Scandalon…the Offense of our Testimony

Scadalon Testimony

Sunday 06/13/21

Series: Maintaining this hope

Message – Scandalon…the Offense of our Testimony

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Scandalon…the Offense of our Testimony

Last week we finished up 1Peter 1 and continued on to the first 7 verses of chapter 2

Though there are countless things I suppose we could have learned from those verses, we focused on not having a lazy mind. We are to set our hope and minds on Him through His Word and His Spirit and prepare it for the day when we will see Jesus. This is Peter’s way of saying what Paul did about working out your own salvation. 

We know that the salvation spoken of by Paul, and here by Peter, is that of our souls. It is the end goal of our walk and life of faith in Christ Jesus… or rather our faith in God through Jesus. 

This week the focus will shift a little to the works which are produced in and through us as we renew our minds… or work out the salvation of our souls. 

Let’s back up to 1Peter 1:22 as a segue into this week’s study… 

“(22)  By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,  (23)  since you have been born again–not of perishable seed but of imperishable–through the living and enduring word of God.  

(24)  For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower drops off, (25)  but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.” 

1 Peter 2

” 1  So rid yourselves… 

We of course know that all such encouragement and exhortations towards personal diligence is never an encouragement to perform for God but rather to rely upon the inner work and strength the Holy Spirit supplies to us as we seek for and believe in God’s work within us to form Christ. 

We CANNOT forget this! Christianity is a WALK of faith – not a condition of having believed!

Following the decision to bow the knee to Jesus, placing the whole of our trust in and reliance upon Christ Jesus as our Lord – there is a walk of day-by-day, moment-by-moment really, of trusting in Him to conform us into His likeness. We trust in God, through Jesus to complete what He BEGAN on that initial day of our salvation, by our cooperation and submission to the inner work of the Holy Spirit.

It is false doctrine to teach that salvation is just reciting a simple prayer with an academic belief in the facts of the gospel. This is a WALK of Faith!

With this in mind Peter encourages us to

” 1  So rid yourselves of all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. 

Let’s consider this list. Though it may seem so, it really isn’t arbitrary. 

  • Wickedness – doing our own thing or own way. To twist and pervert the only right way. 
  • Deception – lying to others
  • Hypocrisy – lying to ourselves
  • Envy – a cancerous greed for what belongs to others which springs from lust and idolatry 
  • Slander – to defame others. It is amazing how often slander comes from a heart of envy. 

This is a list of deep and insidious sins which turn the attention inward and replace Jesus as our focus. It is not only counterproductive – it is to actively sow evil in our hearts. To make a personal investment in demonic endeavors. 

“2  Like newborn infants, desire the unadulterated spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it in your salvation, 3  since you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4  Coming to Him, a living stone–rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God– 5  you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Heb. 5-6

“(11) We have a great deal to say about this, and it’s difficult to explain, since you have become slow to understand.  (12)  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God’s revelation. You need milk, not solid food.  (13)  Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant.  (14)  But solid food is for the mature–for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.

Heb 6:1-12,

“(1) Therefore, leaving the elementary message about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God,  (2)  teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  (3)  And we will do this if God permits.  (4)  For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit,  (5)  tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age,  (6)  and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.  (7)  For ground that has drunk the rain that has often fallen on it, and that produces vegetation useful to those it is cultivated for, receives a blessing from God.  (8)  But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and about to be cursed, and will be burned at the end.  (9)  Even though we are speaking this way, dear friends, in your case we are confident of the better things connected with salvation.  (10)  For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints–and you continue to serve them.  (11)  Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope,  (12)  so that you won’t become lazy, but imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.”

Continuing in 1Peter 2:6…

” 6  For it stands in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and valuable cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame!”

Shame in scripture is always linked to nakedness resulting from the glory of God’s presence being lifted from us. The one who maintains a loving, living faith in (reliance upon) Jesus will Never be exposed as naked and bereft of God’s glory upon them. 

” 7  So the honor is for you who believe; but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected–this One has become the cornerstone, and 8  A stone that causes men to stumble, and a rock that trips them up. They stumble by disobeying the message; they were destined for this.”

Scandalon – by Michael Card

1Peter 2:9…

“9  But you are a chosen race (generation… S1085 see Luke 21:32) , a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 

10  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 

11  Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 12  Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do evil, they may, by observing your good works, glorify God in a day of visitation. 

13  Submit to every human institution because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority, 14  or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 

15  For it is God’s will that you, by doing good, silence the ignorance of foolish people. “

What we DO is our testimony… not merely what we say. Our testimony was understood in the early church to be of paramount importance. 

  • It IS our confession of Christ before men. 
  • It is the reason of Water baptism and the changed life following it.
  • It is the reason why angels observe us.
  • It is the reason why if we fail to live out the testimony of our union with Christ in His death and resurrection, when we take communion we are opening ourselves up for judgment most severe. 

The scriptures are unambiguous about this in the preaching of the gospel. Our lives of living union with God the Father, through Jesus the Son, by the aid of the Holy Spirit produces works which are evident tokens of our union with Him…our koinonia

Eph 2:8-10, “(8) For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–  (9)  not from works, so that no one can boast.  (10)  For we are His creation–created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

2Tim. 3:14-17,  “(14) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from whom you learned,  (15)  and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  (16)  All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,  (17)  so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Titus 2:11-15, “(11) For the grace of God has appeared, with salvation for all people,  (12)  instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,  (13)  while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  (14)  He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a special people, eager to do good works.  (15)  Say these things, and encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

Titus 3:8-15,  “(8) This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.  (9)  But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.  (10)  Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning,  (11)  knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.  (12)  When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, make every effort to come to me in Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.  (13)  Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey, so that they will lack nothing.  (14)  And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they will not be unfruitful.  (15)  All those who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with all of you.”

Heb 10:19-25, “(19) Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus,  (20)  by the new and living way that He has inaugurated for us, through the curtain (that is, His flesh);  (21)  and since we have a great high priest over the house of God,  (22)  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.  (23)  Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  (24)  And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works,  (25)  not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

James 3:13, “Who is wise and understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness.”

Mat 5:13-16,  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. (14)  “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. (15)  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. (16)  In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

So to summarize, Peter has been addressing a very diverse group of believers who needed spiritual guidance and encouragement in their walk in Christ.

In the first chapter he offers them a sense of belonging to Christ and His cause, as well as a purpose for the sufferings and persecutions of believers and the need for Christ to be formed in them which is facilitated by the renewing of their minds through the word of God by faith.

In this chapter, Peter continues to expand on this by encouraging their faith to be proven by their actions.

We have been honored to have our eyes opened to the priceless value of Jesus that we might believe.

Faith, is in fact necessary for salvation and we know that works do not play in part in our saving. This fact, however, cannot be divorced from the truth that IF we have truly entered into a relationship of knowing and trusting in a Jesus Who we see and esteem as pricelessly valuable, we will live lives conditioned by this conviction.

It is NOT our words alone which help to convince the world of the truths we proclaim, but a life lived in union and conformity to God and His character and ways, which serves as our true testimony before men.

This testimony has two affects as is seen in the song of Michael Card’s above – Christ is seen as either a barrier or The Way, through the scandel of believing.

ALL who come to Christ, will be offended – that is a certain truth and the offense is not relegated to one side of the cross. The difference is how we respond to the offense.

To those of use who believe, the offense breaks us…softens us towards conformity to His nature.

To those who disbelieve, it works to the destruction of their souls.

This is the response to the scandalon that is Christ and to the scandalon that is Christ in us…our testimony.

Lord willing we will pick back up where we left off in 1Peter 2:16, next week.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!