Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher
January 23rd, 2018
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Unity is oneness, a cohesive unit made up of diverse components. Unity has mechanics and substance. Unity's substance labors as not only its' provision, but its' end. Unity frames for us a great measure reached through its' ability by all its' bearers . Unity is vanity with all its' trappings and results unless it is unity of and in the Spirit.
Endeavouring for Unity
The unity of the Spirit is vast, as much as the Spirit leads. Therefore, the unity of the Spirit is not just in one point of His teaching, but in all things He teaches. We, as the body of Christ, are therefore to be, "endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3). The expectation is one of effort and exertion. Such effort and exertion are spent in "keeping' it. It is then, precious, valuable, a commodity we ought not forsake.
Unity's Source and Mark
Although the Spirit teaches us all the things to endeavour to keep it, notwithstanding, but firstly, to possess it, as well as then, its' potential. One of the most prolific passages on the unity of the Spirit sits in the opening verses of Philippians 2. It grants us the privilege to take its' measurements and perceive its' qualities to then prove its' power in our lives as a noble one would do to see whether its' things be so.
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
The Root Source
Paul quickly links the Spirit's unity to Christ; naturally, the Spirit does and has taught us His things and it is in His things, which be in Christ, that the unity is founded. It is from being in Christ that we possess all we possess and it is the Spirit's ministry to teach us what we have access to.
Moreover, Paul, as he exhorts the Philippians, highlights one of the countless things the Spirit has led us in; that is, "consolation". In Christ there is a deep reservoir of "consolation". This geyser of "consolation" that springs forth from the doctrine of "in Christ' is one of the wellheads of our unity of the Spirit. It is by the breadth of our understanding of who we once were in Adam with its' corresponding condemnation and death, that the knowledge of being in Christ with its' corresponding justification of life that "consolation" becomes a wellhead for unity. This "consolation" breed by the forms of doctrine "in Christ"
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher
December 2nd, 2015
The Word of God & All Things
The Word of God is the sole means the Holy Spirit uses and relies upon to sanctify those in Christ (1 Cor. 2:10-16). This ought not be a surprise to us. Words are spirit and they impact our spirit (John 6:63). Therefore, it makes logical sense that the Holy Spirit's modus operandi for sanctification would be first and foremost in our spirit by virtue of words. In fact, the Spirit is called "the Spirit of truth" (John 16:13).
These words are not man's words or the world's words (1 Cor. 3:18-20) even though man and the world must operate in an ordained world by which, because we are created in the image of God and after His likeness, even though fallen, must communicate and operate on a spirit level. Nay, these words are the Word of God (1 The. 2:13). The Spirit therefore utilizes the Word of God to sanctify the believer. Therefore, the Word of God is powerful and is the effectual means (or only means) by which is able to accomplish God's purpose, intent, and end. It provides perspective that isn't natural, but supernatural. A perspective that is divine and out-of-this-world. Sense the Word of God is the sole means of sanctifying the believer and conforming the believer to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28) indicates that everything we experience and/or go through or face and/or ever could face are platforms to manifest the Word of God and the perspective, spirit, attitude, etc. we gain from it. Therefore, all things of life are empty vessels in which are designed and intended by God to be filled with Him. In truth, all things are for those in Christ who are led by the Spirit in His teaching ministry of the Word of God (1 Cor. 3:21-23) We are the carries of the Word of God and all it provides to fill these empty vessels of: circumstance, situations, business, marriage, friendship, parenthood, government, dreams, aspirations, goals and so on. These things and many others in and of themselves are just that empty. Solomon spoke of them as vanity of vanities (Ecc. 1:1-3). Their original design was not to be empty, but to be filled by their Father and Maker God.
The Word of God & More Things
After the fall, man took these things and either left them empty or filled them with anything but what they were intended to hold and bear (Rom. 1:18-32). This was the epitome of ungodliness. Moreover, due to the fall: chance, chaos, sufferings, pain, deceit, murder, hate, etc. entered as not part of God's original creation, but results from the fall, sin, and death. Ecclesiastes speaks of how all these things are sore travails that man is exercised by (Ecc. 1:12-18). As man is acquainted with these things, experiences them, and gets to know them all too well, they are designed to educate, those exercised by them, that they of themselves yield nothing of eternal value. They are vain in and of themselves and remain vain as man attempts to fill them with what only God can. Yet, the Word of God is so dynamic, so powerful (Heb. 4:12), so mighty (2 Cor. 10:3-6), so excellent (Php. 3:8) that it provides those who are exercised by it to have all things work (Rom. 8:28). To have all things no longer be in vain, empty, and useless; but rather, to work for good. Work for His goodness. These empty vessels designed by God are intended to be filled with His knowledge, understanding, perspective, attitude, feeling, and emotion all for and unto His goodness and glory. In fact, this is only way these things work for good, work unto a purpose, when filled by His Word working in us to prove His design (Rom. 12:1-2).
Power & The Word of God
This understanding and the process of God's Word in us effectually working to fill the empty vessels of all things is not only grand, but generates by-products to be throughly enjoyed, namely: joy, glory, happiness, contentment, peace, delight, and pleasure.
Glory & The Word of God
And with this understanding and whether it be an initial, brief or long-lasting thought or currently one's present understanding it continues to call for the same fruit of response from us; that is, to magnify His word above His name (Ps. 138:2), to glorify the word of the Lord, to have it have free course (2 The. 3:1), to study the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), to meditate upon it, give ourselves wholly to it (1 Tim. 5:15-16), and to let it dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16). These are not passive, lackluster, wishful exhortations. Rather, they are issues we ought to commit to, be responsible for, and actively engage in instantly because we know what it can do and is designed to do. Moreover, we ought to handle God's Word honestly, sincerely, and properly (2 Cor. 2:17; 2 Cor. 4:1-2) not only because of what it can yield in this life, but one day soon, maybe shortly, in the twinkling of an eye when Christ, the living Word of God, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:1-4). The One Who will judge us, reward us, and manifest Himself in us with not only a redeemed body (Rom. 8:23), but a body manifesting the measures of how much of Him we have in us in splendid, bright glory (1 Cor. 15:38-41; 2 Cor. 3:17-18; 2 Cor. 4:14-18; Php. 3:20-21). Therefore, the Word of God not only provides promise in the life that now is by us taking His Word and filling up all things, but as we participate we are being conformed into the image of Christ and becoming godly: thinking the way God things, living the way God lives, and laboring with Him in His business. This is what we will give an account of at the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:7-12). It will be whether we have filled all things with the Word of God or with our natural, fleshly, worldly means. Therefore, the Word of God is our lifeline, it is everything to us and for us, it is Christ, it is our life. If we are indifferent to the Word of God and not "giving ourselves" to it, then what confidence do we have of the source we are using to fill up all things with. I pray you "let the word of Christ dwell in you and richly"!!!
Pastor Josh Strelecki
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher
November 24th, 2015
As a reader and/or student of scripture, one of the prominent matters in all of God's Word is: suffering. Its' prominence is not only found in one book, but many books (argument could be made that it could be found in all) and over the length of time itself. The sons of men throughout the majority of time have been exercised thereby. It is something produced, experienced, and useful. With suffering comes its' effects: hurt, pain, stress, weakness, despondency, seclusion, etc. Nevertheless, with suffering comes the deep measure of hope from God.
God has dealt with suffering in various ways in scripture and throughout history. At times He delivers people from some kind of suffering and other times He doesn't. During a fairly long portion of time throughout history, during His time past dealings with the nation of Israel, suffering was experienced by individual and/or national compliance to the law. Although suffering existed before the law, with Israel under the law, suffering would be attached to their obedience and disobedience. This is understood from places like Leviticus 26:14-39 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68. In fact, most of Israel's history is one of disobedience and therefore experiencing the curses or things they would suffer because of it.
Quite frankly and unfortunately many think they are under the law and therefore perceive what is going on in their life in view of it; that is, if they are suffering then they are disobeying God and if everything is going well they must be obeying God. This would be a proper way of thinking for another period in time; however, no longer consistent and in fact inconsistent with what God is doing today. The problem with this is God is no longer dealing with people under the law, especially not those in Christ. Moreover, what is enlightening, quite shocking, and against human viewpoint is that when we talk about suffering in regards to grace one would naturally think:
"if suffering under the law was based upon one's disobedience to the law, then if we are no longer under the law, but under grace there must be no suffering no matter if we disobey or not or at least significant deliverance!!!"
With the window open the winds of error blow through and deliverance from suffering becomes extremely subjective that measuring whether God is delivering or not is so far removed from not only the objective standard of the law, but more importantly the objective standard under grace. Well, God will deliver....you don't need to suffer....have more faith....health, wealth, prosperity....name it....claim it!!!! The most prominent one of them all, "you must have some un-confessed, hidden sin if your going through hard times and not facing deliverance." Job experienced this and he knew they were "miserable comforters" (Job 16:2) and God knew they were friends who "darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge" (Job 38:2).
Instead quite the opposite is true. In other words, just because we are no longer under the law, but under grace doesn't mean we will face suffering or not. This is often misunderstood because the all-to-often-forgotten time before the law. Before the law, from Adam to Moses suffering existed, therefore the law didn't create, produce, or start suffering rather it put in place a system by which suffering would come. In other words it played a role with something that was already in existence. This is similar to sin. Sin entered the world with Adam and was in existence from Adam to Moses; however, the law plays a specific role with sin, but just because we are no longer under the law, but under grace doesn't indicate we will no longer sin. With this little bit of vital knowledge, we should be able to understand therefore, that now just because we are under grace does not mean we will no longer experience suffering. Instead, a different system is in place in which suffering operates. Suffering and pain will only end upon death or the rapture and even in Israel's program it would only end upon death or upon Christ's return and establishment of His Kingdom.
Most of the time Christian's hold onto the law because they think they can obey it and not experience suffering. This is justified by the logic that because one is now in Christ they have the power to obey the law and therefore not participate in sufferings. This is wrong for so many reasons, two of which are: 1) to be redundant, Israel's history was one of failure to obey the law, and 2) Paul fulfilled the righteousness of the law and yet still suffered. This logic is faulty and inconsistent with what God teaches. If one has the power, as a Christian, to obey the law and therefore not suffer, then why did Paul? The answer is because suffering operates upon a different system today; namely, grace. Suffering isn't something God delivers us from, or withholds us from or from us today under grace. Rather it is something God uses for His purpose and will. With the law He used suffering to manifest man's incapability, flesh, sin, and weakness and now He uses it to manifest His capability, power, holiness, and strength and might. What a privilege we have is to be earthen vessels to manifest such glory.
So why get into all that? It is with this fundamental appreciation that we can begin to talk of one of the uses for suffering; that is, to know the deep measure of hope. It is with this fundamental appreciation that we can know God as the Father or mercies and the God of all comfort. He is the God of hope and the God of consolation and as the God of hope and the God of consolation suffering does not hinder His cause, purpose, or will, but rather He uses it for His glory as the Father of glory. This is manifest in His Son on the Cross and if it did not hinder Him and we are being conformed to His Son's image, then with His provision He gives us the capacity for it to not hinder us. All this indicates He is the God of hope and comfort while we are in suffering.
Lastly, before we get into a few passages, it should be noted in Israel's program a provision to endure suffering was spoken of, relied upon, and prophesied about in regards to a specific time in which it would be most relied upon. This time would end up being after the Cross. This is important to make mention of now due to how this provision works. It works the same way God's provision for us in this dispensation of grace works. This places our thinking to start dealing with some passages on the subject.
Job most likely lived before the law. There is reason to believe he was the third son of Issachar beyond the same name (Gen. 46:13). Nevertheless, whether before Abraham or after Abraham there is no indication from Job itself that he lived under the law which started in Exodus 19. Job is set forth as a type of "the little flock" going through "the day of the Lord" or "the time of Jacob's trouble" or seventieth week of Daniel's timeline in Daniel 9:24-27. Job experiences suffering as one "perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1). This will be descriptive of the remnant during the tribulation period. Job's four friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu are "the miserable comforters" of the vain religious leadership of Israel and their knowledge and error they will be teaching during the tribulation period. Job suffers the things he suffers by: 1) God's consideration to Satan (Job 1:8), and 2) Satan's taking that power to bring upon Job, suffering. God eventually turns the captivity of Job (Job 42:10), just like He will with the remnant when He establishes His literal, earthly, Davidic Kingdom and bless the faithful remnant double.
The striking thing about Job is what God says to Job to remedy his confusion and lack of understanding. When God counsel's Job in Job 38:1-40:34 he doesn't make mention of Job's situation. God provides Job with His perspective and the big picture of it all. It is this perspective that supplies Job not only with understanding, but by that understanding the ability to patiently endure until the end in view of God fulfilling His plan and purpose with the earth and man on it, which is, Job's hope.
Since Job is a type of the remnant it should come to no surprise that not only Christ brings these matters up, but also, the remnant epistle writers. For instance:
"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matt. 24:13)
"In your patience possess ye your souls." (Luke 21:19)
(7) Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
(8) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
(9) Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
(10) Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
(11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
(9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
(10) Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
(11) Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
(12) Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
(13) Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
(14) As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
(15) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
(16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
The remnant would learn that their faithfulness would get them sufferings of Christ and they would need patient endurance to see the end of the Lord and the glory to follow. Therefore, they need to gird the loins of their minds, much like Job did (Job 38:3) in regards to what God was doing, their role in it, and the hope of the end the salvation of their souls to be able to walk into that kingdom and never taste death
The mechanics are as follows:
1) Be faithful
3) Knowledge and understanding of hope (provides)
4) Patient endurance in the sufferings
5) Glory to follow
In this dispensation of grace our hope is a little different, nevertheless it is still Christ we look for. For Israel they look forward to Him returning to this earth (the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:13) and we look forward to Him appearing in the clouds and to be caught up together with Him in the air (1 The. 4:13-18). The person we look for is the same, but where we look for Him is different and where we will be afterward is different. Nevertheless, the mechanics of how hope provides strength and endurance in suffering to work twice the glory is the same.
(16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
(17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
(18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
(19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
(20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
(21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
(22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
(23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
(24) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
(25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Understanding the mechanics from Israel's program first following the Bible in its' sense and sequence Romans 8:16-25 isn't as confusing. As those "in Christ" already possessing inheritance in Christ we are "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" nevertheless there is more (twice as more) if we "suffer with Him". The glorification together with Christ is similar to that of the faithful in Israel's program; that is, to be ruler with Christ. We too can "shall reign in life, by one Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:17). Suffering with Him is not simply suffering or suffering what He suffers for we all suffer because of the fall and we all will suffer "the sufferings of this present time". Suffering with Him is having some knowledge of hope and walking by that understanding in the sufferings to produce patient endurance to the end resulting in great glory. This knowledge and understanding therefore works as a salvation from the adverse effects in our inner man and produces soul stability in our inner man and patience endurance as we wait to the end. Every believer has to wait and every believer will suffer; however, not every believer will patiently wait as He does and thereby suffer with Him.
The redemption of our bodies, the uncomparable glory to that of the sufferings of this present time, and the glorification with Christ are the firstfruits of the Spirit and our hope. As He begins to bear witness with our spirit He provides this understanding of our future hope as a present means of patience. This is how God and His Son are dealing with suffering and as He predestined to be conformed to His Son's image we to are taught to deal with them "with Him". We therefore are supposed to take what we learn in Romans 8:1-15 and begin to "mind these things of the Spirit" thereby "walk after the Spirit" and His "firstfruits" and thus "suffer with Christ".
Where all the sufferings come from is another topic of discussion; however, suffering today doesn't automatically mean you are disobeying rather it should be a indicator that you are faithful. Faithful to all that the Father instructs. In these sufferings God provides us the means, by learning of our hope taught by the Spirit in the word, to be patient in suffering and use it as He does for His glory and He will glorify you together with Christ. There is only one other thing that exceeds the topic of suffering in the scriptures; that is, hope. It is "hope" and specifically our hope taught by Paul that we should be mindful of in the midst of any suffering we may face and know God as "the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort" (2 Cor. 1:3), as well as, "the God of hope" (Rom. 15:13) and "Father of glory" (Eph. 1:17).
I leave you with this:
"Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer" (Rom. 12:12)
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Rom. 15:13)
Pastor Josh Strelecki
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher
November 19th, 2015
WHAT ARE WE TO DO IN THE CHURCH?
Unfortunately, all too often, Christians miss the boat when it comes to what they ought to be doing in the local assembly, as one who trusted Christ as their all-sufficient Savior from the debt and penalty of their sins. There are numerous and various reasons for this. In fact, even the most faithful Christian can misstep in their walk unto God. God, in His word, isn't shy or bashful to clearly and honestly share the failures and miscues of those whom He has used to accomplish various ends.
Therefore, in one sense, we can and often do justify our failures as part of our flesh, our natural inclination to sin to not walk after God, or normalcy of our weak conduct and behavior to the point we not only easily dismiss our behavior (maybe for some, a large portion of their life), but also easily dismiss changing things. This attitude and perspective of allowing sin, our flesh, and normal tendencies to run and operate unchecked is not only inconsistent in general to who God has made us to be in Christ, but it often goes unchecked in the local assembly at church. Yet, in a whole other sense, when it comes to who our Heavenly Father has made us to be in Christ and what it is He teaches us, we ought not simply justify our misconduct or improper or lack of attitude toward another in the local assembly to the equivalent of, "boys will be boys". This kind of thinking completely neglects one members role in another members life. It also neglects the power of God's Word at one's disposal for change. If it does characterize our spirit, then we are found wanting when it comes to a desire for godliness and to please our Father. We often times don't realize what we are saying and what we are thinking in light of God's Word. Herein lies the issue.
THE PROSPECT OF GODLINESS
For a brief moment let us entertain the thought of the mind of God when it comes to His desire and goal for us and do so in regards to our functionality, life, and role in the local assembly. Maybe a question is best to probe our thinking. What is God's desire for you when it comes to your interactions with others in the local assembly?
If this question comes to a surprise, as if we didn't know or neglected the godly reality of interacting with others in the local assembly then we must examine ourselves in front of the mirror of God's Word in regards to what He says about the local assembly's designed role and purpose in our lives.
If this question is asked and easily forgotten without thought or regard, then our perspective and mindset is constrained toward our Father, His education, and how we are to view and engage others.
If this question is asked and excuses are generated by unhindered examination of others in regards to their social status, personalities, quirks, etc instead of an examination of oneself, then maybe we have believed the gospel, but the weight of its' truth may not have truly taken hold in our mind and hearts.
Our Father has designed to build us up by impacting our mind and how we think to think like He does and thereby impact our conduct and behavior toward others. If this isn't taking place not much edification is going on.
EXAMINATION A NECESSITY FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE CONFORMITY TO CHRIST
God's grace abounds when it comes to His patience with us and the renewing of our minds toward others in the local assembly. It never starts with the other person changing, but with our own mind and heart being changed by God's powerful word. So many things do, can, and ought to factor into this change: God's word, prayer, meditation, time, etc. Yet, one factor is often neglected these days, especially in the grace movement, to the point that if it wasn't on the pages of Paul's epistles it would be extinct. This factor is examination, a by-product of true edification. It is often neglected in the grace camp because it is viewed as a work and that if someone is examining then it isn't really Christ in them, which is further telling the individual doesn't yet grasp how it is that Christ works in the believer today and the believers role and participation in their walk. The "how to walk" is fundamental to Romans and without, the rest of Paul's epistles will not make the impact they are designed to make.
EXAMINATION, EDIFICATION, & HONESTY
Edification and examination go hand-in-hand. When we examine we are to inspect carefully, with a view to discover truth or the real state of a thing. In regards to our walk we are to inspect carefully what is going on, first, in our minds consistent to the mechanics of "walking after the Spirit". We "walk after the Spirit" (Romans 8:5) by first "minding the things of the Spirit", which is why God wants to "renew our minds" (Romans 12:1-2) and have us "serve in newness of spirit" (Romans 7:6). It is vital to fulfilling the desire to please God. It is so vital to know that from His perspective where the work takes place. It takes place IN THE MIND. Therefore, examining ourselves involves examining our mind, our thoughts, our attitude, our perspective toward and in "all things" (Romans 8:28). In our case for the purpose of this short article examining our mind when it comes toward church and toward others in the local assembly. One of the definitions of examining describes interrogation. This explicit term is not shy of the measure we should participate with what is going in our minds. In fact, such inspection is the basis of meditation (1 Tim. 4:15-16).
Edification is the process of building up in our mind and heart the sound doctrine through the apostle Paul's epistles to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18) and thereby possess "the mind of Christ" which is the purpose of the New Testament. It should be noted because of this process emphasis should be put upon learning and studying. A English Grammarian from the 19th Century stated this about edification: "he who is edified is conscious of an accession to his stock of practical knowledge, and an increase of his moral strength." This was true of Paul for on many occasions he states his "accession" or in Paul's terminology "perfection" for on one of those occasions he says,
"...if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this on things I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you (Php. 3:11-15)."
True godly edification means we our conscious of the stock of knowledge we are learning, but also our use and practice with it. Therefore, edification is consistent to "walking after the Spirit" and twofold: 1) we ought to be learning the knowledge or learn Christ (Eph. 4:20-24), and 2) we ought to be practicing it.
Honesty becomes a vital component to examination and edification.
Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. (2 Cor. 13:7)
The Lord spoke about this a lot during His earthly ministry as well:
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)
It is easy for us to examine others; however, it isn't easy when we examine ourselves. We have a tendency to turn our head to our ungodliness instead of confronting it, covering up darkness instead of manifesting it. We don't want God to know, as if He doesn't already, and we don't want others to know what or how we think even though it is often portrayed in our actions, what we say, and how we say it. We live out of what is going on in the mind and what we have in our mind; therefore, what we do and how we do it, what we say and how we say it are reflective of the knowledge we have learned and our choice to yield to it or not and act in accordance with it or not.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
Simply - learn "the things of the Spirit", "mind them", spend time with them, interact with them, understand them, examine their usefulness and profitability, love them for in so doing you are interacting with Christ and your love for Him is increasing and then begin to prove them or apply them in your situations and circumstance of life. Much of "the renewing of the mind" in regards to our walk hasn't been covered at Twin Cities Grace Fellowship. It lies within Romans 12-15 a mark we haven't reached yet; however, it is oh so close. Nevertheless, just because as a body we haven't covered the material yet doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't go ahead to get acquainted with the information, learn it, and to the best of your understanding begin to apply it. I leave you with a few samples of that packet of information with practical use that is deep.
"...not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."
"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;"
- Often times we don't prefer one another, instead prefer unbelievers
"Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality"
"Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."
"Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise ion your own conceits."
I encourage you to take stock of this knowledge and examine not only if you have these things in you, but whether you are operating upon them, especially in view of what we are to be doing at church. These are the things of the Spirit we are to mind to walk after the Spirit, they are the mind of Christ and therefore conform us, renew our minds, but are also things we are supposed to be "proving". The depth of practicality is gained by your understanding of them and your honest assessment of their use in any given situation. May we think on these things and decide to prove them in our lives among others for their profit and not simply be concerned about ours. This is consistent with the mind of Christ!!!
Pastor Josh Strelecki
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher
February 17th, 2015
This issue of “simplicity” has been a matter that has been employed countless of times. If you had a nickel for every time one used this issue in a conversation we all would be rich. I am not saying there isn’t a context for this, for Paul uses it in 2 Corinthians 11:4; however, often times it is pulled out as a “crutch”. If someone doesn’t understand something they will say it is wrong and say something to the effect, “doesn’t that take away from “the simplicity that is in Christ?”” Yet, Paul uses this expression in a specific context and actually describes “the simplicity that is in Christ”. This doesn’t mean the expression is always employed improperly; however, important nonetheless to get a general understanding for now what Paul is referring to.
by definition is: 1) Singleness; the state of being unmixed or
uncompounded; 2) The state of being not complex, or of consisting of few
parts; 3) Artlessness of mind; freedom from a propensity to cunning or
stratagem; 4) Plainness; freedom from subtilty or abstruseness.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4
(3) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
(4) For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
There are three basic components to the “simplicity that is in Christ”. These three basic components are usually not what is in mind when someone employs this expression, let alone one or two of them. These three components are “Jesus”, “spirit”, “gospel”. When Paul “preached” Jesus, and the Corinthians “received” the spirit, and “accepted” the gospel they had the fundamental components that make up “the simplicity that is in Christ”. This “simplicity” (not to be confused with how we think of simplicity) “consists of few parts” and provide for a “freedom from propensity to cunning or stratagem”, “freedom from subtilty or abstruseness”. As we learn about Jesus, the spirit of God, and Paul’s gospel, specifically found in Romans we gain a freedom from the subtilty of our own thinking about ourselves, about the world, about the Adversary, about how to live unto God, etc. It is this “simplicity” that is had by someone understanding and believing “Jesus”, “the spirit”, and “the gospel” as per Romans that the Corinthians possessed that Paul has in mind. It is this “simplicity that is (where?) in Christ” that they were being beguiled of. This is a “simplicity that is in Christ” not in our own intellect.
Paul does not speak of “simplicity” in the sense of something being confusing to the individual, for if that is the case the verses above our subject to the believer and what they deem to be confusing or not, complicated or not. Confusing and complicated are different than complex, which things in Paul’s epistles do get complex. Complexity, may take more time and study to understand, but doesn’t mean these complexities are inherently confusing or complicated. Needless to say, “simplicity” denotes uncompounded, not complex, consisting of few parts and that is exactly what the book of Romans does, especially in light of the three basic components that he provides (Jesus, spirit, gospel). The Romans doctrine is the “establishing” of the saints, it is foundation material (Romans 1:11). In fact, before Paul ends the epistle to the Romans he warns them about what we read in 2 Corinthians. Paul says in Romans 16:17-18, Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ (Jesus), but their own belly; and by good words (another spirit) and fair speeches deceive (beguile & corrupt) the hearts of the simple.” As you come out of Romans you are considered “simple” in relation to the “establishing” doctrine, the foundation doctrine, that isn’t “complex” and only consists of a few parts. Paul now is warning them that their understanding as they “learned” in Romans is the means by which to identify others that are causing “divisions and offences”. Another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel are changes, alternations, subtractions, essentially “divisions and offences” from the way they “learned” these things (Jesus, spirit, gospel) from Paul in the epistle. These “deceive” the “simple”. Paul is echoing his Romans warning to the Corinthians of not being beguiled from “the simplicity that is in Christ” that they posses that identifies them as “simple” in Christ.
The tragedy of all this is that today most Christians do not even understand what Paul means when he says “Jesus”, “spirit”, and “gospel” the way in which he delivered it per Romans doctrine. In other words, the Adversary doesn’t even have to “beguile” those saints because they don’t possess, as far as their understanding goes, “the simplicity that is in Christ”. We ought not use this expression so freely, as many do, to justify that a certain individual based upon what they teach takes away from “the simplicity that is in Christ”. If we don’t know what “the simplicity that is in Christ” we are found wanting, not only for a lack of understanding these matters, but therefore for our inability to employ the expression. Should we use the expression when we don’t even know what it indicates or means? Do you know what Paul is speaking of in connection with “Jesus”, “spirit”, and “gospel” as per his introduction of them in Romans?
Pastor Josh Strelecki