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Following Jesus -- Course B

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Attitudes Needed in a Local Church

Following Jesus, Course B, Lesson 4


Introduction:

Our last lesson examined work that members need to do in the local church. But in order for the church to succeed, proper work must be accompanied by proper attitudes. Here are some attitudes that all Christians need in order to maintain proper relationships in the local church.


I. Members Need to Love God and One Another.


God Requires Us to Love.

>>> Please read Matthew 22:37-40. <<<

*1,2* The greatest two commands require love for whom? Answer: The commands require love first for __________ and second for your __________.

>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. <<<

*3* How important is love? (a) love is unnecessary, (b) good works must be motivated by love, (c) God does not care, (d) all of the preceding. Answer:  __________.

>>> Please read John 13:34,35. <<<

*4* How can we understand the kind of love we should show? Answer: We should love one another like __________ loved us.

If we do not love our brothers, then we cannot properly love our Father in heaven (1 John 4:19-21; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9,10; 2 Thess. 1:3).

Love Requires Us to Obey God and Help Others.

>>> Please read 1 John 3:16-18. <<<

*5* How did Jesus show His love for us? Answer: Jesus showed His love by __________.

>>> Please read John 14:15,21-24; 1 John 5:2,3. <<<

*6* To truly love God and other people, what must one do? Answer: Proper love requires us to __________ God's (Jesus') commands.

Think: Is God pleased by a sweet disposition without obedience? Is He pleased by outward conduct without proper motives?

Too many congregations are filled with people who lack sincere love for one another or who fail to show love in their actions. Furthermore, love is the basis of all proper obedience. The other attitudes and practices we will study must grow out of love.

Do you sincerely love all your brethren? Does love show in what you do as well as in your speech? If every Christian loved like you do, would God be pleased or displeased? Do you love as Jesus loved?

[John 15:12-17; Eph. 5:2; Phil. 2:2,3; Heb. 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2:17]


II. Members Must Be Committed to Truth.


Many churches suffer because members fail to pursue truth.

Members Must Love the Truth.

>>> Please read John 8:31-34; 1 Peter 1:22,23. <<<

*7,8* What can truth do for us? Answer: Truth can make us __________; obeying it can purify our __________.

>>> Please read 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. <<<

*9* What will happen to those who do not love truth? Answer: Those who do not love truth will not be saved but will believe a lie and __________.

No matter how often you hear truth preached, if you do not love it enough, sooner or later you will believe error and be lost.

[1 Cor. 13:6; James 1:18; Prov. 23:23; John 3:19-21]

Members Must Learn and Believe Truth.

Truth is found in God's word (John 17:17), but that will do us no good unless we put forth the effort to learn and accept it.

>>> Please read John 8:32; Psalm 25:4,5. <<< 

*10* What must we do so truth can free us from sin? Answer: We must __________ the truth, so it can set us free.

>>> Please read Proverbs 2:1-6. <<<

*11* How should we search for understanding? Answer: Search for it like we are searching for __________.

Think: If we really value truth like we value treasure, would we think about it only one hour a week? Does a person love truth when he has no desire to study it every day? Shouldn't we want to attend every opportunity the church provides for us to learn?

Local churches are successful only when the members are truly committed to studying and attending when they can.

[Prov. 8:7-11,17; Acts 17:11; Psa. 86:11; 1 Tim. 2:3,4; Eph. 1:13]

Members Must Obey the Truth.

Knowledge is of little benefit unless we act on it.

>>> Please read 1 Peter 1:22,23; Psalm 19:7-11. <<<

*12* According to the passages, how do we benefit from God's word? (a) just read it, (b) just talk about it, (c) just tell others about it, (d) keep and obey it. Answer: __________.

>>> Please read Romans 2:6-11. <<<

*13* What happens if we do not obey truth? Answer: Those who don't obey will receive __________.

God never promises the benefits of truth to those who do not obey it. Too many congregations have members who continue to disobey truth, yet they do not seem to realize their error. These folks need to learn the importance of commitment to truth.

Churches need members who love the truth enough to obey it.

[John 8:31; 2 John 4; 3 John 3,4; Gal. 5:7; Psa. 26:3; 86:11; John 4:24; 3:19-21; James 5:19,20; 1:18-25; Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 10:26-31]

Members Must Oppose Error.

Most members have difficulty speaking out against sin. Some people say it is "unloving" to do so. Yet truth and error are opposites. You cannot love one without hating the other.

>>> Please read Hebrews 1:9; Romans 12:9. <<<

*14,15* How should we view right and wrong? Answer: We should __________ evil and __________ righteousness.

Think: Is it possible to really love truth without hating error?

>>> Please read Revelation 3:19; 2 Timothy 4:2-4. <<<

*16* What should be done when people turn from truth to error? Answer: As an act of love, we should __________ people who go into error.

Think: How can rebuking sin be an act of love? What does it mean to "hate the sin, but love the sinner"?

We should not rebuke people from a spirit of pride, vengeance, or self-will. But if we truly love people who are in sin, we will rebuke them.

Too many congregations have been overrun by error because members did not oppose it. The only congregation that will remain faithful before God is one where the members will speak out for what is true and oppose error with sincere love for the souls of all.

Is spiritual truth more valuable to you than material possessions? Do you study diligently and attend church meetings to learn God's word? Are you willing to change your conduct to live according to truth no matter how great the sacrifice that is required?

[Amos 5:15; Psalms 119:104,127,128; 1 Tim. 1:3-7; Lev. 19:17,18; John 7:7; James 5:19,20; Gal. 6:1,2; 1 Thess. 5:14; Eph. 5:11]


III. Members Must Be Committed to Serve.


Too often people believe that, even if they do not work, they should be treated the same as folks who do work. As a result, many congregations are hindered by negligent members. Instead of "every part doing its share," relatively few members end up doing most of the work.

>>> Please read Matthew 20:26-28. <<<

*17* What is the true basis of greatness in life? Answer: Those who are great are those who __________.

Think: Is greatness determined by wealth, power, or talent?

>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 15:58. <<<

*18* How does God describe the way we ought to work? (a) steadfast, (b) unmovable, (c) abounding, (d) not vain, (e) all the preceding. Answer: __________.

Think: Is God satisfied when folks do a little work or work sporadically and intermittently?

>>> Please read Galatians 6:2. <<<

*19* What should Christians do for one another? Answer: We should bear one another's __________.

Note that the attitudes we previously studied also show the importance of service. If we appreciate the importance of loving God and others, if we are committed to the truth, if we want to be truly great, and if we want to be saved eternally, then we must appreciate the value of serving others. Service is essential to all these other things.

Would Jesus say that you are steadfast, always abounding in His work? Do you actively seek ways to be more involved in the work of the church, or do you seek to avoid work? If every member was just as active and involved in the work of the church as you are, how much work would be accomplished?

[Acts 10:35; Gal. 5:6,13,14; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 10:25-37; Neh. 4:6; Ecc. 9:10; James 2:14-26; 2 Thess 1:8,9; Rom. 6:17,18; Matt. 7:21]


IV. Members Must Be Patient & Forbearing.


Many members act properly when they have no problems, but they fail to act properly when things do not go their way, or when they are not treated well. Other people are good at starting projects but not so good at finishing what they start. We need patience and forbearance.

Patience is endurance, persistence, perseverance, longsuffering, steadfastness. It is the quality of a person who, having begun in the right direction, continues on in spite of all difficulties.

Members Must Patiently Face Hardship.

>>> Please read Luke 8:11-15. <<<

*20* How did good soil differ from other soils? Answer: The good soil describes people who bear fruit with __________.

>>> Please read Hebrews 10:32-36; 12:1-4. <<<

*21* What do we need when we suffer? (a) patience and endurance, (b) a large bankroll, (c) an influential family, (d) a good education. Answer: __________.

Too many members blow hot and cold. They begin good works (studying, attending, etc.), but they become discouraged and give up when they face problems and opposition. Local churches need members who keep working no matter how difficult the challenge.

[James 5:7,8; 1:12; 1 Cor. 13:4,7; 1 Pet. 2:19-23; Gal. 5:22; 2 Pet. 1:6]

We need patience when teaching sinners.

>>> Please read 2 Timothy 4:2-4; 2:24-26. <<<

*22* We need patience (longsuffering) to do what? (a) accumulate wealth, (b) become a famous actor, (c) teach others, (d) win an election. Answer: __________.

>>> Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:14. <<<

*23* With whom should we be patient in our teaching? Answer: We should be patient with (longsuffering toward) __________.

Some people become discouraged when they don't see immediate results to their work, when people criticize them, or when converts go back to the world. God has warned us that some will not want the truth, but we must still teach. Local churches need members who patiently lead sinners to the truth.

Note that the above verses specifically deal with teaching other Christians who sin. Sometimes these cases require the greatest patience. [Gal. 6:1; Matt. 18:15-17; 5:23,24; Luke 17:3,4; 1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:6,14,15; Titus 3:10,11; Rom. 16:17,18]

Do you continue patiently serving God, or have you allowed problems to cause you to give up doing what you know is right? Do you seek to be reconciled to people in the church from whom you have become alienated? Do you honor the Bible plan for church discipline? Do you bear temptation and hardship like Jesus did?


V. Members Must Be Committed to Unity and Peace.


Throughout the world local churches have been destroyed by division and strife. Christians who once worked side-by-side can no longer even worship together. This is tragic.

Members Must Work For Peace and Unity.

>>> Please read John 17:20,21. <<<

*24* For what did Jesus pray? Answer: He prayed we would all be __________ as He and His Father are.

>>> Please read Romans 15:5,6; 1 Peter 3:8. <<<

*25* How united should we be? (a) like-minded toward one another, (b) one mind, (c) glorifying God with one mouth, (d) all of these. Answer: __________.

Think: How many people does it take to destroy the unity and peace of the local church? How many people must work for unity?

Notice now how all the other attitudes we have studied will help promote peace and unity in a congregation.

Love Promotes Peace and Unity.

Love leads us to treat our brethren right.

>>> Please read Philippians 2:2-5. <<<

*26* Love is here associated with what? (a) like minds, (b) one accord, (c) looking for the interests of others, (d) all of the preceding. Answer: __________.

Think: Can unity exist where members always want their own way and pursue their own interests?

Few things destroy unity in a local church faster than selfishness. Local churches need members who will seek the wellbeing of other members, sacrificing their own desires to help others. [1 Cor. 1:10-13,31]

Commitment to Truth Promotes Peace and Unity.

We have already learned that all members must follow God's will instead of human doctrine. Such a commitment to truth helps maintain unity by keeping the church pure and avoiding doctrinal error.

>>> Please read Ephesians 4:2-6. <<<

*27,28* How many bodies and how many faiths are necessary to unity? Answer: We must have __________ body and __________ faith.

Think: When members depart from the "one faith" and persist in unscriptural practices, does this promote peace and unity? In such cases, who stands guilty before God when division comes?

God's plan for unity is not a plan for doctrinal compromise. In areas of personal preferences and opinions, we must compromise for the good of the group. But when people leave the truth to practice sin, they must be taught to repent. If they will not, the only way the church can return to unity in truth is to withdraw from them (Rom. 16:17,18; Titus 3:10,11; 2 Thess. 3:6,14,15).

True wisdom is "first pure, then peaceable" (James 3:17). Local churches need members who seek unity based on truth.

Service to Others Promotes Peace and Unity.

Commitment to service leads every member to do his/her share in the congregation.

>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 12:17-25. <<<

*29* If every member of the body fulfills its function and every member cares for other members, what problem can we avoid (v25)? Answer: When all members work together, we avoid ___________.

Think: When members neglect their work and leave it for other members to do, does this promote peace and unity in a congregation?

The local church needs members who work diligently to please the Lord and serve one another. If all will cooperate and work together, then we also have the unity God wants. [Rom. 12:3-8]

Patience Promotes Peace and Unity.

Patience with other members helps a congregation overcome problems and maintain good relationships.

>>> Please read Ephesians 4:2,3. <<<

*30* Unity (v3) is associated with what qualities? (a) humility, (b) longsuffering, (c) bearing with one another, (d) all the preceding. Answer: __________.

When we are irritated by personalities or opinions of brethren who are not guilty of sin, patience will help us forbear and maintain peace. When brethren are guilty of sin, patience will help us restore them.

Do you appreciate all members for the work they do, when they work according to their ability? Are you willing to sacrifice your personal desires and preferences in order to maintain unity? If all members of the congregation shared your attitude, would the congregation have the peace and unity that Jesus desires?

In order for the church to accomplish the work God has assigned, every member must work diligently and maintain proper attitudes.

Personal application questions:

(These questions are for you to ponder. Your answers will help us understand your thinking, however they will not affect your "score.")

*31* Do you need to improve your love for other Christians? ________

*32* How important is it to you to speak out against sin? __________

*33* Do you look for ways to be more involved in the church? _______

*34* Do you continue the good works you start, or do you quit? ______

*35* Do you sacrifice personal desires in order to be peaceable? ______

When you have carefully studied this lesson and written down answers to all the questions, click on this link to submit your answers.

(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2001 (click for copyright information)

Topics for further Bible study

The Importance of Bible Instruction
Is Obedience Essential to Salvation?
Should We Oppose the Sins of Others?
How to Change Yourself (Self-improvement)
Meekness & Humility vs. Pride & Egotism
Steps to Spiritual Maturity

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