Thursday, December 11, 2014

Touching Base, Part 258

TB 258 – 14 Dec 14
Part 1 -
“Through Him, All Things…
Without Him, Nothing.”

You can download the PDF of this blog here

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Some of the things that John writes in his gospel are so startling that, even in the 21 st-century, after millennia of Christian history, to grasp them and to utter them seems blasphemous. No wonder in 1 st-century Palestine some picked up rocks to stone Jesus to death. His claims were (and are) breathtaking.

Read John 1:1-3.

I grew up in a Christian tradition that downplayed the celebration of Christmas because of its pre-Christian customs and current materialism, thus paying only minimal attention to Christ’s birth as well. Instead, Christ’s death was elevated, and the scriptures that ask Christ-followers to remember him in death were emphasized. Instead of Christmas, the Eucharist (communion) was the most prominent, even in December.

It is accurate that the cross should overshadow the manger, for even the “no vacancies” in Bethlehem predict the forsaken Christ of Golgotha. But in this Touching Base and the accompanying sermon we are going to turn from the cross and instead focus on the heart of the Christmas story – the Son of God’s incarnation. We need to get things straight. His incarnation and who he is precedes his death and what he did for us.

Our text is highly theological – expounding a “high Christology” – but highly practical. The most theological texts are always the most practical because they are foundational, and everything, including day-to-day living, hinges on them.

John’s Gospel:

This gospel is different from the other three. Here Jesus’ audience may have been the sophisticated
theologians around Jerusalem rather than the Galilean crowds of the synoptic gospels, and so there is less narrative and more of the arguments that might have suited contemporary synagogue teaching.

And Jesus is unmistakably presented as God having taken on a human body and nature.

This begins with the first 3 verses. Read them again. Not only are we starting before the crucifixion, we’re starting way before the virgin birth. “The other gospels begin with Bethlehem; John begins with the bosom of the Father. Luke dates his narrative by Roman emperors and Jewish High Priests; John dates his ‘In the beginning’. Matthew and Luke take us to the cradle and the manger, Mark to the prophecies of old, but John takes us back into the mists of eternity” (MacLaren).

“The Word” is a confusing term, but its meaning can be summarized this way. In the Old Testament, the Word of God is how he accomplished his greats acts – of deliverance, of judgment, and especially, of creation. Read Psalm 33:6 and, of course, Genesis 1 – “And God said…And God said…” Also Isaiah 38:4, Psalm 107:20. Then, in the world of the New Testament and John’s audience, the Word (or logos in Greek philosophy) would have had connotations of something of great significance and that was from beyond the tangible world.

But that is all that Hebrew tradition, Greek philosophy, and the Old Testament can say about the Word. So John, with divine inspiration, then strikes out for new territory, a frontier never-before trammeled, one wild and dangerous. This Word, he writes, that was in the beginning was with or toward God (connoting intimacy and relationship) and, in fact, was God. John is a Jewish monotheist (believing in only one God), but he says this Word was God. He goes on to write that this Word is none other than Jesus, the man he knew so well. As he writes in his first epistle, he has seen this “Word,” has looked right at him, and has touched him. Read 1 John 1:1.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Touching Base, Part 254

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.


We all have one. There’s no denying it, you and me, the world, we all have a backstory.

A backstory is a person’s past that includes characters good and bad, events, places and dates. When you understand a person’s backstory, you can then better understand why someone does what they do, why they feel the way they do about themselves and why their lives are headed in a particular direction.

What I want you to do is to look at the main text that we discussed on Sunday and identify the major elements of Peter and Cornelius’s backstory. Work through each of their stories and, by using what we talked about on Sunday, discuss their backstory. I have included some of my notes to help you along. I would suggest reading the text as a group and then looking at each character in detail.

TEXT: Acts 10


The Gentile Commander of 100 men in the Roman army. Military service was the preferred occupation, and only roughly half of those who enlisted survived the twenty years of service. Recruits had all sworn oaths of allegiance to the divine emperor.
Place: Caesarea was predominantly a gentile city.
Tension: The greatest point of tension in this story is seen when Cornelius is baptized. Herod the Great had renamed Strato’s Tower “Caesarea” in honor of the emperor. Augustus Caesar had given the city called Caesarea Phillipi to Herod the Great as a reward for his loyalty. Herod then erected a magnificent temple of white stone, where citizens could worship their emperor-god, Augustus. After the death of Herod the Great, his son, Philip, beautified the city and made it his capital. Centurions who worked for the Roman Empire worshipped the emperor – he was considered divine. History tells us that Christianity would eventually be outlawed because Christians insisted that Jesus, not the emperor, was their king. Cornelius had sworn an oath of allegiance to this divine emperor. But now things had changed.
Major lessons learned: On Sunday I talked about the courage, fear, humility and submission that both Cornelius and Peter would have to deal with. Where do you see that in both these stories? What are the major takeaways for both characters?


A Jewish disciple of Christ’s, famous for not knowing how to swim and denying Christ.
Place: Joppa – a predominately Jewish city
Tension: Note Peter’s dream, his response, how many times the voice spoke to Peter. How does this represent tension in Peter’s life? Note in Acts 11:1-18 how Peter has to explain his actions to the church leaders.
Major lessons learned: On Sunday, I talked about the courage, fear, humility and submission that both Cornelius and Peter would have to deal with. Where do you see that in both these stories? What are the major takeaways for both characters?

While this chapter is primarily about the God Who does not show favouritism, we also see a profound lesson about baptism.

BIG IDEA: Baptism’s backstory is about a God at work, and hearts that are yielding to Him.

People who are baptized talk about a place where they encountered God, the characters that influenced them, the tension, walk of obedience, and the act of surrender. Have you ever been baptized as a testimony of your backstory?

The term “to be baptized into the name of Christ “(Acts 8:16; 19:5) is probably drawn from the commercial world, where “into the name of” was used in transactions (as today we write cheques “to the name of”). So, “to be baptized in/into the name of” someone was to allow that person to be over him, to become his disciple (1 Cor. 1:12–13).

Cornelius was baptized in Caesarea, the very place that was named after the emperor and was a place of emperor worship. Don’t miss the contrast and the tension of this scene in the story.


Now that you have filled in some of the backstory of Cornelius and Peter, take some time to talk about your own backstory with the group. Specifically talk about the backstory that lead you to Christ and that, perhaps, lead you to your baptism. Use the outline of place, characters, tension and major lessons learned to outline how you might share.

Take some time to pray for each other. Backstories will always clue us in to ways to pray for each other.

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Touching Base, Part 253

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

This series Core Strength is designed to address various core truths, foundational truths of the Christian faith. It comes out of a spiritual life survey we did with the church back in November of 2014. Thus far in the series we have addressed Scripture, faith, God, Jesus, and today, the Holy Spirit.

Before we jump in, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that we’re going to be talking about the Holy Spirit? Pay attention to that and feel free to discuss it with God along the way.

In your group or on your own, what are the texts that you would go to (in the Old Testament and New Testament) that would help describe who the Holy Spirit is?
How does Christianity collapse if the Holy Spirit is taken out of the equation?

Text: Acts 1:4,8 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Our text first speaks of the promise that Jesus makes to his disciples, that God will give them the Holy Spirit to empower them to do what He has called them to do. It soon happens in Acts 2.

Acts 4:24-31 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David…Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

This text is all about needing more power to do what God had called them to accomplish in the face of opposition. So the Holy Spirit comes on them a second time.

Our key text last week was 1Timothy 3:16. Mark explained that to be “vindicated” means to be “justified” “(declared righteous), to show, or exhibit.” What was Holy Spirit actually doing to “Vindicate” Jesus? Take a look at Matthew 12:28, Romans 1:4, and 1 Peter 3:18.

The Holy Spirit’s power flowing through Jesus proved who Jesus was.
How does this reality affect how we live as the Church – as Jesus’ Body?

If you’re in a group setting, you might have some interesting dialogue around this topic. Consider this quote:

"Satan has opposed the doctrine of the Spirit-filled life about as bitterly as any doctrine there is. He has confused it, opposed it, surrounded it with false notions and fears. . . . The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people"
(A.W. Tozer, How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit, Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, n.d.).

What’s your first response to this statement?
Why do you think this statement may or may not be true?
What issues can cloud our understanding of who Holy Spirit is? Could fear influence our interpretation of Scripture regarding Holy Spirit? If so, what distortions are possible?

The Holy Spirit is the person referred to by Jesus as “…the gift…”
Next to Jesus, could Holy Spirit be the most important gift God gives to the church today?

“Do not leave…wait for the gift my Father promised…”
Being head of the Church, He knew what it would take to make it happen. Interestingly, Jesus put a boundary so that they weren’t to run with the visions on their own, but wait. The Holy Spirit’s power enabled men to do what God had planned. It had been talked about, envisioned, planned and the preparations made, but nothing could go ahead and Jesus didn’t let them go ahead until they were empowered by the Spirit of God. Why is that significant to you?

God keeps His promise
Our Heavenly Father does what He promised through Jesus because the disciples waited on God’s method, God’s timing, and God’s power. They did things beyond what was humanly possible as the Spirit of God enabled them to communicate and articulate the message.

In the face of opposition they prayed: “enable your servants to speak…with boldness…”
The need for courage was urgent. So the Holy Spirit comes on them to empower them a second time. Apparently, it’s ok to get “filled” twice? I wonder if this presents any challenge to our thinking or beliefs.

This is great news. God calls us to do his will, but never expects it to be done in human strength. So when we step up to doing His will, we need Him. We need the person of the Holy Spirit who is the power to make it happen. All we have to do is ask, based on His promise and His call on our lives. God pours out His spirit on His people to advance his purposes and build His Kingdom.

In our culture of opportunity & affluence, it’s way too easy to think, “God helps those who help themselves.” But that’s not in God’s vocabulary! God’s reality? He calls us to Himself, to do His will, His way, which He empowers by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is as much as part of God as the Father and Jesus are. The fact is that if you see one, you get a glimpse of the others.

So, the good news? If you need help to do God’s will, there’s Someone whose nature is to unleash the power to make it happen!

That may make you do a double-take the next time you consider what He’s asked you to do. But think of the possibilities if the Holy Spirit pulls it off!

Kent Bandy
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Touching Base, Part 252

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

This series Core Strength is designed to address various core truths, foundational truths of the Christian faith. It comes out of a spiritual life survey we did with the church back in November of 2014. Thus far in the series we have addressed, Scripture, faith, God and today, Jesus Christ.

In your group or on your own, what are the texts that you would go to in the OT and NT that would help describe who Jesus is?

How does Christianity collapse if Jesus is taken out of the equation?

Text: Our key text is 1 Timothy 3:16. This is believed to be an old hymn from the early church. It is a great verse to memorize.

Now before you jump in to v.16 be sure to read the preceding verses. Note that Paul is talking about how people ought to conduct themselves. It is within this context that the question comes up about godliness which leads Paul into quoting this old hymn.

What do we learn about godliness from this text?

He appeared in a body
What makes His (appearance) in a body so unique?
Check out John 20:28, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:11–13

Larry Richards and Clyde Hoeldtke write,

“The doctrine of the Incarnation is distinct and unique to the Christian faith. Many religions speak of appearances of deities in the guise of men or animals. But these are ‘appearances’ only. None takes the startling position of Christianity, which affirms that the God who existed from eternity and who created all things entered His creation to actually become a human being. Yet this is just the radical affirmation of the Christian faith.” (A Theology of Church Leadership [Zondervan], p. 61).

Who in your life would disagree with this and why?
What is their disagreement based on?

Was vindicated by the Spirit
This next line in the hymn clues us in to why he came in flesh. To be vindicated means to be “justified” (or declared righteous), to show, to exhibit. Why would Jesus need to be declared righteous?

The following doctrine helps explain.
“Substitutionary atonement”: The doctrine that Jesus is able to take and pay for the sins of mankind.

Jesus Christ was declared to be the Righteous One who could pay a debt no other person could pay. It was not His debt - He was the Righteous One. Note Romans 1:1-4, Hebrews 2:14-18

Jesus paid a debt we owed. This is very different than what religion teaches. Religion is spelt D-O! Religion teaches that I need to pay that debt by living a good enough life. On the other hand, Christianity is spelt D-O-N-E!. Christianity teaches that God (in a body) paid the debt that I could never pay on my own. To try to pay my own debt would be like offering up a looney in the face of a 1 trillion dollar debt load!
What were you taught as a kid growing up about your debt to God, about how that debt would be paid?
Why is it so hard for some to rest in what God in Christ has DONE for them?

Was seen by angels
The mystery of godliness transcends the physical and encompasses the spiritual realm. You can almost imagine a standing ovation being given by the angelic hosts!

Was preached among the nations
What did they preach? They preached “done” versus “do”.

Was believed on in the world
What did “belief” mean?
What are some of the “cheaper” versions of belief?
What has believing meant for you?

Again look at the text and you will see what belief means. For Paul belief was not just cheap insincere words or a time in the past that has no implications for today. Belief meant to trust Christ for what he has done, repent and live differently. We see this pattern of living differently in the final line and in the larger context of this text.

Was taken up to glory
This refers to the bodily ascension of the risen Lord Jesus. It is put last, out of chronological sequence, because “it is the crown of his exaltation” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible [Revell], VI:818). Now He is seated at the right hand of the Father, with all authority in heaven and earth. As the angels promised, one day He will return to earth in the same manner as He ascended: visibly, bodily, in power and glory.

We might think great, He rules and reigns, and yes that is true. But don’t forget why Paul quotes this hymn. Paul’s point in verse 16, then, is that the incarnate Son of God reveals the Father to us. And the connection between verse 16 and verse 15 is, just as Jesus reveals God, even so ... The church that believes, you and I reveal Christ to the world (3:14-15). We are the visible expression to the world of the Savior who is presently in heaven. What an awesome responsibility, one that only can be fulfilled as one is empowered by the Holy Spirit which is next week’s foundational truth.

So what is the big idea? Jesus Christ, Superstar!

He is the foundation of the Church, the anchor of our salvation, the face of God to the world, the One who appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believe on in the world, was taken up in glory.

I don’t know about you, but for me this certainly qualifies as superstar status!

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Touching Base, Part 251

TB 251
God (and Donkeys)
05 Oct 14

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

“God in 30 minutes.” That’s essentially this Sunday’s sermon, although that’s not the exact title. It sounds downright irreverent, but God is, nevertheless, the topic this week in our series on Core Strength, sermons on foundational truths.

So try “God on one page, double-sided”. That’s essentially this week’s Touching Base. Read on.

The Bible itself gives several summaries of God: who He is, what He’s up to generally, and His plans for humankind.

Read Acts 7 where Stephen, his face shining like an angel, gives a short history lesson to a Jewish audience of God’s acts for the previous 2000 years (some of the most eloquent and profound last words). Read Acts 17:22-34 where Paul, standing on Athens’ Areopagus, gives a short philosophy lesson on God’s nature to a Gentile audience. Need it shorter? Read Hebrews 1:1-3.

Less than 150 words so far. We could stop now. Just read the above passages or go for the whole Bible. You will find out about God.

But if you want something in between the little speeches of Acts and the whole Genesis-Revelation package, we’ll keep going.

And talk about donkeys.

Back near the beginning of the Bible in Numbers 22-24, the Israelites have been wandering around the desert for years. They’ve been spectacularly unbelieving and even their leader, Moses, has sinned and won’t be allowed to enter the Promised Land.

But the Israelites forge ahead and gather to travel through Moab. The King of Moab is terrified because he sees how many Israelites there are. So he resorts to a very ancient practice and summons a famous diviner named Balaam to come (possibly a long way and for a handsome reward) to curse the threatening Israelites and so bring defeat upon them.

Balaam rides his old donkey on his way to carry out this mercenary curse-for-hire. If you’re not familiar with the story or don’t hear the sermon, read Numbers 22:22-35. It’s a good read, and unexpected. After the donkey annoys Balaam three times with Balaam responding angrily, Yahweh opens the donkey’s mouth and it says, “What have I done to you to deserve these beatings?”

“You have made a fool of me!” Balaam shoots back.

“Haven’t I been a faithful old ass? Do I usually do this kind of thing?” asks the donkey rhetorically.

“You have, and no,” Balaam admits.

Then he, too, sees the angel of Yahweh.

When Balaam arrives in Moab, God then opens Balaam’s mouth – and out come blessings, over and over, on God’s people. The King of Moab who hired Balaam isn’t impressed, but on the blessings go anyway. Finally, the King, exasperated, tells Balaam to just stop – “don’t curse them or bless them at all!” – and then to go home. He then adds, not surprisingly, “Yahweh has kept you from being rewarded.”

The God Who Acts:

The Old Testament isn’t the story of Adam, or Abraham, or Joseph, or Moses, or David. It is the story of Yahweh. He is the central character and it is His character that is developed.

In this story, God is not abstract. The story doesn’t go about attempting to prove the existence of Yahweh to the pagan diviner, Balaam, by proofs and argument. Instead, Balaam sees God’s actions and is forced to shout, “What hath God wrought!” or “See what God has done!” This God acts – donkeys speak – and acts for his own – God protects them from temporal armies and from the curses of the spirit world.

Question: What attributes of God does this story illustrate?

Powerful… frightening… having a sense of humour…? Perhaps.

Sovereign… incomparable… unchanging? Certainly.

All of the above quickly come to mind (not quite accurately) as “Old Testament” attributes of God. Would the adjectives “Loving” and “Triune” jump to mind?


If you read through Genesis – that part of Scripture we tend to think of as rife with wise old bearded men with a God to match – you will find that the history is full of Yahweh as loving and extraordinarily merciful.

The pagan, Balaam, with little previous knowledge of Yahweh before meeting Him in the road, extols the attributes of Yahweh without full understanding. I picture him listening to himself as he opens his mouth and emits the poetic blessings and marveling at who this God is with whom he is unwittingly tangling far from home while overlooking the wilderness.

“The Lord their God is with them; the shout of the King is among them,” Balaam proclaims of the Israelites. The One who is giving him the oracles is actually among the people down below in the plain; He is on their side. “See,” Balaam shouts for anyone listening, “what God has done!”

Read Deuteronomy 23:5

Later, in the midst of lists of Jewish Laws in Deuteronomy, a reflection on the story of Balaam once again illuminates God: “The Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you” (emphasis mine). This verse is an important explanatory footnote. It is the backstory you cannot help but infer when reading about Balaam, but it’s still comforting to get it in writing – and literally in a legal document as well. It couldn’t be plainer.


Read Numbers 24:2-4 and 17

“Triune” means “three in one”. We often think of God the Father as the default position of God, the God of the Old Testament who created everything, called Abraham out of Haran, and gave Moses the Ten Commandments. But that is quite one-sided (just one of three sides, actually).

When Balaam is about to proclaim his third oracle, “the Spirit of God came upon Balaam…” (24:2). The Spirit Himself comes upon the pagan diviner and it is then that he can refer to himself as one whose “eye is opened,” one who “hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty,” whose eyes are “uncovered”.

And a little later: “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel” (24:17). Many commentators, including Irenaeus, a Church Father as early as the 2nd century, thought this prophecy referred to Jesus, the Messiah, God the Son.

It’s quite a view of God that a pagan from Pethor and his donkey were privileged with that day.

I must include one more brief donkey story to be complete.

Find and read Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in any of the four Gospels (or all of them, as they’re short).

It’s another story of a donkey doing the unexpected. The first one talked. This one is young and untamed and likely lively and skittish and yet lets a man ride on it while people shout loudly on either side and even throw coats and branches near it. The star of Jacob, the bright and morning star, the scepter of Israel, the King Himself comes riding in on this donkey.

No fiery angel blocked the way for that donkey that day. No, the angels were surely standing back watching history unfold before their eyes. No drawn sword blocked the way. The gates of Hell could not have barred the route from the Mount of Olives, though they undoubtedly tried. The donkey didn’t turn right or left or lie down. As it did in Numbers 22, it obeyed God, but this time God was sitting on its back. The King whose shout among His people so astonished Balaam, the God of power and incomparability and sovereignty that protected the Israelites from their enemies was now quiet, “humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” (Matthew 21:5). The only shouts came from the crowds lining the way: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The Big Idea this week?: God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are active and loving. We will spend eternity trying to fathom each of those words.

Question: What attributes or names of God do you most associate with Him? Are there ones you’ve heard in Scripture but can’t understand or try to avoid?

Question: God is the main character of the Old and New Testaments, the one who acts, the one to be reckoned with, the one who protects His own, the one driving history with purpose moment-by-moment, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He reveals Himself in these stories by acting. In your story, do you know of Him in the abstract, or can you think of times when He has shown Himself to you by His actions?

Aside for discussion: Is a talking donkey hard to believe? Read 2 Peter 15-16, where Peter refers to the donkey’s speech. (How is it that the parts of the Old Testament that some find “fantastical” are cited in the New Testament, sometimes by Jesus Himself – the creation of Adam and Eve, Jonah and the whale, Balaam’s donkey?) Which is harder to believe? – a donkey that speaks plain donkey opinions, or a famous pagan diviner hired for pay to curse but who blesses?

Eric Prost
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, September 26, 2014

Touching Base, Part 250

Core Strength, Part 2

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Big Idea: Faith in God is a Response to Reality.

Question: If you were asked to explain what it means to have faith in God, what would you say?

Text: Matthew 16:13-17

For many of the New Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, faith in God is blind trust, it is crazy and, at its worst, it is dangerous.

We might not share the same type of emotion that someone like Richard Dawkins carries, but there is a sense in which many of us do think that faith is a bit silly. So, what is the Christian understanding of faith?

The Christian understanding of faith could be understood in three themes:

- Believing (i.e. believing certain things to be true; I believe there is a God.)

- Trusting (i.e. God is trustworthy)

- Receiving (i.e. receiving God’s invitation into a personal relationship.)

A big point to understand here is that faith in God is NOT ‘the ability to believe in things even when you have no idea whether they are true or not’. (See Beyond Opinion, “Conversational Apologetics”, p.138.)

In Matthew 16:13-17, we see that Peter makes a bold declaration of who he believes Jesus is: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”(v.16b) One of the interesting things to glean from this story is why Peter makes such a statement. Given that Peter and his friends have been with Christ for quite sometime now, they have witnessed miracles, have shared meals with Christ, listened to his teachings, Peter utters this statement—a statement of faith—because of the evidence he has seen; not in spite of it. It is in this way that faith in God is evidence-based belief. Faith in God is not antithetical to evidence. It is rooted in knowing who God is.

A hugely important question we need to ask ourselves when we talk about faith is, do we know this God? Do we really know Him?

But there are challenges to our faith. What do we do when our beliefs seem to collide with what we experience or feel? What does Christianity have to say to all the wrong we observe and the wrong we experience?

a) Christianity says that evil is real and that it is wrong. These two points, the reality of evil and the wrongness of it are important to note, especially since many faiths and systems of belief do not share this view. Many streams of Eastern thought teach that suffering or pain is illusory. Pain is an illusion, many will say. Hard atheism tells us that evil may be real, but it is not necessarily wrong; it just is.

b) Christianity tells us that God looks at evil and sees that it is real and wrong, but that He has also done something about it. He got involved in the problem! Jesus Christ dying on a cross tells us that God is not one who is distant from pain. He knows the problem intimately.

c) Christ’s resurrection tells us that the world that is—a world full of pain and evil—is not the world that will be.


What does it mean to have faith in God?

Faith in God centres on the fact that God is there! He is trustworthy and we can have a personal relationship with Him. This relationship is one that brings us hope; a hope that sustains us day to day.

Helpful resources:

Os Guinness, God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt (Crossway, 1996).

Ravi Zacharias, Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend, Reprint (Thomas Nelson, 2010).


Nathan Betts
Apologist, RZIM Canada
Twitter: @nathanbetts09

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, September 19, 2014

Touching Base, Part 249

TB 249
Part 1 - The Word and the Core

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Big Idea: God’s Word Does God’s Work in the Heart of God’s People.

Question: How does God’s Word help build “core strength”?

Text: 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Today we kick off our “Core Strength” series with a topic that is crucial to your growth as a Christ follower.

Discuss the following:

“About one in seven Canadian Christians, or 14%, read the Bible at least once per week. The majority of Canadians, including those who identify themselves as Christians, read the Bible either seldom or never.” Hiemstra, Rick, Confidence, Conversation and Community: Bible Engagement in Canada, 2013

How do you stack up against the stats?
What do you think is the foundational issue for why so many Christ followers are not in the word?
What are the dangers?

The dilemma we find ourselves in is that the Word of God is the main way believers grow. It is the number one catalyst for spiritual growth. So where does that leave the believer if they are not in the Word?

Today we want to look how the Bible develops core strength in the believer.


Note the context of our key text. In 3:1-10 and chapter 4 Paul is talking about godlessness in the last days. So the instruction to be in the word is one way to remain godly when so many are simply listening to what their “itching ears” (4:3) want to hear. Also notice another set of book-ends that describe the function of the word:

- Function #1 3:15 Salvation- Timothy had a sound knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, which he had received from his grandmother and his mother, and he believed those Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God (2 Tim 1:5) Note this is a great commentary on the OT. That is all Timothy would have been exposed to until the NT Scriptures arose. This text can tell you how to get right with God.

- Function #2 3:17 Thoroughly equipped - Thoroughly – “artios”—“complete, capable, proficient in the sense of being able to meet all demands” and Equipped - To drive home his point still more emphatically Paul added equipped (exērtismenos, “furnished” or fitted out-) for every good work.
Note: The intention of the Word is not just to make us right with God(salvation) but to grow us up in that salvation (thoroughly equipped). You don’t read the word to stay where you are but to grow where God wants you to grow.

How does the Bible develop core strength in the believer?


Didaskalia- instruction, doctrines. There is an instructional aspect to the word. It can be like reading an instructional manual to put a new purchase together. The Bible instructs on how to put life together.

As a group brainstorm on all the issues that the word of God teaches on?
What particular teaching has been especially helpful to you in a certain chapter of life?


Here is where the heat is turned up.

Rebuke- An act of criticism and censure, to expose. The process of teaching reveals knowledge that I did not have, but also habits , attitudes, values and beliefs that I possess that are incorrect.

What do these first two functions of the word of God reveal about the nature of man? The nature of the word reflects on the nature and need of man. We are broken and one of the functions of the word is to expose and critique issues in our lives that are inconsistent with our liberation/salvation.

Talk about a time in your life where you argued with God over what it was saying and how it was challenging a particular issue in your life.
Do you believe people see the word as a book of liberation or oppression? Justify your answer.


This is a great word. The idea behind it is IMPROVEMENT. The act of offering an improvement (according to a standard) to replace a mistake. It is the idea of setting something right- which is so much the heart of God

In the NT “ὀρθός” is used in the healing of the lame man at Ac. 14:10 in the sense of “standing up straight.”
Paul sees the faith of the sick man and orders him: “Stand up straight on your feet.” Heb 12:12,13 quotes Prov.

4:26-How has God’s word introduced you to a better way when it comes to attitudes, values, relational patterns, marriage, sexuality, etc.?

Train in Righteousness

Training- The words “paideía” and “paideúō” relate to the upbringing of children, who need direction, teaching, instruction, and discipline

Righteousness- A life or lifestyle in conformity to justice, law, or morality as given by God. Jesus is the
ultimate example of righteousness.

Training implies repeated action- coming to the word, time and time again and training. Training includes not just my personal time in the word but my community time in the word.

“Our study found that reflection on the meaning of the Bible for people's lives is an important kind of Bible engagement, but that conversation with others about the meaning of the Bible is the key factor in deepening Bible engagement. “ Hiemstra, Rick Confidence, Conversation and Community: Bible Engagement in Canada, 2013

Talk about your group (assuming you are in a group) and its effectiveness in helping you get into the Word.

What could your group do better in helping the group be Biblically-centered?
What kind of help do you need to be in the Word daily?
Ask your friends, those in your group about what they do, tools they use to daily read and reflect on
God’s Word.

Check out the app I use-
Start today if you haven’t already to develop your core by being in the word.

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, August 15, 2014

Touching Base, Part 248

17 Aug 14
What Does a Moment in Time Reveal about Who or What Has Authority Over Your Heart?

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Hearts can be tenuous to say the least. Moments in time can reveal what or who has authority over the human heart. A moment in time can reveal that a heart is healthy, or a moment in time can reveal that a heart is sick, weak and vulnerable.

Jesus knew about the human heart and how it responds to the Word of God. In our text, Jesus talks about four different kinds of “heart soils” and what (or who) has authority over the human heart.

Big Idea: A moment in time demonstrates who or what has authority.

Question: What controls or has authority over your heart?

Text: Luke 8:1-15


Jesus identifies this heart in verse 5 and explains it in verse 12.

In the Middle East, conditions are already dry. The path is the place where farmers walk, where sheep make their way to water and grass. The path ran through the common fields, separating the plots, and the foot traffic hardened the soil. The path is hard and dry, and the seeds don’t have a chance

What Jesus states clearly with this heart (but is certainly implied in the next two hearts) is that there is a spiritual dynamic that shapes our heart. The enemy uses people, places and things to damage our hearts.
What do you note about this heart? What are your observations? I think we would miss a major point of application if we did not realize that the enemy can also harden the heart of a believer. There are many believers walking around with an unhealthy heart.

What does the enemy use to harden the human heart?
Would you not agree that life can harden your heart very easily if you don’t guard it?
Have you ever noticed hardness in a heart, your heart?
What does that hardness look like?

A moment in time demonstrates who or what has authority. For some, it is hardness and the cause of that hardness that holds the ultimate authority in the human heart. The seed bounces off this kind of heart.


Jesus identifies this heart in verse 6 and explains it in verse 13.

In many parts of the Holy Land you find a substratum of limestone covered with a thin layer of soil (like Kingston). The shoot can grow up, but the roots cannot go down, and the sun withers the rootless plant.
How much time has this person invested in the Word?
What are their disciplines like when it comes to spending time in God’s Word?

A moment in time demonstrates who or what has authority. What has authority over this heart? What do the roots reveal about authority? I would sum up what has authority with two words – “EASY BELIEVISM”. This person has bought the lie that says I can say yes to Jesus but there is not much beyond the yes. These kinds of people may look back at a moment in time when they said yes to Jesus but every moment since has indicated that they don’t invest in the Word. They have set their spiritual life on auto pilot and think that they will safely arrive. The result is that they will crash. “Easy believism” will put you in the ditch.


Jesus identifies this heart in verse 7 and explains it in verse 14.

Someone said a long time ago that if the Devil can’t make you sin, he will make you busy, because either way your soul will shrivel. Our world will divert your soul’s attention because it is a cluttered world. And clutter is maybe the most dangerous result, because it’s so subtle.

Note how Jesus gets specific with the clutter - worries, riches, pleasure.
What has authority over this heart?
Here is a clue - What is choking the life out of this person? Would you not say that, if you can choke someone to death. you probably have a degree of authority or control over that person?
I would sum up what has authority in one word - IDOLATRY. Idolatry can refer to when good things become ultimate things.
What happens when those idols fail us?

“If you live for career and you don’t do well it may punish you all of your life, and you will feel like a failure. If you live for your children and they don’t turn out all right you could be absolutely in torment because you feel worthless as a person.”
Tim Keller

Only if your identity is built on God and his love, says Kierkegaard, can you have a self that can venture anything, and face anything.

A moment in time demonstrates who or what has authority. Unfortunately for this heart idolatry is fully in charge.


Jesus identifies this heart in verse 8 and explains it in verse 15.

Note the contrast with the other hearts.
• Good soil versus - hard, shallow, cluttered
• Good harvest versus- trampled, fall away, choked
• Good focus (persevere) versus death on all three accounts.

What has authority over this heart?
Describe what it is like for this person to hear or read the Word of God? What describes their response to it?

What is your heart attached to?
What does a moment in time demonstrate about what your heart is attached to?
What did this week at work, at school, when no one was looking demonstrate what your heart is attached to?
What does how you treat others demonstrate about what your heart is attached to?
What does your marriage indicate about what your heart is attached to?

He who has an ear, let him hear!

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, August 8, 2014

Touching Base - Part 247

TB 247
10 Aug 14
Intersection Series, Part 4
Paul's Conversion

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Seeing things clearly can be a difficult task. We are all familiar with illusions and the perceptual tricks our minds can play on us. But, there are some perceptual issues that are less obvious and for this reason the word ‘paradigm’ has become a large part of our language. In a sense paradigms [mental habits, belief systems] influence how we see things. As you can imagine, it is difficult then to see things from a new perspective.

This is the problem that the Apostle Paul faced. He had a very fixed point of view. A point of view that made him see Jesus in a very negative manner. In fact, his point of view made Paul an enemy of Jesus!

Question #1: What beliefs do you have that limit your view of Jesus?

I. A Radical Man

Luke traces the pre-conversion life of Paul so that the kind of man Paul was can clearly be seen. To put it simply, Paul is described as a wild beast, a nasty person. He consents to Steven’s death. He drags men and women out of their homes and commits them to prison. It is not a nice picture.

Question #2: In your pre-Christian days, what behaviours were injurious to Jesus and to Christians in general?

II. A Radical Change

The change in Paul in the book of Acts is spectacular. Indeed, Luke takes great pains to make Paul look a whole lot like Jesus. He faces numerous trials. He is declared not guilty. He is hit by the High Priest’s aides. He is stoned. He is placed in prison.

Question #3: In what ways, since your belief in Jesus, have you changed and come to look more like Jesus?

III. A Radical Confrontation

What brought about the radical change in the life of Paul? The Jesus he thought was a hoax was in fact a reality. When the resurrected Jesus speaks to Paul he can no longer escape the truth about Jesus. He makes a 180-degree turnabout in his life!

Question #4: What radical changes have taken place in your life since you encountered Jesus?

Lew Worrad
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Touching Base - Part 246

03 Aug 14

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

You may have heard many times that mistakes are the roadway to success and in some senses that is true! But, in the spiritual sense, mistakes can often be debilitating. They cause guilt and shame and, in addition, they can frustrate spiritual growth. But, it does not have to be that way!!! Today’s lesson is based on the life of the Apostle Peter, a clear example of a person who can rise from the ashes and be incredibly used by God.

TEXT: John 21:1-19


Peter’s life was mercurial - it was all over the map: he had incredible spiritual insight and he knew great spiritual truths. But, he also had glaring failures. Possibly your spiritual life is all over the map too.

A] What have been some of your spiritual highs?
B] What are some of the failures that are holding you back?

The great news is that Peter did not stay back. The Peter of the Book of Acts is different from the Peter of the Gospels.


Peter’s life goes through incredible changes - he learns how to be submissive; he is much more consistent; he understands that suffering is part of the path to spiritual victory; he is gentle. It is a radical change.

A] What things would need to change in your life to make you more consistent as a believer?
B] What would be signs that you are on the right path?


For Peter change comes in John 21. It is an incredible text - Jesus reminds Peter of his ‘call’. Jesus reaffirms his appreciation for Peter. Jesus helps Peter understand that he does in fact love Jesus. [“You know I love you!”] And then Jesus gets Peter back into the game. [“Feed My Sheep”!!!] Jesus restores and reconciles Peter.

A] How would John 21 play out in your life?
B] What would the conversation be like?
C] What would Jesus have to do to get you back into the game?

He did it for Peter - he can do it for you!

Lew Worrad
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Touching Base - Part 245

TB 245
Intersection Pt. 2
Will Your Giant Define You or Malign You?

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Big Idea: When a Moment in Time Becomes a Moment Defined

Question: What can we learn from David as we face our own giants?

Text: 1 Samuel 17

Defining moments are those times in our lives when we come face to face with a truth and as a result, we see something for the first time, or see something in a new way. Defining moments challenge us to change or cause a transformation in our lives. Sometimes it can be a moment that defines an aspect of your life.

What has been a memorable “defining moment” in your life?


We never know when we might in the ‘before’ phase of a divine moment, do we?
We always need to be ready….but what does ‘ready’ look like?

We can be sure that if we know the Lord Jesus and have invited him to be Lord of our lives … that God’s presence is with us.

Prayerfully ask yourself these questions:
• Are you ‘anointed’? Is the Holy Spirit in you?
• Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is in you?
• Do you feel like you are ready to step into a God-defining moment? Why/why not?


As we step into a divine moment…we need to be sure that we have allowed God’s truth to replace the lies of the enemy.
Like David…we need to make sure that we are holding on to what we know is true.
The enemy is very mouthy…he has a lot to say and it’s all lies. We need to allow God’s truth to counter the lies of our giants.

Prayerfully ask yourself these questions:
• Is what you believe about yourself true when held up against God’s word?
• Is what you believe about God founded in scripture?
• Do you believe that everything God says about you in scripture is true?
• What are some of the lies that you might be believing that need to be addressed?
• How confident are you that God is who He said He is?
• As you think about stepping into a defining moment right now… describe how it is more likely to define you or… malign you?
• Think about the amount of lions and bears that you have fought in past experiences. Would you say that it is enough to give you victory from the giant that is facing you now?

It’s so important that we be in community, in the Word, prayerfully engaged, and aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.

We need to be learning, and growing and healing from each experience in which we find ourselves, so that when the giants come we are full of truth and life, because you and I both know…every new challenge…every new giant… has a scare factor regardless of seasoned in the faith you are.


Click on this link to watch David as he seizes his divine moment:

The Bible Series - Episode 4 - David and Goliath

Divine moments are around us all the time….when we are well equipped we are willing to seize them.
If we are ill-equipped… we often run from them.
And when we don’t realize that we are equipped… we can miss them.
David was well trained….he was prepared because he was practiced…he wasn’t just a boy with a toy slingshot.

It doesn’t mean we don’t get blindsided…it doesn’t mean life doesn’t catch us off guard sometimes and we are suddenly faced with a giant that we didn’t see coming…but when that happens, we need to go back to what we know is true and ask God to help us remove any lies that we believe that might cripple us and prevent us from seizing a divine moment.

Prayerfully ask yourself these questions:

• In what ways do I feel ill-equipped to face my giant?
• How has God equipped me as I face this giant?

“I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” (Ephesians 1:18-19, The Message Bible)

Jamie Stinson
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Touching Base - Part 244


This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

This week we started our new series and talked about Jacob’s great awakening. This TB is a tool to encourage you to pray for Bethel, that just like Jacob, many others would find Bethel to be a place where they awaken and respond to the heart of God.

Big Idea: When A Moment In Time Becomes A Moment Defined!

Question: What did that big moment for Jacob look like?

Text: Genesis 28:10-22

1. He built an altar, a place he will never forget (v.18a)

By building an altar he was stating that he wanted to memorialize the event. Perhaps this had been a place he passed through a thousand times, but on this occasion it was different. He memorializes it because he encounters God.

Prayer Point:
Pray that God would use the ministries of Bethel to be experiences that would build great memories into people’s lives, memories of God doing a great work. Memories of an awakening!

2. He poured oil on the altar, the place he first worshipped (v.18b)

From the beginning God put into the awareness of His people that they were to offer to Him in worship something that was part of themselves, something that they had produced with their own labor or purchased with the money that they had earned by their labor. Whatever they offered to Him, it was never to be second best (Malachi 1:7–8), nor was it to be something without cost or concern—convenient and easy to give. The stone pillar didn’t cost him anything, the oil did.

This place that Jacob is in may have been used as early as the 4th millennium B.C. by Canaanites in the area. Archaeological excavations at Chalcolithic levels (i.e., between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age) indicate that pagan worship of the Canaanite deity El took place on top of the hill at that early period. As a proper noun, El refers to a god in the pantheons of the Canaanite world.

What is amazing about this picture of worship is that here is a thief (check out Jacob’s criminal record) worshiping the one true God in a place that has a history of pagan worship.

Realize that God can reach anyone whenever, however and WHEREVER!

Prayer Point:
Pray that Bethel Church would be a place of genuine worship. On any given Sunday or at any small group or place of ministry people come worshipping the various gods of culture. We want all our ministries to direct people to the one true God.

Hebrews 1:1-4
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.”

3. He called the place Bethel, a place of great intimacy (v.19)

El refers to a god in the pantheons of the Canaanite world. El is the most common biblical word for God. The name Bethel, means “house of El (god),” BETH-EL. El is combined with other adjectives to describe the numerous attributes of God; for example, God Most High (Gn 14:18–24), the seeing God (Gn 16:13), the jealous God (Ex 20:5), the forgiving God (Neh 9:17), and the gracious God (Neh 9:31).

I love this point. Our own church name says it all. We want our ministries to be a place where believers experience deep intimacy with God.

Prayer Point:
Pray that Bethel Church would be a place God uses to draw people close to himself. This was the first time that Jacob experienced God beyond just being raised in a God fearing home. It was now his faith, his experience, his personal journey. God was real. God was “ in the house!”

4. He made a vow, a place of great commitment (v.20-22)

Note that vow making and tithing were two steps by Jacob that indicated his heart was surrendered. Was he “fixed”, had he arrived, was he now good to be a shining example of spiritual maturity? Definitely not, but his journey had begun and his faith roots were starting to grow deep into the soil of his heart. God had not thrown him into the “microwave” of instant spiritual growth, but into the “crock-pot” of growth step by step, little by little.

Prayer Point:
Pray that Bethel would be able to provide the correct resources to help people grow spiritually. No one experiences “microwave” spiritually. We are all in the “crock- pot” of spirituality and need to be intentional about our growth, taking hold of opportunities to grow. We also need a nurturing community that is filled with grace and truth to be the right kind of place for people to grow.

May God use Bethel and all the churches and various ministries in Kingston to be places and spaces where people experience a great awakening!

When A Moment In Time Becomes A Moment Defined!

Mark Kotchapaw

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Touching Base - Part 243

TB 243
The Body – PART 17
All In!
13 July 14

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Great teams are “All In”! I cannot imagine that anyone would disagree with this statement. We have all probably worked on teams where someone was not “All In”! As a result, the performance of that team is in jeopardy and the attitudes of the other team members are probably greatly challenged.

Today we conclude our study in the book of 1 Corinthians with the big idea, Great Teams Are All In!

Note several aspects of what being “All In” looks like as Paul concludes this REALLY long book.

1. Great teams are “All In” when it comes to their financial resources (v.1-4):

Read the first four verses and answer the following questions:
• What is the pattern for giving?
• What is the expectation of how much?
• Where do you see integrity in the process?
• Why Jerusalem?-Check out Romans 15:26

Notice that Paul is not talking about “tithing” here , but a special collection for the poor. (NOTE:Tithing as a legal requirement had passed away with the Old Covenant and been replaced by the greater challenge of “giving” in the New Testament)

• Why is our money the hardest thing to separate with?
• How do you know when you are being generous?

Note the context of this appeal of Paul. He has just talked about how all of us are poor in one way or another:

• Spiritual Poverty - 15:3-4- Our sinful state makes us spiritually poor before God, lacking the resources to make ourselves right with God. Check out 2 Cor. 8:9

• Physical Poverty - 15:42-44- What is it about our current physical state that demonstrates we are “poor”?

This is an important point for us who are not materially poor because when we reach out to those who are materially poor, there is no room for thinking that we are reaching down to them (or we have it all together) as we help them out. We all are poor in many ways and need help. We all have experienced poverty.

2. Great teams are “All In” when it comes to the resource called “time” (v.5-8):

Read these verses and note how Paul wants to spend time with these folks:
• What is the opposite of just a “passing visit”? – see v.7b

This is a pattern we often see in Paul. Note the following text:

“Even though we had some standing as Christ’s apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. We weren't aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8 (MSG)

• Talk about how time is a gift we can give.
• Who needs the gift of your time these days?
• Why is it hard to give?

People will more likely remember that you gave them some of your time, versus what you said to them. This gift of time is a huge blessing when it is given.

• What might giving people the gift of your time look like in your small group, on a Sunday am?

3. Great teams are “All In” when it comes to their courage (v.9-13):

Do you see the courage of Paul in v9?
Paul understood that there was a cost to being “all in” and all there. This is the “labour” part we talked about last week. It says something about Paul’s perception of his ministry, that the presence of opposition was a sign to him of the viability of his labour and reason for pressing on, not running away (cf. Acts 19:30–31).

Note the courage of Timothy (v.10-11).
What was the possible emotion that Timothy was experiencing when thinking about ministering to the Corinthians?
What is the emotion you experience in those difficult assignments? Anxiety, anger, frustration?

Apollos also knew of the challenge of Corinth.
V.12 - Perhaps Apollos did not want to add fuel to the fire of the Corinthian party spirit and to their playing of favorites. Remember 1 Cor. 1:12?
Then notice v.13 and how the corrective words of Paul to Corinth demonstrate this was not an easy place. In many ways the opposite was what described Corinth.

Some may have prayed, “Oh God send me anywhere - even Moose Jaw - but not Corinth!”

• What are the circumstances that can drain your courage?
• Are you a courageous team member?

Note Paul was a mentor to Timothy. I wonder if he sometimes had to say to Tim, “Don’t let your fear get the best of you.”
Note Paul with Apollos - I wonder if he had to encourage Apollos to press in.

I think we need people around us who can, essentially, say, “ Muster up the courage and take this next assignment, press in on this next part of the vision, hunker down and get at this next part of the project.” Without that “Paul”, we might not have the courage.

• Who is your Paul?

4. Great teams are All In when it comes to their attitude – humility (v.14-18):

Read through this and note how Stephanas and his household ministered to the saints. It is believed that because of the names of Fortunatus and Achaicus that they were probably household slaves.

What makes this really interesting is that the mention of Stephanas’ household suggests that he was a man of considerable means. The Good News that Paul preached was for all people, but it often required the greatest sacrifices of the socially better-off, since they had more to give and the most to lose in honour, power, and social position by converting to a new minority religion. While Paul drew on the benefits of the social structures of his day, he would not allow those structures to dictate the structure of relationships in the new “ekklēsia”.

I would like to meet Stephanas - as a new convert he was unadulterated by the arrogance of some in Corinth, not soiled yet by the establishment, just wearing his WWJD bracelet and doing it.

Final Greetings (v.19-24):

Note Paul’s love for this Church, which had done so much to hurt him:
- the passing on of greetings (v.19-21)
- the desire to protect the church. Note his desire to protect the body with the statement in v.22. This a passionate warning, probably aimed at false teachers who were not “all in”, whom he believed to be already present in the congregation (cf. 2 Cor. 11:3–4).
- the words of blessing (v.23, 24)

Paul loved the Body!

This week, why not pray into the four characteristics of teams that are “All In”! Bethel values and needs teams of people that are “All In”!

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, June 20, 2014

Touching Base - Part 242

TB 242
The Body – PART 14
No Resurrection, Then Insurrection!
22 June 14

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

How have you weathered the storming of the foundations of your faith?

How are you doing at processing all the questions and accusations that can make your faith seem unsteady, wavering, like a UFC fighter teetering….about to do a bloody face plant on the canvas?

How do you react when some people, like those below, say,

“Though the details differ across the world, no known culture lacks some version of the time-consuming, wealth-consuming, hostility-provoking rituals, the anti-factual, counter-productive fantasies of religion.”
― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

“I think religion is a neurological disorder.”
― Bill Maher

If you have kids, how do you think they are weathering the storm?

Do you know of any spiritual fatalities, people that just gave up faith because the barrage of questions splintered their faith?

This past Sunday we tackled one of those issues within the Christian faith that, if not true, collapses our faith like a house of cards - the resurrection.

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:12-34

Big Idea: No Resurrection, then total Insurrection
This is the sentiment of v.32b, which is what some of the Corinthians were doing.

How important is the resurrection? Scan through the text and list or highlight all the reasons why the resurrection is so important to the Christian faith.

What stands out?
Note v.29 - This was an influence of the surrounding paganism of the day. Paul is not endorsing it but is just using it as part of his argument, demonstrating how, if there is no resurrection, then why do you baptize for the dead?
V.20-28 is a theme we will pick up on next week when we look at v.35-57.

So after reading this, how important is the resurrection to your faith? What sense does it make to be a Christian if Jesus did not rise from the dead?

We would all agree on the importance of the resurrection, but there are some truths we need to consider as we think about the fact of resurrection. The following is just an appetizer. I am hoping that you will do your own digging and researching.

Is there enough evidence for a rational person to be justified in concluding that Jesus’ resurrection was a real event in history? Can we ascertain with a reasonable amount of certainty that the event occurred?

Firstly, let me introduce you to two lines of thinking…. then Carmen will add some further comments (a guest lecturer brought in from North of the 401! :-)

1. Historical Method

Historians carefully use criteria and techniques when investigating the past. Their systematic approach is called the “Historical Method”. For example, some of the basic criteria are

a. Multiple attestation (more than one witness)

b. Early testimony (the closer to the resurrection, the better)

In addition to the Historical Method let’s also consider…

2. Minimal Facts Approach

This approach considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that they are accepted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.
One of the strengths of this approach is that it avoids debate over the inspiration of the Bible. Believers and skeptics alike accept the Minimal Facts approach.

The death of Christ

When it comes to the death of Christ do the Historical Method and Minimal Facts Approach support this event in history? Well, without a death, you don’t have a resurrection:

• “Virtually no scholar in the field denies Jesus’ death on the cross.” Gary Habermas

• “That Jesus was crucified and died through the process is granted by virtually 100 percent of scholars who study the subject.” Michael R. Licona

Listen to these non-believers in what they had to say about the death of Jesus:

• Josephus (born 37 AD, a Jewish historian) writes “ When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified….”

• Tacitus (born 56 AD – a Roman historian) - “Nero fastened the guilt (of the burning of Rome) and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate.”

• Lucian of Samosata (born 120 AD, a Greek satirist), writes, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day - the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.”

Note the basis of the death of Christ outside of the use of Scripture.

What about the resurrection?

• Highly critical NT scholar Rudolf Bultmann agreed that historical criticism can establish “the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection.”

• Atheistic scholar (NT) Gerd Ludemann concludes, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”

• Paula Fredriksen of Boston University comments, “ I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. That’s what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attests to their conviction that that’s what they saw. I‘m not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus, I wasn't there. I don’t know what they saw. But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something.” ( In an interview with Peter Jennings in The Search for Jesus, July 2000)

• Late NT critic at the University of Chicago, Norman Perrin, who rejected the resurrection wrote, “The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.”

Now of course the mere fact that the disciples claimed that they saw the risen Jesus does not alone merit the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead- since anyone can make a claim- but what is the best, most responsible explanation?

What about the empty tomb?

“An impressive 75 percent of scholars who study the subject acknowledge the empty tomb.” Michael R. Licona.

Now this doesn't mean that there was a resurrection, but it does challenge the reader to explain why there was an empty tomb. Over to Carmen…

And there WAS an empty tomb, a fact, oddly enough, that is strengthened by the very officials that put Jesus to death! Consider the following - the authorities were terrified that the disciples would try to steal Jesus’ body (Matt.22:62-66), so…

- They sealed it with a heavy stone (Matt. 22:59-60)

- Pilate authorized them to put guards in front of it. If those guards fell asleep, the penalty was DEATH. So no one was going to come in and remove a body without them seeing it.

- Some people have said “well, the women were upset… they went to the wrong tomb”. Okay, so all the authorities had to do was go to the RIGHT tomb (it was right there, near Golgotha) and produce the body. They didn’t.

- Matthew 28:11-15 tells us that the Jewish officials then bribed the guards to say the body was taken by the disciples – they’re admitting the body was gone, further strengthening the case.

Christ’s appearances:

Mark also mentioned the belief of the disciples that they had seen Jesus. Some people have suggested that perhaps what happened was a group hallucination. For the record, group hallucinations are actually not possible since they originate in a person’s own mind.

What we do see though, and you can read more in detail about this in our recommended resources below, is that over a 50-day period between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus appeared over and over again to hundreds of people, to men and women, in different times and places, alone and in groups. And he didn't just talk to them, he ate (to reassure them he was real) and walked with them as well.

The disciples were transformed:

- Peter, Jesus’s closest friend, denies he even knows Him three times

- everyone scatters and go into hiding, which Jesus had predicted

- the disciples, without exception, WILL NOT recant, and they WILL NOT be quiet about what they have seen and heard “with our own eyes”.

- with the exception of two of them who died of old age (and Judas, naturally), all of them were put to death for their beliefs in the early years following the resurrection

- what’s even more compelling is that these devout Jewish men turn away from thousands of years of Sabbath (Saturday) worship and begin worshiping on Sundays (which they call “The Lord’s Day”)

Can I add a comment here? Let’s be clear about this: people will die for a mistake, BUT THEY WILL NOT DIE FOR A LIE. Remember, they would not recant, and they would not be quiet.

What happened on that first Easter Sunday is so significant that we literally now calculate calendar timelines around Jesus’ birth (BC - Before Christ and AD - Anno Domini – “in the year of our Lord”)

SOMETHING HAPPENED, and it’s up to all of us to evaluate and decide just what it was.

So to sum up, the case for the resurrection of Christ is a historical case based on a solid foundation. The easiest way to remember the various pieces of evidence is to use the acrostic F.E.A.T (thanks to Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answer Man, for this!):

Fatal Tormentwe know Jesus died

Empty Tombwe know his body wasn't there

Appearances of Christwe know he appeared to hundreds of people

Transformation of the Discipleswe know they paid a heavy price and turned the entire Roman Empire upside down

Only one conclusion is possible and reasonable in light of this evidence - the resurrection of Christ is simply one of the most-well-attested facts in history. And we praise God for what He has done!

So What?

1. Do your homework - realize the weight of external evidence. You can purchase/visit some great resources to get started:

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus - Gary Habermas
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus - Nabeel Qureshi
The Case for the Resurrection - Lee Strobel
The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel

Stand to Reason (Greg Koukl: articles, radio show…)
Reasonable Faith (William Lane Craig: articles, radio show…)

2. Don’t be afraid to speak up on the historical foundations of your faith.

Let’s love God with our hearts, soul and MIND!

Mark Kotchapaw / Carmen Gauvin-O’Donnell (Guest Lecturer! :-)
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Touching Base - Part 241

TB 241
Proverbs 2 and the Good Life
8 June 14

((You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Opening Ideas
Live the Good Life! Living the Good Life benefits not only us, but it also benefits everyone around us.

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “The Good Life”?

How do you think the following people would answer that question:
• People you work/study with
• Your family
• Your closest friends

Around 3000 years ago, Proverbs was written for the purpose of signing people up for the Good Life.
Most of Proverbs was written by a Hebrew king named Solomon, but there are other authors as well. Solomon spent a lot of time studying and learning and one of really important things that he discovered was that there are certain patterns to life. There are ways to live that have better results than others. Solomon called the good way to live – wisdom.

What patterns have you noticed in your life, that have good results?
What patterns have you noticed that have negative results?

Read Proverbs 1:1-7 and 2:1-11.

What are the main points of the passages?
How do these passages apply to your life?

Solomon spent his life vigorously searching for knowledge and understanding. But because he lived in the Old Testament, Solomon could only go so far in his understanding of wisdom. But the New Testament revealed some amazing new things about wisdom and about where to find it. It says that if we want to know what wisdom really is and if we want to know where to find it, we have to look to Jesus.

The New Testament teaches that Jesus is both the source and the embodiment of wisdom. Jesus came so that we could have The Good Life - a healthy, and vibrant, and fulfilling life; a life that positively impacts the lives of the people around us.

The Good Life/Wisdom Formula
Wisdom = Knowing Jesus + Understanding Jesus + Living like Jesus

1. Knowing Jesus

In John 15 Jesus says that he is like a vine, and we are like branches. He talks about how important it is to be in a deep relationship with him.

How well do you really know Jesus?
What are you filling your life with?
How deep is your relationship with Jesus?

Read John 15:1-8.

What are the main points of the passage?
How does this passage apply to your life?

“Knowing and loving God is our greatest privilege, and being known and loved is God's greatest pleasure.” (Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life)

2. Understanding Jesus

As we seek intimacy with Jesus, we will become more and more like him. We will develop the mind of Christ. But to develop the mind of Christ, we have to start listening to him. We have to turn our ear to him, as Proverbs 2:2 says.

What is your prayer life like? Do you do all the talking?
How has God been speaking to you lately?
Have you been listening?

God would love to go deep with you.

3. Living Like Jesus

God is a God of mission, and God has sent us on a mission.

When Jesus left earth and returned to heaven he gave these instructions in Matthew 28:19 – “Go and make disciples”.

How are you responding to these instructions?

God calls us to live the good life so that others around us will be blessed and will want the good life too. That is what is meant by the term “missional living”. We are called to live out the Great Commission and to light up the world around us.

Jesus invites us to seek him and to find the Good Life.

From all that we have discussed, what are some very specific things that God is challenging you to work on today?
What are you going to do about it? (Be very specific)
Who can you ask to keep you accountable in this?

For Further Reading: Hearing God (Dallas Willard)

Steve Kooy (Campus Pastor at Geneva House, on the campus of Queen’s University –
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Touching Base - Part 240

TB 240
The Body – PART 13
Oops! Sorry about the chaos!
25 May 14

((You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

When you think of your own faith walk, what are some of the most contentious issues that have divided the Church?

If you included “spiritual gifts” in your list then you are most certainly correct. Much abuse and pain has occurred in the Body because of a misunderstanding of the gifts, their use and implementation. Last week as well as this week we want to continue to talk about spiritual gifts and the theme of being a Body Builder.

Big Idea: Be a Body Builder.
Text: 1 Corinthians 14:26-40
Question: How can I be a Body builder? (read last week’s TB for the first two answers)


“Symbiosis” - In biology this word refers to a close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member. On Sunday I gave several examples of symbiotic relationships- i.e. the bee and the flower. What additional examples can you think of?

Read through v.26-33
Where do you see symbiosis in this text?
How do you see the gifts working together?
What might happen if there is not this relationship?
Note v.29 - judging or weighing the prophecies refers to sifting the wheat from the chaff. As Wayne Grudem has pointed out, Romans 12:6 suggests that one prophesies according to the measure of one’s faith. If enthusiasm exceeds inspiration then true prophecy may be mixed with the residue of an overheated imagination. Thus, it must be carefully weighed or sifted

How could the two gifts mentioned become weapons if they operated alone?
Note Romans 12:21-24 - another example of symbiosis.

How does this example of symbiosis apply to all the gifts? How important is it that no gift attempts to go it alone, to be a Lone Ranger in the Body of Christ?

Note more specifically the upside of the symbiotic relationship.

a. Effectiveness
Tongues and prophecy are far more effective when connected to other gifts in the body. Think of your gifts, what other gifts help your gift be more effective?
b. Evaluation and Development (v.29)
What do you think they were doing when they were weighing prophecy? (this means “to evaluate carefully”) I think this brings out a principle for all gifts – they all need to be evaluated and developed.
What does evaluation determine? I think the equation below identifies some of the issues that need to be evaluated when it comes to gifts. What happens when you remove one of the three variables from this equation? Talk about this as a team. Do you see the chaos that can result when the symbiosis principle is ignored?
Passion (the area I desire to do ministry) + Gifting+ Maturity = Ministry Area

Lots of people are willing to volunteer but some are very resistant to evaluation. Sometimes we need to sit people down and have hard conversations about how a gift is being used. Sometimes that evaluation is important because we get discouraged from using our gift. Ever put your gift on the shelf?

4. Be willing to filter in order to guard the gifts.

When it comes to the gifts being used in the church, all kinds of factors can creep in and wreak chaos in the church… thus the need to filter. This is exactly what Paul was doing. There were some very unhealthy things going on in culture and Paul had to help them filter, he had to help them see that what goes on outside the Church cannot go on inside the Church. If it does, the result will be chaos. So what does Paul do? He filters by giving them some very specific instructions for their very unique context.

Paul limited utterances (v.27) to “ one at a time”. He might have imposed fewer limits on a smaller group and more on larger ones. In other words this is a unique context. He is correcting them, doing some specific filtering.

Here is another example.
“’ Speakers could not plead ecstatic frenzy (as in the rites of Cybele or Dionysus) against following proper order- speaking in proper order was expected in formal gatherings.” Craig Keener
Note v.28, 30, 32- “You are in control,” he is saying.

Think of examples where you filter. For example, to be a Christ follower we are always filtering, always discerning between the good, the bad the ugly.

V.32 Note Paul is bringing them back to the nature of God. Why? Because the Church is God’s and it’s about His Glory, not ours. Without the filter, the gifts and the personalities with those gifts become the center.
He is correcting them, directing them.

Note that he is not trying to filter out the gifts but filter out various factors that are inhibiting the gifts and creating the chaos. We sometimes want to filter out the gifts, but this is not what Paul is doing.

What do you think the Church needs to filter today so that gifts can be used to build the Body? Where have you seen chaos and abuse because proper filtering was not done? Are you open to tongues and the prophetic in your small group? If so what does order look like?

On a final note we need to address v.33b-35. This text certainly reminds us that Paul’s context was unique. What he needed to filter was very different than what we need to filter today. Paul needed to do some filtering on a very specific issue as it relates to women in the Church. I encourage you to check out the doc at I would encourage you not to gloss over this but to dig in and appreciate the unique context of Paul.

Let’s be a Body that Builds! Men and women working together so that the Body is built up and Christ is glorified.

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Touching Base - Part 239

TB 239
The Body – PART 12
Selfie Church
18 May 14

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Our text today certainly touches on an issue that is, unfortunately, a major concern in churches across North America. This issue has to do with members attending and coming with a self-focus. This can be so extreme that anyone new, an outsider, feels completely left out, completely unimportant and unheard.

Start by talking about a time when fitting in was difficult - perhaps it was not in a church but a grade school memory, or a new work context, or a new neighborhood.

In our text today, Paul addresses selfie-ism. He challenges the Corinthians to see that the corporate gathering demands that they see themselves as present to serve and minister to those around them. What makes this doubly difficult is that they are abusing the gifts God has given them and using them to ostracize various members of the Church. Note that Corinth has a track record for ostracizing people - the weak, the poor, those that are different.

Text: 1 Corinthians 14: 1-25
Big Idea: Be A Body Builder.

Question: How can we be a Body builder?


In the sixteenth century, Renaissance astronomer Nicholas Copernicus challenged the belief that the earth was at the center of the universe. Copernicus argued that the sun didn’t revolve around the earth, but rather, that the earth revolved around the sun. The Copernican Revolution turned the scientific world upside down by turning the universe inside out.

As you read v1-19, you will note that Paul is pushing back on people who are using the gift of tongues for self serving purposes. They are not the center of the universe, yet their abuse of tongues would suggest they think they are.

Read the text and identify the problem - what are the key phrases that identify it?
What are the key texts that illustrate that some of them thought they were the center of the universe?
How does Paul illustrate the problem?
What is Paul’s instruction for proper usage of the gift of tongues?
What do non-believers think of this whole self-serving focus? (v.23)
Got a personal example?

Note that Paul is not bashing the gift of tongues but rather directing them on the proper use of this gift in this house church.

As a group, talk about what it would be like to be in that setting and not understand what is being said.

What I want you to note is how Paul is standing up and attempting to start a “Copernican Revolution.” He is wanting them to see the great damage being done when “self” is the focus, when gifts that are to be used to build up (Romans 12:7) are actually tearing down.

Note that Paul has talked about how gifts can tear down when love is absent (1 Cor. 13) and now he is showing that gifts can tear down when their original purpose - building the Body - is turned into a self-serving purpose.

There is another way that we can tear down the Body when it comes to gifts - by not using them. Disobedience in not using gifts has left many churches weak, vulnerable and limping along.


There are several ways to be a Body builder, but in light of the context, Paul provides one tool in the Body builder’s apparel that can go a long way in strengthening the Church.
Note v.1 - which gift is key to being a Body-building Church?

Note from this context what we can conclude about the gift of prophecy:
a. We are to desire this gift - one can clearly see why once we understand its purpose and effect. Has this been a gift you have pursued? If not, why not? What are some of the challenges in using this gift in the church? How can it be easily abused?

b. Prophecy builds (v.3,4). “Edify” or “strengthen” refers to the process of building. In other words disciples are like Rome - not built in a day.

c. Both men and women are encouraged to prophecy. This is implied in the language of chapter 14 and is specifically addressed in chapter 11.

d. This is different than the role of an Old Testament prophet. It is not like OT prophecy, which was to be applied, not sifted, and had a “Thus saith the Lord!” sort of authority. Note in v.29 - the prophecy was to be sifted. Note that everyone is to seek it. I don’t think Paul imagines a church filled with Jeremiahs and Isaiahs here. Have you ever seen the abuse that can be perpetrated by a person who says “Thus saith the Lord through me…!”?

e. This gift was different than teaching. Note in v.12:29 Paul seems to make a distinction. Gordon Fee says that this gift was a “spontaneous word.” There is lots of discussion today that suggests that prophecy can include teaching. See what Paul says in v.18,19 that might suggest this. Has God ever laid on your heart a word of encouragement for someone in the Body, your small group? If so how would you describe that experience? How did you go about sharing this?

f. Like all the gifts, it is to be clothed in love. In making the transition from chapter 13 to 14:1a, Paul uses a strong verb —"pursue" ("follow the way of," NIV; cf. Philippians 3:12, 14) — as he charges them to seek love. This is a stronger verb than the following one — "eagerly desire" — which he applies to seeking spiritual gifts. So love must have the priority, and after that the gift of prophecy must particularly be sought.

So with love being the basis, my understanding in how this gift best operates is that there is a relationship of some kind with the person that I am speaking with. “Cold turkey” words can sometimes be the perfect set-up for abuse (next week we will look at the context of v.29).

g. Both the mind and spirit are edified. This is why prophecy in this context is so superior.

h. Prophecy can touch the heart of the non-believer (v.24,25)

So now, imagine a church where when the church gathers, everyone is embracing the Copernican Revolution, seeking to build, edify and encourage. Imagine a church where whenever selfie-ism is seen, it is called out (lovingly) and redirected. Imagine a Church where non-believers, after experiencing Body life, don’t exclaim “I love Jesus but hate the Church” but instead say, “God is really among you!”

Let’s not just imagine but realize a Church committed to Body building at Bethel. Copernicus and Arnold would be proud!!

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

For Additional Study:

“V. 21 quotes Isa. 28:11f., which Paul says is in the Law, though nomos, “law,” had become a term for all the OT, including the prophets. The form of the quotation has notable similarities to Aquila’s Greek OT translation and differs from the Hebrew and the Septuagint in some ways. One crucial difference is that Paul has changed the word “hear” in the last line to “obey.”
The larger context in Isaiah 28 indicates that the Lord can only teach those weaned from the breast (v. 9), those who are not spiritually children. In v. 10 there may actually be a sort of Hebraic imitation of glossolalia: ṣaw lāṣāw, ṣaw lāṣāw, qaw lāqāw, qaw lāqāw, zeʿêr šām, zeʿêr šām. The next line describes this as stammering in a foreign tongue, and refers to the impression made on the Judahites by Isaiah’s preaching. As a judgment against hardhearted Judah, God spoke to them in a foreign tongue that they could not understand, because they would not hear the truth in their own tongue.

This larger context becomes very interesting when we look at what follows the quotation in 1 Corinthians 14: In v. 22 Paul says that glossolalia is a sign for nonbelievers, those who do not hear and obey. Here the word “sign,” in view of the Isaiah quotation, surely means an ʾōṯ, a sign of judgment that they are out of touch with God. This is the effect of uninterpreted tongues on the nonbelievers in Corinth. They cannot respond positively but only say that tongues speakers are ecstatics.

By contrast prophecy is a sign for believers. Here Paul means presumably that what is given in prophecy is a word of judgment or exhortation for all believers. It is also a word that convicts and convinces nonbelievers, even if it is neither directed to them nor a sign for them. Vv. 24f. describe how such prophecy can affect the nonbeliever, and we should probably see here a description of a conversion. It convicts them, challenges them, and reveals the secrets of their hearts with the result that they fall down prostrate and worship the true God, saying “God is really with you!” Therefore, even though prophecy is directed toward the congregation, being a sign for Christians, it can have a powerful effect on nonbelievers because it is both supernatural and intelligible.”

Witherington, Ben., III. (1995). Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (pp. 274–290). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.