Tough talks with God towards Spiritual Growth

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Tough Growth Father

Sunday 10/29/23

Message: Tough talks with God towards Spiritual Growth

***Video is HERE***

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Tough talks with God towards Spiritual Growth

NOTE: About 46 minutes into this message I used poor wording to convey what I meant to say. I said that I am not justified by my works being better than another, but only by my conformity to Christ as my standard. By this I did not mean that we are not justified by faith as opposed to works. What I DID mean was that real faith will ALWAYS produce works consistent with what I claim to believe. So if my faith and confession is that Jesus is Lord, then my actions will back that up with conformity to Christ’s word’s and ways.

In our recent studies of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our co-partnership with Him in Kingdom work we’ve been reading Paul’s exhortations to the church in Corinth. Remember that we are still focused upon knowing Jesus greater, in more fullness of union and intimacy with Him. It was for this very purpose that the Holy Spirit has been given to the church at large and its members individually.

So far we have learned that only those who are worshippers of God can hear the Spirit, see Him or know Him. Cornelius and Lydia served as two examples of this for us. 

Jesus had told His disciples that when He left He would then only be seen spiritually – by those with eyes to see and ears to hear. 

He explained that it was only those people who knew the Spirit of God. People can have discernment to hear the Holy Spirit both before salvation when the Spirit is doing His pre-redemptive work of conviction or after salvation in His post-redemptive work of ongoing sanctification. 

Then in turning to the letters to the Corinthians, we have covered Paul’s determination to always be led by the Spirit and to teach by the Spirit. To not rely upon his own earthly wisdom – which today we might call his college training and ministry experience. Paul no doubt received far more than a mere equivalent of a Doctorate of Divinity under Gamaliel. Yet he was determined to rely upon that NOT AT ALL! He looked to and was sensitive to the leading and promptings of the Holy Spirit within and upon. 

Then we saw how the Spirit does the same for every believer. He reveals Jesus to us, He takes from the deep things of God the Father’s heart – things the Father has held and has kept ready for His true worshippers – and reveals them to us.

We learned that to grow in our perception of and obedience to the Holy Spirit was what makes a believer “spiritual” as opposed to “carnal.

The Corinthian believers were largely carnal and this was a great inhibitor to their spiritual progress. Their sight and understanding of spiritual truths was veiled from their minds due to their preoccupation with things of this life.

Paul used the most recent manifestation of this as a lesson to them. 

The church of Corinth had become divided in their opinions and allegiances. Some were devotees of Paul, others to Apollos, others still to Cephas and others claimed ONLY allegiance to Christ Jesus Himself. 

Paul made it clear that all such divisions were in themselves carnal – even those who claimed only allegiance to Christ, for those too had entered into the conflict that was causing division among them.

So Paul made it clear that he, he Apollo, Peter… all of them were ministers on behalf of Christ – called, commissioned and sent out by Christ Jesus Himself. So to hear one of them was to hear all of them. They were nothing more and nothing less than ministers through whom they believed. It was GOD Himself Who ALONE gives the increase or causes growth.

Obviously the intent was to place them in a proper position relative to God’s special ministers in order to hear God through them, but to NOT replace them for God.

That is where we left off just as Paul was about to explain how all of our works will be judged. Note our thoughts, not our claimed allegiances – but our works! Then He offers an appeal to turn to, look to and depend upon the Holy Spirit alone to help.

He IS our Helper

Let’s look at the passage as it leads us into a deeper subject…

1Corinthians 3:1-23,

“(1) And as for myself, brethren, I found it impossible to speak to you as spiritual men. It had to be as to worldlings–mere babes in Christ.  

(2)  I fed you with milk and not with solid food, since for this you were not yet strong enough. And even now you are not strong enough:  (3)  you are still unspiritual. 

For so long as jealousy and strife continue among you, can it be denied that you are unspiritual and are living and acting like mere men of the world?  

(4)  For when some one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another says, “I belong to Apollos,” is not this the way men of the world speak?  

(5)  What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are just God’s servants, through whose efforts, and as the Lord granted power to each, you accepted the faith.  

(6)  I planted and Apollos watered; but it was God Who was, all the time, giving the increase. (7)  So that neither the planter nor the waterer is of any importance. God Who gives the increase is all in all.  

(8)  Now in aim and purpose the planter and the waterer are one; and yet each will receive his own special reward, answering to his own special work.  

(9)  Apollos and I are simply fellow workers FOR and WITH God, and you are *God’s* field– *God’s* building.”  

Here you could interject the word “temple”.

“(10)  In discharge of the task which God graciously entrusted to me, I–like a competent master-builder–have laid a foundation, and others are building upon it. 

But let every one be careful how and what he builds.  

(11)  For no one can lay any other foundation in addition to that which is already laid, namely Jesus Christ.  (12)  And whether the building which any one is erecting on that foundation be of gold or silver or costly stones, of timber or hay or straw–  (13)  the true character of each individual’s work will become manifest. 

For the day of Christ will disclose it, because that day is soon to come upon us clothed in fire, and as for the quality of every one’s work– the fire is the thing which will test it.  

(14)  If any one’s work–the building which he has erected–stands the test, he will be rewarded.  

(15)  If any one’s work is burnt up, he will suffer the loss of it; yet he will himself be rescued, but only, as it were, by passing through the fire.”

I admit that I am not certain what this part is referring to, but others who know the language better seem to see this as a phraseology which at the time would have conveyed the idea of barely getting by. 

Consider by way of example a man whose life’s work has caught on fire within his place of business and he himself is in the building when the fire broke out. Then he being able to escape the destruction of the flames, but only as it were with his clothes being somewhat singed on his body. He got out, but only just!

So it is that if a person takes the foundation of Jesus and builds upon it a personal life and ministry which does not honor or glorify Him – so long as his foundation is sure, he will be saved… but barely so!

This “may” swing entirely upon the hinge of intentions. 

I do not support this referring to someone who supposedly came to Christ, but afterwards only lived for himself. That person, if ever saved at all, eventually becomes apostate by either completely stopping all advancement in Christ or having never borne any fruit to Him to begin with. 

So, this would almost have to be referring to someone who built upon Christ incorrectly, though with good intentions. 

Take the extremes of the so-called Christian legalist or the liberal, for example. The legalist may live and teach a doctrine of “self” – 

  • self-discipline 
  • being self-taught and 
  • depending on self alone to conform to Christian doctrine. 

Or the liberal who believes that since our sins have been paid for, Guys trashes no notice of ongoing sin and that any attempt living righteously is a work of the flesh and runs contrary to grace. 

These people, may have some underlying good intentions, but their doctrine and testimony is dead wrong in all matters except initial salvation by faith in Jesus

These are extreme examples and ones with holes I can plainly see, but they were intended only to serve as examples.

Today one might say that the person Paul is here describing is one who gets into eternity with his relationship with God intact by the skin of his teeth.

That, by the way is NOT, the way anyone in the congregation of believers will enter eternity! 

We will, no doubt suffer some loss – I believe that is inevitable, but not the loss of all save our lives. 

We are committed to continue in grace – producing the fruit of likeness to Christ and serving Him in furthering His kingdom by His Spirit with ever increasing devotion as we grow! 

That is the desired outcome of the focus of our study today, which begins with these words in…1Corinthians 3:16-23,

“(16)  Do you not know that you are God’s Sanctuary, and that the Spirit of God has His home within you?  

(17)  If any one is marring the Sanctuary of God, him will God mar; for the Sanctuary of God is holy, which you all are.  

(18)  Let no one deceive himself. If any man imagines that he is wise, compared with the rest of you, with the wisdom of the present age, let him become “foolish” so that he may be wise.  

(19)  This world’s wisdom is “foolishness” in God’s sight; for it is written, “HE SNARES THE WISE WITH THEIR OWN CUNNING.”  (20)  And again, “THE LORD TAKES KNOWLEDGE OF THE REASONINGS OF THE WISE–HOW USELESS THEY ARE.”  

(21)  Therefore let no one boast about his human teachers.  (22)  For everything belongs to you–be it Paul or Apollos or Peter, the world or life or death, things present or future–everything belongs to you;  (23)  and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.”

Paul asks the question – Do you not know?

The body is the temple of God. Fruit born from union and co-participation with the Holy Spirit takes place in and through this physical human body. 

Do you not know this?


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!