admin on November 11th, 2016

The 58th Annual Malacca Bible Camp would be held from the 11th to the 17th of December 2016.

Online forms are available below

ONLINE Registration for Malacca Bible Camp 2016

admin on November 6th, 2016

19 November 2016

The assembly will be having spring cleaning on Saturday 19 November in preparation for the Bible Camp.

Come and join us to prepare The Hall welcome the campers.

admin on January 10th, 2016

THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK

Chapter 7 of the letter to the Hebrews is a passage of the utmost importance.
Its imagery and its format of argument seems strange making it difficult for us to understand.
Our difficulty arises because of the character of Melchizedek.
Abraham and Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Elijah are well known figures in the Old Testament, but so little is known to us of Melchizedek.

The writer of Hebrews used Melchizedek as a type of Christ.
This type of typology was familiar to the early believers – most of who were converted from Judaism.

Hebrews 5:1-10 commences with Christ as being designated by God to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Heb 5:6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Heb 5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

Chapter 6 ends with this profound statement that Christ had been made FOREVER after the order of Melchisedek.
Heb 6:20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

And now finally after a three fold introduction of Melchizedek, the writer devotes the whole of chapter 7 to deal in detail as a reminder to the early Hebrew Christians that now Christ has become THE High Priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek.
He does this to present the Hebrew Christians with the clear understanding of the SUPERIORITY of the priesthood of Christ in contrast to that of the Levitical priesthood of Aaron.

Let us examine how the concept – the order of Melchizedek develops:
The writer of Hebrews got this concept from 2 passages of the Old Testament:

Gen 14:17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Gen 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Psa 110:4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

In the Genesis account, the incident relates to Abraham when he returned victorious from a military encounter with the Canaanite kings. Fresh from the scene of victory and laden with all the battle spoils, Abraham is met by the King of Salem (Jerusalem) Melchizedek.
Melchizedek offered bread and wine to the victor – Abraham (This detail the writer of Hebrews did not mention despite its potential typological value).
Melchizedek pleaded God’s blessing on Abraham while also praising God for Abraham’s victory.
Abraham offered Melchizedek a tenth of the battle spoil and at this point Melchizedek disappears from the scene of ancient history for a long while.

Melchizedek’s second appearance is in Ps 110:4
To scholars of Old Testament and even Christian interpretation of Scripture there are 4 types of meanings.
The Jewish rabbis would give different names to the 4 meanings:

  1. Literal and factual meaning – Peshat
  2. Suggested meaning – Remaz
  3. Analytical and investigative meaning – Derush
  4. Allegorical or inner or spiritual meaning –Sod

The inner or spiritual meaning (Sod) was the most important to the early Hebrew Christians.
How does the priesthood of Melchizedek differ from the Levitical priesthood of Aaron?
The writer of Hebrews seeks to elaborate the Eternal and Unique aspect of Christ’s priestly work as he makes typological use of 4 related points:

1.The Status of Melchizedek 7:1

Heb 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

Melchizedek was King of Salem.
And so was Christ. He is King of Kings and King of Peace.
The concept of a kingly priest may seem unfamiliar to us, however in the ancient world kings acted as priests and vice –versa.

The concept of Christ as Priest dominates the central theme of this letter to the Hebrews.
Although this title is confined only to this letter there are indications in the New Testament regarding the priestly work of the Lord Jesus.

Rom 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
1Jo 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1Jo 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

2.The name of Melchizedek – 7:2

Heb 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

The name ‘Melchizedek’ signifies a priesthood of righteousness.
It is a royal priesthood of Peace (He was king of Salem).
It is a personal name and it is not inherited as it had no recorded genealogy.
It is Eternal as he had no recorded birth or death.
And so is the Priesthood of Christ which has no beginning or ending.

3. The uniqueness of Melchizedek – 7:3

Heb 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

The writer of Hebrews including the Jewish rabbis felt completely justified to interpret not only the utterances of scripture but also the silences of scripture.
Hence the writer based this passage on what scripture does not mention about Melchizedek.

Melchizedek has no recorded genealogy.
This is one of the arguments drawn from the silence of scripture which does not provide Melchizedek with any list of genealogy. He just arrives on the scene seemingly from nowhere.

He is in fact a reverse of the rules laid out in the Levitical priesthood which dictates that there MUST be an entirely dependable recorded descent.
Under Jewish law a man could not be a priest unless he produced a documented proof that he has descended from the lineage of Levi (Aaron).
When the Jews returned from exile from Babylon to Jerusalem certain priestly families could not produce their genealogy records and thus were barred from the priesthood (Ezra 2:61-63, Neh 7:63-65)

So the silence of scripture regarding the genealogy of Melchizedek is a fitting type of Christ.
This priest king in this sense is limitless and as such he resembles the Son of God who continues as priest forever.

Regarding Typology – it is not Jesus Christ that resembles Melchizedek but Melchizedek who resembles Christ. This Melchizedek is the exact copy of which Christ is the reality

4.The Superiority of Melchizedek 7:4-10

Heb 7:4 Now consider how great this man [was], unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
Heb 7:5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
Heb 7:6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
Heb 7:7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
Heb 7:8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he [receiveth them], of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
Heb 7:9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
Heb 7:10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

How can we prove that the priesthood of Melchizedek is more superior to that of the Levitical priesthood of Aaron?
Abraham gave a tenth of all his spoils to Melchizedek.
Priest exact tithes but there is a difference here.
The Levitcal priests tithed their fellow Jews as a result of a legal enactment.
But here Abraham tithed to Melchizedek who had no racial connection with him.
He exacted tithes not because of law – as the law had not yet been given but because of His Personal Right as priest king.

Melchizedek blessed Abraham.
It is always the superior who blesses the inferior.
Melchizedek was superior to Abraham although Abraham was the founder of the Hebrew nation.

Then the writer to the Hebrews proceed to present Jesus Christ as the priest not from the Levitical line of Aaron but after the order of Melchizedek.
If the ministry of the Levitical priesthood had been spiritually effective it would not have been necessary for God to send another priest after the order of Melchizedek.

When the Lord was on earth, He was from the tribe of Judah, and Judah was not entitled to the Levitical priesthood which descended from Levi (Aaron).

However the old Levitical order of priesthood was set aside by God because of its inadequacy and its weakness and its imperfections – for the law made nothing perfect.
It is the SAVING WORK of Christ that has introduced to us a better hope.
It is by this hope that we can come into the presence of God.

PART 2

The priesthood of Christ presents a more excellent ministry than the Levitical priesthood.
Jesus Christ mediates a far better covenant which is far superior to that of the Levitical priests.
The priesthood of Christ is based on 3 factors as set out by the writer to the Hebrews in the following verses:

1.The Oath of God 7:20-21

Heb 7:20 And inasmuch as not without an oath [he was made priest]:
Heb 7:21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

The writer here quotes Ps 110:4 because it contains GOD’S OATH..
This distinctive priesthood will be permanent and changeless.
The first part of the oath declared that “The Lord has SWORN …”
It must be remembered that in Jewish thought that when God had said something it was done – Gen 1:3.
It was not just mere words. Those words had the power to initiate or commence an event.

The second part of the oath declares its RELIABILITY.
It declares that God will not change His mind. He will not go back on His Word.
So when in past eternity God took upon Himself this priestly work on our behalf, the PERMANANCE of His Ministry was confirmed by GOD’S OATH..

2. The Lord Jesus is the Guarantor – 7:22

Heb 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the pledge/guarantor of a better Covenant/Testament because God took an oath that His priesthood would be an everlasting priesthood with the Lord Himself as Guarantor!
So the new priesthood (Christ’s) is better than the old priesthood of Aaron as the old priesthood had NO guarantor.

a) BETTER is the keyword in the letter.

At the beginning the writer declares that Christ has a better name than the angels (1:4), for He is the Son of God.
In Christ there is a better hope because it is based on a better Covenant with better promises.
The once and for all offering of Christ’s life is a better sacrifice.
So in times of persecutions and trials when some have lost their homes and properties they can rejoice in heaven for they have a better possession.
They set their hopes not on earthly materials but fix their eyes on a better country.

b) The Word ‘Covenant’ or Testimony appears many times

In chapters 8 and 9 this word is described in greater detail.
It signifies the Covenant of God with us.
In His merciful goodness God entered into a Covenant with us though the Work and Merit of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is a Better, New and Eternal Covenant.

c) Surety (Guarantor/Pledge)

This Word appears only here in the entire New Testament.
It is the assurance not only for the future but the present – though unseen.
The Guarantor – the Lord Jesus Christ knows all out needs having lived amongst us mortals.
Now HE sits in God’s presence as our Surety and Guarantor.

3. Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest 7:23-28

There are 3 portraits of Christ in this passage as:

  • Our Present Guarantor
  • Our Great High Priest
  • Our Effective Sacrifice

We shall direct our attention to the Superiority of Christ’s priestly office over the Levitical priesthood.
There are 5 aspects of His Person and Work:

1 – His Permanent Achievement 7:23-24

Heb 7:23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:
Heb 7:24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

The priesthood of the Lord Jesus which is after the order of Melchizedek is therefore to make intercession for the believer forever.
Hence Christ is able to save us COMPLETELY, whereas the Levitical priests were compelled by death to transfer their ministry to the next priest in succession.
So by reason of Christ’s eternal ministry as High Priest He is able to save the believer in totality – in the believer’s spirit, soul and body.
This is based on Christ’s ONCE AND FOR ALL OFFERING OF HIMSELF AS A SACRIFICE.

2- His Limitless Power – 7:25 a.

Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
We are not saved by a ‘little believing’ plus a ‘little doing’.
Nothing is necessary to supplement or add to our salvation.
Christ achieved it ABSOLUTELY by His Victorious Work.

3. –His Present Ministry – 7:25 b:

Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him …
Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Christ Redemptive Work is based on the Cross. It is in the past, and it is a FINISHED WORK.
NOW Christ supports and sustains us through His Intercessory Ministry.

Jewish rabbis maintain that intercession on behalf of the Hebrew nation was entrusted to the angels – especially the arch angel Michael.
The Roman Catholics have supplemented the Virgin Mary as their intercessor.

Here in Hebrews 7: 25 we have clearly stated to us that Christ is the ONLY INTERCESSOR.
Christ the far more Superior than the angels of the Jewish tradition.
Christ intercedes for us meaningfully, for unlike the angels He has experienced our trials and temptations.
Christ intercedes for us compassionately, for unlike the angels He knows exactly what we need.
Christ intercedes for us effectively, for unlike the angels He has the power to meet our needs.

4.- His Sinless Character 7:26:

Heb 7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

The priests of the Old Testament were required to live holy lives, but as humans they were sinners like the rest of mankind.
Levitical priesthood stressed on outward cleansing and internal purity but Christ’s priesthood is effective because it is based on His inward purity and sinless perfection.

5.- His Perfect Offering – 7:27-28:

Heb 7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Heb 7:28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

Christ does not need to offer sacrifices everyday as the Old Testament high priests had to – first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people.
Christ’s Sacrifice was ONCE AND FOR ALL when He offered Himself.(Heb 9:28)
The Law appointed men as high priests who were weak, however the promise of the oath which came after the law appointed the Son who has been PERFECTED FOREVER.

Christ’s ONCE AND FOR ALL OFFERING OF HIMSELF on the cross as a sacrifice for sin is contrasted to the repetitive sacrifices that needed to be offered by the Levitical high priests.
The word ‘daily’ shows it belongs to Christ and not to the Levitical priesthood.
So the phrase would mean – “Who has need day by day to renew the sacrifice as the Levitical high priest did year by year”.
Christ does not need to renew the sacrifice day by day and year by year as did the Levitical high priests.
The Levitical priests had to offer repeated sacrifices because the blood of animals could not pay for sin.

Christ needed to offer just ONE SACRIFICE.
Furthermore, unlike the Levitical high priests He did not have to first offer a sacrifice for His own sins for He has NO SIN.
Christ as our High Priest is pure and spotless and hence efficacious (effective).

Under the Law, the Jews had to be content with the service of a weak priesthood who were frail and fallible as they were mere humans – imperfect and sinful.

Conclusion:
What are the practical implications which are derived from this Chapter?

Our eternal salvation does not depend on our changing feelings or our wavering experiences.
All our confidence is in God who will NOT GO BACK ON HIS WORD.
We may disappoint Him and fail Him from time to time, but He does not cast us off.
God is true to His Word for ALL TIME.

Christ is our Great High Priest whom we love and trust.
In times of uncertainty and doubt we are encouraged by this passage to take God at His Word as He has SWORN ON OATH that the Son of God is our Great High Priest forever.

Christ has dealt with man’s triple problem: – Sin, death and the devil and having dealt effectively with ALL THREE of them He is able to keep those who come to God through Christ secure in His love and grace.

We are saved by the FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST, but we should not neglect the continuing efficacy (effective work) of our Lord as our Great High Priest.
He rescues us not only at our initial commitment but also day by day and moment by moment by interceding for us.
We must constantly renew our trust in Him knowing that HE will never fail us, and in doing so we will grow in our faith and move closer and closer to Him regardless of our trials, temptations and sufferings.

admin on January 5th, 2016

The new Sunday School term for 2016 started on 3rd of January 2016. We had singing, a message then games followed by refreshments.

Our Sunday School would start at 11.30 a.m. every Sunday morning with singing followed by a Bible lesson and some craft activity. It would end at 12.30 p.m with light refreshments.

There would be Sunday School picnic, Sunday School Camp, Sports Day and Prize Giving Day spread throughout the year. The aim of the Sunday School is to provide a safe place for children to learn to make friends and learn Bible lessons about life. We have teachers to guide the children and help them along in life. Come and get to know the teacher and helpers.

The Sunday School program is provided free for the benefit of the children. We love to see the children grow up and become good citizens of the country. By God’s grace we have been running the Sunday School program for the last 70 years.

If you would like to join us for Sunday School, please contact Jen Sen at 016-6110138.

admin on December 22nd, 2015

There will be an annual Assembly Planning on 27 December 2015 at 11 a.m. This would be a combined session between the Chinese and the English section of the assembly that meets at the Malacca Gospel Hall.

admin on December 22nd, 2015

There will be a special gospel meeting on 24 December 2015 at the Malacca Gospel Hall.

The event would start at 7pm with a buffet dinner followed by singing. The Gospel will be preached at 8pm.

All are welcome.

admin on September 10th, 2015

For the online registration form for the 57th Malacca Bible Camp, Please go to http://goo.gl/forms/X0ulfeLvkh

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admin on September 7th, 2015

FUNCTION OF THE ASSEMBLY by Dr Higgins.

  1. Focus of the Assembly
  2. Foundation of the Assembly
  3. Figures of the Assembly
  4. Fragrance of the Assembly
  5. Fruitfulness of the Assembly
  6. Function of the Assembly
  7. Fellowship of the Assembly

Before us is the subject of Shepherds … Servants … Saints

1Ti 3:1 This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
1Ti 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
1Ti 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
1Ti 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
1Ti 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
1Ti 3:8 Likewise [must] the deacons [be] grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
1Ti 3:9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
1Ti 3:10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being [found] blameless.
1Ti 3:11 Even so [must their] wives [be] grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
1Ti 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
1Ti 3:14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
1Ti 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

As a young Christian reading this you may think this chapter has little relevance for you.
However the relevance of this Chapter is to communicate the tremendous responsibility borne by the leaders and it should get you to want to pray for them in seeking for God’s help and preservation of them.

We are considering here the authority and the functioning in the House of God.
We have already mentioned previously that one of the things that mark the house of God is – ORDER.
Order requires leadership.
And so Paul is giving Timothy instruction as to the character of leaders.
Verses 1-7 are for those who would lead or shepherd the assembly.
Deacon work is not just about counting money and arranging chairs.
Deacon work involves anyone who represents God publically for the assembly.
Deacon work is teaching the Word of God, Preaching the gospel, teaching Sunday school …
All this carries the idea of public service of God for His assembly.
So verses 1-8 describe deacon work.

Verses 14 and 15 broaden the topic: Paul speaks here on how one must behave or ought to behave in the house of God.
So consider verses 1-7 and consider the requirements of men who lead God’s assembly.
The first and the most important qualification is found in verse 1.
It is a man in whose heart God has put the care of His people in the assembly.
Unfortunately the Authorized Version has used the word ‘office.’
That word does not appear in the original.
It is not an office but a work that a man desires to do for God.
It is a hard work that he undertakes for God, and the Spirit of God says it is a good work to do.
It is going to be sacrifice; it is going to be criticism.
When all is going well the saint s will praise God for His blessings.
But when things get bad, it will all be the fault of the overseer.
It is not a popularity contest. It is a difficult work done for God and love for His people.

In verse 2 a bishop must be blameless.
Some young believers may sit back and say I am not going to recognize the overseer as he does not measure up to the standard as stated here.
This verse was not given to you to criticize the overseer.
This list was given to leaders as a standard that they should seek to keep.

Now there are times when there are men who want to care for the people of God and for one reason or another they may feel that they do not measure up in these areas.
So now we face the question – Does this disqualify them?
The word ‘MUST’ is used several times in this chapter.
It is used relative to the deacon and in verse 15 it is used relative to every believer.
So if you cannot lead because you are weak in one of these areas, then you cannot be a deacon, and then it also means that you cannot be in the assembly as you are weak in one of these areas as mentioned in the epistle.
I am NOT lowering God’s Standard.
What I am saying is that what we have in this epistle is for each believer and deacon to strive to be holy to THIS Standard.
We cannot each just sit back and say no one is perfect.
In which case then no one can be a leader and then you are left with a:
House with NO ORDER, a Flock with no Shepherd and a Company that has no leadership.
And this is NEVER God’s intention.

A bishop must be without reproach and all that follows is an explanation of what it means to be blameless.
There are many ways of dividing these qualifications.
There are traits of character.
There is the training you get in your home.
There is the test of time – he is not a novice.
There is the testimony that he bears before the world.

So taking just a few of these verses as there is not enough time …
A bishop must be the husband of one wife – literally a one woman man.
He must have a purity of affection for his wife.
Likewise he is to have a purity of affection for the Lord he serves.
He does not need to be married and if married he must have the purity of affection for his wife.
There is no teaching in Scripture that if his wife passes away he cannot remarry.
That would be going beyond the Word of God.

The bishop is given to hospitality. Hospitality marks the people of God.
The man who seeks to lead keeps his home open.
Hospitality never depends on the size of your home, but the size of your heart.
So opening your home and your heart to the people of God is what hospitality is all about.
Notice now that hospitality is linked with being apt to teach.
Much of the teaching done by leaders is not done formally like this but in their homes.
In their homes the Word of God is opened and it is discussed.
This ‘apt to teach’ does not mean he has the ability to stand and teach the Word of God publically, but it is speaking of a man who opens the Word of God with believers privately and individually.

Verse 4 reminds us of the need of order in his house:
1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

If he is unable to maintain order in his own house how can he maintain order in the house of God?
Also – it is NOT the thought that his children must be saved.
Titus 1:6 speaks of having faithful children – children faithful to their parents.
This is NOT in terms of being saved.
A person is never held responsible for saving their children.
However, by maintaining a house in order, parents make it possible for their children to see their need of Christ and to come to Christ.

Note verse 5
1Ti 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Older brethren know that this expression ‘take care’ is found in only one other place.
And the place where it is found, it has tremendous meaning of what it means to be a shepherd among the people of God.
It is found in Luke chapter 10. It is in the story of the Samaritan.
When the Samaritan found the wounded man he cared for him, then took him to an inn and left him with the innkeeper giving him instructions to “take care of him’.
And so taking care of assembly is same as taking care of the man who was left half dead and taken to an inn to be taken care of.
It means meeting all the needs of the people of God.

Notice now verse 6 and the need for the test of time:
1Ti 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
The bishop is not a novice newly saved. He has been proved over time.

His testimony before the world is important:
1Ti 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
No one in society should be able to raise or substantiate a claim of wrong doing against him.

Now we look at requirements of overseers.
Think now of recognizing this issue of overseers:
First of all it is always in the plural.
The only time it appears in the singular is when it is talking of the requirements of an overseer.
Whenever we see an assembly functioning, there is always a plurality of elders.
When Paul went to Jerusalem, he went with the elders.
Paul called for the elders at the church at Ephesus.
Peter wrote to the elders who are among you.
This is the wisdom of God in giving the plurality of overseers.
It is for the purpose of balancing each other.
Some men are very hesitant and slow.
Some men are all heart and all feeling.
Some men are all brain and thinking.
(Many women now will be thinking … men don’t think.)
However there is a balance made here as many men seek to lead the assembly.
No one person can meet the needs and relate to all the believers in the assembly.
Scripture knows nothing of one elder. Not even of a leading elder.
And so we have elders in the plural.

Now for young believers … there are 5 words used for describing the SAME person.
We read of elder, overseer or bishop, shepherds, your guides, rulers or leaders.
Let me show you that they are all one and the SAME person.
In Acts 20, Paul called for the elders at the church at Ephesus.
And then he said – feed or shepherd the church of God whom the Holy Spirit has made you overseer.
So elders were shepherds or overseers.
Titus speaks of appointing elders in every city.
And an overseer must be blameless.
And Peter in chapter 5 speaks of the elders among you to feed or shepherds the flock of God taking the oversight.
So why does the Spirit use different words to describe the SAME man?

  • When you look at elder – you are looking at his worth.
  • When you look at overseer – you are looking at his work.
  • When you look at shepherd – you are looking at his watchfulness.
  • When you look at guide – you are looking at his walk.
  • When you are looking at leaders – you are looking at their wisdom.
  • When you think of elders – you think of their maturity of life.
  • When you think of overseers – you think of their manner in which they labor.
  • When you think of shepherds – you think of their motive and love for their sheep.
  • When you think of guides – you think of their method in which they lead the people of God.
  • When you think of leaders – you think of their wisdom, the means by which you learn from them.

Put all these together and you begin to see the guiding and care of the flock of God.

What are the responsibilities of these men?
This is not to give rise to criticize and say they are not measuring up.
This is for you to pray for them that they have the wisdom and the ability to discharge God’s requirements.
In 1 Peter chapter 5, Peter commands the elders to feed the flock of God.
So this is the first and most important responsibility of the leaders.
When the Lord Jesus took His disciples fishing, He fed them.

Being a leader is not being a detective to look for what is wrong.
Neither is it being a police man to punish everyone.
Nor is it being a General – ordering everyone around like in an army.

The first responsibility of a leader is to feed the flock.
When sheep are fed they are very content.
Remember Psalms 23?
Sheep are brought to pastures of tender grass.
And the shepherd leads them besides quiet waters.
Sheep do like troubled waters.
And when we allow trouble in the assembly, sheep begin to starve.
So it is very important that leaders feed the people of God.
It means I teach or I bring others to teach the Word of God.
So providing food is the first responsibility.

Next:
Paul writes of being vigilant for wolves that would come.
He tells of men coming in from without and he speaks of men rising up from within.
So leaders must be vigilant to protect the assembly and encourage fruit from individual believers.
They should maintain close relationships and know the needs of believers to help them.
They need perception to see their needs …to praise and encourage them as they take steps.
God is easily pleased but hard to satisfy.

An everyday illustration to explain this statement of fact:
When you have a child of close to a year of age, you are waiting for him to take his first steps.
You have your camera and recorder all ready for that moment.
And you are thrilled at those first steps that your child takes.
But this is NOT want you want for your child for the rest of his life. You have higher goals for him.
And then you have the mother all upset while the child is climbing and running around.
God is pleased with at the first steps in our Christian life.
But He is not satisfied if those first steps are our final goal.
And so it goes too for those who encourage the people of God that they should be pleased with the first steps a new Christian takes and then to encourage them to take the next steps toward maturity.
So leaders provide food, encourage fruit, and guide the flock.

How do overseers guide the flock?
They guide by example.
I have to ask myself an important question.
If every believer was as spiritual as I am, how spiritual would the assembly be?
Leaders set The Standard.
Thank God there are believers who rise above us.
But I have no right to expect people to rise above the level we set.
Another important responsibility of the bishop is to recover those who have fallen.
Shepherds do not wait for sheep to come back; they go out and look for the lost sheep.
Sheep by nature do not return on their own.
One of the greatest condemnations God has for leaders is found in Ezekiel chapter 34.
They did not recover that which was driven away.
God expects shepherds to seek those who have gone astray and bring them back.

Recall Luke chapter 15. We read of the Good Shepherd here.
He went after the lost sheep and returned only when He found it.

In Matthew chapter 18 too, we find a shepherd searching for a lost sheep.
But it does not say he searched till he found the sheep.
Matthew 18 is different from Luke chapter 15.
This is very telling and it is solemn.
Luke 15 – is seeking for the sinner.
Matthew 18 – is seeking a straying brother.
It suggests that it is easier to see a sinner saved than save one who has fallen restored.

There are many occasions when the Jews criticized the Lord Jesus for doing things on the Sabbath.
And He would answer them in a similar way.
In Luke chapter 14 He spoke of a man who owned a donkey and it fell into a pit.
And then He spoke of pulling out the donkey from the pit.
In Matthew 12 He speaks of a sheep fallen into a pit.
And here the sheep is LIFTED out of the pit.
Lifting the sheep out of the pit required the shepherd getting very close to the sheep.
The shepherd felt the weight of lifting the sheep out of the pit.
So God expects us to be interested in those who have fallen.

There is one other responsibility placed on me:
I am not just to provide for food and look out for wolves … encourage fruit, guide the flock and recover the lost … I am also to look to the future.
A leader who does not plan for his absence is not a good leader.
A leader is to look into the future for the care of the people of God after his absence.

Psalms 40 reminds us of the Perfect Shepherd.
He gathers His lambs in His arms.
And He gently leads those with young.
And so I must seek to emulate the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Relationship among shepherds:
First question – Who should shepherd the shepherds?
There is no leader that is above the Word of God.
And so each shepherd is accountable to the other.
Shepherds are not only accountable to each other but are to be also mutually respectful to each other appreciating each other’s strengths that need to come together to help the assembly.

There needs to be unity among the shepherds.
It is not a matter of majority rule – that evaluates by vote to get to do what you want to do.
You may say you have scripture for that as Acts 15 teaches that.
“It pleased everyone and the Holy Spirit and they made a decision”
A divided leadership will cause a divided assembly – So unity and harmony is critical to the well being of the assembly.
So when differences arise there need to be a time of pray and a waiting upon God.

Let me close by turning to 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 – The Reality of Leadership:
Look at verses 12-15 and know how difficult this can be, so you can pray for your leaders:

1Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
1Th 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
1Th 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
1Th 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Verses 12-13 are your responsibility to pray for the overseers.
1Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
1Th 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

And verses 14-15 are their responsibility:
1Th 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
1Th 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Notice the different kinds of problems among the people of God.
There are saints that are distressed.
Some are weak and faint hearted who give up easily and get discouraged.
Earlier in chapter 2 Paul was like a nursing mother to them.
There are believers who need long term nursing care needing support for most of their Christian life.
It is the responsibility of leaders and it is very difficult to care for these and not to get discouraged
yourself.
Then there are the difficult ones – unruly and always causing problems.
These have to be admonished.
In chapter 2 of this epistle Paul was not just a nursing mother but a father too.
So there is the need for wisdom.
If you are a stern father to the one who needs nursing care, you have destroyed that believer.
And if on the other hand you are a comforting mother to someone who is fighting, you can see where
that will lead to.
So there is a need for great wisdom and discernment on the part of the leader for there are some saints that have fallen and some who are weak and faint hearted, others who need much patience and yet others who will at times do evil.
So it is little wonder that at the beginning of this chapter the Spirit of God says that it is a GOOD WORK!
But if God has not put it in your heart – DON’T TRY IT, as you will be tested as to if you are doing it for yourself or for God.
But Peter reminds us that for all the grief and difficulty you have to undergo, there IS compensation.
To the shepherd is promised a crown of glory.
So the Lord help both – those who have this responsibility and those who aspire to have the responsibility.

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admin on August 29th, 2015

FELLOWSHIP OF THE ASSEMBLY by Dr Higgins

  1. Focus of the Assembly
  2. Foundation of the Assembly
  3. Figures of the Assembly
  4. Fragrance of the Assembly
  5. Fruitfulness of the Assembly
  6. Function of the Assembly
  7. Fellowship of the Assembly

Rom 12:9 [Let] love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Rom 12:10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Rom 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rom 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Rom 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Rom 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

*** *** ***
1Co 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
1Co 10:17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

*** *** ***
1Co 11:17 Now in this that I declare [unto you] I praise [you] not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
1Co 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
1Co 11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, [this] is not to eat the Lord’s supper.
1Co 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

*** *** ***
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
*** *** ***

Subject of this meeting is:
(7) Fellowship – Its Blessings and its Burdens

We read in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 that there are 2 differences in the way Paul writes of the breaking of bread.
In chapter 10 Paul mentions the cup before the bread and notice, the bread stands for two things and not one.
The reason he has reversed the order is because he is not talking of what we do at the Lord’s Supper, but the results of what we have done at the Lord’s Supper.
And so the cup and the blood that is the basis of everything we do, is mentioned first.

The partaking of bread too has two meanings.
First of all it is my participation of what Christ has done at Calvary.
And second, as we each partake, we are together confessing that we are One Body and One Fellowship.

Now if we were just preaching the Lord’s Supper we would make this distinction between chapters 10 and 11.
Chapter 10 tells me when I am part taking the Lord’s Supper; it should control what I do when I am not here.
Chapter 11 tells me when I am partaking the Lord’s Supper how I should act when I am here.

And so in Chapter 10 the problem was other fellowships that they were going to, that was contrary to the Word of God.
And so when they were partaking of the Lord’s Supper and breaking bread, they could not belong to two fellowships at one time. It shows how inconsistent it is to go to the table of idols and also to the Lord’s Table.
And so chapter 10 controls what I do when I am not here.

But chapter 11 deals on how they were behaving when they were there:
Putting others to shame and despising the assembly.
So breaking the bread also controls our behavior towards others.

Now the misunderstanding of this passage:
1Co 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Some believers read this and think they are not worthy to part take the Lord’s Supper as they are not living as they ought to, or that they had a bad week and therefore not worthy.

I do not part take of the Lord’s Supper because I am worthy.
I part take because He is worthy.
What Paul is saying and is referring to here is, part taking of the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.
They were not realizing what they were doing.
So Paul was warning them of the danger of viewing it as just another meal.

So, does it mean stay home? No.
Let him examine himself and so let him eat and drink of that cup.
None of us are worthy. But He is worthy.
And He deserves my confession and proclamation of His death till He come.

But others may say – we don’t get along, and so we cannot part take of the Lord’s Supper.
And so if I do part take I am hypocritical.
This is a poor excuse and unbalanced.

The Lord Jesus has told you what to do.
If you bring your gift to the altar and worship and then remember something against your brother, then first be reconciled with your brother, then come and worship.
So you are responsible to go and try to be reconciled.
But if he will not be reconciled, that does not matter.
You have gone with a forgiving spirit and you are freed of the burden of the problem.
So we cannot sit back and say I cannot get along with that brother.

In some parts of the world it is tragic.
Should a brother come into an assembly where there is someone who neither gets along with that brother and the assembly that he comes from … and although the over seers do receive him and read out the letter of commendation, that brother who that does not like the visiting brother will not part take of the Lord’s Supper.
Now what is this brother saying in the light of 1 Corinthians 10?
He is saying – I have no part in the death of Christ, and I am no longer in this assembly.
He has essentially put himself out of fellowship.
It is a tremendously serious thing to refuse to take the emblems
You will not find a single Scripture to support disciplining yourself with another brother.
Discipline is always an assembly matter.
It is never what I decide to do with another brother.
If the assembly has received the brother I do not like, I should submit to his acceptance into the assembly fellowship.
I may privately express my concerns, but it should never evolve into a major issue in the assembly.
So the Breaking of bread has tremendous implications for our lives.
Paul told us we declare and proclaim the Lord’s death and if you refuse to part take of the emblems, you are saying that the Lord’s death means nothing to me.
So you can see the seriousness and the solemnity of what we are doing at the Lord’s Supper.

Burdens and Obligations of Fellowship:
• It speaks of a fervent consecration to Christ.
• A full commitment to the gathering of the assembly.
• A flawless testimony in godliness
• A fragrant life of growth.

It is growth that I want to speak of now.
We can speak of growth in many different spheres.
Certainly there must be growth in our appreciation of Christ.
Recall the instructions given in the meal offering in Leviticus chapter 2?
When the offering was brought, he took a handful and put it on the altar for God.
The question is: Did God fit as much as his hand could hold?
Is my hand growing every year so I have more to give to Christ?

There should be growth in my Christ likeness too.
You remember the story of Hannah and Samuel?
Every year Hannah went to visit Samuel and every year she made a new coat for him.
She expected growth in her son every year.
So it is not just my hand growing, but am I growing more in Christ likeness?

Now our Greatest Need:
I don’t want to minimize growth in my appreciation of Christ likeness.
I don’t want to minimize growth to be more like Christ.
But I want to talk of my growth in my relationship with other believers.
You may not think this as an important subject, but problems that arise in assemblies rarely arise over doctrine but they arise mostly in the problem of getting along with each other.
The Word of God is so crystal clear in how we are to treat each other, and we can hold on to such truth for the rest of the Word of God and fail to carry out what is definite.

There are 4 things I want to leave with you before I leave Singapore:
1. Finding beauty in other believers
2. Fostering the good and the blessing of other believers
3. A forbearing in blemishes of other believers
4. And the most difficult of all – Forgiving the bruises of believers.
These are the four things we fail in as believers in carrying them out.

1 – Finding beauty in other believers:
It means looking for Christ likeness in other believers and looking for things in them that God finds pleasure in.
But then you may say: “But you don’t know them! And I can’t see anything in them!”
There are 2 possibilities for this:
1. Most likely, there is something wrong with you.
2.There maybe something wrong with them, but most likely the beam is in your own eye.
Remember, God finds something to appreciate in every believer.
They may have a weakness, but God appreciates them, and so I should strive to find that in other believers. It may not be easy … and it might mean having to get closer to them to begin to appreciate them.
So if I look for Christ instead of all the defects, it will help the assembly.

Fostering the Blessings of others:
Come to Romans chapter 12 to discover how many times Paul writes “one another … one another?”
Well over 30 times!
Paul expects Christianity to be lived in community together.
He expects us to be a blessing to one another.
Notice verses 9 and 10 – First of all in the practice of love: Actually in the compass of these two verses, he uses three different words to describe love and one is not superior to the other.
Rom 12:9 [Let] love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Rom 12:10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

They are all different and each of them has their place.
Agape – Is the causeless and unconditional love.
Brotherly Love – Philadelphia Love
Kindly Affection – Family Love
We are reminded that we have an obligation to love each other and to love in every way possible.
• I love you for no other reason than the command to love you.
• I love you because you are my brother
• I love you because I find things in you that in the family we can enjoy together.
And so let your love be without hypocrisy or pretense.
1 Corinthians 13 is a fitting commentary on the way we should love.
Love covers faults and failings
(Here it is not talking of the sins that the assembly needs to deal with)
But rather we do not publicize to the unsaved the little inconsistencies of the believers.
Love always credits others with the best motives.
Love always expects change.
Love always perseveres and continues to seek what is lost.
Have you ever heard a believer saying I am leaving the assembly because you do not love me?
What is wrong with that statement?
Nowhere in the Bible do we find that I am to look for love from you.
The Bible commands me to love you.
So if I am complaining you do not love me, I am just thinking of MYSELF.
My response is to love without conditions, and to love without ceasing and to persevere in that love.

Some may ask – what it means to credit others with the best motive?
So often we assume that people love for the wrong reason.
And then we think we are so discerning because we have detected a wrong motive for what they are doing.
Paul says love not only bears all things but believes the best of others.

I have 60 years of practice of doing that exact thing.
When something goes wrong, I always make it seem not so bad.
I can always make it seem less bad.
So Paul says … instead of thinking this way for yourself, THIS is the way you should think of other believes.
So the First Command and this is not a suggestion…
THIS is a Command by the Holy Spirit and Paul to LOVE.

The Second is the Priority of others.
In verse 10 you find ‘ preferring one another’.
Rom 12:10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
This means to outdo another person in order to advance them.
The idea is no competition or rivalry or manipulation so that I can have an important place.
So it is my responsibility to help every believer to be a Christian.
It is especially my responsibility in the assembly. I am to foster the good in others.

THIS is what it means in Philippians chapter 2:
The Lord Jesus esteemed others better than Himself.
This does not mean HE thought I was a better person than He was, because that would be false.
To esteem others better than ourselves is to put the welfare of others before my own welfare.
The Lord Jesus did this to preserve us form going to hell. He took our punishment at Calvary.
That’s how far the Lord Jesus went in honoring me ahead of Himself.
And so you should be marked by this SAME PRINCIPLE of putting others ahead of yourself.

In Verse 11 ….
Our Authorized Version poorly translates:
Rom 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

It is not slothfulness rather being diligent and burning hot in my spirit in serving the Lord.
So in my diligence I am not slothful – it is the measure in which I do it.
Fervent in spirit – is the manner in which I do it.
And Serving the Lord is the motive by which I do it.
If YOU serve Christians you burnout and get discouraged.
But if you serve the Lord, He directs you to serve His people and He gives you the grace.

The Lord Jesus was a bond slave.
But He never was a bond slave of men.
He was a Servant of Jehovah, and as He served Jehovah, He met the needs of men.
So here we are reminded to serve the Lord and as we serve Him, we will serve His people.
Because if you try to put verses 9 and 10 into practice, you will get very little appreciation and if you are not serving the Lord, you will give up quickly.
So we are reminded of the persistence that is needed.

Now ask a practical question:
When was the last time you thought of someone in the assembly in how I can help that Christian?
Or how can I advance them in some way?
The writer of Hebrews used a word to describe this – Consider one another to provoke them to good works.
The word he uses for ‘consider’ is to study someone … to try to understand what would be a help to them. And so we need to be persistent and not give up easily.

But then there is also Perception that is needed:
Rom 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Rom 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Rom 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
: 12 is all about pray and persistence.
:13 is about sympathy of material needs
:14 is about spiritual needs
:15 is about emotional needs
So we need to be available to believers to meet all the above things.
If all we do is preach truth and never love this truth, we are failing to carry out the full truth of God.
We must learn to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those that rejoice.
We need to know when to rejoice and when to weep.

In Galatians Chapter 6 we are commanded to bear one another’s burdens.
Gal 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

There are some believers who bear tremendous burdens in life.
They are not burdens of a day or a week or even a year, but the burden of a lifetime.
And we need to be there to bear them.
But if you are NOT praying and NOT studying, please DO NOT go to comfort them.

There were 3 men with good intentions who went to comfort Job.
They were very wise. For 7 days they said nothing.
The problem started when they opened their mouths.
If you don’t understand people do not try to comfort them, because these men who came to comfort Job when they were finally done with their talking, God told them – You have NOT spoken a single thing that is right about Me!
The many things that they said were true.
But it had nothing to do with Job.
So don’t just quote Scripture and think there are easy answers.
It is far better sometimes to weep with them same as like Ezekiel did.
He sat with the captives.
It is sometimes better to comfort them by just your presence.

Forbearing for Blemishes:
Both – Ephesians chapter 4 and Colossians Chapter 3 remind us of forbearing in love.
So the beginning of verse 12 will help us differentiate between ‘infirmities’ and ‘sin’.
Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.

They are little things about our personality that may bother someone else.
Example– the way a person coughs or may be the shaking of a leg that may be distracting or just being fidgety …
Spirit of God says, learn to forbear them.

Below are some things to keep in mind to help us learn to forbear:
1 They are elect:
God has chosen them. They are God’s nobility.
They are holy in God’s sight and He loves them and you are instead all occupied with the little things.
So you be careful of what you do of someone God loves.
It is our responsibility to see them in that light.
Learn to have mercy. We tend to be quick and hard on people.
Be merciful, humble and meek. This is power under control.

So what does all this mean?
First of all it means respecting others and valuing them as fellow-heirs of eternal life.
Appreciate the beauty of Christ in them while also recognizing the differences in personality in the way God has created each one of us.
None of us are the same.
If everyone in the assembly was like you would there be anyone you would not be able to get along with?
You probably would.
God made some people shy, others bold …Some always looking sad while others are always joking.
There are a multitude of personalities and we must learn to live with each other.
And so we must learn to live with each other in our differences that are not sin but just personality traits.
We need to learn to forbear by recognizing our differences and restraining ourselves.

The Lord Jesus taught His disciples for three and a half years.
How many times did He rebuke them during His teaching ministry of three and a half years with them?
Remember, the Lord Jesus is the perfect man, with no beam in His own eye.
He had perfect discernment to see into hearts and actions that we could not.
Yet in his three and a half years He rebukes:
• Peter “Get thee behind me Satan”
• James and John who wanted to call down fire from heaven with:
“You do not know what manner of spirit you are.”
• And in the Resurrection in Mark 16, He unbraided his disciples for their unbelief.
So in the three and half years of teaching them, the Lord Jesus rebuked them 3 times.
Most of us do it 3 times a week.
Learn the lesson from the Lord Jesus. He was very slow to rebuke.
Does it mean He overlooked what was wrong?
He was constantly teaching them and moving them forward.
He did it by grace. He never had a whip for His disciples.
So we need to learn to restrain all out displeasure.

On Forgiving:
This is NOT about infirmities and blemishes … But we are reminded that if any has a complaint …
This is about bruises.
It is sad to confess that believers do bruise each other at times in ungracious actions and hurtful words.
So what do we do?
What is the meaning of Forgiveness?
First of all forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
We do not have the ability to forget.
But this is what it says about God:
“Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
So while we cannot forget, we can choose not to remember.

What is the difference?
The difference is that we do not allow what had happened to affect how I look at that believer today.
But on the other hand, I do not nurture the hurts that I feel.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love thinks no evil.
What it means is that love takes no thought of the evil done to itself.
The expression we use in the west is that love does not keep score.
If you got a goal … just wait till it is my turn to kick. I will get even when I get a chance.
Believers are not to keep score of who said what … and when.
Forgiveness means all that has not happened!

What is the manner in which we forgive?
The Lord Jesus explains in the parable of the debtor.
He frankly forgave them both.
That means that there was a total clearing.

Now someone may say … But they have not apologized.
I should always have a forgiving spirit – regardless.
I should be willing to go and confess my part of the problem and ask for forgiveness.
It is never 100% one person’s fault and zero the other person.
Even if it starts out with one person, the response of the other person often aggravates the problem.
So you will never lose by taking ownership for your part of the problem.

But then, should he not come to me?
Listen to the Word of God. The Lord Jesus said:
“If you come to the altar with your gift, and you remember that your brother has something against you – YOU GO TO HIM.
In this case, I have done something wrong to my brother and so I GO TO HIM.

Now what about Matthew 18?
My brother has done something wrong to me. And now what do I do?
I GO TO HIM!
So, either way I GO TO HIM.
The one who did it and the one who was hurt by it, BOTH obey the Word of God.
And both are ‘gone’ – This is God’s plan …that both seek forgiveness.

There is a principle found in the Word of God that you have to face.
Spiritual men ALWAYS took the lead to seek reconciliation.
• Abraham with Lot
• David with Saul
• The Lord Jesus with Judas
And so if I sit back and say they must come to me, I am saying I am NOT spiritual.
Spiritual men want to make things right.
And so the manner of forgiveness is – FRANKLY AND FULLY.

The Motive of Forgiveness?
Matthew 18 is about – Have I gained my brother?
Do I value him as a fellow believer?
Do I value his fellowship?

Now, there is something greater involved.
In Ephesians 4 we read:
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

It means that we rise to our highest spiritual level when we forgive another person.
We are acting as God acted towards us.
So please don’t say – you don’t know what he did to me or said to me.
Was it MORE than what you did to God?
So the STANDARD is:
As God did for Christ sake, forgive you.

And remember the Ministry of forgiveness is COSTLY.
It cost God everything to forgive you.
You may have to sacrifice something to forgive your brother.
You may not get your rights or a public apology in front of all.
You may lose … but God paid a tremendous price.
I would almost say that a forgiveness that costs nothing is NOT forgiveness.

So we have spoken of:
• Finding the Beauty in others
• A Fostering of Blessings for others.
• A Forgiving of bruising of others
If these things can mark us, most of our Gospel Halls will be full of people we have driven away.
May God Bless and Preserve us.

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admin on August 17th, 2015

FRUITFULNESS OF THE ASSEMBLY

  1. Focus of the Assembly
  2. Foundation of the Assembly
  3. Figures of the Assembly
  4. Fragrance of the Assembly
  5. Fruitfulness of the Assembly
  6. Function of the Assembly
  7. Fellowship of the Assembly

1Ti 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
1Ti 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself [rather] unto godliness.
1Ti 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
1Ti 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

God will bless His Word.
You will notice immediately that chapter 4 presents us with 3 possibilities for ministry for the assembly.
Verses 1-4 tell us about teaching.
Verse 7 talks about empty or useless teaching.
From verses 12 onwards we are told of the edifying that can be done.
So what we want to see is how there can be profit and usefulness in the assembly.
So the mandate for exemplary living is:
That you need to be the right person before you can find the right work for God.

When the Lord Jesus called His disciples He said “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
So for believers, especially for young believers who want to be helpers in the assembly – the first thing to do is to ‘Follow Christ.’
And the next thing we will have to look at is the example he will have to be.
We read of the requirement of the deacon who serves in a public way in the assembly that he must be the husband of one wife.
Now, all of us think that we are the best husbands in the world.
And this is what I have learnt in my 46 years of being married …
Back in our 25th anniversary, I made a big mistake in asking my wife what I could do to make our marriage better.
I thought she would say I was the perfect husband and there was nothing I had to do.
However, an hour later after having told me what I can do better the ambulance had to be called to take me to hospital.

We as husbands are usually good at providing material needs for our families.
We may also be fairly good at leadership and giving directions.
But I learnt that I was failing in giving the love and warmth that a wife needs to feel.
So since those 21 years that have gone by I hope I have got better.
But I guarantee that if we make it to 50, I will ask no more questions.

Paul tells Timothy to be an example to the believers.
It is your character that gives weight to your ministry.
Notice that there are some things that work outward while others work inward.
Timothy was to be an example to the believers in how he acted and in what he said.
Then there were inward qualities that would characterize his life.
He was to have love, faith and purity.

Speaking of just one quality for lack of time – speaking of just faith …
When we were young we had the idea that faith was for the preacher and the missionary to live on.
However, everyone who serves God must know the principles of faith.
FAITH MEANS THAT I AM MOVING ON THE BASIS OF WHAT THE WORD OF GOD SAYS.
Faith does not mean that I do not know where my next meal is coming from or where my next pay cheque is coming from.
Faith means I depend on the promises of the Word of God in my service … to serve with nothing before me but pleasing God.
This is serving God by faith.
It means being faithful to the Word of God without seeing results.
This is serving God by faith.
And so Timothy’s service to God was to be marked by this kind of faith.
So we have now the mandate in verse 12 that Timothy was to be an example to the believers of what a Christian ought to be.

Now speaking to young believers – of the means of finding a place of usefulness in God’s assembly.
Many young Christians spend much time worrying and praying in wanting to discover their gift.
Could I suggest a different approach?
Let me first of all mention the need for us to first acknowledge that whatever I can do comes from God.
It is NOT a matter of natural talent.
It is NOT a matter of what I want to do.
But rather am I looking to God to direct me and use me with whatever He has enabled me to do.

There is a difference between natural ability and gift.
I believe God gives every human being certain abilities.
He is doing that with a view to adding a gift to it.
The ability itself is not enough to serve God.
A man may be eloquent but that does not fit him to be a teacher.
A man may have great management skills but that does not fit him to be a shepherd
So what we are reminded is that, God gives gift to ability.
And in Romans chapter 12, we learn that God now gives Grace to gift, and gift to ability.
So all our natural ability we owe to God.
All our spiritual gift too we owe to God.
And the grace that comes to use the ability, we owe to God.
Therefore we cast all our crowns at His feet.
Anything we have done or we do is only because of the grace of God given to us.

Second Principle:
What needs to be done in the assembly where I am found?
I can either complain or I can contribute.
I can either add to the problem or I can become part of the solution.
So you complain meetings are slow and boring.
So do I come exercised for the meetings?
And then you complain Bible readings are not relevant.
Do I come with something to contribute … maybe even a good question?
And you complain that Gospel meeting is small?
Do you yourself think of bringing people to meetings?

If God has given you insight to see a problem, it is not for you to complain about it, but rather that you exercise yourself in helping to find a solution?
We all like to be consultants, to give advice.
However God is looking for commitment – for people who want to work and help in the assembly.

Third Principle:
Am I available to meet that need?
Am I so tied up with my work that I do not have time to serve God?
I need to be available to serve God from where I am.
If you cannot serve right now from where you are, it is unlikely that you will ever serve God anywhere else.

People ask me now that I am retired if anything has changed.
Most people do not do a lot of changing after retirement.
If you have not had time for spiritual things before retirement, then rarely will you find time for them in later years.
The entire bent of your life is framed in your early years.
The reason why preachers at Conferences address young people is very obvious … it is because as you get older entering into your 40s and 50s, it is very difficult to change habits.
So the pattern of your life in the service of God is frequently developed in your teen years and in your 20s.

Be aware if God puts a burden in your heart.
The next thing for you to do is to be active in it and to do it.
Think of the man named John; He stood by the cross of the Lord Jesus.
Then the Lord Jesus looked down and saw His mother, and He said to her “Woman behold thy son”
And then turning next to John He said “Behold thy mother”
Scripture very definitely says of John – From that hour he took her into his own home – John 19:27.
John could have so easily said but I have the gospel to write … the epistles … the Book of Revelation …
But take home a widow? That is not big enough!
John displayed no hesitation or delay.
John was available and he acted on what he was called to do immediately.
Perhaps committed into your hands is the teaching of a few children.
Or maybe the service God has for you is to bring in unsaved friends.
There is not any minor service for God.

Notice in the story of Solomon:
He had a vision and God asked him what he wanted.
Solomon responded by asking God for wisdom to guide so great a people.
So God gave him wisdom.
What was the first place Solomon exercised his wisdom?
It was not in an international crisis or during a national disaster or in balancing the budget.
His wisdom was displayed in a controversy between two harlots … a dead baby and a living baby!
Most of us would have thought that this was too unworthy a place for the display of my wisdom.
Yet the gift that God gave him he was willing to use it in a very small place to start off.

Whatever God gives you to do, do it in the best of your ability.
You may look back from eternity one day to discover that the small thing was really the BIG thing in your life.
Then think of those people who appear in Scripture in just a verse of two and then they just vanish away never to be mentioned again.
Joseph of Arimathae is one such person.
He comes along from nowhere to bury the Lord Jesus and then just disappears from the scene.
That probably was the reason for his birth.
You don’t know the value of the little service you do for God.
God has no minor roles for anyone to play … and on top of that if you do what God has called you to do faithfully, you will get as great a reward as someone who had a great gift.
Reward is not based on size or success but on faithfulness.
So if you are faithful with your small gift, God will honor you in the same way He will honor the one with a big gift.
So be aware of need and be available to meet that need and be active in that need.
Be approachable by others as you serve.
Be open to all brothers and sisters who come along to help and guide you, and then be appreciative that you have the opportunity of serving.
Remember that God needs none of us.
We have a great privilege and honor if we have a little part in the work of God.

Let me give you an example from Scripture as to what his means:
Remember Ruth when with Naomi she came back from Moab?
God had great plans in store for her.
However, she did not know where her road was leading her to.
She began just by being aware that there was a need.
The need was to eat. And then she had the responsibility of her mother-in-law.
So she began by being aware and she was responsible.
Then she went and she was active.
She was approachable by Boaz and the others in the field.
And so by the time the story is done, she moves from the field to famine and from the famine to the fields of Boaz and into the future where God wanted her to be.
So finding a place of usefulness is all about being available, being aware and active in whatever place God places you in.

1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

What the above verses tell us of the motivation for the exercise of the gift.
Paul reminds Timothy of his public responsibility in the reading of the Word of God.
The reading here is not of Timothy’s day by day private reading of the Word of God, but the reading of the Word of God to the people of God.
He is to seek to give attendance to the Word of God as a priority for the Assembly of God.
It is to be marked by Exhortation and Doctrine – one is the teaching of ‘Why’ and the other is the teaching of ‘What’ and to be responsible for both.

One of the best illustrations of the teaching of the Word of God is found in the book of Nehemiah.
Neh 8:8 distinctly tells us that he was reading out of the book of the law and caused the people to understand the words.
THIS is the responsibility of the man who stands to minister the Word of God to God’s people.

1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
The verse above is Timothy’s personal responsibility.
He is NOT to neglect the gift given to him. He is to seek to stir it up.
So it is possible for a believer to have a service for God and not fulfill it.
And so it is possible for me to neglect my sphere of usefulness.

You recall the sad days back in Egypt that you read in Exodus chapter 1.
There were 3 things that marked the Children of Israel under Pharaoh.
There was Burden … there was Barrenness … there was Bondage.
When Egypt could not kill the male Jewish babies, they made life miserable for them making them serve under cruel bondage.
Satan cannot ‘unsave’ Christians.
But he can do all he can to keep you from growing to stop you from being useful for God.
It may be long hours at work or increasing responsibly and demand on your time.
Or it could be a hobby to get involved in.
And you are spending more time on yourself than helping the people of God.
Distractions and detours in other areas result in tragic neglect of your usefulness to God.

Peter was detoured by Satan … but he was eventually restored.
John Mark got discouraged and did not accompany Paul, possibly because he was anxious not wanting to go into Gentile territory.
But he too was restored.
But Demas loved this present age. He was a man who was commended by Paul and who had accompanied him previously but now had deserted Paul.
So we see here both Peter and John Mark who got side-tracked by Satan had their usefulness nullified temporarily but were eventually restored.
And in the case of Demas we learn that not all who get away from God get restored.

One of the more puzzling lives in Scripture we find is the life that of Samson.
Samson was a man who had a unique and supernatural gift.
But most of the time he used it for his own necessities.
Three times he was turned aside from what he saw.
First he saw a woman …Then he saw a harlot … And then yet again he saw another woman.
As a result much of his usefulness was nullified by his behavior.
And so it is puzzling to find his name listed in the 11th Chapter of Hebrews where all the heroes of faith are mentioned.
So it must probably be that Samson was a very ordinary looking man.
He probably did not have those bulging biceps or look like he would have had steroids for breakfast.
He might have been a very puny little man and hence every time he used his strength, he would have been completely dependent on God.
And this being the case, it would have been good cause for the Philistines to enquire as to where his strength lay as there was no evidence of such strength in his appearance.
Someone once said that one of life’s greatest tragedies is what a man could have been.
Don’t look back at your life with regret.
Don’t think of what I should have been or could have been.
Be what God wants you to be RIGHT NOW.
God does have greater things for you and He will bring you to them.
So Timothy here is exhorted by Paul not to neglect his gift.

Notice now Verses 15-16:

1Ti 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Think of the degree of involvement he had to have in what he was doing for God.
He was to meditate on those things.
They were to be in him and he was to be in them.
This is the idea of a man totally immersed in what God wants him to be.
This is a reminder for you that if you are going to be useful to God; it is going to be hard work.
Gift is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
So to develop in usefulness for God – Time, hard work and commitment are the necessary ingredients.
Timothy is reminded of the need to be involved in it, and let it get involved in him and to look forward for God.

See also the display of his growth: That thy profit may appear to all.
The reason for being approachable is a single reason.
A man or woman is a very poor judge of his own gift.
We either over estimate or under estimate our usefulness.
Therefore others will see your growth and usefulness that you have and as a result they will come to either to encourage or discourage you.

Notice the duration in which he is to manifest these things:

1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
This is not referring to the Lord’s coming, but to Paul’s coming.

1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Continue in them … So God intends you to keep at it.
It is so easy to get discouraged, laboring and not seeing any results.
Serving and not seeing any fruit.
And so the tendency is to think is there any value in what I am doing?

There is a proverb that speaks of plowing in winter.
It says that a man who does not plow in winter is not going to eat and drink.
Plowing in winter does not appear to be profitable or useful.
Nothing is grown in winter. But it is something that needs to be done in the light of future fruitfulness.
So it has to be kept at constantly and consistently.
You may spend hours studying the Bible, and end up having only one minute to say something.
But everything that you have gleaned will one day have opportunity to help the people of God if you have plowed in winter.

Reaping a harvest for the future:
I just had an e mail from home.
A girl who attended Sunday school 15 years ago called on the phone. She wanted her husband and her children to come for meetings.
The sister, who taught her, never thought she would ever see her again.
So the need is to keep at what you are doing and not to be discouraged.

Now see how this chapter ends:
Paul tells Timothy:

1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

You may respond by saying – but Timothy was already saved! And so too all in the assembly!
So what really does Paul mean?
In Chapter 1 of this epistle, the Lord Jesus came to save sinners – This is personal salvation.
In Chapter 2 – women were saved by child bearing – this is not the salvation of the soul.
But by the problem Eve got into, by being out of place.
In Philippians Chapter 2 we read: 2
Phi 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
There was a problem in that assembly between 2 sisters.
And this problem had the potential to destroy the assembly.
So Paul exhorts them to resolve the problem and working out your own salvation is what is in view in Philippians.
So coming back to verse16 in our chapter:
It began with evil teaching.
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Verse 7 was about empty and useless teaching.
1Ti 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
And now Paul says what is going to save and preserve the assembly is this kind of teaching and service for God.
So how can I be a blessing in the assembly where God has placed me?
First of all be an example to the believers of what a believer ought to be.
Secondly, find out what God has given you to do and do it to the best of your ability.
It may not be public and visible, or important and significant.
But the salvation of the local testimony depends on every believer putting everything they have into the Testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So just to summarize what we have looked at here:

  • Paul has stressed the character of the servant.
  • He has stressed the centrality of the Scriptures.
  • He has stressed the need to cultivate the gift.
  • He has stressed the need of consistency to just keep at it.

If we want to be fruitful in God’s assembly – this is God’s formula.
May God richly bless His Word and raise up believers who will serve and honor Him with their lives.

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