Grace AND Truth

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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

Good Enough For God? Luke 19:1-10

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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 Cor 2:6 – 3:9

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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?”

The Power and Wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5

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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

  • It is dismissed as foolishness.  1 Cor 1:18a, 19-21  
    QUESTION:  In what ways is the message about Jesus dismissed as foolishness?

  • 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?

 

The Call to Unity, 1 Corinthians 1:1-17

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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?

A Study Through 1st Corinthians

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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.

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"Last Days Living" 2 Thessalonians 3:1-17

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“Last Days Living”
2nd Thessalonians 3:1-18

QUESTION:  What examples can you describe of people who are hard workers?  Why would you call them that?

1.  In these last days we are meant to be people of prayer.  2 Thess 3:1-2
This includes:

A. Praying for our spiritual leaders. 2 Thess 3:1

B. Praying for the rapid advance and acceptance of the Gospel. 2 Thess 3:1

C.  Praying for those who advance the Gospel to be rescued from the schemes and opposition of those who are controlled by evil. 2 Thess 3:2

  • Evil exists.  Evil people exist.

             QUESTION: What causes people to be controlled by evil?

  • We overcome evil with good. We overcome evil through prayer.

             QUESTION: How does good overcome evil?  How does prayer overcome evil?

2.  In these last days, we are meant to trust in the Lord’s strength.  2 Thess 3:3-5
QUESTION: Where do you need the Lord’s strength the most right now?

A. The Lord is faithful, at all times.  He has overcome the enemy and will be our guard.  2 Thess 3:3

B. With the Lord as our strength, we can step into faithful action and obedience. 2 Thess 3:4

C. It is the Lord who gives us both the revelation of, and the ability to express, the Father’s love with patient endurance. 2 Thess 3:5

3.  In these last days, we are meant to be engaged in the work God has for us. 2 Thess 3:6-15
    QUESTION: What is the specific work that God has for you in this season?

A. Our faith in Christ is meant to be experienced in community; we are influenced and affected by those with whom we spend time.  2 Thess 3:6

B. As followers of Christ, we are meant to be known by our willingness and determination to work hard. 2 Thess 3:7-10

C. When we are not given to the diligent work of the Kingdom or the on-going work of living, we can all too easily get caught up in unimportant side issues and situations that are really none of our business. 2 Thess 3:11-12
    QUESTION: What are some examples of this?

D.  In order to be about the Father’s business, we must disassociate from those who want the benefits of the Kingdom but refuse the responsibilities, in hopes that we will shake our brothers and sisters from their apathy.

  • We must lead by our “hard work” example. 2 Thess 3:13
  • Even when others believers refuse to join us, we must regard them as family and act responsibly, being sure not to enable their idleness. 2 Thess 3:14-15

4.  As these last days unfold, the Lord wants to fill us with His peace, His presence and His grace.  2 Thess 3:16-18

A.  His peace brings us a sense of wholeness and contentment.

B.  His presence brings us a sense of joy and belonging.

C.  His grace assures us of the enablement to become and do all that He has intended for us.

"The Day of the Lord," 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

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“The Day of the Lord”
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-17

 
QUESTION: What do we know about the return of Christ?  How might that come about?

1.  We are meant to understand the unfolding of these last day times as we anticipate the return of Christ, standing confident in His goodness and giving no place to fear. 2 Thess 2:1-12
    QUESTION:  In what ways have you perhaps witnessed a spirit of fear associated with discussions of end times?

A. There is a Day coming when we will be gathered to the Lord.  2 Thess 2:1

B. As that Day approaches, we are not to fear terrible persecutions or the idea that we have somehow entered into the Great Tribulation. 2 Thess 2:2

  • The believers have already received a promise of rest from current persecutions, not an increase. 2 Thess 1:7
  • Though it is true that there are persecutions in this life, God does not intend for His followers to experience the terrible calamities of the Great Tribulation. 1 Thess 5:9

C.  The Day of the Lord will correspond with other simultaneous events. 2 Thess 2:3-5

  • There will be a great rebellion against God.
  • The “man of lawlessness” will be revealed.  Revelation 13, Revelation 17 ???
  • Someone who is determined to exalt himself over God.
  • He will usurp the place of God in the Jewish Temple.

D. The revealing of the “man of lawlessness” is something that is currently being held back and deliberately delayed until its appointed time.  2 Thess 2:6-8

  • There is a lawlessness that is at work in the world, but it’s not operating at full strength, neither has the author of it been made plain.  2 Thess 2:7
  • When the “man of lawlessness” is revealed, Jesus shall effectively deal with him! 2 Thess 2:8

E.  The “man of lawlessness” will be a tool of Satan, steeped in demonic power and false miracles. 2 Thess 2:9-12

  • Signs and wonders can deceive those not rooted in the Truth, and especially those who have already chosen to reject the Truth. 2 Thess 2:10
  • All who reject God and the Gospel are prone to believe delusions and falsehood. 2 Thess 2:11-12

2.  Despite the terrible delusions and lawlessness coming to the world, God will save those who love the Truth. 2 Thess 2:13-17

A. The Spirit of God is cleansing and perfecting us as we cling to the Truth. 2 Thess 2:13

B. The Lord called us to Himself through the proclamation of the Gospel.  2 Thess 2:14

C. Not swayed by the things we see and the dire circumstances around us, we are meant to stand strong, holding fast to the teaching of the scripture.  2 Thess 2:15

D. God the Father and the Lord Jesus together impart encouragement, hope and strength for living, enabling us to overcome as the Day of the Lord approaches.  2 Thess 2:16-17

QUESTION: What is the state of your heart today?  Do you feel encouraged?  Are you in need of strength?

"The Honorable Life" 2 Thess 1:1-12

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“The Honorable Life”
2nd Thessalonians 1:1-12

 
QUESTION:   What is something that you can do better today than you could long ago?  What has made the difference?  Are you still growing in that area?  How so?

1.  We are meant to rejoice and give thanks for how the Lord works in the lives of our fellow believers. 2nd Thess 1:1-3

A. Walking in faith is not about an arrival point, but something we are meant to grow in more and more.
QUESTION:  What is faith?  How do we grow in faith?

NOTE:  Spiritual maturity is about growth.  Here at HCF, we are looking to become more and more Adorational, Relational and Missional.  QUESTION:  What do each of these terms mean?

B.  Just as faith is meant to grow, so too our love for one another is to be ever increasing.
QUESTION:  What does it take for people to increase in their love for one another?  How can we pursue this?

2.  The Lord is looking to honor people who will endure in the midst of difficulty and opposition. 2nd Thess 1:4-7

A. Character is proven in times of testing. 
QUESTION: How do we tend to respond in times of testing?  How can we better endure?

B. Although difficult to experience in the moment, God works in the midst of persecution to accomplish His purposes.
QUESTION: Why do you think God allows us to experience seasons of persecution and difficulty?

C. Rather than grumble or lose heart during seasons of persecution, we can trust that God takes note and exercises His justice in His time.

  • He will deal with all who oppose Him and His work in us in due season.
  • He will pour out rest and relief to all who choose to trust Him and persevere.

QUESTION: How do we generally act when we’ve been mistreated?  How can we learn to trust God in those situations?

3.  When Christ returns, He will exercise His authority and judgment over all people. 2nd Thess 1:7-10

A. All who don’t know God and who have refused to obey the Gospel will experience the terrible consequence of being forever separated from the Lord with all the destruction that separation brings.

B. Among those who belong to Him (those who have believed and actively embraced the Gospel), the Lord will receive praise and honor as we marvel before Him.
QUESTION:  What does it mean to “marvel” (NIV) at the Lord?  In what ways do we marvel at Him already?

4.  In light of the Lord’s return, we are to live worthy of the call to belong to Him.  2nd Thess 1:11-12

A. Living worthy of His call is not about our strength, our ability, or our will-power.  It is about living surrendered to Him and embracing the power and grace that He offers us.

B. How we live matters…and God works in us to enable us to live in such a way as to bring Him honor.
QUESTION: What would you say to the believer who feels that he or she constantly struggles, who believes that God is not honored by their life?