The Word of God – Showing us that God is Loving

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Verses for Today

1 John 4:8 He who does not love has not known God, because God is love.

1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was manifested among us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might have life and live through Him.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as a propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God has loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another.

Fellowship

The 10 commandments are found in chapter 20 of Exodus. In verse 12 God commands us to honor our father and mother. In verse 13, that we shall not kill, in verse 14, that we shall not commit adultery, and in verse 15, that we shall not steal. Look through all the rest of the commandments. You will see that they strongly testify that our God is loving.

[Exodus 20,] verses 12 through 14 reveal that God is a God of love. If we do not honor our parents, it means that we do not love them. Likewise, if we love others, we shall not steal from them. In Matthew 22:37-40 the Lord Jesus answered His opposers by implying that the whole law is fulfilled in loving God and man. We must not only love the Lord with our whole being, but we must also love others as we love ourselves. In Galatians 5:14 Paul says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If we consider the Ten Commandments in depth, we shall see that God’s love is revealed in them (Life Study of Exodus, p. 598).

If the whole law is fulfilled in loving God and man, then this really is telling us that God’s law testifies that our God is a God of love.

God’s nature is love, and therefore His love is unconditional. God loves everyone, even the unlovable ones… We love those who love us but what about those who are mean to us or different from us? God loves everyone including those who are not like us or those who do not always obey Him. (Church in Irvine, Lessons, God is Love).

The highest expression of God’s love is revealed in the New testament. God loves us and does not want us to suffer the punishment for sin. It was out of His love that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die for us. We should all realize the following three things. 

1) We are all sinners; this means that there is something in us that causes us to do the evil that we don’t want to do. The commandments show us a high standard and expose our fallen condition.

2) Jesus paid the price for our sins. When we believe in Him, He forgives us and takes away all our sins (1 John 4:10). Furthermore, He gives His eternal life to us (1 John 4:9). This is the love of God and it is real love. No other love compares to this. 

3) God does not require the sinner to become sinless before coming to Him. God loved the sinners first and took the first step in coming to them. When we consider our close family, our relatives, friends, and even our enemies, we have to realize that God loves them. He loves every human being and even came to be a man to die for them. Keeping God’s love in mind and enjoying and experiencing God’s love affects the way we see and treat others.

With a heart full of respect, honor, and worship for God’s love, you can sing hymn 30. Stanzas 1 and 3 are included here.

1
What love Thou hast bestowed on us,

We thank Thee from our heart;

Our Father, we would worship Thee

And praise for all Thou art.

3
Thou gavest Thy beloved Son

In love to come and die,

That we may be Thy many sons,

As heirs with Him, made nigh.

The Word of God – Showing us that God is Holy

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Verses for Today

Exodus 20:8 Remember the Sabbath day so as to sanctify it.

Exodus 20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day is a Sabbath to Jehovah your God; you shall not do any work, you nor your son nor your daughter, your male servant nor your female servant, nor your cattle nor the sojourner with you, who is within your gates.

Exodus 20:11 For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore Jehovah blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.

1 Samuel 2:2a There is none holy like Jehovah

1 Peter 1:15 But according to the Holy One who called you, you yourselves also be holy in all your manner of life;

1 Peter 1:16 Because it is written, “You shall be holy because I am holy.”

Fellowship

Don’t under-estimate seeing God. When we see Him we experience Him. When we see Him we enter into Him, When we see Him, we see ourselves. All things become clear to us. In fact, knowing God and seeing God means everything. Let us beseech our God that we might know Him and see Him. Hebrews 11:6 says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

God is holy. To be holy means to be separate from common things. For example, God sanctified the seventh day. This means that that day was special, not common. In the Old Testament God wanted His people to set aside that day.

The Ten Commandments also reveal that God is holy. The fourth commandment, which concerns keeping the Sabbath, is related to God’s holiness, to His being separate from all things. According to Genesis 2, God sanctified the seventh day, or made it holy. Thus, the Sabbath as the seventh day is a sign of God’s holiness, of His separation…. As His people, we must have a mark, a sign, of our separation from everything other than God Himself. This reveals that our God is holy (Life Study of Exodus, p 597).  

God is holy and God’s people were chosen to be holy. That means we are also set apart, uncommon, different from everything else around us. We cannot always do what “everyone else” does. (Church in Irvine, Lessons, God is holy)

When we see God as the Holy One, our eyes are opened to see the things around us that are “unholy”. This may include ourselves, our manner of life, certain games or movies, things related to evil characters, music and books with inappropriate words.

Whenever we see who, or what, God is, we see who, or what, we are not. In the Old Testament Job said, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I abhor myself and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Job previously thought that he was righteous and complete. By seeing God, he realized he was not complete. In fact, he saw Himself as the opposite of God and abhorred himself. The same happens when we touch God’s word today. We come to the Holy God and the light is turned on.

When the Lord touches you concerning anything unholy in your life, repent, confess it, and let the One who is holy fill you and sanctify you. This doesn’t complete our sanctification process instantly, but brings us day by day and drop by drop to be holy as He is holy.

The Word of God – Showing us that God is Jealous

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Verses for Today

Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other gods before Me.

Exodus 20:4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, nor the form of anything that is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water beneath the earth.

Exodus 20:5a You shall not bow down to them, and you shall not serve them; for I, Jehovah your God, am a jealous God,

Exodus 34:14 (For you shall not worship any other god; for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God)

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with a jealousy of God; for I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

Fellowship

If someone asked you, what kind of God do you have, what would you say? Could you give a faithful testimony of who God is? We all might have testimonies of what God has done for us and this is good. But we want to go further to see God Himself. Let us come to our Lord full of seeking, “Lord Jesus, we love You. We want to know you more. I have a concept of who You are and what You’re like, but I want to see more of You!”.

As an answer to our seeking, God gives us His word. In particular, He gives us the 10 commandments as His testimony. It is here that God Himself tells us that He is a jealous God.

God wants us to love Him and Him alone. If we love someone or something in place of Him, He will be jealous. Thus, the Ten Commandments first reveal God’s jealousy, even His hatred (Rom. 9:13). Jealousy results in hatred. The Bible says not only that God is love, but also that He is jealous. In 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul refers to the jealousy of God. The ten words, the expression of God, reveal that God is unique. He is a jealous God, and He will not give place to any other god. Do not allow anything else to be your god. Do not take education or wealth as your god. God alone must be your God. (Life Study of Exodus, p 597)

God is jealous over us like the jealousy of a husband over his wife. God cannot tolerate it if our heart is divided or unfaithful. Other gods may rival God in our heart and try to take our heart away from loving God, but it is NOT okay with God if we have other gods. God is like a husband who would not tolerate it if his wife called someone else her husband. (Church in Irvine, Lessons, “God is Jealous”)

When we see that God is such a jealous God, our view of ourselves may change. Previously, if someone asked us, “Do you sin?” “Have you done anything against God?” We might reply, “No”. We might even say, “I’m good.” But by God’s shining in His word, we might now begin to see other things occupying our heart, not necessarily evil things, but things that might be taking a higher position in our heart than the Lord. Here is a practical example of what we are talking about. When called by God to attend the church meetings on the Lord’s day, are there other things that we would rather be doing? Idols are false gods and these are not limited to physical statues.  They can be anything in our heart that we love more than God.

May we pray, “Dear Lord, I turn back to You. Forgive me for loving _______ more than You. I do love You. Reveal Yourself more to me. I want to see You more!”

The Word of God – Life to Us and a Revelation of Who God Is

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Verses for Today

Psalm 119:16 I will take delight in Your statutes; / I will not forget Your word.

Psalm 119:140 Your word is very pure, / And Your servant loves it.

Exodus 34:28c And He wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

Fellowship

God’s words are contained in the Bible. When we read a verse, we have to realize that it is God’s speaking. God carries everything out by speaking. His creation was by His speaking; God said, and there was. Today, God nourishes His seekers through His word. The Lord Jesus said that man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Even the 10 commandments can become life-giving to us if we take them as God’s words from out of His mouth.

At least thirty-seven times in Psalm 119 the psalmist refers to the law as God’s word. Instead of simply declaring that he loved God’s law, the psalmist declared that he loved God’s word. This proves that he thought of God’s law as His living word. (Life Study of Exodus, Msg 56, Section 2)

In our Christian life, we start out by receiving the many sweet provisions God has for us. This was also the experience of the children of Israel in the first part of the book of Exodus. They were saved from slavery, separated from Egypt, given water to drink and manna to eat. For us New Testament believers, God gave us His only Begotten Son to die for us and forgive us our sins. We were saved from a life of bondage in which we served sin as slaves. God separated us from the world and gave us living water to quench our thirst and living bread that we might have His eternal life. Our salvation experience matches the salvation experience of the children of Israel coming out of Egypt.  In our experience, we are learning how to come to God’s word for life. We have to turn our heart to the Lord and exercise our spirit to contact Him. We can say, “Thank you Lord Jesus for all you’ve done for me!” May all God’s children enjoy God’s full salvation.

In addition to taking care of all our problems and nourishing us, God’s word functions to reveal to us who God is, and this is most important. Let us now get into this.

Concerning the matter of law, there is an important principle: the kind of law a person makes expresses the kind of person that one is. For example, if criminals could make laws, they would legalize crime. Furthermore, a backward country would have rather barbaric laws, whereas a highly cultured society would have highly cultured laws. This principle applies also to God Himself. God is a Law-giver. In giving the law, He would never legalize crime or sin. He would not legalize theft or adultery, for He is not that kind of God. Only the god of witchcraft would legalize such things. A law is always a revelation of what kind of person has enacted that law.

The first function of the law is…to reveal God to us….I wish to emphasize the point that the primary function of the law is to reveal God to us. After God brought His people into His presence to have fellowship with Him, to serve Him, to contact Him, to worship Him, and even to feast with Him, He made Himself known to them. Prior to this time, God had not revealed to His people what kind of God He is….Only when we come to Exodus 20 do we have a revelation of what kind of God our God is (Life Study of Exodus, pp. 592-593).

We get to know our God in His word. His laws, statutes, ordinances, and all His words are not for us to take as lists of dos and don’ts. Rather, they are there that we might know God. He wants to be known. His laws are often referred to as His testimonies, meaning that they are there because God wants to be known by us. Finally, knowing who God is through His word is not for our mere acknowledgement. When the Bible says that God is love, it conveys God as love into us. By our contacting God in His word to get to know Him, who He is gets infused into us, making us the same as He is. Let us, in a pure way, read God’s word to get to know who He is. This is altogether worthwhile.

The Word of God – Jehovah Make His Face Shine Upon You

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Verses for Today

Numbers 6:24 Jehovah bless you and keep you;

Numbers 6:25 Jehovah make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

Numbers 6:26 Jehovah lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Psalm 119:58 I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; / Be gracious to me according to Your word.

Psalm 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? / And why are you disquieted within me? / Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him / For the salvation of His countenance.

Fellowship

God was hidden. No one had ever seen Him. Then one day God became a man just like you and me. The old apostle John spoke of His experience in seeing Jesus as the incarnated God. He said, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and reality.” God visited man in the person of Jesus Christ. The incarnation was the fulfillment of the blessing in Numbers 6:25, “Jehovah make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” Men saw the face of Jesus and He shined upon them.

The loving seekers of God, to whom the word of God is life, seek to have the shining of the face of God.

If we are those who seek the Lord in an intimate way, we shall sense the shining of His face. According to 2 Corinthians 4:6, we can experience this shining: “Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts for the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Praise the Lord that we can experience the shining of His face! (Life Study of Exodus, Message 56, Section 2)

When we believed in Jesus Christ, He came into us to live in us forever. Here is good news for all the believers and lovers of Jesus out there. The face of Christ is now in our hearts!  

Many versions of the Bible use the word “favor” in Psalm 119:58 but in Hebrew it is literally “face”. To entreat someone for their face means that you are asking them earnestly and are pleading with them to show you their face. When someone shows you their face, they are giving you their presence. You are no longer alone, but they are there, fully with you. This can be such a cherishing thing to us.

Furthermore, Numbers 6:25 speaks of Jehovah lifting up His countenance upon you. Now that you have His face, what is the expression on that face. Someone may send you a text; did they include an emoji to indicate their inner feeling? God’s countenance is the emoji of God. You get to know His inner feeling. That His countenance is lifted means that God is full of approval in His feeling. This is why Ephesians 4:30 reminds us, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” May we be those loving seekers of God spending time with Him in His word day by day and may we be like the psalmists of old, entreating the Lord to give us His face and His countenance in our time with Him. His shining, smiling, face is our true daily blessing and salvation.

The Word of God – Seek the Lord While He May Be Found

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Verses for Today

Psalm 119:2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, / Who seek Him with all their heart.

2 Timothy 2:22 But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Fellowship

The kind of person we are determines how we receive God’s words that are in the Bible. For the word of God to be life to us, we need to be God’s seekers. This means that whatever we might do, in that thing, we want to gain God. Whether we read or we pray, we are not interested in anything but seeing, touching, and gaining God Himself.

The writer of Psalm 119 was such a seeker. Many Christians are not familiar with the term “seekers of God,” even though this concept is biblical. According to Psalm 119, seeking God is related to keeping the law. If you try to keep the law without having a heart to seek God, your efforts will be in vain. This was the serious shortcoming of the Judaizers at the time of Paul. Trying to keep the law without seeking God with their whole heart, they failed in their endeavor to fulfill the law’s requirements. If we want to walk according to God’s law, we must seek Him with our whole heart. We can pray, “Lord Jesus, show me what it means to seek you with my whole heart.” (Life Study of Exodus, Msg 56, Section 1)

In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul charged Timothy to flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. This indicates that the Lord’s seekers must be His callers.

We call on the name of the Lord by our spirit, yet it must be out of a pure heart… Our heart must be purified, and the heart includes all these things: motive, intention, purpose, will, decision, sensation, feeling, and thought. The heart must be pure in all of its constituents. Then we can call on the Lord purely.

Second Timothy 2:22 implies that we need to call on the Lord with the Lord’s callers. Sometimes we call on the Lord just by ourselves. This exercises our spirit and we receive more of the Lord, but not as much as when we call with some others. To have a corporate calling on the Lord helps a lot. In order to exercise our spirit, we have to recover the practice of calling on the name of the Lord. We need to exercise our spirit so that we may receive the Lord more. Then we can live a godly life to manifest God. (Basic Lessons on Life, Chapter 18, published by Living Stream Ministry)

Gods seekers love God and call on His name out of a pure heart. Let us open our mouth, full of love for the Lord in our heart, and say, “Lord Jesus!”, “Oh, Lord Jesus”, “dearest Lord Jesus!”. Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek Jehovah while He may be found; / Call upon Him while He is near.”

A song to help us seek the Lord

Seek the Lord while He may be found,

Call upon Him while He is near:

Let the wicked forsake his way,

And the unrighteous man his thoughts:

And let him return to the Lord,

Unto our God,

And He will abundantly pardon,

He will abundantly pardon you—

Return to the Lord.

The Word of God – The Letter Kills but the Spirit Gives Life

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Verses for Today

2 Cor 3:6 Who has also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, ministers not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Cor 3:14a But their thoughts were hardened; for until the present day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant.

Fellowship

Reading the Bible is a necessary practice for all believers. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, That the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.” Therefore, what is found in the Bible is the best content available in the whole world. Do not think that you can scroll on your electronic device until you find something better than what is found in the Bible; you cannot. We wholeheartedly recommend the reading of the Bible.

Having said this, we have to know that there are two ways to take the Bible into us. One way results in life and the other way results in death. Let us check our experience. Why is it that we sometimes don’t delight in reading the Bible as much as we should? If the Bible is so rich in content, why is it that it can sometimes even give us a dead feeling? Some ardent studiers of the Bible can even become enemies of God and begin to breathe out threatening and murder. This is because, when taken in for mere knowledge, the letter of the Bible can become death to us.

On the contrary, when we pray to contact Jesus Christ who is the life-giving Spirit, the words of the Bible can become spirit and life to us. We experience something like a flowing river, refreshing us and supplying us. One way is to take the words for knowledge, and this results in death. This is just like Adam and Eve taking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The other way is to come to the Lord Jesus while we read, seeking to receive life. This is just like man coming to eat of the tree of life.

As Paul said of the Jews, there is a veil upon their heart in the reading of the Scriptures (2 Cor. 3:14). They are veiled by their tradition and by their natural concepts. In their experience the Bible thus becomes a book of dead letters. Like the ancient Pharisees, scribes, and Judaizers, they handle the Word without directly contacting the Lord. Instead of exercising their spirit, they rely on their natural understanding. Furthermore, they are often zealous to maintain their religious tradition. But whenever we come to the Word, we need to contact the Lord. As we come to the Lord in the Word, we need to hunger and thirst for Him and seek to enjoy Him. This seeking after the Lord is well expressed in the lines of hymn 812:

I come to Thee, dear Lord,
My heart doth thirst for Thee;
Of Thee I’d eat, of Thee I’d drink,
Enjoy Thee thoroughly.

Just to behold Thy face,
For this my heart doth cry;
I deeply long to drink of Thee
My thirst to satisfy.

In our reading and pray-reading of the Word, we should seek the Lord’s glorious, radiant face. Then in our experience the Word of God will be a source of life supply and nourishment… (Life Study of Exodus, Msg 56, Section 4)

The Word of God – And he will be like a Tree

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Verses for Today

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man / Who does not walk / In the counsel of the wicked, / Nor stand on the path of sinners, / Nor sit in the seat of mockers;

Psalm 1:2 Rather his delight is in the law of Jehovah, / And in His law he meditates by day and by night.

Psalm 1:3 And he will be like a tree / Transplanted beside streams of water, / Which yields its fruit in its season, / And whose foliage does not wither; / And everything he does prospers.

John 10:10b I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly.

Fellowship

The Bible surely tells us that God created us and that He is taking care of all our needs. It even tells us that God sent His Son to die for us that we might be saved from our sins. We should always thank Him for all these blessings. We have so much to be thankful for, but let us not just acknowledge this. Let us practice, “Thank you Lord!”. 

By thanking the Lord thus and even praising Him and loving Him, we come to see that the Bible has an even deeper level, revealing to us God’s very heart and plan. God’s plan is altogether wrapped up with you and me; His plan is that we receive His life and live by Him. He wants us not only to have a human life and to be forgiven, but to have His divine life. 1 Corinthians 15:45 tells us that in His resurrection Christ became a life-giving Spirit. As the Spirit, He gives us Himself as God’s life! The Bible’s primary purpose is actually that we might have God’s life.

God’s intention in His economy [plan] is to dispense Christ into us, and for this dispensing there must be some means. The Bible is the means that God uses to dispense Christ into us (The Holy Word for Morning Revival, Topics for New Believers, Week 3, day 1).

Psalm 1 indicates that the law, when taken in a proper way as God’s word, can minister life to us. Those who delight in the law of the Lord and who muse on it day and night are like trees planted by the rivers of water (vv. 2-3)… If we contact the law of God by musing upon God’s word in worship and prayer, in our experience the law will become a river of water, and we shall be trees planted by the water. This is the indication in Psalms 1 that the law can supply us and water us. (Life Study of Exodus, Msg 56, Section 4)

As we come to His word day by day, and practice contacting Him with our spirit, we shall be those who receive more and more of God’s divine life; we shall be like the trees planted by the rivers of water.

Gospel of Matthew – The Authority of the Church

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It’s always worth repeating that the church is the Body of Christ. Our Lord, the crucified and resurrected Christ, imparted His life into His believers, producing His universal Body. Have you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have, then you have received His life and are a member of His Body, which is the church.

The Lord Jesus refered to the church in two instances in Matthew. In the first, in chapter 16, He spoke of the universal church (“I will build My Church”), and in the second, in chapter 18, He spoke of the local church (“tell it to the church”). The local churches are the many manifestations of the Body of Christ on the earth.

The Head of the Body of Christ is Jesus Christ Himself. We do not share in His Godhead. However, we do see in the gospel of Matthew how the authority of the Head is executed through the local church. Furthermore, by pointing out binding and loosing in both references to the church, we see that God’s intention for the church is that she would exercise dominion to deal with Satan and every negative thing.

In this Bible study we’ll take the following steps:

  1. Look at the verses and study them with the help of the footnotes in the Recovery Version of the Bible.
  2. Read a helpful excerpt from the ministry of Watchman Nee.
  3. Answer questions to encourage much fellowship.

Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Footnote Concerning “gates”,…

Gates of Hades refers to Satan’s authority or power of darkness (Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18), which cannot prevail against the genuine church built by Christ upon this revelation concerning Him as the rock, with stones such as Peter, a transformed human being. This word of the Lord’s indicates also that Satan’s power of darkness will attack the church. Hence, there is spiritual warfare between Satan’s power, which is his kingdom, and the church, which is God’s kingdom.

Matthew 16:19 I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you bind on the earth shall have been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on the earth shall have been loosed in the heavens.

Footnote Concerning “kingdom”,…

Kingdom of the heavens is used here interchangeably for church, which is used in the previous verse. This is a strong proof that the genuine church is the kingdom of the heavens in this age. This is confirmed by Rom. 14:17, in which the kingdom of God is mentioned in obvious reference to the proper church life.

Footnote Concerning “bind”,…

This Gospel is concerned with the kingdom of the heavens, which is a matter of authority. The church revealed in this book represents the kingdom with its reign. Hence, the authority to bind and to loose was given not only to Peter, the apostle for the church here, but also to the church itself (18:17-18).

Footnote Concerning “have”,…

Whatever the church people bind or loose on earth must be something that has already been bound or loosed in the heavens. We can bind or loose only what has already been bound or loosed in the heavens.

Matthew 18:17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be to you just like the Gentile and the tax collector.

Matthew 18:18 Truly I say to you, Whatever you bind on the earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Footnote Concerning “bind”,…

Here to bind means to condemn, and to loose means to forgive.

Mt 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Footnote Concerning “authority”,…

In His divinity, as the only begotten Son of God, the Lord had authority over all. However, in His humanity, as the Son of Man and the King of the heavenly kingdom, authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him after His resurrection.

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Footnote Concerning “therefore”,…

Because all authority was given to Him (v. 18), the heavenly King sent His disciples to disciple all the nations. They go with His authority.

Footnote Concerning “disciple”,…

This is to make the heathen the kingdom people for the establishing of His kingdom, which is the church, even today, on this earth.

Helpful Excerpt from the Ministry of Watchman Nee

The Local Church Being the Manifestation of the Body of Christ on Earth

Questions to Encourage Fellowship

  1. What is the authority of the Body?
  2. How do you see the local church executing the authority of the Body in Matthew chapter 18, verses 17 and 18?
  3. The excerpt states: “A person who sees the Body seeks fellowship and accepts the leading of the church.” Do you have an experience of this that you can share?

Gospel of Matthew – Matthew 18:17 – Tell it to the Church

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We previously saw how the church is the Body of Christ and how the believers are all the many members of the one Body. In this Bible study we see the local church.

In addition to what is below, we highly encourage you to open your Bible and also read Matthew chapter 18 – the whole chapter. 

Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 18:15-17 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go, reprove him between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not hear you, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be to you just like the Gentile and the tax collector.

The church revealed in 16:18 is the universal church, which is the unique Body of Christ, whereas the church revealed here is the local church, the expression of the unique Body of Christ in a certain locality. Chapter 16 concerns the building of the universal church, whereas this chapter concerns the practice of the local church. In both of its aspects the church represents the kingdom of the heavens, having authority to bind and to loose. (footnote for Matthew 18:17 in the Recovery Version of the Bible).

The Local churches in the New Testament

Romans 16:1 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a deaconess of the church which is in Cenchrea,

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:

2 Corinthians 8:1 Furthermore we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,

Galatians 1:2 And all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:

Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,

Revelation 1:11 Saying, What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamos and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.

Acts 13:1 Now there were in Antioch, in the local church, prophets and teachers: Barnabas and Simeon, who was called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen, the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church and had prayed with fastings, they committed them to the Lord into whom they had believed.

Titus 1:5 For this cause I left you in Crete, that you might set in order the things which I have begun that remain and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you:

Being like Little Children

Matthew 18:1 In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of the heavens?

Mt 18:4 He therefore who will humble himself like this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens.

Questions for Fellowship

1. Using the New Testament verses above, (or other verses), and the attached readings, can you explain how the Lord is practically fulfilling 1 Corinthians 12:25, “That there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same care for one another”?
2. Who in your local church can you go to if you have a problem you need help with?

Readings from Ministry Samples

The Church in the New Testament

The Proper Church Life for the Kingdom

Declare it to the World and to Ourselves, That We Love the Lord!

Utah-Christians-on-Campus-Testimony-Declare-it-to-the-world-and-to-ourselves-that-we-love-the-Lord

At this week’s Bible Meeting, the topic for the message was: Taking the way of righteousness through baptism and it’s part of the series: The gospel according to Matthew.

This week we read verses from the book of Matthew concerning the righteousness of our Lord and how we need to repent to receive this righteousness. John the baptist, in this message, was tasked with giving baptisms to people and telling them that, you know what, they were sinful people and that they require a baptism so that they can be forgiven and so that they can receive the Lord’s righteousness. And it’s like alot of people are very confused by this. They’re like, “Oh, I’m a good person, I’ve done nothing wrong.” Well, that may be true, you may follow the law but are you receiving the Lord’s righteousness? You Probably are not.

So that is why it is so important that we receive His righteousness through baptism and we declare it to the world and to ourselves that we love the Lord and that He is all that we need. Oh Lord Jesus, Amen! – Andre

Learn more about taking the way of righteousness, through baptism – HERE.

 

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Gospel of Matthew – The Members of the Body of Christ

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Although we are still studying the Gospel of Matthew, seeing the church in Matthew 16:18 has launched us into the intrinsic view of the church, which is the Body of Christ. We saw that only those who have received the life of Christ form a part of the Body of Christ. In this Bible study we explore the fact that we believers are the members of the Body. We also ask a couple of questions to help us open up to the Lord and to one another – that we might see His Body and enter into its experience.

Questions for Fellowship

1. In the attached excerpt (linked in the second reading), Watchman Nee briefly refers to the universal aspect of the church as the Body of Christ. Who do you think is included in the universal Body of Christ?
2. What can we do to practice the Body life?

Readings

Members of His Body

Ephesians 1:22-23 And He subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.

Members one of another

1 Corinthians 12:12 For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.

 

Gospel of Matthew – Matthew 16:18 – I Will Build My Church

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In this Bible study we have 3 questions and two readings. We will dig deep into the significance of the church in this and the following few Bible studies. We believe this is the right time for the Lord to unveil us further concerning the church. Let us get into it in a prayerful way.

Questions for Fellowship

1. When you were a kid, what did you think was the meaning of
the word “church”?
2. How has your realization of the church changed over the
years?
3. If someone asks you for some steps they can follow to begin
to have a personal time with the Lord, how would you answer
them?

Readings

Seeing The Church

Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

The Church as the Body of Christ

Ephesians 1:22-23 And He subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, Which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.

Bethel

 

Gospel of Matthew – Taking the Way of Righteousness – Baptism

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Matthew 5:20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.

Philippians 3:7-10 But what things were gains to me, these I have counted as loss on account of Christ. 8 But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ 9 And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is out of God and based on faith, 10 To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

To live a life that takes the way of righteousness is to live, work, and act according to God, but, what does this mean?

The first part of living in the way of righteousness is to obtain righteousness objectively. This happens through our repenting of our sins and believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He died for us and if we confess our sins and believe in Him, then we receive Him as our life and God counts us righteous. This righteousness is not based on any of our doings, but it is altogether based on Christ’s doings. We call this our objective righteousness.

The second part of living in the way of righteousness happens when Christ continues to live in us, through us, and out of us. Anything good that comes out of us without our living Christ is not righteousness. Only that which comes out of the Christ in us is true righteousness. This is what we call our subjective righteousness.

In the Old Testament, people followed an outward law, something they thought would govern their behavior. The scribes and Pharisees attempted to keep the old law through their natural life (without Christ). When we come to Matthew chapters 5 through 7 the uplifted law of the kingdom is revealed. However, the New Testament shows us a new way, a new way to live that is different from the Old Testament. The new and uplifted law of the kingdom requires a new life – the divine life. Having this new life and living by it is the way of righteousness. This way actually fulfills the entire law.

What about Baptism?
Baptism was introduced at the beginning of the New Testament indicating a great change from the old way to a new way. The way to live righteously before God is to terminate our old, natural life and receive a new life and live by it.

The righteousness we are speaking of here is not something that we must work out—it is altogether something that is from Christ and is even Christ Himself.

Through the baptism of death we are terminated in the flesh; through the germination of Jesus’ baptism we are regenerated to be joined to the God of resurrection. The highest righteousness in the whole universe is termination and germination. If we want to achieve this highest righteousness, we must be terminated and then germinated by God. (Crystallization Study of Matthew, Message 6, Andrew Yu).

We encourage you to go to the Lord, praying about these things, even as you read the verses and consider the points in the attached slides below.

Taking the Way of Righteousness – Baptism – PDF
Taking the Way of Righteousness – Baptism – PowerPoint Slides

Gospel of Matthew – The Seed of the Kingdom

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We have mentioned that the gospel according to Matthew presents the gospel of the kingdom. In this Bible study we want to see that the kingdom is established and developed through the seed of the kingdom.

First we will see the parable of the sower. Then we want to emphasize that Christ the King is literally within His believers – as opposed to only being in them figuratively. This is very important, especially since we conclude this Bible study seeing the expansion of Christ as the king. That’s right, “The expansion of Christ”. How can this be? What does this mean?

If you have a soft heart toward the Lord, we believe you will be enlightened through this Bible study and even enter into the experience of the kingdom.

The Seed of the Kingdom – PDF
The Seed of the Kingdom – PowerPoint Slides

The Seed of the Kingdom – Extra Excerpt (about the Expansion of Christ the King…)

Further Reading from an excellent Ministry Sample:
The Seed Being the Word of God, The Sons of the Kingdom, and Christ Himself