Fellowship, the Koinonia of the Church

by Pastor Chester McCalley

In Acts 2, the church is born having an initial membership of something more than 3000 men and women. The life of this group developed in four specific areas, described in Acts 2:42. These areas were doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer.

These four areas of fellowship are described in two couplets, that is, doctrine and fellowship are linked together, and breaking of bread and prayer are linked together.

The Greek term for fellowship is κοινονια (koinonia). The following is a brief word study on the meaning of koinonia as it relates to man. Fellowship with God, as described in 1 John 1 is not included in this study.

Definition

The word koinonia carries the basic idea of having something in common. The word is related to κοινη (koine), meaning common, which we use to refer to koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament, which was common to many people at a certain time in history. Jude 3 speaks of our common (koine) salvation, referring to a salvation known and shared by all believers. The best way to bring the meaning of koinonia into English is to speak of joint participation in something.

Areas of Joint Participation or Fellowship in the Early Church

Koinonia in Material Things

Romans 15:26, 27. The word contribution is koinonia.

2 Cor. 8:4, fellowship

2 Cor. 9:1, distribution

Gal. 6:6, communicate with

Phil. 4:15, communicated

Note that in each passage there is joint participation in something material – money.

Koinonia in Suffering

Phil. 3:10, fellowship

1 Peter 4:13, partakers. Here is a godly believer participating in the suffering area.

Koinonia in Evil

2 John 11, partaker in evil

1 Cor. 10:20, fellowship in evil

In these two passages joint participation may be had in evil by expressing cordiality toward doctrinal error or by association with idolatry. Matt. 23:30 speaks of koinonia in murder.

Koinonia in the Incarnation of Christ

Hebrews 2:14 shows that Christ became a joint participant with us when He took on a human body.

Koinonia at the Lord’s Table

I Cor. 10:16 says that we have communion or koinonia with the blood and body of Christ.

Koinonia in Spreading the Gospel

Gal. 2:6-9 tells how Peter, Paul and other apostles were given the right hands of fellowship indicating joint participation in the spread of the gospel.

Koinonia in Salvation

2 Peter 1:4 says that by the word of God we become partakers of the divine nature.

Koinonia in the Holy Spirit

2 Cor. 13:14 and Phil. 2:1 both indicate a joint participation of the believer and the Holy Spirit.

Koinonia in a Common Effort

Luke 5:10 expresses this where James, John and Simon are called partners or koinonia. The joint participation was in the fishing business which they all shared.

Summary

Fellowship in the New Testament means joint participation in some area, defined by context. In no passage is fellowship presented as a goal or end in itself. It is merely the by product of common goals or possessions. The more the believer discovers the salvation common to all other believers, the more fellowship occurs.

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Authority, God’s Chain of Command

Introduction

Authority is defined as the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior. Persons in command.

The most important earthly influence in a person’s life is that which comes from his relationship with his parents. The newborn child enters life completely dependent upon, and completely subservient to, an all powerful authority, his mother and father. As a child grows, he adjusts continuously in his responses to that parental authority, for better or for worse depending on the training he receives. He also gradually becomes aware of other influences of authority in society; those of his schools, of the various levels of government and law enforcement, of the people for whom he works, of his church, and of the authority of God Himself.

As an adult, a person often has two roles simultaneously. He is not only subject to authority of various kinds all of his lifetime, but he may also himself be in a position of power and influence over others, perhaps as parent, military officer, executive, or judge. A person’s ability to respond properly to authority, and his ability to exercise authority, depend on his orientation to divine principles of authority categorized in the Bible. As least three things are necessary to the proper response to authority. They are:

  • Careful training by parents in correct standards of submission to authority
  • A consistent daily walk with the Lord
  • An ever growing categorical knowledge of Biblical principles of authority accompanied by personal acceptance of the teaching leading to personal application in the life.

When any of these factors is missing, a person will accept non Biblical, humanistic principles of leadership, or the response to leadership, with the usually bad results that derive from a poor understanding of scriptural standards.

This paper explores the subject of authority in several ways. First we examine the source of all spiritual and temporal authority, God the creator. The Bible is the textbook for the study. God has delegated authority to His Son, Jesus Christ, who, in turn, has passed certain leadership responsibilities to human beings, the apostles. The apostles retained this mantle of authority as they were given the divine enabling to write the word of God for believers to read and understand.

The next consideration in this discussion is the Biblical teaching on a variety of types of authority, including parental, governmental, and ecclesiastical authority. Finally, the paper will describe some ways in which children and young people can be trained in Biblical principles of authority and in the proper responses to and uses of leadership. There will be a few paragraphs in the final section about chain of command which is intended to show believers the mechanics of a proper relationship to both divine and human authority.

The Source of Authority in Christianity

In all Christian activity some form of authority is exercised, either the authority of one individual over others, or the authority of an organization over individuals. The administration of leadership takes on so many varied forms that believers often become confused as to what constitutes legitimate Biblical authority. Some Christians in positions of leadership exercise Biblical principles of authority, others use human standards mixed with divine principles. Any Christian leader who is not well versed in the Biblical doctrines relating to authority is likely to use a combination of proper and improper authority.

All correct authority in Christian activity must derive from the Christian system itself: that is, a Christian leader must find his credentials of leadership in the word of God. Authority is of two kinds, primary and delegated authority.

Primary authority grows out of the relationship of those who have the right to command and those whose duty it is to obey. The basis of all primary authority in Christianity is the person of God. We are His; He made us. We are the creatures of His hand and the product of His intelligence. He is our maker, preserver and benefactor. He, therefore, has the absolute right to command; and it is our absolute duty to obey Him. God has seen fit only occasionally to govern man by His personal and primary authority. He usually delegates authority to others. He rules by His representatives.

Delegated authority is a right to command and enforce obedience which can be given to another by the party holding primary authority.

God’s Primary Authority Was Delegated to the Lord Jesus Christ

The first delegation of authority in Christianity was from God the Father to God the Son. Hebrews 1:1-2a, “God, who gave to our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son.” Jesus said, “The word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s Who sent me.” (John 12:49) “No man knows who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” (John 14:6) Jesus closes His ministry on earth, and leads off His great commission to the apostles with the statement, “All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

The Son stands nearest the Father in delegated authority. He is the “brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person.” (Hebrews 1:3) “It has pleased the Father than in Him should all fullness dwell.” (Colossians 1:19) When the Father acknowledged Christ after His baptism, He said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Christ was not only the delegate of God on earth, he is also the “image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15) and He said to His doubting disciples, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

There are several important inferences to be drawn from the concept of the authority of Jesus Christ. First, Jesus Christ is a manifestation of the power of God. Whether His power is seen in the material world or in the spiritual, our attention is arrested and our interest is challenged. God’s power is part of life itself. It is the agency through which God’s mind controls matter. It is the hand by which God’s purpose takes form in the world.

There is a difference between power and force. Force startles and frightens us. Power, when directed by intelligent love, is always pleasing to us. There is force in a lightning bolt. It shatters the sky, can kill living beings, cleaves a tree in half, or burns a building to the ground. There is power when an intelligent mind uses electricity to drive a train or light a city. Jesus Christ, who is God himself, is a manifestation of the power of God, not of the force of God.

Authority Passes to the Apostles

The Transfer of Authority to the Apostles

As long as Jesus was on earth, He talked with men face to face. Men were directly under His command, and could claim His promises directly. But He has passed away from earth and does not rule anymore by His own direct authority. Just as the Father delegated His authority to the Son, so Jesus delegated His authority to the apostles.

In John 17 are the following statements:

  • God gave the Son power over all flesh.
  • This power was given that He might bestow eternal life on all men.
  • Eternal life is bestowed through the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
  • God gave the Son certain men out of the world, that He might teach them all that God had given him.
  • All men should believe on Christ through the word of the disciples.

In the transfer of authority from God the Father to the Son there was no danger of error or mistake. The Son, being divine, could receive without misunderstanding all that the Father communicated. But the apostles were human with all the weaknesses and imperfections of their humanity. There was danger, therefore, that they might not correctly understand or apprehend the communication which Christ made to them.

It became necessary, therefore, for some power or influence to be exerted on their minds to preserve them from error either in taking in or in giving out the lessons which they received. Therefore, Christ promised them the Holy Spirit, who was to guide them into all truth in the conveying of the gospel to the world.

1 Cor. 2:9-13, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. Now, we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but in words which the Holy Spirit teaches.

The Apostles’ Use of Delegated Authority

The Spirit guided apostles are the representatives of God on earth for the purpose of making known His will to the sons of men. Their teaching is Christ’s teaching. Their authority is the authority of the Lord. “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” (John 20:21) So, when the apostles completed the revelation of the will of God in Jesus Christ, that revelation became the perfect law of liberty to which nothing could rightfully be added or taken away.

Anyone who teaches men to disobey the plain commandments of the apostles cannot be guided by the same Holy Spirit that inspired them to proclaim these commandments. The same Holy Spirit which led an apostle to proclaim truth will not lead anyone else to ignore or to disobey that truth.

Any attempt to add to, or subtract from, the words of the apostles, or to substitute other teaching in the place of their teaching, is not of God. Satan had no opportunity to corrupt the truth as it proceeded from the Father to the Son, or from the Son to the apostles. But his opportunity arrived when the apostles began proclaiming the gospel to mankind as they preached. “Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12)

The Apostles’ Exercise of Judgment

The apostles are administering the authority of God even today, through the written word of God which they wrote under divine inspiration. They began administering that authority on the Day of Pentecost. Their first judgment was, “These men are not drunk as you suppose, but this is that spoken of by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:15-16) The world’s judgment, that “these men are full of new wine”, was wrong; the apostles’ judgment was correct.

The apostles’ second judgment was, “This same Jesus whom ye have taken with wicked hand and slain, God has raised up and made both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:23-24) Their third judgment was concerning convicted sinners, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38)

Thus, in all their sermons and writings they delivered judgments for spiritual Israel which stand as authoritative today as when first delivered. There is nothing that is essential to the well being of Christian believers that has not been a subject for the apostles’ judgment. They are ambassadors of Christ. God acted through them and they represent Christ. “As though God did beseech you by us, we pray in Christ’s place, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20)

Practical Considerations Related to Apostolic Authority

In Dr. G. A. Jacob’s book, Ecclesiastical Polity of the New Testament, there are quotations worth repeating. This book is worth thoughtful reading, and it shows the trend among some modern Christian thinkers to get back to the principles of the apostles. From the book:

The church of the apostolic period is the only church in which there is found an authority justly claiming the acknowledgment of Christian bodies in other times. Such authority is found in this church, not because it possessed a truer catholicity, or a purer constitution, or a more primitive antiquity than belong to succeeding ages, for neither antiquity, purity of form, or catholicity confers any right to govern or command; but because it was under the immediate rule and guidance of the apostles. It is their infallible judgment alone, as exhibited in this church, which has a legitimate claim to our submission. Of the church of no other period can the same be said, because the apostles had no successors to their office. They stand alone as the divinely inspired teachers, legislators, and rulers in Christ’s church and kingdom. They stand alone as men appointed and commissioned by Christ Himself, and not by man.

I appeal, therefore, from the Nicene Fathers to the apostles of Christ; from patristic literature to the New Testament; from ecclesiastical authority and practice of post apostolic centuries to the primitive church of the apostolic age. To go back to that time, and to endeavor, as far as possible, to reproduce the church of the New Testament, is most needful for us now, if we would preserve a faithful and distinct knowledge of Christian truth among our people. By realizing, as far as we may, the ideal of that church in our own community, we shall best maintain its liberty and purity, and we shall best meet the peculiar dangers of the present time and prepare for the future.

From the Apostles to Us – Lines of Authority

In the previous section, the transmission of divine authority to human beings is marked out in three phases: (1) God delegated all authority on earth to the Son, Jesus Christ; (2) the Son delegated teaching authority to the apostles; and (3) the apostles wrote authoritatively concerning the uses of and submission to authority on the part of believers of the church age.

Thus, every standard for the administration of authority over human beings by other people is derived from the teachings of the apostles as recorded in the Bible. The apostles wrote with the delegated power of God and were divinely inspired and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, we are obliged to give absolute obedience to instructions from the Bible.

Three types of delegated authority are described in this section: (1) authority in human society; (2) ecclesiastical (local church) authority; and (3) parental authority. By careful study of the scripture passages related to these topics, a believer should be able to gain a great deal of discernment into the problems of proper response to authority.

Authority in Human Society

The teachings of the Bible indicate that established civil authority is to be obeyed explicitly except where such obedience would cause the believer to deviate from direct Bible teaching. That is to say, God does not delegate any authority that would allow someone to overrule His expressed commands or to compromise a divine principle. The statement of Christ, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21) bears out this principle.

Bible References to Specific Types of Authority

  • The authority of the rulers of federal, state, and local government: Rom. 12; 1 Tim. 2.
  • The authority of a judge on the bench: 1 Cor. 6:1-8.
  • The authority of a business owner or executive: Col. 3; Eph. 5; 1 Tim. 6.
  • The authority of an athletic coach: 1 Cor. 9:24-27.
  • The authority of the military chain of command: Matt. 8:8-10.

See the following passages also for references to the concept of authority in many areas of human society:

Matt. 22:19-21; 17:25‑27

1 Pet. 2:13-18

1 Cor. 7:21-24

Eph. 6:5-9

1 Tim. 6:1, 2

Deut. 17:12, 13

Rom. 13:1-7.

Christian Life Principles Related to Authority

Submission to authority means doing the unpleasant thing as well as the pleasant. Therefore, there is a need for self discipline. Gal. 5:23 and 2 Thess. 3:8-15 point out that self control is a result of Christian growth. The entire book of Proverbs deals extensively with this issue. The believer can expect that as he grows in Christ his desire to be submissive to the Lord will grow, as will his ability to be a faithful servant.

A correct understanding of the concept of authority will cause a believer to gain respect for the privacy of others. He will learn that certain aspects of other people’s lives do not fall under his jurisdiction. So he will be much less inclined to invade privacy, judge, malign, gossip, etc .

The correct use of Biblical principles of authority also develops in the believer a respect for other people’s personal property. There are many passages in the Bible about stealing, covetousness, and the protection of property. Spiritual growth involves an acceptance of these principles as the believer better understands authority.

Respect for the rights of others to function in their own place under God’s plan is a basic principle of authority. Other people have the right to make decisions without interference. Mature believers do not judge others, to not bully others into conforming, do not attempt to exercise authority which has not been delegated to them. “…to his own master he stands or falls…” (Romans 14:4)

Ecclesiastical Authority

Scripture references to local church authority are found in Titus 1:5-16; 2:15–3:2; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Matt. 16:16-19; 18:18, 19.

Spiritual leaders are not elected, hired or appointed. They emerge. As the child of God experiences the development of his spiritual gifts, these gifts are recognized by others in the body of Christ. He will be given a place in which to exercise his gifts.

In Acts 6:1-7, for example, it can be seen that the first deacons were recognized as spiritually minded and filled with the Holy Spirit. These attributes of personal character, the results of years of growth as believers, were evident in these men’s lives. They emerged as leaders. The vote taken was merely an agreement that the majority of the local body recognized the mature lives of these men. There may have been others who coveted places of leadership. But such others were not recognized. The chosen deacons were selected to serve, not to be served. Nevertheless, in serving they did great works.

In becoming part of a local church, a Christian tacitly approves of the leadership structure of that church. By remaining with that congregation, he signifies that he accepts the pastoral teaching authority and the leadership of others in authority. The Bible commands submission to local church authority.

1 Peter 5:5, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

To submit means to recognize the chain of command and to refrain from undermining that authority. This is a command to all believers; and nearly all trouble in local churches comes from the violation of this principle. The troublemakers in a church are those who undermine authority by criticism, by conspiracies or by other methods. It is the duty of the pastor teacher to guard against this and to nip it in the bud. The early Christians willingly placed themselves under the leadership of the pastor and deacons because they were known to be ordained of God and that one could profit from their guidance and leadership.

Parental Authority – Chain of Command

Case Study No. 1

A twenty-one year old girl returned home with an engagement ring and her boy friend in tow. After meeting and conversing with the young man, the parents told their daughter in private that they did not approve of her marrying this person at this time and that she should wait for a year or two. They stated their belief the marriage will not work and this fellow is not for you. The daughter argued that she felt that the Lord had brought they two of them together and that since they were both Christians it would be all right to marry right away.

What would be the correct answer in counseling with this young woman? Should she:

  1. Go ahead with her marriage plans if she thinks it is the Lord’s will for her, or
  2. Follow her parents’ wishes and wait until they give approval?

Case Study No. 2

An eighteen year old Christian young man announced to his unsaved father that the Lord had called him into the ministry and that he was thinking of going to Bible school to prepare for the pastorate. The father was strictly against such a move, and he advised his son to enter university instead, to prepare for a vocation. He told his son that he should have a profession to fall back on in case he should fail in the ministry. He wanted his son to get his college degree first; then, if he still wanted to be a pastor, he could pursue that career.

What advice should be given to the son in this case? Should he:

  1. Follow his father’s wishes and enter the university, or
  2. Follow his own desires and go to bible school?

Case Study No. 3

A teenage girl wanted to attend a certain Bible teaching church, but her mother refused to allow this. So the girl began to attend secretly as often as she could. Her mother found out and was very angry. She told her daughter that she should be at home attending to her chores around the house instead of spending so much time with those kids.

Should the teenage girl:

  1. Continue to attend Bible sessions secretly in order to get good teaching, or
  2. obey her mother’s wishes?

The answer in all three cases above is: respect the parent’s wishes! The following section describes the reasons for this answer.

The Biblical Basis for a Child’s Absolute Submission

The following commands from scripture indicate the extent to which God has committed Himself to working with children through their parents. Notice the spiritual condition and personality of the parent are not listed as conditions to obedience of these commands.

Eph. 6:1-3, “The right thing for you to do is to obey your parents as those whom the Lord has set over you. Honor your father and mother … that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

Col. 3:20, “Obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

Prov. 6:20-23, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother; bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou wakest, it shall talk with thee; for the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; the reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”

The Focus of Response is the Lord, not the Parent

Part of God’s purpose for placing parents in authority is to teach obedience to Himself. God is able to accomplish His purposes in our lives through those He places in authority over us, regardless of whether they are good leaders.

The Lord has beautiful and significant plans for those who love and respect Him (Mal. 3:16, 17). We will be His jewels; we will be treated as the sons of God. When a young person reacts against the tools of authority that God has place in his life, he is reacting against God Himself. Severe warnings are given in the Bible about this.

Prov. 30:17, “The eye that mocketh at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

Heb. 12:5-6, “. . . My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Essential Insights in Identifying God as the Source of Authority

In order to properly identify the hand of God in the authority which is exercised over us, several insights are necessary.

We must learn to differentiate between position and personality. One of the first objections to obeying authority is, “I can not respect the one I am supposed to obey.” But it is possible to respect a person’s position of authority while at the same time being aware of character deficiencies which need correction.

A teenager might way, “Why should I listen to my parents? They tell me not to do certain things, but they go out and do the same things themselves!” But this young person fails to distinguish between his parents’ position and their character. The young man would be quick to see the error of his line of reasoning if his friend stated, “They other day I got stopped for speeding, but the policeman has such a bad personality that I tore up the ticket.”

Some say, “My parents do not even try to understand me, so why should I listen to them?” Here again, there is a failure to distinguish between position and personality. It is more important that the young person understand what God is trying to accomplish than that his parents understand him. God knows that those He places in authority will have character deficiencies? But He is able to work in spite of these deficiencies.

Psalm 76:10, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; . . .

Prov. 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

See also 1 Peter 2:18-20.

God can develop mature attitudes through His use of authority. He can use those who are the hardest to get along with to motivate us to develop mature attitudes. In each of the three case studies which are described above, the parent in authority detected an immature attitude on the part of the young person.

In Case Study No. 1, the marriage was disapproved because the parents detected underlying attitudes in both their daughter and her fiancé which would have made them incompatible in marriage. Each has a negative attitude of self will. Each expected to be the center of the stage. Neither had learned submission to authority. They had no concept of deference to one another or regard for the wishes of the other. Proper attitudes could be learned by the young people, if they would follow the advice to wait.

In Case Study No. 2, the father detected in his son attitudes of ungratefulness, stubbornness and insensitivity to the feelings of others. Even though he was not a believer, the father realized that these attitudes would cause his son to fail in the ministry. The fact that his father had some apprehension of his son’s failure in the ministry should have been a significant warning to the son that he might be wrong.

In Case Study No. 3, the teenaged girl, by responding properly to her mother would allow her mother to see that her old attitudes had changed as a result of attending the church, and she would be advancing the most powerful argument for her mother to allow her to continue attending the church.

God’s concern is that our attitudes become consistent with those of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was subject to the authority of His parents asHe was growing up. Because of this response, He grew in wisdom, stature,and in favor with God and man. He “humbled himself and became obedient…” (Phil. 2:8)

Discerning Basic Intentions

The basic intentions of those in authority must be discerned. Daniel “purposed that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat.” (Daniel 1:8) Yet the authorities were not trying to make him violate his convictions; they were genuinely concerned about his appearance before the king. Daniel was in the right frame of mind to help the officer in charge work out a compromise.

In Case Study No. 1, the basic intentions of the parents who disapproved their daughter’s marriage were not to restrict her happiness but rather to help her achieve a lasting happiness. They intended to pass on to her the insights and lessons which they had learned, sometimes the hard way. They intended for her to avoid a lot of future complications which they knew would occur if she made the wrong choice in marriage. They intended to derive pleasure and joy from their daughter’s happy marriage.

In Case Study No. 2, the basic intention of the father for the son was not to talk him out of the ministry but to provide him with the tools for being successful in life. He intended to use the boy’s college education to build mature attitudes in his son. He wanted to be proud of his son’s achievements. He intended to rest in the fact that his son was building security in his vocation. He intended that his son be grateful and appreciative for what he had done for him. He intended to keep a channel of communication open so that his son would be responsive in the future.

In Case Study No. 3, the basic intentions of the teenage girl’s mother were not to stop the girl from going to church, but to develop obedience toward her parents. This obedience involved assuming responsibilities around the house rather than running off all the time. The mother observed that some of her daughter’s friends were not obeying their parents and often condemned their parents for not being spiritual. She did not want her daughter to develop these attitudes and practices.

Developing Creative Alternatives

Creative alternatives can be developed. Mature attitudes, along with insight into basic intentions, prepare the way for the development of creative alternatives or compromises. Daniel worked out an alternative which would not violate his moral convictions. As you read the study in the book of Daniel, notice the respect, the creativity and the careful choice of wording in Daniel’s request. He asked to be given a chance to show he was right; but he expressed his willingness to obey the officer in any case.

Alternatives for the girl who wanted to get married

  • Discuss with her parents the qualities she should look for in a husband.
  • Give her parents ample opportunity to become acquainted with the boyfriend before there was any discussion of marriage.
  • Ask her parents to point out areas where both she and her boyfriend could improve.
  • Request that her parents set up guidelines to help her discern whether she has met the right life partner.
  • Be willing to show deference to her parents on the timing of the marriage.

Alternatives for the young man who wanted to go into the ministry

  • Accept the challenge of motivating new spiritual interest in his father. This is the best preparation he could have for the ministry since this is one of the most important functions of the ministry.
  • Work out with his father and his minister areas of training at the university which would be useful in both the ministry and in another vocation.
  • Develop a personal program of Bible study while at the university; and use the university experience as an opportunity for a ministry with students.

Alternatives for the teenage girl

  • Ask forgiveness for her past attitudes and actions which were wrong.
  • Commit her mother to the Lord prior to her request to attend the youth group, understanding that the Lord would be speaking through her mother.
  • Determine ahead of time that she would silently thank the Lord for whatever answer her mother gave, and continue to develop right attitudes in the home.

The Results of Obedience to Parents

It is always right to obey God, even when that obedience interrupts or disturbs our plans. Obedience to parents is one of the most essential habits for young people to learn; and parents should insist on obedience from the time their children are babies. A great deal of rebellion can be prevented by parents using Biblical principles in training their children. See Exo. 21:15-17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 21:18-21; Matt. 15:3-6.

Divine discipline and other unpleasant results of rebellion are totally avoidable. The great inner peace, the happiness, the wonderful blessings of living the plan of God for the life are unmistakably the greatest experiences a person can have.

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Aquila and Priscilla – Two friends of Paul whom he met in Corinth, who traveled to Ephesus with him, and were instructors of Apollos. [JAN 2012]

Aquila and his wife Priscilla were Jews and natives of Pontus. Their occupation was tent making. They had fled from Rome to Corinth when the emperor Claudius had commanded all Jews to leave that city. When Paul came to Corinth, he found them and stayed with them for some time, working with them at the trade of tent making.

Later, when Paul was opposed by the Jews, and perhaps to remove any obstacle to his reception by the Gentiles, he left the house of Aquila and dwelled with a man named Justus.

It is not clear when Aquila and Priscilla became Christians, but it was certainly before Paul left Corinth, because they traveled with him to Ephesus. Paul was able to teach them a great deal about Christ in a short time, because we see Aquila and Priscilla giving instruction to Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18). They appear to have been zealous promoters of the cause of Christ in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19).

Acts 18:2, “And he [Paul] found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them,

Acts 18:18, “And Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.

Acts 18:26, “and he [Apollos] began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Aquila and Priscilla later returned to Rome, and their home there was a place of assembly for believers. See Romans 16:3 and following verses.

Some years after that they seem to have returned to Ephesus, because Paul sends salutations to them there during his second imprisonment at Rome (2 Tim. 4:19), as being with Timothy.

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Apollos – a short account of what the Bible has to say about this friend of the apostle Paul. [JAN 2012]

The New Testament character Apollos was a well-educated man from the city of Alexandria in Egypt. He was well acquainted with the Old Testament scriptures and was familiar with John the Baptist’s teachings. About A.D. 56 he came to Ephesus where he began to teach in the synagogue the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Aquila and his wife Priscilla were at the church in Ephesus and heard Apollos speaking. They took him aside and provided him with doctrinal teaching to bring him up to date about Christ, the cross, the resurrection, etc. After this, Apollos went to preach in Achaia, especially at Corinth, having been highly recommended by the Ephesian Christians. He was very effective in representing the claims of Christ to the Jews.

Acts 18:24-28 ,Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he helped greatly those who had believed through grace; for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 19:1,And it came about that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples,

In Corinth, Apollos was also very useful in watering the spiritual seed which Paul had planted. He was obviously a skilled teacher of Bible truth and much appreciated by the believers there. Unfortunately, many of the Corinthian believers became so attached to him that they produced a schism in the church, with some taking Apollos’ part, some Paul’s, and some staying out of the conflict. But it is obvious that Apollos did not encourage this party feeling, seen in the approving way Paul speaks of him and in the fact that Apollos did not want to return to Corinth when he was with Paul at Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:12).

1 Cor. 1:12,Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying,”I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.

1 Cor. 3:4-6,For when one says,”I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.

1 Cor. 3:22,whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you,

1 Cor. 4:6,Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.

1 Cor. 16:12,But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity.

Paul mentions Apollos again in Titus 3:13 and recommends him and Zenas the lawyer to Titus, knowing that they intended to visit Crete.

Titus 3:13, “Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them.”

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Anger – What the Bible says about anger, ours and God’s. How to deal with sinful anger. [NOV 2011]

The Doctrine of Anger

Everybody gets angry. We know that we all have sin natures that have areas of strength and weakness. You may be strong where I am weak, and vice versa. So it may be that you would never think of committing a particular sin where I might be having a great deal of trouble.

But, in one way or another everyone has problems with anger. Sometimes the anger is a quiet, seething resentment or indignation at some large or small offense, real or imagined. Sometimes anger explodes into a rage that can turn into retaliation, violence or murder.

When we are angry we hurt people, usually those who are closest to us. An angry person is his own worst enemy, as we shall see in this topical study.

Christians can have victory over the sin of anger! This study is written to lay out what the Bible says about anger and to answer questions like the following:

  • What is the difference between sinful anger and righteous indignation?
  • Does God get angry?
  • What causes me to get angry and what can I do about it?
  • How can I have victory over the sin of anger?

Definition

The Bible describes many types of anger as sin like sins of mental attitude. As a sin, anger expresses antagonism, exasperation, indignation, resentment and outrage. Anger often produces an emotional feeling, but the feeling is not the anger. The thought pattern which produced the feeling is the sinful anger.

In the Bible, the type of anger which is not sinful is more properly called righteous indignation.

The Bible uses two Greek words for anger: orge, referring to mental anger and thumos, for mental anger. It is possible, but not common, to have mental anger without an emotional response. In Eph. 4:31, both types of anger are related to bitterness.

Anger is a sin which promotes sins against other people, such as gossip, self-righteous judging, maligning and complaining.

Anger and righteous indignation are mental reactions to events or circumstances. If the mental reaction is unjustifiable then it becomes an emotional reaction such as irritation or exasperation and may lead to irrationality.

If a reaction is justifiable, it is never irrational. An example would be righteous indignation regarding false doctrine or heresy.

Righteous Indignation

Righteous indignation is not sinful anger. It is a clear understanding of a bad situation because you have a clear understanding from the Bible of what God thinks about it. Therefore, there is no reaction which leads to anger and sin.

In Mark 10:14, Jesus became opposed to the disciples when they forbade the children to be brought unto Him. This was not anger, it was an understanding of a wrong.

Jesus expressed righteous indignation in Matt. 23:13-36 when he condemned the scribes and Pharisees. He wasn’t angry when He told Peter “Get behind me, Satan, you are a stumbling block to me. You have not concentrated on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23)

Another example of righteous indignation is a Christian’s mental attitude toward criminal activity. You can pursue, prosecute and sentence a criminal without compromising such principles as grace, forgiveness or impersonal love. You are aware that the criminal’s act is wrong and that he must be stopped. That is righteous indignation. But you do not hate the criminal or fall apart emotionally because of sinful anger. Impersonal love is a result of Christian growth and allows believers to have a regard for even the most obnoxious people that does not depend on their character or behavior.

It is righteous indignation that allows God to be angry about sin but to love us anyway. His love for us depends on His character, not on ours.

Characteristics of Sinful Anger

Anger is sin from the sin nature. Gal. 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh [sin nature] are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…

Anger is related to foolishness. Eccl. 7:9, “Do not be quick to be angry in your heart, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.

The Bible defines a fool as a person without divine wisdom. He may be a genius, but his thinking is from human viewpoint. He thinks and acts apart from God’s standards and controls. The paramount fool and the beginning of foolishness is the person who has “said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

Look at Romans 1:18-32 for a detailed description of the results of deliberately turning away from God. A fool is on a rapid downward slide towards destruction, both in this life and the one to come. In the list of terrible sins which characterize the ungodly are several which are either causes or results of anger.

Anger is associated with grieving the Holy Spirit. Eph. 4:30-32, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Notice the contrast here between conditions of anger and the results of impersonal love.

Anger is a violation of the Christian’s code of conduct as a member of the body of Christ. Col. 3:8, 9, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices

Anger hinders effective prayer. 1 Tim. 2:8, “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

Anger is always accompanied by other sins. Prov. 29:22, “An angry person stirs up strife and a hot tempered person abounds in transgression.

Anger promotes the sins of gossip, self righteous judging, maligning, revenge, complaining, bitterness and many others. Heb. 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble and by it many be defiled.”

Anger makes a person his own worst enemy; he brings misery upon himself. Prov. 22:8, “He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish.” The unhappiness comes from many sources: failure to be occupied with Christ, failure to maintain a relaxed mental attitude, failure to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, thus, failure to grow in Christ. Lack of growth means lack of joy, lack of love and lack of divine viewpoint.

Anger promotes jealousy and cruelty. Prov. 27:4.

Anger causes misery for loved ones, friends and people around you. Anger destroys a nation. Prov. 21:19; 22:24; 24:25; 29:22. Amos 1:11, “Thus says the Lord,”For three transgressions of Edom and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because he pursued his brother with the sword, While he stifled his compassion; His anger also tore continually, And he maintained his fury forever.

Other Bible Teaching on Anger

Eph. 4:26 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not . . .” or “Although you may have become angry, stop sinning.

This verse is quoted from Psalm 4:4, which is about David’s righteous indignation at the revolt of his son Absalom. He is resisting the temptation to become angry. “Tremble with anger, yet do not sin.” (Psalm 4:4) He was tempted to become angry at Absalom because Absalom had used his position to start a revolution against his father. He did not become angry, he trusted the Lord. This is also called occupation of your mind with Christ. He asked the army to spare Absalom. (2 Sam. 18:5)

It is possible to respond to unfairness or offense without sin. A person may sin against you, yet you can remain without sin. You can put the matter in the Lord’s hands, stay in fellowship and maintain a relaxed mental attitude. Furthermore, because you stay in fellowship, you are in the best position to be of service in the situation. You can forgive the other person and be open to any reconciliation he might offer. You will at least do your part to keep lines of communication open.

The Bible continually emphasizes righteousness maintained in the face of unfair treatment.

You cannot build your happiness on someone else’s misery. This is what retaliation tries to do. But you will never obtain happiness through revenge or by straightening out the other person. To punish someone else using verbal sins or violence is a revenge operation; worse yet, it obstructs divine judgment and discipline. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” from Matthew 7:1 is intended to warn us to let the Lord handle matters of sins against Himself. The angry person who arrogates to himself the position of judge is in a position of compounded divine discipline himself, worse off than the one who originally caused the trouble.

The Anger of the Lord

The Lord is said to have anger, or to be angry, in several places in the Bible. The word anger is used as an anthropopathism, a word or phrase that ascribes human characteristics or feelings to God, who is not human. God never reacts emotionally. He is never surprised, shocked or outraged. But He does have an attitude of wrath or anger against some things.

The phrase the anger of the Lord is used in the following passages:

Num. 25:4; 32:14; Deut. 29:20; Judg. 2:14, 20; 3:8; 10:7; 2 Kings 24:20; Jer. 4:8; 30:24; 51:45; 52:3; Zeph. 2:2, 3; Psalm 2:5.

The phrase the wrath of God is used in the following:

Psalm 78:31; John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; Rev. 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 19:15.

Victory Over the Sin of Anger

Recognize the sin of anger and confess to the Lord when you become angry. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9. This will help you maintain your walk with the Lord and be controlled or filled by the Holy Spirit.

Continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is an important part of grace being used by a believer. The more you are oriented to God’s plan of grace, the more adept you will be at using the assets He provides.

Practice trusting God or using faith. God says, “Cast your care on Me, because I care for you.” (I Peter 5:7) When you are in bad situations, tell the Lord about it and let Him handle it.

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Bethlehem – The home of Ruth and Boaz, the city of David, the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

Bethlehem-Judah

Bethlehem-Judah is a town in Palestine, about five miles south of Jerusalem, at an elevation of about 2550 feet above mean sea level. The town overlooks the highway to Hebron and Egypt.

The name Bethlehem probably means house of bread or granary, so it was used of various places. The name draws attention to the fertility of the region.

There are other towns named Bethlehem in Israel, the most notable other one being in the north, toward the coast, in the territory allotted to Zebulun.

The town was also called Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Bethlehem of Judea (Matt. 2:1) and the city of David (Luke 2:4)

Jacob was buried Rachel near Bethlehem. In those days the town was called Ephrath. See Gen. 35:19; 48:7. The names are sometimes combined in the Bible.

After the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, Bethlehem became part of the land allotted to Judah (Judges 17:7).

David was born in Bethlehem. He was anointed in Bethlehem by Samuel, after God had chosen him as king. David’s three heroes (2 Sam. 23:15 ff) brought him water from the well at Bethlehem. The well now existing on the north side of the village is thought to be the same well.

Bethlehem-Judah was the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The male children of this region were slain by Herod, who had ordered that all males under the age of two were to be killed. Matthew 2:13-18

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Grace – A thorough treatment of the most important doctrine of the Christian life. The work of God and the Plan of God are completely based on Grace

Introduction

God the Father always thinks grace. Whether He is dealing with nations or individuals, whether he is exercising His divine justice, wrath, love, or mercy, in whatever dispensation or time frame, at all times and in all circumstances, the grace of God influences His thoughts and actions.

The absolute righteousness and justice of God the Father demand perfection in us. But we are “sinners, condemned, unclean.” The Father’s perfect justice demands a just penalty for sin – “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

But the Father, in His love for us, seeing that we could not meet His standards, sent His Son to bear our penalty so that we “might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21) Righteousness was imputed to us on the sole condition of our faith in Jesus Christ, just as “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6)

God the Father is now able to look upon us as righteous. And He is able to express His love for us in countless ways during our lifetime. The word “grace” is used to refer to God’s giving to us out of His love for us, a giving that is unrestricted because our former condemnation has been removed, our penalty has been paid, God’s righteousness and justice have been satisfied, and we are “in Christ” and share the love that the Father has for His own son.

Mastery of the Bible’s teaching about grace is the most important goal of the Christian way of life. Your productivity as a believer, your ability to function effectively as member of your local church, your effectiveness in the use of your spiritual gifts in reaching out to others are all absolutely dependent on how well you understand and use grace principles. The following are some of the reasons why the subject of grace is so important to every Christian:

  • Grace is the most important single concept in the Bible. Salvation is “by grace through faith”, and the Christian way of life functions entirely on grace principles.
  • Grace provides the foundational structure for all Bible study. Eph. 2
  • Knowledge of grace principles gives believers great knowledge and confidence in God’s plan, His provisions and His* blessings.
  • The doctrine of grace gives believers confidence in witnessing and teaching, both for evangelism and the Christian way of life. Grace gives Christians insight into the workings of society and God’s actual intentions regarding the future.
  • Grace convinces believers that human righteousness is completely out of the picture.
  • Through grace, believers become “conduits of grace” to society. Families become grace families; churches become grace churches, centers of grace influence.

The goal of this study, then, is to learn how God thinks and how we can have “divine viewpoint” in our own thinking. With Jesus Christ as the “chief cornerstone”, we develop the “foundation” of the doctrine of grace, from the “apostles and prophets” by studying the Bible vocabulary dealing with grace, by developing principles of the doctrine of grace, and by illustration and application.

Etymology: Bible Vocabulary Related to Grace

This study contains a thorough review of all words in the Bible which are related to the topic of grace. The context of each verse was studied, especially considering it with respect to etymology, doctrine, and application. Word study and doctrinal source materials include the following:

  • Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
  • Moulton and Milligan: The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament
  • Kittel’s Greek Lexicon
  • Various references to the Greek of the Septuagint
  • Chafer, L.S.: Systematic Theology
  • Books and Tapes by R. B. Thieme and Chester McCalley

The Grace vocabulary of the Bible begins with the Greek word (chara), “joy; gladness”. This word was widely used to express the idea of a joyous response to something good; it sometimes meant “festival” or “wedding”. And (chara) was widely used as a proper name, just as many girls today are named “Grace.”!

In the Oxyrhyncus Papyrii [P Oxy VIII, 1162], a Christian man’s personal letter included the greeting, “Leon, elder, to the elders and deacons, beloved brothers in the Lord, fullness of joy (chara).” The word (chara) is used in the following Bible passages:

  • Matt. 2:10.When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy (chara).”
  • Matt. 5:12.Rejoice and be exceeding glad (chara): for great is your reward in heaven…
  • Matt. 13:44.Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hid in a field; when a man has found it, he hides, and for joy (chara) thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
  • Matt. 18:13 describes the Lord’s joy (chara) at finding the lost sheep.
  • Matt. 25:21, 23.His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter into the joy (chara) of thy lord.

We begin to see the relationship between joy and that which causes joy, namely, the favor and bounty which we receive from the Lord.

  • Luke 2:10. .Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy (chara), which shall be to all people.” This emphasizes the idea of CHARA as an occasion of rejoicing.
  • Phil. 4:1.Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy (chara) and crown, so stand fast in the Lord**…
  • 1 Thess. 2:19, 20.For what is our hope, or joy (chara), or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his Coming? For ye are our glory and hope.

Related words are the verb (chairo), “to rejoice; to be glad; to be joyful” and the word , (chaire), used as a greeting “Hail! or Health!” upon meeting or separating and used widely as a salutation or closing of letters.

  • Acts 15:23.And they wrote letters by them after this manner: The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting (chairo) unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
  • Matt. 26:49.Judas…came to Jesus and said, HAIL, master; and kissed him.
  • Matt. 27:29.HAIL, King of the Jews…” was shouted in derision at Christ before His crucifixion.
  • Luke 1:28, “HAIL, Mary, highly favored…” was the greeting of the angel to Mary. Note: the verses does not say “full of grace”. Mary was a recipient of grace, not the source of grace!

A curious use of chairo is seen in 2 John 10,11, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed (chairo): for he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” That is, we are to offer no joy to false teachers.

The verb Greek letters (charidzomai) is used several ways in the Bible. It means “to gratify; to bestow in kindness; to grant as a free favor.” In each of the Bible passages below, try to determine what it is that shows the Lord’s grace mental attitude.

  • Luke 7:21.And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave (charidzomai) sight.
  • Rom. 8:32.He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Charidzomai also has the meaning of “to remit; to forgive”.

  • Luke 7:42. “_ A creditor had two debtors…And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave (charidzomai) them both…_”
  • 2 Cor 2:7,10.To whom you forgive anything, I also: for if I forgave (charidzomai) any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes I forgave it in the person of Christ.

Application: Forgiveness

The word “forgive” is a Grace word, in the English as well as in the Greek (charidzomai). An early meaning in English was “to give or to grant”. Then, forgive came to mean “to remit a debt; to give up resentment or claim for requital; to pardon an offense.”

All of us are debtors to others, to society as a whole. And we often feel that people owe us many things in our human relationships. We feel we are owed courtesy and consideration. Sometimes we think that we are owed reward or status or promotion in some enterprise, or on the job. We are certainly owed fair treatment, justice, restitution and many other things.

But, many people in America are spiritually, ethically, and morally bankrupt. They simply cannot pay society what they owe! They are thoughtless, selfish, ungracious. What should a Christian do about all of the debts owed to him. Answer:forgive them, as Christ forgave you.

A Christian who practices Grace thinking (divine viewpoint) will become a forgiving person. To forgive means “to give up a claim; to cease bearing resentment”.

The rich man in Luke 7 was able to forgive the two debtors because he was prosperous. He gave to them out of his prosperity. A person can only give to others out of what God has already provided in the way of prosperity. In terms of money, the principle is “Let him that stole, steal no more; rather, let him labor, doing with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

As a growing Christian, you have many other kinds of prosperity, by the Grace of God. You have intellectual prosperity (divine viewpoint). You have spiritual prosperity (peace with God). You have emotional prosperity (relaxed mental attitude). You have financial prosperity (mastery of details of life). You have social prosperity (stable marriage, stable family life, etc.).

Wherever in your life you find that someone else owes you something, you have the wherewithal to forgive him! God has forgiven all of us who are absolutely without resources of our own. And He is not expecting or demanding some kind of payment in return for His grace gifts. And we are to be channels of grace to the world. “Out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37)

Another grace word is the (Greek) noun (charisma), “a free gift; a benefit; a spiritual gift.” An interesting use is seen in Romans 1:11, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift (charisma), to the end you may be established.” This is not a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit, but a spiritual benefit which Paul wished to share with the Roman Christians. [ For the uses of charisma as “spiritual gift”, see 1 Cor. 12:4,9,28,30,30 and Romans 12. ]

  • Rom. 6:23.For the wages of sin is death, but the gift (charisma) of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

But how did this happen? How can God give such a gift to us?

  • Rom. 5:15.But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

To comprehend this fully, you must study the context. The complete context of Romans 5:15 ranges from Romans 2:1 to 6:2 (at least)!

A very important grace word is the Greek (charis), which has a variety of translations in the New Testament, including “favor; pleasure; gift; benefit; liberality; and gratitude” as illustrated in the following Scriptures.

  • Luke 1:30.And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor (charis) with God.
  • Luke 2:52.And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor (charis) with God and man.

Acts 24:27 and 25:9 use (charis) with respect to pleasure.

  • 2 Cor. 8:4.Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift (charis), and take upon us the fellowship of ministering to the saints.
  • 2 Cor. 1:14,15.As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are out’s in the day of the Lord Jesus. And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit (charis).”

This usage emphasizes that the benefit, or gift, is the effect of the gracious disposition of the benefactor.

  • 1 Cor. 16:3.And when I come, whomever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring you liberality (charis) to Jerusalem.

It is in the idea of gratitude, as the response of the one who receives a grace benefit, that we begin to see the means by which God causes the correct response in people. A free gift brings a joyous, thankful response.

  • Rom. 6:17.But God be thanked (charis) [that is, ‘grace to God’] that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you.
  • 2 Cor. 1:14.(as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also [are] ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.

See also 2 Cor. 8:16 and 2 Cor. 9:15.

  • 1 Tim. 1:12.And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
  • 1 Pet. 2:18 to 20.Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unreasonable. For this is thankworthy (charis), if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when you are buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? But if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable (charis) with God.
  • Read also Luke 6:32 to 36\

Other common Greek words for gratitude or thankfulness are (eucharistia) and (eucharistos), which are derived fromcharis as well. There are very few examples of these in the papyrii, but there is a copy of a letter written by the Emperor Claudius expressing his gratification at games performed in his honor.

The Latin word gratia is brought into the English in the words “grateful” and “gratitude), etc. The Greek eucharistia is brought into the English in “Eucharist”, still used, but mainly by the high church, to refer to the Lord’s Supper or Communion service. In modern English, the connotation of grace is barely visible in “Eucharist.”

Thanksgiving is the expression of joy towards God by a person who has been the recipient of God’s grace. The mature Christian gratitude, therefore, is a part of the joy that is the fruit of the Spirit; thus it increases with edification.

  • Col. 2:7. :Rooted and built up in Him, and established in your faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving (eucharistia).
  • 2 Cor. 4:14, 15.Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving (eucharistia) of many rebound to the glory of God.
  • 1 Thess. 3:9.For what thanks (eucharistia) can we render to God again for you, for all the joy(chara) wherewith we joy (chairo) for your sakes before God.

Grace on the part of the giver; gratitude on the part of the receiver – an illustration of the doctrine of reciprocal grace.

Read 2 Cor. 9:10 to 12.

Eph. 5:4.Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate, but rather, giving of thanks (eucharistia).

This leads us to a discussion of the Greek word (eucharisteo), a verb which has the basic meaning of “to give thanks.”

From the early Greek eucharisteo meant “to do a good turn to” or “to oblige”, as in the Flinders Petrie Papyrii, “by doing this you will oblige (eucharisteo) us”, or in Grenfell and Hunt on the Hibeh Papyrii, “so that you shall not oblige me to no purpose.”

In later Greek, this passed easily into the meaning of being grateful, or for giving thanks for something received. So in [P Oxy I (AD 303)], “so I shall be enabled to recover my property and acknowledge my gratitude (eucharisteo) to your excellency.”

Paul gives thanks (eucharisteo) for his readers in his greetings of Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. He gives thanks in Phil. 1:3 for fellowship shared with him. And he gives thanks in 1 Cor. 1:4 for God’s gifts to the Christians.

This word is used by Paul to remind believers to give thanks. “Giving thanks (eucharisteo) always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20)

The word is used negatively in referring to the unthankful heathen. “Neither were thankful, but became vain in the their imaginations…”, (Rom. 1:21).

God’s Operating Principle

  • Ephesians 2:4-7 discusses grace as God’s operating principle. Verse 4 starts with certain facts on God’s side. God is the possessor of infinite resources; He is “rich in mercy”, and He has “great love”. Man, on the other hand, is described as “dead.” Man has the deepest need; God has the greatest resources. And God has a plan for linking our need to His resources (Eph. 2:5).
  • Romans 4:4 states plainly that grace is the opposite of a merit plan. Two principles of operation are stated here, a “debt” principle and a “grace” principle. In a “debt” plan, reward is given in return for effort of some kind. A “grace” principle is one in which reward is given on the basis of the merits of another, Jesus Christ. The two principles are mutually exclusive; they cannot be combined or mixed.
  • Romans 6:16-23 points out the contrast between “wages” and the gift principle.
  • Romans 4:13-16 explains that if the Law (debt principle) will make us heirs, then faith (grace principle) “is made void.” This allows for no compromise. Verse 16 says “It is of faith that it might be by grace.” Faith is the only action on man’s part that can appropriate blessing without ruining the grace principle. Satan is always eager to add something to faith, because that would ruin grace and negate divine blessing.
  • Romans 3:23-31 shows that, while in grace salvation is free, yet the Law is established and upheld.

So “grace” is the word used in the Bible to refer to all that God is free to do for mankind because of the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for sins, the work done for us on the cross. Grace means that God has done the work and God receives the “credit”, the glory. Man, who is unable to produce acceptable works, receives the free benefits of God’s work. Grace means that man has received from God that which he has not earned or deserved; because nothing that we are and nothing that we have is sufficient to qualify us for any of what the Lord gives to us or does for us.

Grace, or graciousness, is the most outstanding quality of the mature believer in Christ. The new believer has “tasted grace”. As he grows in Christ, he learns to “think grace” (outward) rather than thinking pride (inward). He thinks grace in time of doubt, in time of poverty, in time of prosperity, in suffering and pressure, and even in persecution.

The advanced Christian is gracious, forgiving, unassuming. He is uplifting, not depressing. Out of his innermost being flow rivers of living water; he is a conduit that brings grace to a thirsty world.

Categories of Grace

In the following paragraphs, the subject of grace is discussed under four headings.

  1. Common Grace, or Grace which is common to all mankind, saved or unsaved, such as the rain which falls on the just and unjust.
  2. Saving Grace, the “gift of God, lest any man should boast”, namely, grace applied to the lost sinner.
  3. Living Grace, the provision of God the Father for the needs of the believer for the rest of his lifetime. God provides everything that is needed for a prosperous, happy life for any believer who has “tasted grace” and avails himself of “more grace”.
  4. Surpassing Grace, the Grace of God in eternity; what we will receive from God because of salvation; what we will receive from God as crowns or rewards to be laid at the feet of Christ.

Common Grace

Every human being is born under the complete watchfulness of God. God provides each person with an awareness of the existence of God and with a bona fide opportunity to exercise a choice with respect to God.

In grace, God has provided many blessings common to all people, whether they are Christians or not. It rains on the just and unjust alike; and Bible history shows us that material prosperity is often given to unbelievers as a demonstration of God’s grace to all people. Matt. 5:43-48

God has provided divine institutions for the protection and preservation of the human race, and everyone profits from this. The Lord intends that people live under conditions of freedom and morality.

The institution of volition makes it possible, among other things, for everyone to have a free will choice in all spiritual matters. The institutions of marriage and family provide for the orderly preservation of the human race and the growth of families in a protected, nurturing environment. The institution of nations gives a simple structure to society so that personal freedom and individual morality are preserved. The topical notes on divine institutions provide more information on this subject.

God the Father provides gospel information to any person who shows any positive inclination toward Him when the individual become conscious of God. And God the Holy Spirit makes the gospel clear to the unbeliever so that he can accept Christ if he wants to.

Acts 17:26, 27; John 7:16, 17

Meanwhile, by grace God withholds His judgment and wrath from mankind. He is long suffering, giving everyone ample opportunity to repent or change his mental attitude toward Christ. 2 Peter 3:9

Saving Grace

The term “saving grace” covers the categories of doctrines which deal with all that Christ did for us on the cross. The general topic of saving grace includes salvation and all of the teaching regarding positional truth, the dozens of things God does for believers at the moment of salvation. Read the notes entitled salvation doctrines for a complete listing of these topics.

You can get an appreciation for the extent of what the believer receives at salvation, by reading Ephesians 1. In just the first few verses you have the following blessings:

1:2 “Grace to you and peace…”

1:3 “all spiritual blessings in Christ”

1:4 “chosen in Him” and “without blame before Him”

1:5 We are adopted by Christ.

1:6 We are accepted in the beloved.

1:7 We are redeemed and forgiven.

1:8 God’s wisdom and prudence are available.

1:9 God’s will is made known.

Romans 3:24 says that justification offered on the grace principle is “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Grace can be extended freely to us because of the price paid by Jesus Christ. The cost of salvation was the death of Christ on the cross.

Grace is the only way that God could save man and still be consistent with His perfect character. Acts 4:12 The grace basis for salvation is seen in the following verses:

Eph. 2:8, 9

Psalm 103:8-12

Rom. 3:23, 24; 4:4; 5:20

2 Cor. 8:9

Heb. 2:9

Titus 2:11; 3:7

Living Grace

Every Christian has experienced grace at least once in his lifetime. He has “tasted grace.” 1 Pet. 2:2,3. The believer is said to be a child of God, no longer an enemy. Christ did the most for His enemies by bearing our sins when He died on the cross. Since he did the most for us when we were His enemies, how much will He do for us now that we are His own children. The answer “much more than the most”. Grace is the concept of a life in which God gives us the most then gives us much more than the most.

Rom. 5:9-17; 8:32; 11:12

Heb. 9:14

Once having tasted grace, the believer can go on to have all of the grace he wants. To obtain all the blessings that God provides, a Christian must exercise his free will by choosing the things of God. The most important thing is the believer’s attitude toward the Word of God. The Lord provides believers with the capacity to grow and be effective so that they can glorify God in this lifetime. In fact, the Christian is commanded to grow in grace, 2 Pet. 3:18.

Very little knowledge is required to accept Christ as Savior. But extensive knowledge is required during the believer’s remaining lifetime in order to profit from grace. Every facet of a Christian’s life requires an applied understanding of the Word and orientation to the grace of God.

God’s grace is always available for the believer. In fact, the Lord waits to pour out His grace to us, Isa. 30:18–19.

Grace is sufficient for every problem.

Grace is greater than sin, Rom. 5:20.

Grace is greater than suffering, 2 Cor. 12:9, 10.

Grace is greater than Satan, James 4:6, 7.

A special provision of grace is dying grace, for the Christian who is in the dying stage of life, whether that stage lasts two hours or two years, Psalm 23:4. Dying grace enables the believer to enjoy dying even though he might be having great physical pain.

A Christian who neglects God’s Word creates a vacuum in his own spirit, that part of him which can understand and assimilate Bible truth. Into this vacuum will come false teaching, religion, legalism, and Satanic doctrines which further distort his orientation to the plan of God. Eph. 4:17 and following. Therefore, failure to participate in the plan of God is the believer’s greatest occupational hazard. Heb. 12:15; Gal. 5:4.

The following are some examples of God’s grace provision for the Christian life:

Surpassing Grace

Surpassing grace includes all that God is free to do for the believer in eternity. This grace is based primarily on the Christian’s relationship to Jesus Christ. In addition, the believer receives rewards and crowns in heaven, which are a part of grace provision. Study the following Bible passages:

Eph. 2:7; John 14:13

1 Cor. 9:25; Phil. 4:1

1 Thess. 2:19; 4:13-17

2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12

1 Pet. 1:3, 4; 5:12

2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:4

DISTORTIONS OF GRACE

As you can well imagine, Satan’s main personal task on this earth is to distort what the Bible teaches about grace. There are two basic ways to distort or pervert the idea of grace (taking it to mean or imply something that it does not).

First, grace is sometimes taken to mean that is permissible to sin. Thus, grace is used as an excuse for licentiousness, emphasizing overt sins. This is always condemned by the Word of God. Rom. 6:1, 2; 1 John 1:9 to 2:1; Jude 4.

Then, grace is sometimes taken as permission to be lazy, especially to skip Bible study. This emphasizes sins of omission. But this idea violates all of the Bible’s commands to study, to be diligent, to be oriented to grace. Heb. 6:11, 12; 2 Pet. 1:5, 10; 1 Cor. 15:10

The greatest enemy of grace is legalism. Grace and legalism are mutually exclusive, **Rom. 11:6.**Grace means that God does the “work” and receives the glory (credit) for it. Legalism means that man does the work and receives the credit. Notes are available on the doctrine of legalism.

Grace depends solely on the character of God and entirely excludes human ability, human merit, human achievement, etc. Legalism, however, depends on human activity and ability.

Grace and legalism have opposite emphasis. Grace emphasizes what God does in the soul of man, free of charge. The production and blessings in the Christian’s life are byproducts of what is first provided by God without cost. Legalism excludes the mental attitude and emphasizes overt activity for the purpose of gaining credit with God and impressing men.

Legalism hinders a person from accepting Christ as Savior, Gal. 2:21.

Legalism neutralizes the believer in the Christian way of life, Gal. 5:2 to 4.

God is perfect, and His plan is perfect. Man’s work is excluded from the plan of God because man is imperfect. If man were permitted to make a contribution to the plan of God, the plan would no longer be perfect; it would be no stronger than its weakest link. Grace eliminates all considerations of human merit.

Grace, then, in the antithesis of human arrogance. An awareness of the full meaning of grace is a giant step toward true humility. Four types of pride are noted in those who are not oriented to Grace:

  • There is pride on the part of the believer who rejects the eternal security of grace. He thinks his sins are greater than the plan of God. He thinks that grace is not sufficient.
  • There is pride in the believer who falls apart during suffering. He thinks that his pressures and adversities are greater than the provision and protection of God.
  • There is pride in the believer who enters into a life of false spirituality through legalism or religion. He thinks his personal works impress God and are greater than His plan.
  • There is pride in the emotional believer who thinks feelings and emotions are greater and more real than the Word of God or the grace of God.

HOW TO GROW IN GRACE

Victory over the Sin of Pride

As we have seen, one of the greatest enemies of Grace is native human pride, one of the greatest evils since the fall of man. It is the worst of the mental attitude sins because it amounts to blasphemy. “I will be my own God.” Remember the times that Satan said “I will…” Grace opposes human pride in every way.

There is great pressure toward arrogance in the United States. Our country has a successful, affluent society with many opportunities for achievement and rewards, from childhood on. Status and upward mobility are available to everyone, and it’s easy to get the big head, to think that we have accomplished something, to have the “self made man complex.” Victory over this very subtle and devastating mental attitude sin requires a thorough understanding of the doctrine of grace.

The first step in victory over pride (and growth in grace thinking) is to be aware that pride is part of everyone’s sin nature. No one starts out thinking grace!!

The second step is to pray for victory here and to ask the Lord for wisdom in the matter.

The third step is to confess sinful pride when you recognize it in yourself.

There are many symptoms of pride. Indignation at another person’s behavior, mistakes, shortcomings, lack of discipline, or failure to measure up is an indicator of self-righteousness, whose basis is pride. “Well, I never…” these are key pride words. Romans 2:13 commands that we should not judge others as if we ourselves had no areas of weakness. Self-promotion and the demotion of other people is pride, it is the failure to think grace.

Another symptom of pride is lack of forgiveness, the holding of grudges. Pride prevents a forgiving attitude. How many marriages break up because of this? How many people would be happy on the job instead of miserable if they could just forgive the boss or a fellow worker for doing something dumb? Everybody does dumb things, but failure to forgive is pride. Other indicators of pride are complaining, griping, maligning and gossiping. Most of the sins of the tongue have their roots in pride.

When you see sinful pride in yourself, confess it! If you see it in others, pray!

The fourth step toward progress in grace thinking is to “grow in grace”; actually this is the first and last step toward maturity. Grace thinking overcomes pride, and the symptoms of sinful pride will start to disappear. A person who was at first totally filled with himself will find that as he grows in Christ the symptoms will show up only under extreme pressure. At that time, they will be recognized and dealt with immediately to minimize the ill effects on himself and others.

Grace Orientation

The first step in grace orientation is understanding the grace of God, the purpose of this study. The second step is to appropriate the grace of God through the use the techniques of Christian living seen in the following sections. Each of the techniques described briefly below has a complete discussion in the Bible Notes Library studies relating to each topic.

Confession of Sin

Personal sin leads the believer away from the Christian way of life. You must deal with sin on a daily basis by confessing and moving forward. If you don’t do this, sin becomes a burden which clouds your joy, drains your spiritual energy, and destroys your productivity and vitality. The result will be that you will seek provision for your needs and desires outside of God’s grace provision.

In privacy, make a list of mental attitude sins, verbal sins, and behavior sins which bother you the most. Ask the Lord to make you aware of the habits of your own life. Respond immediately to the Holy Spirit when He uses the Word to spotlight your sin. Name the sin to God; then rejoice in forgiveness and cleansing and your renewed fellowship with God.

All the promises and provisions of God the Father are now available to you. Make it a spiritual habit to confess sins whenever they show up in your life and you will have continuous and immediate access to everything that grace provides.

The Faith Rest Life

Faith rest is the believing of the promises of God and then entering into the “rest” phase of Christian living by claiming and enjoying those promises. Therefore, you must search the Scriptures daily to remind yourself of promises and to learn new ones.

You must know who and what God is so that you will not hesitate to believe that He can do what He has promised to do. Study the attributes of God using verses about the essence of God. Know Him as He reveals Himself in the Bible. Believe Him when He tells you what He will do for you. Count on it. Let your faith rest on it. Cast your burden on the Lord. Everything you learn about grace will encourage and strengthen you.

Occupation with Christ

The technique of occupation with Christ keeps your mind on grace because it gets your eyes off yourself, your spouse, your children, your neighbors and your friends. Instead, as you move through the day, you are thinking about the Lord Jesus Christ, His plan for your life, the Father’s provision for each incident in your life, and His provision of wisdom for each decision you must make. Occupation with Christ is a by-product of the faith rest life. Disorientation to grace is a by-product of occupation with self, with life, with problems.

Living in the Word

By living in the Word you are constantly reminded of God’s viewpoint, of His plan, of His provision, or His awareness of our spirit of heaviness and what He want to accomplish in us with the testing. Living in the Word gradually transplants you to a new sphere, a new environment for your life, in which there is victory through grace.

The Filling of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit fills you and controls your life when you have no unconfessed sin in your life. You can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal sin to you when you commit it, or even before. When the Holy Spirit in control, He produces his fruit (Gal. 5:22), the product of graciousness which is such a blessing to others.

Agape love is a great grace benefit. There is joy in living in grace. Peace does not coexist with disorientation to grace. Longsuffering gives the ability to wait for God’s grace provision. Gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance are fruits of righteousness, which is divine good.

Orientation to Grace

Grace orientation gives the ability to look at people and see them as God sees them. It is the ability to let them live their lives as unto the Lord, and trusting God to make His way clear to them. This technique lets people make mistakes without your judging them. It enables you to accept criticism without hurt or bitterness. It enables you to “esteem other better than yourself”, to “do nothing through strife or vainglory.” You will be a “conduit of grace.”

Mastery of the Details of Life

We are all involved with details of life. Either we master them, or they master us! If you are a slave to one or more details of life, your thoughts are devoted to them, and they drive you. They dominate your thinking, your conversation, your decisions. Slavery to the details of life leads to a search for happiness through the non-grace provision of the world and Satan.

Mastery of the details of life means that you look to the Lord for every detail. Your happiness does not depend on people, circumstances or things. You have the peace of God that passes understanding. You have learned to be content under any circumstances. You can wait for the Lord’s timing in providing the details you want; you can enjoy them when you have them; and you can stay happy when the Lord sees fit not to provide some detail.

Relaxed Mental Attitude

A relaxed mental attitude is based on knowing God and on having divine production in the soul that comes with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. A relaxed mental attitude is one of the results of living in the Word, practicing the faith rest life, and being occupied with Christ.

Capacity to Love

There may be many disturbing details that surround our relationships with other people or the circumstances of our lives. Love deals with that depression by giving us the capacity to have a Spirit produced love for God (1 Cor. 16:22); for spouse (Titus 2:4) and for others (Rom. 12:13). This is only one of the marvelous products of grace in the Christian’s life.

Inner Happiness

Inner happiness is not possible for the believer who is occupied with himself . Inner happiness is a state of rejoicing based on knowing that God is everything He claims to be and that He can and will do what He has promised. Inner happiness is the joy of living where every provision for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being is being made by God in the life of a Christian who is walking in daily fellowship with Him.

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