Household of Faith
INTRODUCTION Among the figures used to describe a New Testament church is that of a house or household. This figure is not quite as intimate as the terms "bride" and "body," and not quite as imposing as the term "temple," but it points emphatically to the responsibility of each individual member for the condition of the whole house. Called "the house of God" in I Timothy 3:15, a New Testament church is called in this lesson [verse 10] "the household of faith." It is a fitting description of an organization of true believers bound together by the love of Christ and in a common faith under the headship of one Lord. Each member of a true church has a responsibility for the spiritual peace and growth of the whole church, and the whole church has a responsibility for the spiritual life and health of each member. Outlining the lesson, we note: 1. Helpfulness, Galatians 6:1-5. a. Sorrows to share, 1-2. b. Burdens to bear, 3-5. 2. Harvests, Galatians 6:6-10. a. Teacher and taught, 6. b. Reaping and results, 7-9. c. Option of opportunities, 10. 3. Holiness, Galatians 6:11-15. a. Personal production, 11. b. Personal persecution, 12-14. c. Personal progeniture, 15. NOTES ON THE TEXT: HELPFULNESS, Galatians 6:1-5. Mutual helpfulness should characterize the fellowship of a true church today, just as the apostle commanded in the first century of our era. Sad to say, it is not always so. We need a revival of the love of God in our hearts, to learn to love one another more, and so to be more helpful to one another. Sorrows to Share, 1-2. Let us admit that it is far easier to overtake someone else in a fault than it is to "restore" him "in the spirit of meekness." Generally speaking, the less spiritual members of the church are always pointing out other people's faults; only the more spiritual members, called here "ye which are spiritual," are mindful of their own weaknesses while they sincerely try to help their brethren to do better. Some burdens can be shared, and faithful servants of Christ will seek to lighten the burdens of their fellow servants so far as they are able. Burdens to Bear, 3-5. Stuffed shirts may deceive some other people for a while, but worst of all they deceive themselves. If and when our own work can stand the test of God's Word, we can have occasion for rejoicing in ourselves, without reference to anyone else. There can be no real or lasting satisfaction in recognizing the failings of others when we have failed ourselves. Each of us has his own burdens of personal responsibility to God which he alone must bear.
HARVESTS, Galatians 6:6-10. Christians must be learning continually to take the long view. Life is full of seedtimes and harvests; we are continually reaping what we sowed in the past, and what we are sowing today we shall reap in the future. Teacher and Taught, 6. Reference here is to the financial support of the ministry. Official ministers who teach the church in the Word of God need the support of other members so that the ministers can devote their time to the ministry. The word "communicate" here means "share" or "contribute." Reaping the Results, 7-9. God is not mocked. "Fools make a mock at sin [Proverbs 14:9], but the law of sowing and reaping is a divine law, and will stand when fools have fallen." Varieties of seed will of course produce corresponding varieties of harvests. But there is a more important point here. We have our choice of two different fields for cultivation. The flesh can produce nothing but corruption and death, regardless of the seed sown; while the regenerated spirit, and the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, will always produce an increased measure of everlasting life in its manifold manifestations. Another fact should be remembered. It takes time to produce a crop. "In due season we shall reap, if we fail not." Option of Opportunities, 10. Jesus "went about doing good" [Acts 10:38], and so we ought always to be doing "good unto all." But there are so many opportunities to do good that we cannot do everything good that needs to be done. Where shall we begin, and which of many good deeds shall we prefer when our time and means are limited? The Bible answer is clear: "especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
HOLINESS, Galatians 6:11-15. Too easily we forget our own personal need of holiness if we would help others. We can never lead anyone else closer to God than we have come ourselves. Certainly we may urge others to go on with God when we have fallen behind, but we are not likely to do so. If we would lead others to Jesus, we must be ahead of them; not in energy of the flesh, but in humble obedience to the Spirit. Personal Production, 11. When no secretary was available, Paul wrote with his own hand. When we have a duty to perform, shortage of help does not excuse us from doing what we can. Many commentaries prefer to translate "how large a letter" with the words "what large letters," on the supposition that the apostle suffered from bad eyesight and so had to write in large letters to see what he was writing. Anyway it is apparent that this sentence, and perhaps the entire epistle, was Paul's personal production, so far as human instrumentality is concerned. Personal Persecution, 12-14. Faithfulness in personal testimony may result in personal "persecution for the cross of Christ." There is often a temptation to compromise the doctrine in order to escape persecution and gain favor with the world; but if we, like Paul, have found our glory in the cross of Christ, we can be faithful as he was. Personal Progeniture, 15. Outward formalities of religion are comparatively unimportant; the vital experience is divine progeniture, or what we commonly call the new birth or new creation; and this must be an individual and personal experience. Only those who have been spiritually born again can live and serve and grow spiritually and receive a spiritual inheritance.
CONCLUSION [Romans 15:1-2] Strong Christians show and make good use of their strength by helping those who are weaker, and not by pleasing themselves. without wishing to hurt anyone's feelings, we may point out the implication that the "Christian" who lives to please himself is showing himself a weakling, spiritually speaking. =============
[From AAB, May 28, 1976, pp. 2-3. -- jrd]
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