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A Faithful Church in a Deceived Society - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
April 27, 2024 12:00 am

A Faithful Church in a Deceived Society - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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April 27, 2024 12:00 am

Find out the six characteristics of faithful members of the body of Christ.

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Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. Attacks against the church come in all forms, so believers need to be alert and aware. Let's continue the study of Colossians by identifying the marks of a faithful church. The Bible opens with an illustration of what Satan is going to do all the days of our life and that is to deceive people. The very first couple in the Bible were deceived, that is Adam and Eve. It's interesting that all the way through the Bible we see Satan practicing his same tactics and when you come to the 20th chapter of the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, the reference to Satan is the deceiver. Now Jesus warned us when he said that Satan is a liar and the father of all lies and to be deceived is to be misled and for someone to deceive us is to tell us that which is not true.

And Paul wrote this Colossian chapter, chapter one, in fact the whole book in order to protect the Colossian Christians against false teachers who were attempting to deceive them. But Satan is deceiving people not only outside the church but also Christians. All kinds of false doctrine era are being propagated today and many people who've been to church all of their life, many people who believe the Bible and have read the Bible and have listened to multitudes of sermons are being deceived into thinking that what the world has been saying all along is true. The world is saying today you're not going to really go to hell because there isn't any. The world is saying today don't worry about what the church says because after all that's just a little segment of our society.

The world says today look just go ahead and live it up and enjoy your life and this idea about reaping the consequences later on, forget it. Satan's tool is deception, that is lying to believe us to get us to ruin and wreck our testimony for Jesus Christ. Now Paul in writing to Colossians, if you'll turn to chapter one, in the first chapter he expresses in 9 through 14 a prayer that he has for the Colossian church. And then in chapter two, which we're going to read in just a few moments, the first seven verses of that chapter, Paul is expressing his concern for that body of believers because they were being infiltrated by false teachers.

Now I want you to see that but I want you to also see something else. As I read this second chapter in these first seven verses, over and over and over again I felt my own heart being warmed as I began to thank God. This is the way I feel and so I want you to listen to these verses in the light of what God was saying through the Apostle Paul to the Colossian Christians but I also want you to hear it another way. I want you to hear it through my own heart for what I feel about all of you who are a part of the body of Christ to whom I have the privilege of sharing week after week. Chapter two verses one through seven, listen to what he says. Paul says, for I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea and for all those who have not personally seen my face.

He says, now here's what I'm concerned about. Here's the struggle that I have. That their hearts may be encouraged having been knit together in love and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery that is Christ himself. In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I say this in order that no one may delude you or deceive you with persuasive arguments. For even though I am absent in body nevertheless I am with you in spirit rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk in him having been firmly rooted and now being built up in him and established in your faith.

Just as you were instructed and overflowing with gratitude. Now Paul is writing to a group of people who are being deceived some of whom are and who are being infiltrated by false doctrine. So I want you to remember that as we go through these seven verses but also want you to remember the second thing I said. I have a personal concern and I believe I can say with the Apostle Paul as he says in this particular chapter and this particular verse. When he says I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf.

Because many times I will say to you I want you to get this and I will say to you are you listening not as a habit but because I feel something strongly in my heart. Something that burdens my spirit. That my desire is that you and I become together what Paul prayed for and what Paul expressed as his concern in these seven verses of the second chapter. So the first thing he was concerned about and he said really this is these are the marks of a faithful church. These are the marks of a kind of church that can withstand the onslaught of all kinds of error all kinds of false doctrine all kinds of difficulty and hardship. And every church that is growing will face hardship and difficulty oftentimes persecution. He says first of all and I want you to jot these down if you will because what is true of a church can only be true of a church if it is true of the individuals who are members of that fellowship.

Listen to what he says first of all he says this is my first concern and that is that we be strong in heart that their hearts may be encouraged. That is first of all strengthened in heart. The word here encouraged in heart is the same word that we use for the Holy Spirit that is the parakletos the encourager the one who strengthens the one who gives courage.

And what he is saying in this passage is this that the body of Christ the believers who are able to withstand all kinds of trials temptations and false doctrine are first of all those who are strong in their heart. Now usually when we think about heart we think about our emotions. But the Old Testament and sometimes the New Testament and King James uses a word for heart or for emotions that's rather distasteful to us when the Bible speaks of bowels of mercy.

Now the reason they use that is because that's where they felt it that's where you feel some things we say I have a gut level feeling. But the truth is when the Bible speaks of the heart it's more not just the seat of emotion but it's our mind our will it's where we make decisions. And when Paul says I want you to be strong strengthened encouraged in your heart what he's referring to here is that you and I be strong strengthened encouraged that is settled in what we believe. Any church that is able to withstand the onslaught of error today must be settled and strong in mind that is knowing what we believe knowing why we believe it and therefore ready willing and able to defend it. So first of all he says I want you to be encouraged in your heart or strong courageous bold ready and able to face any kind of difficulty and hardship whatever it may be and in the response to that you come out confident and courageous. The second thing if you'll notice he says not only strong in your heart but he says knit together in love united in love.

Now what does he mean here. You see one of the most important facets of any fellowship as any family is a sense of oneness and unity. Now what is it that builds oneness and unity I want you to notice several verses of scripture if you will beginning in first Corinthians chapter one how often Paul brings up this subject of unity and oneness. Look if you will in first Corinthians chapter one and then we'll move on to a couple of others because he makes a great point all through his epistles about the importance of unity and I want you to see what the basis of that unity is he says first of all in first Corinthians 1 10. Now I exhort you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you but you may be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. Then if you'll turn to Ephesians chapter 4 and in the second half of the book of Ephesians again Paul underlines the necessity of oneness. He says being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He says being diligent to do it then in Philippians chapter 1 look at that if you will Philippians chapter 1 and he says in verse 27 only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. What is that so that whether I come and see you or remain absent I may hear of you.

What do I want to hear? He says that you're standing firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. It is not enough to be strong in our minds and what we believe but he says look at what he says firmly knit together how knitted together in love. Now look if you will in Colossians chapter 3 and I want you to notice verse 14. He says here is the super glue that keeps the body of Christ together. Verse 14 and beyond all these things put on love which is the perfect bond of unity.

Now unity does not mean that every single person agree on every single thing. But what Paul is saying here is that more important than my view prevail is that the body of Christ be in oneness of mind and heart. And that which keeps us unified is the spirit of love.

Now think about this for a moment. All of us who believe us are part of the body of Christ. We are part of the family of God. Living on the inside of every single one of us is the person of Jesus Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit about whom the Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is what?

Love, joy and peace and all the rest but love. So if the Holy Spirit is living within you and you're submissive to him and the Holy Spirit is living within me and I am submissive to him. The Holy Spirit who is in me is going to be expressing love toward you and the Holy Spirit who is in you is going to be expressing love toward me. So that when a body of believers are living in submission to the Holy Spirit they are going to be loving each other and love is the super glue that holds a body together.

Now what does it take to do that? Love is always asking what is best for the other person. You see in order to have the spirit of love there must be a spirit of humility.

Because if love is asking what is best for the other person we must forget ourselves for the moment and reach out to help the other person. Where there's the spirit of humility love grows. Where love is growing there is unity.

Where there is no love there is no unity. Where there is no humility there is indeed no love. You cannot be a prideful loving person.

A prideful person is self-centered and self-seeking, always seeking what is best for them, what meets their needs, what gratifies them. A person who is humble in spirit is, as Paul said, thinking more of others than of themselves. Does not the Bible say that you and I should think more highly of other people than we should think of ourselves? That does not mean that we have a false sense of humility.

It doesn't mean that we are to be critical of ourselves. But that in our opinion that we should see the value of other persons to the degree that we lay aside our own goals, our own ambitions, our own desires, our own pleasures and what gratifies us in order to reach out to meet the needs of other people. When you have a fellowship of people living that kind of life, you have a wonderful unified church in which Jesus Christ is being glorified. Now, likewise there is such a close-knitness in that fellowship. False doctrine and error has a very difficult time moving into a fellowship where people are strong in their minds and what they believe.

And secondly, knit together in a beautiful bond of loving relationships with one another. Because you see, if you love someone, you will confront them lovingly but confront them honestly when you see them being misled or being tempted to go astray. Now, I would like to say that no one has ever gone astray who's been a part of this fellowship because they have.

I've seen people get off in all kinds of doctrinal error who've sat here for years and years and somehow either they did not listen or did not believe. But the truth is that Satan is always ready to launch an attack upon anybody of Christ. I cannot tell you the destructive power of divisiveness in the body of Christ because you see, not only does the church lose its witness in the community, because Jesus says, By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you belong to a big church, prestigious church, wealthy church and all the rest know that you just have loved one toward another.

You know what that does? That puts every church on the same level. A body of people who are knit together in love because they have a common bond and that common bond is the person of Jesus Christ. The reason sometimes I come a little strong to you is because my desire for you as a believer is that you and I have that kind of spirit and relationship strong in our thinking, strong and firm in our minds, but likewise unified in the spirit of genuine, humble love each for the other, reaching out to meet one another's needs. The third thing Paul said that should be true of us in the fellowship. Now, this phrase sounds like a very long, complex sentence. And you wonder, well, why didn't Paul write it simpler than that?

Well, it really is simple. So I want you to listen to what he's saying still with verse two. He says that our hearts may be strengthened or encouraged. We may be knit together in love and then attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery.

That is Christ himself. Now, what is he saying with that? Simply this, that you and I be settled in our understanding of who Christ is. Settled in our understanding.

Now, notice how he says it. Attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding. First of all, he says, I want you to understand who Christ is. Christ in his deity, Christ in his all sufficiency. And you see, that's the theme of this whole book, that Jesus Christ is all sufficient to meet all of our needs. When you have Christ, he says you have it all. Now, he says, secondly, I want you to be assured of that. Fully assured of your understanding and fully assured that Christ is your savior and is your all sufficiency.

What is Paul referring to? That Christ is our very life. Jesus Christ is living on the inside of us and we're in him and he is in us.

He says, I want you to have the full assurance of that. That's why one of the things that I say every Sunday is that Christ is your life. Christ is in you. You are in Christ. And the reason I say it every Sunday for the same reason that Paul was writing. That you may have a full assurance and a full understanding of who you are in him and who he is in you.

Now, if I said that one time, 99% of you wouldn't get it. But I said over and over and over again because I want you to think Christ is my life. Think Christ is living within me. Think I am in Christ.

Think Christ is my all sufficiency. When you and I begin to think, when we begin to have the full assurance of our relationship to him, what happens? Here's what Paul is saying. Now, go back to that verse. He says, attaining to all the wealth. What in the world is he talking about? That wealth that comes from full assurance.

Simply this. That if you and I do not understand who we are in Christ and who he is in us. If we don't understand what we have as a result of our relationship, we can't enjoy it. Now, I see a lot of believers who are down in the dumps and acting like they are spiritual paupers. They're in need and do not understand that God has said, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has deposited to your account all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Everything you and I will ever need, Jesus Christ has and is ready and willing and able to make available to us. Listen, God isn't in heaven trying to be chinchy. He says, I want you to have the full assurance of who Jesus Christ is in order that you can enjoy your relationship. Some married people don't enjoy their relationship.

They act like they don't even know they're married. Some believers are the same way. This is why, as Paul said, my heart's desire for you is that you understand the truth, strengthened in your heart, knit together in love and come to the full awareness of who you are in Christ, who He is in you in order that you may be able to prosper from that and enjoy your relationship with Christ. Thank you for listening to A Faithful Church in a Deceived Society. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-27 04:36:26 / 2024-04-27 04:43:46 / 7

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