Bible Study Notes (11-2-08)

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FRIENDSHIP (PART 1)

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

I speak, this time, not so much as taking one text and diving into it, searching it out, but taking a topic or idea and searching through Scripture to see what it has to say. The topic upon which I shall speak is friendship. Friendship!? What about sin? God’s wrath? Hypocrites in the church? Where’s the good stuff!?! Well… this will touch upon those so don’t worry, I’ve not gone all seeker-sensitive squishy on you. I do want, through Scripture, to give you a boost in your friendships as God would have it. Just as Scripture is useful for rebuke, it is useful for building up, and that’s what I’d like to do.
 There are five examples of friendship I’d like to touch upon, some good, some not so good. From there, give some biblical wisdom in how we are to be friends. Now there are more examples than just these five! These examples come from both the Old and New Testaments; encompass men and women, groups and duos. So in that I pray that no one will feel excluded from this lesson. I’ve a lot of ground to cover so I shall not tarry… we will be jumping back and forth to keep these points in some kind of logical order. Warm up your thumbs. Bible, check. Spiral, check. Highlighter, check. Now dig deep.


PAUL AND DEMAS/PAUL AND MARK
First I want to go to the golden thread that goes through all the points. For that we will compare Paul’s friendship with Demas and Paul’s friendship with Mark. Let’s look at Demas first.

Colossians 4:14, “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.”

Philemon 1:23-24, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.”

2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.”

What happened? He (Demas) loved the world. There is no other mention of Demas in scripture than these three verses. We don’t know his background, his specific capacity in ministry. We do know in Colossians, friend! In Philemon, friend! In 2 Timothy, deserter. The Greek word gives a sense of total abandonment. 2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter.  He’s sitting in a Roman dungeon! Scattered in the book are Paul’s longing for his friends, deep, deep joy when they come, and his heartache at being forsaken. Not being left with promises of prayers as one went out to work the harvest, but left for the world. Now, in a twist of irony we see Mark’s name come up later. Incase you wondered that’s the same Mark who wrote the second Gospel. But here’s the funny thing. Many years ago, Paul, Barnabas, and Mark had a falling out. To the point where Paul wanted NOTHING to do with Mark. Acts 15:36-39 tells the story, “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus,…” Later, in writing Colossians Paul makes a rather lukewarm mention of him, “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him),…” I’m not sure what “concerning whom you have received instructions” means but that’s a very… grey way to phrase something! Then… we at last come to 2 Timothy where Paul, just after talking about Demas says of Mark, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” What!? Whoa! What happened!? Again… we don’t know. But! I find it very safe to say this: Demas’ love was never truly for Christ. Mark’s love was for Christ. The bond, which though it be strained, cannot be broken is the bond between two who love Christ. Understand that clearly, a TRUE friend MUST love Christ. There’s a lot with that statement. A whole lot. I trust you see the implications. … … … Real quick a few scriptures to back that up:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.’”

1 John 2:15-17, “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

You, who are Christian… Try chatting with a non-believer? What do you talk about? What is there? Getting drunk? Going clubbing? Gambling? Obscene movies and music? Gossip? This, that, and the other sin!? We had better be sharing the gospel with such people. That’s what should be on our lips. And with those who are saved!? What rich and fulfilling and life-changing things we can discuss by virtue of the Holy Spirit! There are Christians with whom I have had conversations that have helped change my life and I don’t even think they knew it would when they said it! I am not advocating the shunning of all non-believers, I have been aided by those who aren’t Christians (yet?), but how the aid would be even more blessed with that of Christ’s touch. True love for the true God as a tie that binds is the golden thread woven throughout this message. This principle is the most foundational. Before you think this is some sort of conclusion I have jumped to without any other wiser man to back me up, let me quote puritan Richard Baxter, “Friendship must be cemented by piety. A wicked man cannot be a true friend; and, if you befriend their wickedness, you show that you are wicked yourselves. Pretend not to love them, if you favor their sins, and seek not their salvation. By favoring their sins, you will show your enmity to God; and then how can you love your brother? If you be their best friends, help them against their worst enemies.”

LESSON: A true friend loves Christ and it is that bond which ties the two together. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
• This is not an easy teaching. In light of these things, we may have to restructure a lot of habits. Especially with whom we spend our time and what we discuss with others. How do we implement this? Examine a relationship you have now. Use that to talk through the concept.

• Which is of greater value, your friends or your friendships?

• How are we to discern between immaturity in the faith and lack of faith?

• How do we encourage younger believers to live holy lives without either discouragement or false hope? 

• If we were to experience something similar to the relationship of Paul and Demas, what would the biblical response be?

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