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.
Jesus made two important statements: He has come to fulfill the Law of God, not destroy it, and the righteousness of those who follow Him should be greater even than the righteousness of the religious teachers of His time. Jesus says that to be part of His solution, His disciples have to know Gods Word and apply His teaching in their relationships: brothers and adversaries. Jesus teaches that we can control our passions before they influence us to disobey God.
The theme of Philippians is Living in Christ through fellowship. Let this mind be in you. Paul emphasizes the importance of humility in the fellowship of believers and to consider others higher than ourselves. He teaches that we can and should know and fulfill Gods good and perfect will for our lives. Paul also said, This one thing I do, I forget the things that are behind and I reach forward to those things which are ahead.
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.
Jesus taught His disciples how to pray with a prayer we often call The Lords Prayer. But this prayer really should be called the Disciples Prayer because Jesus never prayed it Himself. He said this is how we should pray. Jesus tells us to pray in a place where we can shut the door and be alone, where there is no one to impress but God.
Believers sometimes have the misguided opinion that their faith is weak if they show signs of mourning. This beatitude not only supports mourning it links it to a blessing. Mourning a loss is normal and there are things God wants us to learn from the loss. We must let God use our mourning to move us in three ways. First, mourning helps us ask the right questions about life. Second, it helps us to seek Gods answers. Third, it also helps us to accept the blessing God has provided including our salvation.