2 Corinthians 3 August 2006 am
2 Corinthians 3
Quote: Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it.
Issac Newton, First Law of Motion.
(2 Cor. 3:18)
As human beings we normally do not like change, but it is inevitable.
>>>We all have to realize that we are either going to change for the better or for the worse, it is really a matter of choice.
The work of the Holy Spirit >>>>Without the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in the life and ministry of a local church all efforts are in vain.
A local church may experience numerical gains in attendance, but without the ministry of the Holy Spirit the church will not experience redemptive, Kingdom of God growth.
A person can live and breathe without arms and legs.
----A local church is an organism a part of the Body of Christ. A local congregation can love the Lord but not make an impact for the Kingdom. Church growth, New Testament principles give the local church arms and legs — purpose and direction to make a significant impact for the Kingdom of God.
***Without the blessing and energy of the Holy Spirit a local church is merely like a secular organization that experiences sociological growth.
Are we attractive Christians? Do we give people the impression that the most marvelous thing in the world is to be a Christian and to have the Spirit of God within us? This is the thing to which we are called and the way to do that is positively to avoid grieving the Spirit, and to walk in him, to dwell in him as he dwells in us, and to be led by him in all things.
I've recently come back from India where I heard of a little Hindu girl brought up in a strict Hindu family, who had come across Christians. Somebody asked her one day what she thought a Christian was. She thought for a few moments and replied, "Well as far as I can see, a Christian is somebody who is different from everybody else." Would that it was true.
John Stott, "Christians: Salt and Light
1. The Holy Spirit catalyzes change in people, situations and organizations. >>A catalyst is someone that precipitates change without being altered in the process. The Spirit has a clear view of every person’s heart and mind so that He knows what changes are necessary.
"And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will." (Romans 8:27)
Illustration: Some people will change when they see the light. Others change only when they feel the heat.
2. The Holy Spirit uses a variety of gifts, abilities and personalities to affect change.
>>God is able to harmonize a wide diversity of gifts, talents and personalities for the most effective change in people and organizations.
"There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (I Cor. 12:6,7)
Lady to Pastor: I have the gift of criticism! Pastor to Lady: Remember the parable of the talents? The one talent person went and buried his talent in the ground…Go and do likewise!”
3. The Holy Spirit acts as an effective power broker in bringing about spiritual changes.
The Holy Spirit’s authority is able to influence people with the wise use of His power in affecting change.
"God has not given us the spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love and discipline." (2 Tim. 1:7)
In his book Teaching the Elephant to Dance, James Belasco describes how trainers shackle young elephants with heavy chains to deeply embedded stakes. In that way the elephant learns to stay in its place. Older, powerful elephants never try to leave—even though they have the strength to pull the stake and walk away. Their conditioning has limited their movements. With only a small metal bracelet around their foot attached to nothing, they stand in place. The stakes are actually gone!
Like powerful elephants, many companies and people are bound by earlier conditioned restraints. The statement "We have always done it this way" is as limiting to an organization's progress as the unattached chain around an elephant's foot.
Climate for Growth.
A businessman purchased a tropical plant. He put the plant in his office and did every thing he knew to keep the plant healthy. He gave it water, plant food, sunshine and lots of tender loving care. After two weeks the plant was turning brown and dying. He called the Florist and asked if the plant had a guarantee because the plant was dying. The Florist asked how he was caring for the plant. He said he was giving it water, plant food and sunshine. The Florist asked: “Are you misting the plant?” “What do you mean, misting the plant?” The Florist replied, “The plant you purchased is a tropical plant and it needs high humidity. Take a spray bottle and spray mist on the plant for a week or two.” After two weeks of spraying the plant it turned green and was revitalized.
Without a proper climate in the local church you can do everything right and not experience health and vitality.
God will not bless a toxic church climate.
A proper climate for growth is the work of the Holy Spirit in response to the leaders in the church practicing and modeling Biblical qualities.
Unhealthy churches are filled with conflicts, spiritual carnality, leaders who are more interested in control than allowing the Holy Spirit to lead.
**The focus of toxic churches is inward. They are ingrown, lack vision, lack passion for souls, are comfortable, apathetic and satisfied to play church.
Unhealthy churches are characterized by five deadly diseases.
1. Toleration of known sin — gossip, carnality, and critical spirit.
- \\ a. Lack of reproductive ministries. Healthy churches have a plan to equip leaders for ministry.
b. Lack of desire to grow. Healthy churches have a compelling passion for Kingdom growth and recommitted to carrying out the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20.
c. Lack of commitment to pray. Healthy churches not only talk about prayer they pray with a deep passion for lost people who need Jesus.
8. The Holy Spirit is able to act as a process helper in carrying you through the struggles God wants you to endure. *
Paul wrote, "The God of all grace... after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (I Pet. 5:10)
(2 Corinthians 3: 18).
This verse is the climax of the chapter, and it presents a truth so exciting that I marvel so many believers have missed it—or ignored it.
You and I can share the image of Jesus Christ and go “from glory to glory” through the ministry of the Spirit of God!
Under the Old Covenant, only Moses ascended the mountain and had fellowship with God; but under the New Covenant, all believers have the privilege of communion with Him.
Through Jesus Christ, we may enter into the very holy of holies (Heb. 10:19–20)—and we don’t have to climb a mountain!
The “mirror” is a symbol of the Word of God (James 1:22–25). Garrison’s insight…
As we look into God’s Word and see God’s Son, the Spirit transforms us into the very image of God.
Someone pointed out to me not too long ago how people who have been married for a long time get so they look alike. They start having the same kinds of expressions on their faces. They start actually having the same kinds of physical characteristics.
Have you ever considered why that happens? Well, that's because people have abided with one another, and they begin to be like one another. It's the same way abiding with Christ.
We become more Christlike. We begin to take on the characteristics of Christ as we abide in him.
"Putting on Christ" ... is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity.
C.S. Lewis, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 2.
It is important, however, that we hide nothing from God. We must be open and honest with Him and not “wear a veil.”
The word translated changed is the same word translated transfigured in the accounts of our Lord’s transfiguration (Matt. 17; Mark 9).
It describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside. Our English word metamorphosis is a transliteration of this Greek word. Metamorphosis describes the process that changes an insect from a larva into a pupa and then into a mature insect. The changes come from within.
Moses reflected the glory of God, but you and I may radiate the glory of God.
When we meditate on God’s Word and in it see God’s Son, then the Spirit transforms us!
We become more like the Lord Jesus Christ as we grow “from glory to glory.”
This wonderful process cannot be achieved by keeping the Law.
The glory of the Law faded away, but the glory of God’s grace continues to increase in our lives.
Keep in mind that Paul was contrasting, not only the Old Covenant with the New, but also the Old Covenant ministry with the ministry of grace.
>>>The goal of Old Covenant ministry is obedience to an external standard, but this obedience cannot change human character.
>>>The goal of New Covenant ministry is likeness to Jesus Christ. Law can bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24), but only grace can make us like Christ.
Legalistic preachers and teachers may get their listeners to conform to some standard, but they can never transform them to be like the Son of God.
The lure of legalism is still with us.. But there are also Gospel-preaching churches that have legalistic tendencies and keep their members immature, guilty, and afraid. They spend a great deal of time dealing with the externals, and they neglect the cultivation of the inner life. They exalt standards and they denounce sin, but they fail to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Spirit of God is always the spirit of liberty; the spirit that is not of God is the spirit of bondage, the spirit of oppression and depression. The Spirit of God convicts vividly and tensely, but He is always the Spirit of liberty. God who made the birds never made birdcages; it is men who make birdcages, and after a while we become cramped and can do nothing but chirp and stand on one leg. When we get out into God's great free life, we discover that that is the way God meant us to live "the glorious liberty of the children of God."
Paul has now explained two aspects of his own ministry: it is triumphant (2 Cor. 1–2) and it is glorious (2 Cor. 3).
The two go together: “Therefore seeing we have this [kind of] ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not” (2 Cor. 4:1).
When your ministry involves the glory of God—you cannot quit!