A Final Word - 16.13-14
There are things we have come to associate with one another to the point that they are basically two halves that make up a whole.
Let me mention some.
If I say…
Peanut butter. You think… Jelly
These things have become so familiar, and we are so used to hearing them together, that we think of them as connected.
In the Christian life, there are some things that we are supposed to think of in this same way.
Walk… In the Spirit.
Pray… Without ceasing.
For God so loved the World… That He gave.
Fruit… Of the Spirit.
What we are going to look at today are two ideas that Scripture often presents together.
They are two sides of the same coin, and if we find one without the other, we find problems, trials, and difficulties.
To tackle this topic, we need prayer.
This is the last message I will preach as senior pastor of Grace Church.
Those are difficult words to say.
As excited as I and my family are for God’s next chapter in our story, we are going to miss this place.
We are going to miss each and every one of you.
We love you.
As I thought about the last things I want to say, 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 came to mind.
Lets read those words again.
13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.
These are the words that I want to have sum up our ministry here.
As Grace Church moves forward I believe that God would have the body of Christ here have a dual focus.
Christ desires His body to be unified and effective.
To be unified and effective, a dual focus is necessary.
When the focus is right the body is knit together and works together.
To be unified and effective, a dual focus is necessary.
1. Focus On Discernment v. 13
1. Focus On Discernment v. 13
13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
Discernment is something that has been, and will continue to be, a passion of mine.
Scripture reveals that discernment is a sign of maturity.
As we grow in Christ and interact with His Word, He imparts to us the ability to tell the difference between truth and error, between those who love the Lord and those who love themselves.
In this passage, Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Corinthian church.
He leaves them with five directives.
There are 4 in verse 13 and 1 in verse 14.
We find first the command to…
Watch - γρηγορέω (grēgoreō) be on the alert; be awake. to be alert ⇔ be awake v. — to beware, conceived of as staying awake. Finite verb, present, active, imperative, second person, plural.
Watch - γρηγορέω (grēgoreō)
The image of this word is that of someone on guard.
This is the tomb of the unknown soldier.
One of my favorite stories in recent times is how, even during hurricanes, these soldiers remained guarding the tomb 24/7.
A guard is someone who stays awake. Someone who is always ready, prepared to take whatever action is needed at any given time.
That is our task as believers.
Some may wonder why we need to watch. Why do we need to be on guard?
Let’s talk about that.
There is another well-known passage where this word appears.
1 Peter 5:8
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
We have an enemy.
That’s why we are on guard.
That’s why we are alert, and aware, and watching.
Our enemy wants to devour us!
If we don’t see Him coming, we will be caught by him.
One of his tactics we have seen in 1 Corinthians is division.
Paul wrote to this church because they were dividing over personality.
“I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Peter, I am of Christ.”
As God moves my family and I away, this will be a danger to be on guard against.
“Well I like how pastor Jon did…”
I like how Daryl teaches, I like how Bill teaches…”
Those are seeds of disunity planted by the enemy!
Do not let them take root!
It is okay to have a preferred style of teaching.
It is not okay to allow that to bring division to the church.
Do not divide.
One of the commitments that the board of Grace Church has made is to speak with one voice.
The men may disagree in the board room, but when they come out, they all say the same thing.
Don’t ask them to break that agreement.
The other reason we need to be on guard is because there are internal threats as well.
30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
There is our word again.
Watch. Be awake. Be on guard.
There will be those who rise up in the church trying to get people to follow them instead of Jesus.
We combat this with truth.
Everything that a church does, every lesson that is taught, must pass the truth test.
Is this Biblical?
Will this enhance our ministry?
Is this necessary?
Brothers and sisters, be on guard. Watch.
We watch because enemies abound.
We need discernment to spot the attacks of our enemy, and to know when prideful men are rising up in the church.
That is command #1: Watch
Stand fast - στήκω (stēkō) stand firm; stand. to stand (maintain) v. — to hold one’s ground; maintain a position; be steadfast or upright. Finite verb, present, active, imperative, second person, plural.
History tells us that Roman sandals that were worn into battle had nails or metal spikes embedded in the sole.
This was done so that when the field got churned up and muddy, they could still have traction and stand against an opponent.
Paul’s challenge to the Corinthian church is to stand fast.
To be unmoved in the face of opposition.
In fact, that is how Paul ends chapter 15.
Look at 1 Corinthians 15:58.
1 Corinthians 15:58
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Paul is reminding them of what he has already said!
Be steadfast and immovable!
Yes, there are going to be attacks.
Yes, there is going to be opposition.
Don’t be moved!
Earlier we mentioned 1 Peter 5:8. Now let’s look at the next verse.
1 Peter 5:9
9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
Two important points.
1 - It is possible to resist our enemy.
2 - We resist by standing firm in our faith.
You can resist the devil.
James 4:7 tells us to submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee.
To resist we stand firm in our faith.
Faith - πίστις (pistis) faith. gospel content ⇔ faith n. — the content of what is (and should be) believed about the good news of Jesus’ way of salvation. Noun (prepositional object), dative, singular, feminine.
We must know what we believe if we are going to resist attacks.
Here in 1 Corinthians 16:13 Paul commands the church to stand fast in the faith.
We cannot stand fast if we do not have faith.
We cannot have faith if we do not know what we believe.
We cannot know what we believe if we are not being taught the whole council of God.
This is why the preaching and teaching of God's Word is so vital.
Brothers and sisters, stand fast in the faith.
Secure in what we believe, we stand against all opponents.
Stand firm. Don’t waver. Don’t compromise.
Know the truth and be committed to it.
Command #1: Watch
Command #2: Stand Fast
Be brave - ἀνδρίζομαι (andrizomai) act courageously. to be courageous ⇔ to be manly v. — to be courageous, conceived of as possessing qualities befitting a man. Finite verb, present, either middle or passive, imperative, second person, plural.
KJV translates this - “Quit you like men”.
The idea here is that we are headed into battle.
We need to be courageous!
We need to be uncompromising!
We need to go to battle!
All through Paul’s writing we find this imagery of soldiers, warfare, and preparation for battle.
Let’s go to 2 Timothy and see what Paul wrote there.
2 Timothy 2:3-5
3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
It takes courage to live by faith.
Our goal as soldiers is to please our commanding officer.
Christ has enlisted us, called and prepared us for battle.
He fights by our side!
Be brave, take courage.
I like this as a picture of courage.
Courage is not necessarily taking risks.
Courage is standing for the things of Christ in a culture that denies Him!
Courage is being bold!
We are brave because we live for Jesus!
We are in a battle.
We have our armor, we have our orders, all that remains is to fight.
My desire and prayer is that each of us would be able, at the end of our lives, to echo these words written by Paul.
2 Timothy 4:7
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
To accomplish this goal, we must be courageous.
Brothers and sisters, be brave.
We are brave when we face our fears and still choose to follow Jesus.
Will we follow our Lord into battle? Into the conflict that rages around us?
Will we take courage and serve the Lord?
Command #1: Watch
Command #2: Stand Fast
Command #3: Be Brave
Be strong - κραταιόω (krataioō) become strong; strengthen. to be strong v. — to be or become strong or powerful beyond the average or expected; whether physically or in one’s constitution. Finite verb, present, passive, imperative, second person, plural.
Be strong - κραταιόω (krataioō)
What is interesting about this word is that it is passive.
We become strong.
We do not make ourselves strong.
Where then does our strength come from?
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This is the same word translated strong.
We become strong as we depend on the Lord!
It is God’s strength! It is Christ’s power!
We cannot be defeated because we live by the strength of Christ!
Because our strength comes from Christ, we are able to do what Hebrews 12:12-13 demand.
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
We have no ability to strengthen ourselves.
When we depend on our own strength, we fail.
Through the power of Christ we can run a straight path.
Right before describing to us the armor of God Paul writes these words in Ephesians 6:10.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
This is where our strength is found, in the Lord and the power of His might.
As we lean into His strength, He gives us the ability to do what He calls us to do.
Brothers and sisters, be strong.
Our strength is found as we depend upon the power of Christ.
If we are weak, we need to come to Him!
If we have no ability to face our circumstances, come to Him!
Depend on the power of Christ and you will have all the strength you need.
This is how we focus on discernment.
We watch, stand fast, are brave, and strong.
We recognize and willingly face the obstacles our enemy throws at us.
We serve our Lord no matter the trial, no matter the hardship, no matter the risk.
If we want to be effective in our service for Christ, we must be discerning.
Sing with me
“Come Behold The Wondrous Mystery”
Christ the great and sure fulfillment of the law in Him we stand.
What a foretaste of deliverance how unwavering our hope.
Christ in power resurrected as we will be when He comes.
There are two ideas that Scripture often presents together.
To be effective and unified there is a dual focus needed.
Discernment is one side of the coin.
There is a second side, a second half to make the whole.
We focus on discernment, yes.
But we also…
2. Focus On Love v. 14
2. Focus On Love v. 14
14 Let all that you do be done with love.
Love is a foundational part of the Christian life.
John 3:16 tells us that it was God’s love that caused Him to send Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us that God’s love for us was great even when we were dead in sin.
1 John 4:19 says that we love God because He first loved us.
John 13:35 says that people will know we are followers of Jesus because of our love.
Discernment is vital for growth and peace in the Christian life.
However, Discernment without love is harsh, overbearing, and proud.
We need both if we are to grow and be effective in our service for Christ.
There is only 1 more command in this verse.
However, I want to focus on something that could be overlooked.
We’ll call this the assumption that lies behind both verses.
Paul’s assumption is that the Corinthian Church will…
Paul says “let all that you do be done in love”.
The implication, the assumption, is that the Corinthian church will be doing something!
Being brave and strong make no difference if there is no activity behind them!
Done - γίνομαι (ginomai) be; become; take place. to happen (come about) v. — to come to pass. Finite verb, present, either middle or passive, imperative, third person, singular.
Done - γίνομαι (ginomai)
This is action!
This is my heart for Grace Church.
Have events, care for people, do what God has placed this Church here to do.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians he said this in 4:9.
9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
The things you have learned, recieved, heard, and seen over these past 11 years and 10 months, do them!
Put the truth you have learned into practice!
Brothers and sisters we who have learned the Word of God stand in danger of James 1:22.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Are we hearers? Seeking only to know more and learn more?
Are we doers? Seeking to live out the eternal truth of God’s Word?
Brothers and sisters, move forward.
Moving forward means we embrace opportunities as God brings them our way.
God has plans for Grace Church.
Don’t miss them.
That idea is beneath everything in this passage.
We have seen 4 commands so far.
Watch, stand fast, be brave, be strong.
Here is command #5…
Everything we do must be done in love.
Do we really understand what this means?
“Let ALL that you do be done with love.”
There is a saying I heard at Bible school and you have probably heard me use it before.
All means all and that’s all all means.
Every single thing we do is to be done with love!
This means that if we cannot do something or say something with love, we don’t do or say it.
All through this letter Paul has talked about love.
He repeatedly refers to the Corinthians as beloved.
He writes of how love edifies in ch. 8 and ch. 13 is considered the greatest explanation of love ever.
In Ch. 14 he calls them to pursue love, and then on the verses after our passage Paul tells them that his love is with them.
Love is fundamental to Christianity.
God is love.
When we love God, we love others also.
Love transforms us, saves us, and makes us more like Christ!
In Romans 12:9 Paul writes “Let love be without hypocrisy.”
Real love cannot be faked.
Love has been commanded by Christ.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Jesus repeats that command in John 15:17.
Paul writes in Romans 13:8 and 10 that love fulfills the law.
In Galatians 5:13 we are called to serve one another in love, in v. 14 we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.
We know from Galatians 5:22 that love is a fruit of the Spirit.
We are to bear with one another in love - Eph. 4:2.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 says this.
1 Thessalonians 3:12
12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,
Our love is to increase and abound.
We are to have fervent love for one another (1 Pet. 4:8).
When we look at all these things, how does our love measure up?
When I think of love, the Good Samaritan often comes to mind.
He loved someone when it wasn’t convenient, it messed up his plans, it cost him money, and it was someone society told him not to love anyway!
That is the kind of love we are to have.
That is what agape love is.
Agape love does what is best for the object loved.
That’s what Paul commands us here.
Let everything we do be done with agape.
Self-sacrificing, fully committed.
That is how we are to love.
Brothers and sisters, love always.
We love when it is hard and inconvenient, because that is how Christ loves us.
Will we be men and women of love?
That is how Grace Church will move forward and thrive, if there is love for one another.
This is how unity will be kept. Through love.
It is the love of Christ that compels us to love one another.
Sing with me
“It Was Finished Upon That Cross”
Because of Christ’s finished work on the Cross, we are free to live and free to love.
Death is dead and Christ is risen.
Beloved brothers and sisters, it was finished upon that Cross.
Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 11:23-32
This is a time for believers to remember the price that was paid. To be reminded of the penalty of sin. Taking part of communion does not save you. This is simply a way for us to be reminded of what Christ has done. If you know the Lord as savior this morning, please join us in bread and juice as we remember Jesus Christ. These are only symbols, they represent the body and blood of our Savior. Examination – verses 26-32
OBSERVANCE OF COMMUNION
OBSERVANCE OF COMMUNION
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
The Bread (His Body) vv. 23-24 “And Can It Be”
The Cup (His Blood) v. 25 “Jesus Paid It All”
There it is my final words.
Brothers and sisters of Grace Church.
Focus on discernment.
This means you will need to watch, stand fast, be brave, be strong.
You can do it.
Christ will lead you.
Focus on love.
Move forward, don’t be idle, don’t be forgetful hearers, be doers.
Love always. When it hurts, love. When it is inconvenient, love.
When it costs, love. When things seem hopeless, love.
Christ will love through you.
Our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ is going to walk with you through this time.
There are good days ahead for each and every one of you.
I will be discerning, I will be loving, and I will follow Jesus wherever He leads.
Close with 2 Corinthians 13:11, 14
11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Have family come up?
Our love and prayers are with you all.
“Is He Worthy”