Personal Evaluation Sheet

I gave out an evaluation sheet last week containing questions that go right to the essence of Christian living and church life. Those questions and others are at the heart of: Will I do more than simply hear these truths, and:

I trust that these or similar responses were not yours 
when you filled out the Evaluation Sheet. 
Of course, maybe you didn't even bother to fill out the sheet.

What about your attendance or activity at church? Did you attend today so you could be a blessing to others? Are you willing to be the blessing to others even at great cost (or at least a little discomfort) to you personally. If you are going to be a blessing to others, it might mean that you will not receive personal comfort or enjoyment from that one or other church sessions.

Are you really interested in building a solid church program 
that will benefit others for years to come, or 
would you rather sacrifice those future benefits 
for personal gratification, here and now?

Did you spend time and effort this week deciding how you could, by your actions and attitudes, stir-up other Believers to love and good works through your attendance at church today? Or have you spent time and effort developing attitudes and actions that will demonstrate, to others, just how agitated you are about some person or event?

Will your attendance at church, today, 
be an act of carnality through self expression, 
or will you have actions that 
allow the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit?

We are at a place in our study that's wonderful beyond imagination. However, the truths we will look at will go right past some, and they will have no understanding of these truths. For some, these wonderful truths will even seem like foolishness. If you, as a Believer, are living with actions and attitudes that are carnal, or are of the natural mind-set, these blessed truths will be of no spiritual meaning to you!

1 Corinthians 2:9-14 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

These deep things of God cannot be seen by human eyes, or heard by human ears, or perceived by the native thinking of mankind. However, these deep things of God have been revealed, and can be known through the teaching of the Holy Spirit as He compares Scripture with Scripture. Simply comparing Scripture with itself is an exercise that is not looked on with favor by some, because it is a spiritual exercise, instead of an exercise of the human reasoning powers and human presentation.

Over the years, and on several occasions, I have had people say to me something like, "You could say a lot in a sermon, if you didn't read so much Scripture." That's happened here, at MBF, on several occasions. Folks, we need to know and keep in mind that it is the Scriptures compared with themselves that's important, not what some teacher says or the opinions of that teacher.

The natural mind will enjoy what a human teacher says far more than what the Scriptures say of themselves when compared with others Scriptures. This comparing of Scripture is a Spiritual exercise, and the natural mind enjoys hearing human experiences and opinions far more than the Spiritual truths of Scripture, plus nothing.

When was the last time you spent an hour or more, just looking at what one passage teaches when compared with many others? Do you spend more time reading and listening to what some person says about the Scripture, than you do reading and comparing Scripture with itself? How do you think God evaluates your type of study activity? Of course, maybe none of those questions apply to you, because you spend far more time looking at raunchy television than you do the Scriptures, anyway.

No matter how eloquent the teacher may be, 
or how titillating the presentation,
the Spiritually deep things of God are only seen from the Scriptures compared with themselves, and taught by the Holy Spirit.

As a Believer, our mind, heart, attitudes and actions must not be centered in the natural, but in the Spiritual, if we are to receive the things of God. If we are centered in the natural, instead of the spiritual:

I don't know where you stand as to your living in the natural or the spiritual. If you are living in the natural realm, you will hear these things of God, and will walk away with the feeling of: "That was a waste of time, because I didn't get a thing out of it."

Just so you don't think that 1 Corinthians 2 is my pet passage, and this truth is not taught elsewhere throughout the New Testament, let's look at another very germane passage dealing with this subject of how to know Spiritual truth.

Hebrews 4:1-2 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
mixed (Greek)
to mix; to mingle; to combine and assimilate; chiefly of the diluting of wine; implies a mixing of two things, so that they are blended and form a compound.

Notice the writer of Hebrews states that no matter who the teacher of Biblical truth may be, when the good news of God is presented, and you don't get some benefit from it, the problem is in your recipe for ppiritual perception. If you're not receiving profit from the teaching of the Word of God, it's because your perception is not right, or you have not properly used God's recipe for Spiritual perception.

This is not a passage giving the teacher an excuse for slip-shod preparation or poor presentation. Instead, it is a passage emphasizing the responsibility of the hearer of God's truth, as to how they hear it, and how they use that truth.

The responsibilities of the hearer of Biblical truth is hazardous territory that most teachers don't like to move into. We love to show what God has provided, and we should! However, there is an area of responsibility for those who come to church, and hear the Word taught. The hearer's responsibility is equally important as the responsibility of the presentation of the Word, itself. The Scriptures spell out several responsibilities of the hearer of the Word. We will only glance at one of those responsibilities today.

Notice, to receive value or profit from the proclaimed Word of God, you must mix that Word with faith. Don't forget, faith without the appropriate resulting works is dead. As we saw from the Greek definition for mix, we are to combine the truth we hear with active faith, so that the truth is assimilated by the hearer until the three, the truth, faith and the hearer become an inseparable compound. As such, the components of that compound are far more valuable and usable in the physical realm to produce spiritual results than before blending.

So that we don't waste this morning, and loose the personal value of this aspect of God's good news, let's pause for a time of silent personal fellowship with Christ, and make sure that our fellowship with Him is pure, and that we're walking in the Spirit. If those factors are not a reality, take this time for confession and repentance, and reestablish both.

Please take a little time aside from your study to personally fellowship with Christ.

So we can have the benefit of the context of other Scriptures as we look at the subject of this lesson, let's review a little of the last lesson, and ask the Holy Spirit to bring back to our minds other needed information.

There are several reasons for coming to church, other than being informed of great new theological insights. There are many reasons or goals for coming together as a group of Believers, and when combined they make-up the purpose of the church service, itself. One goal or reason for assembling is not more important than the others. However, if one of these reasons is not Biblically motivated, that non-biblical reason will distract from all the others, and destroy the unity for which Christ prayed.

One of the reasons or goals for assembling as Believers, that has a tremendous affect on all others, is the stirring-up of other assembled Believers to love and good works. This reason for assembling is of equal importance with hearing the Word, or singing His praises, etc. If we have seen nothing else in this study, we have seen that God is a God of unity, and His work is to be accomplished through unity. Take away part of that totality, and whole is no longer in a state of unity.

Hebrews 10:22-25 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
stir up (Greek)
to incite or stimulate to do good (can be negative by inciting to anger and bitterness); this proper stimulation happens through the process of sharpening others as you use your life as the sharpening agent, this comes about by being along side

In your mind's eye, look at those assembled here, today. If you are looking through your mind's eye, you'll not need to turn around, unless your mind is different than the normal. Are your attitudes and actions so designed, by careful thought, to stir-up or sharpen the other Believers who are assembled here with you? Maybe you never give careful preparation to what you think, do or say, at any time. Possibly, everything you do, say or think simply blurts out without any control or careful planning.

By the way, those assembled believers include the preacher and his wife, and the assistant pastor and his wife. Today, you don't have to worry about the youth pastor and his wife, because they're on a youth retreat. But you may as well put them in the mix, because they will be back, just like bad pennies, they will return. As your mind sweeps over the faces of those here, how have you planned to stir-them-up to love and good works? Or have you made plans to stir-them-up to anger and bitterness? If so, that's not God's plan! If it's not God's plan, that leaves only the world, the flesh and the Devil.

Just a thought. But it's an important thought, because one is a spiritual action and the other is carnal. If you're here in carnality, the truth of God's Word will go right past you, or you will think it is foolish. If you are in such a state, you have contributed to the failure of the church to reach at least two of the goals for assembling together:

You see, our actions and attitudes 
can and do destroy the work of God. However, our actions and attitudes can and should enhance the work of God.

This segment of our study has been fashioned to see what the Bible says about how we can allow the light of God's glory, which we have within us, to shine out through us to the world around us. We're not talking about some religious activity. We are talking about the Glory of God that was in the face of Jesus shining in our conduct.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

Earthen vessels do not allow light to shine through them. That's one reason the Holy Spirit used earthen vessels as an illustration of the Believers. In like manner as with the earthen vessel, it is impossible for the spiritual light of God's glory to be seen in any human action. Yet, God has commanded us to be holy in our conduct, because He is holy.

1 Peter 1:15-16 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

The Scripture is clear, in that it commands us to be holy, and the Scripture is equally clear in its statements that mankind is incapable of being holy.

Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one."
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

From these passages and many more, we see that it is humanly impossible for any person to have even the smallest spark of divine glory in their conduct, to say nothing of the light of the glory of God. When God gives a command, He also provides the means to keep that command. We have looked at two of those God given means by which the Believer can comply with God's command of being holy as He is holy. These two means are similar, but vastly different. The last of these two means is the one we want to examine in the next lessons. The first means is seen in....

2 Peter 1:3-4 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
partaker (Greek)
a sharer or an associate; to have all things in common; to be a partner or companion.

We spent a great deal of time, but not nearly enough, looking at the fact that the Word of God, properly used, brings a Believer into a relationship as a partaker of God's divine nature.

It is important to see that we must use the Word of God properly, if we are to know this relationship. The Word of God can be used improperly. When the Word of God is used improperly, by either Believers or the unsaved, the effect on the user of the Word of God will be anything but beneficial.

2 Peter3:16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble!

It is also important to remember, that no matter how the Word of God goes out, God will use His word, and it will not return to Him void. That's from God's perspective. However, the one using the Scriptures improperly will suffer the consequences of that act of disobedience and defiance.

The second means of God's provision (that we looked at) for being holy in conduct is found in:

Hebrews 12:10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.
partaker (Greek)
to participate; to take food

As Believers, we can be partakers of God's life through at least these two means:

It is this being a partaker of God's life through assimilation that we want to direct our attention. We have before established, that being a partaker, as used here, of God's nature or holiness is not referring to receiving God's life at salvation. This partaking is a continuing process of living within or using that divine nature in our daily life.

It is from the base of this Greek word for partaker, used in Hebrews 12:10, that we get such words as metamorphism, metabolism and many more. These words have the thought of participation and assimilation of elements in such a manner that the elements become a vital part of the object doing the assimilating. Metamorphism has do with change from one form to another, while metabolism has to do with change in growth and health. Both are vital if we are to experience God's divine nature in holiness of conduct.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
transform (Greek)
to transform, literally to be metamorphosed; to undergo a complete change which, under the power of God, will find expression in character and conduct; a process of inward change that is evidenced externally.

Let me remind you, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 is part of the immediate context of our passage in 2 Corinthians 4 about earthen vessels. It is important that we see that the Holy Spirit, through Paul, establishes a theme throughout this whole passage by using several facts and terms such as light, illumination, etc.

This same Greek word for transformed is used three other time in the Bible. Seeing how that word is used elsewhere will help us understand it use here in 2 Corinthains 3:18. This word is also used of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus.

Matthew 17:1-2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, 2 and was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
Mark 9:2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Christ in His transfiguration was physically changed or metamorphosed. In a similar manner, as we look into this mirror, we will be changed or metamorphosed spiritually. To even begin to start to understand this great spiritual truth, we really should start in 2 Corinthians 1:1, and a parallel passage in Hebrews 1-4. Instead, we will limit our backtracking to chapter 2, with occasional references to other passages as needed for clarification

Folks, the depth of this passage is awesome! I will do my best to make it understandable, without taking a full study of systematic theology as a needed background.

I have very little problem understanding the Biblical concept of the Anti-christ or the mark of the Beast. We see the roots and concepts of these things in the nature of every human being around us, as well as the one we see in the mirror. I certainly don't know who is going to be the Anti-christ, or what the mark of the Beast looks like. However, we have many examples of the spirit and the concept of both in everyday life. The great catastrophes of the Tribulation boggle my mind, but I have some understanding of those things to come, because we see example, in miniature, of these things all around us day by day.

But when it comes to being transformed into the image of Christ, it is beyond the ability of this 'ol human mind to comprehend that, because I haven't seen many examples of such transformations. As a matter of fact, those who should, seldom challenge us to experience this transformation.

Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection [maturity], not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.

Those elementary principles mentioned here, are considered by many Believers as the deep things of God. If you're content to only dabble in such elementary things of God, you're welcome to it, but if you are interested in moving into the deeper things of God, then stay with me, and we will both rely on the Holy Spirit to make them clear to us. We certainly should not abandon or neglect the elementar" things of God, but neither should we equate knowing those elementary things as spiritual maturity. The Holy Spirit says that the opposite is true. The Holy Spirit says that those who use only the milk of the Word are infants or immature Believers.

We will only get started in the context of this passage in this lesson. I trust you will spend a great deal of time in this passage and related areas during this coming week. Please, be patient and attentive. Every word and phrase is needed for the understanding this important passage. We will be looking as some things in the context, that at first reading, will not seem to have anything to do with the subject, but hang in there! We Americans, and especially we Christian Americans want instant answers. We want all the problems of world solved in a 30 minute sitcom. We listen to a 30 minute news cast consisting of 15 minutes of commercials, and we go away thinking we have been informed of the world's affairs.

We request information from our computer, and expect that piece of equipment to do thousands upon thousands of computations is a split second. If our computer takes two seconds instead of one second to do the job, a job that would take a human several hours or years to accomplish, we grab our credit card and run out and buy a faster computer.

Folks, in the real world, things don't happen that way. Growth of any type takes time. spiritual growth, maturity and understanding take time, along with proper attitudes and actions.

In the next lesson, we will start with 2 Corinthians 2:1. For the close of this lesson, I want to jump into the middle of chapter two. Let's see another example of this transformation in which the life of Christ become our very living, and where the essence of God's character is, or should be seen through our conduct.

2 Corinthians 2:13-17 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. 14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

Just the simple reading of this passage should fill our lives with shame and exhilaration! Shame because of our failure to be the channel of Christ's fragrance to others, and exhilaration because the God of all gods has made it possible for me, a depraved sinner, to have the privilege to smelllike Christ.

There's very little of the aroma of Christ in the church today. Instead, there is the putrid smell of: selfcenterness, bitterness, anger, malice, unforgivness, unlovingness. You know the list it goes on and on, and we are very familiar with most of the odors on that list, because we practice them so often, and are so much in love with each of those nauseating smells.

Oh, to God, we would smell like Christ! When you come to the assembly, please bring the aroma of Christ with you, and let's allow God to cleanse us from the smell of the decaying things of this world that are passing away. If you were the only Believer, would the world around you know anything of the fragrance of Christ by the way you walk, talk, and act?

Folks, it matters not how much you know of the Word of God, or how well you can teach, or how beautifully you can sing. It makes no difference how much you have given, etc. You could have or do all of that and more (If so, you would be very popular in the church), but if you don't have the fragrance of Christ diffused through your conduct, you are nothing (1 Corinthians 13)!

When you come into the assembly, 
If your entrance does not bring with it the aroma of Christ, 
then you are bringing the smell of spiritual death.

Don't even talk about, don't even think about Christian maturity and the deep things of God, unless you smell like Christ in your attitude and conduct. If the aroma of Christ cannot be sensed in your speech, then it would better not to talk. By the way, if the aroma of Christ was really in our speech, it would shorten our conversations considerable, and it would change the intensity of our voice quality, and it would eliminate many words from our vocabularies.

1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.
1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Yes, you may claim spiritual maturity and freedom as your right to do many things, but if those things are not helpful, or if they do not edify, or if they bring you under the power of their action, then, I can guarantee you, those things do not diffuse the fragrance of Christ.

The choice is yours, but remember:

Ecclesiastes 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.

We are to have the fragrance of Christ diffused through our living. If we aren't willing to have that fragrance, we need to keep in mind that we will stand before this One whose aroma we are to carry, and He will be our Judge.

1 Corinthians 3:11-16 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
2 Corinthians 5:8-11 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well-known to God, and I also trust are well-known in your consciences.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998