I have been meditating on the concepts of grace AND truth vs. the Law the past couple of days. With those thoughts in mind, I made the following post on Facebook:
“God’s love and justice are never in conflict. Neither is grace and truth. If you’ve taken sides, your perspective is skewed.”
In my experience, I have observed that some individuals, groups, and even whole churches tend to view “grace” and “truth” as if they are somehow opposites, like railroad tracks that are crossed instead of parallel, or signs that point in opposite directions.
Grace and truth both come from the Father. They will point in the same direction every time. If we perceive differently, then it is our perspective that has become warped. If we feel like there is a tension between the two, then it is we who have become mistaken in our thinking.
One of my pastor friends commented to my post, “Absolutely true Burt Campbell. Can you give us an example of “taking sides?”
I’ve opted to paste my response here to be able to access it again more easily in the future. Feel free to comment with your reflections!
Read the full post here: https://www.burtoncampbell.org/single-post/2017/05/02/Grace-AND-Truth
What if I told you there was a new life waiting for you? Would you be afraid to get your hopes up? Sometimes people find that life has brought them a series of let-downs, with one set back after another, and they come away fearful. No one likes to be disappointed, let alone risk the possibility of that pain being amplified through a repeat performance. Perhaps even worse is when that original pain has been self-inflicted through our own mistakes, wrong choices, and guilt. We settle for mere existence instead of true fulfillment, perhaps believing that is all we deserve, no longer holding out hope for a better day. We just look for ways to survive and forgot about what it means to truly live. God isn’t interested in leaving us in that state. He wants to heal us and set us free to experience the fullness of life.
Read more here: https://www.burtoncampbell.org/single-post/2017/04/09/Good-Enough-For-God-Luke-191-10
The Call To Go Deep
1 Corinthians 2:6-3:9
QUESTION: Has there ever been a time when you needed to learn a new skill or ability? How did you develop that? How did you measure your development? How have you grown in this area over time?
1. God has words of wisdom for those who would be mature. 1 Cor 2:6 Q: What doe it mean to be mature?
A. A mature believer mostly includes the idea of being someone who:
- Hears the Word. Q: How do we “hear” the Word? When do you “hear” the Word?
- Believes the Word. Q: What does believing the Word require of us?
- Lives the Word. Q: How can we help each other to “live” the Word?
- Presses in for more. Q: What does this concept look like in the life of a believer?
- Repents quickly. Q: What does this have to do with maturity in Christ?
- Is “others” minded. Q: Why might this factor into maturity?
NOTE: Being mature doesn’t mean being perfect, but rather being honest, saying “yes” to Jesus, getting back up when they fall, and changing over time by the grace of God.
B. The wisdom God wants to give out is only available to the mature. 1 Cor 2:7-16
- The message of God is a mystery. 1 Cor 2:7 Q: What does this mean?
- The wisdom of God cannot be understood with human thinking. 1 Cor 2:8 Q: Why not?
- What God wants to pour out is beyond what we can even imagine. 1 Cor 2:9 Q: What does this tell us about God?
- Those who will walk in humility before the Lord, yielding themselves to Him, can know God in all His fullness, with all mystery revealed. 1 Cor 2:10-12 Q: How do we know if we want this?
- Without a conscious decision to submit your life to Jesus, it is impossible to know the things of God. 1 Cor 2:13-16 Q: What does it mean to “submit yourself” to Jesus? What does this look like in your life?
2. Maturity in Christ is something that can be examined and measured. 1 Cor 3:1-9
QUESTION: Who does the measuring? Who gets measured?
A. One measuring stick is called lifestyle. 1 Cor 3:1-4 Q: In what ways do you see this?
- Control by the sinful nature is a barrier to maturity. 1 Cor 3:3a
- Envy and jealousy (improper comparisons to one another) are barriers to maturity. 1 Cor 3:3b
- The desire to place ourselves ahead of others is a barrier to maturity. 1 Cor 3:4
Q: In what ways do these things persist in the Church today? How can that change?
B. The second measuring stick is called servant hood. 1 Cor 3:5-9
- Mature believers will do what God has given them to do. They are glad to serve. 1 Cor 3:5
- Mature believers will not work to exalt themselves, only the work of God. 1 Cor 3:6-7
- Mature believers are committed to be part of the team God is putting together. 1 Cor 3:8-9
Q: What is the difference between an “individual” relationship with God and a “corporate” relationship with God?
Q: In what ways are you working to be part of the team that God is putting together here in this church?
FINAL THOUGHT: The mystery God wants to reveal is Jesus Himself. 1 Cor 1:24 The question is “Do we really want to know Him more?”
QUESTION: Can you identify at least one person who’s life has significantly influenced and altered your own?
1. In this journey of faith, amidst it’s various teachings and emphases, the one thing that matters most is the message about Jesus. 1 Cor 1:17
QUESTION: What is the message about Jesus? Why is it more important than anything else?
A. The message of the cross has one of three effects. 1 Cor 1:18-25
- A key to entering into Christian maturity is in choosing to go “out of your mind.” What does this mean? What does this not mean?
- God’s ways are always so much beyond our own. 1 Cor 1:19-21
- “Wise” man = One who can accomplish it all on his own by his own knowledge without God.
Scholar = The scribe or teacher of the law caught up in every technicality and detail.
Philosopher/Debater = One who works to dispute everything by human reasoning.
QUESTION: What examples of each can we find today? Are any of these positions intrinsically wrong? What is the problem here?
- God is not saying that human reasoning is of no value, but that God is not confined by it.
- It is declared offensive. 1 Cor 1:22-23
QUESTION: In what ways might the Gospel be seen as “offensive,” or a “stumbling block?”
- The cross presents us with a choice.
- We become trapped when we let sinful desires influence us into wrong thinking and poor choices.
- It is received as the power and wisdom of God. 1 Cor 1:18b, 24-25
- Belief in, and obedience to, the message about Jesus is the open door for life change. 1 Cor 1:21
- As believers in the message of Jesus, we have full access to God’s power and wisdom. 1 Cor 1:24
QUESTION: What does it mean to be a believer?
B. God is glorified as His power and wisdom is revealed in us. 1 Cor 1:26-2:5
- God is not looking for people who have it all together, but for those who will recognize that they need Him. 1 Cor 1:26-27
- God sees His potential in us, no matter how lowly or unimportant we might think we are. 1 Cor 1:28-29
- There is no limit to what God can and will do in and through those who will simply turn and yield themselves to Him. 1 Cor 1:30-31
- God doesn’t work only through our talent and skill, but also (and even mostly) through our weakness and humility when we center ourselves in the cross of Christ. 1 Cor 2:1-3
QUESTION: How do we do this?
- When the message and person of Jesus is kept at the core of our life, the Holy Spirit’s power is released to undeniably touch the lives of the people around us. 1 Cor 2:4-5
QUESTION: What kind of images come to mind when you think of powerful, successful or influential people? How might those pictures differ from the way of Christ? Can we visualize God using us to impact the people around us, even more than the “powerful” people of this world? Why might this be a difficult concept for some of us? What can we do about that?
Facts and History:
- The Romans destroyed the city in 146 B.C. Julius Caesar rebuilt it one hundred years later.
- It became the capital of the province of Achaia (Athens being the other major city).
- Corinth had two seaports and thus became a major commercial center.
- The city was filled with shrines and temples, the most prominent of which was the Temple of Aphrodite, situated on top of an 1800-foot fortified wall that extended into the harbor called the Acrocorinthus.
- The city thrived on commerce, entertainment, vice and corruption. People looking to have a break from morality would travel to Corinth.
- Approximately 700,000 people lived in Corinth, over two thirds of them slaves.
QUESTION: Has God ever worked through you in ways you found surprising? How so?
1. God does absolutely incredible things through regular people who completely submit themselves to Him. 1 Cor 1:1, 2 Chron 16:9, Acts 9, Acts 18)
A. Each of us has been called to be holy. 1 Cor 1:2 QUESTION: What does this mean?
B. God wants to give us His grace and His peace. 1 Cor 1:3
QUESTION: What is God’s grace? What does His peace look like?
2. The Lord is determined to bless and empower His people. 1 Cor 1:4
A. The Lord is generous with His gifts. 1 Cor 1: 4-7
B. The Lord has gifts for each of us as well as for the corporate body. 1 Cor 1:4-7
QUESTION: How has God gifted you? What gifts of His do you see in the others here tonight?
C. His purpose is to keep us strong and free from sin. 1 Cor 1:8
D. We can count on God to see us through as He perfects His character in us. 1 Cor 1:9
3. As God pours out gifts to His people, His hope is to work through a people who are united. 1 Cor 1:10-17
A. Unity requires that we let go of all petty arguments and divisions. 1 Cor 1:10
QUESTION: What arguments/issues tend to divide people in the Church? Why are they petty? What do we do with “big arguments?”
- The people of God must have the same mind, the same motives, and the same purpose. 1 Cor 1:10
- Divisions in the church take place when we hold on to agendas, ambitions and preferences more than we hold on to relationships, submission and service.
- Most arguments will disappear when we choose to die to self.
B. We, the Church, must remember that we are called to be both immoveable and yet completely flexible.
- Who we are called to be never changes. Q: Who are we called to be?
- What we are called to do in general never changes. Q: What are we called to do?
- What we are called to do in specific can change regularly. Q: What are the specific callings in your life right now?
- How things are done must change according to the direction and timing of the Holy Spirit. Q: How does the Holy Spirit speak to us? What is He saying in this season?
C. Keeping our eyes fixed on personalities or procedures will always lead to disagreement and sin. 1 Cor 1:11-16
Problems in the Corinthian Church included:
- Improper comparisons to one another.
- Focusing on knowledge, power and ego instead of love and service.
- Inventing lines of division instead of finding ways to embrace one another.
D. We must remember to keep the main thing the main thing. 1 Cor 1:17
QUESTION: What is the main thing? How are you doing with the main thing? What might your next step need to look like?
Recently, as we’ve been studying through the New Testament letters, we began to work through 1st Corinthians.
Below are links to the various outlines we have worked through. As we continue, additional outlines will be added here.
Locally, we’ve been studying through the New Testament letters on Wednesday nights.
Tonight, we will complete 2nd Thessalonians.
Here are the outlines from this particular study:
"The Honorable Life," 2 Thessalonians 1
"The Day of the Lord," 2 Thessalonians 2
"Last Days Living," 2 Thessalonians 3