2 Timothy 3:10-17 Life in the Local Church: All Scripture is the Word of God

2 Timothy 3:10-17

Life in the Local Church

All Scripture is the Word of God

 

Good Morning! Please turn in your Bibles with me to 2 Timothy chapter 3. Our passion and our calling here at Bangor Community Church is to get the Word of God into the hands and ears of as many people as possible, so if you do not have a Bible, or know someone who needs one, please grab one off the back table as our gift.

So, continuing through our series through 1 & 2 Timothy, titled Life in the Local Church. Paul has been writing to his protégé, his child in the faith, Timothy. Timothy has been placed as the pastor of the church in Ephesus. Paul knows that this is probably the last letter he will get to write to Timothy. He knows his death at  the hands of Caesar Nero is imminent and so what we see here is Paul pulling no punches. Just speaking straight truth that Timothy, the church and all of us need to hear.

Paul has been putting False Teachers and their followers and their falsehoods on blast in his letters to Timothy. He is telling us, This is what you need to know in order to identify, to mark and to avoid those who come along teaching lies and falsehoods. The section of scripture we looked at last week showed a lost of characteristics and attributes that show what these false teachers and their followers look like.

Paul knew this was coming to the Ephesians. We look back when he left the Ephesian church after planting and growing it and spending three years investing in them. Luke records in Acts 20:28-30 Paul speaking to the elders as he left:

 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,[e] which he obtained with his own blood.[f] 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

 

Paul knew what was coming for the church. He knew what was coming from within the church. And he knew what will be and has been coming for us today, as well. And as important as it is for us to know what these false teachers will look like and do, ultimately, our focus needs to be on the truth.

Im sure you all know the example that’s given of the Secret Service and how they train their agents to identify counterfeit currency. They spend hours upon hours going through stacks of bills. They look for any inconsistency, anything different. Looks, texture, smell, whatever. And by the time they are done, they can spot a counterfeit 5 dollar bill from across a crowded room. Heres the thing. Those stacks and stacks of bills they are going through and looking at every detail of, none of them are fake. They are all real. They spend so much time getting to know exactly what the real thing is, that when anything different comes along, no matter how minute, no matter how small the detail, no matter how close to the original, anything that is not the real thing, sticks out like a sore thumb.

Knowing Gods Word is the same way. We know the truth because we study and immerse ourselves in the truth. When we do so, anything that is not the truth is able to be readily identified.

With that, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, 2 Timothy 3, verses 10-17. I am going to be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to find a preferred translation and follow along with us as we journey through and dive into the scriptures.

Paul writes to Timothy, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, making these the very Words of God himself:

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

Thus says the inspired and complete Word of God.

 

 

Paul is exhorting Timothy here to faithfulness, first to the example that Paul has set and second and more importantly, to the Scriptures themselves. He start in verse 10, contrasting whats coming next with what he has said in verse 1-7. Paul is saying, “That’s not you! You stay faithful! Unlike them, as they continue to become more and more unfaithful, you stay faithful. You have seen what I have been through. You have seen what I have dealt with. You have seen my faithfulness. You have seen my example and you have seen that in ALL These things, God has rescued me.”

Paul is calling Timothy to be a disciple. He is calling him to follow Paul just as Paul has been following Christ. And in doing so, Timothy will be following Christ. Christians are disciples. Jesus call for us is to be disciples and to make disciples. His call is to love him and to follow him. Follow the truth, not false lies like we dealt with last week, but the Truth, capital T, Truth, as Paul has shown and as Jesus is.

In verse 11, Paul mentions the persecution and the sufferings he has suffered, specifically in the cities of Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. RC Sproul explain why Paul mentions these three specifically as he writes: Three cities in the Roman province of Galatia where Paul preached the Gospel on his first missionary journey. Against significant opposition, Paul succeeded in establishing a church in each city. Paul mentions these cities, including Timothy’s home of Lystra, in order to appeal to the roots of Timothy’s faith.

          Pauls conduct in these instances, in these circumstances served as a testimony to his faith. The same conduct he is calling Timothy and us to. One of the points is that its not enough to say the Words, I believe…. If that belief, that faith is true, your conduct will show it. In all circumstances, in all positions, in all times. Not just Sunday mornings, but every hour of every day.

 With encouragement comes warnings in the scripture, just like with warning comes encouragement. Paul says, Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 

          We see this through out scripture. Jesus tells his followers in Matthew 10, verses 17 & 18:

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 

He also says in John 15:20:

If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

 

          In 1 Peter, twice Peter mentions this, 1 Peter 4:12 he writes: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. And 1 Peter 5:9: Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

 

We are told often and clearly that if we follow Christ, we should expect persecution. Though Voddie Baucham gives a great solution as he says: There is an easy way to avoid persecution. All you have to do is compromise.

Man, that’s just a bit convicting, isnt it?

Paul goes in in verse 13 as he says that while followers of Christ  are facing this persecution, coming under fire. Those who have compromised, those who are doing evil, imposters, all of them are going from bad to worse. This is why he warns us with verse 1-7. This is why the world appears to be going down the toilet, that proverbial handbasket that gathers momentum the further and faster it goes downhill.

But its been like this from the beginning. Sin enters in Genesis 3 and its not before Genesis 4 is over that we not only see the first murder, between brothers Cain and Abel, but we see in Cains ancestors that it is only a few generations before sin has evaded every aspect of life. From that point on, God keeps his remnant, those who are his, and he keeps them in his hands, protected from eternal damnation. But we see that the world hasn’t changed since then. Sometimes there will be outward appearances of morality, where we like to show our goodness. But just underneath that surface, the depths of sin boils and waits to overflow out of the cracks of the outer moral shell. And we see other times where that sin flows freely.

When Paul talks about those who will continue to get worse, we see people who are blinded spiritually. We see People who put their trust in their own righteousness. And we watch helplessly as they continually and only double down on their self righteousness, They stand firm on their ability and their goodness whenever they are faced with anything going against their views, their passions, their preferences and their positions.

I think of an example here of the Pharaoh in Egypt in the Exodus. Pharaoh was given the truth time after time was given signs and wonders testifying to the truth of Gods Word, the death of all first born males, not just kids, but adults too, not just humans but animals too.

Pharaoh continued to get worse and worse, just as we see so many today. Do you have that friend or that family member? The more they are confronted by the truth, the stronger they resist it and the more they build up walls and barriers. The false teachers and their followers that Paul is fighting against continue to deceive and they continue to be deceived. Romans 1:24 warns that God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity

         

          But, as for you, again, Paul contrasting against those deceiving and being deceived. Continue in what you have learned. Stay Faithful and on the path that has been laid before you. And know from whom you have learned. For Timothy, as Paul mentioned earlier in this letter, this was specifically his Mother and grandmother.

Its so important that we realize who we let teach us matters. It affects us in ways we don’t often realize. This is why we test all things against scripture. This is why we test all spirits against the Holy Spirit. And its rarely just as easy as that. The sad truth of the matter is that you can learn some truth from false teachers. Don’t misunderstand, this is not an endorsement, but the unfortunate reality.

It would be so much easier to identify them if the first things out of their mouth was blatant and clear heresy. But they are subtle and cunning. They use scripture to draw in believers. But that scripture is rarely in context and almost never used correctly. And once you are drawn in, they start twisting scripture even more and they   allow their lies to come to the surface.

If you listen to or read false teachers such as Beth Moore or Paula White, or Christine Caine or Joyce Meyer. If you listen to or read false teachers such as Joel Osteen or Bill Johnson or Andy Stanley or NT Wright. There may be some truth that you can pull out of them, but it will be quite accidental. There may be some verses quoted and you may be able to learn a kernel of truth.

But if you do learn some truth from them, you will not be able to discern and to identify the many and serious untruths, otherwise known as lies, that come along with these so called teachers.

Who you listen to matters. Who you let teach you and who you let wire your brain matters. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 that “bad company corrupts good morals.” You need to be able to truth who teaches you. If a teacher breaks his students trust, the game is over. If a pastor breaks the trust of someone in his congregation, if I break the trust of one of you, could I ever earn it back? Not likely. And if I don’t have your trust, then I cant teach and pastor you.

Timothy had his grandmother and his mom teaching him. In most cases, these two people in your life would be amongst the, if not the most trustworthy people in your life. Parents, Grandparents, teach your kids and grandkids.

God tells the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

And Paul mentions that specifically it was the scriptures that Timothy was taught from his earliest years. Now, of course, it is not necessary, it is not required to learn the Bible as a child. But when we look at our walk with Christ, when we look at our life growing in him and knowing him, it makes sense that the earlier you get started reading and studying him, the further along you will get, the closer you will get to God.

The Good News is that this is not a case of one person is more saved than another. The thief on the cross has the same standing before God and the throne of Glory as someone who came to Christ so early in life that they don’t remember life without Him.

And what Timothy learned was the sacred scriptures. The Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, which were that they has at that point. They could be easily and often misinterpreted, but the mystery that Paul often writes about is the revealing of what the Old Testament said, though in a shrouded way.

For those of you taking our bibliology class Sunday nights, there is a phrase that we learned early on regarding the Old Testament and the New Testament, It says, The New is in the Old Concealed. The Old is in the New revealed.

What is revealed in and contained in the Old Testament is Jesus Christ and the example of Old Testament believers being saved by their faith in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Those scriptures that Timothy had, that was available in those days, our Old Testament, those scriptures contained enough information, enough of Jesus was contained and revealed in them that they were able to make us wise to salvation. There was enough to give us a saving faith.

 

 

Paul writes in verse 16, what may be one of the most famous verses among Christians. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

 

How much of scripture? Is it just the New Testament that applies to us today? No. Is it just the big ideas of the Bible but not the details? No. Is it just the parts that we want to be inspired by God? No.

All Scripture is breathed out by God. We don’t “unhitch” from the Old testament. Remember the Old Testament was able to make us wise for salvation. Romans 10:17 tells us Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. All scripture is breathed out by God. Every word, every jot, every tittle. All of it is inspired. It is inerrant and it is sufficient.

          If we teach each other about God, we do so by the Word of God. If we reprove or correct someone, their teaching, their behavior, their beliefs, whatever, we do so by the Word of God. If we train in righteousness (and if we are Christians, are being trained in righteousness) we do so by the Word of God.

If we evangelize, try to bring someone to a saving faith, we do so by the Word of God. It makes us wise to salvation and faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Paul Washer said this week, “We preach to dead men, and there is no crowbar from the secular world we can use to pry them out of a tomb.”

The Word of God is our authority. All other things come under the Word of God.

The Word of God is our authority so that RC Sproul can rightly say: When I disagree with something I find in the Word of God, the problem is with me, not with the Word of God.

          So we looked at some of the things that the Word of God is, here are some of the things that the Word of God is not.

The Word of God is not our thoughts, ideas or opinions.

The Word of God is not our experiences.

The Word of God is not our testimony.

The Word of God is not our life and our witness.

The Word of God is not dreams.

The Word of God is not our feelings.

The Word of God is not my words up here.

The Word of God is not your favorite teachers words or sermons or books.

Nobody elses words are the Word of God. The Pope, the head of the catholic church they have a doctrine, a belief that says that when he is speaking in his official pope capacity, the term they use is “from the throne,” when he makes a statement from the throne, those words are to be considered the very Words of God. They are on the same level as the words we have written down right here in our hands.

Lots of so called Bible teachers out there act as if they have the same ability. Their teachings are on par with Gods Words. I gave one example last week. So often, these teachers act this way and back it up by claiming that God has given them direct, secret revelation that God has given to anyone else. Secret, hidden revelation that can not be found in the Bible. That’s one if the key things to pay attention to.

Instead, we are to focus on Christ. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God and the Word was with God.

          So we focus on him, identifying and marking and avoiding the false teachers that will be infiltrating the church, but focusing on the Word of God. Joshua 1:8, God tells Joshua:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

 

It sounds similar to Psalm 1:1 & 2:

 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

 

If we say that we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, if we say that we have a high view of scripture, then our lives ought to show it. If we have saving faith in Jesus Christ then we believe the Words that Jesus spoke. And we believer that the Words of the Bible are the Words of God, the Words of Jesu, then we will follow his commandments to the best of our ability.

It is the Word of God that trains us, completes us, equips us to do the works that God has set in front of us. If we do not have the desire to follow the Word of God, to live a godly and righteous life, then we do not have a saving faith.

We wont immediately become sinless, but we will become immediately cleansed of our sins. We will immediately be justified, declared righteous before God the Father, with God the Son as our intercessor and God the Holy Spirit working in us to sanctify us, grow us and help us to have some of the ability to live the life God wants, glorifying him. I love the way Allistair Begg says this:

Can I ask you, do you want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus? Do you begin the day—do I begin the day—saying, “Lord, help me not to sin,” or “Help me not to sin very much”? Can you imagine getting on a 737 in Glasgow, and going to London, and hearing the pilot come on and say, “Now, my strategy this morning is—as we take off over the Clyde and go out over Govan and head south—my strategy in flying the plane, I just want you to know, is not to crash very much.” Wouldn’t have a real reassuring ring to it, would it? But that’s the way some of us approach our lives. Anyone “who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus” does not begin the day saying, “Help me not to sin very much,” but “Help me not to sin.” Oh, I end the day saying, “I didn’t get a hundred percent. I’m not sure I even got seventy.” But at least it doesn’t stop me from beginning the day with a good challenge.

 

Love God, Love Christ, with all your heart, mind, body and soul. Repent and turn from your sins. Follow Him, become his disciple. Meditate on his law, the Bible, the very Word of God, meditate on it day and night. Flee from your youthful passions turn to the one who forgives sins and brings you out from death to eternal life. The answers are all in here. Do not let anyone turn you away from Gods Word. Don’t let yourself turn you away from the Word of God.  Make your delight in the law of the LORD, and on his law meditate day and night.

 

 

 

 

 

         

2 Timothy 2:8-13 Life in the Local Church: The Same Glorious Gospel

2 Timothy 2:8-13

Life in the Local Church

The Same Glorious Gospel

 

                Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Timothy chapter 2. We are continuing our series through 1 & 2 Timothy that we are calling “Life in the Local Church.” I anticipate that this series will take us up through Easter and then we start a sermon series through another book of the Bible, presumably from the Old Testament. As we open to 2 Timothy, if you do not have a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table as our gift to you.

As we start looking at this week’s passage, it will be extra important to look at some of the things that Paul has written earlier in this letter. I think specifically to the last thing he said in the passage we looked at last week. Timothy 2:7 he wrote to Timothy, think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

                This is not only talking about what Paul had just written, but the entirety of his letter, and the previous letters as well. Specifically, I want \us to remember what he wrote in chapter 2, verse 1, he told Timothy, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Paul is not saying new things. He is saying the same thing over and over. He is sometimes saying it different ways, or from different angles, or slightly different applications, but he is still saying the same thing.

That will be the first point we look at after we read this mornings passage. We will be looking at 2 Timothy 2, verses 8-13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. So, 2 Timothy 2:8-13, Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, meaning his Words are the Word of God, writes to Timothy:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

 

 

May God bless the reading of his Holy and inspired Word.

 

 

So, Paul tells Timothy, he tells us, that we need to remember Christ Jesus. Think on these things, God will give you understanding in everything and in that context, Remember Christ Jesus. This not just some one-off comment by Paul. Again, this is purposefully immediately following what Paul said about God giving understanding. The most important piece of knowledge is one that only God can give us and that is that Jesus is LORD. We won’t come to that knowledge without God revealing it to us.

Once God has revealed that knowledge to us, we need to dwell on it continuously. Again, Paul is not telling us something that he isn’t doing himself. Before this passage we are reading this morning, Paul has mentioned by name, Jesus Christ 8 times. He will do so twice more in this passage. That’s 10 times through 1 & ½ chapters. Paul is making sure that we, the readers as well as He himself, the writer will continually remember.

There is a great quote that is frequently attributed to Martin Luther regarding us needing to be continually reminded. It is said A church member asked Luther “Why do you preach the Gospel to us week after week?” Luther replied, “Because week after week you forget it. ”

                There is some debate as to the authenticity of this story and quote, but truth lies in it, nonetheless. We are a people who are a forgetful people. We are constantly forgetting and need to be reminded of several things. We need to continually be reminding ourselves of who we are, we are sinners, scriptures say that we are sinners form within our mother’s womb. But we think we are good people, or good enough anyway and that people, especially us are generally good at heart, down deep inside.

We need to remind ourselves of our need. We are sinners and therefore we are in need of a savior. We are in need of forgiveness. We are in need of grace. None of which we deserve, nor can we achieve or acquire for ourselves. We need to remind ourselves of that too. That we cannot do this on our own.

We need to remind our selves of our savior. Jesus Christ is our savior. He is, as he says in John 14:6 The Way, The Truth and The Life. We need to remind ourselves that it is not our works, but his works that turns into redeemed souls, saved from our sins, regenerated, justified, sanctified and soon to be glorified. Not our works, but his works, His death, burial and resurrection. The forgiveness that He bought with His blood. The fulfillment of so much prophecy. The fulfillment of all the prophecy. All of it done by Him and by God the Father on our behalf so that we can receive and be clothed in his righteousness and be called the sons of God, co heir with Christ.

And we need to remind ourselves of who he is. Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. He is the Messiah. He is God the Son. Let me say that again. He is God. And Paul specifies that point. He says Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. This establishes his deity. If Jesus is not God, then we are done. We are lost. We are worshipping an idol. And he has no power to save.

Christs resurrection is absolutely vital to our faith. Our most important holiday of the year celebrates the resurrection. Easter is us remembering and celebrating this! This does not take away from Christmas. Yes, he needed to be born in order to die, in order to rise from the dead. That our other important holiday, celebrating his birth. But his resurrection is what proved he was God. Its what defeated death. Its what allowed us to have a hope for the future and it shows us what to look forward to with our own resurrection in the end.

This is so central to so much of what Paul teaches. 1 Corinthians 15, starting with verses 3-7, Paul writes:

 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

 

Then look at verse 12-19 where Paul shows why this is so important:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[b] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 

Christ is God. Jesus is God. God became man to save sinners. He was born, he died, he was resurrected. In order to be born, he must also be man. That’s what Paul says when he refers to Jesus as the offspring of David. Yes, this fulfills prophecy. God said that the Messiah would come from the line of David. But that’s not what Paul is pointing in this text, in this context. He is pointing out Jesus humanity. God became man. We need to remind ourselves of this at times too. Many of the false religions, the cults, many go wrong because they either deny Christs deity, or they deny Christs humanity. He was both. Truly God, Truly man. And He, Jesus Christ is the point, the focus, the subject of the scriptures, of the true, biblical Gospel.

And Again, it is this Gospel that Paul is imprisoned for preaching. That Christ is God. That sin is sin. That we are sinners. That sin needs payment. That Christ paid it for us. That he calls us to holiness. Paul is imprisoned as if he were a criminal because he preached nothing but Christ and him crucified.

But the good news is that, despite Paul being locked up for preaching the Word of God, the Word of God is not, will no and cannot be locked up!

 

We know that Hebrews 4:12 tells us:  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

                And we know some of the things that happened because of Paul’s imprisonment. He writes in Philippians 1:12-14, of a previous imprisonment:

I want you to know, brothers,[e] that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard[f] and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the

word[g] without fear.

 

 

                The Word of God is powerful. The Word of God is free. It can stand on its own. Charles Spurgeon is attributed with saying: “The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.”

                As we look at what Paul write sin verse 10, it takes me back to what he wrote in Philippians 1. In verse 10 here he says that all that he is going through is for a purpose and that purpose is to further the Kingdom of God, to bring more people to faith and repentance in Jesus Christ and to God may be glorified.

He endures suffering and he does everything possible so that the elect, all those whom God has called, may come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 6:44, No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

                All whom God calls will respond to him. And all those who are put into Jesus’ hand will obtain salvation. By the grace of God alone, through Faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. It is all to the Glory of God alone, not our glory. And salvation comes through the scriptures alone. Romans 10:17. Faith comes by hearing and hearing of the Word of God. The unchained, unbridled, living and active, sufficient Word of God.

This in no way means that we don’t have to do anything, that we just let God do his thing and we kick up our feet. No, also in Romans 10, faith comes by hearing, but how are they to hear if no one tells them? Its been said that Spurgeon had this to say about making sure we follow scriptures and evangelize:

If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.’”

 

                Our job is to let nothing be an excuse for someone to not come to know the LORD. We are to let nothing be a stumbling block. We are to present the information, to present the Word, to share the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit call forth those whom God has deemed.

Romans 8:30, And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The eternal glory, as Paul puts it here is 2 Timothy is what we are all waiting for. Its what we have hope in. RC Sproul in his commentary on this verse says:

This glory is the final, complete salvation of the elect in the new order of God. The saints will have resurrection bodies and transformed human natures. They will experience the triumph of Christ over sin and death and know fullness of joy in a life secured for them by Christs death, resurrection and ascension.

Amen?

 

Paul then quotes what is likely and early Christian hymn, reciting a known truth in the early church. He recites:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

 

                If we die with, if we die to self as he calls us to do. If we kill the sin in our life, as a fruit of our faith and the work of the Holy Spirit. If we repent and believe the Gospel, this all lead to eternal life with Christ, that eternal glory we just mentioned, in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

And we are called to endure. Paul has made mention often in this letter that we are called to suffer on behalf of the Gospel. We are to endure this life, the suffering that come with it.

Romans 8 again, this time verse 18, Paul writes: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

                And in the glory that is to come, we will reign with him as co heirs. Right now, Jesus is sitting on the throne, he is the king over every single solitary thing. After he comes back, after he puts away death as the last enemy to be defeated, he will hand the creation back over to God the Father and sit at his right hand, reigning over the new creation. And we will be right there with him.

But that sonly if we respond to the Word of God and we come to a saving faith in Him. This hymn or whatever, warns against those who do not. Those who deny him, Christ will also deny.

Jesus says in Matthew 10, 32 & 33:

So, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

 

Without Christ, we have no hope. Without Christ, we have no righteousness. Without Christ we are locked out of the Kingdom of God and we will suffer eternal wrath and judgment that is deserved from our sins. That is the holiness and justice of God.

Some who deny Christ will think they are Christians and they will be at church every week and they will say all the right things and do all the things they think they are supposed, memorize the Bible verses, say Amen, but they will not truly know Jesus in their hearts. They will instead, be trusting in their own works and in their attendance and their memorization and all that instead of Christ.

Some will call themselves Christians but will never set foot in church, will never open their bibles, will live just like the rest of the world lives. They will produce no fruit and have no repentance showing evidence of their salvation.

Some will reject Christianity and Christ outright, as we are seeing more and more of today. But all know, deep down inside, they know the truth, though as Romans 1 puts it, they suppress it in their unrighteousness.

But through it all Christ will remain faithful, even in our unfaithfulness. And in the end, every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD.

Now, here is how powerful Christ is, not even our unfaithfulness is big enough, strong enough or powerful enough to undo Christs faithfulness. Our salvation, our standing with God has nothing to do with us. Not our works, not our obedience, not our faithfulness. Because the truth is that we will fail. We will be disobedient; we will be unfaithful to God.

But it is impossible, it would go against his very nature, it would be sin, the one thing that God cannot do. We hear and see all the time that God can do anything, but there is an exception to that. God cannot go against his own nature, He cannot sin. And for him to go against his word, for him to be unfaithful would be for him to sin.

And that just aint gon’ happen.

 

God has made a covenant. He made a covenant of works that we, starting with and symbolized, us represented by Adam, we failed. We did not then, through Adam and we cannot know because of our sin nature uphold the covenant of works. Obey my commands and have everlasting life.

But Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the covenant of works so that we may take part in the covenant of Grace. Who so ever believes in Christ, will not perish but will have everlasting life? That is an unbreakable covenant. That is not one that we can undo. Because it is secure in the works of Christ on the cross, in the tomb and in his resurrection. That is the new covenant.

God is faithful to his word. If you deny him, you will face everlasting wrath and justice in hell. If you believe in Christ and repent of your sins, you will be brought into the new covenant, into the family of God and will take part in that eternal glory with Christ.

And it is that new covenant that we remember on the first Sunday of each month. We remember Jesus Christ. We remember his works and we remember his live and his sacrifice. We remember Romans 5:8, While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Matthew records this in Matthew 26, verses 26-29, where he writes: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have two things to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

Second, this is a time of reflection. Your hearts and mind should be clear and right before God. We, as followers of Christ, have been forgiven, but 1 John says that we are to confess our sins. If you have sin that you haven’t dealt with before God, take this time to do so. IF you can’t, it is better to pass the elements and make your heart right with God.

There is no judgment in these things, Paul wants us to make sure that our minds are focused on the remembrance of Christ and his works and love for us.

So, what we are going to do is Mike and Jim will come up. One of them will pray for the bread, which symbolize Jesus body. The body that he gave up for us to pay the penalty for our sins. We will then pass those out and when they are all passed out, we will take the bread together as a church family, unite underneath the Gospel. Then, the other one will pray for the juice, which is a symbol for Christs blood. His blood purchased the forgiveness of our sins. We will pass those out and again, take them as a church family once they are all passed out.

 

Let us go ahead and prepare our hearts and come to the LORDS table.

With Christ, we receive his mercy and forgiveness. With Christ, though not righteous on our own, we receive Christs righteousness.

Romans 13:11-14 Go and Sin No More

Romans 13:11-14
Go and Sin No More

Good Morning! Go ahead and grab your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 13. Please remember that if you do not own a Bible, we have some on the back table that you are free to take as our gift to you.
We have now been in Romans for an entire year. I preached on Romans chapter 1. verse 1-7 on March 4 of last year. Just to be clear, we will not be in Romans for another year. But in the introduction sermon to Romans, one year ago, we talked about some of the historical importance of the book of Romans. We looked at the conversions of Martin Luther, of John Wesley, and of Augustine.
The first two, Luther and Wesley were converted through the Word of God while reading and studying Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
It is the power of God for salvation and the righteous shall live by faith. Those are things that hit Luther and Wesley. And as we read it, it’s completely understandable. But that’s not what Augustine read that hit him. The verse that hit him is one of the ones we are going to look at this morning.
As we prepare to look at these couple of verses, I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but it reminds me of the importance of context. If all we look at are these 4 verses, we don’t really get a sense of what Paul is trying to say. If we separate it from the context of the previous couple of verses especially and chapters 12 & 13 as a whole, we lose the point that Paul is making.
So, before we go any further, let’s go ahead and read our passage for this week, Romans 13:11-14. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and encourage you to follow along in whichever version you have. Romans 13:11-14. Paul writes:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
So, we could, if we want, take this as a standalone section and go all sorts fo directions regarding the end times or so many other ways, but this passage is directly tied to what we have been reading in the last couple of sections, namely, living the Christina life in love.
Paul starts here, saying, “Besides this…” Explicitly and Purposely linking this passage with the previous passage instructing us to love our neighbor. The New American Standard translates it stronger and more connectivity, saying, “Do This…” again, referring to the Love your neighbor as the fulfillment of the law.
So, the question we ask, to see what Paul is saying, and what the Holy Spirit is inspiring him to say, is with the things it says in this passage, in these four verses, What does it mean to love your neighbor in light of these statements.
So, first off, what does it mean for us to love our neighbors knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now [g]salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
Paul’s point here is simple, We don’t have much time left, and more specifically, we don’t know how much time we have left. Jesus tells us continually that when he comes back, it will be sudden. (Matthew 24, Mark 13, etc) We are not going to see him coming back and then choose to be on his side, but we make a choice now and become ready for the day of his appearing.
And one aspect of loving our neighbors are to give them the chance to make that choice before it’s too late. Because, as Paul writes in Philippians 2:10 & 11: at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And that’s the great news! All will recognize God’s Glory and Jesus’ divinity. Every knee and every tongue. But look at the other part of what Paul says there. All who are in heaven or on earth or under earth. If we do not bow our knee and confess Jesus as LORD here in this life, we wont get a second chance in the next life.
And so our opportunity to love our neighbors is not timeless. The time is now. Our neighbors time is short. A huge part of loving them is sharing the truth of God Word with them. Paul wrote back in Romans 10, that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. (Romans 10:17) So, there wont be a chance for our neighbor to know salvation, unless someone shares the Word of God with them. Thats what we call evangelism. And Evangelism is one of the ways that we love our neighbors. My late uncle used to say that God has continually promised forgiveness if we ask, but he has never promised us tomorrow.
Our salvation is nearer to us today than it was when we first believed. Our final, full salvation, the fullness of salvation, our final, perfect sanctification is coming. And this is important for us to remember, for us to meditate on. Judgment is coming. All will be judged at the end. We will be separated into wheat or chaff. We will be separated as sheep or goats. We will be judged with perfect and righteous judgment as we stand before Christ on that last day.
And those who are wheat, those who are sheep, those who are in Christ, we will be judged not in our own righteousness, we will not be judged based on our own works or standing. Instead, we will be judged based on Christs righteousness, the love and forgiveness that he has graced us with. And, we are to take that love in from Christ and flow it out towards our neighbors.
It is said that Jonathon Edwards spent 20 minutes each morning meditating on heaven. The reason given is that it was so that he could root his present actions in the reality of that coming event. (https://www.fpcjackson.org/resource-library/sermons/a-call-to-live-in-light-of-the-coming-end)

The essence of sharing our faith, of evangelizing is love. It is wanting to see as many people as possible see the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is wanting to see as many people as possible see the forgiveness of sins. It is wanting to see as many people as possible saved from Gods wrath poured out on their sins. The first and greatest way we can love our neighbors is to let them know of the Hope that we have in Christ.
Penn Jillette is the talking half of Penn and Teller, the comedic magician duo. Jillette has shared a story of a man in Las Vegas who was a fan, sharing the Gospel with him. Im quoting from one of the news stories written about this:
The man walked over to Jillette, complimented him on the show and handed him a Gideons New Testament.
“And he said, ‘I wrote in the front of it, and I wanted you to have this. I’m kind of proselytizing,'” Jillette said. “And then he said, ‘I’m a businessman. I’m sane. I’m not crazy.’ And he looked me right in the eyes.
“It was really wonderful. I believe he knew that I was an atheist. But he was not defensive, and he looked me right in the eyes,” Jillette said. “And he was truly complimentary. It didn’t seem like empty flattery. He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me and then gave me this Bible.”
Jillette then stated he doesn’t respect people who don’t proselytize.
“I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize — ‘Just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself.’
“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” Jillette asked. “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
He gets it. Love does not always fit the little square, the little box of what we want or what we expect. It can and often will be uncomfortable. Both for us to go and do the loving, but also for the one being loved.
And that means that there will be push back. There will be rejection and fight back. That means that we will face spiritual warfare. We show love to our neighbors by fighting that warfare. Paul uses familiar wording, giving us the imagery of putting on armor and contrast light and darkness.
Of Course, Ephesians 6 talks of putting on the Armor of God. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-20:
0 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Now, of course, there are many sermons that we could preach based on those 10 verses right there, and I encourage you, read this passge purposely this week. All of it. From the first words of verse 10, through the last words of verse 20. We are in a spiritual battle, and it is not with our neighbors. It is not with our enemies. It is not with our fellow human beings, made in the image of God, deceived, unsaved and doing works of darkness. Instead, we are fighting against the rulers and authorities, or powers and principalities as some translations have it, against the spiritual forces of evil.
` And Jesus gives us some defenses listed here, to protect us in this unseen, but very real fight that we are in. And he gives us one offensive weapon, His Word, the Bible. We use what God has said to combat evil, to combat sin, to combat spiritual forces, and to combat anything else that comes between God and his image bearers.
And that last thing he says here too, praying in the spirit at ALL times, with ALL prayer and supplication, with ALL perseverance, for ALL saints, and also for me. And so, in that, also for you, for each and every one of us. So that we may speak tha truth of the Gospel boldly as we ought.
And as we put on the armor of light, we do so in order to cast off the works of darkness. We see numerous times in Paul’s letters that he lists a variety and partial list if sins that are committed. We saw one in Romans chapter 1, we see a couple mentioned in this passage here that we will touch on in a moment. We see another in 1 Corinthians chapter 6. And we see one in Galatians chapter 5.
Galatians chapter 5 is better known for the fruit of the Spirit in verses 22 & 23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. But sometimes we forget what I call the anti-fruit, or the vegetables of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
These various lists and especially what Paul mentions here in Romans 13:13 , are the works of darkness. And as is Paul’s general pattern, and as we just saw in Galatians 5, Paul often says, don’t do this, but he doesn’t end there. He then goes on to say, Instead, go do this. Not only lay aside the works of darkness, but instead, put on the armor of light.
Light and darkness are often contrasted in the scriptures. And most often, specifically, the light that is referenced is Jesus. When we shine our light (Matthew 5) we are showing the light of Jesus. John writes in his Gospel, chapter 1, verses 5 and then 9:  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. &  The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
With this, the armor of light would be the armor of Jesus, or the armor of God, the way, Paul phrases it back in Ephesians 6. And this light, Jesus does and will shine out the darkness. Darkness does not drive out light, but instead light drives out the darkness. There is no question about who the winner is or will be. Jesus, the light, wins over sin and darkness. We love our neighbors by fighting the spiritual warfare and putting on the armor of God, shining light into the darkness and sharing the Good News of Christ with them.
We also show them love, not just by telling them, but also by showing them. Verse 13 & 14 here: Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
So, verse 13 here is the one that hit Augustine. Here is a recounting of his story:
Augustine then retires to his garden with his friend Alypius under a crushing shame stemming from his inability to overcome his fleshly desires.11 A fight between two wills is then discussed by Augustine; however, he claims both contrary wills as his own, as opposed to the Manichaean doctrine that espouses a good will and a bad will.12 Finally, a broken Augustine landed under a fig tree in tears begging God to intervene.13 Through the sounds of his weeping heart, he heard a child’s voice from a neighbor’s house saying, “Take up and read; take up and read.”14 Interpreting the voice as a message from God, Augustine quickly retrieved his letters of St. Paul and started reading where his “eyes first fell.”15 Romans 13:13-14 immediately vanquished Augustine’s fears and he informed Alypius of his decision, who in turn, upon reading further to Romans 14:1 joined Augustine in his decision.16  (https://www.livestransforming.com/augustine-conversion/)

One of the ways that we love our neighbors is by willing to show them when their actions and behaviors are contrary to Gods Word. This also means that others show love to us by pointing out when our actions are contrary to the word of God.
And the Word of God calls us to live as if we were already standing in front of God in judgment. We are to walk as if in the day. We are to be Holy as our father in heaven is holy. (1 Peter 1:15) And that means repenting. It means turning away from our sins. It means casting aside the works and deeds of the flesh, and walking in the light, as he is in the light.
I say it every week, and I say it again, because its vital and important. We don’t earn any grace or favor with God by our actions. We don’t earn or achieve our salvation because we are in any way, shape or form good enough. We are sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. He has stepped in, sent Jesus Christ, God the Son to be the perfect substitute for our sins, allowing us forgiveness of sins and giving us his righteousness when the Holy spirit makes us a new creation. Salvation is wholly from God and in no part from ourselves. But, God calls us to do something in response ot our salvation. In order to access it, as Jesus tells us at the start of his ministry in Marks gospel, we are to Repent and believe.
If we get the order wrong, where we think that if we just stop sinning, God will love us, or if we are good enough, we wont need him, then someone needs to loving come and show us that we are wrong.
But one of the things that Paul is showing us is that we are to not be like everyone else around us. I saw a John MacArthur quote yesterday, A church that’s just like the world has nothing to offer the world. And that goes not only for the church as a body, but for all of us individually.
If there is not need to change our lives, to change our behaviors once we belong to Christ, than there is no reason for us to be Christians at all. There would be no hope in Christ, because we wouldn’t need him. And there would be nothing to offer our neighbors to show them love.
So often, as I said earlier, love doesn’t fit into the boxes that we want it too. Too often today, people want love to mean that all of our choices are affirmed. That we follow our bliss and our passion no matter what. That we are supported and encouraged and not held responsible for whatever we feel like doing right then. Paul says no!
No more orgies, no more drunkenness, no more fighting, no more jealousy, and no more sexual immorality of ANY kind. Stop! Those things go against Gods Word, they go against the way that God created things. They are sins. Paul says stop doing them.
Instead of clothing ourselves in these sins, we are to clothe ourselves in Christ. And we love our neighbor by telling them this. These actions are wrong. They are sin. And they are enough to damn you to hell.
Often, when we talk about repentance, and turning away from sin, we will qualify things by saying, “we are not going to be perfect, we will still sin, we will still slip.” And that is true in a sense. We will not be perfect in this lifetime. We will not see perfection til after the judgment when we get our heavenly bodies and see him face to face. This is true.
However, too often, by saying this, we are excusing those slips. And just by using that langues, slips, trips, falls, we deny the seriousness of our sins. We make them no big deal. But they are a very big deal. We are called to stop sinning. We are to make no provisions for the flesh. We are not to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Jesus, during his earthly ministry, would often confront sinful people, and show the love and grace and mercy but would always tell them to God and sin no more (John 4, John 8, etc.) Once we become a child of God, we are no longer bound by the chains of sin. We are no longer not able to not sin. Now, we have been freed and we do not have to give in to the desires that we are so used to giving in to. Way back in Genesis 4, in verse 7, God tells Cain, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to[c] you, but you must rule over it.”
By repenting, by living by a different standard, by separating not ourselves, but the way we live our lives from the world around us, we show the better way. We show the Holy way and we show the light of Jesus Christ. We show love.
Now of course, you have to use discernment and sense to determine how strongly, how often, how privately or publicly, how phrased, we tell this to those around us, but we need to tell them.
We cannot fall for the narrative of the world, where is crouched as Us vs Them. We just saw a few moments ago, that it isn’t, our battles are not with flesh and blood. So, instead of Us vs Them, but instead its Us For Them. Again, if we do ot show the world, if we do not show our neighbors that we are different, that there is something different about us, if they do not see the light of Christ shining through us and out from us, then what point is there to change what they are doing? What point is there to repent? What point is there to believe?
We are to love God with all our Heart, mind, soul and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Luke 10:27) And some of the biggest and lovingest ways we can love our neighbor is to share the Gospel, the Word of God with them, to give them a chance to make a decision to be with Christ for eternity. We shine light into the darkness, showing Christ in all that we do. We fight the spiritual warfare going on around us, praying for them and using the Bible against sin and falsehoods. We remember that our fight in that battle is not our neighbors, but Satan and his fallen angels. We call them to repent of their sins, even as we continually repent of our sins and continue to fight against the desires of our flesh. We show them their sins nd offer the forgiveness of Christ, who, if we put him on, we are clothed in his righteousness, and that, And that is what allows us to pass through the judgement of God without incurring his wrath and we get to join him for eternity future in the Kingdom of Heaven, worshipping him and basking in his glory forever and ever. Amen.
Lets Pray

John 21 Full circle Cafe

Hi guys! This week, we have a special guest sermon by Pastor Nick Castillo. I do apologize for the audio quality, but if you are able to listen to the sermon, I exhort you to do so. Pastor Nick challenges us, made us laugh, reminisced and faithfully taught us from the text, John 21.

 

 

Enjoy!

Rural Missions Sunday– Village Missions and Bangor, CA

Rural Missions Sunday

Village Missions and Bangor, CA

 

 

Across the Nation: Proclaiming the Gospel in Rural America from Village Missions on Vimeo.

 

 

Good Morning. Go ahead and turn to Romans 10 in your Bibles. The passage that was read earlier is going to be our anchor text for this morning. You know, Village Missions produces numerous short videos about rural ministry, and that is far and away, one of my favorites. And they all revolve around Jesus Christ. Preach the Word and Love the People. I love that. And at the end of that video, when the Village Missions logo came up, what did it say underneath? Keeping Country Churches alive.
I don’t know if you guys know this, but we are a country church. This church was put here by God in Bangor, CA for a very specific reason. That is to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. Village Missions has partnered with this church since 1964. Reading up on the history of this church, it had essentially closed down prior to partnership with Village Missions. God preserved his church here in Bangor for a reason. To Preach the Word and to Love the People.
But what does a country church bring to a community? Why is it important to keep these churches alive? And not just alive. Village Missions stated purpose is that they exist to develop spiritually vital churches in Rural North America. Thats us. Thats you guys out here. Village Missions purpose is to make you spiritually vital, so that you can go out and bring the light of the Gospel to the community.
So, today we are talking about missions. Specifically, rural missions, and the role that you and I and Village Missions plays in rural missions. When talking about missions, we can get some images in our heads. We can think of missions as some one else going to some far of country to teach Jesus to primitive tribes in the middle of nowhere. If we are involved at all, it is through giving money to our church or a missions organization and don’t give it another thought.
Some a couple of things about that. First of all, missions don’t just exist out there. John Piper famously says that “Missions exist because worship doesn’t…” Missions, which is simply sharing the Gospel with those who don’t know Christ. Missions are not just out there. Missions are everywhere. Missions are in out family, missions are in our churches, often. Missions are in our communities especially. In terms of un saved population numbers, The United States of America is the third largest mission field in the world.
And even when missions organizations or churches think of domestic missions, they think of urban and suburban areas, and no one will argue, or no one can argue anyway, that these communities don’t need Jesus. But, as we saw in that video, what happens to the rural areas, the small “picturesque,” towns that dot the landscape of America? They get forgotten. They get overlooked.
And the idea, whether it was ever accurate or not, that the problems from the cities, the problems that plague America, didn’t also effect small town, rural communities, is gone. Today, drugs & alcohol, addiction in general, teen and unwed pregnancy, suicide, poverty, loneliness, broken homes, all of it are just as prevalent, if not more so in rural communities than in urban and suburban communities. Look at the insert in your bulletin and it tells a couple of stories about drugs becoming and, in fact, already being a major problem in these rural communities. Many of you know people or family members or neighbors that are somehow affected by drug addiction.
And that’s where the local church comes in, that’s where we, Bangor Community Church comes in and that’s where Village Missions comes in. Because we have the solution to broken lives, broken hearts, hopelessness, and weariness. That solution is Jesus Christ.
Are your Bibles still open to Romans chapter 10? Lets read again, first verses 9-13, which shows Jesus as the solution to these problems. Romans 10:9-13. Paul writes:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is LORD and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is LORD of all. Bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

Now, we are going through a sermon series through Romans, and we are coming towards the end of Chapter 9, so we will get to this passage in a few weeks, and we will get deep into it at that point. But I want us to just see the point of this passage here.
Call on the name of the LORD and you will be saved. Turn away from your sins and put your complete trust and faith in Jesus Christ as your only hope of salvation.
There is a need. We are a broken people. God created the world perfect and good. The first two chapters of Genesis show us that ALL of creation, all the way through the creation of Adam and Eve and marriage of husband and Wife was created perfect and good. In Genesis 3, everything changed. Adam and Eve sinned and brought a sinful nature that has infected every single person ever born like a disease.
That moment not only left us all sinful by nature and guilty of sin, but it left us spiritually dead. It left us longing and searching for something to fulfill us. Before sin, we had a purpose. We were created to give glory to God, to worship him, in essence.
Now, our purpose is obscured. We don’t want to worship God, we want to be God. We instead worship ourself or our own desires and wants. So we are missing our purpose. We have a need inside of us that is unfulfilled.
That manifests itself in a wide variety of ways. Looking for purpose, looking for acceptance, looking for understanding, looking to numb pain and emptiness. We see drugs and alcohol abuse sky-rocket. We see suicide when we get to what we think is our wits end, when the pain is just too much. We see Sexual sin, seeking pleasure, acceptance, intimacy and love. We see abusive relationships, both sides of them. The abuser doesn’t see that the person they are abusing is made in Gods image. They see themselves as god and the one who gets to decide what happens to the one who they are abusing. On the abuser’s side, they think that this is what love truly is. They think this is what they deserve. They think their abuser has the right to do with them what they want.
All of this sin, all of this evil is here because we are trying, with imperfect avenues, with imperfect, broken people, and with imperfect, temporary measures, trying to restore the relationship that we were created to be in with the One, Holy, God.
And even in what I just describes, you can see two different extremes. One side is the side that elevates themselves up to a god status. They are the authority. They decide what happens and who it happens to. There is no need for a savior because they havent done anything wrong.
Also in this group are those who are good, moral people and think that they can be good enough, or do good enough, or somehow earn their way back into Gods good graces.
The other side, the other extreme is the one who knows just how broken and sinful they are, but there is no hope for salvation. God either doesn’t exist, or doesn’t love them. God doesn’t know what I’ve done and if he did, he could never forgive me. There is no hope, no point and I deserve what ever I get.
Both of these extremes are wrong. Jesus says differently. Jesus puts the invitation out to all who hear. He puts the invitation out that there is only one way, what the Bible describes as the hard and narrow path. But that path is open to all who believe. Jesus is the only path to salvation. He is the only way to restore the relationship between us and the Holy, creator, perfect, triune God.
Jesus comes, not to promise earthly comforts, but freedom from our sins. The freedom to choose to do right. He changes lives and hearts and can change generational problems. He brings hope to the hopeless. He gives a father to the Fatherless. He restores relationships and purposes. He offers rest for the weary.
This life, here in this world is draining. It is wearisome. We get tired easily. Especially when we are trying to earn something we cannot ever earn. We get tired of fighting the truth. It wears us down trying to go against God, think we know better than him. When we rely on ourselves, it takes a lot out of us.
Its like trying to stop a train by standing on tracks. And the more we rebel against God, his plans, his offers, the more we trust in our own understanding. The more we try to hold onto what we think we have in this life, the more extremes we will go to.
If you talk to anyone who has been an addict, no matter what it was that they were addicted to. They will tell you, at the beginning, it just takes a little bit. The further things go, the deeper down they go, the more it takes to reach the same level of feelings. The more it takes, the harder it is to stop, both habitually and physically.
Sin is an addiction as well. And we cannot get ourselves out of it. The hold it has on us is too strong. Strong enough, that of ourselves, we don’t want sin to let us go. But Jesus, fully God, fully man is the one who can break those chains that hold us. He will fix the brokenness that is our lives. He will change our lives and our hearts from the inside out. He will bring us from spiritual death to spiritual life.
He will do that, if we repent and believe. He will do that if we confess him as our LORD and savior, If we have faith, But that has to be a real, true, saving faith. Not a verbal confession and we go on living the same life, but a faith that he gives us that breaks the changes of sin and gives a heart for his plans, his desires and helps us to lean on his understanding.
And how can people make that decision, if they don’t know that option is there? Lets read the rest of the passage in Romans 10, verses 14-17:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

The only way for someone to respond to Christ is to hear the gospel, giving them something to respond to. The only way for them to hear the Gospel is for someone to bring the Gospel message to them. Thats what missions is. Thats the job of believers every where, to share the Good News with every one around us. And, to those called, to be sent, to go out and become a part of a community and to, in the words of Village Missions, to Preach the Word and Love the People.
As we mentioned earlier, missions come in all sorts of varieties. Urban, Suburban, foreign, tribal, and rural just to name a few. Each of them has their own challenges and their own opportunities, their own rewards.
Village Missions tries to identify some of the challenges of rural missions. Once they are identified, we can see how to reach the people of these rural communities. Whats interesting to me is that a number of these challenges all the same solution. Some of the unique characteristics of rural communities, we see that it takes awhile to become a part of the community. Newcomers stay newcomers for many, many years.
When Hope and I arrived at our last field, a month or two after we got there, a guy pulls up in his blazer, introduces himself and as we were talking, he mentions that he is still considered the new guy, having “only” lived in town for 15 years.
In many rural communities and small town, family and social connections go back generation upon generations. Everyone knows everyone else. People come and go, but family sticks around. It’s not uncommon, and we have heard it in our short time here, for the thought towards newcomers to be, “How long til this guy leaves?”
And we know that question doesn’t come out of nowhere. There is a reason that question is common. People come and go. IT takes a while to make a difference. It takes a while to gain and earn trust. It takes awhile to show the people of communities that you truly do love them.
There’s a saying that “People dont care how much you know until they know how much you care.” And showing you care takes time. So when Village Missions places Missionary Pastor into these communities, the idea is for them, for us, for Hope and I, for all the couples that are a part of VM, to be a part of the community, to be there for a long time, to show the People that we are committed to them and that we love them. Preach the Word and Love the People.
Another challenge in reaching the people in rural areas is that many people have moved out from the city, from the suburbs, and many of them have moved because they don’t want to be known or found. In many of these communities, it is really not a good idea to start going door to door, up random driveways.
To meet and get to know people who don’t want to be found, it takes time and presence. Just being around, a part of the community. The church being a presence in the community. Think about what this church has done or is doing to help Bangor. The fire relief, Commodities, used to have AA meetings here, weddings and funerals, even open doors and a listening ear. Those things make a difference. They show people that the church is open, for one. They show people that we are here to serve, to show the love of Christ, to be the arms and the feet and earn a hearing with them so that we can share the Gospel with them.
The last unique thing about rural communities and rural churches especially that I will share is that feuds and loyalties run deep and last seemingly forever. When there are very few churches around, or, as in many Village Missions fields, only one church, it is guaranteed that you will talk to people who wont go to the church because of something that happened years and years ago, sometimes with the church, sometimes with someone else in the community who happens to attend the church. Often times, in these feuds, the initial cause isn’t even remembered years later. But loyalties and feuds run deep.
This works the other way as well. We have some people here who attended when this building was built. We have people whose parents, maybe even grandparents attended Bangor Community Church. The problem comes in when, as is so common in America especially, the Bible Belt and rural communities especially, is cultural Christianity. My folks went to church, my grandma took me to Sunday School, so I’m good. I raised my hand, I prayed a prayer, I walked down an aisle, but with no real relationship with Christ.
Showing people what real, true, biblical Christianity is can take time as well. We get entrenched in our beliefs. We assume there is no more to learn, or no need to learn more. Bible Studies, one on one discipleship, the teachings her on Sunday mornings, all are ways to show the truth of what the Bible actually says. Combined with fellowship, potlucks, work party’s, generally living our lives with each other, walking through the ups and downs of life, as the bible says, bearing each others burdens. Preach the Word and Love the People.
That is the call and mission of all believers. Missions in one form or another. You are a missionary to your family, to your coworkers, your neighbors, your community. Many of you will never be called to pick and go somewhere else to be a “missionary.” But you can still be, and should be involved in missions. Thew two ways that works itself out is through prayer and through financial support.
Now, a couple of things about financial support. First, God calls us to give. He calls us not to give begrudgingly, not to give out of obligation, but to give cheerfully and sacrificially. Our giving is to be considered as a part of our worship.
Now, if you are not a believer, this does not apply. If you are not a believer, you do not worship God so giving is not a part of your worship. If you are a believer, your first commitment is to your home church, wherever that is.
After you have cheerfully and sacrificially given to your home church, if God has blessed you and called you to give above that, I ask that you consider giving to missions. If you have missionaries that you know, or an orginazation that you believe in and trust, give to them. If you don’t know where to start, I humbly submit Village Missions for your consideration.
You can give generally to the mission, you can go online, look up specific missionaries, you can choose specific churches to give to through Village Missions. You gift, your support of VM allows missionary pastors like me, and their families to be placed in these rural communities, in these small towns to ensure that there is a gospel presence, that there is a light in the darkness that is enveloping the our country today.
The prayer part if it may seem obvious and we try to make it as simple as possible for you. One way you can pray is by praying for the Missionary Spotlight of the week that we put in the bulletin each week. Village Missions also puts out Stories from the Field. These are stories sent in from Village Missionaries from around the country showing how God is moving in their churches and their communities. This is usually monthly and when I receive them, I post them on one of those back bulletins boards. Vms quarterly newsletter also gets set on that back ta\ble when it comes in. I encourage you to grab one and read through it, seeing what is happening. Lastly, you can sign up for emails, or like them on Facebook and they will send prayer requests or share updated information with you through that method.
Ultimately, if nothing else, what I want you to leave today remembering is that salvation is only found in a true, biblical faith in Jesus Christ as our LORd and our savior from sin. Romans says that faith comes by hearing, hearing through the Word of God. All of it is ia gift of God, not of ourselves, so that no one may boast. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone, as revealed by the scriptures alone. And how are they supposed to hear the Gospel, the Word of God, the scriptures, unless someone is there to tell them. It is the Gospel that saves. The Gospel that changes lives, the frees us from our sins. It is the Gospel that brings us out of the jaws of death and into the eternal life that is the loving arms of God the Father.
We are going to close by watching a brand new video from Village Missions, highlighting one of those changed lives and the role that Village Missionaries and the churches they partner played in that life change. Thank you

 

 

Hope to the Hopeless from Village Missions on Vimeo.

 

My future preacher

So this is a true conversation that Finn had with Hope the other day.

 

F: What are you doing?

H: Nothing…

F: Ok, I’m going to  sit down and talk to you about Jesus…

Who do you think he is?

 

H: Well, he is the Son of God, He is God,

F: (interrupting) and our savior!

H: Yes! and our savior!

 

 

They kept talking and I didn’t get a chance to hear the rest cause Caleb was hungry and needed to eat right then apparently, but suffice to say, that made my heart melt just a little …

 

 

Casey

John 3:16