THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 4-22-07
LESSON TITLE: "WALKING IN THE SPIRIT: CONTENTIONS AND DISSENTIONS"
Jesus once commanded, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Have you denied self for Jesus?
Good morning! Thanks for joining us this morning in this service of God. The Living Word Program is committed to proclaiming the simple truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - which is confirmed for us in the Bible. I hope you all have your Bible's handy and I hope you are ready to worship God together as we sing praises to His name and study from His wondrous word. Now let's begin by talking to our Father in prayer!
It's now time to join in our songs of praise as we together sing the first hymn of the morning. Our first song today talks of the blessed day when we will see our Lord face to face! So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Face To Face."
(SONG # 1)
One of the greatest decisions we ever make is to serve God and to become obedient to His Will! However, I think sometimes people fail to realize the level of commitment we are really making when we do that which God has commanded us to become a Child of His!
To become a Child of God is to become His servant and slave. We must understand that we have been bought and paid for with a hefty price - the very body and blood of Jesus Christ.
We also must accept that as Christians we have a new master to serve under. This includes a new head to guide us and new Savior to protect us. All the while being placed in the body of Christ by the Lord, we are to be obedient to Him, just as we were His own Children.
In connection to these thoughts, consider one of the hardest things we have to do in our new life as followers of God. That is to serve only the one new master. This is the very problem Jesus was addressing in Matthew 6:24. There He said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Here we read that serving God requires that we follow only Him. We can not be on the fence and try to serve both.
We also have clarified for us in this verse that there are different kinds of things which we can allow to rule over us. It is not just talking about a certain person, or a boss, or a ruler. Jesus even used the example that we can not serve God and mammon or riches. You see, it is just not possible for someone to serve God completely and still try to hold on to the riches of this world - making them also a priority in life.
So, when we choose God, we must choose Him and Him alone. He must be the only priority and we must seek Him first if we expect His promises and rewards. Have you put on Christ as your Lord and Master? If so, is He the only master you serve today?
This morning we are happy to have brother Kevin Patterson as our guest speaker. Brother Kevin is the minister for the Highway 13 Church of Christ, in Bolivar, Missouri. As far as our study of the day we will continue with our series called, "Walking in the Spirit!" Our specific topic today will focus on "Contentions and Dissentions." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together brother Patterson will return with our study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn is, "Walking Alone At Eve!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Kevin Patterson
Good morning and I bring you greetings from the Highway 13 church of Christ in Bolivar, Missouri. I want to encourage you to come and visit us in our new church building located on Highway 13's West Outer-road South in Bolivar, Missouri. We have Bible Study on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. followed by worship at 10:00 a.m. and another worship assembly at 6:00 p.m. in the evening. On Wednesday evenings, we have a Bible Study at 7:00 p.m. and we want to encourage you to come by and visit with us at any opportunity that you have. Please know that you will be our honored guest.
I want to begin this morning by reading from Galatians chapter 5 verses 19-21 where Paul writes to the churches of Galatia. "Now the works of the flesh are evident which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
This week, we continue our theme from Galatians chapter 5, "Walking In the Spirit." However, in order to know how to walk, we also need to examine how we are to not walk which is why we are examining the "Works of the Flesh" in this particular series at first. So today, we are going to further our examination of the "Works of the Flesh" and focus our study on "The Contentions and Dissentions" that are mentioned in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 20.
Let's take a look at "contentions" first. The word "contention" can mean something that we would wrestle with or strive for. In fact, there are some things that the Bible teaches us that we must contend for. For instance, in Jude verse 3, Jude wrote that "we are to contend earnestly for the faith." Despite oppositions that we would find in the world around us, we need to fight. We need to stand firm. We need to wrestle against every obstacle to stand strong in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But the type of contentions that are condemned in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 20 arise out of a devisive attitude that separates rather than unites. If you'll consider for just a moment, the New King James records in Galatians 5 and verse 20, the word "contentions" but other translations use words such as "variance," "strife," or "discord." I want to read to you from the definition that is found in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia for the word "contend" or "contention." It means, "The meeting of effort by effort, striving against opposition, for the hostile separation of one from another. One word is almost universally used with an unfavorable meaning and as worthy or condemnation for an altercation arising from a quarrelsome disposition. Have you ever known someone who had a quarrelsome disposition? Let me tell you and take my word as a minister of the gospel of Christ, I have run across some of the finest people demonstrating quarrelsome dispositions. What we have to recognize is that as Christians, we need to be people who can get along with other people. We need to be people who will build others up and bring things together rather than tearing down and dividing.
I wonder if we could learn some of the wisdom from the book of Proverbs concerning strife and contentions and those with quarrelsome attitudes. Consider for just a moment where it comes from. Proverbs chapter 13 and verse 10 says that, "By pride comes nothing but strife." So we see that strife begins sometimes with a prideful attitude. Proverbs 18 and verse 6 says, "A fool's lips enter into contention." So somebody who would reject God's way and try to follow their own way will enter into contention. Proverbs 10 and verse 12 says that, "Hatred stirs up strife." Proverbs 15 and verse 18 says that, "A wrathful man stirs up strife." Proverbs 16 and verse 28, "A perverse man sows strife." And Proverbs 17 and verse 19, "He who loves transgression or sin loves strife." Certainly we don't want to be people who are wrathful or perverse or haters of others and certainly we don't want to be people who would love or embrace sin. But when we act those ways, when we give in to those types of fleshly ways, then strife and contention are the types of things that will follow. Proverbs chapter 26 and verse 21 reads, "As charcoal is to burning coals and wood to fire, so is a contentions man to kindle strife."
I want us to take a look at some of the examples of contention in the Bible. One of the great examples is found in Genesis chapter 13, verses 1-12. It's the story of Abram who would later be known as Abraham and Lot. And Abram and Lot both had men who worked for them and they had large numbers of livestock and in Genesis chapter 13 and verse 6 we read, "The land in which they dwelled," we read that "the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together." And there was strife or contention between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. You know, sometimes in life things don't always go our way. We don't always get what we want. But at the same time, we need to be cooperative. We need to work together to try to resolve problems and try to resolve problems as peaceably as possible. In the situation that we read here, both Abram's herdsmen and Lot's herdsmen developed strife between them because they felt like each did not have their own room.
Well, we jump forward to the New Testament and we see a situation concerning Paul and Barnabus and how they looked at a young man named John Mark who had earlier abandoned. He had left one of the early missionary journeys. And in Acts chapter 15 verses 37-40, we read that Barnabus was determined to take with them John called Mark, but Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabus took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.
Now it is true that later on Paul and Barnabus spoke very highly of each other, but at this particular point in time, a contention developed between them. A problem developed, such that they separated and evidently not on good terms. The problem that I've always noticed in this is that both parties could have very well been right. Barnabus was saying, "Give John Mark a second chance," and that's a good attitude to have. At the same time however, Paul was saying, "For such an important missionary journey, for such an important work, we need somebody that we can depend upon, not somebody who is going to leave when the going gets tough." I've always thought that both men had good points, but at the same time, they did not seem to work out their differences in an agreeable manner and they left on poor terms.
Well, in the New Testament, Paul later tells Timothy in 1 Timothy chapter 6 verses 3-5, "If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ into the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knows knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such, withdraw yourself." He later said in 2 Timothy 2:23, "Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes knowing that they generate strife."
I've known of some people who wanted to ask questions just to be argumentative. They wanted to engage in conversations just so they could debate you and not because they wanted to find the true answer, but just because they wanted to be problematic. Folks, we don't have a right or room to be those kinds of people. Certainly, none can call themselves "Christians" following in the footsteps of Christ and be so disagreeable. I want to take you back to a great verse in Proverbs 17 and verse 14 that reads, "The beginning of strife is like releasing water. Therefore, stop contention before a quarrel starts."
The other word that we read from Galatians 5 and verse 20 was the word "dissention" and another translation uses the word "sedition." Sedition is defined in Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary as "conduct or language inciting rebellion over the authority of a state or other lawful government." Obviously, our lawful government is the kingdom of God, and our authority is Jesus Christ. Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines sedition as, "And insurrection, a standing apart, a division or to stir up a division."
In Romans chapter 16 verses 17-18, Paul talks about those who would cause divisions. He says, "I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them for those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple."
The word "dissention" is defined in Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary as, "Discourse or strife that arises from a difference of opinion."
And even the apostle Paul was called, "A creator of dissension," in Acts chapter 24 and verse 5 because he was a Jewish man who had converted to Christianity and because of this, some of his former Jewish brethren did not like the words that he was teaching and so they labeled him this "creator of dissension."
But I want to remind you that there are some even today who would create dissension by binding opinions or traditions that are not found in God's Word, something very much different than what Paul was doing as he went around and preached the truth of God's Word. In fact, Acts chapter 15 verses 1-2, we read some New Testament Christians who were of Jewish descent, who were formerly Jews by faith, who were trying to bind Old Testament circumcision on New Testament converts. Well of course, we read in verse 2 that Paul and Barnabus had no small dissension and dispute with them. In other words, there was a problem because they were teaching something that God had not authorized would be taught.
In Mark chapter 7 verses 6-9, Jesus said of these same kind of people, He said, "These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me and in vain they worship Me teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. By laying aside the commandment of men, you hold the tradition of men. The washing of pitchers and cups and many other such things you do." And He said to them, "All to well you reject the commandment of God that you may keep your tradition."
I may remind you of what Peter said in Acts chapter 5 and verse 29. Peter and the other apostles answered to some people who had given them the charge not to preach the truth. He said, "We must obey God rather than men."
Brethren, I hope that you as you are watching this television program this morning, you are reminded of the importance of being a helpful, fruitful and productive member of the body of Christ, and the only way that we can do this is to read and to study God's precious Word and to know exactly what it teaches us and to live by those things as we are talking about in this series and as we will talk about shortly in the days to come. But if it's the Lord's Will, we'll talk about how to walk in the Spirit, a far better way than walking in the works of the flesh.
Paul made the comment in Ephesians chapter 4 verses 11-16 that, "Our purpose in the church is to build up the body of Christ, is to edify the body of Christ so that we will all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man, to the measure to the stature of the fullness of Christ."
Let us remember that contentions and dissentions have no place in the body of Christ and they have no place in the life of a Christian. Let us walk by the Spirit.
(SONG # 3 - "This Is My Father's World!")
What a wondrous time we have had together in participating in the things of God. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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As Christians, may we realize that it is the will of God that we are not divided in His service. Thus may we always be one and strive for complete unity based on His Son Jesus Christ!