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.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Touching Base, Part 238

TB 238
The Body – PART 11
How To Put A One In Front Of That Zero.
11 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.

Busy, but not effective
Sacrificing, but not advancing
Labouring, but not building
Studying, but not passing
Investing, but not profiting
Dieting but not…

Talk about a time when you felt you were spinning your wheels. What did it feel like and how did you break out of the spin?

Text: 1 Corinthians 13

In our text, Paul is essentially telling the Corinthians that they are spinning their wheels. Yes, they are busy, yes, they are doing good things in some cases, maybe even great things, but it is all adding up to a big fat zero. Paul wants to encourage them to move in a better direction, to help them to get some traction and be healthy. In light of their least excellent way, Paul now shows them the most excellent way forward.

Question: What is the most excellent way?


Check out the right things they are doing:
 Tongues - on its own, could mean nothing more than speaking eloquently, but in this context it follows v. 12:28-30 and anticipates chapter 14. So “tongues of men” would refer to human speech inspired by the Spirit but unknown to the speaker. Tongues of angels would reflect an understanding that the tongues speaker was communicating in the dialect(s) of heaven
 Prophecy - defined by 14:3
 Fathom all mysteries and knowledge
 Faith - He moves even beyond the charismata to great acts of sacrifice-. He is using hyperbole .
 Give all I possess to the poor
 Surrender my body to the flames

How does Paul demonstrate that even though they were doing the right thing (Paul does not condemn these actions), they are scoring zero? In the eyes of God, the act might (and will) benefit the receiver, but not the giver.

As a group, talk about times where you have seen the right thing being done, heard the right thing being said, but scored the whole event with a zero because the heart was wrong.

Has anyone ever ended up hurting you because, although they were saying or doing the right thing, their heart was not right? Have you ever done damage even though you said and did the right thing, BUT your heart was not right?

John Stott says, “Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love: love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth.” How do you bring the balance?

Essentially Paul is saying that our faith walk is not solely comprised of a “to DO” list, as illustrated by v1-3. Paul wants them to see that the deeper road to walk, the deeper work of the Spirit in our lives has to do with the “to BE” list. This is now where Paul goes.


This is the most excellent way.

Who would you rather have on your team - a person who is committed to just doing the right thing or being the right person? Why? ( the former person might give you lip service and even do the right thing but their attitude stinks)

Note the contrast between a resounding gong and clanging symbol, and how Paul describes love in v4-7.

I am sure you could talk for some time on the key words that describe love in this text.

For our purposes, note the depth of this “love” word:

Old Testament - In the OT one of the words for love was “hesed” (pr. HEE sid, HEE sed), unselfish love, rendered sometimes “loyalty” (2 Sam 22:26 RSV), but more often “steadfast love” (Gen 39:21) or “kindness.” It is not an emotional response to beauty, merit, or kindness, but a moral attitude dedicated to another’s good, whether or not that other is lovable, worthy, or responsive – it comes from a deep place (see Deut. 7:7–9).

New Testament - The parallel word in the NT is “agape”(pr. ah GAH pay), which is what Paul talks about here. By far the most frequent word in the NT is agape, generally assumed to mean moral goodwill which proceeds from esteem, principle, or duty, rather than attraction or charm. Agape means to love the undeserving, despite disappointment and rejection; not rooted in affection or feeling but principle and a moral attitude.

When you move from just doing (1-3), to being (4-7), the knife cuts deeper. You move from make-up to heart surgery, from optics to internal transformation. Paul is pointing to this condition of the human heart that is lacking in the Corinthian context.

This is the sort of love that a human being can only express and share when he or she has been touched by God’s grace and enabled by God’s Spirit. It goes quite against natural human inclinations to love the unlovely or those who do not love in return. “Agape love, as V. P. Furnish has aptly said,
is not the sort of love that is dispatched like a heat-seeking missile that inherently is attracted to the ‘target.’ ”

These days, what is the toughest context for you to not necessarily do the right thing, but to be the right person?

What aspect of love is your greatest challenge and why?

What kind of community is necessary if people are going to go deeper and move from just doing, to actually being?

“The most excellent way” asks these tough kinds of questions and takes these long, hard looks at the heart.

Finally, note that when we choose to walk the most excellent way we make the most lasting impression and investment:

V8-13 How does this section demonstrate the superiority of love?

V8- Paul is not condemning these gifts but just showing how temporary they are.
V9,10 - see 1:7 to help understand what Paul is saying

Note the two analogies Paul uses to illustrate that behavior from one period is not appropriate for another.
V11- A child
V12- A mirror

Finally note v.13 - Paul is probably referencing a triad familiar to his original audience. Again he is demonstrating the supremacy and excellence of love.

Faith will become sight and hope will be fulfilled, but love will simply carry on, presumably amplified and purified into a perfect condition. It is the one attribute that is to bridge this age and the age to come.

So get this, love is what lasts and I would say is what makes the most lasting impression on those around us.

Many have said that you can put Jesus’ name in place of love and get a great description of Jesus. Yes, I agree and so would Paul. However, that is not Paul’s point. Paul’s point is that we should be able to put our name in place of “love”. That is the kind of person God wants us to be - a person that walks out “hesed” and “agape”, a person that allows the Spirit to do this deep work in our hearts. As we think of community we should be able to put Bethel Church in place of love.

May God grant to us all we need to reflect this matchless attribute in all our relationships. As we do we reflect the heart of God, for God is love!

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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Touching Base, Part 237

TB 237
The Body – PART 10:
Anatomy and Physiology
04 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.

My father spent the first half of his working life performing orthopedic surgery of the foot. I never had much interest in the buzz of his precision tools or the splatter of his operating room. I had nothing against the foot itself however, although it is lowly – and increasingly unsightly as it ages.

Our passage for this Sunday is about the foot… and the hand… and the eye… and the nose. It is about members – or organs – in the body of Christ, each one having a specific function, and each one necessary, even if they all aren't as beautiful as each other at first glance.

Many sources, both ancient and modern, deal with the idea of unity and diversity within a group, from Aristotle to the civic leaders of 20th Century America. Different skills all working together as a team is a common theme, of which our passage is a specific - and inspired - example.

The Apostle Paul writes that each Christian is part of the body of Christ – part of Christ Himself; we are part of His anatomy, His structure. Paul goes further and writes that we each have specific spiritual gifts and thus, we are part of His physiology, His functioning: gifts of prophecy, administration and teaching. “If we were all lovely eyes, what about the sense of smell?” asks Paul. “If we were all nimble hands, what about the hidden and calloused and essential feet?”, asks Paul (and my father). As a Christian, you are part of the structure and function, the anatomy and physiology, of the Lord Jesus Christ - a revolutionary idea.


Many times Scripture refers to men and women as having inherent value: we are made in the image of God; we are referred to as the sheep of his pasture, and as costly pearls and gems; and Jesus died to buy us back. Christians and non-Christians both struggle with actually internalizing this truth.

But it goes farther: not only are you of infinite value, you are of use to God. This has nothing to do with the Protestant work ethic or capitalism or needing to be busy and occupying one’s time. It’s quite the opposite. You don’t have to be busy or useful to prove your worth and value. That’s established already. The usefulness is to prove nothing. It, too, is God’s gift. He has decided to give you a function in His body.

Read 2 Timothy 2: 21 - The Greek word translated as “ready” or “fit” or “meet” (KJV) for the master’s use in this verse has a prefix that emphasizes just what a good fit, just how prepared and designed, an organ can be to do its function.

Read 1 Corinthians 12: 18 - The Greek work translated “according to his good pleasure,” means your function and use to the master is according to his design and pleasure and plan, and that He wouldn't have it any other way. To God, you are of infinite value, and also have a use that is custom-designed.

Question: What gets in the way of your really believing in your Godly value and usefulness?


Read Matthew 6: 25-34, Luke 10: 41, Philippians 4: 6, 1 Peter 5: 6-7.

Every one of these verses or passages uses the same Greek word translated “care”, or sometimes, “worry”. Each one here is negated. After reading these, do you have any doubt that you are not to be concerned, not to give a care, not to worry about a whole lot of things? Clothes, property, money, even scheduling, RRSPs and taxes - this can be exceedingly hard to do, but is repeated over and over in the New Testament. In fact, there is only one time when this same Greek word is used without a negative, and we are actually told to care, to be concerned, with something.

Read 1 Corinthians 12: 24-26.

The one thing, as Christ-followers, we are to care about is…each other. We are explicitly told to care for the other organs in Christ’s anatomy. If one suffers, so should you; and even more difficult, possibly, if one is honoured, you, too, should rejoice.

Paul leads us to the last verse of our passage with this theme and perfect continuity: “And yet I will show you the most excellent way” (v. 31). And so he begins the famous lines of 1 Corinthians 13: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am just a clanging gong or a tinkling cymbal.”

Question: What gets in the way of your obeying scripture’s admonitions about when not to care, and its commands to care?

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