Sunday – June 20, 2021 Father’s Day John 8:31-50 “Like Father Like Son”

Sunday – June 20, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 20, 2021

John 8:39-41
Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.”

Our Lord has not yet said just who is the “true father” of these Jewish opponents. His adversaries seem well on their way to figuring that out for themselves. Almost as though they are trying to speak before Jesus can identify their “father,” they blurt out, “We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself” (verse 41). They seem to be saying: “So, you think that God is your Father, but not ours. You think you can accuse us of having another “father” than Abraham. Well, since the subject of fathers has come up, let us remind you that none of us is a bastard—but you are! It is we who are the sons of God, and not you!”

Our Lord is not taken aback by their cruel accusation. Jesus bases His next words on a principle we articulate by the expression: “Like father, like son.” You know who one’s father is by his conduct as a son. A son acts like his father, and so you know that the son will imitate his father. The “father” of these hecklers in the crowd can be discerned by simply observing their conduct. Abraham believed God; the crowd does not believe in the Son of God, who was sent down from heaven and who speaks for God the Father. If God were their father, they would welcome His Son and love Him, as they think they love the Father.

Jesus concludes: “You people are from your father the devil” (verse 44). This must come as a slap in the face. These people think they have the inside track with God, that they are “sons of God” as much as men can be. Now Jesus tells them they are really sons of the devil. How can one conclude otherwise? They reject Him whose word is the truth. They are devoted to lies, just like their real father, the devil. When they seek to kill Jesus, are they not murderers, like their father, the devil?

Jesus has much to say about “fatherhood.” The Jews of that day made too much of their ancestry. They not only rightly believed that being a Jew is a privilege, they falsely assumed that being Jewish (the offspring of Abraham) was their ticket into the kingdom of God. Jesus makes it clear that Abraham must be our father in a different sense. Jesus is telling us that one’s “father” is known, not by one’s parents, or even by one’s profession, but by means of one’s practice. Our father is the one who behaves as we do. The Jews who oppose Jesus are liars and murderers, just like their “true father,” the devil. Who your “true father” is will be evident by your walk.

Sunday – June 6, 2021 Romans Week 9 Rom 2:6-16 “How Good is Good Enough”

Sunday – June 6, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 6, 2021

Romans 2:12-13
For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

If you have shared the gospel with people, you’ve heard the question, “Is God fair to judge those who have never heard about Jesus Christ?” Will a person really go to hell because they did not believe in Jesus when they never heard of Him? Another variation of the question is, “Won’t those who have done the best that they could do get into heaven?”

God will judge everyone with perfect justice. Paul establishes this point in verse 11, “For there is no partiality with God.” Paul anticipates our objection because he knows we are predisposed to think more highly of our own sense of morality. We think God will treat us more favorably than others who live just as they please. We are good people who obey the golden rule and they don’t!” Or, perhaps a more agnostic person would object, “It’s not fair for God to judge me for disobeying a standard that I knew nothing about! I’ve done the best that I could with what I knew. God won’t judge me, will He?”

Paul shows that God will impartially judge everyone for sinning against the light that they were given. His line of reasoning goes like this: The Gentile sinned without the Law, so he will perish without the Law. The Jew sinned under the Law and so he will be judged by the Law. In other words, as verse 6 stated, God “will render to each person according to his deeds.” Hearing the Law isn’t good enough; you must be a doer of the Law. Although the Gentiles did not have God’s Law, they all have an inner sense of right and wrong- a conscience. And, although occasionally they may do what is right, they all have sinned against what they know to be right. Their consciences and thoughts convict them of their guilt. But whatever they may think of themselves, the day is coming when God will judge not only outward deeds, but also the secrets of men through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the gospel.

At first glance, this doesn’t sound like good news! But, if there is no judgment for all sin, then there is no need for a Savior and thus no good news. If we do not acknowledge the coming judgment and wrath of God, we do not understand the gospel at all. The gospel does not offer good people the option of going on in our sin or shrugging it off as if it will not come under judgment if we do not repent. We need to understand the bad news of judgment in order to appreciate the good news of salvation through faith in Christ.

Sunday – April 11, 2021 Romans Week 3 Rom 1:1-7 “The Gospel of God”

Sunday – April 11, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 11, 2021

Romans 1:2-4
“…the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”

My fear, as we begin our study in the Book of Romans, is that we are often so familiar with certain words, such as “gospel,” or so academic in our approach, that we are not thrilled and moved to the depths of our being by the wonder of it all. The gospel of God is the theme of Romans and Paul describes it here in his introduction to the church at Rome.

God originated the gospel and the gospel is all about God. It tells us how we can be rightly related to Him through His eternal Son, whom He sent. This is not Paul’s or any other apostle’s idea. Rather, it comes to us right out of the Old Testament, which he refers to as the “holy Scriptures.” God promised the gospel in prototype in Genesis 3:15, right after the fall, when He said that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. The gospel was implicit in the Old Testament sacrificial system, revealed most thoroughly to Moses but even revealed from the outset to Cain and Abel. The wages of our sin is death, but God graciously would accept the blood sacrifice of an acceptable substitute. As Isaiah 53 makes plain, Jesus is the lamb of God who was wounded for our transgressions.

God’s promise in the Old Testament to send the Savior is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Although from the human perspective it took many centuries, but God always keeps His promises in His time. No doubt there were scoffers then, as there are now, who mocked, “Where is the promise of the Savior?” But there were those, like the godly Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38), who were waiting expectantly for God to keep His promise. Although you may be tempted to despair at times, wondering, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4) persevere in faith. God always keeps His promises. Jesus is coming to judge this evil world and to bring full redemption to His people.

Jesus is the center of the gospel. When the gospel is shared, the discussion must center on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus asked the disciples (Matt. 16:15), “But who do you say that I am?” That is the crucial question! If Jesus is who He claimed to be and who the Scriptures present Him to be, then He is Lord of all and we must bow before Him. Is Jesus your Savior and Lord in that sense? The gospel of God is not primarily about you and how Jesus can help you find happiness and peace and fulfillment. Rather, it is from God and about God. Is He the eternal Son, risen from the dead, exalted as Lord? If so, then make sure that He is your Savior and Lord!

Sunday – March 28, 2021 Romans Week 2 “Tracing Righteousness Through Romans”

Sunday – March 28, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 28, 2021

Romans 3:21-23
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

The righteousness of God, one of the most prominent attributes of God in the Scriptures, is also one of the most elusive. Initially, distinguishing the righteousness of God from His holiness or His goodness seems difficult. This is because the righteousness of God is virtually synonymous with His justice. No one states this better than A.W. Tozer, “Justice, when used of God, is a name we give to the way God is, nothing more; and when God acts justly He is not doing so to conform to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given situation.”

The righteousness of God and the justice of God are not secondary matters; they are primary. When summarizing the very essence of what the Old Testament Law was about, Amos and Micah both spoke first of justice and righteousness. The righteousness or justice of God is to be the guiding principle for the people of God. So often we think God’s righteousness is revealed in His judgment of sinners and His mercy by His salvation of sinners. The Scriptures teach that God’s righteousness is the cause of both condemnation and justification. He is righteous in saving sinners, as well as merciful and compassionate. God is righteous in all His dealings with men.

The righteousness of God is particularly important in relation to salvation. In Romans 3, Paul points out God not only justifies sinners (that is, He declares them righteous), but He is also shown to be just (righteous) in the process. Men have failed to live up to the standard of righteousness laid down by the Law (Romans 3:9-20). God is just in condemning all men to death, for all men without exception have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God is just in condemning the unrighteous and also just in saving sinners. As Paul puts it, He is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

How can this be? God is just because His righteous anger has been satisfied. Justice was done on the cross of Calvary. God did not reduce the charges against men; nor change the standard of righteousness. God poured out the full measure of His righteous wrath upon His Son on the cross of Calvary. In Him, justice was meted out. All of those who trust in Him by faith are justified. Their sins forgiven because Jesus paid the full price; He suffered the full measure of God’s wrath in their place. And for those who reject the goodness and mercy of God at Calvary, they must pay the penalty for their sins because they would not accept the payment Jesus made in their place. The good news of the gospel is that salvation by grace is offered to all men, and by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, men may be forgiven of their sins and made righteous.

Sunday – March 21, 2021 Book of Romans – Week 1 Introduction

Sunday – March 21, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 21, 2021

Romans 1:2-4
…the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The Scriptures are said to be the defining work of civilization. But the Scriptures are not just a collection of men’s ideas about God, nor is it a guidebook for living that people developed over the centuries. The Bible was written by dozens of authors over many hundreds of years. Some are very brief–less than a page, while others are much longer. Yet, despite their diversity, when you examine them, you discover they all have a common theme: God’s relationship with the human race. Ultimately, the Bible deals with timeless questions: Who are we? Why are we here? How can we redeem our mistakes? How should we live?

Of all the books found in the Bible, no book answers these questions better than the Book of Romans. God has used this powerful letter in some remarkable ways to change the lives of some of the greatest thinkers, missionaries and theologians throughout human history. It is the book that was instrumental in leading men like Augustine, Charles Wesley and John Bunyan to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  It changed the course of church history after being read by Martin Luther. It was so important to church father Chrysostom that he had it read to him twice each week.

The Swiss commentator, Frederic Godet, wrote that “every great spiritual revival in the church will be connected as effect and cause with a deeper understanding of this book.” His summation of Romans was: “For what is the Epistle to the Romans? The offer of the righteousness of God to the man who finds himself stripped by the law of his own righteousness (1:17). In a nutshell, the Book of Romans is the gospel: the good news that God declares sinners to be righteous when they trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf. It involves both the imputed righteousness of justification (Romans 3-5) and the imparted righteousness of sanctification, worked out progressively through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 6-8).”

As I said last week, the Church of Jesus Christ faces challenges never seen before in the history of the church. There is a pervasive darkness in our country and a lack of clear biblical thinking in this generation. And our calling is to be a people who are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) If we are to reclaim this mandate from God, we must fully understand how that calling was granted to us and how we are to live it out. There is no better time than now to understand the wisdom of God found in the Book of Romans.

Sunday – March 14, 2021 Acts 19:19-30 “Christian Thinking During COVID 19” Pt 11

Sunday – March 14, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 14, 2021

Acts 11:20-21
Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

What is the main business of the church? Some would say that it is to care for its members, to visit the sick and pray with them, to take care of people at important transitions in life, such as marriage, childbirth, and death. That the Church is here to provide guidance and comfort for people at important times. No doubt, these are all functions of the church. But I would argue that these functions are not the main business of the church, and if we start acting as if they were, we will miss our main business.

With the COVID virus, many businesses have had to pivot not just to maintain customers, but to thrive in the radically changed environment we find ourselves today. But they must pivot in a way that maintains their main business. The Church of Jesus Christ is no different. We are always in danger of slipping into a maintenance mentality to keep the doors open, to preserve our faith and to maintain tradition. With the emphasis on maintaining “social distance” we must always remember our main business is the same business of Jesus who “came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Think of how the COVID virus is being spread today. People do not deliberately go out, seeking to spread the virus to many others. They simply go about their lives as usual, and when they come into contact with others, the virus is unknowingly spread abroad. The virus has a life of its own, and is spread by social contact as people go about their lives as normal. Ideally, and as we see it in Acts 19, the gospel was quickly spread abroad by people who went about, living their lives in contact with other people. These saints did not begrudgingly spread the gospel, nor was their evangelism the execution of a particular plan or script. Their joy simply overflowed, and because their new-found salvation was so life-transforming they just couldn’t help but tell others about it. For them, evangelism was the result of the overflow of joy and praise to God that others observed, and “caught.”

Antioch is as an example to us. It was a church founded by simple believers who knew that God has called every Christian to serve Him. They proclaimed the gospel as the power of God for salvation to every person who believes and the hand of the Lord was with them, and considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. Let’s keep our main business in focus: To obey the Holy Spirit in promoting God’s glory by sending out workers called by God to preach the gospel. As Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:37-38).

Sunday – November 29, 2020 Elder Thom Rachford Joshua 24:14-28 “Know Your Choices”

Sunday – November 29, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 29, 2020

Luke 6:35-36
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

How did the obscure, marginal, Jesus movement become the dominant religious force in the Western world in a few centuries? To understand how this took place we need to explore a number of key factors—one of which is plagues. Indeed, to understand the rise of Christianity from a few followers of the Way to a faith that has changed the world, we need to understand the biblical and remarkable response by the Church to plagues of the past.  Over the next few weeks as we come to the end of 2020, I want examine briefly four pandemics in history and how the church has responded in the way of Christ. As we note their examples, let’s be inspired by their faith—even if we might make some adjustments for our own time and circumstances.

The Plague of Cyprian (249–262 AD) was a lethal pandemic that, at its height, caused upwards of 5,000 deaths a day in Rome. While the plague severely weakened the Roman empire, the Christian response to it won admiration and a greater following. Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, reported: “Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead.

This evident Christlikeness—taking death in order to give life—stood in stark contrast to those outside the church. Dionysius continues: “But with the heathen everything was quite otherwise. They deserted those who began to be sick, and fled from their dearest friends. They shunned any participation or fellowship with death; which yet, with all their precautions, it was not easy for them to escape.” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 7.22.7–10)

Plagues and pandemics intensify the natural course of life. They intensify our own sense of mortality and frailty. They also intensify opportunities to display counter-cultural, counter-conditional love. The church rose to the challenge in the second century, winning both admirers and also converts. While the outworking of love may look different in different ages, love must still be the aim—a love directed by the Holy Spirit, not our self-centered flesh. May we—with our own pandemic—live out the wisdom and way of Jesus before a watching world.

Sunday – November 1, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 26:1-32 “Coming to Agrippa with the Gospel”

Sunday – November 1, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 1, 2020

Acts 26:19-20
So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

If you’ve ever watched the Oscar Awards night on TV, you have some idea of the glitter and glamour of the rich and famous, who are all trying to impress one another and the world. Luke describes how Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice entered the auditorium amid great pomp, accompanied by the commanders and the prominent men of the city. As I see this scene play out in my mind, the words of Jesus sum up the whole story. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Into this superficial scene the guards bring a little Jewish man in chains, the apostle Paul, to speak about eternal truths. In the middle of the proceedings, after Paul had proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, Festus reached his limit. He blurted out loudly, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.” This exchange put Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice on one side, with all of their worldly pomp and show, and Paul the prisoner for Jesus Christ on the other side.

Is Paul crazy to give up all that this world offers to follow Jesus Christ? Or, are those who live for all that this world offers—riches, fame, and pleasure—crazy, who die without repenting of their sins? Martin Luther said, “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But the things I have placed in God’s hands, I still possess.”  This observation makes perfect sense to the believer, and yet each of us would have to admit that this present world holds a strong attraction for most of us. Few of us who know Christ would abandon our faith in favor of the world, but many Christians try to live with one foot in each realm, hoping to get the best of both worlds.

As Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” The world lives as if this life is all that really matters. The obedient Christian says, “No, if this life is all there is, I am crazy!” We put all of our eggs in the basket of eternity. We say, “If Christ is not risen, and if there is no hope beyond the grave, please pity me, because I’m nuts!” May the way we obey Jesus as Lord, spend our time, and the way we manage our finances cause a worldly person to say, “You’re a bit off top-dead center”? If not, perhaps we need to rearrange our priorities in the light of eternity. Who are the crazy ones? Those who live for this present world and all it offers. Who are the sane people? Those who obey Jesus Christ and live in light of eternity. Because Jesus is risen, it’s the only sane way to live.

Sunday – September 27, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 22:1-29 “Tempest in the Temple”

Sunday – September 27, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 27, 2020

Acts 22:4-5
I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify.

Have you ever wished that you had a more dramatic testimony? Perhaps you’ve heard of someone who came to Christ from a life of terrible sin and you’ve thought, “If I just had a testimony like that, I could lead all sorts of people to Christ!” If you grew up in the church, your testimony may not be a dramatic or compelling story that leads people to Christ. But the Lord has shown me over the years that my heart is just as corrupt as the hearts of the most wicked people on earth. I’ve also learned that it takes the same mighty power of God to save an outwardly good person as it does to save an outwardly evil person. An outwardly good person needs salvation every bit as much as the notorious sinner does.

Everything about Paul’s conversion came from God. Nothing about his conversion stemmed from Paul. God didn’t look down and see some merit in Paul that qualified him to come to salvation. Quite to the contrary, Paul confesses that he was “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor” (1 Tim. 1:13). There are many who say that the reason that God chose Paul, or that He chooses anyone, is that He foresees that the person will one day choose to follow Him. But to say this is to base God’s sovereign election on the fallen will of man, ignoring the plain biblical truth that unless God first does a work of grace in our hearts, no one would ever choose Him. No one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws him (John 6:44) and no one is able to come to Jesus unless it has been granted him from the Father (John 6:65).

In several places, Paul attributes the first cause of our salvation to God’s choice of us, not to our choice of Him. In Ephesians 1:4-6, he says, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world …. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” In 2 Timothy 1:9, he says that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”

If God’s grace and power are mighty to save a sinner such as Paul, then He is able to save any sinner, and to do it instantly and totally. His light can blind and knock down the most powerful persecutor of the church. You may have some terrible sins in your past. You may even be militantly opposed to Christianity, convinced by all of your arguments that it is just a myth. But the risen Lord Jesus is mighty to save even you. He can open your eyes to get a glimpse of His glory and grace, and you will never be the same.

Sunday – September 6, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 20:1-38 “Passing the Torch”

Sunday – September 6, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 6, 2020

Acts 20:1-3
When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months.

The apostle Paul changed the world as few other men have ever done. He lived in a day before jet airplanes or cars and paved highways. He had to go everywhere by foot, on donkeys, or by sailing vessel, none of which were very speedy. He did not have a telephone to call and talk with the leaders of churches that he had founded around the Roman Empire. He didn’t have computers, email, copy machines, or other modern tools that make communication easier. He spent many years of his ministry in prison, unable to move about freely. He contended with fierce opposition both from outside and inside the church. And yet, after 25-30 years of ministry, he left a lasting impact on the world, not only in his time, but also for all times.

Jesus promised to build His church on Peter’s confession of Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. Paul traveled about preaching the gospel and helping the new converts begin to meet as local churches. Those churches in turn could evangelize their own areas, as well as train and send out new missionaries to evangelize and plant new churches in other areas, so that the process is multiplied many times over. He did this in Ephesus, so that after two years, all of Asia (western Turkey) heard the word of the Lord. Paul was unrelenting in his commitment to the church.. He called the Philippian church his joy and his crown. He told the Colossians of his great struggle on their behalf and for those in Laodicea, that they would be knit together in love and attain to all that wealth that comes from a full knowledge of Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he goes through a long list of all of the labors and trials that he had gone through on behalf of Christ. The last thing he mentions is, “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”

At first glance, our text shows us a slice of Paul’s life describing his travels. Some things are skimmed over, and we can fill in many details from 1 & 2 Corinthians and Romans, which he wrote during this time period. Other things, such as his meeting with the church in Troas, are described in more detail. We might at first read these verses and think, “That’s interesting, but it doesn’t relate to my life.” But I think that just below the surface of Luke’s description of Paul’s travels lies Paul’s unswerving commitment to Christ’s church. It was that commitment that was at the heart of how God used Paul to change the world for Jesus Christ. No matter what our individual gifts or calling, we need to be committed to the church of Jesus Christ if we want to see God use us to change our world for Him.