A Church “Do Your Best”

do your best

This week I am doing sermon prep in Ephesians 4:1-6 for a message in September, Lord willing. In the text the apostle exhorts believers who desire to live out a worthy walk in Jesus to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The word for “eager” is variously translated “make every effort” (2 Pet. 1:5) or “do your best” (2 Tim. 2:15). In other words, there are some things about life in gospel community that demand our all. Paul argues in Ephesians 4 for those called of Jesus to His glorious salvation and made part of His glorious church that virtuous (see v. 2) peacemaking ranks right up there at the top of responsibilities in which we will want to excel.

That commitment will work itself out in various forms, but I want to talk about just one with the help of Jonathan Edwards from his work, Charity and Its Fruits:

220px-Jonathan_EdwardsAll undue anger indisposes us for the pious exercises and the active duties of religion. It puts the soul far from that sweet and excellent frame of spirit in which we most enjoy communion with God, and which makes truth and ordinances most profitable to us. And hence it is that God commands us not to approach his altars while we are at enmity with others, but “first to be reconciled to our brother, and then come and offer our gift” (Mat. 5:24); and that by the apostle it is said, “I will, therefore, that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8).

So what does this mean?

If we take seriously an eagerness to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace such that we do our best in this regard, then peacemaking will take priority even over corporate worship. If we cannot overlook an offense, then we will make every diligent effort to meet with the necessary party to reconcile and not pretend to lift so-called hands in holy worship when we have avoided our responsibility to do so.

If applicable, you have between now and Sunday to do your best. Go for it!

Fuel for the Fire of Faithful Ministry

Today’s message from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

I summarized the theme of the text this way: the victorious reality of our future resurrection anchors us in an unshakeable constancy in ministry. Work for God fueled by the fire of a gospel-resurrection hope will be an amiable, abounding, arduous, assured, and awarded kind of work.

Here are Charles Spurgeon’s words with which I closed:

Take this henceforth for your motto—All for Jesus, always for Jesus, everywhere for Jesus. He deserves it. I should not so speak to you if you had to live in this world only. Alas, for the love of Jesus, if thou wert all and nought beside, O earth! But there is another life—live for it. There is another world—live for it. There is a resurrection, there is eternal blessedness, there is glory, there are crowns of pure reward—live for them, by God’s grace live for them. The Lord bless you, and save you. Amen.

Fuel for the Fire of Faithful Ministry

My text for this morning’s message was 1 Cor. 15:58.

I summarized the sermon this way:

The victorious reality of our future resurrection compels an unshakable constancy in the work of ministry. Such steadfast immovability will manifest itself in work – amiable work, abounding work, arduous work, and assured work.

Here is the Thomas Manton quote concerning Titus 2:14 I found so provocative:

Christ died to improve piety, not to lessen it, but to raise it to the highest, to make us zealous of good works that we might be carried on to heaven with full sails. . . . True grace is a fire that warms and inflames our affections. Christ came to make us more cheerful and lively, but not slack, careless, and cold . . . A cold Christian will have but cold comfort. For whom did Christ die? For those that are zealous of good works . . . It is not cold prayers, yawning devotions, and drowsy wishes when men are half-asleep that will serve in this case. Heaven is gotten by force and surprised by onset and storm (attack and violent assault).

You can listen to the entire message here.

May the Lord grant that those of us for whom Christ died may be carried on to heaven with full sails, zealous for good works!