Isthmus of Northern Greece and the Peloponnese with two well-known seaports (Cenchrea and Lech-ion). Its central location made Corinth a centre of trade, culture and philosophy, but also of entertainment, immorality and idolatry. The immorality of the Corinthians was proverbial.
(Nehemiah 1:4) Nehemiah displays great concern over the ruins of the city of Jerusalem. He has a zeal and a passion, for both God's honor and the honor of God's people. (Nehemiah 1:5) He appeals to God's covenant with his people. (Nehemiah 1:6) Nehemiah diligently calls upon the name of the Lord in this hour of distress. He confesses both his sins and the sins of the people. (Nehemiah 1:7) He confesses that they have broken God's law and disregarded his commandments. (Nehemiah 1:8-9) Nehemiah appeals to God's covenant and promises to forgive his people. (Nehemiah 1:10-11) He brings to God's attention the fact that those in the city of Jerusalem are His people, and once more pleads for God to hear his prayer.
The Parable of the Great Supper
Christ heals a man ill of the dropsy, on a Sabbath day [Luke 14:1-6]. He inculcates humility by a parable [Luke 14:7-11]. The poor to be fed, and not the rich [Luke 14:12-14]. The parable of the great supper [Luke 14:15-24]. How men must become disciples of Christ [Luke 14:25-27]. The parable of the prudent builder, who estimates the cost before he commences his work [Luke 14:28-30]. And of the provident king [Luke 14:31, Luke 14:32]. The use of these parables [Luke 14:33]. The utility of salt while in its strength and perfection; and its total uselessness when it has lost its savor [Luke 14:34, Luke 14:35]. This section of Luke (Luke 14:1-17:) is made up practically altogether of "material which Luke alone reports." This chapter recounts the healing of the man with dropsy at the Pharisee's feast [Luke 14:1-6], the teaching on humility which Jesus addressed to the guests [Luke 14:7-11], advice to the host regarding his list of guests [Luke 14:12-14], the parable of the slighted invitation [Luke 14:15-24], and Jesus' pronouncement on the cost of discipleship [Luke 14:25-35].
Luke 11:29-32 - The Sign of Jonah
Our text this morning is a warning as well as a call for Thanksgiving and reflection for the great privilege and honor it is to possess the revelation of God's word. This privilege of possessing the truth of God's word cannot be expressed in words, it is priceless. Speaking to the advantage of the Jews the apostle Paul in Romans 3:2 tells us that "...the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God." However with this highest of privileges comes great responsibility as our Lord will illustrate in two stories which he takes from the Old Testament. The first example being the Queen of the South who was willing to travel great distances simply to hear the wisdom of King Solomon. The second example Jesus mentions is the men of Nineveh who gladly repented at the preaching of the prophet Jonah. Jesus uses both of these stories to humble and shame the Jews who have relatively received far greater light yet were unfaithful with the truth to which they had been entrusted. Let us consider the great riches and blessings with which we have been entrusted. Let us be careful not to despise the Word of God but rather let us delight in it ,believe it, and obey it.
Luke 8:4-15: The Good Ground
In I Corinthians 3:6, Paul refers to God's people as "God's field." In Old Testament, we see that the heart of man is compared to soil, with the capability of being either hard or soft (Jeremiah 4:3-4). This is the idea which is conveyed in our text and Jesus reveals to us that there are four types of soil representing the hearts of four types of people. There is the ground that is along the path which represents hard hearts (Luke 8:12). The shallow soil along rock is good for a little while and represents those who are quick to believe yet there is no depth of soil. Consequently, they fall away in times of testing (Luke 8:13). The soil which is full of thorns represents those who while hearing the word are choked out and do not produce fruit (Luke 8:14). "As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." Luke 8:15