The New Testament often likens the Christian life to a race. God calls us to work out what He has worked in us (Phil. 2:12-13), and we are to run to win. What does it take to live all-out for the glory of God and avoid becoming "disqualified"?
"Becoming all things to all people" has been used as a justification for all sorts of ungodly behavior in the name of winning others to Christ. But is that really what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, "I have become all things to all people" (1 Cor. 9:22)? When we look at this statement in its context, we find something radically different: that becoming all things to all people actually means that a Christian must be willing to become a slave to all in order to win people to the Lord. You may indeed be free in Christ, but what freedoms are you willing to give up in order to gain more for the kingdom?
The power of example, coupled with the faithful teaching of God's Word, is key to spiritual growth because character is more caught than taught. What does it look like to love others in our choices about gray matters? The Apostle Paul answers that question by sharing a personal example of giving up his rights in order to win others to Christ.
When it comes to issues of conscience, or "gray matters," many Christians are eager to exercise their "freedom" to indulge in those things that are not clearly spelled out in Scripture as matters of sin and righteousness. Although we may well be right about the issue at hand, when we act out of this sort of selfishness and disregard our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ we damage those who are precious to our Lord.
The category of "Christian liberty" has always been the source of much debate and division in the church. When it comes to issues that are neither directly or indirectly forbidden or encouraged by Scripture, what are Christians to do? God desires for us to glorify Him even in the things that seem to be rather inconsequential (1 Cor. 10:31). Find out what is the guiding principle that must govern all our decisions concerning gray matters.
Whether to marry is a question to which few give serious, biblical thought. But the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says singleness is a gift that has great advantages for the service of the Lord. How do you know if you have this gift, and if you don't, how do you know when, how, and especially who you should marry? You may be surprised to find that the Apostle has some wise counsel to offer.
Christians often view singleness as an inferior status to marriage. Those who haven't married by a certain age are pitied or looked on with suspicion. But Scripture holds singleness in high regard. Neither marriage or singleness is superior; each has its blessings and burdens. So before those who are single say "I do," the Apostle Paul offers some Holy Spirit-inspired counsel for why it is good for some to remain as they are.
Have you ever wondered why so many professing Christians (maybe even you!) are so spiritually lethargic and even downright apathetic to the things of God? Perhaps it's because they've never truly had the eyes of their hearts opened to see the glory and majesty of who God is and what He has done for sinners through the person and work of His glorious Son. If you truly are a Christian, God's plan and purpose for you is that you display the glory of His power and grace not only in the ages to come, but here and now. But if that is to happen, you have to set your gaze on the glory of the gospel.
Most people who are familiar with church or Christianity have some idea of the relationship between the death of Jesus and the Lord's Supper. But in 1 Corinthians 11, where Paul lays out a proper understanding of communion, what exactly does he mean by the phrase "the Lord's death?," and what does it mean for God's people to "proclaim" Jesus's death when they eat the bread and drink the cup?
Our natural bent is to be content, and so often our pride causes us to compare ourselves with others and even convince ourselves that, if only we could change our circumstances, we would be more spiritual and in a better position to serve the Lord. But the fact is that God is sovereign over every circumstance we face, and His will is not necessarily that we change those circumstances, but that we grow in Christ in and through them.
The Apostle Paul was not just a preacher. He loved the people the Lord put into his care. Unlike the false teachers who always seek to put others under their thumb while criticizing the true servants of the Lord, Paul served as an example of a man who poured himself out for the sake of shepherding the flock of God. Our culture and the issues we face may be different, but the dangers remain the same. So does Paul remain an example for spiritual leaders to follow, and for the people of God to take note.
2 Corinthians 6:14 says that Christians are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Certainly this command applies to marriage, which is the closest of all human relationships. But what if someone becomes a Christian after they're already married and their spouse is still unconverted? Should they pursue divorce? The answer may surprise you.
The Epistle to the Ephesians tells us that Christ has reconciled all creation to Himself and to God, and Christ has united people from all nations to Himself and to one another in His church. Ephesians 2:11-22 teaches us that through the blood of Christ people have not only been reconciled to God, but reconciled to each other. Through Christ the wall of hostility that once existed between God and man has been removed along with the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile. The result is that all believers are brought together, in peace and love, by the blood of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." Yet, there is much that doesn't change in our lives as a result of regeneration. One of these is our marital status! God does not call us to change our circumstances, but to stay put and grow in Christ right where we are.
With all the warnings about sexual immorality in Scripture, some have been prone to view sex itself as somehow dirty or unspiritual. But the fact is, God created it for the benefit and enjoyment of a man and a woman who have covenanted themselves together in marriage. Indeed, regular intimacy in marriage is not a suggestion, but a command! When husbands and wives understand God's divine design for marital intimacy, and see it in the context of sacrificial love toward one another, it will be seen not as unspiritual, nor merely as a duty, but as a mutual, sanctified delight.
The need to avoid sexual immorality is a no-brainer for most genuine Christians. Yet we so often hear of extramarital affairs and other forms of immoralities even among Christian leaders; not to mention the revealing statistics concerning the use of pornography among professing Christians. Perhaps one of the reasons for this inconsistency is a "convenient confusion" of the world's philosophy and the biblical teaching about human identity and sex. "Thou shalt not..." should be good enough for those who name the name of Christ, but the Apostle Paul approaches the subject from a deeper perspective that presents some radical reasons to flee sexual immorality and to glorify God with our bodies.
The First Century church at Corinth had the same sort of tendency to be deceived as we do in the 21st Century concerning the definition of a genuine Christian. So many in our day tell themselves and one another that they are on their way to heaven even though they are living in blatant, unrepentant sin. What does the Scripture say about this?
What are Christians to do when they have suffered a personal wrong from another believer? Is it acceptable to take a fellow Christian to court? If not, why not? And if not, what are we to do? The Bible provides practical solutions to the everyday issues we face, and sometimes its instruction is more specific than we might think.
The local church is the physical representation of the larger body of Christ in a particular place at a particular time. It is the nexus of the Christian life; the place where the means of grace for sanctification are found. God's design for His people is that we do life together, and we can't be fully obedient to Him unless we're connected with His people. Church discipline is one of the means of grace He has provided for the preservation of His people and the purity of His church, and it is one of the corporate duties we fulfil in the context of our commitment to one another.
The church of Jesus Christ is commanded to take sin seriously because we are called to be holy. We do this by covenanting together in a local church and committing to following our Lord's instructions concerning how to deal with sin within the context of that community. Christ has provided a universal, step-by-step set of instructions for how to do this which is commonly referred to as church discipline. When we embrace these divine directions in obedience and seek to rightly understand and apply them, we will find that discipline is a means of grace for His church.