SUNDAY MESSAGE | 17/12/2017 | Pr. Jeru Jacob
It is not head knowledge a believer needs, but transformation.
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
2 Peter 1:4
‘Theo’ (Greek) is what is uniquely God’s and proceeds from Him while ‘Phusis’ (Greek) means to bring forth the essence, essential constitution and properties. So ‘divine nature’ enable us to share God’s essential constitution. We are born of God, which means, we possess the nature of God. Some of the attributes of God include: unselfishness, unconditional love, joy unspeakable, peace that passeth understanding, supernatural power, well-being/wholeness, vitality/manifesting the glory of God, creativity, divine wisdom, keen understanding, supreme knowledge and perceptive insight/discernment.
While we talk about ministries flourishing, it’s always good to keep in mind the first century church as a model before us. The early church was known to have impacted not merely individuals but entire cities and towns. Acts 9:35, 42 speaks about how cities like Lydda and Caesarea were wholly impacted by the gospel. Even in Joppa, it is said, ‘many’ came to know the Lord. We know it takes more than 50% of a city’s population to be referred to as ‘many’. Within 2 years, the entire region of Asia was impacted with the word of God. This is noteworthy because in those times, there was no social media, proper transport facility, or even public address systems, etc. Despite of all these limitations, they are being referred to as “men who turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) when they arrived in Thessalonica. How possibly could a bunch of unlettered men make such an impact if not for the divine nature of God which worked in them so powerfully, enabling them to impact lives and cities for Christ.
During 33-34 AD, the early church had a great impact on their generation. In 50 AD, Paul established the church at Corinth, which was more like a cosmopolitan city. Many signs and miracles took place at Corinth in the early days. By 56 AD, within six years, the church at Corinth grew in numbers. Along with Paul, it caught the attention of other eminent preachers like Peter, Apollos, etc. All of them were mighty in the Word. In spite of all this, they failed to impact the whole city. Paul was so disappointed with the church that he even called them as babies. It was the divisions within the church that made Paul to address them in such a manner. They argued on who was the greatest among them, favoured certain preachers to others (1 Corinthians 3:4), and engaged in idol worship. They dishonoured the Lord’s table and went into a feasting spree causing some to be weak and some even death (1 Corinthians 11:30). ‘Weak’ here means a draining of strength. The Word of God have left no gray areas and clearly reveals the reason behind their weakness. These Corinthian believers were going against the word of God, it is their sin that caused sickness among them. Having said this, we should also know that, being part of a fallen world can also be manifested in sickness and suffering. Daniel 11:32 says that those that know their God, shall be strong.
Can the sin of one man affect the whole church? Yes, of course!
In the book of Joshua 7:1, 4, when Achan sinned, the Lord said that entire Israel broke faith and the anger of God burned against the people of Israel. 36 of their men were struck dead. It was not that they all sinned, but Achan’s sin affected all.
Daniel 11:32 says “but the people who know their GOD shall stand firm and take action.” The word ‘know’ used here is ‘yada’ and in Hebrew, it means to know someone intimately; God knowing our hearts and we knowing God’s heart. Jesus said in John 17:3,
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Paul said, I know (yada) whom I believed. It is one thing is to say that I believe in God and it’s another thing to say that I know the One I believe in. Isaiah 54:5 says, “for your Maker is your husband.” It speaks of the intimacy God desires with us. God desires a deep relationship with us. The illustration used by Paul in this regard is of Christ and the church, which is compared to the intimacy a man and woman enjoy in marriage.
In James 4:4-8, James calls believers, you adulterous people! Do you not know the friendship with the world is enmity with God?”. Our loyalty gets divided between the Lord and the world. The people of the world say that they choose what is good, right or best for them. But unlike them, a believer should confess that, he will choose what God says is good, right or best for him.
As a person commits adultery by dishonoring the marriage covenant and go after someone else, when a believer, who is engaged to Christ (the bridegroom) leaves the Lord and goes after the world and gets entangled with worldly affairs, it can be equalled to committing adultery. Hence, we are called to repent. The word used for repent is ‘metanoia’: a complete change of mind. In Matthew 15:19, Jesus mentions how evil thoughts originate from one’s heart. Matthew 11:20 shows Jesus denouncing cities which haven’t hitherto repented. Disciples preach repentance in Mark 6:12. Even the message from hell, is to repent (Luke 16:30). Peter’s message in Acts 2:28, Paul’s writing in Acts 26:19, and God the Father’s message in Acts 17:30 are all the same – that we must repent of our sins.
In spite of investing so much in the Corinthian church, Paul laments and grieves in 2 Corinthians 12:21. Time is running short and we may not get time to repent tomorrow. Let us not take the grace of God as a licence to sin. In the life of King Saul and David, we see that they both sinned and were convicted about it. However, Saul was only concerned about saving his face, lest he be humiliated in front of his leaders and elders. But David, on the other hand, fell before the Lord and acknowledged, against you O’ Lord have I sinned and have done that which is displeasing in your sight. David understood that sin grieves the heart of God and he repented of what he had done. In our battle with sin, what gives us victory is not our willpower, but the revelation that it grieves God, when we sin.