"Fight the Good Fight of Faith"  (I Timothy 6:12)

   "We Don't Have to Win, We Just Have to Fight"

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Letters of Paul".  See and keep up with the sessions in
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Do we have to give up on the church, churches, and denominations,
as a sinking ship that is to be abandoned?  No, but we must be aware
that they are going to lose inevitably as not only the rising tide of the
mystery of sin and lawlessness floods over the world, not only the
power of the holy people is shatterd according to the last words of
Daniel {Daniel 12:4-7} as both the Falling Away and the withdrawal of
the Holy Spirit completely shatter the power of Christianity on earth;
but also because we know from the Bible on the Falling Away
{especially II Timothy 4:3,4}, that the majority in our churches and the
majority of our churches {2 out of 7 in Asia Minor}, are not going to
make it victoriously through the Falling Away.

For the title of this introduction to the Life and Letters of the Apostle
Paul, the full quote borrowed from Mel Gibson in the Brave Heart
Movie is, “We don’t have to win, we just have to fight!”  How this
relates to the Epitaph of Paul, “Remember My Bonds” as a
comparable title of the Life and Letters of Paul, remains to be shown.  
And these two titles also compete with a third from which much of the
previous material of Life and Letters of Paul is taken, that is BELIEVE
AND BE BAPTIZED, volume 3 of the LEARN CHRIST FROM THE
APOSTLES AND PROPHETS commentaries.  It remains part of the
future 2 years of Bible Sessions, through monthly E-mail newsletters
and PDFs online,  of this free, online Bible course about the Life and
14 New Testament letters of the Apostle Paul to show during the
course of the course, how the 3 possible titles are related.
First of all you perhaps remember the movie and the occasion of the
quote from Mel Gibson’s Brave Heart movie.  The Scottish father of
Mel Gibson in the movie was about to depart to war with some of the
British invaders, leaving the young Mel Gibson behind and alone; and
when hearing a statement from the young man with encouragements
to win against the British, the father replied with conviction and a laugh
as if that was not possible, “We don’t have to win, we just have to
fight.”  Perhaps like with this author, those words from the movie stuck
in my mind.  Cultured as an American, a Texan, and ex-military, it at
first seemed strange not to assume victory.  As the years have
passed and the historical realities of the world wide Great Apostasy
called the “Falling Away” have dawned on us from Bible Study and
current events in churches and Christianity, it is true as a group of
world-wide Christians that we can and will not win the Falling Away, yet
we must continue to fight.  The victory is ours at the end of the Falling
Away which is also the end of this old earth, and with the Second
Coming of Christ, which with many other great events of world history
ushers in a new earth made for a new people of Jews and Gentiles.

1-1:  “Remember My Bonds” from the Apostle Paul in Colossians
4:18 (KJV) is first of all a reminder that the Life of Paul from the
worldly perspective, martyred as a criminal on a cross much like
Jesus, was a no-win situation.

Ephesians and Colossians are like two-sides of the same coin, both
being a summary, more like a precis, of 10 previous letters from the
Apostle Paul.  The bottom line verse {Colossians 4:18)--”Remember
My Bonds”--is also in many ways the bottom line message of the Life
and Letters of Paul.  It summarizes both all the doctrinal teachings of
Paul under the seven ONEs of Ephesians and Colossians as well as
summarizing the life of Paul with a cross to bear for the sake of Christ
and Christians of the first century.
1.  The Apostle Paul was human.
He knew he about to die when he wrote “remember my chains” or
“bonds”; and this dominant leader of First Century Christianity, who
had already written so many letters under the inspiration of God that
would become books of the Bible, wanted to write his own Epitaph.  
“Remember my bonds” (Colossians 4:18 KJV), Paul wrote in is own
shaky hand:

“This salutation by my own hand--Paul.  Remember my chains.  
Grace be with you.  Amen.”  (Colossians 4:18 NJKV)

This personalized Epitaph close this one letter of Colossians, and
likewise was referenced in other letters.  Paul, always very self-aware,
knew that he was allowing himself this one human weakness; yet he
wanted to be remembered on earth among Christians, and even in this
fleeting display of mortal frailty {the need to be remembered}, Paul
desired to turn the bonds of a criminal from the perspective of the
Roman world, and by the way of the majority of the Jews, into a
positive thing for the glory of God and the furtherance of the primary
teachings of Christianity.  It is jumping far ahead of the introductory
presentation, but in order to have some initial concept of the latter part
of the Epitaph, that is of the furtherance of doctrine, you must briefly
consider without complete exegesis, that waiting for later, the Seven
Ones of Ephesians 4:1-6.

“I, therefore, the prisoner {prisoner of course is another way to
talk about the bonds or chains}, beseech you to walk worthy of
the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and
gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond {see right
back to bonds, this time the “bond of peace”} of peace.  There is
one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of
your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and
Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  
(Ephesians 4:1-6)

NOTE:  You will see references time and time again during this
study of the Life and Letters of Paul since Ephesians {and the
twin of Colossians} are summaries of all the teachings from
Christ, God, and the Old Testament that Paul received and on
which he wrote; and beyond that the Seven Ones here {another
form of bonds, if you would}, are in turn a summary of both
Ephesians and the 10 books Paul wrote before this.  YOU
WOULD NEED NO OTHER BELIEFS, TEACHINGS AND
DOCTRINES FROM GOD THAN THESE SEVEN, IF YOU
UNDERSTOOD THEM IN YOUR HEART AND MIND.  To
spiritualize somewhat, if you had these same 7 bonds on your
heart and mind, you would be well on your way to working “out
your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

2.  “Spare no effort to make fast with bonds of peace the unity which
the Spirit gives”  (Ephesians 4:3 NEV)

The bonds of a Roman prisoner had been a controlling influence in his
life for years; and these shackles of a criminal, negative symbols of
restraint from the continued preaching of the gospel all over the known
Roman world and of restraint from assisting the churches he founded,
Paul obviously desired to make these bonds into a more positive
testimony, writing of bonds the most unique and profound theme of
his books, “Spare no effort to make fast with bonds of peace the unity
which the Spirit gives”  (Ephesians 4:3 NEV).  About these “bonds”
Paul writes in the letter of Ephesians; and “remember my bonds” he
writes shortly thereafter, encouraging the Christians at Colosse {of
course in Colossians} to also read the earlier Epistle to Ephesus.
The surprise to the serious student of the life and letters of the
Apostle Paul, is not so much that he turned the figurative word “bonds”
into something good; but that he indulged himself in Colossians and
other books with a public declaration about imprisonment {how many
preachers would you invite to your pulpit who had been in prison}, a
fact that made many of even the churches he founded, especially at
Ephesus the place of his longest missionary ministry, had turned them
off because of the stigma of imprisonment.  {The more worldly in
philosophy of the churches had the most trouble with these bonds of
captivity in a Roman prison, the “world” from the Bible being a
concept that is also large in the teachings and writings of Paul as well
as the Apostle John, always a background concept and assumption in
the teachings from Jesus an the Apostles, and therefore a doctrinal
concept from Paul that we must come back to later.}
1-2:  Paul was a Fighter.
Like the Scots of Brave Heart, the Apostle Paul was a fighter.  Since
Paul was a fighter and most often a winner even from a worldly
perspective or philosophy, the bonds of a criminal had to embarrass
him.  Everyone knows that a fighter can hardly fight with his hands and
feet tied.  Paul had been a Hebrew of the Hebrews in his own nation
as well as being by birth a Roman citizen; he had studied at the feet of
Gamaliel, one of the most scholarly of Jews.  Paul had fought against
Christians before conversion, and against the very first century
foothold of the church in the Roman Empire and world, traveling to
many cities of the Roman Empire to put those in prison bonds that
claimed association with the name of Jesus of Nazareth the Christ.
“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in
Christ Jesus, and have no confidence the flesh {another phrase Paul
uses to describe the world and the philosophy of the world}, though I
might have confidence in the flesh.  If anyone else thinks he may have
confidence in the flesh, I more so:  circumcised the eight day of the
stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews;
concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the
church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for
Christ.”  (Philippians 3:3-7)  Paul during the missionary journeys
constantly fought with his fellow Jews and Romans in order to spread
the Gospel of Christ, sometimes literally as when he was beaten for
the faith, even left one time for dead.

“Are they Hebrews?  So am I.  Are they Israelites?  So am I.  Are
they the seed of Abraham?  So am I.  Are they ministers of Christ?
--I speak as a fool--I am more in labors more abundant, in stripes
above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From
the Jews five times I receive forty stipes minus one.  Three times I
was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was ship
wrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys
often, in perils of waters; in perils of robbers, in perils of my own
countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils
in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false
brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger
and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness--besides the
other things; what comes upon me daily:  my deep concern for all
the churches.”  (II Corinthians 11:22-28)

1-3:  In a last letter to his own son in the faith, Timothy, the
epitaph of “remember my bonds” is more in the form of “I have
fought a good fight...”  (II Timothy 4:6,7)

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is
at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I
have kept the faith...”  (II Timothy 4:6,7 KJV)

1.  “Remember My Bonds” was a reminder to first century Christians,
indeed to all Christians of all times who read and study the 14 letters
of the Apostle Paul, that Christians must rise above the worldly
philosophy which saw his bonds as a stigma. letting love of the Father
(I John 2:15-17), replace the love of the world in such matters as “lust
of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”.
2.  “Remember My Bonds” was a reminder not only that His life had
been determined and directly by and large by the will and direction of
God, “I have finished my course”; but  in spite of all these non-winning
situations as the world sees a life, Paul had:  (1) fought a good fight,
fighting not to win but to fight the good fight of faith; and (2) in spite of
all oppositions, Paul had “kept the faith”.  The faith as Paul used here
in II Timothy is very similar to the same as the Seven ONEs or bonds
of Ephesians 4:4-6.
If you have been to Scotland or studied Scottish history, in particular
of the Highlands, perhaps you are familiar with the saying from that
country of, “I wish the Brits would leave us alone, so we can fight in
peace.”  One might say that Paul strived to fight in peace; but
nonetheless always and in all places, in prison and out of prison, Paul
fought against all internal and external odds, the good fight of faith.
4.  “Remember My Bonds” was a unifying theme of the 14 letters of
the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 1:7-17 alone the word “bonds” is
mentioned 4 times.
5.  “Remember My Bonds” was both an epitaph and a plea for prayer.  
By now, Paul knew in the history of his life and as he had expressed to
his son Timothy in II Timothy that he was about to die the death of a
martyr.  
{It is not recorded in the Bible, but tradition of first century
Christian history has it that both Peter and Paul was killed by the
Roman government on the same day in Rome on crosses.}
 Paul’s
death, even like his life, he passionately desired to be for the glory of
God.  If W. O. Carver properly summarized the subject matter of
Ephesians in the title of his commentary as THE GLORY OF GOD IN
THE CHRISTIAN CALLING        , Paul made a greater generalization
as with “Remember My Bonds”, it included:  (1) “For to me to live is
Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21); (2) a plea for supporting
prayer from the churches and Christians (Philippians 1:19,20); (3)
bonds leading to the major 7 doctrines of the Bible in the Seven
ONEs; (4) completion of a good fighting course of action directed by
God; and (5) a life counter to the ways of doings of the world, and the
philosophy of the world, a life controlled and directed by things of God
the Father that would last forever.

1-4:  Some Obvious Case Histories of the Falling Away.

Case History #1:  The Presbyterian Church
.  Recent cases where
the world of the Falling Away has won out over the love of the Father.  
A Classic CASE of denominational Falling Away approximately 15
years ago was when the Presbyterian Church {really denomination}
came so far in the intolerance toward sound doctrine as to actually
make a vote on whether Christ should actually be claimed as the only
way of salvation.
Case History #2:  Hollywood Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia as
you saw recently on Dateline.  At the Hollywood Baptist Church in
Rome Georgia, and as recently presented on Dateline, where the
youth pastor became involved sexually with the wife of a church
deacon, killing the deacon in order to covet what the deacon had in the
way of a wife.  Here the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the
pride of life became very visible as first adultery was committed often
on the part of couples, and then finally murder on the part of the youth
pastor.
Case History #3:  In the village of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, twice in
approximately 35 years at the First Baptist church and more recently
at the Church of Christ.  3 men of God who loved God and were “not
of this world” were killed in reputations and careers by church
members who itching ears beliefs, and sometimes from the standpoint
of long-standing customs and traditions of over 40 years of adulthood
{remember the Falling has been going on at least since 1968, and will
last from 40-80 years}, caused them to unmercifully and violently
throw out pastors.
Last week, the termination of the pastoral ministry of the pastor of the
Church of Christ at Cloudcroft, NM after only one year of service, for
doctrinal  issues where unsound doctrine through custom and tradition
{ways of the world} won out over current sound teachings of the
Bible.  Obviously love of the Father had departed as there ceased to
be any Christian love at all, as the churches exhibited less Christian
behavior toward employees than companies would dare to do.  In at
least one case, the pastor and his family with one week notice was
kicked out of the church and parsonage, with no place to live and no
income.  Two very similar removals of the pastor at the FBC of
Cloudcroft over doctrinal issues, one Cyrus Fletcher of approximately
35 years ago and seven years ago a faithful pastor, Hugh Rogers,  of
over 17 years, both removed to heap out sound Bible teachers and in
order to heap in itching ears Bible teachers.
Case History #4:  At the Lexington Park Baptist Church in
Lexington Park, Maryland
where the loss of doctrinal moorings such
as on evangelism, “the outreach for the unreached”, departed from the
foundation history of the 1950’.  No spirit in worship could be detected
as in the foundational days when I served as youth pastor.  A secular
educational program wagged the dog instead of the tail; worldly and
established people ran the church instead of the pastor; and tolerance
for all beliefs had gone so far that, in the words of Peter Marshall,
“The people stood for nothing and fall for anything.”
And it would be possible to go on and on with current examples,
illustrating how deeply into the Falling Away are churches and church
members.  Many churches you know of where “Den of Thieves” and
“Hideout for Bad Habits” has become the norm instead of the
exception.   One of the best gauges of how far intolerance for sound
doctrine has gone, is the vast number of cases where you hear that
the church has run off their pastor.

1-5:  THE CALL FOR SEPARATION, the individual Christian from
the Falling Away Church Group.

Sorry to encourage more splits, but it is the words of God in II
Timothy 3:5, “from such persons turn away”, that advice you thusly in
order to prevent yourself being a victim of the Falling Away.  The
“church” and all Christians are losing the battle, and according to the
Word of God from Jesus in Matthew 24:12 and Paul in II Timothy 4:
3,4, this loss is inevitable.  The world is winning out over Love of the
Father on the group or church level; however individual Christians on
the individual level can still minimize the bad controlling influences of
lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and individually
during the Falling Away working out their own salvations, like Paul,
ending the course of life with great gain that abides forever.
2.  How to minimize the influence of the love of the world in the
individual Christian life, fighting the good fight of faith like the Apostle
Paul.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of
His might {in these case histories where the church body or
majority of the church are well into the 5 stages of the Falling
Away, you will find little expression of even a desire to “be strong
in the Lord”--many strong physically and in status and reputation,
even strong in  net worth and appearance but not in the LORD
God.} (Ephesians 6:10)

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil.”  (Ephesians 6:11)

The fight is against the world order run by Satan and Satan himself;
and apart from wisdom and strength in the Lord, we are not smart
enough to be a match against such an experienced, powerful, and
subtle enemy.  {He, remember, is a fallen angel.}  And true although
“He that is in us is greater than he who is in the world “ {in the world
order}, we must do something and do it often and aggressively:  (1)
first “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”; and then (2)
second         PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD        , that is
the only way you can stand, and having done all stand, against the
wiles of the devil.
It is not to say that there are not Christian and spiritual fights against
other people {children of this world who are often wiser than the
children of light}, knowing always that “they who will live godly in Christ
Jesus shall suffer persecution”  (II Timothy 3:12); and even fellow
church members and Christians can be “despisers of good” (II
Timothy 3:3) when good Christian behavior sheds light on their
unsound doctrines of Christian living.
3.  On the group level of churches, denominations, and Christianity
inevitably the Falling Away will win on the group level, not the same as
for every Christian individually.  What really has been going on in all
the current case histories of churches above is what Jesus said about
the Falling Away, “As sin will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”  
(Matthew 24:12)  Keep the love of the Father in first place above the
love of the world by mediation, prayer, and practice on the seven
doctrinal ONEs of the Bible.
4.  Working out your own salvation with fear and trembling leads to the
greater gain over “cares of this world” and “the deceitfulness of
riches”, leading to treasures in heaven that abide forever.
5.  Start right now with a serious, comprehensive, and prayerful study
and practice of the Life and Letters of the Apostle Paul.  This is
doctrine for life and living, not for the accumulation of knowledge
alone.  You are going to be amazed at the depth of the writings of the
Apostle Paul that you have never seen before, what members at the
Hollywood Baptist Church did not see, of the churches at Cloudcroft
have never seen as a larger group.  Truths that are part of the great
salvation of God called the One Baptism, truths that could have
prevented these cases of complete Falling Away.

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another
daily, while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin.”  (Hebrews 3:12,13)

1-6:  When you “spare no effort to make fast with bonds of peace
the unity which the spirit gives” (Ephesians 4:3), you are not only
exercising the only means of real unity between all Christians,
that of the Seven ONEs; but you are providing unity {more
integrity} to your own life by actually putting on the whole armor
of God.  You will notice, if you look carefully at the armor of God
that is to be put on, there is a one to one match with the Seven
ONEs of the major doctrines of the Bible.

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one
hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God
and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you
all.”  (Ephesians 4:4-6)

1.  The only grounds for real unity among all Christians is an inherent
unity given by the Holy Spirit of God, never from man made
organizations or movements; and it is based on the 7 Major doctrines
of the Bible:  one church body of all Christians, the approximately 20
times in the New Testament where the other 100 it is not talking about
the local church; one Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of all Christians;
one faith, both a personal process and a statement of beliefs; one
baptism, one salvation; and one God the Father, first the Father of the
Lord Jesus Christ.
2.  To properly understand some of this astonding conclusions from
the Word of God in proper perspective of the total Bible, you must
continue your study into the Appendix of Life and Letters of Paul, in
particular on "Group Self Denial versus Individual Separation" {Christ
for Individuals, A-1} and A-2, "A Harmony of Life."  More details and
possible downloads See the
Progress Chart of Life and Letters of
Paul.

1-7:  It requires Bible convictions like above in Hebrews 3:12,13 to
explain the “why” and “how” of such impressive and talented
young adults in their fall away from the Living God. {At the same
time it is a falling away from the sound doctrine of the Bible and of
Christ, it is what Paul calls in the 5 stages of the Falling Away of II
Timothy 4:4,5,
“For the time will come when they will not endure
sound doctrine....”}
Real church and denominational CASES like those listed above, in the
words of the Prosecutor in Rome Georgia that such murder and
adultery among very active church members is hard to understand and
explain is simple to explain from the Bible.  You can not see in the
heart of an individual church member, total church, or denomination
the Falling Away process of “because sin shall abound, the love of
many will wax cold.”  That sin has been abounding in our environment
for the last few years is self evident by looking at one obvious sin in
the world and among church members, that is the sin of taking God’s
name in vain.  It is jarringly repeated time and time again, and almost
casually for emphasis, by hundreds of actors on TV; and it would
seem that writers know no other way to make a point without the
taking of God’s name in vain.  So prevalent and commonly accepted
is this still condemned violation of one of the 10 commandments of
God, that there exists an abbreviation for in OMG.
By the time it becomes apparent that church members and churches
have become intolerant toward sound doctrine {“will not endure sound
doctrine”, II Timothy 4:4,5), abounding sin and love waxing cold in the
heart of the CASES below has invisibly already taken place.  In other
words, it is too late when it becomes visible in actions of unsound
doctrine, as for example at the extreme of murder and adultery.
 
{There are many less subtle acts of unsound doctrine, like for example
in hate of the heart or adulterous lust of the heart, running off pastors
of sound doctrine and heaping up pastors and other Bible teachers of
“itching ears” teachings, taking God’s name in vain, and many of the
bad habits of church members cautioned against in II Timothy 3:2-9.}
 
And by the time, church members have come to the 4th stage of the
Falling Away, “the turning away from truth”
The time came in the life of each of these churches and real case
histories of America below where many individuals departed from
living doctrines of the Bible and the living God; in fact, if you really
knew these churches and were willing to overcome community
concepts about “good people”, you would probably recognize that
these fallen members are only representative of the majority in those
particular churches.  You might say these are the ones that got caught,
or rather the ones that could not longer cover up their in their  hideout
of bad habits.  
Years ago when SunGrist_Bible wrote blogs on Ted Haggard, trying
to make clear that the falling away of the once leading evangelist of
churches in America, according to Falwell, was  only representative of
the Falling Away by the majority of  his fellow church members and the
denominational movement of Community churches.  To put it bluntly
the love of the world has overcome the love of the Father in the same
churches where certain members have overtly been caught.  It
continues with the twin influences of the Falling Away and the
continuing mystery of the rising tide of lawlessness and sin, to more
lust of the flesh, more lust of the eyes, and more pride of life into
abundant fruition in the life of church members.
1.  Over a period of years while active in Hollywood Baptist Church,
and in spite of active church activities, they became victims of the
Great Apostasy called the Falling away by “an evil heart of unbelief” in
The Living God.
2.  In spite of religion and church attendance, they departed from the
Living God.  The ease and repetitive nature of the current way the
name of God is taken in vain, and allows the writers and actors to
publicly on TV take the name of God in vain, indicates among many
other factors that a little god in the mind only has been substituted for
the great and holy Living God.
3.  Casting stones, no; because we can look and say “but by the grace
of God, there go I {not superficially being satisfied with only this as an
answer or more like in most churches today as an excuse}, exhorting
ourselves every single day with the great truth, assurances, and
doctrines of the Bible.
4.  Sin and the world will enter your life, your church every time the
doors are opened so that there is always the pressure to “be
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin”--alias the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--and the self-exhortations
through doctrine and prayer, must be just as great as is the
relentlessness of the world and sin!   “...lest any of you become
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
And you have probably noticed that all of these last quotes are
summarizing quotes from the books of the Apostle Paul, so that while
you were being introduced from the Bible on how to live sound
doctrine, you were learning about the Life and Letters of the Apostle
Paul.

1-8:  Sin is Abounding in American Life and in Church Life,
obvious Signs of the Falling Away from God, Christ, and the Bible.

1.  The sin of taking God’s name in vain is becoming more and more
an accepted practice to the extent that any day now we might find
OMG in our dictionaries.  This is just about the worse sin there is as it
indicates both no real respect for the Living God nor love for this Our
Father in heaven.  Right here you can see immediately why Jesus
taught that love for the Father during the last days of the Falling Away
would be inversely proportional to the increase in sin.  Sin goes up
and love for the Father goes down.  How can you measure it since
both sin and love for the Father are often more invisible than visible.  
{Sin like in the case of the couples in the Hollywood Baptist Church
was invisible for months and years before it showed up in overt acts
of adultery and murder, but before that it was invisible in “lust” which
Jesus says is also a violation of the commandments.}  You can count
on the fact that many more of the church members were violating
these commandments internally than were visible, and still are!  
Unfortunately, even after initial regeneration {the new birth} the evil
spirit remains in the heart of the believer, that spirit of which Pastor
James writes in James 4:5, “The spirit within us lusteth to envy.”  Even
before church members blame Satan for abounding sin in their heart
and life, they should look inward at the human spirit that so easily and
quickly lusts and covets to envy.  Obviously the youth pastor at
Hollywood envied the wife of the deacon, even telling him just before
the stabbing to death with a knife, that he “wanted what you have.”
2.  The sin of divorce is abounding in society and churches.  Years
ago in our churches, the milestone was passed of over 50% of church
members being divorced.  {This is not a fatal sin to the extent of no
salvation, and certainly not a reason to be kicked out of a church as
some denominations believe; however it is a sin that must be
recognized as a sin, and confessed as a sin to God through Christ by
the divorcees, before there can be any forgiveness by God and the
cleanses of “all unrighteousness.”. Get it behind you if you have not
already!}
3.  The sin of homosexuality is abounding in society and invading the
churches to the extent that some denominations now allow gays and
lesbians to be pastors.   In fact in that marvelous treatment of the sins
of civilizations of Romans 1, homosexuality is given as one of the
main signs that any society has “refused to honor God as God”,
thereby God gives them up.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,
God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which
are not fitting...”  (Romans 1:28)

4.  The sin of truth “cover up” is an abounding sin today in American
society and church life.  You know what I mean, in education, in
government, in business, and in religion cover up has been shown,
about the same time as the economic practice, to be a common
practice among all national leaders.  The stress on appearance over
reality, of impression over truth, and the public relations of ad
propaganda has lead thousands and millions of Americans into the
loss or minimization of their retirements.  It is a contagious sin.  As
the churches stress appearance and impression over reality and truth,
so goes the rest of the nation in education and government and
business.  Hopefully, you are not saying, what were they covering up,
and where was the sin?  The cover up was of greed, and the
abounding sin was a nation wide preference for dishonesty over truth.
5.  That brings us to another abounding sin in American society and
churches, that of a lack of truth that runs all the way from lying and
dishonesty to in the words of Elton Trueblood, “intellectual honesty”.  
Paul chose in the giving of the 5 stages of the Falling Away to call it “a
turning away from truth”.  It is the ultimate in self-denial of the sin,
without confession and forgiveness, in your personal life and in that of
your church!

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine
{intolerance toward sound doctrine}, but according to their own
desires
{a movement is well under way in churches to replace
purpose driven Spirit and Christ with purpose driven “desires’
},
because they have itching ears
{pastors, Bible teachers, and
church members have itching ears that desire to selectively hear
only what pats them on the back
}, they will heap up for
themselves teachers
{this is a grassroots movement in all the
churches where church members heap out pastors of sound
doctrine, faithful in the Word and the preaching of the whole
counsel of God, and heap in these itching ears teachers that will
soothe their sins}
; and they will turn their ears away from the
truth
{the fatal 4th stage of the Falling Away where American
creativity and initiative finds so many ways to replace the truth of
the sound doctrines of the Bible for lack of truth}
, and be turned
into fables.  
{this is the end result of the Falling Away, the Roman
Catholics did it years ago, and the Mormons did it with a
substitution of 4 unsound Bibles for the known Word of God, the
Bible.}  
(II Timothy 4:3,4)

NOTE:  That will preach as we preacher-boys use to say at Ouachita
Baptist, Baylor, and Southwestern Seminary.  And if you want to study
the Life and Letters of Paul apart from such preaching, you had better
remove the 14 letters of the Apostle Paul form your Christian Bible;
for the very nature of the writings of Paul, as Word of God--divine in
origin, absolute in authority, sufficient in message, and high fidelity in
communication--is to preach through teaching.  Paul is always
strong on application to real life.  He was a scholar of the Old
Testament and of Hebrew and Roman learning, but also he was a
tentmaker that supported himself during the missionary journeys
so that he would not be a burden to the churches.  You are
advised to put aside this study of the Life and Letters of Paul right
now in the first session if you are not willing to see (1) teaching in
good preaching, and (2) preaching in good teaching.  
PREACHING THE BIBLE as suggested years ago by Andrew
Blackwood, where teaching and preaching go hand in hand and
always based on support of Scriptures, unfortunately with all
other sound Christian doctrine has fallen by the way side during
the Falling Away.  What many call preaching and teaching is more
in the “itching ears” category of that stage of the Falling Away,
and no longer can you count either on the majority opinion of
church members for sound doctrine nor on the church leaders
who have substituted a Popular Gospel of Prosperity.  {Please
see “Popular Preachers of Prosperity”, chapter 11 of BIBLE
REPORTS FOR BELIEVING, available on Amazon.com}

6.  The abounding sin of I Corinthians 14:36, with the related sins of
priority for Tongues over Prophesy, where churches and other groups
take the stance that the Word of God came to them only or that the
Word of God came out of their group.  That is one way to get unity
among a large body of Christians, but not recommended in the Bible;
and certainly not part of the teachings of Paul in Ephesians as a
means to output maximum effort to promote peace, based on unity,
among Christians.  It would almost seem like we must again wield the
sword, that is the Bible as the Sword of the Spirit, in order to get this
peace and unity among Christians.  At least, it is part of our fight in
spiritual warfare!
7.  The abounding sin of fighting against “flesh and blood” by
fundamentalists that split the Southern Baptist Convention into 3
denominations, killed the careers and reputations of many pastors and
professors, conservatives but labeled by fundamentalists, in order to
justify their bad behavior as moderates.  Such men as Criswell,
Rogers, and Stanley--all originally from other denominations but
lusting after the larger churches of the SBC--in efforts to
propagandize us that had grown up in southern baptist churches,
colleges, and seminaries--even RAs and youth camps--excused THE
FIGHT as against “principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in
high places” (Ephesians 6:10), falsely with a cover-up of untruth
labeling these men of God as “moderates”, claiming it was a battle of
principles on verbal literalism when in reality, as we know who lived
through it, that it really was a battle for literalism of the Scoffield Notes
on eschatology.  You know it too, if you are willing to be intellectually
honest!  Many of the present leaders in the Convention can not and
dare not admit this as the Convention is dying, fighting and a good
spirit of evangelism as testified to in church history and the history of
denominations, just like love of the Father and love of the world and
other sins, can not profitably co-exist.  Many of these fundamentalists
today, in their continuing efforts of the Falling Away to “turn away from
truth” will not even admit {another sign of self-denial} that W. A.
Criswell, acknowledged leader of the fundamentalists, said to Bill
Moyer in a television interview that “we are going to keep fighting until
one side {fundamentalists and moderates) or the other wins”.
The fighting practiced by the Apostle Paul was based on principles
and doctrines, and a fight for truth against the lies, half-truth, and
deception of Satan; and it was not a fight against flesh and blood as
was the fight of the fundamentalists against the so-called moderates
of the Convention whose reputations and careers they destroyed.  
The example of fighting advised against the Falling Away in this Bible
session is also against the principles, doctrines, against Satan, lack of
truth, lack of love of God the Father, and against worldly philosophies
and behavior in the churches of the SBC and of America.  It is a fight
against which we lost a major battle when the fundamentalists took
control of the Convention.  It is a fight that we can not win as a group
only as individuals {in other words Christianity and the church will not
win against the Falling Away}; but on which we must continue to fight
based on principalities and doctrines until Christ Comes again, and
then the win is total and the full extent of the victory can be known!

1-9:  Love of the Father is Invisible being pushed out as sin floods
into the Christian and church life.

1.  Love of the Father just like love of the “world” can not coexist as
predominate in the life and church at the same time as habitual sin.  In
the name of reality and truth, overlooking the excuses of most
Christians and churches today to make excuse for sin, this is         
HABITUAL sin, HABITUAL Love of the Father and Habitual Love of
the world.  A trick of Satan, and you will hear it often today from Mr.
Average Christian and church leaders of “we have our faults as we are
sinners like all the world, and at least we are saved sinners, trying to
do our best” {this has the appeal of American democracy and extreme
toleration, but can you imagine what Paul and John would have
replied?}; No, false premise and conclusion, habitual sin, like habitual
love and worldliness, is not the same as being a sinner by nature and
an occasional sinner.  With the usage of “habitual”, we are talking
about a pattern of life, consistent, and each week, not an occasional
sin or sinful nature that still lives in the heart after initial regeneration.
2.  The extreme example of an intolerance for habitual sin is seen as
near the END, just before the Second Coming of Christ and before
the completion of the church’s Falling Away, God withdraws the Holy
Spirit from earth {II Thessalonians 2:7}.  The Bible teaches that
habitual sin in the life of a believer “grieves” God the Holy Spirit. {“And
do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the
day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)} When the Holy Spirit is
withdrawn, Satan is released during the Falling Away to do his worst;
and the continuing teachings of II Thessalonians about these end
times is that at the same time, there will be (1) the appearance on the
world scene of the son of perdition, and (2) a peaking in the rapid rise
of the mystery of the rising tide of sin and lawlessness.

1-10:  “Believe and Be Baptized” is the same as the One Great
Salvation of God, the One Baptism of the seven major doctrines
of Ephesians 4:4-6.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly
equipped for every good work.”  (II Timothy 3:16,17)

You will fail to see where Paul is coming from if you overlook his
perspective, by the way the only correct perspective, that He was
writing in all 14 of his letters, “inspired” Words from God, alias
Scriptures by the inspiration of God.  And therefore being Scriptures
from God, based on the authority of an Apostle, then they make
demands on the life of any that is a Creature of God, those demands
above being summarized as (1) doctrine, (2) correction, and (3)
instruction in righteousness.  If you treat the study of the letters of
Paul as in the category of doctoral dissertations, only a scholarly
dissertation, you will miss the primary application as “profitable” for
life and living.  Granted they are extremely intellectual in understanding
as well as spirit filled, meaty and satisfying; but the “rest of the story”
is that they are profitable for life and living.
1.  Doctrine {Bible teachings} for Living and Life.
2.  Doctrine {Bible teachings and meat} for Eternal life with the Living
God, God the Father.
3.  Doctrine {Bible and Christian maturing} for learning, practice, and
sharing.
4.  Doctrine {Bible and something to hold onto} for making decisions
of life and the church.

NOTEs:  Much of this has only been listed and abbreviated to
give you an overall exposure to the Life and Letters of Paul, with
the implications for you and your church; before a more thorough
look and exegesis of each of these 14 letters from the Apostle
Paul:  Ephesians, Colossians, Hebrews, Philippians, I and II
Corinthians; I and II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Romans, I and II
Thessalonians, and Galatians.

For further explanation of the Bible on these difficult to
understand statements, and in the light of the world today, please
go to the Appendix of Life and Letters of Paul explantions, A1 and
A2.  
See the Study Progress Chart.

,