Sunday, July 24, 2016 am                                                Others 2016 Index


The Blessing of Brethren 2


We have begun examining our relationship to one another as brethren.  This will be our most extensive aspect of our theme this year.  Last week we began a study of the blessings of brethren noting 5 things – 1) We are likeminded; 2) We are a source of encouragement and comfort; 3) We are a source of inspiration; 4) We are a source of correction; and 5) We are a source of help.

                Today we notice 5 more blessings.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is designed to impress upon us our need for each other and to appreciate each other as we ought to.  This understanding will be helpful as we begin to discuss HOW we are to act toward ONE ANOTHER. 

 I.                     They are a source of strength

a.       Strength is usually a blessing within itself.  It gives us the ability to accomplish something, even if it is challenging.  And when teams work together, they typically do better and their strength multiplies exponentially.  

b.       This also applies to relationships.  Even Solomon realized this – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us that two are better than one.  Sometimes applied to marriage, it is true in many areas of life. 

c.        Many passages of scripture mention strength and the brethren
Peter was told to strengthen his brethren - when he had learned – Luke 22:32

Acts 14:22 – Paul and Barnabas were strengthening the souls of the disciples.  A word meaning to make one stronger, more determined. 

Hebrews 12:12 – strengthen the hands which hang down.  A word that means to restore or rebuild something.  To make erect again (Luke 13:13)

1 Peter 2:17 and 1 Peter 5:9 both describe our relationship to one another as the “brotherhood.”  This word is defined as, “an association of persons having a STRONG sense of unity” (L&N, 11.22)

d.       When we are struggling we need someone we can turn to.   Brothers and sisters who will be there standing beside us when others have abandoned us.  When we become tired and weary – physically, emotionally and spiritually, our brethren can be a source of strength.   When we are facing sorrows, disappointments, and troubles we can and should turn to our brethren for strength.  When we are facing difficult decisions, our brethren can help us through them.  When we are struggling with sin and temptations our brethren are a source of strength to help us overcome.
WHEN we are HERE assembling with one another, we are strengthened – cf. Hebrews 10:24-25.

e.       WHEN we learn to turn to one another and make ourselves available, what a genuine blessing that is.

 II.                   A source of prayer

a.       When one studies prayer he learns that it is a privilege we enjoy as children of God.  How much God hears the prayers of the unsaved my not be fully comprehended (we know He knows what they say audibly, but to what degree He answers is with Him), but it is clear in scripture that prayer is a blessing Christians enjoy.  1 Peter 3:12 tells us, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
1 John 3:20-21, we receive because we keep His commandments and seek to please Him
1 John 5:14-15, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

b.       The Bible calls for us to pray for one another as brethren.  James 5:16, Ephesians 6:18
The Bible gives many examples of brethren praying for one another -
Jesus prayed for others – John 17 is a prayer that is about His disciples and all who believe.
  He told Peter, after predicting his denial, I have prayed for you – Luke 22:32
While in prison, prayers were offered for Peter by the church – Acts 12:5
Paul’s life was one of reciprocal prayers (as it was thanksgiving) – 2 Thess. 3:1 where he requested the brethren pray for him and others.  Romans 15:30-31 similar as he asks for prayers.
  He also prayed for them – Colossians 1:9, Ephesians 1:15-17, etc.

c.        It is a genuine blessing to know that when we need the strength of our brethren they are there for us.  When we are struggling we can turn to them and ask them to make petitions to God on our behalf. 
Sometimes they are praying for us even when we DON’T ask them! 

 III.                 A source of understanding and knowledge

a.       A key aspect of reaching maturity as Christians is knowledge.  We regularly emphasize the need to study God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15) and what we learn through that study.   The Bible refers to His word as nourishment (milk and meat – Hebrews 5:12-14, 1 Peter 2:2, etc.).  We hunger and thirst to be righteous (Matthew 5:6) – but where do we learn that?  Through studying His word (Psalm 119:105).

b.       We can also learn by tapping into a valuable resource that God has provided us – our brethren.   The Bible actually speaks of imparting wisdom to others – 2 Timothy 2:2. 
Titus 2:1-4… Older men are examples, and older women are to teach the younger women.
Clearly preachers must be able to share the word of God with others – 1 Tim. 4:12-13.
One of the qualifications of elders is an ability to teach – 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:9, etc.
In the Bible, what Jesus did was to teach others what He knew and what they needed to know. 
What Paul and the other New Testament writers did was teach and even preserve their knowledge through the written word for us.  1 John 1:4 – I write that you joy may be full; 2 Peter 3:1 – Peter writes by way of reminder (2 Pet. 1:13) to stir up their pure minds; Paul writes and teaches – Phil. 3:1 what he writes is for the safety of his brethren.

c.        When one is new in the faith they can be overwhelmed with what they need to learn to grow.   Godly & mature brethren are an invaluable resource for them.  They can give them Biblical advice in dealing with problems (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:5) as well as answering questions and doubts.
Furthermore, every one of us from time to time have questions that we struggle to find answers for.  While there are things that we may never find a complete answer, brothers and sisters in Christ can give us insight to consider and help us along.

d.       IN this, do NOT underestimate the impact that Bible classes can have for us.  Well-developed Bible classes have been shown to be an indispensable source of growth and maturity in a congregation.  It is no secret that God has given us leaders to ground us in the word so that we are not easily deceived (cf. Ephesians 4:11-16).
The worship services also involve teaching us (cf. 1 Corinthians 14).

e.       Truly, brethren are a blessing as we strive to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). 

 IV.                 A source of fellowship with God –

a.       1 John 1:3-4, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 

b.       Fellowship is one of those subjects that is misunderstood by many today.  Some see fellowship as food and fun, but that is not its usage in scripture.  
The actual word (κοινωνία, koinōnia) means to share or participate in something together.  Close association involving mutual interests (BDAG).  It is sometimes translated sharing or communion.
In the Bible the word is found 20+ times and is used to describe a spiritual sharing that we have with God and/or each other as brethren (1 John 1:3, 6-7, Philemon 6, Philippians 2:1, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 10:16, etc.), or brethren supporting or helping other brethren (financially – Romans 15:26, Philippians 1:5, Hebrews 13:16, etc.).
It is certainly a word related to our spiritual relationship as brethren and with God 

c.        It is our fellowship with God that brings us together.   1 John 1:3 describes this very point.  Vs. 6-7 tie our fellowship with one another to our fellowship with God and our Lord Jesus Christ. 
In Philippians 2:1-2 Paul observes the fellowship we have with the Spirit and how in that we seek unity.
1 Corinthians 10:16, even as we partake of the Lord’s Supper – it is a communion (fellowship) with Him.  A study of the Lord’s supper, which Paul would address in chapter 11 shows it is something we do together.

d.       This can be a genuine blessing we enjoy as brethren.  Our bond with Christ becomes the foundation of our bond with one another.  And that affects EVERYTHING we have addressed in these lessons. 
Because of this, we strive for true unity based upon that bond.   It is a blessing, though at times underappreciated. 

 V.                   A source of genuine love and caring –

a.       Jesus declared in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  This is a fundamental need of brethren and the final blessing we will address today.

b.       Biblical love is from the Greek word ἀγάπη (agape), a word that is defined as “warm regard for and interest in another (BDAG).  Vine’s describes it as “the characteristic word of Christianity.”  We define the word to mean that we care enough to sacrifice for what is best.   Understanding this definition, we see this word as action toward one another rather than mere feelings.

c.        As brethren we simply HAVE to care! 1 Corinthians 12:25 describes us as the body of Christ and notes that when functioning properly, there is no schism in the body, “but that the members should have the same care for one another.
Romans 12:10 calls for us to be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love (φιλαδελφία, philadelphia).  That word “kindly affectionate” is the Greek word, φιλόστοργος, (philostorgos) – what is interesting about this word is that it means to love dearly even as one loves his own family.   As brethren we should seek to develop this type of a relationship with one another.
AND as brethren while we have to care, it is not a burden or dreaded – because we realize we are the family of God.  In fact, when John sternly warns about those who FAIL to love each other he attaches eternal spiritual consequences – 1 John 4:20-21, etc. 

d.       When we draw close to each other as we ought to this caring disposition will naturally manifest itself.   It is this caring love that causes us to encourage and comfort each other, correct each other and help each other.  It is this love that will prompt us to open our Bibles study so that we will be likeminded.  This love will cause us to pray for each other and seek the presence of one another in worship and even at other times.    Truly this is a great blessing.

 In these lessons we have addressed the blessings of brethren.  But such will only take place if genuine understand and appreciate what it means to be brethren.  If we cherish and seek to develop our qualities toward ONE ANOTHER as we find in scripture.   As we study how to build up one another, let us keep these blessings in mind.