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THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH

A Winnable War We Must Not Ignore.

by Larry Cory

 

THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH
PART 4
THE SILENT WAR CAN BE WON
BY GOD'S LOVE IN US
(When does the best in heaven become part of the church?)

     Victory in the Silent War in the Church comes when we experience the kingdom of heaven in our midst.  As it says in the title of a Christian song: "Heaven came Down and Glory Filled my Soul."  "God is love (I Jn. 4:8) and He alone can enable us to truly love each other.  So, when a church is loving each other, it is because we are seeking to be filled with His heavenly love. 
     The church at Corinth, though, was not filled with this type of heavenly love for each other.  They were divided from each other in a number of ways.  They had broken into factions, each following a different Christian leader.  We learn of these factions in I Corinthians 1:10-12: "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas'; still another, 'I follow Christ.'"
     There were a number of other divisions among them as well: They were taking each other to court (6).  They were also divided over Christian liberty (8-10), the Lord's Supper (11) and spiritual gifts (12-14)  The main solution to their divisions was for them to mature spiritually so that they could be enabled by God to love each other.
     I Corinthians 13, which is called the love chapter, describes what it looks like when we love each other.  Love was the solution to the divisions in Corinth and loving each other is the solution to division between us who are Christians today.  If we love someone, we are totally pulling for them and we want the very best for them.  So, let us look together at the love chapter to help us understands what love is.
     Years ago, I developed a definition of love based on this chapter.  How would you define love?  Here is my short definition of love based on this chapter.  It is compassionately seeking another's best, no matter what the circumstances and the cost.  The greatest selfishness is seeking our own best, no matter what it costs others—even if it cost them their lives.  The greatest love is seeking another's best, no matter what it costs me—even if it costs me my life.  Jesus demonstrated this greatest type of love when He died in our place, paying the penalty for our sins.
     Genuine love is the essential ingredient in church life.  The church at Corinth was missing this essential ingredient.  When we are against someone in a church, we are also missing this essential ingredient.
     So, what does Paul tell us that genuine love looks like?  First of all, he tells us that without love, all our efforts at church participation are worthless.  "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (I Corinthians 13:1-3)  If we are busy with church activities, but we are not doing it out of love for God and for others, it is all worthless in God's eyes.  In fact, we are actually doing more harm than good.
     Next, Paul tells us what it will look like if we truly love each other.  "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (I Corinthians 13:4-8a)
     True love will continue to seek another's best no matter what.  We will seek another's best in love, even when he or she keeps us waiting.  It can be hard to continue to want the best for someone when they do things in their own good time—it keeps us from doing things in our own good time.  But, true love "is patient."
     Paul lists a number of circumstances that tend to lead us to focus on our own best and not on the best of others.  Others can be irritating, but true love for them continues to be "kind."  We can find it hard to want the best for those who are doing better than us.  But love "does not envy."  We can also find it hard to focus on wanting the best for others when we are doing better than them.  We tend to focus on how superior we are to them.  But love does "not boast" and "is not proud."  It is hard to seek another's best when they appear to be so self-absorbed that they do not even seem to notice us.  The temptation is to be rude.  But love "is not rude." It is hard to seek the best for others if we are so absorbed in ourselves that we hardly notice others and their needs.  But love "is not self seeking." 
     It is also hard to want another's best when that person wrongs us.  It is much easier to want something bad to happen to them.  But love "is not easily angered."  Also, when we are wronged, it is very easy to keep a close record of every way we have been wronged.  But love "keeps no record of wrongs."  True love for others will enable us to seek the very best for others, no matter how hard it is to keep loving them.
     Then, Paul says, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."  If someone has hurt us in some way, we can relish it when something bad happens to them.  But that is an evil and selfish response.  For, if we truly love that person, we will continue to want the best for them.  Stephen, the church's first martyr, wanted the best for those who were about to kill him.  He forgave them even as the stones were in the air.  "While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:59-60)
     Again, true love for others' seeks their best no matter what: true loves "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  When we love someone, we do not wish that harm will come to them; instead, we do the very opposite.  We protect them, believe the best of them, and hope the best for them.  Our love for them comes from God and as God's love for us never fails, so our love for others never fails.
     What will a church be like that has this type of love for each other?  This type of love is not what we see on earth.  Rather, we see selfishness, power struggles (see next chapter), bitterness, and factions.  This type of love comes from God—it comes to us from heaven.  This type of love comes when "Heaven" comes "down and Glory" fills our souls.

The Silent War In The Church

Table of Contents and Brief Intro Table of Contents
Introduction Introduction
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 1 Part 1a
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 2 Part 1b
The Silent War between Churches Part 2
The Silent War with Satan and his Demons Part 3
The Silent War can be Won by God's Love in us Part 4
The Silent War can be like the Wars in the World Part 5
The Silent War between a False and Coerced Unity and a True Unity Part 6
An Essential Requirement Needed for Ending the Silent War Between Christians Part 7
The Silent War Caused by Turning the Church into the Kingdom of Man and not the Kingdom of God Part 8
The Silent War inside of Each Christian Part 9
The Silent War in the Church with the World Part 10
The Silent War Over Divisive Issues Part 11
The Silent War caused by a Mysterious Invading Army Part 12
The Silent War Caused by Seeking Worldly Success Part 13
The Silent War Always Results in Persecution Part 14
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Divide Part 15
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Cause Divisions Part 16
The Silent War Caused by the Church or a Church Dividing over an Important Issue Part 17
When the Church is Winning - Part 1 Part 18a
When the Church is Winning - Part 2 Part 18a
The Bible's Description of Victorious Soldiers in the Silent War Coming Jan 21
How Victory in the Silent War can Lead to Revival in the Church Coming Jan 28
Conclusion Coming Feb 4
Addendum: The Silent War caused by "the onlys" Coming Feb 11
Addendum: A Pastor's Authority by Ray Stedman Coming Feb 18
Addendum: Galatians 6:1-3 (my commentary on these verses) Coming Feb 25
Addendum: John Wesley's sermon at George Whitefield's funeral Coming Mar 4