2 Timothy 4:6-8 Life in the Local Church: Faithfulness is more important than success

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Life in the Local Church

Paul looks at His death

 

                Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 2 Timothy, chapter 4. Today, we are almost finished with our series through 1 & 2 Timothy. So, with all that is going on around us today, with the spread of Covid-19, with it creeping closer and closer to us here at Bangor Community Church, we are not currently meeting physically together on Sunday morning right now. I figured I would provide, write and record a couple of devotionals for you all. However, as we got closer to Sunday morning, Butte County received its first confirmed case and Yuba county received two confirmed cases and it looks like this “shelter-in-place” will continue further than we originally anticipated. So, it just makes sense to continue our teachings until we know what is going to happen. Ultimately, as I will say later on in this sermon, our job is to be faithful, trusting God to take care of what’s going on around us.

So, 2 timothy, chapter 4. The Apostle Paul finishes his letter to Timothy as his life and his ministry are winding down. Paul has come to the end of his life. He has fulfilled his ministry as he just finished encouraging Timothy to do. He has written much to Timothy; encouraging him, exhorting him, challenging him. He has been showing Timothy to follow the example that Paul ahs laid down, the foundation that Paul ahs built, Preaching the Word, sharing the Truth, no matter the circumstances, sharing our hope in and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Paul is imprisoned in Rome, scheduled to appear before Caesar Nero and correctly expects to lose his life afterwards. And so, here Paul begins closing his letter to Timothy, the last letter that he would write, the last letter we have record of.

So, this morning we are going to read 2 Timothy, Chapter 4, verses 6-8. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Paul, in the last words of his we have record of, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writing Holy Scripture, tells Timothy:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

 

May God Bless the reading of His Holy, inspired and sufficient Word.

 

 

Paul tells Timothy, more clearly than he has up to this point, that he is coming to the end of his life. He is being poured out as a drink offering. A drink offering is a metaphor for death. And this is not the first time that Paul has used this metaphor. Over in Philippians 2, verses 17&18, Paul writes:

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

 

But there is also more to it than just death. It is purposefully in the language of sacrifice or offerings. It makes me think back to where Paul writes in Romans chapter 12, verse 1 that our bodies are to be presented to God as living sacrifices.

Paul knows that his life belongs to Christ. He has been purposeful in making sure that he lives up to that responsibility. He knows he is coming to the end, and he is not afraid. He knows where he is going. And he was looking forward to being with Christ.

When he wrote to the Philippians, he addresses this. Chapter 1, verses 19-24:

for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

 

                Paul knew then that he wasn’t going to die. He knew that Christ still had more for him to do, more Gospel for him to preach. More Christ for him to share. Now, he knows different.

He changes from present tense to past tense going from verse 6 to verse 7. He will change again from past tense to future tense when he goes to verse 8. Here in verse 7 though, he knows that he has indeed fulfilled his ministry. He knows that his life is coming to an end. And Paul knows that once God was done with Paul’s mission here  in this world, He would bring him to the next. As he recounts in Acts 20:24, But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

And Paul gives us 3 metaphors that show that he has been faithful up until the very end. He has fought the Good Fight. He has finished the race. He has kept the faith. How we live is important. It shows the fruit of our faith and can, along with theWord of God that we share, be an important part of witnessing to non-believers.

But even more than that, how we finish, how we continue through up until the end can be an even more credible testimony. One of the things that scripture is clear on is that Our faithfulness is greater than success. Being faithful is more important than being successful. Our success is out of our hands. We have no control over that. But our faithfulness, that is completely in our hands.

Now, the Bible teaches a natural tension, where man’s responsibility and Gods sovereignty co-exist right next to each other, with Gods sovereignty being above all things. God is clear than once we are saved, once the Holy Spirit has changed our heart, once that has occurred, we will be faithful in the end. God will keep us faithful. This teaching is called the Perseverance of the Saints.

I take this from the Reformation Study bible, by Ligonier Ministries to describe this doctrine:

In declaring the eternal security of God’s people, it is perhaps clearer to speak of their preservation than, as is usually done, of their perseverance. Perseverance means continued adherence to a belief despite discouragement and opposition. The reason that believers persevere in faith and obedience, however, is not the strength of their own commitment, but that Jesus Christ thought the Holy Spirit preserves them….

 

 

The regenerate are saved through persevering in faith and Christian living to the end (Heb 3:6, 6:11, 10:35-39) as God preserves them.

This doctrine does not mean that all who ever professed to be Christians will be saved. Those who try to live a Christian life in their own abilities will fall away (Matt 13:20-22). The False Profession of many who say to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” will not be acknowledged. (Matt 7:21-23)

The regenerate may backslide and fall into in sin. In doing so, they oppose their own new nature and the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin and compels them to repent and be restored to righteousness.  

 

 

But the Bible also teaches that we are responsible for our actions. It teaches that a life without repentance, a life without change, a life without fruit is life that has no evidence of salvation. We are responsible for our actions. And after he are saved, we are to follow his commands. In fact, we will have a desire to follow and obey the command of God. Without that desire there is no salvation.

Both of these sides of the coin are actually on congruence with each other. They are not at odds with each other. In fact, they work together to ultimately do the most important thing, bring Glory to God.

Our faithfulness is more important than our success. This should ease the burden that we often put on ourselves. We think that success, bringing people to Christ, growing the church, stopping the spread of a virus, we put the burden on ourselves that its all up to us to do. Ultimately, its in Gods hands instead. We sow the seed; he brings the increase. Acts 2:47, the LORD added to their number day by day those who were being saved.  God is in control over everything, especially the outcome of all things. Our job is to be faithful.

 

 

As I said, Paul then turns to the future in verse 8, looking at what is going to happen as he enters into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

 

There is much debate over what this Crown of Righteousness actually is. Could they be some sort of literal, physical crown? Maybe, many people think so. Could they be a metaphor, such as for perfect righteousness? Perfect righteousness that is not actually ours, but is His that is given to us to begin with? Nobody actually knows, though I heavily lean towards the latter.

Paul is saying, however, that this is given by the LORD at judgment day. A perfect righteousness, given by THE righteous judge.  It is given to all who are declared righteous or justified. Meaning it is given to all who have, by the grace of God alone, faith alone in Christ alone, reveal through the scriptures alone, and of course, all things done to the Glory of God alone.

Ultimately, what the crown is, we lay it down at the feet of Jesus. I think if the encouragement that this is to the New Testament church. Both Peter and James also mention a crown in their letters. Look first at 1 Peter 5:4, he writes:

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

                And James writes in chapter 1, verse 12:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

 

This crown, I believe is symbolic of the gift of Christs righteousness and eternal life. It is the gift that God gave us at our moment of salvation. And once that happens, our life belongs to Jesus. Completely, fully and eternally. With our life belonging to Him, we give him all of our selves. We are not partial Christians. Our lives don’t belong to him, sometimes. But we take our lives and lay them down on his behalf. All that we do, we do for and because of him. All that we do, we do simply and solely for his glory.

Paul knows that he is about to see the Glory of God. He knows that he is about to receive that crown of life, that unfading crown of glory. And he knows that though they are given to him by Christ, they do not belong to him, but to Christ. If Christ has given you eternal life and perfect righteousness, though they were given to you, they do not belong to you, but to Christ.

I mentioned it earlier, but I want to leave you with Romans 12:1 & 2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

 

 

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.

2 Timothy 2:1-7 Life in the Local Church: Singleminded focus on Christ

2 Timothy 2:1-7
Life in the Local Church
This age and the age to come

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Timothy chapter 2. If you do not have a Bible, we invite you to grab one off the back table as our gift to you. We are continuing our series today through 1 & 2 Timothy entitled Life in the Local Church.
This would end up being Paul’s last letter that he would write that we have recorded in the scriptures and he knows his time is coming to an end. He is writing to his friend, his spiritual son and his disciple Timothy, who is pastoring and leading the church at Ephesus.
Paul, in the section of the letter we looked at last week, told Timothy that he was not to be ashamed, either of Paul and his ministry, for being in jail, or of the Gospel itself. He exhorted Timothy to be steadfast, loyal and faithful. And he reminded Timothy that Character both matters and is seen by others, both good and bad.
Here, Paul is going to, among other things, give Timothy three analogies of faith. These analogies are going to be examples and they are going to model wholehearted, single minded devotion such as we are called to have for Christ.
So, lets go ahead and read this mornings text, 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 1 through 7. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to bring your preferred translation and follow along in our readings with your bible in your hands. Read for yourself what the Word of God says. 2 Timothy 2:1-7. Paul, being inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, writes to Timothy:
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

May God bless the reading of his Holy, sufficient and inerrant Word.
All right, so Paul here, because of all that I just wrote, because of all that you just read, You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Gods grace alone is where our salvation comes from. But the grace of God not only saves us, it strengthens us. It gives us the strength to do what God has indeed called us to do.
Paul brings these themes together, the themes of Gods grace, the strength it gives us and the works that we are to be doing, he brings them together in other letters as well. In his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8-10, he writes:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

This theme that Grace leads to salvation leads to the ability to do the good works that God has called us to is woven throughout scriptures and always in that order. Paul talks about the importance of the order just as much. That the good works that we do cannot and will not do anything to save us. They contribute nothing to our righteousness. They are, in the tame translations, like dirty rags in Gods eyes.
And yet, after we are saved, after we are clothed in Christs righteousness, we are commanded, and not only commanded but inwardly, by the Holy Spirit, compelled to do good works, to produce good fruit.
Paul teaches all this clearly throughout his letters. And he tells Timothy to take what he has learn from Paul, what he has heard from Paul, he is to take all of that. And not just what Paul has personally told him, but what Paul has publicly taught, in his letters, in his public teaching, in front of many witnesses, take it all and what do you have? You have the very words of God. You have what is being understood, even in those days as scripture. Peter himself, in his letters likens Paul’s writing on the same authoritative level as the Old Testament scriptures.
So, the Gospel, the teachings, the scriptures, take these things that Timothy has heard from Paul and heard from others and others have heard from Paul, and teach it to others. Not only teach it to others but entrust it to others who are able to teach it to others.
Part of the mission of the local church part of what God has commission us to do teach and make disciples who then go on to teach others and make disciples. Matthew 28: 18-20, Jesus tells his disciples right before he ascends into heaven, Matthew writes:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Now, that’s the general application. We make disciples who make disciples. We share our faith, share the Gospel and share the Good News that Christ died for our sins. The sins that we commit that deserve eternal death. That it is only through Christs death and resurrection that we have any righteousness and that we can gain access to the Father. Not our works, but the works of Christ. We share that so that others may believe and may be reconciled to God.

Paul here gives both that general application and a more specific application. This is applying to elders and those in leadership in the local church. They are to be able to teach. That’s one of the qualifications of an elder laid out back in 1 Timothy. They must be able to teach, and they are to be entrusted with the Gospel. The elders must be faithful to the teaching of the Gospel and of the scriptures. They must be faithful to the sound doctrine of the Word of God.

Paul then give the first of three analogies that point to the importance faithfulness and single minded focus. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
Now, Paul has already told Timothy that he is to share in the suffering instead of being ashamed, back in chapter 1 verse 8. While the Old Covenant promised prosperity for faithfulness, Jesus was quite clear that the New Covenant promises that there will be adversity if you are faithful to the teachings of Christ and to the confession that he is God.
This adversity can be the consequences of sin in our life, it could be the repercussions of our choices and life decision. It could also be the spiritual warfare that is being waged by powers and principalities in the spiritual realm. The enemy does not want the Good News of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us and the love that the father has for us to be known and shared. So those who are faithful, will face adversity in some way, shape or form.
And Paul tells Timothy to share in that suffering like a good soldier. Remember, the Bible does not say that God won’t give us more than we can handle. That’s actually the opposite of what it says. But what God does promise is that he will be with us always and he will bring us through what we go through.
We are to be like a good soldier, focused on one thing. We are to follow the orders of our superior and to do so fully and completely. We strive to accomplish the mission given to us. We have a loyalty to the one who gives the orders.
Our loyalty is to Christ, no matter what else there is. No matter our circumstances. When something else grabs our loyalty, that is the definition of idolatry. Within the analogy, that is treason. Our loyalty lies with Christ, with the Word of God, the Word became flesh.
We are given a mission. The Great Commission, as it were. Which we just read. We have been given a mission and we are to do everything we can to accomplish that mission.

Paul then brings out the second analogy. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. Paul often uses athletic language. Run the good race. The benefits of bodily training, even if not as much as spiritual training. But this training, whether physical or spiritual, they both take similar attributes and characteristics. Faithfulness. Discipline. Focus. Determination. Single Minded Focus. Clear Vision. One purpose, one goal.

That Goal is the crown that Paul mentions, Eternal Life with Christ. But to get that crown, we must complete by the rules. Now, we know that it is not the act of following the rules that earns us the crown. The would be the equivalent of us behaving well enough or being good enough to earn salvation. Salvation is received by Grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. But we look at what Jesus says after people come to trust in him.
Now, go and do as I have commanded you. Obey my commands. Repent and believe. If you love me, feed my sheep. Just a small collection of what Jesus says for us to go do. I saw a good illustration this week that I shared on Facebook, some of you might have seen.
A cup isn’t a cup because it holds coffee. It holds coffee because it’s a cup. Likewise, we aren’t Christians because of our good works, but we do good works because we are Christians.
Those are the rules that we compete by, and we do so because we have laid hold of the crown, the eternal rewards.

The third analogy that Paul gives is that of a farmer. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Farming, of course, is hard work. Its not easy. It can be a struggle. Jesus does tell us to take up our cross and follow him. He does not say that this will be easy. He tells us, in fact that it will be hard.
However, he also tells us in Matthew 11, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Again, Jesus gets us through the adversity that we should be expecting to encounter. Farming is hard work. Sowing seed is hard work. Its not easy. Its not always comfortable. Its not always immediately fruitful.
But the one who puts in the world should get first share of the outcome. Now, I don’t believe that first here equals the number. I don’t think that this is that the farmer will be first in line. From the context, it looks like first is more of a promise, a guarantee that the worker will receive what he earned.
IF you know anyone that farms, this illustration should come easy. What do farmers think of? From plowing and sowing, and weeding and pruning, all the way up through harvest, what is going through that farmers mind? Just one single, solitary thing. The crop that’s is coming in. And as soon as the harvest is done, he is already thinking of the next one.
Jesus says in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Our focus should be on planting seeds and looking forward to that harvest. Thankfully we don’t have to have the worry and the stress that real life farmers have. If the harvest doesn’t come in, that is their livelihood. But we know that we go out and sow the seed, but the watering, the growth and the harvest are out of our hands. Those are in Christs hands. He brings the increase. All we must do is share the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Because its in Christs hands, the burden is off us to produce results, we just have to be and stay faithful.
Like a soldier fighting the battle. Like an athlete running the race. Like a farmer growing his crops.

Now, Illustrations, metaphors, parables, and the like, they can sometimes be hard to understand. They can sometimes be unclear. And so, after give three real quick analogies, Paul tells Timothy, think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Christianity, following the Bible, believing in Christ. This is not a blind faith. There’s the old saying, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” There is some truth in there, but not nearly enough. Christianity, Jesus tells us that we need to have a simple, child like faith.
But that doesn’t mean blind, unthinking faith. We believe what the Bible says, and if the Bible says it, we believe it. But we also see that the Bible is believable. God says what he says, and he says it for a reason. He often, though not always, tells us why.
He tells us, if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. In Revelation Jesus says that it takes wisdom and understanding and shows that those are things to seek. So, Paul is saying that these are things that we should think about, study and dive into. We believe it but we are called to know what we believe and why we believe it.

God gives us his Word; He has revealed his word to us so that we could know. He revealed the things that happened so that we could see the evidence of the works and wonders of Jesus Christ. As John writes in his Gospel, chapter 20, verse 30 & 31:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In his word, we have record of his death, burial and resurrection. We have record of his perfect life. We have record of our sin nature, our inability to do good. We have record of Gods promises and faithfulness. We have the promise of everlasting life in the new heavens and the new earth with Jesus Christ sitting at the right hand of God the Father.
Jesus says Seek and you shall find. The LORD will give you wisdom and understanding if that is what you are truly seeking, but it won’t always be the way that you are looking for it, or in the way that you expect.
Remember that it is not our wisdom, not our intelligence, just like its not our works, goodness or righteousness. Let’s finish with the reminder of Proverbs 3:5 & 6:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Let’s Pray.

1 Timothy 6:11-16 Life in the Local Church: Active Faith

1 Timothy 6:11-16

Life in the Local Church

Active Faith

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 6. First, Merry Christmas! Second, if you do not have a Bible, please feel free to grab one off the back table as our gift to you.

Now, Paul is writing to his Son in the faith, Timothy. He is closing this letter, and historically, we know that he is beginning to wind down in his life. 2 Timothy, which we are going to go through as soon as we finish 1 Timothy here in the next couple of weeks, is the last letter that Paul will write.

But here, Pau; is writing Timothy to help him combat an outbreak of false teaching that has come into the church in Ephesus. So, he has specifically dealt with those teachers and the teachings. As a part of that, Paul has also been encouraging, exhorting, teaching and building up Timothy in his faith.

In the passage we are looking at this morning, Paul has finished dealing specifically with the false teachers. He will refer to some of the teachings, but he is done addressing them directly.

He just finished addressing their evil motivations, their evil results, and their evil consequences. They have within them and as their motivation, the love of money, the love of power and influence and fame. They sow discord, discontentment, dissension and with their slander, they sow disunity.

Paul will refer to those things as he turns to address Timothy directly in this mornings passage. I am going to read 1 Timothy, chapter 6, verses 11-16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to read along in your preferred translation. 1 Timothy 6:11-16, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, sharing the very Word of God, writes to Timothy:

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[d] Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

May God Bless the Reading of His Word. Amen.

 

So, Paul refers to all the things that the False teachers are, all the things that the false teachers teach, all the sins the false teachers commit, and all the fallout and discord that comes from false teachers. And in referring to those things, Paul tells Timothy to Flee from those things! Flee! Get as far away from those things as possible.

Scripture is full of admonishes to flee sin. A few specific instances are that we are to flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). We are to flee from youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22) And to submit to God and resist the devil so he will flee us (James 4:7) 1 Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to abstain from every form of evil.

These are the things that are of the world. These are the things that are of false teachers. These are the things of people who are not of God. And we are to run as fast and as hard as we can in the absolute opposite direction of these things. We are not to entertain them, or to flirt with them, getting close and saying, just this little bit wont hurt, or no one will ever know.

That is not the attitude or the heart of a Man of God, as Paul calls Timothy here. A Man of God loves God. If he loves God, He loves Christ. And Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In conjunction with that, 1 John 5:2&3 tells us by this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

          A Man of God is broken because of his sin and knowing what his sin has done to God. A man of God recognizes that he is sinful and in need of a savior. A man of God recognizes that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation. A man of God has put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ and repented of his sins. A man of God is grateful and gracious for the grace of God that, through faith in Christ, his sins have been forgiven. A man of God is gracious in forgiving the sins of others around him. A man of God stands firm and courageously for the truth of who God is and what he has said and what he has done. A Man of God can be a man or a woman, but they are a child of God, through the grace of God, by faith in Christ.

Paul here tells Timothy, calls him a man of God and tells him to flee from the things that are not of God, and to pursue instead these things; righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Those are the things that a Man of God does.

We are to pursue righteousness. Jesus has some things to say about this in the Sermon on the Mount. First, in the Beatitudes, he says,” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) Just a few moments later, he points out to his followers, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

Perfect righteousness is not something we have an ability to achieve or accomplish, but it is what we are to strive for, and more importantly, it is the standard that God holds us to. Perfect righteousness is following and holding to the laws and commands of God, in heart, in mind and in action. Something that, in the course of history, because of sins affect on us all, only Jesus Christ has been able to achieve.

The man of God is to pursue Godliness. We are to live as much like God as possible. Paul writes in Romans 8:29, part of Gods purposes in all things, as he says, for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

          Godliness is being like God. Not acting like you are God but acting as God acts. Having a heart for those God has a heart for. Acting the way, he would act, rejecting and avoiding what he would reject and avoid. Living a holy life, motivated by a holy heart, thought with a holy mind.

 

 

We are to pursue faith. Faith is our rock-solid foundation. Hebrews 11:6 says, without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

There is a reason that Faith Alone is one of the five tenets of the Protestant Reformation. Salvation by faith alone. Not Faith and Works. Not Faith and kept by works. Not Works. But Faith alone, this is what a Man of God holds. Faith in Christ and Christ alone.

The man of God is to pursue love. Paul didn’t need to clarify this, but such false teaching, or weak, superficial teaching has infested the church that we do need to clarify this today. This is biblical love. This is Godly love that Paul is talking about. This is not worldly love. This is not everything we do is fine. This is not I love tacos, I love the sun, I love USA, I love God, all loves meaning the same thing.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4, that we are to speak the truth in love. This means that we are not to speak the truth and use it as an excuse to be harsh or to be a jerk. We don’t get to say, well it’s not my fault if they took it that way, or if they got offended, I said what the bible says. That may be true, but God says that it does matter how we say it, how we approach people and that the truth that we speak, the truth that the Bible speaks is said in love. I once heard it said this way; The Gospel is offensive, there’s no getting around that, but there is nowhere in the Gospel that says we are to be offensive.

A Man of God is to pursue steadfastness. This is kind of a combination, of patience, endurance and taking the long view of what’s going on around you. Steadfastness, sometimes translated, longsuffering. To take a long view. TO know that no matter what is going on in the here and now, that God is in control, that God has already won and that what is promised to come is so much better and completely worth going through what is happening now.

We are to be patient in waiting on the LORD. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that no one knows the day or the hour of his return and that we are to be ready for it. But we are not to toss the future out with the bath water, to mix up a whole bunch of things there. His time is appointed, we know it will happen, even if it seems slow to us.

Peter writes, 2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

We see everyday tragedy come up in the news. More than we should, we see shootings, killings, disasters, so much abortion, so much death and destruction. And many cry out “Come quickly, LORD!” But God says that we are to continue to do our duties, to live our godly lives, to pursue him and his righteousness every day until he comes, no matter how long that is.

Lastly, the Man of God is to pursue gentleness. This ties in with some of the others, but when we know and recognize what God has done for us, we should turn around and treat others in the same manner. Those who have repented of their sins and turned in faith to God the Father have received the forgiveness of their sins. A Man of God has had the grace of God, and his mercy just poured out over them. When they sin, when they give in to temptation and them come to God, seeking forgiveness, God is gentle, loving, kind and merciful. If one has not repented of their sins, God will be much less gentle to them. But if we are men of God and we have received the gentleness of God, then we should let that flow through us to treat those around us with gentleness as well.

 

 

After listing those things that Timothy, and we, as his children, should be pursuing, Paul says to Fight the Good Fight. This reinforces the idea, first, of an active faith. That our faith is not incidental to our lives. Everyone has faith. It may be in the one, true, biblical God, in the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, three in one, Almighty God. And I pray that it is. Or it could be in our selves and our works, our goodness. It could be in other, so called gods, or spirits, or religions. It could be in our country, our politicians, or our worldviews. It could be science and rationality. But whatever it is, we all have faith, and we all live out our faith. Often, it is a fight, a hard, long fight, just to stay faithful over the course of time. We need those attributes that Paul just told us to pursue in order to fight the good fight.

We fight for the truth; we fight for what’s right. We fight for the Gospel. Even in that fight, we are still called to do so in a godly and loving manner. Sometimes that means that things take longer than we want them to, but that doesn’t mean that God is not working or that we are being unfaithful. Please remember, that not everything we disagree with is false teaching. Not everything we don’t see eye to eye on is worth fighting over and shouting about. Somethings, we just plain disagree on.

But in those things that the false teachers and the world tries to bring into the church, those things that say, sin is not sin. Those things that say Jesus wasn’t God. Those things that say Jesus wasn’t man. Those things that say we can be saved by being a good person, or by following the rules, or by any other method than by grace alone by faith alone. In those things, we fight the good fight.

Paul gives a similar charge at the end of his letter to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 16: 13&14, he writes: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

One question that pops up, and I think Paul is addressing here, how do we stay steadfast, longsuffering? How do we continue to fight the good fight when we look around and only see what appears to be us losing battle after battle? How do we risk it all in this world?

Paul writes, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

We can fight the good fight, we can stand firm and we can stay faithful to Christ and his Word, we can risk it all in this world, because our reward is in the next world. Our hope, our faith, our promised destination is in the next world.

We are here for a time, an important time, but a time. We are here to live life and to enjoy life, but we are here to do so in and with Christ. And Christ came so that we may be saved from our sins, clothed in his righteousness and that we may walk through the door, the only door, the door which is Christ, to enter eternity, worshipping and praising God Almighty. This, as opposed to the only other option, life in eternal hellfire and damnation, eternal life with Gods grace, mercy and love, but with Gods vengeance and wrath and justice.

Grab hold of that eternal life! The life to which you were called. Those whom God has called. I return to Romans 8:29, but also add verse 30, where Paul writes: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 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.

We are saved by Gods grace, those of us who are called by God. It is nothing about us. There is nothing we can do to be called. Our salvation is in no way dependent on us. The famous Jonathon Edwards quote that I share often, the only thing you contribute to your salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.

Jesus says in john 6:44 that No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. There is no doubt about what Gods says in the scriptures. But, again, there is a purposeful tension that God puts in the scriptures. If that’s all God says, what point is there to act in any way, to do anything? God will take care of it all and we can just kick back our feet, put them up on our desks and wait. It would be easy to be patient and longsuffering in that instance.

So, God makes both his sovereignty and man’s responsibility, both are biblical teachings. Paul says here that the eternal life to which we are called, of that, we have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. Not only were we called, and I would argue that the scriptures say that only after we have been called and because we were called, we make a public confession in front of many witnesses. There is responsibility on our end of things as well.

The faith that God has gifted to us (Eph 2:8-10), that faith, which he called us to and gave us having nothing to do with ourselves, that faith we need to respond to. That faith is an active faith. It is a public faith. We publicly get baptized and we share our faith with those we know and love. We share the Gospel, and we share our testimony, not the same thing by the way. We share it because that’s what God tells us to do. We fight the good fight, the faith of and for faith.

Paul finishes this passage with a combination of encouragement, he charges us, and a doxology, a praise to God. Verses 13-16:

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[d] Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

 

 

Paul makes one of any connections that Jesus did many things of which we are to follow his example. In this case, making the good confession, confessing who Christ really and truly is, and doing it even when its not easy. Jesus could have saved his life, prevented getting beaten, whipped, mocked, spit on and crucified by providing a defense in from of Pilate.

We see that Paul is charging us, commanding us, encouraging us to lead that holy life he was talking about earlier. To flee from the things of this world, even if they are brought into the church. To turn to Christ, to pursue those things he listed earlier, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. And we are to do so until Christ returns.

It reminds me of the last lines of the hymn, In Christ Alone;

No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

 

 

 

And it is all because of who Christ is, who The Father is. It Is because of who he is and what he has done, his holiness, his sovereignty, his eternal greatness, his almighty power, his love, his mercy, his justice. It is because he is the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. To him be all honor and dominion. Amen.

Paul sums it up better than I ever could. Let’s Pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Timothy 4:1-5 Life in the Local Church: False Teaching is Spiritual Warfare

1 Timothy 4:1-5
Life in the Local Church
False Teaching is Spiritual Warfare

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 4. If you do not own a Bible, please feel free to grab on off the back table as our gift to you. We are continuing our series through 1 and 2 Timothy this morning titled, “Life in the Local Church.”
Paul, in this letter to Timothy, just got finished building up the local church and Gods design for it, that it would be the household of God and it would be a pillar and buttress for the Truth.
The truth of the simple, clear Gospel. Jesus Christ. God became man to save sinners. This is the truth that the church is to stand on, to lift up and support, to defend and to proclaim.
And from that, Paul is coming back to one of his main points in his letter. False teachers and their false teachings. And this is purposely side by side with the end of Chapter 3. The expectation and grand, divine purpose of the church, along with the reality of imperfection. We are to recognize the importance of the local church and we are to love the local church, who is the bride of Christ, but we must not mistake love for idealizing, idolizing and assuming perfection.
Christ loves us and knows that we are not perfect. I love Hope and my kids with all my heart, and I know that they are not perfect. She loves me and heaven knows I am far from perfect. And like the local church, we are to love our church, even while recognizing imperfections.
Before we get into all that, lets go ahead and read our passage for this week, 1 Timothy chapter 4, verses 1-5. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation in your hands. 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit, writing the inspired words of God, writes:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
Amen.
Paul starts by stating, “The spirit expressly says.” He could make no stronger statement. There is no maybe or possibly. Paul is showing here that there will be false teachers that come up in the church. Don’t be surprised by them. Instead be on guard for them.
And Paul knows this because the spirit expressly says it. This is likely some direct revelation to Paul, possibly from Jesus himself as he was teaching Paul. Jesus himself says in Matthew 24, both that many will come in his name but lead many astray (v 5) and that many false teachers will arise and lead many astray (v 11). Again, no question, no wondering, just a simple clear promise that this will indeed happen.
We see too here an example of why doing a superficial, surface reading of the Bible can, at times, give us an inaccurate or incomplete idea of what the true meaning is. Paul says that it will be in latter times that some will depart the faith.
This idea of later time or the last days, the end times, is commonly misunderstood. We are not racing towards the end times. We are not only recently in the latter days. It is not an indicative of how close it is to Jesus return. Instead, this is the common terms for the time between Jesus first coming, his incarnation, and his second coming.
One commentary, summing up this common understanding, says it this way: This is not a period just prior to the Second Coming of Christ. Rather, in keeping with the overall New Testament perspective, it is the era inaugurated by Christs First Advent and completed at his second. (Acts 2:17, Heb 1:2, 1 Pet 1:20, 1 John 2:18)
So, from the time that Jesus arrived here on this earth, False Teachers have been here, trying to lead others astray. From the time that Jesus was ministering here on earth, there have been those who have been departing the faith. We know of course of Judas as the most famous example, but we see throughout the Gospels that many people followed Him along with the disciples for a time, and then the realities of what it takes, what it means to be a faithful servant of Christ rears its head and many would fall away, return home and practically forget that they ever were out there to begin with. OF course, we see Jesus tell the crowds in Matthew ch 7 that many would even do good works in his name and would not truly be His.
And that is one of the key things to remember as well. Departing from the faith does not mean that one was saved and then loses their salvation. Biblical context argues the opposite. 1 John 2:19 tells us that those who depart from the faith were never truly of the faith to begin with.
What Paul is talking about here is those who played the part. Those who maybe even thought that they were truly part of Gods church. Those who knew all the things to do, all the words to say, all the things that Christians do. And he is talking about those who have departed from orthodoxy. Essentially, orthodoxy is the established, historical biblical beliefs and faith about the bible and what it says. Orthodoxy is the umbrella that all acceptable Christian beliefs and teaching are held under. There can and are disagreements under this umbrella.
When we move outside of the umbrella, we get into false teaching, we creep along, and we get into heresy. When people in the latter days depart from the true biblical teachings of historical orthodox Christianity, they end up, usually unknowingly devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.
Just in case you ever think that we can dismiss, ignore or allow false teaching to go on without confronting it, see what Paul is saying here. False teaching is Spiritual Warfare. And Spiritual Warfare is something that we need to take very seriously.
False teachers are lying liars who lie. They lie about what the Bible says. They lie about who Jesus is. They lie about the character and attributes and the very Word of God. But also, and this is what Paul is pointing out here, how they draw people in is through lying and insincerity.
What you will often hear out of their mouths is that they care about you, and they are the only ones who do. Everyone else is secretly saying stuff about you, lying about you, gossiping behind your back. Trust only me because I’m the only one who truly cares.
You will hear things like, I wont judge you or tell you your wrong. I will validate your feelings, your beliefs, your actions, no matter where they line up compared to the truth of scriptures. They will say things like they are sided on the side of compassion and love, and that makes it ok if we don’t quite have correct doctrine or the correct truth. You will often hear things like, don’t worry about what Paul says, after all, he is not Jesus. Jesus never said that.
These are lies that come from lying False Teachers. The truth is that they are only speaking insincerity. The truth is that False teachers don’t care about you. They only care about using you to increase their influence. They more followers they can get, the more influence they will have. They care about power. If it’s a pastor or a television or radio personality, the more listeners and followers a false teacher has, the more control and the more power they can exert over you. And the more power and influence they have, the more money they can fleece from people who usually don’t have extra money to send or to give. Usually, though not always, the more local a false teacher is, the more they care about power and influence as opposed to money. The bigger they get, the more well known the become, the more the money starts playing a factor.
One of the reasons we need to be super careful about who we listen to, who we read, and we let teach us, is because their teachings rarely start out as false teachings. You see time and time again that as a pastor or bible teacher gains influence and a bigger audience, the more they start wanting to hold on to that audience and that influence and so they start watering down their teachings and start compromising the truth. And so, we must be careful about who we recommend to others, and who we promote in our libraries and who we spend money on.
Now, other false teachers will err to the other extreme instead. They will implement and demand strict physical standards that go beyond what the Bible demands. They will be overly legalistic and demanding absolute loyalty to themselves as the sole correct interpreter of the bible. You will often here things like, “If you slip and do this thing that you shouldn’t do, then you have put your salvation I danger and are you really even saved?” They sow doubt so that you keep coming back to them.
They will forbid things that the Bible doesn’t forbid. This is exactly what the pharisees did in the New Testament times to show themselves as extra righteous. Paul gives two examples here. He starts with calling out those who forbid marriage and put restrictions on what foods we can have.
Of course, multiple other scriptures, including Jesus himself in Mark 7:19 show us that all foods are clean and available for us to consume and to receive with thanksgiving. And of course, marriage is a gift from God that goes all the way back to creation, instituted and given to us before the fall.
And of course, there are some who are called to singleness, Paul mentions those in, I think 1 Corinthians. And there are some who are called to abstain from certain foods. But those are exceptions. Because one person is called to singleness doesn’t mean that all are called to it. And just because one person is called to abstain from a certain food, doesn’t mean that all people should abstain from that food, or that that food is unclean or sinful. Those are exceptions that prove the rule.
And those who know and believe the truth, who are firmly and faithfully within the umbrella of historic, biblical orthodoxy know that this false teaching is absolute garbage.
Back in the biblical times, and shortly after, one of the groups of false teachers was called the Gnostics. In addition to believing in extra biblical and secret revelation, but also that everything physical and material was evil. And only everything spiritual and immaterial was good.
And yet we see biblical evidence that this is not even close to correct. God, of course, we see in Genesis 1, created everything physical, everything material and everything in creation was very good. And we see that there is so much so-called spirituality that is pure evil.
Paul writes in Galatians 1 that there are demons and angels, fallen angels to be specific that preach a different gospel than the true, simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul makes clear in Ephesians 4 that there are no other options, writing in verse 4-6:
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Anything else than that, any other Gospel, any teaching that counters the Gospel is literally and by definition, demonic. One commentator puts the problem with these false teachers this way, saying:
The fundamental error of these false teachers is that they were setting their own view of the Christian life over the view that God revealed in His word. They were forbidding what God allowed in His word, and therefore they were setting their opinion above the final rule of faith and practice in God’s holy word.
We don’t get to do that. God, if he is God, which we know he is, is indeed God. And as God, his Word is complete and total. We don’t get to think of ourselves as smarter, or that our views are more correct or as valid as Gods.
The problem comes in, when we start interpreting the scriptures through our experiences instead of interpreting our experiences through scripture. When we start treating our experiences as truer and more real than Gods word, we have left that umbrella of orthodoxy and we will, not may, not probably, but will and probably already have left the truth of Gods Word.
And we see Paul emphasize that everything that God created, his whole creation is good. They were also corrupted by the fall, including our sin nature, with us trying to put ourselves on par or above God himself.
This is not to say that our emotions and experiences are not good things, they are. But, like all other things, they are corrupted by the fall. They are less than Gods Word. They are less than scriptures and we need to remember to submit them to God himself.
Paul finishes this section by that if it is received with thanksgiving, then things are made holy through the Word of God and through prayer. This is specifically regarding refuting the diet issues, the restrictions on foods that the false teachers were presenting, but it made for much broader application as well.
If you receive food with prayer to God, giving him thanks for the provision, then it can be received with no issue. One application is to practice showing God gratitude by praying before every meal.
Bigger than that, lets remember to show God gratitude and thanksgiving for, first our salvation. Our salvation is a gift of God, given by his grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Second, we thank him for grounding us in his Word. His will, his word, his revelation is given to us in the scriptures alone, through no other source. Not dreams, not God audibly speaking to us, no other way but through scriptures. I’ve read you this quote before, but I think it fits nicely here. Justin Peters, an evangelist and an exposer of false teachings and teachers, he says that, “If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to heat him speak out load, read your Bible out load.”
So, we thank him for that. And third, we thank him that he protects us from the false teachers that are out there, spreading lies and deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons and insincerity. It is to the Glory of God that we abide in Him and His truth and His word and to do anything other risks showing us that we are not truly his to begin with.
Jesus says in John 14:23 & 24, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
He has given us his Word, or his commands in some translations. This very book that we hold in our hands. Through Scripture Alone. Now we pray that he gives us the grace, strength, ability, discernment and wisdom to keep his commands and we abide in him as His children.
Let’s Pray.

1 Timothy 3:14-16 Life in the Local Church: The Purpose of the Local Church

1 Timothy 3:14-16

Life in the Local Church

The Purpose of the Local Church

 

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 3. IF you do not have a Bible, there are some on the back table designed to be our gift to you. We are continuing our series through 1 & 2 Timothy that we are calling, “Life in the Local Church.”

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, who was pastoring the early church in Ephesus. And he wrote to encourage, challenge and instruct Timothy on how to deal with some of the issues in the local church. These letters ended up being Gods inspired Word about what the local church should look like.

As we finish up Chapter 3 here, Paul has, for now, finished talking about prayer, worship, and church offices and what those things look like in the local church. And for these couple of verses he is turning his attention to three very interconnected things. First, he will address why he is writing this letter to Timothy. Second, he will the purpose and mission of the local church. Last, he will give a poetic summation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

So, we will read this week’s text before we go any further. We will be reading 1 Timothy 3, verses 14-16. Ill be reading out if the English Standard Version though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation that you should have in your hands. Once again, 1 Timothy 3:14-16. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God Himself, writes holy scripture, telling Timothy:

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He[e] was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated[
f] by the Spirit,[g]
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

 

          And all his church says Amen!

You know what’s interesting to me? Gods perfect timing. Paul is writing a letter to Timothy. A letter that survived many, many years. A letter that was inspired by God to be the very Word of God. A letter that we now have written and copied in the Bibles you are holding in your hands. And he tells here why he wrote that letter.

Paul wanted to come and talk to Timothy in person. He was trying to come to him, but what Paul was telling Timothy was much too time critical to wait for Paul to physically get there. And in that time, there were no phones. Paul and Timothy couldn’t just call each other and talk about what’s going on. There was no email, no skype, no way at all of communicating except through face to face contact or via letter.

And this is what I want to point out here. If Paul had access to any of those other forms of communication, we would not have these letters in the Bible. We would have an incomplete scripture. There would have been no record of what Paul wrote to Timothy and we would not have Gods entire word to us today.

But God knew what he was doing, God had his perfect timing and orchestrated it so that Paul wrote this letter to Timothy and we know have the full council of God’s Word, infallible, inerrant, immutable, sufficient.

This is not todays big point, but someone may need not hear this. God orchestrates life in a way that brings glory to himself 2000 years later. You may think you should be doing something that you think would benefit the kingdom of God and bring glory to God, but he is closing that door and you can’t understand why. Trust him anyway. Paul wanted to go see Timothy but had to write this letter instead so that we could read it all these years later.

But, back to the text, the reason that Paul wants to go see Timothy is to share “how one ought to behave in the household of God.” This is the same idea that is behind the title of our series, “Life in the Local Church.” Paul has already mentioned prayer, worship, Church offices, the Glorious Gospel, church leaders, along with authority and submission.

Paul is going to transition back into talking about combatting the false teaching that is pervasive in the early churches back then, and in our churches today. But first, notice something else.

What is the church? Now, we all know the saying, “The church is the people, not the building.” And there is truth to that. The point is that the building is not something to be worshiped. The goal with that saying is that we don’t shirk our responsibility to live out the Gospel when we leave the church after Sunday mornings.

But Paul makes it clear here that the Church is the household of God. The Church is the local body of Christ, gathering, and fellowshipping, equipping the saints, teaching the Word of God, worshipping the one true Eternal God. Is there more than that as well? Of course. But it is never less than what Paul is saying. The church is the equal mixture and additions of the body itself, where we meet and us doing what God has called us to.

Now, of course, where we meet is not important. In church buildings, in local granges, community centers and halls, in houses across the world, in wide open spaces, in campgrounds, in parking lots, in big stadiums, wherever. Where we meet, as the body of Christ is the household of God, the church of the living God.

And the household of God, the church of the living God, is to be a pillar and a buttress of truth. Those words mean literally to provide support. The church is Gods chosen instrument to fight against the False Teaching in this world and to share and spread and teach the truth of the Gospel. RC Sproul writes that, “the truth of the Gospel is found in and sustained by Gods Church.”

          So, Paul is doing two things here. He is showing us how important it is to know how to live and how to act in the local church, the household of God. And that’s why we see these instructions on what prayer and worship should look like. That’s why we see the restrictions and qualifications on who is to lead and have authority in the local church. Paul is not trying to be a micromanager. He is not trying to be a control freak. He is saying, this is important because this is how God designed it and this is His house!

That’s why Paul will always teach and affirm justification by grace through faith in Christ alone. That works play no part in our salvation in any way shape or form. But he will also in his letters, often talk about the way to live rightly, follow the commands and directions of God, to live by the moral law that God has passed down. Because that is how we are to live and act in the household of God. It’s a respect thing. It’s a part of our worship. Our entire lives, everything we do, think and speak are, whether we want them to be or not, an act of worship. It may be worship to the living God, or it may be worship to the gods of this world, but it is worship.

Second, Paul is showing us how important it is to have right teaching, right doctrine, right understanding of the Word of God. He is showing where that truth comes from and what our role in it is. We are to provide support for the truth that goes out from amongst us. This is why Paul started out so strong against the false teaching that is going on in Ephesus. And this is why he will be talking against the false teaching again coming up.

One of the things we can take from this is that we need to be in a local church for us to be able to stand against the false teaching. The church body, the local church, is a pillar and buttress of the truth. If we are not a part of a local church, we are isolated from the truth.

Watching preachers on TV or listening to them online or on the radio, if they are biblically solid, can be a great resource for growing our knowledge in the LORD. I will caution you that many who are on TV or on the radio are indeed NOT biblically sound. But ones that are can be a great resource. However, if that is the extent of your “Church participation,” you are in grave danger of being led astray from the truth.

The same thing is the case if you are a part of a church that is to far away. I’ve heard of pastors and their families who “pastor” churches that are over 50 miles away from where they live. If you live that far away, you can’t shepherd the flock. You are a weekly guest speaker at that point. And the congregation doesn’t have any one they can go to when they need to.

This is, of course, not to say that you have to go to whatever church is the closest to you geographically. First off, that would be incredibly legalistic and second, its not practical. Just because a church is closest, doesn’t mean its is a Bible believing, Gospel preaching church. They might differ from you on important things. Sadly, they may differ from you on core things as well. But you should be a part of a local church, where you can be involved and a part of the body.

Being a part of the local church helps people know you, see your life, see your wins and your struggles, and help to stay out of the crevices of sin that temptation brings. And the Local church helps people know you so that they can help guard against the influence of false teaching. If all your biblical input is coming from the guys on TV, you will be susceptible to falling for false teaching and for allowing false teachers to define your theology. With no one to correct and counteract false teaching we are all able to be deceived.

The local church, providing discipleship, fellowship, protection against false teaching and teaching truth is, second only to the Bible itself, the most important thing we can actively do to mature and grow in Christ Jesus.

Listen to what Ligon Duncan says about the local church from this passage:

Paul is saying that the local church is the place that God has appointed to be essential to the propagation and protection of the truth in the world. Paul’s saying there can be no “Lone Ranger Christianity.” You can’t be off on your own–you Jesus, and your Bible–and expect for the truth to prosper in your life. We need one another as believers. We need one another as encouragement, we need to see one another’s lives. We need to see the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of other believers, to encourage us to love and good deeds. We need to be saying the word to one another, memorizing the word with one another, hearing the word of God together, serving the word of God together. Together the church serves as the pillar and support of the truth, in the sense that it is essential, it is God’s essential vehicle for evangelism, for discipleship, for missions, for the defense of the faith. Paul is just pointing out that the church is absolutely crucial. It is vital in preserving and propagating the gospel. It is the local church, Paul is saying, where God meets especially with His people in the New Covenant era, and it is the local church which is the essential instrument through which God propagates His truth.

 

So many people today miss the importance of the local church. Of sitting under sound teaching and authority, of the accountability, of the understanding and proclaiming of the Truth!

And Paul shares with us that very truth that we are to proclaim as he writes to Timothy:

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He[e] was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated[f] by the Spirit,[g]
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

 

This is the truth that the local church is to stand and to proclaim and to protect. The mystery of Godliness. The mystery of the gospel. This mystery that I mentioned last week. The mystery that we heard during the scripture reading early from Ephesians 3.

God shared the Gospel all the way back in Genesis 4, right after the fall. The people of the Old Testament knew that there was a savior, a messiah coming. God promised it. And they had some insight, through the Prophets who spoke the Word of God, what that savior would look like, who that messiah would be. But overall it was a mystery to them.

When Christ arrived, it was no longer a mystery, but was revealed. At first, it was revealed in part, during Jesus’ earthly ministry, then revealed in full after his resurrection and ascension.

Paul writes to the Colossians, chapter 1, verses 25-28:

I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Paul has said that the mission of the local church is to stand for and protect the truth. And he says in that passage in Colossians his mission is to the local churches, to make sure that they know and make known the full Word of God and that they known and share the revealed mystery, Christ in you.

And that’s how Paul ends this section with the revel of what that mystery was and what the truth is that we are to stand firm on. Many speculate that this poetic waxing of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is an early Christian hymn.

Paul lists 6 truths about Christ that we are to proclaim and protect. First, Christ was manifested in the flesh. This is his incarnation. Jesus, eternally God from eternity past, 2nd part of the trinity, was made man, put on flesh and is fully God and fully man.

Second, he was vindicated by the Spirit. I’ve seen this taken to refer to either the resurrection, where as the Holt Spirit, fully God, vindicated Jesus, declaring him righteous, innocent and not guilty of any sin, or about his baptism, where the Holy spirit, in the form of a dove descended upon him and vindicated the start of his earthly ministry.

Third, Jesus was seen by the Angels. This is in reference to his ascension. Jesus Christ physically, literally died on the cross and was buried. He was physically, literally brought back to life. He was dead, then he was alive. After that, we see recorded in the beginning of the book of Acts that Jesus, back alive again, did not die again, instead he ascended into Heaven, and where He is now, we will see in the last statement.

Fourth, after his ascension, we see that Jesus disciples went out into the world and proclaimed this very truth. The same truth that we are tasked and blessed with continuing to spread throughout the world. The book of Acts is a record of how the Apostles first began spreading the Gospel.

Fifth, the Gospel was believed throughout the world. And that is one of Gods promises. We spread the seed; he will give the growth. Where the pure, simple Gospel is preached, people will be believing. Paul writes in Romans that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. That is how God has chosen to pour out his grace.

Lastly, Jesus was taken up in glory. When he ascended, he was then seated at the right hand of the Father. Christ is reigning in Heaven and is waiting for his return. He is exalted and worshipped and exactly where he is deserved to be.

One of Paul’s points is that we would do well to remember theses things. These are truths that false teachers will deny or twist. These are the truths that we are to protect. These are the truths that will guide us in how to behave in the household of God.

When we have trouble dealing with stuff, or getting frustrated with certain situations or circumstances, when we want to throw in the towel or take things into our own hands, we would do well to remember these things.

And when we hear something go against these things, we would do well to speak up. Paul will pick back up with the false teachers next week, but right now, here today. This is the truth. This is Christ. This is the mystery revealed. Let us remember and rest in that. Let us remember and rest in Him.

I leave you with the very words of Jesus himself, from Matthew 11:25-30:

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[g] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

Let’s Pray.

1 Timothy 3:1-13; Life in the Local Church: Qualifications for Elders and Deacons

1 Timothy 3:1-13

Life in the Local Church

Qualifications for Elders and Deacons

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 3. If you do not have a Bible, we do have some on the back table and their specific purpose is to give to those who do not have a Bible. Please help yourself as we strive to get Gods Word into everybody’s hands.

Now, we are continuing our series through 1 & 2 Timothy that we have entitled “Life in the Local Church.” And this week, as we look at most of Chapter 3, we see Paul continue with some of the big themes we looked at last week, picking up a specific thread and answering questions before they get a chance to be asked.

In Chapter 2, Paul showed us some of the roles that He has called certain people to and how they are based on the creation order itself. One of the things that Paul mentions, that today is causing the most ruckus, and likely then, is that the role and office of pastor is not for design by God for women, but for called and qualified men. Which begs the question, what does it mean to be qualified. And that’s what Paul is going to answer in chapter 3.

Chapter 3 lays out the qualifications for elders and deacons. Pastors are called from within the elders, the same qualifications apply. Deacons and Elders are those who are called by God to serve and lead the church in an authoritative role. And if a man does not meet these qualifications, he is not called to be an elder or a deacon.

Let’s go ahead and read the text, the whole text straight through. We will be looking at 1 Timothy 3, verses 1-13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please do follow along with you in your preferred translation. 1 Timothy 3:1-13. Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, sharing the very Word of God, writes:

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,[c] not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise[d] must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Paul, while going into specific examples, is emphasizing some main points here. To me, the biggest point I see being made by Paul is the importance of character when it comes to one who is called. This takes absolute and total precedence over the ability to do tasks and the accomplishments one may have achieved.

Paul starts by saying that the office of overseer, used interchangeably with elder and pastor in our Bibles, is a noble one. Therefore, because of that, because of the office, because of what God has said about it and what He has called it to be, stemming from his created design, this is what an overseer must be.

We are not going to go into full detail in each and everyone of the things that Paul has listed here. But we are going to hit the high points and the themes. Some individually, some as a group. I also want to mention that Pail, in his letter to Titus, also includes a list of qualifications for overseer. Titus1:6-9, Paul writes:

If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.   For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,

but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

We are not going to look at that text this morning, but its important to see the parallels and the consistency in the different texts. And what we are going to do is make our way through the attributes and qualities that Paul lists in 1 Timothy 3.

First, an elder must be above reproach.

Above Reproach. This does not mean, of course, to be sinless. RC Sproul says this would be more accurate to the meaning saying, “above scandalous reproach.” This means that elders are to have a good standing in the community, that they are to have a good witness amongst those outside the church.

We see many stories of scandals from pastors or church leaders who fall from their position. Sex, drugs, money, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, when the pastor falls, the scandal breaks, there is a collective response from the outside world of, “see? What hypocrites! And they pretend to be so much better than us!” That pastor is now disqualified. That elder is now disqualified. Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness is still possible. Restoration to their local church is still hoped for and prayed for. But he is no longer above reproach.

Now, one of the themes, throughout these qualifications, and I don’t know if I’ll mention it multiple times or just leave it hear as a reminder. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I know that there are some that would disagree on me about this, but I don’t believe what happened in our lives before we came to know Christ has any bearings on our qualifications. We know clearly from scripture that it has no bearing on our standing before God. Paul writes in Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

          But I believe that our lives, specifically our sins from before our coming to Christ, do not disqualify one from a position of leadership. Often, it makes for a better witness and testimony to see how far God has brought us. The last point on this is that being above reproach is also to be looked at as a summation of all the rest of the things that Paul lists here in 1 Timothy 3. It is the essence of character on those whom God has called.

That plays also into the next thing that Paul lists. He says that an elder must be a husband of one wife. The Greek literally reads a one-woman man. Historically, there have been three ways this is interpreted.

First, some say that this is making a prohibition on polygamy. This is possible and polygamy is clearly prohibited in other passages in scripture. Marriage is clearly defined in scripture as between a man and a woman, starting all the way back in the Garden of Eden, before the fall. But I don’t think that’s what this verse is referring to.

Second, some say that this is in reference to unbiblical divorce and remarriage. Scriptures are clear about what God thinks about Divorce. God hates divorce. Jesus said in Mark 10:9, What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.

          All scholars and commentators agree that the Bible lays out Biblical exceptions that allow for divorce, most specifically in Matthew 5 and 1 Corinthians 7. And most scholars and commentators agree that within those circumstances, those exceptions, then there is freedom to remarry as well, though there are a few notable exceptions on that point.

But we know that we live in a state and a society that is willing and encourages divorce for no reason whatsoever and does not hold to the sanctity or the fidelity of the covenant of marriage. So, there are many divorces and remarriages that are there for non-biblical grounds.

The last possibility is that this is referring to being faithful to your marriage bed. No affairs, no extra marital sex. Men only begin with the woman that you are married to. This is where a lot of commentator’s land based on the culture in the Roman empire of the day.

I think however, it’s a combination of the last two at least. I think that the point that Paul is making is that to be a pastor, an overseer, an elder, you must be faithful and fully submitted to what God calls marriage. The author of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 13:4, Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

God has ordered his creation in a certain way. This applies to gender roles between men and women. This applies to what is and not marriage. This applies to what is and is not sin. This applies to life. To be a leader in the church, you must be faithful to the role and order of Gods creation.

Third, Paul lists self-controlled, sober minded, respectable and hospitable. These come together and speak to a person’s character. These are areas where elders need to lead. Ligon Duncan describes these attributes thusly: He is a temperate, or sober-minded man. He’s possessed of a wakeful, alert, vigilant habit of mind, and he’s opposed to all sorts of excess. He’s prudent, he has mastery over his natural reactions. He’s got some self-control. He’s respectable. He lives a life that bears up under public scrutiny. He’s hospitable; that is, he’s possessed of that hospitality that is required of all Christians. Elders are to take a lead in that.

I’m hoping your noticing something about many of these things that Paul is listing that I’m going to tie together at the end of this.,

Fourthly, he must be able to teach. This is especially important given Ephesus’ problem and our current day problem of dealing with False Teachers. Elders must be able to combat these teachings that go against the Gospel.

This, again, does not mean that all elders must be great or gifted teachers. But what it means is that they can get up and they can teach the Gospel, simply and accurately. They can what a scripture passage means and while they will not always be perfect, they will be studious and knowledgeable.

As a member of the church, you should be able to bring a person who has never heard the gospel or doesn’t know the Gospel and bring them to anyone of the elders and know that the Gospel and salvation message will be clearly and faithfully presented. It may be better stated that an elder is to be able to disciple. To teach those around him who to grow and mature in Christ, to teach them about life and the Bible. Some do it from up front here, all do it done there, amongst the people, in one on one situations, small groups and anywhere the need and opportunity arise.

Fifth, Paul says that Elders are to be not drunkards, not violent, not quarrelsome and not greedy. This is kind of the mirror image in some ways of the third section. There, Paul said this is what they are to be. Here, he is saying what they are not to be.

And the point is that they are not to be giving in and controlled by these earthly, fleshly temptations. These sins are common sins to man, and they are often, though not always, easy to see from both outside a person and outside the church.

This fits right along with what Paul writes in Galatians 5, regarding the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5: 16-25, he writes:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.   And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Sure, Paul could have told Timothy and the Ephesians to read what he wrote to the Galatians, but that’s not the way things worked back then. They didn’t have all the scriptures collected and ready to read in one fell swoop. Paul couldn’t depend on the church at Ephesus to know what he wrote to the Galatians.

And so, he often says the same thing in different ways in his letters. IF we don’t pay attention, it can seem that he is just repeating himself, but it is in these areas where we see what the most important things is that Paul was led to address and teach.

Sixth, Paul makes the correlation between managing one’s own household and the house of God. Again, some try to make this mean something more than what Paul is saying. This does not mean that an elder is to have perfect and sinless kids, looking at the comparison being made, that would also mean that we are to have perfect and sinless church members.   And it doesn’t disqualify an elder of his adult children are not walking with the LORD. That would disqualify a surprising amount of godly, qualified and faithful elders in churches today.

I have told this story before but I’m not sure how recently. I was at a Pastors conference many years ago. The speaker asked this room full of pastors, how many there had children who were not walking with the LORD. Well over 75% of the men in that room raised their hands.

It reminds that even when we are faithful to manage our households and to raise our kids the right way, they can’t just take our faith. At some point, they are solely responsible for their own faith.

So, whether the kids are or become saved is not what Paul would use to determine whether one’s household is managed well. One commentary brings home the point when it states, only a man capable of virtuously leading his own family can lead members of Gods family. To do one, one must first prove he can do the simpler. And yes, managing one’s own house is simpler than managing Gods house. When one is faithful with a little, God will give him more.

Seventh, Paul says that an elder, an overseer must not be a recent convert. This has to do with spiritual maturity, not physical age or maturity. Its easy, as a new convert, for us to think that, as we get to know things in and about the Bible, that we know it all. It is not uncommon to enter what’s called “Cage stage.” One article explains the term this way: Cage-stage” describes an all too common phenomenon wherein a believer comes to embrace (the LORD) and for a time becomes an obnoxious lout in defending the doctrines to all comers, whether they are interested or not. It suggests that such a newbie should spend some time in a cage until they calm down.

The article continues: The Cage Stager seems to forget the battle with sin he not only continues to have, but the battle he only recently won, by God’s grace, in coming to embrace the doctrines of grace. He seems to reason, “What is wrong with those terrible, awful, good-for-nothing sinners that they refuse to see what I only recently came to see?”

The biggest issue that comes out of being a recent convert is pride. Pride has no place in leading the people of God. Connected to this, we are never more susceptible to false teaching and sin than when we are first growing.

The more we know Gods Word, the more we mature, the more we should be resisting sin and remaining humble. We know how little we deserve to receive from God. And We know how much He has given us, His grace and His mercy and his forgiveness.

Lastly, and in summation of what Paul has already written, an elder is to be thought well by outsiders. If a pastor, or an elder, church leaders, if they fall, it should be incredibly hard for him to be restored to office. Again, forgiveness can and should come with repentance and it should come quickly. But restoration should come very, very slowly if at all, because, among other reasons, how it would look to the outside world. This is directly tied to the very first thing that Paul wrote, about overseers being above reproach.

Paul then moves to verse 8, saying, Deacons, likewise. Now, some see this as being an interchangeable continuation of his list regarding elders. Paul will use different terms interchangeably, so I get it. But I see this as a differentiation of the two offices of Elders and Deacons.

They are very similar, as we see with Paul saying, likewise, and as we see with the similarities between the two lists. We are going to burn through this list really quick and focus, mostly on how they parallel the list of qualifications of elders.

That Deacons must be dignified parallels #’s 1 and 3 especially of what we just looked at. Not addicted to much wine, or greedy for dishonest gain, parallels number 5, that elders are not to be drunkards or greedy.

Next Paul mentions the mystery of the faith. This is the Gospel. This is the mystery that was yet to be revealed in the Old Testament about who and what the Messiah would be. This is that God became man, to die for our sins and offer grace for the forgiveness of sins.

Deacons do not have to be able to teach as elders are required to be. However, they must be solid in the faith. They must have a solid theological background, not swaying on some of the core tenets of the faith. They do have to know and be able to express the clear Gospel.

Deacons are to be test first and found blameless. This parallels with # 7 in ways. Of course, we know that blameless does not equal sinless. They are to let their lives, over time, through the course of trials and testing, show fruit of the Gospel. Taking a course over time shows that they also cannot be a recent convert. Fruit takes time to grow and develop.

A quick aside in v 11 shows that the wives must also be mature Christians showing fruit of the spirit, as Paul declares they are to be dignified, not slanderous, sober minded and faithful.

Paul returns to the deacons as he mentions that they are to be the husband of one wife, just like #2 and that he must manage his household well, just like #6. Those 8 qualifications for deacons are very similar to those qualifications for elders as you can see.

They are positions of authority in the church, of leadership. But they are first and foremost positions of servanthood. Our lives and our service are to a testimony to the life and work of and our faith in Jesus Christ. All that we do, we are to do unto the LORD.

And here is the connecting thread I was wondering if you picked up on earlier. This is a passage listing the qualifications of elders and deacons in the local church. Does that mean this is a passage that is only intended to be for myself and the elders of the church? Does this mean that there isn’t any takeaway or application for you? Nope. Sorry, not that easy for you.

These are qualifications and requirements for Deacons and Elders. But this is the goal for ALL believers. Each and everyone of us, this is a list that we should strive to live out as we grow and mature in our faith in Christ Jesus.

Also, the elders and deacons of Bangor Community Church are voted on by the members of Bangor Community Church. In order to vote, you must know what you are voting for. So, this passage, this list of qualifications, is so much more than just that.

This is a list of what Gods is doing in our lives, through sanctification and through growth. This is what we should see developing in each and every one of us. This is the fruit that grows and develops over time because of what Christ has done for us.

 

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&2 Timothy: Life in the Local Church- 1 Timothy 1:12-17 The Glorious Gospel

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Life in the Local Church

The Glorious Gospel

 

 

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 1 Timothy, chapter 1. 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.

Paul is writing this letter to Timothy, who he left in Ephesus to be the Pastor, the head shepherd over the flock of the local church there. And he is writing as a Call to Arms, as it were. There was much false teaching, many false teachers coming in and spreading lies and falsehoods amongst the believers in Ephesus.

And what Paul is going to show Timothy and us this morning is that the way to combat false teaching and false teachers, the remedy, the cure, as I said last week to the disease is the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Or as he says it back in verse 11, the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

This Gospel is life changing and transforming and ultimately, is the Ultimate truth that brings Glory to God. Paul knows this from firsthand experience as he often shares as his witness and testimony. Before we read his letter to Timothy, I want to go back and look at Paul’s testimony. Turn over to Acts chapter 22, while we read, in Paul’s own words the story of God’s grace and mercy on him. Acts 22:3-21, Paul recounts:

I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel[b] according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand[c] the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well-spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

 

Part of what makes this applicable to what Paul has already told Timothy was that we see that Paul was exactly what we saw him teach against last week. He was overzealous for the law. He misunderstood what the law was, and he strove for and demanded obedience to it. There was no grace, no compassion and no mercy. He was 1 Timothy verses 8-11, teaching that the law was the means and the way to salvation. He was that, until…

Until Paul’s experience on the Road to Damascus, also recorded in Acts 9. Paul literally had Jesus knock him down, struck him blind and spoke out loud to him. It took all that for Paul to get the message. And in that, he experienced the life changing grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

And Paul writes about that here in 1 Timothy, verses 12-17. That’s our text for the week that I’m going to read for us now. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I do encourage you to read along with your preferred translation. 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes to Timothy:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,

  though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,

and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

So, in this section of this letter, we see Paul lay out the Glorious Gospel. And basically, we are just going to look at this section bullet point by bullet point. We start, as those who have also experienced the perfect and holy grace of God, that we are to Be Thankful.

We are to be thankful to God. Because the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins, is not about us and more importantly, its in no way because of us. Salvation is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-10,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So not by us or from us, but all by Gods grace, through faith, which is also from Him in Christ, as the Bibles says and all to Gods glory, not our glory.

Paul also thankful for the strength that is given to us by God. Because, again, it is a gift from God. And the strength that He gives us is His strength, it is not our own strength. One of the clearest things that scripture teaches, and one of the hardest things for us to learn is that we have no inherent strength of our own. We are wholly and solely dependent on Him.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

And what Paul is specifically referring to here is the strength to be and to stay faithful. And faithful to the service that God has called us to. We see that again as well back in the Ephesians 2 passage we read a moment ago. That we were created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

And God has done all of this, been this generous, been this faithful, given us these incredible gifts despite who we were, if we are now in Christ. We were sinners. If we are not in Christ, we are still sinners. Paul writes in Romans 3, All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. All of us are in need of a savior. We not only sinned and separated us from God, but the Psalms say that we were sinners even in our Mothers Womb. Romans 6:26 tells us, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And when Paul says that he received mercy because he acted ignorantly in unbelief, I want to make sure we are clear on what that meant. Make no mistake, the adage is still true with God, “Ignorance is no excuse for the law.” Paul is not saying, I didn’t know the law, so God took it easy on me. First, we all know the law, it was written on stone and given to Moses, and written on our hearts and written in nature, as we see in Romans 1. So, we know that he is not saying that ignorance of the law makes us innocent or righteous.

And so, what he was saying, is that “I did not know I was not righteous. I thought I was good enough to be righteous. I was ignorant to my unrighteousness. And despite that, even because of that, God gave Paul the grace and mercy that he did not deserve, instead of the wrath and judgment that Paul did deserve.

And that grace that God gave him resulted in the faith and love of Jesus Christ. Jesus actions, his incarnation, coming down from heaven and being born a human baby, his purposeful and intentional death on the cross, the forgiveness of sins, his resurrection and his ascension, even his yet to come Second Coming, all of these were done from an overflow of His love.

We know that, as Paul writes in Romans 5:8, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God didn’t need us. God wasn’t lonely and created man for our company. He didn’t create us because he lacked anything. He didn’t need us and still does not need us. Instead, out of the overflow of the perfect, complete love that eternally existed between the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, out of that overflow, His love poured out and flowed down and God created us out of that overflow.

And as we have seen, especially in recent weeks, love manifests itself in truth. Love speaks truth. Love reveals truth. And when Paul says, the saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, he is not saying that other things he has said are not true or trustworthy. Instead, this is one of those rare statements that we can lift out of context and allow to stand on its on two feet. Paul is essentially writing this purposely as a stand-alone statement, a summary of what the Gospel is. What he is really saying is “Hey, if you read nothing else, I’ve written, read this statement!” Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

This was the purpose of Christs actions was solely to save sinners. That’s the Gospel. If you hear that Jesus mission, his main purpose, his goals and his priorities were anything other than to save sinners, then run. This could even be things that sound good. But the Gospel is simple, God became man to save sinners. Anything else is a false Gospel.

The Gospel is not physical healing. The Gospel is not miraculous signs and winners. The Gospel is not being happy, or being wealthy, or being healthy. The Gospel is not your testimony. The Gospel is not our political sides winning. The Gospel is not our nationality or ethnicity. The Gospel is not living moral, good upstanding lives. The Gospel is not being on the right side of History. The Gospel is not equality. Those are false Gospels.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Another important aspect is that we need to have a right and true understanding of who we truly are. We are sinners from birth. We are unrighteous. We are totally depraved. That doctrine, Total Depravity can be easily misunderstood. I like how one resource clarifies it, writing:

There is a common misconception regarding total depravity. Total depravity does not mean that man is as wicked or sinful as he could be, nor does it mean that man is without a conscience or any sense of right or wrong. Neither does it mean that man does not or cannot do things that seem to be good when viewed from a human perspective or measured against a human standard. It does not even mean that man cannot do things that seem to conform outwardly to the law of God. What the Bible does teach and what total depravity does recognize is that even the “good” things man does are tainted by sin because they are not done for the glory of God and out of faith in Him (Romans 14:23; Hebrews 11:6). While man looks upon the outward acts and judges them to be good, God looks upon not only the outward acts but also the inward motives that lie behind them, and because they proceed from a heart that is in rebellion against Him and they are not done for His glory, even these good deeds are like “filthy rags” in His sight. In other words, fallen man’s good deeds are motivated not by a desire to please God but by our own self-interest and are thus corrupted to the point where God declares that there is “no one who does good, no not one!”

(https://www.gotquestions.org/total-depravity.html)

That is who we are when we are born. That’s who we are naturally, corrupted by our sin nature. That’s who we are without Christ. Paul says that he is the foremost of sinners. He is clear about who he was before Christ. We need to know who we were, and what our identity was. For many, this is still who they are as well.

But, if you are in Christ, if you have believed the Gospel and repented of your sins, then you are born again into the Holy Spirit and you are now a Child of God.

You are loved.

You are chosen.

You are Redeemed.

You are a saint.

You are Forgiven.

You are declared Righteous.
You have received mercy.

Paul then says why he received mercy. It is so that Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. Christ displays his perfection as an example to his followers. Yes, an example of how to act and how to live, but more than that.

If God could save Paul, with all that he did in persecuting the early church. If He could save the Disciples, who continually missed the point of Jesus teaching and abandoned Him in his time of need and after his death. If he could save sinners like you and I, then He could save anyone he chooses.

Again, having a right view of ourselves and having a right view of God is vital to understanding the Gospel. It is said that a high view of self leads to a low view of God. Invertly, a low/right view of self leads to a High/right view of God.

When we see him right, when we see who he is, his holiness, his righteousness, his goodness and love, when we see all of that correctly, as revealed to us in the bible, we can not help but cry out in worship. We cry out in exaltation and we lift up praises and cry out Glory to God!

Paul finishes his point here in this section of his letter, the passage we are looking at this morning by doing exactly that. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.[d] Amen.

Its funny to me, this section by Paul, as he cries out in praises and shouting out Glory to God, it reminds me of the clip I played, I think it was Easter. An old Baptist preacher named SM Lockridge shouting, “That’s my king!” That kind of inspired this last section here.

Jesus is the King of Ages, the King of Kings, and the LORD of LORDS. He is at the top of all things and he is the highest one there is.

He is immortal. He always was, he always is, and he always will be. He is alive. He will live forever at the right hand of God the Father.

He is invisible. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is in all times, all places and all everything, all at the same time.

He is the only God. Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. There are no other gods. Any other god that people call upon, they don’t exist. They are false gods. They are fallen angels disguising themselves as and with lights.

The Triune God is one and only one. And to him go all honor and glory. And as Lockridge finishes up: And Thine is the Kingdom the power and the glory forever and ever
and ever and ever.
And ever and ever.
And when you get through all the forever’s, then
Amen!

 

For those of us who have been declared righteous and saved from eternal wrath and judgment, today is a day we rejoice, and we celebrate. We celebrate the fact that we 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, once a Month and we celebrate communion. We come together, setting aside any differences, any pettiness, all that stuff that does not matter, 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 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[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 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.

 

 

 

 

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.