Village Missions Sunday Focus on Rural Missions Ephesians 4:11-16

Village Missions Sunday

Focus on Rural Missions

Ephesians 4:11-16

 

 

Good Morning! SO. Go ahead and grab your Bibles with me this morning and turn to Ephesians chapter 4. We are going to be taking a break this morning from our series through the Gospel of Luke to look at Gods design for the local church and what our role in that is and what role Village Missions plays in it as well.

Who here had heard the name Village Missions? Who here has a general idea of who they are and what they do? Who here knows exactly who they are and what they do? Village Missions mission statement is that they exist to produce spiritually vital churches in Rural North America.

The text I want us to read this morning will show us what it means to become a spiritually vital church in our community. So, we are going to read from Ephesians chapter 4, verses 11-16. Grab your Bibles, follow along with me. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though more important than which translation you read along with, is that you do in fact read for yourself what the Word of God says.

Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit writes:

And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by waves and carried about by every doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

 

          May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

The first thing I see in this passage is that God has given us all the things we need, people, gifts, each other, to grow the local church into a spiritually vital church. A lot of people think that it’s just the pastor’s job to grow and build the church.

But we see that has given the church more than just the pastor. As the pastor, I have very specific purposes and very specific things that God has called me to, and I will be held accountable for. But it is not solely my responsibility to grow and build the church. It is all of our responsibility.

The church is what and who helps the church grow. I have been around when new people have come to a church. Sometimes they are there for a day, sometimes they are around for a couple weeks, sometimes a couple months, but they leave because of someone or someone’s in the church.

At one church, we had many families start to come into the church, young families with kids. Exactly what the church said they wanted. Only the inner influencers at that church chased away every single family that came through the doors. Families didn’t dress or live the way they were supposed to. Kids didn’t sit down, shut up and stand quietly off to the side. The church actively, though likely unknowingly, stopped that church from growing.

The other option is that people come in those church doors and the people in the church help them stay. Bring them in, welcome them. Make them feel like the church is happy for them to be here. Help them to hear the Gospel and to grow in maturity of Jesus Christ.

That is the responsibility of each and everyone of us in this room. One of the things that Ephesians 4 makes clear, both in our passage this morning and back in verses 3-6 is that the unity of his church is absolutely vital to the church being spiritually vital.

Unity. Its one of the things that we have talked about and prayed for for the entire 2 ½ plus years I have been here. Unity is something that we are continually striving to get better at. We are a community Church. We are not a specific denomination. We hold the Bible up as our standard. With that, people from all different theological backgrounds and no theological backgrounds.  We are not going to agree on all the different details, and we don’t have to. You hear me say it often, but it bears repeating often. Unity is not uniformity.

Hear that. WE don’t all have to believe all the same things. We don’t all have to live the same life. We don’t have to look a certain look. We have to believe and be united in one thing. And that is Jesus Christ. We have one core set of beliefs that classify us as Christians.

We are saved by the grace of God alone. That grace is poured out through a gift of God called faith. And it is through that faith alone in the one and only Jesus Christ alone, fully man, fully God, lived a perfect, sinless life, died a death in our place to pay the penalty for our sins, through that faith that Jesus Christ reconciles us to God the father and grants us eternal forgiveness and eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. We believe that this is revealed only through the Word of God alone, that Word given to us by the scriptures that are combined into what we have and is known as the Bible. None of this is or can be deserved by us. It is done for the glory of God alone and by the glory and holiness of God alone.

We believe that core group of beliefs and everything else is secondary. We believe those core beliefs and we can rightfully call ourselves Christians. We believe those core beliefs and we are united as a church family and as the chosen children of God. We are united in our standing before God. Justified by faith. Justified through Christs perfect righteousness. In united in that we are all disciples of Christ.

You know, I use that word “disciples,” very purposely. New Village Missions Executive Director John Adams asks this question; “Do you think like Jesus, respond like Jesus, trust God like Jesus does?”

We are disciples of Jesus Christ. This is a lifelong goal and a lifelong process. God is always offering opportunities for us to grow. But we can’t do it alone. We were never meant to do it alone.

Paul makes it clear in Ephesians that the church is to be “No Christian Left Behind.” WE build up the body until we ALL attain the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

          Christ is our standard. We cannot and will not meet that standard here in this lifetime. But we work towards and we desire for that progress. The Holy Spirit works in us and if we are truly Gods children, we will see continual growth and maturing over our lifetime. And we will see it together. And of course, it won’t be like a rocket, a straight line moving up, instead our sanctification is more like the stock market. It will have us and downs. We will rise and we will fall. But over time, we will always see it trending towards that maturity and that unity in the faith.

We work together, walking with each other from the beginning of our walk with Christ. We don’t start immediately mature. I know when I became a Christian, I knew very little of the Bible. Most of us are in the same boat. And because we don’t have that anchor in place, that foundation set of the Word of God, we are susceptible to false teachings. We are susceptible to passion and persuasive abilities to deceive. We are susceptible to those who would play off our emotions and take us down the wrong path.

We already have a natural human tendency to believe what we already agree with. We already have a natural human tendency to believe what we want to believe instead of what’s true.  We see this all the time. Do you have a bible teacher, a pastor online, or an author that you really like? Be careful, because we tend to put blinders on to what they teach and ignore if they say something unbiblical. Worse yet, if they start sound and go down the path and end up completely unbiblical, we ignore the problems with the new teaching and when confronted with it, we point to the older, more solid stuff. My point is this; if there is anyone that you let teach you or influence you and you cannot find anything that you disagree with them on, you just made them an idol.

Focus on the Bible. In context. Focus on learning and knowing his Word. That’s how we get to know Jesus. John Adams makes the point that The Better you know Christ and the more entrusted every area of life to his will, the less likely you will be deceived. Know and Trust his Word. BE sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit but be cautious. Only Jesus had a 100% true belief system. We only get a diminishing percentage of error.

The more we know Gods Word, the more we can speak the truth to others. But we have all been on both the giving and receiving end of speaking truth in a very unloving way. We unfortunately see it too often. I see it around here more often than I would like. I have also been guilty of it myself more often than I would like. We don’t always realize we are doing this when we do it though, so I want to say that if I have spoken truth to you or spoken anything for that matter, in an unloving way, I am sorry.

Paul here is talking about more than just the words that come out of our mouth though. The word used for truth here is a verb. It basically means that we are to be truthing in love. Our Words, our actions, our attitude even when we are speechless, our whole lifestyle, living out truth and love. Again, I know we can all agree that God gives us plenty of opportunities to improve in this area and to build unity.

If we have truth without love, we have hurt feelings, anger, and so much more. If we have so called love without truth, we have pretty lies. We give false hope. We see this in some many portrayals of Christianity in our culture. Christians are often only portrayed one of two ways.

First is that bigoted, close minded, hate filled protestor that says that everyone except them is going to hell. Now, they have some truth in that, in regard to we need to repent of our sins when we come to Christ. Rejecting Christ and embracing our sins will unfortunately lead us down the road to eternity in Hell. The other portrayal is those who claim that none of that matters and that every one gets to go to heaven or as long as you’re a nice person, you get to go to heaven, or that all religions lead to the same path towards heaven. They have what looks like love, but there is no truth there. Jesus makes the claim, the true claim, that He is the way, the truth and the life, and the only way to the Father is through him. You can’t have it both ways.

Truthing in love can and will be hard. But that what God calls his church to and it’s a sign of that spiritual maturity. And Paul is showing us what Gog has called his church to look like.

Discipleship.

Truthing in Love.

Unity in Christ

Growing in Maturity.

Using our gifts to build up the saints and to do the work of Gods Kingdom.

 

Gifts that Christ has given the church. Pastors and teachers to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. You. You are the saints. You are here to do the work of the ministry. To walk and grow with each other. Make Bangor Community Church a spiritually vital church. You determine what this church looks like, how it acts, how it is seen in the community.

If you are here because God called you here, then you have a vital role to play in this church. If you are here because God called, you here you are responsible to use your gifts for the betterment of the church. You play a vital role in making this a spiritually vital church in our rural community.

First, and I’m not talking chronologically, but first, we make ourselves and our church family more spiritually mature. We walk together and grow to act more and more Christlike. We gather together and we worship together.

I said it recently and Ill say it again this week. A common anthem over the past 6 months with COVID and the church shutdowns and what not, the anthem is that the church is not the building, it’s the people. And that’s true but its not the whole truth. The word that is used for church in the New Testament means gathering. So more accurately, the church is the gathering of Gods people.

We gather to preach the Gospel. We learn and teach and study the Word of God. WE preach the Word.

 

The second thing we do. We love the people. We look out from this church; we look out from the building and we look at the community around us. We look at our family and our friends. We look at our co workers and all those we know that don’t know Christ.

Each and every one of us is responsible for showing and more importantly, telling those we know about the good news of the Gospel. Each and every one of us is responsible for praying for our friends, neighbors, loved ones, the Bible even says we are all responsible for praying for our enemies and those who don’t like as well. We are to love the People.

 

You know, one of the mottos that I fell in love with from Village Missions, and I cling to this, and use this as one of my guides. They say our job as Village Missionaries is to Preach the Word and Love the People. That’s what I just described.

Someone asked this week, “IF we don’t Bangor, who will?” There is so much truth in that question. Most rural communities are forgotten places. Most rural communities the non-hyperbolic answer is that outside of their own community, literally no one will be praying for them.

This one of the benefits to Village Missions. Its an organization, a web of churches in rural communities that can and do pray for each other. And they make it so easy to pray for each other. In our bulletin each week, we include the Village Missionaries of the week. The give a brief description of their field and then give a few brief prayer requests. They include in their communications, Stories from the Field. These are actual stories sent in by Village Missionaries about the work that God is doing on those fields. This way you can see how to pray and see the answer to those prayers.

Their quarterly Newsletter called Country Matters gets sent out as well, highlighting Village Missionaries and the mission. This most recent one talks about the retirement of Executive Director Brian Wechsler and the new Director, John Adams.

AS you all walk in the front, you will see the work in progress map I’ve got going on. That is a map of all the Village Missions fields throughout the country. These are rural or formerly rural in a few cases, rural communities that are all connected. They pray for each other. They know and share the unique challenges that come with rural ministry. They know the struggles and the blessings. The know the opportunities and the joys of seeing friends and family come to know the LORD and the heartache of seeing families destroyed, communities torn apart and disunity in the church.

IF you wonder if there is anyone outside of Bangor praying for us. There is. 230 communities throughout North America. 230 communities that Village missions serves plus numerous others that receive the Village Missions material. All praying for Bangor Community Church and this community.

Praying for the saints for each and everyone of us to build up the body of Gods church. Remember, Paul tells the Ephesians, no family member left behind, until we all attain the unity of the faith.

We sow the see of the Gospel. We go out and make disciples. We preach the Word and Love the People. We do that and God grows his church. In the book of Acts, it says that God added to his church daily.

IF we do Gods work, if we use the gifts that God gave us to use for the building up of the body of Christ, our local church, Bangor Community Church, will grow into a spiritually vital, spiritually healthy church.

And Gods church, the universal church will grow in numbers. God will bring the increase. We sow the seeds and he bring the growth. Numerically, that may or may not our local church. But we know that his church will increase, his people will come to know him and that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.

After I pray, I’ve got a few Village Missions videos to play, maybe take 10 minutes total.

Let’s Pray.

 

 

 

Guest Sermon- Dave Delle- Gideon 6 & 7, God’s Man of Valor, part 3

Daniel 1:1-8 God of all Nations: Introduction and Background

Daniel 1:1-8

God of all Nations

Introduction and Background

 

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to the Book of Daniel. We finished up our series through 1 & 2 Timothy, called Life in the Local Church, right before Easter. Today we are starting a new series through the book of Daniel that I am calling God of All Nations.

As you all know, my philosophy in preaching is to go through a book of the Bible, line by line, verse by verse and look at both the immediate context and the bigger picture. I do try to alternate between Old Testament and New Testament books, and I do that, partly so that I don’t just end up going through Paul’s letters and a Gospel every once in a while.

And so, going through some of these other books challenges me and I hope, they will challenge you too. Now, Daniel is unique. It is part Historical, that is where we are going to spend the first long chunk of our series. And It then is part prophecy, that is why, in the Christian Bible, it is placed in the prophets. Because of the prophecies and because of the lens that we view those prophecies in, Daniel can be a very divisive book if we let it be. But we are not going to let it be. Suffice it to say, that we wont all agree on what the prophecies say and what they mean, especially in todays world and with todays current events.

Daniel is also unique in that it is written in two different languages. Daniel 1:1 through chapter 2, verse 3 is written in Hebrew, as is Chapters 8 through 12. The middle section there, chapter 2, verse 4, through chapter 7 is written in Aramaic. Now, Hebrew was the language of the Jews, the language of Israel. Aramaic was the official and the common language if the Babylonian empire.

That leads us to some historical context regarding the book of Daniel. Now, this book was written, despite recent scholarly suggestions to the contrary, in the neighborhood of 530 BC. So that’s 500 years before the birth of Christ. It starts however, back in 605 BC. So, the book of Daniel spans about 70 years.

To understand what happens in 605 BC, we need to go back even further in Israel’s history. Under the Kingship of David and then, his son Solomon, 400 years prior, Israel was more united and more powerful than ever. Then, shortly after the death of Solomon, Israel split into to countries. The kingdom of Israel in the North, comprising of 10 of the 12 tribes. Then there was the Kingdom of Judah in the south, comprising of Benjamin and Judah.

Both kingdoms fell into apostasy, idolatry and general unrepentant sin and divided, they were both weaker militarily and because of the sin, they were subject to the wrath and judgment from God. Israel fell first, to the Assyrian army roughly around 730 BC. Judah lasted another 130 plus years, though they too fell, this time to the Babylonians with various levels of conquership happening between 605 BC and 587 BC.

Daniel was presumed to be around 15 years old in 605 BC when he and his friends, which we will get to in a moment, where captured in Jerusalem and hauled off to Babylon. So, he spoke Hebrew there. And as he lived for 70 plus years in Babylon, serving the courts and the king, he learned Aramaic pretty fluently. Now, there is no consensus, no across the board agreement as to why Daniel was written in both languages.

But the one that makes the most sense to me, that seems to have a lot of traction amongst those who study these sorts of things is that the parts written in Hebrew were specifically being written to the Jews. This would be the introduction, what happened to Daniel and his friends and so forth. This would also include the prophecies in the last half of the book. Obviously, prophecies regarding the coming Jewish Messiah and the coming Kingdom of Heaven, would be much more applicable and interesting to the Jews than to the Babylonians. The middles section, the history of the exiles in Babylon, the dealings of with the various kings and the history during that time would be more interesting to those who spoke Aramaic.

One thing that does not hold merit is the view that because there are two languages in Daniel, that it was written by two or more different people, or at two different times. There has been a lot of skepticism that Daniel was written during the time of the Maccabees and/or by multiple authors, but there is no credibility to these theories. Jesus himself credits Daniel as a specific, historical person who wrote this book in Matthew 24:15. IT just means that there were multiple audiences in view when Daniel wrote it down.

 

 

So, 605 BC rolls around. Babylon has grown big and powerful. Nebuchadnezzar was either co-regent with his father, or all prepped to take over for him when he would soon pass. He defeats Jerusalem and takes many Jews captive and back to Babylon.

That is where the book of Daniel starts, and this is where I want us to start reading. Daniel chapter 1, verses 1-8. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along at home with your preferred translation as well. Daniel 1:1-8, Daniel opens his book, writing:

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.[b] The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy and Perfect Word.

 

 

 

Now, one of the first things we see in this book is that Daniel, and his friends, will essentially in modern language, go into Government service. They will be working for the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. Christians today tend to have one of two views on situations like this. First, we need to avoid stuff like this and politics and culture are so very toxic that we need to avoid ourselves from it as fully and as completely as possible, so that they can see that we are separated, we are set apart. Second, they say that we need to be a part of they culture and bring ourselves into the culture and politics because its so toxic, and the more we conform to that culture, the more difference we will make.

And yet, Jesus prays to the Father for us that we are to be in the world but not of it. Both of those positions miss a part of what we are called to be and what we are called to do in this world. The truth is that there is a right and a wrong way for Christians to participate in politics. There is a right and a wrong way for Christians to fight for rights, to fight for religious liberties and to participate in civil disobedience. The problem is when we decide on which ways are right and wrong based on our national identities, or our moral beliefs or what we expect to be the practical outcomes of our actions. But the truth is that the only way for us to decided what ways or methods are right and wrong based only on the scriptures, solely on what Jesus, the Word of God says. We are going to see Daniel show us some of the right ways to do this very thing.

But there is a right way and wrong way to read and to approach the scriptures as well. We remember that we are to approach the scriptures just like the Apostles did, and the early church leaders did, and that is to let the New Testament interpret the Old Testament. We don’t insert things into the text. And we rarely can lift the Old Testament up, full block and drop it on to our current context and situations. As Ron Sallee says in our Contenders classes, “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.”

We cannot try to affirm our believes by opening the Bibles and reading passages. We do need to let the text speak for itself. We do need to let what we read form our beliefs, not let our beliefs form what we read.

And because of how we read the book, because of what we have been taught, from our parents, from pastors and Bible Study leaders, and from books we have read, from friends around us, and yes, even from the society and the culture around us, whether we recognize it or not, because of how we read the book, we have differences of opinion in what certain parts mean, and we can think that our opinion is not opinion, but fact and is the only biblical thing that it can mean.

Daniel can be divisive. If we let it. But we are not going to let it. Especially when we get to the prophecy section of Daniel. Daniel does speak to the future and to the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. That is unavoidable in the book of Daniel. But that’s not going to be a main focus of this series.

The main focus that we are going to see in Daniel is that, as we see in all the Old Testament books, that all these Old Testament scriptures will be about and point directly to Jesus Christ, the looked for and promised Messiah, the Savior. What does Daniel teach us about Jesus? How does Daniel point to the coming Jesus? What does Daniel teach us about the Kingdom of God and especially how it relates to the kingdoms of men? Those are the main points we will be looking at.

Part of that, but secondary to that, how can we apply Daniel to today and what we are going through in these times. How do we spend our days today living in and serving a kingdom that is not ours? How do we live in and serve a kingdom that is openly and actively hostile to the kingdom that we do belong to? And how do we do so, while continuing to serve the Kingdom of God here and now and continue to do so first and foremost. How do we balance those things, both of which we are called to?

Daniel was taken into exile. He was brought out of his homeland and his home Kingdom and was brought forcibly to serve the Kingdom of Babylon, and he did so faithfully and admirably.

 

If we are in Christ, if we belong to Him, if we can rightly call ourselves Christians, then we are not citizens of this world. Peter calls us sojourners and exiles. We are travelers here, temporarily living in this kingdom, in this world. We are to love, to care for, and to serve this world while we are here, and to do so in the name of Jesus, by the Word of Jesus.

Paul writes in Romans 13:1 & 2,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Daniel shows us that we can do this while still maintaining our loyalty to Christ and his commands. We can do this while fulfilling our purposes of serving, worshipping, and working for the one in whom we are true citizens of. Christ is our King and we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

That balance is not easy. That loyalty is not easy. Daniels home has been destroyed. His friends and he are conscripted into government service and their names are changed from ones that honor the One true God, to ones that honored the Babylonian Gods. They were taught the language and the literature of the Chaldeans.

Daniel and his friends were even given new names, supposed by many to assert ownership and possession over them, to attempt to change their identity from those of Gods children to those who belong to the gods of Babylon.

And yet, if our identity is in Christ, nothing can change that. Our identity used to be that of rebel, sinner, and damned. But in Christ, our identity is changed by the one who we belong to. Our identity is changed so that we are now Christs beloved. We are now children of God. We are now saints, citizens of Heaven. Babylon tried to change their identity, to make them forget their true identity, but their foundation in God kept them faithful.

This world will try to change our identity. It will try to make you forget your identity. Try to get you to put any other identity above Child of God, above Saint. They will say that all are children of God. Or they will say that you are still a sinner. They will tell you that your other identities are more important than your identity in Christ. They will tell you that you are American first, Christian second. That was a hard one for me to come to grips with. The world will try to tell us that our political identity is first and foremost. Only Republicans can be Christians or Democrats are loving like Jesus. OR worse yet, when we go against our Christian conscience and vote for someone just because they happen to be our party’s nominee. Remember something, voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil.

 

Daniel and his friends were immersed in the foreign culture and they would show us how to stay true and faithful to God in spite of that.

That’s one thing for us to remember. Yes, the culture and society around us may be toxic. It may be actively against what God wants, what He says and what He stands for. It may actively try to corrupt us and bring us over to their side. But there is some redeeming value in some of the culture around us.

We are not called to bunker down, separate from everything except this building and eschew everything around us. We are not called to separate ourselves so far as we don’t have a witness. We are called to be salt and light. We are called to bring the Gospel to the ends of the world, making disciples and teaching them to follows Gods commands. Showing them that We are sinners, that we are not able to be good enough, that there is only one God and that He has perfect wrath and perfect grace. That we are saved by his grace, through our faith in the one and only Jesus Christ, God become man to save us sinners. We have a job and a duty while we are here in this earth and it is to serve and worship our King.

Now, the way that Daniel and his friends were able to be part of this culture and to study their teachings and still stay faithful to God is that they had a strong foundation in their faith.

Studying all of Gods Word is crucial to having that strong foundation. Knowing that Gods Word is inspired and without error is crucial to our studying of it. The more we know of it, the more we can discern. The more we can discern, the more we can discern what is truth and what is not. The more we can discern, the more we can fix our eyes straight upon Jesus, who is our foundation and our stronghold and our sabbath.

 

Let’s go ahead and Pray.

 

 

 

2 Timothy 2:20-26 Life in the Local Church: A Life Worthy of the Gospel

2 Timothy 2:20-26
Life in the Local Church
A Life Worthy of the Gospel

 

 

Good Morning, please turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Timothy chapter 2. If you do not have a Bible, please help yourself to one off the back table as our gift to you.

As you open your Bible, we want to look at where we are in Paul’s letter to his protégé, Timothy. The passage we looked at last week is completely tied together with the passage we are looking at this week and so I want to refresh for some of us, a few of the things that Paul mentioned in verses 14-19.

First is of course, the main verse and possibly one of the main verse in all of Paul’s letters, verse 15 reads, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,[c] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

          HE continues to make his point that we are to avoid quarrels over words and avoid irreverent babble. That subject, that line of thought is going to come up again here today.

And then lastly, leading directly into the verses we will look at this morning, Paul ends verse 19 by telling us, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

          One of the main points of that passage being that we are to repent and turn away from our sins. It is a call to holiness. We are to live a new life, and that our actions will show our faith and our love of Christ.

That being said, lets go ahead and read the passage we will look at this morning, 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verse 20-26. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to ty a variety of translations and find the one that stays faithful to the original languages and makes the Word of God the most understandable to you. Then bring that Bible and follow along as we read Gods Word.

2 Timothy 2:20-26, Paul under direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes Holy Scripture, telling Timothy:

 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,[d] he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant[e] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

 

Thus, says the Holy, inspired, inerrant and sufficient Word of God.

 

So, we start here with Paul showing us the concept of what Holiness is. To be holy means to be set apart. And Paul uses an analogy of household items to show this point. Some vessels in the house are made of silver and gold and they are designed, they are created for, their purpose is noble and honorable tasks.

Other vessels, instead, are made of wood and clay, and they are designed for and purposed for dishonorable tasks. Some vessels are created to be set aside and set apart and made holy. Some are not created to be set aside and set apart in order to be made holy, though they still serve the purpose of God.

Paul says that we, as vessels can be cleansed from dishonorable and unclean use and design and purpose and change to be a clean and honorable vessel, useful to the master and ready for all good works.

Now, I know some of you are very good cleaners. If you are given something to clean, no matter how dirty, I trust that, if you hand it back to me, it will be clean. I don’t trust me that much, that’s for sure. Often, my preference, if it’s bad enough, would be to throw it out and buy something new.

I don’t want to be crude, put when Paul says dishonorable uses and the like, when talking about the vessels, I want you to think of a bed pan or from the olden days, chamber pots. Thinking of that, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how good of a cleaner you are, I’m not trusting that item to ever, EVER, being clean enough to eat out of. Sorry, just not that trusting.

But the Good News of Jesus Christ is this. We are born as dishonorable vessels, as unclean spirits before God. Through Jesus life, death and resurrection, through the work of the Holy Spirit and through the grace of God, we are able to be cleansed and made clean, changing from vessels made for dishonorable use, to a vessel made for Gods glory, for honorable use, a vessel made to be holy and set apart.

We can and do often try to cleanse ourselves. We try harder to be good. We use our strength to try to stop sinning. We try to bleach and sanitize our lives. And in fact, we often use that as a reason to put off coming to God. “As soon as I clean up my life, then Ill come to God.” But we can’t clean ourselves. It takes God the Holy Spirit changing us from the inside before we can do that. We need to come to God before we get clean otherwise, we never end up coming to him.

And Paul says, once you belong to Christ, then cleanse yourself from all the unclean things in your life! Get all the unholy away from you!

Turn!

Run!

Flee!

Put the sin in your life, the unholiness around you and the unclean, put it to death. This is so important in the scriptures. Isaiah 52:11 commands us: Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD. 

Isaiah chapter 6 tells of Isaiah coming and standing before the LORD. His response, being in the presence of God, he says in verse 5:

I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

And the response to Isaiah in the following two verses:

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

 

We see the twofold point played out here. We are unclean, unholy. We cannot undo this ourselves. But God (remember we talked about that phrase last week?) But God himself is the one who can make us clean.

And this cleanliness is not just a surface level cleaning. Its not just on the outside, producing a moral outer shell on our lives. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 23:27 & 28:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

 

That’s not clean. That’s not changed. That’s not Holy. That doesn’t touch the heart. That doesn’t touch the deep recess of the mind where sin still sits and crouches and lurks. This was American society up until relatively recently. Yes, individuals were godly, and the outer moral shell of the country was set up by those godly values. But the rest of the country was able to stick their head in the sand and keep sin and wickedness hidden and below the surface, while portraying the appearance of godliness. Now they are not even trying to maintain that appearance of course.

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us: The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

What chance do we have when the very thing we need to change and to cleanse is within our very hearts. By the way, “Follow your heart,” worst advice in the history of the world.

The chance that we have is God himself. Ezekiel 36:25-27, God tells his people:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a]

 

God himself, the Holy Spirit is the only one who can change our deceitful heart and gives us a new spirit. That new spirit allows us to have saving faith in the only one who can cleanse us from our sins, forgive us, atone for us, God the Son, Jesus Christ.

 

In verses 22-24 here, Paul shows us the expectations of how a Child of God should act. These are not the expectations that would then make us children of God. But instead, because of the change we just mentioned that the Holy Spirit does inside of us, this is a part of that change that comes along with being a child of God. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

          The First thing Paul mentions here in 2 Timothy is that we are to flee our youthful passions. This is not an admonition just for the young, but for all of us as we struggle with temptation. There are some types of sins and temptations that are especially associated with youthful passions. Things like lust, like anger and impulsiveness. Things like rebellion and aggression. Things like lack of self-control and impatience. Vanity and the like. That’s not an exhaustive list, but a sampling of things that we should be on the look out for inside ourselves that we are to flee.

Again, this is not that we should just resist temptation. That’s a given, but its not enough. Charles Spurgeon Writes about these “youthful passions: Run away from them. It is no use contending with them. Fight with the devil. Resist the devil and make him flee but never fight with the flesh. Run away from that. The only way to avoid lust of the flesh is to stay out of its way. If you subject yourself to carnal temptations and fleshly lusts, remember it is almost certain that you will be overcome by them.

         

 

We must ask the question, and Spurgeon partially answers it, why should we flee these temptations? It is because the closer we are to them, the closer we walk near them, the more we will give in to them. The question can never be, “How close to the line can I get?” If that’s our question, we have already crossed it in our heart. That was the game the Pharisees were plating that Jesus addressed in the Sermon on the Mount when he showed us that lusting after a woman in our heart is adultery. Thinking about killing someone in our mind makes us guilty.

Our natural human nature, as a result of the Fall in Genesis 3, our natural nature is a sin nature. In Genesis 4, God tells Cain, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to[c] you, but you must rule over it.”

          And how do we rule over it? We flee from those sins and temptations. And when we flee from temptation, the direction we run is to pursuing righteousness as Paul brings up next.

And there are two initial things I want to point out here. The first is that these two opposing things are on a spectrum. Our youthful passions, our sinful temptations on one end of the spectrum that we are to flee from. Righteousness on the other end, which we are to be pursuing. The closer we get to one, the further we get from the other.

The second thing is, we have seen Paul identifying the passion and the energy with which we are to flee unholiness. And he is encouraging us to use the same energy, the same conviction, the same passion when we pursue righteousness. And righteousness along with faith, love, and peace.

Paul also shows us that this is not a solo endeavor for us as Christians. We are to pursue these things along with all who call on the LORD with a pure heart. Ligon Duncan writes:

if it is true that bad company corrupts good morals (and it is, because the Bible says it), it is also true that it is in the company of fellow believers that right living and right believing is cultivated. That’s where you grow. That’s where you pursue righteousness: in the company of fellow believers.

 

Christianity is a personal religion, that is for sure. But it is never meant to be a private religion. We are meant to come together, to be involved in each other’s lives and to encourage, love and help each other.

Two of the things that Paul mentions us pursuing include love and peace with each other. And those two are tied together inextricably. Love covers a multitude of sins.

Biblically, we can vehemently disagree with each other over secondary and minor issues, musical styles, translation preferences, parenting methods and so much more. But within that disagreement, we can see past that and into the bottom line.

If I know that you love me and my family and that, above all, you want Gods will to be done, I don’t have to agree with you on those secondary issues or about what Gods will is that we both want done. Knowing that baseline, that love is there for God and for each other, allows us to deal with each other and personality differences and methods of communication that would otherwise cause annoyances, quarrels and fights, leading to division and sin. Love covers a multitude of sins.

 

Paul again comes back to something that he has been warning Timothy about for a letter and a half now, including part of what we looked at last week. He says that we are to avoid foolish and ignorant controversies. We are to rise above these foolish quarrels. Paul says back in verse 16, again, from last week, avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.

          I saw one resource this week sum up why we are to avoid these things in tow points. First, they are false. We talked about truth and untruth. God is truth. Untruth is satanic. Avoid untruth, flee from lies and untruths just like we flee from our youthful passions. Flee from ALL unholiness. And second, avoid these quarrels because they are unproductive. They take your eyes off Jesus and our pursuit of righteousness. And anything that takes our eyes off Jesus is wrong.

In verse 24 & 25, Paul gives us very hard instructions. He writes:  And the Lord’s servant[e] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.

 

          We, we as the LORDs servants, as Children of God, as honorable vessels, we must not be quarrelsome. We are to be kind to everyone. Kind to who?

We are to be kind to everyone.

Not just those whom we like.

Not just those who vote like us.

Not just those who look like us.

Not just those who worship like us.

Not just those who are nice to us.

Not just those who share similar interests and hobbies with us.

 

We are to be nice to EVERYONE. Full Stop.

 

I know that’s easy for us to say that we do. But you want to be convicted. Watch every joke you make. Watch every word you say. Watch what you say about people that are not around when you say it. Watch what you say about people in the news or on TV. Watch what you say about those who are not here today. Watch what you say. This is not as easy as it sounds. One of the reasons is what else Paul says, we are to patiently endure evil. Not repay evil for evil. But to patiently endure evil.

If there is a fellow believer that you don’t really like, how do you talk to and about them? Do you still, despite it all, treat them as a Child of God? Do you talk to them and about them, treat them like a fellow brother or sister in Christ?

If there is an unbeliever that you don’t really like, how do you talk about them, talk to them and treat them? Do you treat them as a human being, created in the image of God? Do you treat them as being inherently worthy of honor and dignity and respect?

Notice God does not give qualifications here. Not unless they were mean to you. Not unless they talked about you. Not if they treat you well first. Be kind to everyone.

And we are to correct our opponents with gentleness. Not fighting with them. Not mocking them. Not shoving it in their faces. Or insulting or dismissing or patronizing. But we are to correct with gentleness.

We must confront false teaching or wrong teaching, remember that’s one of the biggest things that Paul is addressing in his letters to Timothy. We are to address these teachings firmly, truly but we do so in a way that others will be able to hear and hopefully listen.

And again, why? Why do we have to confront false teachings and false teachers? Why do we correct with gentleness and treat kindly everyone? Because God may grant them repentance, therefore freeing them from the snare of the devil.

We never know who or when God is going to save. No one is beyond Gods reach. We see that in current day, and we see that in the writer of this letter, with Paul. Paul was the last person the early church would have expected to see saved. As long as one is drawing breath, there is still hope that God will indeed save and free one from his wrath and judgment.

 

The enemy loves to use believers to turn off and become a stumbling block to potential children of God.

 

Our responsibility is to act well, to treat others with respect, treating everyone kindly. We are to forgive quickly and to bear the fruit of the spirit. We are to sow the seeds of the Gospel and to love Jesus Christ.

God is sovereign and in control. He waters and brings the increase. He grants repentance. He changes our heart, giving us the gift of faith. And it is by his grace that we are given that faith and that this faith is in Jesus Christ. That faith is what God uses to clothe us in Christ’s righteousness and it is through that faith that we see the forgiveness of our sins.

By this faith, we are justified, declared innocent in Gods eyes.   It is through this faith that we are Sanctified. That we bear the fruit of the Gospel and we grow in holiness, that we grow in spiritual maturity, that we grow in wisdom and knowledge of the LORD. It is through this faith that we will be glorified. That we will be resurrected into our new, physical, sinless and perfected bodies so that we can dwell with and worship in the glory of the LORD

forever and ever and ever and ever. And when we get through with all the forever’s, the Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Timothy 1:8-18: Pauls call to Faithfullness and Service (with presentation about Caring For Women Pregnancy Resource Center)

In addition to the sermon as normal, we had a guest speaker/presentation as well. This Sunday was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. We had Penny Derosier, the Executive Director of Caring For Women, our local Pregnancy Resource Center. So First, you will hear her presentation, and then you will hear the sermon. Thanks guys!

 

2 Timothy 1:8-18
Life in the Local Church
Paul’s Call to Faithfulness & Service

Good Morning! Grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Timothy, chapter 1. We are continuing our series through 1 & 2 Timothy, that we are calling “Life in the Local Church.”
This letter, 2 Timothy, is to be Paul’s last letter we have record of before his death, historically attributed to the Caesar Nero, somewhere around 64 AD. Paul knows that the end of his life is near, he knows that his time is short. He is imprisoned in Rome, Awaiting trial, alone. And while he is looking forward to going home to be with the LORD, he knows that this work is not quite done yet, not with this letter still to be written. Not with this information still to be passed on to Timothy, to the church at Ephesus and to us.
Paul, of course, misses Timothy. He wants to see Timothy before he is gone. Later in the letter, he will ask Timothy to come to him in Rome. In the meantime, he urges Timothy to be faithful to the calling from God that Timothy has received. He exhorts Timothy to use the gifts that God has given Him, just as each one of us, as Christians have bee given gifts by God to be used for God. And Paul tells Timothy to do so with discernment, power, love and self-control. Timothy is to speak and act the truth in love.
So, let’s go ahead and read this week’s passage, 2 Timothy chapter 1, verses 8 through 18. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, that is my preferred translation. I do encourage you to find your preferred translation, to have it with you here on Sunday Mornings and to follow along in the text as we go through it. 2 Timothy 1:8-18, Paul writes the very Words of God, inspired, inerrant, infallible, breathed out by the Holy Spirit, saying.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

Thus says the Word of God. Amen.

The section we are looking at this morning starts off with Paul writing the word, Therefore. And so it is connecting what we saw last week with what we are reading this week. This is specifically in reference to Paul telling Timothy that we do not have a spirit of fear, and Timothy not using the gifts that God has entrusted him with, at least not to the extent that he is supposed to be.
Paul says, do not be ashamed. He gives us two specific things that we should not be ashamed of. There are things we should feel shame for. Our sin should shame us. It should shame us into repentance and turning away from trusting in our so-called goodness, our so-called righteousness and turn instead to Christs righteousness.
But these two things should not shame us. First, do not be ashamed of the testimony of the LORD, in other words, of the Gospel. When people find out you believe the Gospel, the true, biblical Gospel, people will say a lot of things. People will say that you are brainwashed, that your parents forced it on to you. People will say that there are many paths, that the Gospel is not exclusive. People will say that it is a crutch, that only weak people need it. People will say that you are just going along with the majority culture. People will say that the Gospel is ignorant, intolerant and archaic. People will say that only uneducated people will believe that. People will say that the morals of the Bible are wrong. People will say a lot of things.

People are wrong.

Paul famously writes in Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,. Do not be ashamed of the testimony of the LORD, for He is the one who saves, who forgives, who justifies and who glorifies.
And second, Paul tells Timothy, do not be ashamed of me. Paul was imprisoned, for the very Gospel that he is not ashamed of and that he tells us not to be ashamed of, but he is in prison. Many would be ashamed to be associated with Paul at that point. Many were in fact, we will see a few examples of this in a few verses, in the section we read this morning.
And think about that. Does that really seem far fetched to us if we think about it honestly? If a friend of ours gets arrested, say he gets arrested, as some have in Britain for example, of preaching the Gospel on the street, in public and being arrested for hate speech. How many of us would try to distance ourselves from the entire situation? Its easy to say, NO, not me!
Peter said the same thing! We see in Luke 22, this dialogue between Jesus and Peter, starting in verse 31:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”
Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

Its so easy to say, “Not me, Never, I will never be ashamed!” And hopefully that’s true, but it takes more than just saying it. Instead of being ashamed, Paul says, share in the suffering that is for the Gospel. Paul was imprisoned because of the Gospel. He was imprisoned because he was being faithful to the call.
Now, he is telling us, telling Timothy, to be faithful to the call. When faithful to the call, there will be suffering. Through our faithfulness to the call, and more accurately, through Gods faithfulness we can persevere and share in the suffering.
This is not to say that we are to seek out suffering, as if it were penance. But through the power of God, we can submit to and stand tall through the suffering. We see in Acts 5:41, speaking of the Apostles when they were released from being jail for preaching the gospel, scriptures say, then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

And it is the power of God who saved us and call us to a holy calling. This is our sanctification. That is what he called us to. To be conformed to the image of his son, Romans 8:29. To repent of our sins. To submit in faith to his complete and total authority. To live in faith. To grow in wisdom and knowledge. To grow in the fruits of the spirit and to live a holy and quiet life.
None of this is by our own works, as Paul says here, and as he says often in his letters, our regeneration is initiated by God, by the calling of the Holy Spirits and it precedes our faith. Our faith is in response to his calling.
And He calls us, not because of anything that we have done or will do, but because of his purpose and grace Paul says. We did not do anything to make Him think we were good enough. He did not see anything in us and then decide to save us. He did not see that we would “accept him” and then decide to save us.
He decides to save those whom He saves based on His purposes and His grace. Nothing else. We didn’t earn His love. He chose to love us. He chose us. He chose to love us, to save us, because He chose to do so. We didn’t earn it, we are chosen. And He determined this grace that he gives us and the grace of Christ Jesus before time began, from the beginning.
God’s grace: appointed and determined before time began. Manifested in the incarnation, in the life of Christ Jesus, truly God and yet, truly man. God became man, born a human baby, lived a perfect life, fulfilled the covenant of works that Adam broke on all our behalf. Gods grace manifested through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
He abolished death, defeating it by being raised from the dead by God the Father. He brought life, through the forgiveness of sin. By the shedding of his blood, he paid the wages of sin, wages he didn’t owe, because he had no sin. Wages that we couldn’t pay because we are sinful.
And this is the Gospel. That Christ fulfilled the Covenant of Works so that we may be included in the Covenant of Grace. Paul writes in Romans 5:8 & 9: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

This is the Gospel of which Paul was called. This is the Gospel of which Paul was appointed a preacher, a teacher, and an Apostle. That Gospel and that call are why Paul is imprisoned. Because Paul; was faithful to the Word of God and because he was faithful and followed through with the call that God gave him.
We see this happening today throughout the world. We see nations, governments telling people that it is illegal to be a Christian. We have many more that are saying it is illegal to proselytize, to evangelize, to share the Bible or the Gospel with any one within that country. We see the worldwide culture moving towards it being illegal to speak or preach against other religions, worldviews or behaviors and therefore illegal to speak or preach what the Bible says is true. That’s not here yet in America, but make no mistake, they are trying, and it is coming.
Paul says, that for all of that, he says, I am not ashamed. He says, I know in whom I have believed. The one who is called Faithful and true (Rev. 19:11). The Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 22:13). He is the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords (Rev 19:16).
And He will guard what he has entrusted to us, namely, our salvation. Our regeneration, our justification and the glorification that is yet to come. All of it is a gift from God from his own purposes and grace and all of it is firmly held in Jesus hands. He will guard it until that day of judgment, and he will not let go of those who are His, as in righteousness he judges and makes war. (Rev 19:11)

Paul tells Timothy, follow the pattern. Do what you have been taught and what you have seen to be true. James 1:22 says to be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. It is not just about sitting here and hearing what I am telling you, hearing what the Word of God says, but we need to follow and obey it as well.
Paul was a sound and faithful teacher. His words were trustworthy. Paul spoke with and in faith. He spoke with and in truth. He encourages us to listen and learn and obey and live with our faith in and to the truth of Jesus Christ.
And the Holy Spirit will help guard the truth in us. He will guard the sound doctrine, the deposit entrusted to us. God says in Ezekiel that he will turn our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. The Bible says that the law is no longer written on tablets of stone but written on our hearts. Now, we know of course, that Jeremiah tells us we cannot trust our own heart, not in and of itself. The heart is deceitful above all things, he says. But we can trust the LORD, we can trust the Holy Spirit to seal the truth in our hearts and to, as Paul says here, dwell in us and guard that deposit within us.
Charles Spurgeon writes: This is what we need. If the Holy Spirit is in us, we shall never trifle with the truth. He is the lover and revealer of truth, and we shall press the doctrines of the Word of God and the Word of God itself, nearer and nearer to our hearts in proportion as the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

Seek the truth as you read and learn Gods Word. Seek not to confirm your thoughts, ideas and beliefs, but for the very Word of God to reveal the truth in you and to you. That the very Word of God would change you and mold you. That the Holy Spirit would guide you in truth and would direct your knowledge and build your discernment of what is true and what is lie.
When you know the truth, when it is revealed to you, do not be ashamed of it. Do not be ashamed of the Bible. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. Do not be ashamed of Jesus, his teachings, his life or his death on the cross. Do not be ashamed of his resurrection or his calling He has placed on you. Do not be ashamed of being faithful.
You belong to Christ. He who is faithful and true. He calls us to be like Him. We are made in his image. We are called to grow more and more like Him. We are called to be faithful as Christ is faithful.

Paul shows and names a few examples of both faithfulness and unfaithfulness. Some decided that they were indeed ashamed of Paul and his imprisonment. Some decided to leave Paul and his company. They cut ties with him, disavowed him, probably said things like, “We always knew there was something about him. Something just seemed off…”
Paul mentions Asia, that all who were there, turned away from him. Asia was then, what we know now of as Turkey and that region. Ephesus was the main city, one of the main powers in that region at the time. Paul was emphasizing to Timothy that many backs in the Ephesian church had turned their back on him as well.
Chief amongst those who left him and were unfaithful to him were Phygelus and Hermogenes. Likely these two are named specifically because their abandonment, their disloyalty was so heartbreaking and so devastating to Paul. It was likely that he depended on them. And then they were gone.
As you go through hard times, as you go through difficult situations, people will fall away. They will leave your side. Friends will leave, turn away, abandon you. Sometimes it will be unintentional, and they won’t even realize they are doing it. Sometimes it will be very intentional, very purposeful. Sometimes we will be those friends.
We are not perfect friends. Our closest friends are not perfect either. I continue to think back to Jesus closest friends. Jesus, the man who was perfect. The man who would have been the best friend a person could have. And his three closest friends continually let him down. Peter, James and John, the three who joined Jesus up on the Mount of Transfiguration, who saw Moses and Elijah, couldn’t stay awake for a short period of time when Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood. His closest friends, his disciples scattered when he was arrested, tried and crucified. Peter denied him three times. Only John, bringing Mary, Jesus mom, only he came back and was at the foot of the cross as he died.
We will not be perfect, faithful and loyal friends. We will let our friends down at various points. There will be friends of ours will let us down, will not be perfect, faithful or loyal at all times. We cannot expect to be treated better than Jesus himself was treated.
But some will people do remain faithful. Onesiphorus was faithful. He often refreshed Paul and was not ashamed of his prison chains. Onesiphorus not only stayed faithful to Paul, but when he got to Rome, he actively and vigorously sought out Paul. He went above and beyond what was expected in order to show Paul he was loved and supported.
Onesiphorus is to be an example to us. He showed his faith in Christ by his works, by his actions. He showed his faith in Christ by his obedience, his loyalty, his faithfulness. Onesiphorus will hear on the last day, “Well Done, Good and Faithfull servant.” The LORD will grant him mercy on that day. Onesiphorus will be saved from judgment and will be with the LORD in eternity future.
Heres the thing. Character shows through. Good, bad or indifferent, character shows through. Paul points out that Timothy knows the character of Onesiphorus and all that he did in service to the LORD in Ephesus.
People will see your character. And it will be a testament to where your faith and where your trust truly lies. Now, its true that people who don’t know Christ can be good, moral, high character people. But what is that a testament of. Nothing else but Gods common grace.
Those of us who do know the LORD, or more accurate to my own experiences, who have come to know the LORD later, whatever our character was, good or bad, it will improve through our sanctification. It wont always happen instantly, at least not on the outside, not visibly.
I was thinking recently about my own growth and sanctification. When I became a Christian, thinks changed and started changing on the inside immediately. And some things probably changed on the outside, in terms of my behavior and what not. But since I was a good, nice, moral guy there wasn’t the immediate, drastic shift that all could see. I was thinking back to the things that really have changed in me and the ones that mark right now the difference in who I was then and who I am now, those didn’t start visibly changing for a couple of years.
So, it wont always show right away on the outside, but God is growing you, that you may be conformed to the image of his son. His chose you. He loves you. He saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace.

To God be the glory, the honor and all praises. Amen.

Let’s Pray.

1 Timothy 5:17-6:2 Life in the Local Church: Leading by Serving

1 Timothy 5:17-6:2

Life in the Local Church

Leading by Serving

 

 

          Good Morning. Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Timothy chapter 5. If you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please help yourself to one off the back table as our gift to you.

This morning we continue in our series through 1 & 2 Timothy titles, “Life in the Local Church.” Paul is writing to Timothy, who has been established as the Pastor/head elder of the church at Ephesus. Paul has been writing to Timothy specifically, and today we are looking at a section where most of it is about elders specifically, but what we also see here is that he is talking to the church as a whole, the entire congregation is hearing things that they need to hear and need to abide by.

Paul is writing to Timothy about the practical ministry and the dealings and everyday running of the local church. Again, in this section, we see Paul mostly focusing on the elders of the church, but even more than that, about combatting the false and incorrect expectations that have entered the church as a result of false teachers.

Before we continue, let’s go ahead and read our passage for the week. Ill be reading 1 Timothy, starting in chapter 5, verse 17 and reading through chapter 6, verse 2. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Paul, a bondservant of Christ, sharing the very inspired, inerrant, unchanging and authoritative Word of God, writes to Timothy:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.

Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants[a] regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

          Thus, says the Word of God.

So, we see here in the passage that Paul is writing, we see a lot of flashbacks, a lot of call backs to what the false teachers have been teaching and implementing. First, we remember that the false teachers have been undermining authority. They have been tearing down Gods ordained officers and leaders and the requirements that God has established.

We also remember that there are false teachers who purposely undermine that very Word of God and purposely deceive those who listen to them. But there are also false teachers who are ignorant, and they are not doing their due diligence. They are not going through and rightly learning the Word of God, they are not learning to rightly teach and preach the Word of God. They might think they are, but they are not taking the Word of God seriously and because of that they are not making serious disciples of the true God, they are not making serious disciple of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.

We saw Paul writing in chapter 3, this is what an elder is. This is what it takes to be an elder in the church. He says and shows through this letter that the elders of the church are given authority by God to lead the church. And so, Paul starts off here, building up, lifting up rulers and elders in general, but especially and specifically those who rule well.

Peter gives us an example of what it looks like to serve well, in 1 Peter 5:2-4, where he tells elders:

 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,[a] not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;[b] not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

          Paul also is clear about saying “elders,” as opposed to “elder.” The New testament makes it clear, local churches are not to be ruled by one man, by one person, but they are to be led by a plurality of elders. There are to be multiple elders, coming together, mutually accountable to each and to the congregation, and submitting to God and serving and leading his church. Now, there could easily be some confusion with terminology. Pastors are a part of the pool of elders that serve the church. In some churches, especially bigger churches, there are multiple pastors that fill different roles. In many churches, especially smaller ones, but not limited to smaller ones. There is a group of elders and of that group, whether from within or brought in from without, that part doesn’t matter, but from within the group of elders is the pastor, the one whose main role is the teaching and preaching ministry.

One of the things that elders especially need to remember, one of the things that will help them rule well, is that they are not above correction. They are not outside the rules. They are held accountable just like everyone in the congregation. They are held to a higher standard.

Elders who rule well, they are to do so with integrity, with compassion, with love, with truth, and as Paul has pointed out a couple of times recently, in purity. Paul says that those who rule well, like this, are worthy of double honor. The context shows that this is talking both about the honor of the position as well as making sure that, especially those who labor at preaching and teaching, that they are taken care of financially.

One of the reasons that Paul puts this in here is, again, because of the false teachings that have been going around at that time. False teachers had been abusing a pastor right to earn a living. False teachers are still abusing that right today. “Tithe to me directly.” “Sow a seed of faith in me and my ministry.” “Give or fall under church discipline.” “I need a bigger house, a faster jet, cooler cars, slicker clothes, a shinier watch, whatever…”

But because false teachers have been abusing these rights, does not mean that faithful pastors who rule well must forfeit their God given rights. Again, Paul says especially those who labor at teaching and preaching. A pastor, an elder who rules well, is one who puts blood, sweat and work into his call and his ministry.

Ultimately, there are two duties of the group of elders who lead and serve the church. The first is that all elders, as a group, govern the church. Secondarily, some elders, in addition to governing the church, are also tasked with and blessed with preaching and teaching the Word of God to the local church.

Now, Paul makes this point by bringing in scripture, both from the Old Testament, and from the words of Jesus. When Paul says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” he is quoting from Deuteronomy 25:4. And when he says, “The laborer deserves his wages.” He is quoting from Luke 10:7. Paul is using these passages to say two things. First, don’t use and treat pastors like work animals. Also, and more in context, is that there is scriptural precedent for pastors and preaching elders receiving money for doing what they do.

Paul moves on into verse 19. False teachers will do anything they can do to discredit those who speak and teach the truth. Those who stand against the false teachers and their false teachings. Those in authority, speaking the authority of Gods Word are marked in battle.

We are in a spiritual battle, not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, against the forces of evil. I think of it like this. In the military, especially back in history, during battles, in war, if you had a shot to take, do you aim for the enlisted man, the infantry man, or do you aim for the officer? You shoot the highest up person you can find. This is a sniper’s entire job in battle, take out the highest-ranking man you can find.

The same holds true for our spiritual battle. The higher up the ranks you are, the higher you rise the more you are marked for destruction. Now, pastors can and do fall, they can and do fail, they can and do mess up and they can and do it all on their own sometimes. I’m not taking responsibility away from them.

But Paul is laying out a well-established biblical principal here. He says, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Paul is saying that we make sure that accusations are not made solely by someone with a grudge or an agenda. Make sure that charges are credible and back upped by evidence and witnesses.

But, if a pastor or elder is guilty of sin and especially if they are continuing to sin, they need to be held accountable. And many sins, depending on their severity, their level of publicness, their continuation, and a variety of other things, then they shall be dealt with publicly.

Paul gives one of the reasons why this is to be done, sometimes in public. It is so that it may be an example to the rest of the local church, to the whole congregation. All of this is established throughout much of scripture, especially in Matthew 18. All church membership, if falling into continued and persistent, unrepentant sin, is biblically subject to church discipline. Part of leading the church is that elders and pastors are to be subject to it as well.

Paul makes clear that partiality, friendships, assumptions, any of the like, none of it matters. We cannot take sides; we cannot go in biased. We treat each case by the evidence that is presented. If a friend or a family member does something there should be the same reaction, as if one of the people you like the least does the same thing. If an elder or pastor commits a sin, there should be the same reaction as if any member of the congregation commits the same sin.

This both holds elders and pastors accountable, but it also protects them from the slings and arrows of the enemy and his forces. The same is true of what Paul says in v22. Paul gives the qualifications for an elder back in chapter 3. One of the things he says is “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. This speaks to the same point, that the qualifications listed are designed to protect against unqualified elders.

Do not be hasty to present and establish an elder. At our annual congregational meeting, when we vote for out various church officers, those are not to be voted on lightly. They are not decisions that are to be made lightly. We are to test all by the scriptures, including who is qualified to be an elder and leader of the church.

Paul warns us not to associate with the sins of others, not to be tied to their sins. This goes for unqualified elders and for false teachers. It goes for approving of and encouraging the sins of those around us, friends, family and what not. Remember Paul says in the last verse of Romans 1, that the guilty are not only those who commit the sins but those who give approval to those who practice them as well.

Now, Paul says something in verse 23 that doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the passage, at least not if you just read it on a surface level. Some things are not black and white. Some things are not as simple as sin or not sin. Some things are permittable in general, but God restricts them for certain individuals.

Alcohol, which Paul references here is one of the clearest examples of this, or maybe one of the muddiest examples, depending on how you look at it. Alcohol in and of itself is not prohibited by scripture. Much of the effects, culminating with and epitomized by drunkenness, however, is clearly prohibited by scripture, many times, in many places. By and large, most people cannot partake without swing over into areas of sin.

We have seen Paul, several times on this letter, uses a specific example to make a broader point, to point out a specific principle. I see Paul doing that here. We have seen Paul address the issue of false teachers imposing overly strict physical limitations as their “standard of holiness or purity.” It is easy and, I believe, safe to assume that one of those restrictions put up by false teachers was a universal, absolute prohibition on alcohol. Paul is telling Timothy that he does not have to abide by standards that are put in place by false teachers if they don’t meet the standards of scripture.

Paul is trying to get to a biblical understanding of discerning and judging sin. Some sin is obvious. Not all sin can be seen from the outside, especially not right away. Some sin can be hidden and able to remain that way for a long, long time. But, scripture says, as one translation puts it, for everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.

Good works are the same way. There are no good works that can remain hidden. They will be seen. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

          As Paul writes the last two verses, we are going to look at this morning, we see another example that not all scripture is as it seems on the surface. Not all scripture can be understood from a superficial reading. Chapter 6, verses 1 & 2: Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants[a] regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

These verses are in no way saying that slavery is good or biblical. I dare anyone who holds to that position to show me what about the context around these two verses lends itself to a pro slavery position. Paul is not addressing slavery at all here.

False teachers have, do and will always reject any authority other than themselves. They continually subvert all authority and the hierarchy that God has put in place. We have seen that often in this letter, especially in chapter 2.

The truth is, as Scriptures show us continually, that we honor God by submitting to authority. I know we always think of politics when we address this, the leaders of our country.

But it starts so much closer to home. It starts with and applies to our families, husbands, wives and children. It applies to your local church, qualified and godly elders and pastors. It applies to your job, with your boss. It applies to life, to the laws of the land. This does not mean except when we disagree with them. No, even if we disagree with them, we still must submit. I know we don’t like to hear that. But not every law we disagree with goes against the Word of God. If it does, then we obey Gods laws over mans laws. But just because we disagree with it does not mean that it goes against Gods laws.

What we see tying these points together, is Gods Word, Gods sovereignty, and Gods authority. When we stray from his word and his laws, he subverts and reject his authority. When we allow those, who subvert and reject his authority into positions of authority within the church, we set up ourselves to fall even harder. In the end, we will have to stand before God and give an account for our decisions, our actions and most of all for our heart. If we have a heart of stone and have reject Jesus Christ, God will say, go way, I never knew you. But if the Holy spirit has changed our heart, and if we submit to Jesus Christ, then we are clothed in his righteousness and we will hear, Well done Good and Faithful Servant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, we remember Christs workmanship, prepared before time existed. We remember the love of God and what it did for us. We remember and celebrate Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.
We remember the sacrifice, the bloodshed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. But We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.
I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.
Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished, we will take the cracker together as a church family.
Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

 

1 Timothy 2:8-15: Life in the Local Church:

1 Timothy 2:8-15

Life in the Local Church

Gods Design in Worship Service

 

Good Morning! Go ahead and grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 2. As always, if you do not have a Bible, and especially if you do not own a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table as our gift to you.

We are continuing this week our series through 1 & 2 Timothy, titled Life in the Local Church. Again, as we started looking at last week, chapter 2 of this letter is going to have the overarching theme of what prayer and worship should look like in the local church.

Paul, who us writing to his spiritual son, Timothy, ended the section we looked at last week by reminding and establishing his authority as an Apostle, one with the authority to speak for God during that time.

And it seems like we have truly forgotten that today. Paul, especially, out of all the New Testament writers, has become easy to dismiss and his teachings are often watered down or turned around to mean the opposite of what the clear word of the Bible says.

And Paul does not cut corners. He is not afraid to say what needs to be said when it comes to teaching the early churches how they are supposed to act and what they are supposed to be teaching. He is not afraid to share the hard truth of the Gospel and all its practical implications with a culture, or two different cultures for that matter, both Jews and Gentiles, that would look for any reason to reject it.

We saw last week that everything we do, specific to the verses 1-7, should be filtered through the Gospel. The way that we treat others, the way that we pray for them, regardless of what’s going on. Paul even told the church at Ephesus that they should be praying and giving thanks for the Caesar Nero! I shared how its our responsibility today to do the same, with our current equivalent, including Governors and Presidents, like Governor Newsome for example.

Again, we filter our beliefs, actions and applications through the Gospel because that’s how God teaches them to us. One God. One mediator between God and Man. The Man Jesus Christ, who ransomed himself for all. The Gospel that was first taught to us way back in Genesis 3, which we heard read earlier.

And Paul here is going to appeal to creation and the way that God ordered things before the fall. God created the world and everything in it and he created it in and with order. He shows us the way that things should be and will be again in eternity future. In that appeal to creation, he see that Paul’s arguments here are not cultural. They are not specific to Ephesus or to Corinth, as he writes similarly in 1 Corinthians 11. Though we see some specific manifestations of what Paul is arguing against coming from tradition and culture, the big pictures, are rooted in Gods design that He planned before time began.

So, before I preach an entire sermon without you knowing what we are talking about, lets read this mornings text. 1 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 8-15. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation in front of you. 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writing the very Words of God, writes to Timothy, saying:

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

For Adam was formed first, then Eve;

and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

 

So, here is one of the things you will see today. I will tell you what the text says and means, as I try to do each week. But, because of this passage and the ways that it has been, at times, misunderstood, sometimes mis applied, and sometimes, ignored and dismissed, I will be telling you a lot of what the text does not say and does not mean.

As we start, Paul continues to speak about prayer and how it fits into our gatherings, our corporate worship and Gods design. And we know that a major part of worship is prayer. We also spoke a lot of prayer last week, so I won’t get too far into what prayer is and isn’t.

But we see that Paul brings forward what we looked at last week, saying, I desire then…, Again, that transition. With what I just said, this should be the result. Therefore…

I desire then, that the men should take the lead in gathered prayer. Now, what this does not mean, is that women are not to pray out loud. We see in 1 Corinthians 11:5 that Paul shows that women will be praying as well. Instead what this refers to is that the men are to take the lead in praying. Especially and specifically in a church gathering. This is why we have one of the elders lead our praise and prayer time, as Dave did this morning. This is why, during our prayer meeting, Wednesday mornings, everyone prays, everyone who wants to, who feels led, I should say, but I close us in prayer when we are done. This is not a refusal for women to pray, but rather for the men to lead the prayer.

And Paul has some specific qualifications for the men who will be praying. They are to be lifting holy hands, meaning that that they are to be living a life for God. We will get more into this next week, where Paul lays out the qualifications for elders, but Men, if you are going to lead in prayer, make sure that your life is showing that the God you claim to be praying to is truly God in your life. Don’t live one life Monday through Saturday and then come in Sunday morning projecting an entirely different image. Be holy as your father in heaven is holy.

Paul also says that the men who are leading prayer are to do so without anger and quarrelling. We have spoken abut this a lot here in the past. But there is no place in the body of Christ for anger and quarreling. If we have an issue with each other, we figure it out, work it out and put our differences aside. We unite under the gospel and we celebrate our diversity within that limit and do not let anything, no perceived or real slight, no bad day leading to an argument, no nothing get in the way or distract us from God, his church, his mission and his Kingdom.

As we looked at last week, I think it comes back to us having a right heart, and a right attitude. With us being in the right place spiritually, it will allow us to focus on what important. Doing God-glorifying, kingdom work for God. It will allow us to not get caught up in the quarrels, the hatred, the discord that comes from, first, false teachers teaching falsely, and second, from wanting others who have wronged us to “get what they deserve.”

And if I can take a step back for a moment, if you take just one thing from this passage in 1 Timothy, it should be that our focus needs to be solely and 100% on God. On who He is, on what He has done and on why He is deserving of our worship. That’s why Paul emphasizes that the men who lead prayer are to live a holy life and set aside any and all anger and quarreling. Now, that’s what everyone of us should be striving for, man, women, praying or not. Because when our entire focus is on God, we will worship Him as He desires to be worshipped.

After calling the men to step up and lead, Paul starts talking to the women in verse 9. And look how he starts it, with the word, Likewise. This is not separated from what he just said, but again, showing what needs to be done, how we can ensure that our focus is where it is supposed to be. Men, live holy lives without anger and quarreling. Likewise, women, your physical appearance, the way to you dress and present yourselves, should not be done to draw attention to yourself, but should be done to draw attention to God.

Now, what this is not saying. Ladies, this is not saying that you should not wear jewelry. This is not saying that you should not do your hair. This is not saying that you should not dress nicely. The things that Paul lists here are not, in and of themselves, sin. They are the cultural manifestations of the timeless truth. And that truth is this: What you do, how you live, how you present yourself, should draw attention to God rather than draw attention to yourself.

So, this is addressing two things. First, the way you dress matters. Modesty matters. Nobody should be saying that men are not responsible for their own actions. We all are. Men, we need to be like Job and make a covenant with our eyes when a woman is dressed in certain ways. But also, we live in a hyper sexualized culture and we are getting our definitions and cues on what is appropriate and what is modest and what isn’t from the outside world and culture and that does not set any of us, men or women, for success.

And that leads to the second thing, which is out of your heart, your actions flow, including how you dress. Dress to bring glory and honor to God. In all we do, honor him. If your focus is on you and what you look like and who is noticing, then your focus is not on God. And God makes it clear that he does not want our divided attention but wants all of our attention.

Paul continues from here to address and confront cultural norms on both sides. In verse 11, he says Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. Now, the first thing that Paul says that would have been controversial in that time is that women are to learn too. Ligon Duncan points out what he calls the hidden blessing in this passage, as he writes:

Paul is once again affirming exactly what we see in Jesus’ ministry, that women are disciples. Now, that’s revolutionary, my friends. Jesus’ pattern was for women to be part of His disciples, but for men to be doing the teaching in that circle of discipleship. And Paul is simply saying in verse eleven, “that’s exactly how I want it in the church, just like Jesus ordained it. Women are disciples.”

Unlike the rabbis who prayed according to the Talmudic liturgy every morning, “Lord God, I thank You that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” Now, that was the prayer that the liturgy instructed every Jewish male to pray when he got up in the morning. Women were not included in the discipleship of the rabbinic circles, but in Christian circles Christ had made women to be disciples, and Paul is affirming that. Women are to receive instruction. They are disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are to be taught.

                Now, Despite the reputation that Christianity can sometimes have in todays culture, we are in fact not anti-women. We are not trying to keep women down and do not think that men are better than women. Just the opposite in fact!

The Bible makes it clear that women are created in the likeness and image of God. Paul himself writes that there is no difference in worth or standing between men and women in Galatians 3:28, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

But this view still persists and unfortunately there are times where it is incorrectly taught, even within churches today. When we announced that we were starting up our Contenders Discipleship Initiative, teaching classes on the Bible and such, we still had to answer the question being asked multiple times that, Yes, women could take the class too.

Outside of the church, in Paul’s day, women weren’t taught. They had no place to learn. Today, the church, as a whole, is failing the women of the church by not providing good, solid, foundational Bible teaching. Women ministries, not exclusively, but as a whole are not biblical and are not growing the women of the church to know the Bible deeper and more accurately or to know Jesus better or be closer to God. The focus often tends to be on self and what does it mean to me? and, pardon my bluntness, at best it’s a bunch of fluff, and epitomizes what Paul says in his second letter to Timothy, 4:3 & 4: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 

                And that’s why I was so excited and encouraged that so many of our ladies were interested in taking those classes. And the same when we announced that Kathy would be doing a women’s Bible Study, not book study, but Bible study. Ladies, I am incredibly proud of you. You have shown that you have a passion and a desire to know Gods Word and to learn more of it. Thank you.

Now, God made both men and women the same in terms of worth, value and standing, both made in his image and likeness. But he did not make men and women the same. If He did, then, for example, marriage would mean nothing. Hey, that’s exactly what society is trying to tell us today!

Men and women are different. This is clear and obvious to any toddler you speak to, and its clear to anyone who has read the Bible. And Men and women, though created equal in all the ways we mentioned, were created with different God ordained roles and with different purposes.

We are all called to submit to the roles that God has designed for us. When Paul says the women are to learn quietly, with all submissiveness, this again, is not to subjugate women. Just as Christ himself submitted to God the Father, we are all called to submit. Husbands and wives to each other, children to their parents, Christians to their elders, all people to Christ.

I also want to point out that the word Paul uses for quiet is the same word he uses back in v2, when he tells us to live a quiet and peaceful life. Quiet, or silence as some translations read, does not mean no talking. It does not mean no vocal participation. It does not mean no sharing prayer requests. It does not mean in Bible Study and Prayer meeting and CDI that women can’t ask questions. It simply means submitting to the authoritative, biblical teaching in the church by those who are called by God. Paul is going to go into greater detail about who is called in chapter three.

This section of 1 Timothy, along with Paul’s directions in 1 Corinthians 11, make clear that our church services are supposed to be orderly. They are not free for all’s. They are not “off the cuff.” They are not chaotic and confusing. God is a God of order, not a god of confusion. And He wants our worship services to be orderly to reflect that.

In v 12, Paul shows one of the differences in Gods created order, and he will go on to prove it by referring back to Gods created order at creation. In those different roles that men and women are created for, those authoritative, called teachers in the church are not women.

The text here is clear. The role of preacher, of pastor of one who holds authority in the church is reserved by God for called and qualified men. Again, Paul will go directly into laying out those qualifications in the section we will look at next week, in chapter 3. But there is no such thing as a woman pastor. Hope and I are not pastors. She is not the co-pastor. She will be the first to “Amen!” that as well.

Now, you can do all the hermeneutical gymnastics you want, but this text is clear. I understand that the way it has been used by many in the past and probably, unfortunately some in the present is absolutely wrong. God, the Bible, Paul and hopefully I am crystal clear. Anyone who uses this text to subjugate, to devalue or to denigrate women is wrong and they are sinning against God.

Paul addresses 200 years ago, todays most common objection to the clear meaning of this text. He uses Creation and Gods order to make clear that this is not a specific situation related to the church at Ephesus, but instead is a universal truth.

Adam was created first, and Eve second. Again, no difference in value or worth, but created differently, with different roles. Now, when Paul points out that Eve was deceived first, then Adam, we need to remember that Paul made clear in Romans 5, that Adam is the ne responsible for bringing sin onto the world. He was the one God went after and held responsible. In Genesis 3, when God calls out, asking, “Where are you?” He uses the singular you, meaning he was looking specifically for Adam, not the plural you, as in “Where are you guys?” God held Adam responsible for the sin.

So again, what this is not saying is that Eve is lower or less than. But this is showing what happens when we reverse the God ordained roles. A few weeks ago, Hope and Malachi went up to the women’s conference up at Mt Hope. I had the other five kids from Friday evening to Sunday morning. What’s that, 36 hours? And so many of you, Sunday morning, understandably asked how we survived during that 36 hours. I was called to and I love being an active, involved Dad. But I was not called to stay at home with them and be with them 24 hours a day. Hope stays home with all six, all day every day. She homeschools 5 of them right now, feeds them and me amazing meals, keeps the house running and clean and all that and makes it look easy. She repeats often that she is so grateful she is not called to be a pastor and is thankful she gets to stay home with the kids. Those are the roles God gave us. And we survive, but we do not thrive if the roles are reversed.

The serpent approached Eve in the Garden. Adam was right next to her and could have and should have stepped in and taken the lead in fighting against the twisting of Gods Words. Instead he stood there and let her take the lead and be deceived. The enemy knows what he is doing and having us forsake our God given roles and to take on other roles instead is, after twisting Gods Word, his oldest tactic against us.

The last thing in this text I want to address is v 15, where Paul writes, yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

                When Paul says that she will be saved by childbirth, this is not in reference to salvation. We are not saved by works. We all know that. Nothing that we can do, will grant us any righteousness of our own. Instead, and again, Paul is bringing us back to the fact that God is our true and sole focus.

When we submit to Gods call and direction in our life, our lives no longer belong to us. When we live for God, when he is our focus, when we live for him, things like faith, love, holiness and self-control are fruit that grows out, from our changed heart. Our sanctification, which starts the moment we are saved and grows and continues to progress over the course of our lives as we continue to and get better at living for and focusing on God.

When we get together, we come together in corporate worship as a church family, as the local body of Christ, our entire, complete focus is supposed to be on God & we are to worship and praise him.

As God, he gets to determine what is appropriate worship. From the beginning of creation, he has shown what the created order of things looks like and if we are truly looking to him, we will gladly submit to his perfect design. All to the Glory of God alone. Soli Deo Gloria.

That’s what all this boils back down to. We can argue all we want about what Gods word says. But as RC Sproul says, “When their I something in the word of God that I have a problem with, the problem is with me and not the word of God.”

We can argue all we want about what the Word of God means. But the truth is that there is only one meaning to the text. To paraphrase Sproul again, there may be 10,000 applications, but there is only one meaning of the text. If we are focused on God as we are supposed to be, desiring to submit to and please God and to see the plain, simple meaning of the test, knowing that He is perfectly Good, and perfectly Holy, we may sometimes get the meaning of the text wrong.

But if we are focused on seeing what we want to see from the text, if we are seeing and serving a god of our own making instead of the God of the Bible, the one true God, as he has revealed himself in scripture, then we WILL get the meaning of the text wrong.

When we get together, we do so not for ourselves, not for each other. We do so to give glory to God, to praise the king of the universe and to thanks him for his grace and his mercy that saved a wretch like me.

Let’s Pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Timothy 1:18-20 Life in the Local Church: Continue in Faithfulness

1 Timothy 1:18-20
Life in the Local Church
Continue in Faithfulness

 

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy, chapter 1. We are going to pick back up in our series today, going through 1 & 2 Timothy, called Life in the Local Church. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or do not own a Bible, please grab on from the back table. We would love the Word of God to be our gift to you.
Now, its been a few weeks since we have been in this series and so we need to do a brief review before diving into todays text. Paul is writing to Timothy, who is the Pastor at the early church in Ephesus. Timothy is personally, very close to Paul, with Paul referring to him several times as a son to him.
Paul is writing to Timothy because there have been some issues and some teachers that have gained a foothold in the Ephesian church that need to be dealt with. The biggest issue we see that has been mentioned by Paul is that False teachers are False teaching a False Gospel. And there is no room for that in the church, of whom Christ is the head. Christ, who is revealed in Scripture, whose Gospel is revealed in Scriptures, not through the smooth words of people who look and sound good.
Paul is both encouraging Timothy and challenging him to do what needs to be done. And he is actually going to name names of two men who have been causing confusion and discord amongst the church.
So, with all that being said, lets go ahead and look at this morning’s text. Ill be reading 1 Timothy 1:18-20, and I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation that you have in your hands. 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verses 18-20. Paul, inspired by God, writing the holy and inerrant scriptures, writes:
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

All right, so Paul here is returning to his train of thought from earlier in the letter, back in verses 3-7. Timothy, do what you have been called to do. Do what has been entrusted to you. We know that with great power comes great responsibilities. And with great responsibility can come great rewards.
Paul has shown Timothy that God has entrusted him with great responsibility. Timothy is responsible to and charged to protect the flock at Ephesus, to protect the truth from the attacks of the enemy. He is to refute false teachings and teachers with the plain, pure, simple truth of the true Gospel.
One of the things we see about Timothy, if we study his life as recorded in the Bible, is that Timothy has a timid streak. He is not the loudest, surest, most take charge kind of guy. In that, a lot of the encouragement and challenges that Paul gives to Timothy, hit very close to home for me. Timothy does not always seem to be entirely sure of his ability to do the things that he needs to do to fulfill his responsibility.
And so, Paul reminds Timothy that God has called him to do this job. When God calls you to do something, he will equip you to accomplish exactly what He has called you to accomplish. This does not always mean that we will be successful at the task laid before us. We are not always called to be successful. We are called to be faithful and to do what God has said. In that, He will equip us as we need it.
As an example, I am called to shepherd the flock here at Bangor Community Church. I am also called to be a missionary to the community in and around Bangor, Ca. I may or may not be called to grow this church numerically. I may or may not be called to do many baptisms or to see firsthand many people come to faith. The results of my faithfulness are in Gods hands. I’m not responsible for that. I am responsible to Preach the Word and Love the People.
And guess what? That’s what God has equipped me to do. And what he has called you to do, he will equip you for exactly that task and the outcome that he has determined. And with that faithfulness comes great reward.
In this I am reminded of the parable of the talents. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that he entrusts each of us with different things, different tasks, different amounts. We are not responsible for each other’s talents. Talent was a unit of money, or gold back then. It works for material goods, for talents as we know them today, for anything because the idea is our level of faithfulness transcends it all. I am not responsible for your talents and how you use them. I am, to a point responsible for Hopes and the kids and how they use them. But I am primarily responsible for my own talents.
You are not responsible for my talents and how I use them. You are not responsible for each other’s talents, with your kids and your spouses being partial exceptions. We are responsible for helping to encourage, exhort and equip each other, as a body of Christ, as Paul shares in Ephesians 4. But you will not stand before God and must give an answer or an account for why I did or did not use my talents faithfully. You will stand and give an account regarding how you used your own talents.
In the parable, three men were given different amounts of money to take care of while their master was gone. One of them, given the most, was very faithful and got a return on his good works, he bore much fruit because of his faithfulness. The second was given a middle amount and was faithful to what he was given and he bore some fruit from his faithfulness. The last man was given a small amount and he was not faithful, bearing zero fruit. The first two were rewarded because of their faithfulness and the third was rebuked because of his lack of faithfulness.
God called those men to be faithful with what they were given, and he gave them the ability to be carry that out. Did the second man bear as much fruit as the first? No, but he wasn’t called to. He was still successful in carrying out what God had called them to.
So, the leads us to looking at, what was Timothy called to by God here in Ephesus? First, Timothy knew what he was called to because Paul and many elders laid hands on him, prayed over him and for him and prophesied over him. We see an example of this happen at the beginning of Acts chapter 13, with Paul and Barnabas. We will get more into prayer over the next couple of weeks but that is something we are still called to do. To pray over each other and to pray for each other. And there is something that happens, something that makes it much more personal and meaningful to both the person doing the praying and the person being prayed over.
But we also know that the prophetic offices have been closed. Gods Word has been fully revealed and there is no more extra biblical, special revelation. We need to remember to discern and see when to read the scriptures as descriptive, relaying that this is what happened, and when to read prescriptive, saying this is what we are supposed to do.
But at this point, in part because of the prayer and prophecy put onto Timothy, he was clear in his mission and his call. He is to fight the good fight. He is to wage good warfare. He is to fight against what Paul has already been writing about in this letter.
Timothy is to wage war against False Teaching in the church. He is to wage war against the False Teachers who are doing the false teaching. He is to wage war against the enemy’s scheme to destroy the witness and the mission of the Church. He was to wage war against the lies and the corruption and the sin that come along with all those things.
And Timothy is to also go the other route as well. He is to fight for Gods Truth. That’s Truth with a capitol T. The only actual truth there is. The Truth that all other claims are to be tested against. Timothy is to fight for Gods holiness, something we, as a Christian community in 21 century America don’t fully understand or grasp. He is to fight for the purity and sufficiency of the Gospel. And he is to fight for Gods righteousness, because we have none of our own and can only receive Christs perfect righteousness trough the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is also what, in general terms, we are all called to do as well, in our lives, in our family, in our circle of friends and in our church. And it isn’t easy, and it takes an incredible amount of discernment.
Because this is one area where we must be careful. And we are going to use False Teaching as an example here. Not all False Teaching is heresy. One definition I like says this: “Heresy is a false teaching about the essential doctrines of our faith – the ones we must adhere to, regarding who God is, who Jesus is, salvation by grace, and Jesus’ resurrection.”
And so, False teaching about the non-essential issues is not heresy. It still needs to be confronted and dealt with, but we need to be careful about what words we throw around when we do indeed confront it.
Also, not all teaching that reads the text differently is false teaching. For example, we look at the various views on the end times. What did Jesus teach? Well, his speaking of the end times are summed up in be ready for it and nobody knows the time when it will come.
And yet the church today has three very different views about when Jesus will return and each of these three will influence how you read scriptures and are influenced by how you read scriptures. Now, in the end, two of those three will end up being wrong. But you can teach each one of them from a biblical standpoint and therefore, they are not, by definition, false teachings.
They are opinions and preferences that we believe. And we can hold them tightly even. But they are secondary issues that we should not divide over. I love Village Missions Statement of Faith on this subject. It reads, and I forget the exact wording, but it reads, We believe that Jesus Christ will one day, physically return. Done. That’s what we unite over in this subject. If we deny that part, that Jesus will physically return, then we get into heresy area. But if we disagree on whether we are pre, post or amillenial in Christs return, we simply read the text differently.
Some of these things that we differ on, they are differences of opinion. They are our interpretation. They are our preconceived notions and preconceived views, of which we all have. Some of these things, as I have said, we can still be united together as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, despite those differing views. Some of these things you can see or think differently than I do and I can still that you have a genuine and pure faith. And it is that genuine and pure faith that Timothy and all of us are called to defend and to protect.
So we also look at what the Bible says is the faith that we hold in a good conscience. Of course there is John 3:16, maybe is, and definitely used to be the single most well know bible verse in the world. John writes: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. And I also like what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-8:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
That is what we cling to. This is what we hold tight to. And this is what, if we reject it, we make what Paul calls here, a shipwreck of our faith. Those who reject the faith, those who reject the Gospel, also those who claim to believe the Gospel but reject those closed handed Gospel issues, they are not just rejecting salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But they are also rejecting unity. They are rejecting the Gospel, despite what they claim. They are rejecting the true Biblical God and the true biblical Jesus.
And when you have rejected these things, you have rejected the faith. Paul names two men who have been in the church and have fallen into this category of False teachers, rejecting the core tenets of the faith and teaching heresy. Alexander and Hymanaeus are specifically named as having been dealt with and have been handed over to Satan.
Now, we can not just take that verse and start doing whatever we want with it. We need to be really careful with what we take from it and how we apply it to today.
When we separate from people, we do so after having tried everything we could do on our end for repentance and reconciliation. We see Matthew 18 as the go to text about how to treat issues like this. We separate only after much prayer. We separate only after much effort. We do so only after every other option has been exhausted.
And we do so for what purpose? As shown here and in 1 Corinthians 5:5, We separate from others, we remove them from the church only as a last resort, in order to bring them to repentance. We do so in order to, ideally bring them back into the fellowship of the saints and bring them back into the body of believers.
In this instance, if Alexander and/or Hymanaeus were to repent of their false teaching and they were to accept the full, clear, simple, true gospel, Paul would welcome them back into the church with open arms.
Now, we don’t know what exactly they were teaching that fell into the category of false teaching, though we could make fair guesses based on what Paul has already written in this letter. But we do know that Paul says they are guilty of blaspheming God.
Here is one definition of blasphemy: To blaspheme is to speak with contempt about God or to be defiantly irreverent. Blasphemy is verbal or written reproach of God’s name, character, work, or attributes.
Does that help any of you? Practically it was not very much help for me. So, I will describe blasphemy in this way and this is not specific or entirely complete, but it helps me practically. Blasphemy is giving Gods attributes and identity to someone or something else. Giving credit for Gods Works to someone or something who is not God. It is giving to God lesser attributes or taking away from Gods true identity.
Cause here’s the thing. God and God alone has the right to determine who he is. God and God alone has the right to what his identity is. He is God. He has revealed who he is in his revealed word, the Bible that you have right in front of you. God is the creator and the author of all things. He is the almighty and he is a jealous God. And all of creation was made to give glory to God. So, if we give the glory that is rightly due to God, to anything else, we are blaspheming God. Let’s not do that.
See what God himself says in his word. Believe in his Gospel, that Jesus his son, died for our sins and rose from the dead to full achieve the forgiveness of our sins. That forgiveness and eternal life with God, available by Grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
So, we continue to do what has been entrusted to us. Fight against the false teachings and sin that has corrupted this world. We stand up for and fight for the Truth and holiness of God and we trust both the results of our fight and our salvation to God and God alone.
Let’s Pray.

Malachi 2:17-3:5 Part 2 Gods Response to Sin

Malachi 2:17-3:5 Pt 2

Gods Response to Sin

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with and turn to the Book of Malachi. Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. And if you do not have or own a Bible, please help yourself to one on the back table as our gift to you.

So, as we turn to Malachi, we are going to continue looking at the same passage we looked at last week. And the theme covering both weeks is “Response to Sin.” Last week, essentially, we looked at out own response to sin. We either justify it, both in ourselves and others, saying that God is ok with sin, because… whatever. Or we look around and figure that God is not going to respond to sin because we don’t see him responding to it around us right now.

But we see in this passage that God will indeed respond to sin, indeed he has to. But we will look at the two ways that the LORD responds to sin. One of the things that I didn’t mention last week the book of Malachi is especially showing us, and we say it some in Romans as well, we see it through out the scriptures, is that the Chapter breaks and the verse numbers are not inerrant. They were developed and inserted into the text much later. The chapter breaks were designed and inserted in the 1200s, and the verse numbers were inserted in the 15th and 16th centuries, for the Old and the New testament Respectively.

This section is a section that fits together overreaching the chapter break that was put in there. The Chapters and the verse are incredibly useful and they are a gift from God, to allow us to memorize certain sections of scripture even to locate and find certain passages easier than if it was just one long paper, book or letter with no markations. So, I also don’t want you to hear that the chapter and verse breaks are bad. Of course they are not. But, we can also remember that they are not infallible, it is the Words of God that are infallible.

So, we will go ahead and read our passage for this week, Malachi 2:17-3:5 and we will look at what the Work of God says. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Malachi chapter 2, verse 17, through Malachi chapter 3, verse 5.

God, speaking through his prophet, Malachi says:

You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, Where is the God of justice?”

 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

So, in chapter 2, verse 17, where we spent most of our time last week, we see how we, how you and I respond to sin, as I explained in the beginning. And starting in Chapter 3, verse 1, we see how God is going to respond to sin, and in fact, from our perspective of time, how he already has.

All through out the Old testament, God has been preparing his covenant people for a coming Messiah, a savior. One who would, as God foretold back in Genesis 3:15, one who would crush the head of the enemy.

See, because of the Holiness of God, sin is not something that He can overlook or ignore. It is an affront to his holiness, his character, his God-ness. RC Sproul refers to sin as Cosmic Treason. And so, something has to be done about it. One of the things we also see in Genesis 3, specifically in verse 21, it says,  And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Seems nondescript and innocuous enough, right?

But if we look at what’s going on here, we see that Adam and Eve had been naked and unashamed in the Garden. After their sin, the realized they were naked and they were very ashamed. Now, there’s a whole lot we could get into there, but the point we are looking at today is that God made them clothes to cover themselves. And what were those clothes made of? It says out of skins. It took the death of the animal. Adam and Eves sin caused the death of an animal just like it cause death to enter into this world. This is the first instance and example of our sin requiring blood, requiring death to atone for it, to pay for it.

So, our sin requires a blood payment to make things right. Paul tells us famously that the wages of sin is death. The problem is that our sinful blood, our death is not enough to cover our sins. And even if it was, it would only cover sins that had already been committed, it would not cover sins yet to come. So, after Adam brought sin in to the world, and through Adam we have all sinned, Romans 5 something or rather, we have become separated from the goodness and holiness of God. Our relationship with him is broken. And we have no ability to reconcile it, no hope of fixing our relationship, no chance of making things right with him. Gods holiness, his fairness demands that he respond to sin by punishing sin, by pouring his just and holy wrath out on it.

As John MacArthur puts it, “Fair would send everyone to Hell. You dont want fair, you want Mercy.” And we see Gods mercy even back in the garden when he made the clothes for Adam and Eve. Yes, Had to expel them from the garden, and yes, death was required, but don’t miss that even in that, God made clothes for them and provided them with the means to make clothes for themselves. God reached out in mercy and provided for them what they couldn’t provide for them selves.

And He has promised the One who could do for us what we cant do for ourselves. The One who would restore our broken relationship with God, who would save us from the consequences of our sin, who would be mercy to those who need mercy.

Throughout the Old Testament, God sent a series of prophets, speaking His Words. Most of their primary purpose was to call Israel to repent of their sins, to turn back to God and through that, they also prophesied and prepared the way for the coming savior.

Remember that Malachi is the last of the prophets that we have in the Old Testament. Now, Israel didn’t know that at the time, they didn’t know that Malachi would be the last one to hear from God for over 400 years. They didn’t know that the next prophet of God would be the one whose main purpose was to prepare the way, a prophet whom Isaiah 40:3, calls “A voice cries: in the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

John the Baptist is this prophet that God was foretelling. He was a prophet in the order of Elijah. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and he was the one whom who introduce the world to the Savior. The Gospel of John records in John 1:29, John the Baptist saying, of Jesus, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Johns’ Message, as Matthews Gospel records is ““Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Kingdom at hand because The Son of God have arrived. Jesus of Nazareth was the promised, the foretold, the prophesied messiah and Savior. God became man to save sinners. Jesus said, in Mark 1:15; The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

One of the things we need to see and recognize is that there are two ways to read the scriptures. And some of the differences we can have in our theology can come from which of these two hermeneutics we use.

The question is, how do we understand, how we filter the things that are not crystal clear. Do we filter what we read in the New Testament by what the Old Testament says? Or Do we interpret the mysteries and the prophecies, the promises that God has made through what the New Testament says. I contend that the Bible itself and the writers of the New Testament use the New Testament to explain and interpret the Old Testament. And this explains parts of why Jesus did not look like what Israel was expecting the Messiah to look like. It helps explain the confusion over who the messenger was that would prepare the way for the Messiah and who John the Baptist was. It explains a lot about the blind eyes of the Pharisees and other religious leaders in the Gospels.

It also means that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the types and shadows of the Old Testament. Malachi writes that after the messenger, another messenger will come, the LORD who comes to his temple, the messenger of the covenant. He is coming, says the LORD of Hosts.

And he is coming, as the fulfillment of prophecy, as the fulfillment of types and shadows, in this case, as the fulfillment of the temple. He is coming because someone needs to be held accountable for our sin. Someone needs to pay the price of atoning for our sins. Some one needs to shed blood and pay with their life for our sins. That’s how serious our sin is. If we don’t understand that, we can never truly appreciate Jesus.

It is either us that has to be held accountable for our sin, or we give it all to Jesus. For those whom He has called, Jesus has already been held accountable for our sin. He has already paid the price for our sin. He paid by shedding his blood and dying on the cross, so that our sins may be forgiven. He rose from the dead to prove his dominion over sin and death in eternity past, present and future.

He is coming. In Malachi’s context, this was mainly talking about His first coming. His Incarnation. God became Man. Immanuel, God with us. He came, he lived, he never sinned though he was tempted in all ways. Hebrews 4:15, says it this way: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

And Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

One of the things we dont tend to see as much anymore in the church is Creeds and Confessions. These were used through out all the denominations of the coarse of the history of the church and were essentially used to boil things down to the essentials. In the minds of the people, or groups of people, of councils of learned men, they wrote these things to have a line in the sand, basically, against what is needed to be believe in order to be a Christian. I want to eventually find a way to incorporate some of these moving forward, but that’s neither here nor there and is also a long term goal. All of that to say that I love what the Nicene Creed says about Jesus, God the Son:

One Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And that last line there, he shall come again with glory. He will judge the living and the dead. And his kingdom will have no end. He will come again and when he does, none will be able to stand against him. When Jesus comes back, we will all stand before him and give an account for our sins. We will be separated, as we looked a few weeks ago, separated in to the sheep and the goats. Scriptures talks elsewhere about the wheat and tares, growing together, entangled and not able to be identified as separate or different. (Matthew 13:24-30) And in that parable, what is it that ends up separating them? Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 13:30:  Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

And who can stand against him? None will be able to. From those of us who are falling on our faces, worshipping him, to those who thought they did enough good works to be surprised at their rejection, (Matthew 7:21-23) to those who have spent their lives fighting against him, Paul writes in Philippians 2:10-11:  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

And the LORD will come as a Refining fire. And thats a relief if we understand it correctly. The LORD is not coming as just any fire. John Piper describes the fire this way:

He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.

God is doing a good work in us. He is working all things for our good, that we may be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:29) All of his creation will be refined. This earth will be put through his refining fire. And all the impurities, all the sin, all the chaos and corruption will be burned away, leaving the New Heavens and the New Earth and God dwelling with his people, our concept of Heaven. Where will spend eternity in our glorified, physical bodies, (1 Corinthians 15)

And this is where we will enter into true, perfect, pleasing worship of God. Jesus tells us the woman at the well, in John 4:23&24: But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Paul appeals to us in Romans 12:1, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

This is our offering in righteousness, this is our offering of Judah and Jerusalem that will be pleasing to the LORD. This is the side of mercy and grace of God. Jesus Christ, God becomes man to save sinners. To save you and I. And If you have been called, if you have been clothed in Christs righteousness instead of trusting in our own, we get to partake in this gift of eternal life with him.

But God isnt done here. Not all are called Children of God. Johns Gospel, chapter 1, verses 12 & 13:  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

God says that those who do not trust in him, who do not receive His Son will receive the full force of his wrath and holiness. Look at the last verse of our section in Malachi here, Malachi 3:5: Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Those who do not fear Him, or those who say that every who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD. Those who live in and love and partake in the sins of this world, the desires of our flesh. Our heart breaks for these and grieves theses people. These are often our close friends, our close family, people that are incredibly important to us, whom we love so much. And Revelation 20:15 says if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Hell is real, it is hot and eternity is a long time. Today, and hopefully every day, we beg, plead and pray, that if you have not received Jesus Christ, not recognized that he is the way and the only way to true, eternal life, please, now is the time. Please believe the Gospel, please believe in and receive in Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins and turn to the One True God. After this life, there are no second chances and we can never know when this life will end. Salvation is by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Your goodness, your morals, even your church attendance, cannot save you. Only Christ can do that. Please.

For those of us who have been delivered from the eternal punishment of our sins, today is a day we rejoice and we celebrate. We celebrate the fact that w have been assured of our right standing with God and we remember what Christ did to achieve this for us. We come together as a church family, every first Sunday of the Month and we celebrate communion. We come together, setting aside any differences, any pettyness, anything other than our standing in Christ and we unite together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we pursue that unity by remembering. We remember and celebrate Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.
We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. But, We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.
I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.
Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.
Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.