In chapter 12 we have opposite but complementary principles: diversity of gifted believers and the necessary unity of all the gifted saints in a local church. A Spirit-filled church will have a wide range of people blessed with different spiritual gifts which, under the control of the Holy Spirit, are used for the edification of the body of Christ, not its division. Chapter 14 demonstrates what happens when a church elevates one gift above another, specifically the gift of tongues.
Paul offered many solutions to problems in the church, but he offered one solution that can be applied to every spiritual problem Christians can face. That solution is agape love, the way God loves us and the way we are to love others. In chapter 15, Paul declares that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a vital part of the Gospel and is the foundation of our entire Christian belief system. For if there is no resurrection, we are to be the most pitied.
Some in the church in Corinth had begun to attack Pauls apostleship, others criticized his speaking abilities, and still others thought he was out of his mind. In 2 Corinthians, Paul defended his credential as an apostle and the nature of his ministry. He explained how suffering for the sake of the Gospel can be used to qualify us to be ministers of Gods comfort. Paul said his life and ministry was one of reconciliation, to bring people back into fellowship with God.
Pauls second letter to the Corinthians is all about the ministry God wants every believer to experience, the ministry of reconciling all people to Himself. But our lives must be characterized by Christ who has saved us and lives in us. Paul described our relationship to Christ in three ways: by Christ, in Christ, and for Christ. When we respond to pressures, storms, and trials, people will see that we are different, we are filled with a priceless treasure: Jesus Himself.
In addition to Paul's experience when he encountered Jesus on the Damascus road, he learned from Jesus in the Arabian Desert, and was taken into heaven and given revelations too deep for words. Paul was also given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger from Satan. No one knows exactly what this thorn was, but it is clear God used it to keep Paul humble and to use Pauls weakness to show His strength. God likes to demonstrate His adequacy through our inadequacy.
In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul writes about an offering for persecuted believers in Jerusalem. Paul describes the faithful stewardship of the Philippians, giving us a masterpiece on the subject of Biblical stewardship. God accepts our gifts, not based on how large they arethe Philippians gave generously even in their povertybut on the attitude with which we give it. Our motivations should be love and gratitude, joyfully giving back to God a portion of what He has given us.
Paul concludes 2 Corinthians challenging those who are in the church to examine themselves to see if they are really in Christ. The next book we study is the letter of Paul to the Galatians where Jewish leaders were teaching that to be saved and stay saved one had to observe the Jewish laws. Paul said that if anyone comes preaching a different gospel, they should be rejected and cursed of God, because the Gospel he preached was from God not from men.
Can you be good enough to be saved or stay saved? Paul says such thinking is of the flesh. When Paul heard the Gospel was being perverted to a works based gospel, he responded to the Galatians explaining we are justified by faith not works. Paul went on to say the only way to live is be crucified with Christ; Paul wasnt talking about dying, he was talking about living by faith in Christ.
We have two opposing forces within us: our sin nature and our new nature. The Apostle Paul says in Galatians, the Spirit can overcome the flesh. It all depends on what we plant in the garden of our lives. If we plant Gods seed into our life then the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We must plant seeds to please the Spirit to reap eternal life.
In our concluding look at Galatians we have insight into Pauls handicap and his explanation of the new birth which is like physical birth. Paul teaches if Christ has made us free then we should remain free. Pauls little letter to the Ephesians is very profound. Paul tells us that in Christ and in the heavenly realm we have access to everything we need to live a Godly holy life. The problem is we sometimes look in the wrong place.
The first four books of the New Testament are called gospels, which means good news. They are central to revealing Gods eternal plan: to redeem and save lost mankind. They are often referred to as biographies: Through them we gain a comprehensive insight into the life of a Man who only lived for 33 years, but who impacted the history of our world more than anyone who ever lived. The gospels declare Jesus the Christ, Gods greatest revelation of truth.
We live in a competitive world. Sometimes our relationship with competitors, or adversaries, becomes hostile, and they are determined to sue us or even put us in prison. Disciples who are peacemakers do not get angry or try to get even with their enemies. Instead, they determine never to be the source of conflict with adversarial people. Jesus also taught us how to relate to the opposite sex. As with other sins, Jesus goes to the source: our hearts. If we really want to be part of the solution as salt and light, we must learn how to control our sexual desires.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of the Bible. Jesus preached this sermon on a mountaintop in Galilee when He challenged people who professed to be His disciples to be strategically placed between the love of God and the pain of the hurting people in the world. He challenged His disciples to partner with Him and be conduits of His love. He concluded His sermon with a call to commitment. It changed the lives of many who heard it.
The word mercy means unconditional love. When David writes in Psalm 23:6 that mercy will follow him all the days of his life, the word he uses for follow actually means pursue. Gods unconditional love will pursue David all of his life. This is the kind of love for others that we must have too, if we are to be like God.
Salt is a preservative that keeps meat from spoiling, and Christians with the attitudes of Jesus are like salt to the world. When disciples with Christ-like attitudes are rubbed into the people of the world as salt is rubbed into meat, their influence will keep the world from total corruption. They become a valuable commodity Jesus uses to revolutionize the culture. The second metaphor indicates that Christians are the only source of light for multitudes living in darkness. As with the first metaphor, Jesus words literally mean that you and you alone are salt and light. If His disciples do not fulfill their role as salt and light, no one else is left to fulfill it. The people who have Jesus attitudes are sent into the world as Gods solution in order to shine for all to see.