Home - God's Purposes

The Garden and the Gospel

Email the Author

Previous Chapter

Table of Contents

Next Chapter

OTHER HELPS TO FAITH

“…helpers of your joy” 2 Cor 1:24

 

God has provided for His children many other means by which our faith grows and is strengthened. Among the most important of these is the fellowship with others of “like precious faith,” who can encourage us and help us in our spiritual growth. We are admonished by Paul to not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” This means, among other things, having Christian friends with whom we can pray with and confide in; and most importantly, it means to join with fellow Christians as a body of believers in a local church. No Christian is an island, and we are only complete as we abide in the body of Christ. We need other believers; we need their gifts, their encouragement, and their love and concern. None of us has it all, knows it all, or can do it all; and God has designed it that way so that we must be united together to be “a perfect man,” a “measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

2 Cor 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

2 Pet 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Now, some would say, ‘But I feel like such a hypocrite in going to church because my life is such a mess.’ However, that is the very reason you need to go. Church is not a showplace for saints, but a hospital for sinners. We do not go to fulfill some religious duty, or to maintain our spiritual piety before others. We go because we need to go; because God has designed for us to join together with other Christians; and that we may be strengthened, encouraged, and have our needs met. Still others would say, ‘But I feel so out of place, dressing up in a suit or a dress.’ Then go dressed however you may feel comfortable. If a church does not accept you for how you look—as long as it is modest—you need to find a different church.

Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

1 Sam 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren,
Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

The important thing is to go to a church where Christ is preached; where the people have a love for God and the souls of men; where the Word of God is preached in power; and where you can grow as a believer. Don’t get stuck going to grandma’s church, or the church on the corner if you are not getting any “meat to eat.” You may have to try several churches and travel many miles to go where you are fed the Word of God and sense a real fellowship of believers. For your sake, and the sake of your family, don’t get stagnated in a dead, dry, lifeless church.

John 4:32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

2 Cor 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Another aid to our faith, and one that has been largely forgotten among the children of God, is fasting. This has happened because a false idea about the purpose of fasting has arisen. It has come to be viewed as a way to have some glorious experience with God; a means by which we prove to God how serious we are about being a Christian; or making a show of our spirituality to others. However, these motives are far from the truth and the real purpose of fasting. Nutritionists say that fasting is a wonderful tool to cleanse the body from toxins and poisons that build up in our system; that make us sick, and drag us down physically and emotionally. While fasting is important for physical health, it is more important for spiritual help in much the same way. As we travel this life as a believer, we are bombarded with the toxins and poisons of the world, the flesh, and the devil. We become worldly-minded, overtaken by the pride of life, and the deceptions of the evil one. All of these pollutants drag us down, and make us spiritually sick and lethargic. Fasting is the denial of our bodily appetites. It may be we fast from food, or the physical union of our mates, or worldly pleasures such as shopping or entertainment. What fasting does is to make our flesh miserable; it brings to the surface those contaminants of the flesh that are making us sin sick. It reveals to us again and again how sick we are in ourselves apart from Christ. Fasting purifies our faith, because in the misery that we feel in the flesh, we again see that our only real strength and hope is in Christ. Fasting is also important to prayer, because it removes all the fleshly arguments we bring to God as to why our prayers should be answered. In our misery we see that it is Christ alone who can avail for us before the Father.

Matt 9:14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?
but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

Matt 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Psa 69:10 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
11 I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.

Dan 10:2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all,
till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

Dan 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

1 Cor 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

Matt 17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Almost every great work, that has significant meaning in the Scriptures, has had fasting attached to it. Moses fasted for forty days, twice, before receiving the Ten Commandments. Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness before His earthly ministry began. The Apostle Paul fasted as he waited for God’s direction in his life. The sending out of the first missionaries was preceded by a period of prayer and fasting. Yet we need not wait for some momentous occasion for fasting to be useful, for even day-to-day benefits, such as spiritual cleansing, or prayer make it useful to us all. However, many there are like me who would say, ‘I have tried to fast, but I become ill and cannot do my job, or take care of my family.’ Indeed, after two days without food, one can become so weak and nauseous that it disrupts their daily routine. Howbeit, we need not fast for long periods for it to be effective, for even a one meal fast, a one day fast, or a juice fast for a week or more is beneficial. Other fasts may be a television fast, shopping fast, or a physical pleasure fast, while we instead pray and read the Bible—and these also can be effective. The Apostle Paul said, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection,” and one of the ways he did this was by constant fastings. If we do not correct our tendencies toward worldliness and pride, we leave the Lord no choice but to bring His discipline upon us in more severe ways, after things have gotten out of hand in our lives.

Deut 9:9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
10 And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.
11 And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.
12 And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
13 Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.
15 So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.
16 And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you.
17 And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.
18 And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also.
20 And the LORD was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.
21 And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.
22 And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-hattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath.
23 Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.
24 Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.
25 Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said he would destroy you.
26 I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
27 Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin:
28 Lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.
29 Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.

Matt 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Acts 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9
And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3
And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

1 Cor 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

2 Cor 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

Another aid to our faith is to purpose in our hearts every day to be a witness for Christ. The work of the church, the body of Christ, is to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” It is the reason why the church exists in this present dispensation—to be a witness for Christ and to spread the Word of the Gospel into the entire world. Every program of the church should have as its primary purpose, either to prepare the people of God to be a witness, or to have an evangelistic outreach into its community and the world. The very purpose that “Jesus came into the world” was “to seek and to save that which was lost.” It was His goal and motivation every day of His life. It was what kept Him on track—to do the will of the Father—“to be the Saviour of the world.” The purpose in life for every Christian is to be a witness to those whom God has placed in our lives—“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,” and He “hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” As a believer, it should be our goal in life, our motivation in living, to strive every day to be a witness for Christ. It is a vital part of the overcoming life, that which the Holy Spirit empowers us to do, and blesses us to do. It is “by the word of” our “testimony” that we are made victorious over sin, self, Satan, and the world. When something comes into our life that would turn our hearts and minds from this purpose, we know that it is not of God. Therefore, we must “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and … run with patience the race that is set before us.” It is when we walk with the same purpose and mind of Christ—that of seeking the lost—that we truly experience the life of Christ.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

1 Tim 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

1 John 4:14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

Luke 9:51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

2 Cor 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2 Cor 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Finally, learning to be a giver is also something that is vital to the life of faith. The carnal life, the life of the old man of sin, is a self-driven life. Everything we do in the flesh is for ourselves in some way; even those things which we do for others are rarely done for unselfish reasons. In all that we do, we have the same motivation—what am I going to get out of this? It may not be material gain or wealth, but are we looking for self-glory—to have others look up to us by what we have given or done? Much of what we do is for the purpose of having some good works to present to God. Even the most ungodly of men are at times generous with their time and money, as they try to tip the scales of judgment in their favor.

Luke 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Matt 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4
That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Matt 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

In contrast, the life of Jesus Christ was the most unselfish life that has ever been lived. In coming to this earth He had nothing to gain, because He already had everything—all wealth, all power, and all glory. His purpose in coming was to give Himself, that we “through his poverty might be rich.” He was born as a poor carpenter’s son; and although He could have had all the riches and honor of this world, He rejected everything in order that He might give “himself for our sins.If we desire to walk “in Christ” we must learn to give as He did—unselfishly, expecting nothing in return, even from God. We can experience the same joy and blessings that Jesus did in doing alms for others, who could do nothing for Him in return.

2 Cor 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
9
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Luke 4:5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
8
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

John 5:41 I receive not honour from men.

Gal 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Luke 6:30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Through unselfish giving we also receive Heaven’s bounty in our own lives. God will be a debtor to no man—“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” It becomes grace to us when we learn to give as Jesus did, for He promised “give, and it shall be given unto you.” The only thing we must guard against is that we do not begin to give for the purpose of obligating God to give back to us. That kind of giving is not motivated by love, but by the selfish desires of the flesh. Many misdirected preachers use this tactic to try and motivate their congregations to tithe. They promise them that the “windows of heaven” will rain down blessings upon those that give. We must learn to “do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again.”

Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Prov 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

Mal 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

2 Cor 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

 

 

Previous Chapter

Table of Contents

Next Chapter

 

The material of this website, except for that which is noted from other sources, is Copyright © 2005-2012 GodsPurposes.org. Those who wish to use any of the material contained herein for personal or non-commercial group study, may do so without permission. Those who wish to use any of this material for mass distribution are requested to contact the webmaster. Webmaster@GodsPurposes.org