Mature Class Study, teacher Alyce Crain.
We see a picture of the church that they were all together and working together. We are all different but we have the things of God in common. – our hearts number one goal in life is to do our best to do God’s will in this life.
Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Having God first in our hearts and being saved is the most intense thing we can have in common. The focus of the early church was to make sure everyone had their needs met. As Jesus walked through Jerusalem, he was trying to meet people at their need. This should also be our focus – to help our brethren in their needs. God needs us as brethren to be together at church, not sitting at home. There’s something special we get when we meet together that we don’t get when we’re at home. We need to press out to church if we can because we’re missing something by not being in church. The people of the early church were breaking bread or eating together at each others’ houses to have fellowship there too. We’re meant to be socially engaged so we can encourage each other in times other than church services. We’re meant to be a community of members, working together, encouraging each other, texting, calling, having dinner or coffee together. We’re not meant to be divided in cliques of teens, young marrieds, golden pillars, or anything else. We’re one body and we need to fight against attitudes that try to destroy the connection or bond we have we each other.
John 17:17-21 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
To sanctify is to consecrate, to distinguish something for a specific purpose. We need to be sanctified and set aside for God’s purpose so we can be bonded together. If we’re not sanctified, we’re going to be all about our self. Self will drive us. Our priorities need to be set aside for God’s purpose. Our activities need to be sanctified for God’s purpose – worship services, fellowship meetings, revival meetings, and outreach efforts. Alyce said she was worrying about their business and God made it clear that he’s in control and will work things out for his glory. Anything we have is really a tool for God’s glory, that we should not worry about or have as our primary purpose. We have talents and are provided for to meet the needs of the body. There are needs that are designed to be met by our brethren. As a body, we need to interact with each other so we’re aware of and can help with others’ needs. No part of our body is off doing it’s own thing and taking care of itself. We need to be caring for each other and meeting each others needs.
I John 3:16-17 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
The Japanese word gaman means you face your problems without complaining, asking for help, or disturbing others. In Japan it has brought about kodokushi which means lonely death. People are dying alone because they won’t reach out to others. Every member of our body is very important! In loving our brethren, let’s interact together with the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Are we an introvert or or shy? We can ask God to help us encourage our brethren, even if we’re quiet, impatient, uncomfortable, or have a racing mind. We shouldn’t be just talking at them. A key to helping others is to ask questions and listen to them, to show you’re really concerned for them.
Galatians 5:13-14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
We need to consider each other. Some people at Corinth were eating without any conscience problem but had no consideration for others. Others who had been involved in idol worship couldn’t eat those things because it was associated with the life they left. Some saw those eating and decided to eat those things but it caused them to go back to sin. This shows that we need to be aware of how the things we do are affecting those around us. We don’t want their conscience to be defiled because of us. We can’t have an attitude that someone is taking away our liberty. We should be doing it out of consideration for their weakness. Some of the standard is for consideration of the weaknesses of our brethren. What are people who are weak doing with their weakness? Do they avoid doing some things and then put their standard on others which causes a stumblingblock or division to those who aren’t weak? Consideration needs to work both ways in the body of members.
I Corinthians 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
I Corinthians 8:7-11 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
We’re to provoke each other – to encourage, edify or build up – to good works. One of the reasons we gather together is to encourage each other in church services or at home. It is our responsibility as individuals to encourage each other. We’re not supposed to be spectators and just watch the show of what’s happening at church.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as…some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
We need to find balance or be temperate in everything. We shouldn’t be so busy that we can’t reach out to encourage the brethren. Find the balance in life and make the effort to reach out, to be an encouragement to each other.
I Corinthians 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.