This material accompanied the sermon THE NEVER (YET SOMETIMES) MISSING INGREDIENT (ROM. 12:9-21) from the sermon series: Be the Body – Seeing the Church as the Body in the Bible and Making the Body a Priority in the Present by Pastor Howard Lawler on 10/22/17.

“Just as a body that is anchored poorly in the net of nerves produces many illnesses and makes life miserable, every church, if she is not anchored well in the sturdy and unbreakable chain of love, produces thousands of enmities and increases God’s anger and presents the occasion for many temptations. …If we confine to one or two the love which ought to be extended to the whole church of God, we injure both ourselves and them, and the whole.” John Chrysostom

“Where now are they who desire to know and to do good works? Let them undertake prayer alone, and rightly exercise themselves in faith, and they will find that it is true, as the holy Fathers have said, that there is no work like prayer. Mumbling with the mouth is easy, or at least considered easy, but with earnestness of heart to follow the words in deep devotion, that is, with desire and faith, so that one earnestly desires what the words say, and not to doubt that it will be heard: that is a great deed in God’s eyes.” Martin Luther

“Although the Law of God contains a perfect rule of conduct admirably arranged, it has seemed proper to our divine Master to train his people by a more accurate method, to the rule which is enjoined in the Law; and the leading principle in the method is, that it is the duty of believers to present their “bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable service,” (Rom. 12:1). Hence he draws the exhortation: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The great point, then, is that we are consecrated and dedicated to God, and, therefore, should not henceforth think, speak, design, or act, without a view to his glory. For as the surest source of destruction to men is to obey themselves, so the only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever he leads. Let this, then, be the first step, to abandon ourselves, and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God. …When Scripture enjoins us to lay aside private regard to ourselves, it not only divests our minds of an excessive longing for wealth, or power, or human favor, but eradicates all ambition and thirst for worldly glory, and other more secret pests.” John Calvin

“I acknowledge that we are devoid of this incomparable gift [justification] until Christ becomes ours. Therefore, to that union of the head and members, the residence of Christ in our hearts, in fine, the mystical union, we assign the highest rank, Christ when he becomes ours making us partners with him in the gifts with which he was endued. Hence we do not view him as at a distance and without us, but as we have put him on, and been engrafted into his body, he deigns to make us one with himself, and, therefore, we glory in having a fellowship of righteousness with him.” John Calvin

“What is central to the Bible is the true and the right, sin and grace, God’s wrath and Christ’s death; what is central to so many people today is simply what offers internal relief. Much of the Church today, especially that part of it which is evangelical, is in captivity to this idolatry of the self. This is a form of corruption far more profound than the list of infractions that typically pop into our minds when we hear the word ‘sin.’ We are trying to hold at bay the gnats of small sins while swallowing the camel of self. It is idolatry as pervasive and as spiritually debilitating as were many of the entanglements with pagan religions recounted for us in the Old Testament. That this devotion to the self seems not to be like that older devotion to a pagan god blinds the Church to its own unfaithfulness. The end result, however, is no less devastating, because the self is no less demanding. It is as powerful an organizing center as any god or goddess on the market.” G.K. Beale

“When the church seeks to solve its problems primarily by appeal to business management and psychology rather than first resorting to Scripture, the sphere of general revelation has become the focus, and the Bible, God’s special revelation, moves to the periphery and is understood through the lens of general revelation, which is the opposite of what Scripture says should be the case. This amounts to

substituting traditions – which otherwise legitimately may be of some help in supplementing or fleshing out Scripture – in the place of God’s Word. This is just what Jesus castigates the Jewish leaders of his time for doing: ‘neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men’ and ‘invalidating the word of God by your traditions which you have handed down’ (Mark 7:8,13). Recall that these traditions were not necessarily bad in themselves (e.g., see Matt. 23:1-26), but when they supplanted God’s Word as the central focus of theology and practice, they became idolatrous.” G.K. Beale

“Living sacrifices are not self-fascinated narcissists, ruled by pride displayed in one of its two guises: rabid but generally unaware denial of Rom. 3:23’s assertion that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,’ or unhealthy preoccupation with personal shortcomings. Such misguided introspection only exacerbates the shrieking me-centered inner need and urges a hasty return to the complacency and false (albeit enticing) security of worldly conformity…The community of the church serves as a vital antidote to the self-absorption of either manifestation of narcissism.” Ben Witherington

“It seems self-evident that to be a sacrifice is to be vulnerable. But we too often choose to conceal that vulnerability from fellow believers, forgetting that our lives are not our own and that we do not live for our own benefit. Transparency in all of life’s events points others and us to the author of the changes that have occurred and are continuing to occur. This vulnerable posture fosters humility, enabling us to acknowledge and recognize that it is not our initiative but rather Christ’s that accomplishes all transformation.” Ben Witherington

“In the final analysis, worldliness is essentially a self-indulgent attitude. It may take many forms but, more than the exterior series of behavior patterns, it is an internal attitude. The most common and the most subtle form of worldliness among Christians is probably pride. Some of the most worldly people abstain from doing all the things we usually call ‘worldly.’ They are worldly because their basic concern is themselves, their own comfort, their own prestige, their own material prosperity. Merely abstaining from certain things is no guarantee that we are spiritual. Genuine spirituality is the viewing of everything from God’s standpoint: considering and living every part of our life according to his standard of values and in terms of his revealed will for us, so that everything we say and do may bring glory to Jesus Christ who loves us and gave himself for us.” Paul Little

“Churches that want to influence their culture are so often tempted to think that to be effective they must hide their otherworldliness and become slickly this-worldly. They think they must identify with their culture as if they knew nothing but that culture. They imagine that their chief tool, if not their only tool, of influence is friendship with their world. Churches that actually do influence the culture- here is the paradox- distance themselves from it in their internal life. They do not offer what can already be had on secular terms in the culture. They are an alternative to it. They stand outside of its life. They stand over against it in their preoccupations, because their preoccupations are with the God of their salvation who in his holiness and grace is completely unlike anything we find in life. In life we find preoccupations that are thoroughly this-worldly. The preoccupations we should find in the church arise from the knowledge of God in Christ and from his written Word.” David Wells

“We have no separate, private lives that belong to us. God owns us, and he owns every one of our relationships. A lifestyle of ministry begins with surrender to the ownership of the Lord over all we are and all we have. The church (the people, not the institution) doesn’t have a people-mobilization problem. The church of Jesus Christ has an awe problem. It’s not that they church is losing the ministry war; it is losing the awe war. And because it is losing the awe war, very few people participate in very much ministry.” Paul David Tripp

“”When we see how the Father has vindicated the Son, sided with him and endorsed him in the resurrection, and exalted him to the highest place, giving him all dominion and authority, we see that the Christian life is a continual siding with Jesus against everything that competes with or contradicts him.” J. R. Vassar

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