Inter-Community Church of God
February 26, 2023 Service
      • Psalm 32LEB

  • Amazing Grace

    Is the theme for today’s worship, for it is the theme of our salvation. For it is by grace we are saved, that not of itself, for it is the gift of God.
    For God so loves the world that he gave his only Son, so whoever believes in Jesus will not perish, but have unending life with him.
    Those statements are the truth of the Gospel.
    I think its important to begin today with making sure we understand better what Grace is about, as compared to what the Law is about.

    Grace is God’s Love

    God loves you, so he sent Jesus to cash your check. Romans 6:23 “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You earned death for your sin. Jesus took your paycheck and cashed it on the cross, so that with your sins forgiven, you are eligible for eternal life in Christ Jesus, who has been raised from death and who will call us out of our own death and into to His eternal life. Only we don’t have to visit Hell on the way. Grace by-passes the law, bringing us from dead sinners to live saints because of what Jesus did on the cross. Let’s compare that to Law.

    Sacrifice is the Law

    In the days of sacrifice and worship in the Temple, the rituals for sin offerings and guilt offerings are outlined in Leviticus chapters 4, 5 and 6. Basically, in order to ask God to make your sins invisible on judgement day, an animal was killed in your place, and the blood brushed or sprinkled on the altar, and on the one making the offering. The Old Testament word kaphar means “to cover” or hide. The sin is not gone, it is out of God’s sight by God’s choice. He has chosen not to look past the blood. He sees the blood and doesn’t count the sin against us. In the English New Testament, we use the word “Atonement” which is very English in origin. Sin separates us from God; forgiveness brings us back together. We were separate until our sins are out of God’s sight, then we are made one with God again.

    Atonement: Atone=“At one”

    again with God. That is what his forgiveness does.
    Now, the guilt offering in the Old Testament begins with an atoning sacrifice, and is not completed until restitution is made. First, atonement with God; then, rebuilding the relationship with those we have wronged, beginning with paying a price, restoring what was taken or lost, removing any reason for revenge.
    In our modern day, we use the courts to decide our guilt and our restitution. But that comes from a third party, and separates us from the reality of our guilt; instead, it just makes us responsible to pay something to the one we have hurt or wronged. In the Bible, the purpose of admitting our guilt to God through sacrifice and to another person through restitution puts us in a place to rebuild the relationship. Relationship is one of the core values of the whole Bible.
    Every year, there was a special

    Day of Atonement

    The Lexham Bible Dictionary Old Testament Background

    The Day of Atonement (Lev 16) was a more complex ceremony involving special priestly garments, five sacrificial animals (one bull, two goats, and two rams), incense, and the purification of the holy place. After the bull had been killed to atone for the sins of the priest, lots were cast over the two goats. One of the goats was killed and its blood used to purify the holy place; the people’s sins would be confessed over the other—the scapegoat—which was then released into the wilderness to carry away that sin. The two rams were then presented as a guilt offering for the priest and the people, and the fat of the bull and the slain goat was burned on the altar to conclude the ceremony.

    The elaborate nature and blood sacrifice of these ceremonies attest the gravity with which the Old Testament views sin. The people’s participation in the ceremonies speaks to the dynamic, covenantal relationship between God and Israel.

    Pride and Prejudice

    causes us to tell ourselves the lie that God saves me because I am worth it. He saves me because he likes me best. And since I am worth saving to God, and because he likes me best, then I am going to assume that God doesn’t like you, and you probably aren’t worth saving.
    Grace is amazing, but grace is grace. We can never earn grace. Even if we admit our guilt, we still don’t have what it takes to pay the penalty for our sin. That’s why Jesus died for all of humanity, and only asks that we believe. Grace is by definition what we cannot earn, that is the favor of God. The favor of God means that he is willing to see us as if we have not sinned, through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ offers himself for our sins, not because we are better than anyone else, but because he loves us so much because we are his own creation, and he is willing to pay the price for our lives. 2 Cor 5:21 “21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
    Pride has no place or purpose in the plan of salvation. So also, Prejudice against others also has no place or purpose either.
    One way to say that is that we are all on level ground at the foot of the Cross

    The Cross is On Level Ground

    Only Christ is lifted up. Only Christ is to be preferred over others. Look around you, and if you are a sinner saved by Grace, you are there with all the other sinners saved by Grace. No one wears a crown, and a tuxedo makes you no better than a t-shirt. We are equal because of the color of our blood, not the color of our skin. We are all equal before God because of the simplicity of believing that Jesus is the Son of God, not the ontological complexity of our theology of redemption. One of my professors in Seminary said “If you preach to the 12-year-olds in the congregation, maybe you won’t go over the heads of the PhDs that are there.”
    If you are proud of yourself because you are a Christian, you are proud of the wrong person. If you think you are preferred because you are saved, that is probably a sure sign that you will be last in line, not first. We are all equal before the Grace of God at the foot of the Cross. That is Amazing Grace.
    Now, what brought me to talk about Pride and Prejudice before I got to Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 today?
    If you didn’t get it yet, you will get it in a moment.
    Paul begins chapter 4 with a description of how he sees himself in the light of this Amazing Grace and the call of God on his life to give

    Amazing Service

    Which is, for Paul, not the reason for the grace he has received, but instead it is the response to the grace he has received. He is not saved by his service, but serves because he is saved. Service to God is his response to the Grace of God he has received.
    1 Corinthians 4:1–2 ESV
    1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
    Paul came to Corinth because he was committed to serve the Savior, no matter what it cost him and no matter where he was called to go. And he already found out it is better to follow the Lord’s lead than to get ahead of God with his own ideas.
    That is why he has learned to be a faithful keeper of the truth, a steward, or caretaker, of what has been entrusted to him. He says it is about being a servants or slaves to Christ first of all; and careful handlers of the heart of the gospel, the mysteries of God, on the other hand.
    Paul spoke of mysteries of God because in his day there was a kind of what we would call “new age” movement that we call mystery religions; things were not printed in a book, but came through the “oracles”, the voices that were coming from certain prophets and priests of ideas that were apparently secret to most. Sometimes called “knowledge” religions, in Greek that is gnostic which only the leaders really knew. We still have many people attracted to that idea now.
    The real truth is that the knowledge of God is an open book—if the book you open is the Bible!

    Servants Are Judged by Their Master

    Paul found himself in the uncomfortable position of facing the judgement of the church in Corinth—at least in some kind of rating system—that was evident in the “I am of Paul, I am of Peter, I am of Apollos, I am of Christ” prejudice practiced at this point of time in Corinth.
    1 Corinthians 4:3–4 ESV
    3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

    Don’t Judge What You Can’t See

    and certainly don’t presume to evaluate what you are not supposed to oversee.
    1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV
    5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

    Start with Self-Assessment

    Which Paul here states by example rather than by command. Paul says “Here is how I do it, to keep myself centered.”
    1 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
    6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.
    Paul and Apollos are not competitors but servants with different duties. God prepared each for the duties he assigned. Paul was smart, but his strength was in his surrender to God’s directions. Apollos could sell a swimsuit to a sailor, but his strength was not his power of persuasion but his positive service to the Gospel of God’s love through Jesus Christ.

    May Boasting and Bias Be Gone!

    The Amazing Grace of God’s Salvation through Jesus Christ is like finding a lottery ticket that you didn’t pay for and finding out it made you a millionaire. . . .
    1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV
    7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

    Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

    What do you see? What do you believe about yourself?
    1 Corinthians 4:8 ESV
    8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!

    Amazing Submission

    is shown by how the true apostles of Christ are living in order to share the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
    1 Corinthians 4:9 ESV
    9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.

    Mirrors and Magnifying Glasses

    It all depends what you are willing to see.
    1 Corinthians 4:10 ESV
    10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.

    Service is Found in Submission

    .... and is Never About Self
    1 Corinthians 4:11–13 ESV
    11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

    Dealing with Difficult Children

    1 Corinthians 4:14–15 ESV
    14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

    A Model for Others to Follow

    1 Corinthians 4:16–17 ESV
    16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

    Spoiled Siblings or Submitted Servants?

    1 Corinthians 4:18 ESV
    18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.
    When the Cat’s Away the Mice will Play
    1 Corinthians 4:19–20 ESV
    19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.

    When Dad is at the Door

    1 Corinthians 4:21 ESV
    21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
      • Leviticus 16GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:1–2GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:3–4GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:5GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:6GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:7GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:8GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:9GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:10GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:11–13GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:14–15GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:16–17GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:18GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:19–20GS-NETBIBLE

      • 1 Corinthians 4:21GS-NETBIBLE

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