Doctrine Not Applied is Vain

The Western surge in the promotion of Calvinism in churches is not always accompanied by reform of conduct, or separation from the world. A great gulf is seen between belief and practice. James deals with this very situation, and with how we must all face our inconsistent ways.

The Trials of Character

How to handle poverty or wealth, and temptations to sin that come from within ourselves. The source is inner corruption, and here are the precautions and remedies for halting their development, especially vital when the world presses us as never before.

The Trials of Faith

From the Pastor of the church at Jerusalem came the first of all NT epistles, and its first theme is troubles. The inspired writer does not primarily dispense comfort, but calls us to understand the purposes and respond well, telling us how to handle tests of faith.

An Agenda for Blessing

Striving for earthly gain and satisfaction makes believers vulnerable to the snare of many longings and lusts, leading to severe spiritual decline and sorrow. Paul appeals to us to flee from these things, giving a six-point agenda for the consecrated life that leads to spiritual fruitfulness.

The Battle for Eternity

‘Lay hold on eternal life’ was spoken to a preacher, showing the need to grasp eternity as the supreme objective and inspiration and the antidote to complacency and backsliding. Here, too, is why the historic two-nature model for sanctification is the best practical aid to believers.

Constant Communion

The word ‘godliness’, as used by both Paul and Peter, does not mean holiness but devotion or reverence. Knowing this brings all the exhortations to godliness to life. Here we see what constant devotion is, how it is to be exercised and maintained, and the blessings it brings.

Greatness of the Truth

Conforming a church to God’s pattern must begin with a glimpse of the greatness and glory of Christ and His church (which would shame away today’s trivialisation and entertainment). Here is the all-surpassing wonder of ‘God manifest in the flesh’, and the five powerful proofs.

Signs of Spiritual Life

Are we truly saved? Do we need a jolt to examine our status before God, or do we need reassurance that we are saved? In a single study, here are two major signs from 1 John: our commitment to the Gospel, and our changed relationship with sin and the world

The King Eternal

This magnificent expression of praise describes the Sovereign Ruler. Here is how God determines all things without being the author of sin, together with rich observations drawn from God being eternal, immortal, invisible and exclusively wise. Thinking of His Being promotes our communion, love, holiness and service.

The Real Power of Truth

Timothy was not a special delegate, but a prototype pastor in the Bible’s pattern for church order. Here is the true aim of the Gospel – to produce holy and dedicated hearts. Here also is the glory of the Gospel, and how Paul’s conversion is a pattern for all others

Paul’s Personal Admonitions

Having shown that there is much opposition to Gospel work, Paul gives five famous directions for resisting and overcoming this, here explained. On these directions, with God’s help, the very survival let alone the spiritual advance of a congregation depends. Here also are the apostle’s closing encouragements.

The Source of Fervour

Our resurrection bodies will be the image of Christ’s, constituted for eternal glory: physical, tangible, yet spiritual, powerful and perfect. Death – the great devourer – will be itself swallowed up by the final victory of Christ. Here is how we should be affected and inspired even now.

Jealous for Truth

At Corinth even good believers lacked backbone to defend the priceless truth of resurrection against a minority of cynics. Here is Paul’s call to wake up, his warning of the power of error, and his revelation on the necessity and nature of glorious resurrection bodies.

End Time Glory

Christ’s resurrection guarantees the day when He shall return and His people shall receive their resurrection bodies. Here is the manner of it, and the accompanying acts of Christ that end the tyranny of death and all opposition, ushering in unbreakable glory and bliss

The Unique Message of Resurrection

The Cross would have disappeared from history as a terminal failure, had not the Resurrection shown its significance and accomplishments. Christ must save soul and body for God’s original plan to be brought to pass – a godly host living bodily on a glorified earth.

True Worship

When Paul says everyone had a psalm, doctrine, tongue, etc, for worship, he obviously refers to the recognised leaders of the church, as we prove here. These are his inspired directions for orderly worship that includes the full biblical ‘agenda’, and glorifies Christ.

Understanding is the Key

Amidst clear teaching on the limited purpose of the temporary gift of tongues-speaking, and the paramount place of understanding in worship, Paul reveals the four ‘departments’ or objectives of all teaching and ministry, and the nature of evangelism. Here also prophecy is defined.

The Components of Love

Only the Christ of Calvary could have composed and inspired this glorious chapter (penned by Paul) about Christian love, its qualities, its strength, and its eternal crowning. Here are our aims in the experience of love, and why it is so much greater than faith and hope.

The Church is Like a Body

The Apostle speaks of an individual congregation as a ‘body’, showing the divine design and the wide differences in the contribution of members. If a church is a preacher only, it is ultimately doomed; that is if there are not roles for all, and no mutual care and dependence.

Hearing God Speak

The purpose of spiritual gifts – revealing the New Testament (and authenticating the spokesmen). Paul lists them, with ongoing spiritual gifts and their features. Never for personal indulgence, they bring God’s Word to all. Here also is why the church is gloriously called the body of Christ.

Lord’s Supper Sincerity

At Corinth the Lord’s Supper was ruined and invalidated by being confused with a ‘love feast’. Paul shows how we should approach the ordinance and what we should derive from it. It is a deeply moving ‘proclamation’ of Calvary, and either insincerity or absence leads to chastisement from the Lord.

What the Resurrection Tells Us

Though long foretold (also by Christ) the resurrection shocked the disciples. By His appearances Christ showed His divinity, the success of His atonement, His closeness to His people, their eternal security, His readiness to show them proofs, His desire for their service, and the certainty of end-time prophecies.

Christian Dress

Paul tells women to wear the veil of their society, which symbolised subjection. Our society has not had this dress code for decades. Hats no longer signify subjection. Is Paul’s requirement to be literally obeyed today, or may the principle be observed in a different way?

True Followers

What Christ left to Paul to reveal. True Christians are to be imitators of the apostles’ ordinances – here meaning traditions, i.e. the doctrines and practices they taught, including behaviour, aims, attitude, love, reverence, separation from the world, working for Christ, and living with an eye to eternity.

Putting Self Last

Seeking the wellbeing of others above our own is a key objective for Christ’s people. How we speak of others as well as to them, and how we help them in deed must be Christ like if we hope to be used by Him, and have spiritual fulfilment.

Closer to Christ

‘The communion of the blood of Christ’ is a remarkable term speaking of partnership or sharing with a divine person. Yet Christ is not known by touch, voice or bodily sensation, but by faith. Here is the way in which we know strong personal spiritual familiarity with Christ.

Control of Temptations and Trials

Here are eight kinds of trial and seven kinds of temptations possibly arising from them, with God’s assurances of how He overrules to fix the limits of these, and helps His people overcome and bear them. Here are the ‘ways of escape’ enabling us to overcome them all.

Backsliding Dangers

In the wilderness, the Israelites were punished not only for idolatry and fornication, but also of wanting the foods of Egypt, being dissatisfied with spiritual provisions, and for ‘worldly’ worship. Astonishingly, the latter offences are widely approved in churches today. Here is the counsel of the Apostle Paul.

Gospel Priorities

To be saved by the Gospel means to live for the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 9 is often used to justify compromise with the world, so called ‘front line’ living, even patronising pubs and clubs. It actually condemns this, presenting real dedication to the Gospel, gaining much instrumentality.

The Glorious Burden

Paul earns his own living to avoid hindering the Gospel. However, God commands the normal support of preachers. Here is the obligation of the persuasive offer of the Gospel, and it is consistent with election and regeneration. Also, maintaining fervour for souls, and the woe pronounced against slackness.

Dangerous Knowledge

Spiritual knowledge, though vital, is merely ego-inflating if unaccompanied by active love for Christ, for His cause, and for souls, as well as by an active conscience warning of sin, and urging to Christian duties. Here is how love and conscience work to make knowledge effective, and to keep us humble.

Urgent Living

Our lives are ever running lower on time to love and serve the Lord. We cannot make earthly matters, including our home, our chief priority in favour of the cause of Christ and of souls. Are we living too much for things that are doomed to pass away?

Mutual Debts in Marriage

A key word has slipped out of some modern translations – the marital debt of benevolence, meaning goodwill and kind benefits. Here are seven debts each has to the other in Christian marriage, a sevenfold bond and blessing to the crowning earthly friendship of life’s journey, are we paying what is ‘due’?

The Indwelling Spirit

The Spirit takes possession of the soul purchased of Christ, making it an inner sanctuary. It is the place of communion with God, where assurance and comfort are bestowed, and divine stirrings are felt. How careful we must be to preserve the purity of both body and soul!

A Year of Hopes

Canaan symbolises heaven, but chiefly it pictures the new life entered at conversion, given and ‘watered’ by God, to be increasingly ‘possessed’ by the believer. Here are God’s commands and promises, with nine new developments that come with growing Christian experience every new year.

Signs of True Believers

Paul shows the shame when believer takes believer before a secular court, contradicting their calling and mutual love. Then he describes sins never to be committed by believers; the threefold basis of true conversion; and the rules of Christian liberty

Keeping Church and Marriage Holy

Church discipline is seen to have several aims including the honour of Christ, the purity, witness and protection of the church, and the restoration of the offender. Here, also, is the meaning of Christ our passover, and the beauty of Christian conduct, especially in marriage

In Christ’s School of Power

We look in every passage of the Word for a doctrine, a duty, a reproof, an encouragement, a promise and a view of Christ. All are here, especially how the Lord’s loving discipline is exercised, and how His power and blessing rules in a believer’s life.

Christ’s Pattern for the Church

This message shows that Paul is to be keenly imitated in doctrine, conduct, and church policy – all three. Here are the proof-passages showing that a precise pattern is given for churches in the New Testament. Also, proof that Christ has already taught all Paul’s major doctrines

Right and Wrong Aims

Paul warns against being ‘puffed up’, vaunting earthly accomplishments or gifts, and being satisfied and overconfident. Consider Gospel workers, says Paul, their humility, selflessness, sacrifice, and acceptance of persecution. Live for spiritual and eternal aims, striving for sanctification and witness – whatever the cost.

Christ Real to Us

Here is Christ as the sole foundation for salvation, life, sanctification and eternity. Here also is the local church as God’s dwelling place, and the assurance that all things are ours, and precious, whether our present lives, the world, or death, for we are Christ’s

Defining Spiritual Meat

Spiritual maturity begins and proceeds with a taste for the ‘meat’ of the Word, but what is this? It is not sound doctrine alone, for ‘carnal Christians’ often have this. Here it is defined as passages that specifically promote love for Christ, holiness, obedience and consecration.

Receiving and Understanding Truth

Why human wisdom cannot read God’s mind. God must reveal His truth to man. Here is how we may be certain that the Bible, exclusively, is that very revelation. Here also are features of the freeness of salvation, verbal inspiration and the chief rule of interpretation.

The Deep Things of God

The apostle reproves the Corinthians’ taste for over-eloquent preaching decorated in philosophy, showing that Cross-centred persuasions, seemingly inadequate, are the wisdom and the power of God. Would he not condemn today’s Christian drama, film, or rock-music centred outreach?

Bringing Down this World’s Wisdom

How God humbles the wise, mighty and noble both now and at the last day through the witness of ordinary believers holding forth the Cross alone. Also, how Christ is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, and how He should be constantly praised by us.

The Wisdom and Power of God

Corinth was a far better church than many think, but their cultural love of heroes and oratory needed to go (like some of our fads). Paul magnificently elevates the Gospel above all human wisdom. Though foolish to millions, God’s call opens minds with converting power.

Christian Privileges

Beginning a series in this remarkable epistle, full of doctrinal, devotional and practical issues. True faults of this church are often exaggerated, distorting the message. Paul’s strong commendations show the majority were marvellously converted and walking with the Lord. Here are incomparable Christian blessings.

The Spirit of Power

Paul, in his final imprisonment, awaiting execution, tells of how Spirit-given power, love and safe-mentality sustains him, and what it means to believers to know Christ, and to commit to him all their earthly and eternal interests, with the ultimate day in view.

The Snares of Prosperity

Love of material gain, status and appearance begins with mental desire. Here is why these aims are deceitful, leading to a threefold fall or snare. Here are the hurts, and the vital antidotes that protect and promote spiritual contentment and fruitfulness.

Love for Christ

The psalmist had stumbled into material desire, or into doubts, envying the apparent benefits of godless people. But surrounded by the symbols of divine mercy in the sanctuary, he recovered his sense of salvation, his exclamation of love yielding great lessons for us on how to express love to Christ.

Humility Essential for Blessing

Paul’s humility not merely partial, but extending to intellect, judgement, spiritual power, preaching and personal requirements. Here are the major forms of pride for us to avoid. How is humility (a conversion gift) lost? Here are helpful answers along with the marks and virtues of humility, and its rewards.

Paul’s Golden Rule

Paul defines Christian conversion as a new creation, and the church as a community of new-created people. Here are their distinctive features and blessings. Here also is the three-fold meaning of Paul having the scars of Christ, and the meaning for us.

Glorying in the Cross

We cannot glory in the life of Christ, or the Bible or any doctrine without supremely glorying in what took place on Calvary’s cross, something only Christ could do, displaying his attributes, saving billions of souls, and crucifying the world to us, and us to the world.

Sowing and Reaping by Believers

It is a law of life that we reap what we sow. Believers, saved by grace, may slip back to sowing for earthly gratification rather than holiness and the service of Christ. Paul here provides needed urgings and promises.

The Law of Helpfulness

Paul first gives the ‘rules’ for kindly correction between believers, then he applies Christ’s ‘new commandment’, the law of mutual love – or burden bearing. Do we really follow this, the kindest of laws? If not, says Paul, we amount to nothing.

Walking in the Spirit

If given spiritual life by the Spirit, we should walk by His rule and help. Here is the manner in which we must read the Word, pursue holiness, engage in prayer and practise dedication to Christ in order to know real happiness and fulfilment.

Meekness and Strength Together

Meekness is the humble acceptance of God’s providence, as well as such things as the rule of the Word, Christian service and local church order. Temperance is strength over such things as the tongue, gifts, desires, moods and thoughts. Here are the biblical helps.

Deepening Faith

Ongoing faith is Spirit-given, but must be exercised. This is faith in the Word and its doctrines; living faith in Christ, and also faith in the eternal goal. False and true, hindrances and helps, are here presented.

Growing Personal Virtues

Longsuffering, gentleness (or kindness) and goodness are given by the Holy Spirit but must be exercised and increased. Here are passages that show how and give spiritual incentives. Here also are the helps and the hindrances.

Peace – the Anchor of Character

Peace is given directly to the believer by the Spirit, and also channelled through the Word. Here are descriptions of Satan’s false peace, salvation’s true peace, and Christ’s legacy of Peace. Also, how peace should rule in our hearts when trials come.

Facts About Joy

Joy given by the Spirit is to be maintained. Here are biblical facts about its character and achievements, and how it may be lost. Here also are the rich sources from which Christian joy is drawn.

The Virtue of Love

Love, the chief of Christian virtues, is imparted by the Spirit, and is a quality of thought, affection and action which must be exercised and protected. Here are its marvellous features, its scope, and its strength.

The Resistance of Thomas

This disciple’s famous disbelief in the resurrection followed several reliably reported appearances. His doubts clearly rose from a spiritual struggle within, and this passage – and the way the Lord directed him – yields numerous helps for us today.

Being Led of the Spirit

A passage not about guidance but about sanctification, and how the Spirit gives the power that enables us to avoid fleshly, sensual sins. Here are those lusts, and here also are the spiritual benefits that accompany their defeat

The Law of Love

Love is the substance of all the moral law, when it is obeyed by saved hearts full of gratitude to Christ. Here is how it works for each commandment. Here also is how the old fallen nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit are in conflict, and the way sin is to be overcome.

The Paradox of Christian Living

The doctrine of Christian liberty proclaims our freedom from the condemnation of the moral law and from Jewish ceremonial ritual. It includes our freedom to approach God, through Christ, without need of a priesthood. Yet we are to be willing servants of God’s standards, and of other people. Key verses show how.

Paul’s Allegory of the Covenants

While making powerful appeals for loyalty to salvation by faith, Paul brings a lesson from Ishmael and Isaac. Here are the great differences between salvation by works and faith; the two covenants are contracts for securing union with God, that are foreshadowed in the history of Abraham’s household.

The Primitive Era

Paul shows that before Christ all people were under elementary forms of worship. The Jews were given sound rituals designed to lead them to God, while the pagan world devised their own. Then came the marvel of Gospel light.

It Always Was By Faith

The moral and ceremonial laws of the Jewish era spelled out the barriers to being accepted by God, along with many lessons of forgiveness through trusting in the coming Christ. But finding this mercy was always through faith, not works, as these great verses prove.

Justified By Faith Alone

Paul quotes Genesis about Abraham’s belief being ‘accounted to him for righteousness’. He does not mean that belief is accepted in lieu of righteousness; or that it assists justification. Here is the meaning. Also, how faith in Christ brings us into all the blessings promised to Abraham.

Paul Reproves Peter

Peter believed in salvation by faith alone, but at Syrian Antioch he failed to stand up for the truth. Why did he err; and what was at stake? Here are glorious features of the true doctrine.

Paul’s Commission and Ours

Paul tells how God dealt directly with him, revealing the Gospel of faith – not works – and making him an apostle. His stand for truth (then against ‘Judaizers’) must be copied today. Here, also, is what it means to have Christ revealed in us.

Lightweight Believers

Paul is astonished to hear of genuine believers so quickly turning to the false teaching of ‘Judaizers’. Here is his strong defence of justification by faith alone, and of the exclusive saving power of Calvary. Who are the Judaizers today?

Love Analysed

Love for Christ includes love for His cause, shown by concerned prayer for Gospel work and for fellow believers. Paul here provides for news which will fuel prayer. Here also is defined the love which brings harmony, faith and special grace into a church.

Is it the Real Gospel?

Paul’s Gospel caused trouble and offence, however lovingly expressed, because it called people to the Christ of Calvary, atoning for sin, and pressed the need for repentance and transformation of life. Is this really the Gospel as we understand it?

The Comprehensive Victory of the Church

The ‘gates of hell’, symbolising the various strategies (here named) of Satan to destroy believers will never succeed. But what about a particularly immoral atheistic society? Is Satan prevailing? Here are biblical answers of encouragement.

Paul Magnifies Grace

The apostle gives thanks for mercy and grace, both in his salvation and in his call to the Gospel ministry. Here is the secret of his lifelong humility and sacrificial service for Christ, and here also is a demonstration for all believers both of God’s mercy, and Christian indebtedness.

How We Should Pray

A verse that triggers a compendium of guidance for prayer, speaking of the range and frequency of prayer, its different kinds, its spiritual fervency, its watchful agenda, its persistence and its objects.

Taking the ‘Sword of the Spirit’

How the Word of God is deployed in sanctification, Gospel work, the personal walk, and the preservation of church purity – with scriptural examples.

Spiritual Head Protection

In the armour provided for the spiritual warfare is the helmet of salvation, denoting four aspects of daily protection for the Christian: for assurance, for vocation, for the thought life and for the anticipation of glory.

Faith that Conquers All

The fiery darts of Satan are doubts, provocations to sin, and his exploiting of sickness, grief and trials. Here is how faith is to be deployed to defeat the attacks, and how ‘seeing’ Christ rescues the soul.

How God Arms Us for Service

The ways in which righteous living – by the help of God – is essential to instrumentality and success in spiritual work; also, what it means to have one’s feet shod with readiness for witness – the ‘good fight’ of the Gospel.

Maintaining Sincerity

This foundation of the armour of the believer must be reinforced constantly by a set of simple steps and aims, so that the rich fruits of sincerity – here named – may flourish. And as the armour is taken, God gives the enabling strength.

Our Spiritual Warfare

After conversion, Satan seeks to spoil the new life of the soul: the resisting of sin, the cultivation of virtues, the practice of witnessing, the enjoyment of assurance, and loyalty to the truth. Here is Christ’s strength for the believer’s conflict.

Songs of the Heart

First, the biblical warrant for hymns is briefly set out, then how hymns may be used in the personal spiritual walk, and finally the benefits of constant thanksgiving: this practice being far better than all modern counselling books put together.

Filled with the Spirit

The old life looked to alcohol which could never ‘fill’ the soul as the Spirit does. Should believers imbibe at all? Biblical answers presented. Also, the blessing of the filling of the Spirit, and precisely what this means

Redeeming the Time

Some render Paul’s exhortation ‘make the most of opportunities’, but the apostle borrows very graphic salvation language, and is saying much more than this. Here is his rich teaching on the stewardship of time – and only believers can deploy it to eternal blessing.

Living as Light-Bearers

Believer’s project an influence more powerful than they may realize by exhibiting ‘goodness and righteousness and truth’, a threefold standard of behaviour that convicts unbelievers, whether they show it or not. Here are verses full of promises and stimulation.

The Christian Antidote to Sin

Fornication, uncleanness and covetousness should never occur among believers, nor “filthiness”. How can the apostle be so emphatic? Here is the reason, with an underestimated yet powerful antidote – thankfulness – and how it works.

Sanctified Words and Feelings

Putting off the ‘old man’ and putting on the ‘new’ – what are ‘corrupt’ communications – and how are they replaced by edifying speech? Also – avoiding the grieving of the Spirit, and replacing angry feelings with those of kindness and love.

Putting Away the Old Nature

The need to consciously put off the deeds of the old nature and put on those of the new, with special attention to lying, anger and theft, and the opposite virtues. The new nature is the work of the Spirit – but do we put it on daily?

Accomplishing Change

This message first presents the meaning of Paul’s human-body-picture of the church; secondly, describes the state of society as seen by the apostle; thirdly explains the method of ‘daily conversion’ to grow in holiness.

A Church’s Dangers and Aims

Enticement to false teaching and conduct is a constant campaign of Satan directed at sound churches.
Here are examples from past and present, together with the virtues of Christ, which are our goals as believers.