2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Ambassadors for Christ

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Ambassadors for Christ

 

 

 

          Good Morning everybody! If you would, please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 5. We are just going to take a few minutes today to look at some scripture. This is intended to be more of a short devotion or maybe a sermonette, than a full sermon.

What I want to do is show you one of things that I’ve seen over the past 2 plus months. I have seen a lot of Christians fighting and tearing each other apart over what’s right, over what’s wrong, and over how they think we should respond and react to the wrongs going on in the world around us.

And my point is not going to be that one way is clearly right or that one way is clearly wrong. I’m not here to say that one method or one decision or one reaction is clearly right or clearly wrong. I think there is a lot of leeway for Christian Liberty here.

But with the passage I’m going to share this morning, what we will see is that in all times, in all circumstances, in all situations, that we are to model Christlikeness to all people.

Its easy to forget that, as Christians, we are held to a higher standard than this world adheres to. Actually, kind of the point is that we are all held to the standard, but we acknowledge the eternal truth and reality of that standards, whereas no Christians do not recognize the authority of God to set that standard.

We are not held to the standard of the world. We are not held to the standard of society and culture. We are not held to the standard of America and the Constitution even. We are held to higher standards than that. We are held to harder standards. WE are called to die to our selves daily. We are called to bear our cross.

We are called not to respond to people and groups in the same way that they talk to us, how they act to us, or how they treat us. We are called to the standard of Christs righteousness.

This is a foreign concept to much of the world. This is a concept born of the flesh. The prevailing instinct is to treat others how they treat you, or worse, and often, before they get a chance to.

 

 

Every single life, every single human being is born in the image and likeness of Christ. This goes for Americans and non-Americans. This goes for Democrats and Republicans. This goes for Christians, Muslims, and Atheists. This goes for liberals and conservatives. This goes for black, white, brown, red, yellow, purple, green, polka dot and chartreuse.

Every single human life on earth is created in Gods image and likeness. This is the entire basis and the entire and full foundation of our pro-life position. If we do not believe this, we have no right to say anything is regards to the whole sale slaughter of millions of unborn babies.

Now, born in the image and likeness does not equal a child of God. It does not mean that all are saved. That is reserved for those who have repented of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ.

But we are not called to only be nice and to only treat well other Christians. We are called to treat every single human being in this world with the same dignity and respect that we want others to treat us with and the Bible does not give us any exceptions. We are to remember that our battle, our war is not with flesh and blood, but in the spiritual realm, against powers and principalities.

That brings us to our text this morning. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verses 16-21. In this passage, Paul writes:

 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

 

So, we start with Paul showing us that our duty is t treat others around us with Christs Spiritual standards, as opposed to the worlds physical, fleshly standards. We used to live, believe in and act according to those standards. We are born into those actions and beliefs.

But God… Remember, what I considered one of the greatest truths of the Bible. But God, through his grace alone, delivered through our faith alone in his Son Jesus Christ alone changes us. It brings us out from death to life. It changes us from the inside out. It changes our heart. It changes our identity and it changes our nature.

We are then New Creations. We are now reconciled to God, through Jesus Christ. Once we are reconciled to him, we are new creations, the old identity is gone, though habits, temptations and actions will remain.

Charles Spurgeon, in one of his devotions says: In every believer’s heart there is a constant struggle between the old nature and the new. The old nature is very active and loses no opportunity of employing all the weapons in its deadly arsenal against newborn grace: while on the other hand, the new nature is always on the lookout to resist and destroy its enemy.

 

          When we are new creations in Christ, the change in us should be clear and noticeable. And when that happens, we have one single job to do. We are to be Ambassadors for Christ, Ambassadors on the behalf of the Kingdom of God.

We speak and share the official position and official view of the kingdom of Heaven. Now what we want the official view to be. Not what we think it might be or should be. But we are a conduit. We are to funnel the Word of God to the people who need to hear it.

We present and announce what our King has already decreed. We do not make laws. We do not determine official positions. We share Christ and he crucified. We Preach the Word and We Love the People. We fulfill the Great commission, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all the Christ has commanded.

Jesus Christ is our King. He is reigning today, here and now. He is not waiting to reign. He reigns now and forever. There is no waiting for tomorrow. Christ is King. And he will be our savior if, by Gods grace we put our faith in his son.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus,

Jesus says, repent and believe in the gospel.”

So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

These are the Words of Christ, written down in the Bible you hold in your hand, that is accessible to so many, so many more than ever in history. He is our King; He is our savior. We literally owe our eternal life to him. He does this free and clear, nothing we can do to earn it or to influence it or to cause it or to bring it to bear.

Jesus does, however, tell us, after we are saved, we have certain responsibilities. Top of that list and I think summing up all the others is that we are to be Ambassadors of Christ and all that this means. I encourage you to reflect on this. To think about what it means to be an Ambassador.

How are we supposed to act? IS it how we have always been taught? Or is it more complex and nuanced. How influenced are we by our family, our society, our culture, our nation, our history, our morality, our nation? Or are we influenced by the Bible, the written and inerrant and inspired and sufficient word of our King, of God himself, creator of Heaven and Earth, creator of the universe and the ultimate authority of all that is?

 

 

Now, Speaking of Jesus as our King, He was more than that as well. He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This act of pure love goes beyond natural human understanding. Hymnwriter Charles Wesley wrote, Amazing love! how can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Before he performed this act, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis and no matter when our first week back was going to be, we were going to celebrate communion as a church family.

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 one thing 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.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

Daniel 4:1-37 God of all Nations Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream

Daniel 4:1-37

God of all Nations

Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream

 

Good Morning Bangor Community Church! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Daniel chapter 4. We are continuing through our series through Daniel, entitled “God of all Nations.”

          This week, this chapter, we see a difference in format from the previous few chapters. We see the same focus and the same theme as we have seen so far that God is sovereign over all. Period. But this week, we are going to see things told through the perspective of King Nebuchadnezzar himself. And we are going to bring to a close the King Nebby part of our story.

We don’t know the exact time that this chapter was written, though it is obviously likely that it was towards the end, at least the latter half of Nebby’s 43-year reign. And this story, this chapter is told and written from His perspective instead of Daniels, and it is him looking back, from towards the end, in order to share what God has done for him and what he has learned from God.

In that sense, this has a feel similar to the book of Ecclesiastes to me. This is what I’ve learned, this is what God has shown me. And this I pass on to you. And he says that his audience of this story is to all people, all nations and all languages.

So, lets go ahead and read the first section of this chapter, Daniel chapter 4, verses 1-7. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to read and follow along in your preferred translation. Daniel 4:1-7, Daniel records what Nebuchadnezzar wrote”

 

King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his word.

 

We have seen leading up to this point some of the things that Nebby has seen and experienced as a witness and testimony of the Most High God. We have seen Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach and Abed-nego prosper and grow strong on a diet of water and vegetables. He had a dream that not only could no one interpret, but no one except Daniel could tell him what the dream even was. He saw Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refuse to worship him and his statue and get thrown into a super-hot fiery furnace, only for them to come out not even smelling like smoke. The man has seen some things.

And here he is going to share one more thing he has seen God do. In verse 3, along with what we are going to read in verses 34 & 35 are going to be the theme of this chapter, God and his absolute sovereignty, his eternal kingdom that endures from generation to generation.

Through those previous instances, we see that Nebby has acknowledged the power of the God of Daniel, and the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, but we haven’t seen him acknowledge Him as the God of Nebuchadnezzar. We haven’t seen him turn to the LORD as exclusively God. Will this one last story of Gods Work in his life be the one that changes Nebbys soul?

 

So, we immediately see from Nebby that he had another dream. He had it when he was comfortable, when he was prospering, when he was, from what we can tell, when he was complacent. This would have made him immediately think back to his other dream that we covered in chapter 2.

But this was different than the first. Nebby was different. His circumstances were different. The dream itself was different. And his reaction was different. This time he didn’t withhold his dream from the wise men that he brought together. HE told it to them straight up. But he hadn’t changed completely because he still expected them to be able to interpret his dream. And they still were not able to. We do see that Nebby has mellowed some because he is not threatening to tear them limb from limb and all that, but that still had to be hard for the wisemen to admit to him.

 

We pick the story up in verse 8 through verse 18:

Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger,[c] coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times[d] pass by for him.

17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

 

So, Daniel finally shows up here and I notice a few things first. These are the things that tells me that Nebby has not fully accepted the God of Daniel as his own personal God. First, he says that Daniel is filled with the spirit of holy gods, not the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of the Holy God. Second, he insists on calling Daniel by his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, which is a tribute to the Babylonian god, Marduk.

He tells Daniel his dream and tells him to interpret it for him and then we get to see what the dream is. A great big tree, reaching towards heaven. It was seen throughout the world, seen by all. It was fruitful and abundant. It was beautiful, it provided food, shelter and security for many.

Then came a message from heaven, Chop It Down! Chop it down and leave the stump and the roots as a sign to all. His mind will be made as a beast instead of a man. And the purpose of this dream is very specifically for the purpose of making the Most High God known to all.

So, Mr. Daniel, Mr. God is with you. Tell me what this dream means.

 

And so, Daniel responds to him in verses 19-27:

Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.

23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

 

 

Now, this dream kind of freaked Daniel out. The King tried to calm him down, but this dream was intense for Daniel to hear about and to think about. And the standard formality of that time is to wish that the dream is about the Kings enemies, as Daniel says here.

Then in verse 20, he starts his interpretation. The tree is about you, oh King. Your greatness reaches to the heavens and your dominion is to the ends of the earth.

But the messenger came down and said that you would be cut down and sent out into the fields to dwell with the beasts to eat grass. This time will last for 7 times. Now, there is no consensus about how long a time is. It could be 7 days, 7 weeks, 7 months or 7 years. No matter the assuredness that some may speak with, it is an unknown. But we know that God said that it would be for a specific and finite amount of time.

Daniel continues that the stump and the roots of the tree will be left. This is to show that Nebbys kingdom will be held for him during these 7 times and that once he “Knows that Heaven rules,” his kingdom will be returned. In other words, when he acknowledges Gods sovereignty and humbles himself, he will be allowed to return from the field and have his mind returned to him.

The message that Daniel ends with is a message that is delivered by men throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, including by Jesus Christ himself. Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of Mark are “Repent and believe the Gospel!” Jonah told the Assyrians in Nineveh something he didn’t want to tell them, repent or you will be destroyed!”

God is a holy God and has holy standards. We are an unholy people from before birth, at least we are since after the fall in Genesis 3. Repentance is when we turn away from our unholy behaviors, our sins. We turn from our sins and turn to God, putting out trust, our faith and our dependence on him. That is where salvation comes from. By the grace of God, through faith in his Son Jesus Christ, he saves us from the consequences of our sins, eternal torment and suffering in Hell.

Often times in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, we see more earthly examples, some practical examples of the need to repent. Often times, what we see in the Old Testament is that you are in a poor situation because of the sins you have committed. Not always of course. Job shows us clearly that this isn’t across the board true and it should not even be our theology. Jesus again addresses the misapplication of this idea as a rule with the blind man that is brought to him. He is asked, why is this man bling? Is it his sins or the sins of his parents? He answers them and says, Neither, this is the case so that the power and glory of God would be shown.

But as we saw with Jonah, as we see with many of the prophets, the message that God sends is to turn away from your sins, Repent! And I will save you from your situation. Repent and I will relent of your judgement. Repent and I will relent of your punishment. Here, we see, Repent and you may not have to spend 7 times as a beast in the field, eating grass and with the mind of a beast.

Daniel sees the message that God is sending to Nebby and he begs with him not to continue on the path he is on. God is going to humble you because your self-pride is too much. Repent and you may be spared this situation!

If Daniel is this passionate about saving his King from acting a fool for a period of time, how much more should we be passionate about saving everyone we know from Hell. How much should we try to show them how to escape the eternal torment that is waiting at the end of their path, that was waiting for each of us at the end of our paths before God intervened.

Ultimately, the power is in Gods hands. He and he alone is the one with the power to save. Jonah cries out, Salvation belongs to the Lord! Our job is to faithfully plat the seeds of the Gospel. Romans 10 says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Our job is to speak the words of the Bible, the Words of God into their lives. Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. Our job is not to make converts, but to grow people in wisdom, knowledge and obedience of the LORD.

This should not be a secondary issue or a backburner issue. If we have unbelieving friends, unsaved family, it should consume our prayers. And I know for a lot of you it does. I know it does for me. As a church family it should be vital for is all together, for all of our families and friends, not just our own individually.

          Charles Spurgeon puts into great words how passionate we should be about this, he says: If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

 

 

 

Now, we see that Nebby didn’t heed Daniels pleadings as we continue along with verses 28-37, finishing this chapter. It reads:

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

 

1 year after the dream and its interpretation, Nebby was walking around his palace and thinking to himself, “I did this! I built the kingdom of Babylon! All of it! I did it!”

So, God essentially told him, “All right, your hubris has caught up with you. I am in charge here. I am in charge of the kingdoms of the world, and I am taking yours away from you!”

Immediately his dream came to fruition and he was made to act like and live like the beasts of the field. Usually we tend to think of Cattle in this story. That’s what I’m thinking about as we talk about this. Nebby spent 7 times living like the animals, eating grass, growing long hair and long nails. Exactly as his dream told him would happen.

And then, at Gods appointed time, he says, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praised God. I blessed him. I honored him. There is a balance in this. We both see, because of who Nebby is, that he is still taking partial credit for the end of his time as a beast. But we also see that one of the main balances, or tensions, that the Bible strikes is that God is completely sovereign, and nothing happens with him saying so, but also that we, Man, are responsible for our actions. We can’t blame God for our sins, for our problems and certainly not for us being sent to hell. We freely sin of our own volition.

So Nebby is both proud and truthful in his words. And when he praised God, in Gods timing, God restored him to his right mind. All of his kingdom, his power and his glory were restored, and he was actually given even more than he had before.

Again, a theme in the scriptures. Using Job as an example, once everything ended, his rewarded was even more than they understood God was going to give them. Everything that was taken from Job was restored plus some. Here, Nebby was not only restored but given more once he praised God.

We can make the parallel connection that if we trust in God, and we are saved by his grace, that our reward is going to be so much better than we are to expect. We are not only avoiding the punishment of hell; salvation is not just fire insurance. But we get to spend eternity in perfect communion, in perfect relationship with our LORD, the God. We get to spend eternity in perfect creation, worshipping him, praising him and full and perfectly complete.

I love the last line of this chapter and I’m going to leave you with that as we close for the week.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Let’s Pray.

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turn!

Run!

Flee!

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

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

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

And the response to Isaiah in the following two verses:

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

         

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

We are to be kind to everyone.

Not just those whom we like.

Not just those who vote like us.

Not just those who look like us.

Not just those who worship like us.

Not just those who are nice to us.

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

 

We are to be nice to EVERYONE. Full Stop.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Thus says the Word of God. Amen.

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

People are wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Pray.

2 Timothy 1:1-7 Life in the Local Church Paul’s Final Letter

2 Timothy 1:1-7

Life in the Local Church

Paul’s Final Letter

 

          Good Morning! Let’s go ahead and grab our Bibles and open them up to 2 Timothy, chapter 1. If you do not have a Bible, please grab one from the back table as our gift to you.

We are starting the letter of 2 Timothy. Last week we finished 1 Timothy. These two letters are written by the Apostle Paul to his friend, his child in the faith, his disciple, Timothy.

This letter, 2 Timothy, is the last letter that Paul would write that we have record of. It was written during his second Roman imprisonment, when Paul was awaiting the trial before the Caesar that he knew would end in his execution. Paul knew the end of his life was coming. And you can hear it coming through in this letter as you read it.

Timothy, at this time, was still in Ephesus, and the false teaching that needed to be addressed were still an issue. And we are going to hear more about Timothy’s family, especially his mother and his grandmother as we go through this letter.

Paul is writing to Timothy, and he is addressing thinks that Timothy needs to hear and needs to address in Ephesus. But Paul is looking back at his life and his ministry and passing on what he knows to Timothy, and he is looking ahead and looking forward to being with the LORD. As one commentator says, “He had been faithful to Christ and Christ himself is faithful.”

          So, lets go ahead and read the opening section of the letter, this week’s passage, 2 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 1-7. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. 2 Timothy 1:1-7, Paul opens his letter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writing the very Word of God, writes to Timothy:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and our mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

Paul starts of his letter as he does his other letters and as is customary for letter of that time, and he starts off with who he is. First and foremost, above all things, Paul is an Apostle of Christ Jesus. Apostle is the term given to the 12 specific disciples that are mentioned in the scriptures, and to Paul. In order to be an Apostle, you had to have been personally taught by Jesus. This is a main reason why the office of Apostle is closed today. You also had to be called. Not just everyone who was taught by Jesus was called to be an Apostle. The word Apostle means sent one. They were the ones sent by Christ to build the early church.

And it was by the will of God that Paul was indeed an Apostle. Exception for divine intervention, he would not have been qualified even. He did not follow Jesus and was not taught by him during Jesus earthly ministry. However, after Paul encounter with the living Christ on the Road to Damascus, Jesus did personally teach Paul all the things that Paul needed to know and so Paul became an Apostle.

One of the things that we see through Paul is that our calling is solely by the will of God. We don’t get to choose what we are called to. God chooses. Paul was content to continue doing what he was doing, persecuting the early church, chasing down, imprisoning, and sometimes stoning the leaders of the early church. It was only because God chose him to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus that Paul was willing, able and did change into the man who wrote most of the New Testament and spread the Gospel to the ends of the known earth at the time.

So, we don’t get to choose what God uses us for, what He has called us to. God, in His infinite and all-knowing wisdom, he knows our gifts, our strengths and where we will fit thee best because he made us with them and made us that way. He also knows our weaknesses and how he can use them to achieve his will and his goals.

Paul himself writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, But he said to me, R10“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. 

As I can testify from my own experiences, it is natural to assume that what ever our natural strengths are, that is what God will call us to use for him. We assume, naturally, that whatever our weaknesses are, that’s not where God will call us and that’s not what God will use. But it is often where our weaknesses are that God will call us so that we, and others around us can see the power of God.

And part of that call, part of being a sent one by God is that Paul may proclaim and share the life that is in Christ Jesus. The promise of everlasting life in the kingdom of God. Eternal and abundant life as children of God, co-heirs with Christ.

And Paul offers greetings to Timothy, his spiritual child, his child in the faith, one of the people who is closest to Paul, closer than almost anyone else. Grace, Peace and Mercy to you. Peace was often included in most greetings in those days, but adding Grace and Mercy was uniquely Christian. Thinking about the various religions of the day, those were uniquely Christian ideas.

Grace, Peace and Mercy are what we receive from God the Father and therefore are what we should wish for and on those around us. Gods grace is the only hope we have for that promise of everlasting life in Christ Jesus.

 

 

After that initial, customary greeting, Paul writes on one of the things he is most thankful for. Remember his circumstances. In prisoned, awaiting a trial that he knows he will lose, expecting to be executed because of that verdict, many have abandoned him, as we will see in this letter. And he starts off focusing on what he must give thanks for.

And Paul gives thanks that he remembers to pray for Timothy and to pray often. Paul considers it an honor to pray for Timothy. He considers it an honor to pray for those close to him. We should consider it an honor to pray for those in our lives, friends, family, and the like.

What greater honor can there be than to lift the praises, the troubles, the struggles, the stresses and the successes of those who we love, those who are close to us, and yes, even those whom we don’t actually know, but lift up all there stuff and give it over to the hands of the All Mighty, All Powerful, Father God, the name above all names.

Its why we encourage you often to pray for and talk to the family of the week that we have listed in our bulletins. Its why I encourage you to read the prayer requests and pray for the Village Missionaries of the Week. We have the prayer requests listed on the back of the bulletin that we do encourage you to read and pray for throughout the week. We have a list, that we are updating, that we pray through on Wednesday mornings so that everyone in this church gets prayed for in a rotation. If nothing else, pray through the church directory, praying for each person in this church by name. Paul considered it an honor to be able to [ray for others and we should recognize the honor it is as well.

Paul remembers Timothy’s tears and, and in remembering them, he longs to see Timothy once more before he dies, thinking of the joy that the visit would fill him with. The context of this sentence leads most commentators and theologians to conclude that the tears that he mentions of Timothy were tears that were shed the last time they separated.

Again, we see the closeness between the two friends, and the Christian, godly love that exists here is powerful. We also, we see woven through everything, is that Paul knows the end is near. He knows it is coming. And he desires to see, one more time, those who are closest to him, those who are most important to him. He wants to see them before he leaves this world and enters the perfect next world and Timothy is at the top of that list.

Part of their closeness, the closeness of their relationship, their friendship seems from verse 5, to stem from their shared faith, their sincere faith. And we see in this verse, where does this sort of faith often start?

Most often, and most fruitfully, faith like that, true saving, life defining faith, starts in the home. Timothy’s mom and his grandmother laid the foundation and taught him the faith. But He does not have his mom’s faith or his grandmother’s faith, at some point, it became his own faith. That’s something that is, I know its hard for me as a parent, to realize that I can’t give my kids faith. Parents, we cannot give them, or will them, or force them, or pressure them into having faith, even saving faith in Christ. We can only give them the foundations and the information and the example. It is up to them to make that faith their own. Paul references Timothy’s family as well, later in chapter 3, but we see that the example and the education was set at home that enable Timothy to then have the sincere faith that Paul sees dwelling in him.

 

In verse 6, Paul starts telling Timothy some of the things that he is writing to him to tell him. Timothy, because of your sincere faith, don’t forget to use the gifts and do the work that God has call you too! With energy and passion! Use your gifts!

Charles Spurgeon, commentating on this verse, remarked, “That which is expended in the master’s service is laid up I heaven where neither moth nor rust can corrupt.” His point was that whatever we are called to do for the LORD, we will never regret doing it in the long run.

It was likely that Timothy was not being as strong or as bold with his gifts and his responsibilities as he was supposed to be. We see in these two letters that Timothy tended towards timidity. We don’t know exactly what that looked like or why.

It could have been that he had a fear of man, that he struggled with. It could have been that he was unsure of his own rightness. It could have been trying to be respectful and erring to far to that side. It could have been being uncomfortable with confrontation. It could have been not being confident in his own knowledge or skills. Timothy was young and he may not have been securely established in his studies in his own mind.

Either way, what ever the reason, we can see exactly what RC Sproul comments on this verse when he says, “The strong expression of ‘fan into flame the gift of God,’ suggests that Timothy was being less forceful than he should have been in using the Spiritual Gift God had given him.”

 

 

Paul had told Timothy in the last letter; just how important it was to stand up to those false teachers and to those causing divisions. Timothy was to use the gifts that God had given him to lead the church in Ephesus in knowing and teaching and learning and worshipping the Truth that is the One True God.

 

 

We are all given gifts by God, spiritual gifts. And we are all given different, individual gifts. We are given them for specific reasons. We are given them as in different body parts of the same body. We all have a role to play in Gods grand plan. We are all called to do different things, to play different parts, to fill different needs, just as all the different parts of the body fill different roles.

I love this illustration I read this week by Charles Spurgeon:

The great householder has apportioned to every servant a talent; no single part of a vital body is without its office. True, there are some parts of the body whose office has not been discovered- even the physician and the anatomist have not been able to tell why certain organs are in the human frame or what use the serve, but as even these are found to be necessary, we are sure they fulfill some useful purpose. Some Christians might be put in that category. It might puzzle anybody to know what they are capable of, and yet it is certain they have some charge committed to them to keep. And if true believers, they are essential parts of the body of Christ. As every beast, bird, fish and insect has its own place in nature, so has every Christian a fit position in the economy of grace. No tree, no plant, no weed could be dispensed without injury to nature’s perfection; and neither can any sort of gift or grace be lost to the church without injury to her completeness.  

 

God knows what he is doing. If he has given gifts, or talents or anything, he has done so for a reason, to be used for the benefit of the church, to build up the body of believers for the body to bring glory to God. But if those gifts are not being used, the body suffers. And when one body part tries to be a different one, one that already exists, or is taken, the body suffers.

As an example, if too many people try to lead, nobody goes anywhere. Both sayings prove to be true. Many hands make light work. But, at the same time, it is so easy to have too many cooks in the kitchen.

The natural human tendency, as we see with Timothy here, is to be nervous, to not want to rock the boat or to cause waves. Its natural to be nervous about using the gifts God has given, especially when confronting people or doing things that are outside of our comfort zone.

But in verse 7, Paul writes, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. We are not to have a Spirit of Fear, because God hasn’t given us one. How many times does the Bible say some variation of “Do not be afraid?” My favorite, the one that has been with me since I first started reading the Bible, the first verse that grabbed me and the first verse I memorized, Joshua 1:9 in the NIV:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

God spends so much of the Old Testament telling Israel and the Israelites that they should not be afraid because He is God and He is on their side. And then he goes and proves why they don’t need to be afraid. Jesus tells his followers in the New Testament that they don’t need to be afraid.

And yet its so easy to fall back onto. Fear, fear of failure, fear of being wrong, fear of all sorts of things. But God does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, of LOVE and of Self-control.

I think those last two keep us from going all out with the first. We act with power, but we act out of love and with self-control. And that’s important. Because with great power comes great responsibility. This does not mean that we are to bully people into doing what we think or know is right. It does not mean that we must speak up every time a thought or an argument or a correction pops in our head. Part of the self-control is knowing and learning when not to speak up and knowing and learning how to speak up in those situations. The point Paul is making is that when we are supposed to speak up, to not be afraid.

This letter from Paul, his last one, is one the most emotional, heartfelt letters that we have in Scripture. WE see that here as he opens this letter to Timothy. Through everything, Paul is not afraid of the death that is coming, rather, wishes there was more for him to do, for the kingdom. And so, he is sharing these things with Timothy, with us so that we may see how to continue in true, right service to the LORD our God.

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

 

Christmas 2019, Galatians 4:4-7, In the Fullness of Time, God became Man

Christmas 2019
Galatians 4:4-7
In the Fullness of Time, God Became MAn

Good Morning! If you would, please go ahead and grab your Bibles with me. We will visit several spots throughout scripture, but my intent is to park in Galatians chapter 4. If you do not have a Bible, there should be some under the seat you are in or the seats around you. If you do not own a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table as our gift to you.
Let’s start with a question. Why are we all here this morning? Why do we celebrate Christmas? The answer is a simple one, even if not easy. We are here this morning; we celebrate Christmas to celebrate that Jesus was born. That answer leads to two more questions that I want to address this morning. First is simply, who was, or is Jesus? And Second, why is his birth worth celebrating?
Jesus is the true King of Kings. It says so in Revelation, chapter 19:16, the Disciple John writes about Jesus: On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now, there are only a few events in History that can legitimately claim to have changed the world. Events that changed the status quo or changed the course of history. But none of those events can compare in influence, in scope or size, or importance to the one that took place that holy silent night 2000 years ago.
Most of the time, when we look at Christmas, when we look at the birth of Christ, we look at the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. And that’s where we see the stories that were recorded of his birth, life, death and resurrection. Charles Spurgeon once said, You only have to read the Gospels, and look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God. But today we see that there are other scriptures that speak to this as well.
God had spent all human history building to this point. Early in the Scriptures, in Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve fell from perfection and brought sin into the World. Man ruined their relationship with God, we ruined our relationship with God, but God promised a way to make it right. He had a plan.
God spends the whole rest of the Old Testament reiterating his promise and showing through prophecy how this plan would be fulfilled. We see the Gospel writers point out some of these prophecies when the tell the Gospel story. Matthew often writes in his Gospel something along the lines of, “This was to fulfill what the LORD had spoken by prophet…”
There were over 350 instances in the Old Testament of the writers and prophets pointing ahead towards the coming and arrival of gods rescue plan. Mathematically, the odds are so great of those prophecies being fulfilled as to be, in all practical senses, impossible.
And then we read, in our passage for this morning, what Paul writes in Galatians, chapter 4, verses 4-7:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
That starry, holy, silent night, Jesus Christ became God incarnate. He came down from heaven, as the Christ, the Messiah, Gods great rescue plan. An event that hadn’t ever happened before. An event that will never happen again. An event that changed the course of history and an event that changed the people who believed and experienced it.
Now, I know, if you are not a follower of Christ, if he has not already changed your life, that this sounds so completely fantastical. That God literally, physically came down from Heaven and was born as a baby human man. I know how that sounds. But if you will look at the proof, the evidence, that history with open eyes, you will see the truth.
God exists. If he exists, then to be God, he must be all powerful, all knowing, and all present in all times and all places. What would otherwise be impossible, with God is possible. Somethings that would normally be impossible; being both God and man, being born of a virgin, performing the miracles that he did, dying and rising from the dead, all things impossible if not for being both God and man.
God loves us. The Bible that you hold in your hands, the Bible that is under your chairs, is a 66-book love letter that he wrote to us. It says that even though we spit in his face, that we openly rebelled against him and his gift of perfection and relationship with him, despite all that, he loves us. He wants to restore that relationship. He wants to be able to forgive us from our sins. He loves us and wants that so much for us that he sent his Son,
He sent him quietly, as an innocent baby, to grow up and live a perfect life, to teach and to be an example, and most importantly, to give his life as a ransom for many. Most of the people of that day did not realize who He was. That he was God as a man. Most people in the world today don’t know who Jesus is, that he is, as he says in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus was born of a woman, under the law. He was born under the same requirements that we are all born under. He was born under the law. And he fulfilled the law. He did what we are unable to do. We can not keep a law. We have zero ability to keep the law. We are sinners and we are born sinners. This separated from God. But Jesus redeemed those if us from under the law, through his fulfillment of the law.
Jesus came silently, giving the world a chance to see who he is and to turn to him and embrace him have God repair that relationship between us and him. But he will come back and the next time, it won’t be silently. He will come back, but not as an innocent helpless baby, as he did here, but as the King of Kings and LORD of LORDs. He will come to separate those who will spend eternity with him and those who will spend eternity without him. What you think of Jesus, who you think he is, determines which of those groups you end up being in.
God became man to save sinners. He gave his son so that we might be called the sons of God. It is through Jesus Christ that we are redeemed to God and that we are saved from the consequences of our sins.
Christianity, the belief in, the worship of and the following of Jesus Christ is inclusive in that all who are born into this world, everybody will be welcome through the door to heaven, the door the Jesus walked through in this direction to be born here on earth. But there is only one door, only one way to get into that heaven. It is only by the way of Jesus Christ, God who became man, physically, literally born, physically, literally died, physically, literally rose from the dead, to pay the punishment for our sins, our rebellion. It is only the knowledge and faith in that that will restore our relationship with God and allow us to walk through that door. Will you be walking through that door? The door that was opened by the Holy Silent Night 2000 years ago, in a manger.
Timothy Keller has said, ““The world can’t save itself. That’s the message of Christmas.” We can’t save ourselves. The world can’t save ourselves. With sin in the world, we are without hope. Without a Messiah, without a savior, we are without hope. Without being the children, the descendants of Abraham, the line God chose to bless, we are without hope.
But then one-night 2000 years ago. To an unmarried teenage mother, far away from home, through the line of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of David, of Solomon, of all these men and women that Matthew lists in these first words of the New Testament. The adoptive, and therefore legal son of Joseph, hope was born into this world. A hope that we could believe in, a hope that we could trust in. A hope that had been promised for 4000 years was fulfilled that very night.
He was born a human baby boy, but he was so much more than that. He was God himself. Scriptures call him Immanuel, which means God with Us. God came down, became a man, and born into a world of sin, he remained sinless. He offered hope, not that we could remain sinless, but that God loved us enough to come down to us, to chase after us, to pursue us. He lived a perfect life so that when he was crucified, when his innocent blood was shed, it was not making an atonement for his own sins, but because he had no sin of his own, it was enough to cover our sins. He then rose from the dead to show that the result of the forgiveness of sins is eternal life with him.
So that we could be called sons of God. Paul writes, just a few lines earlier, Galatians 3:26: for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. And John writes at the beginning of his Gospel, John 1:12 & 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.
He promised a savior there in Genesis 3. And after so many failures, after so many years, after so many obstacles and adversity and persecution and exile. After years of darkness and wondering, “When LORD?”
Then, 2000 years ago, a baby was born. The bible says that it was “at the right time,” that Christ was born. Exactly when God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit planned it to happen. Not too early, not too late, but at just the right time, The Father sent him, the Messiah, the Christ.
Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, eternal God, 1/3 of the trinity, he lowered himself, came down from Heaven, and was born a human baby boy, still fully God, now fully human. He was the one all the Old Testament guys was pointing towards. And where they failed, where they sinned, he succeeded, he lived a perfect, righteous life.
And it was because he was sinless that he was able to bridge that gap between God and humanity. And He did. He paid the price for sin, nailed to the cross, dead. He took the punishment for sin. But not his sin, as he had none. So, he paid for ours.
And he says repent, turn from your sins, turn to Jesus as both our LORD and savior, believe in him, trust in him and accept the free gift of grace and forgiveness, and we will be forgiven. Christ will clothe us with his righteousness, his perfect righteousness, and allow our relationship with God to be restored to what it is supposed to be.
Look, there are only two choices, only two options. And they boil down to what you think of Jesus. Reject who he is, who the Bible says he is. Reject the love of God, the gift of grace, the forgiveness of sins. Reject the knowledge that we need saving and there is only one that can give us that salvation. Reject the fact of Jesus is God and man and was born a baby. Reject that and you receive eternity without God, eternity outside of Heaven. That relationship with God that we were created to dwell in was shattered and lost and we can’t do anything to change that.
He wants us to live forever with him, praising him, worshiping him, being in the relationship that we were originally created to be in. Look, if you have not come to know the historical, biblical saving King of Kings, LORD Jesus, today is a great day. The day we celebrate his birth, the day we celebrate the literal personification of his love and the day we celebrate that we came to save us.
Salvation belongs to the LORD and today is the day of Salvation. I ask you to turn your life over to Jesus today and not to wait.
For those of us that have come to know Jesus Christ, we celebrate this today. And in this day, we celebrate all that Christ accomplished throughout his earthly life and ministry. He died, rose again and he will be coming back to put a final cap on all the evil in this world. Christmas celebrates his first coming. WE also use it to remember and look forward to his second coming where all things will be made right and new again.
Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the longest day of the year. I saw this quote last night and it struck me how appropriate it is for Christmas specifically, but for our faith in Christ in general and I want to leave you with that quote.
December 21st. Winter solstice. The darkest day of the year. Every day of the fall has been getting darker towards today. But tomorrow? It starts getting lighter. In tiny tiny increments. But light is coming. It doesn’t get any darker than today. Light is coming.

Lets Pray

Book Review: Letters to My Students, Volume 1: On Preaching, by Jason Allen

Book Review

Letters to My Students: Volume 1 On Preaching

Jason K Allen

 

Letters to My Students was very obviously written by someone who is a gifted teacher and passionate about preaching, and preaching faithfully God and His Word, the Bible. Jason Allen draws on Scripture as his main resource, as it should be, but also draws heavily on his influences, including Charles Spurgeon and Dr Steven Lawson, (Two of the very best in my opinion!). He also shares his experiences in preaching and preparing to preach. He shares the good and the bad, the wins and the lessons learned. And he is called and passionate about helping to raise up, teach and encourage the latest batch of pastors and preachers coming up.

And that’s who this is ultimately aimed at, pastors and ministers in training. In hat, I have not read a better book on preaching and preparing sermons. It goes into the call of preaching, sermon prep, the benefits and necessity of Expository Preaching, when there are right and wrong times for Topical Sermons, lessons learned, and so much more.

Throughout the book, in all the lessons, Allen keeps the focus squarely on preaching Christ, in all, and above all. He draws heavily on Spurgeons illustration regarding being able to draw a straight line from any scripture directly to Christ. Jesus should not just be an add on at the end of the sermon, nor should the Gospel.

With that, in my opinion, the best paragraph in the book starts and ends like this:

“Christian Preachers ought to preach Christ-centered and Christ-exalting sermons. If a Rabbi could preach my sermon, I still have more work to do….If you have preached a sermon without featuring Jesus, then you haven’t preached a Christian sermon.” (pg. 106)

Ultimately, I am further along in my pastoral career than the target audience of this book. However, I still learned quite a bit, was reminded of things Ive forgotten and encouraged by a lot of what was written here. I also don’t tend to highlight, underline, make notes, etc in the books that I am reading, but this book is highly marked up!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about preaching, who is training to be a pastor (in seminary, for example) or who is early in their pastoral career. And I would also recommend it to any one who preaches, whether regularly or occasionally, whether for a few years now, or a veteran preacher.

 

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Malachi 2:17-3:5 Sin is still Sin

Malachi 2:17-3:5

Gods Response to Sin

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to the Minor Prophet of Malachi. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or do not own one, we would love for you help yourself to one from the back table as our gift to you.

Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament, and starting today, and through the rest of the book, we will see how close to the New Testament this book really is. During this time in Jerusalem, Gods People had lost a lot of Hope and they were tired of playing by the rules and they were tired of seeing those who didnt play by the rules not being punished.

God is continually reaffirming his Covenant with them and letting them know that nothing is out of his control and that he keeps his promises. We saw in the passage we read last week that marriage was given to us as a gift and as a type, a shadow and a mirror of what Gods covenant with us actually looks like. It is made to be an unending, complete, total and permanent covenant.

Anything that breaks our end of the convenat is sin. And all sin and any sin breaks our end of the covenant. And we are going to see some reactions to that this morning. First we will see how we tend to react to covenant breaking sin and then we will see how God is going to and has responded to covenant breaking sin.

So, lets go ahead and read our passage for this morning. Malachi 2:17-3:5. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Again, Malachi chapter 2, verse 17 through chapter 3, verse 5. God, speaking through his prophet and through his Word, 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, we start by seeing that we weary God. And we do this by having one of two different reaction to the sin in this world. First, is our actions and even sometimes our words say that everything you want to do is good and fine and that there is no such thing as sin. “This is just the way that I am. That may have been wrong then, that may have been a sin then, but we know better now. You dont understand my situation, Its just easier this way. You dont know what Ive been through or what others have done to me. No one will ever know. Or, but its my child, grandchild, cousin, spouse, parent, whatever.”

We come up with every reason under the sun to justify our sins and the sins of others around us. Isaiah writes, Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!

Right is right and wrong is wrong. And sin is always wrong. And Gods Word is clear about what sin is. We see many lists throughout the scriptures about what sin is. And we see here in Malachi, what RC Sproul referes to as “a cyninical rejection of Gods oral government and the attendant insolent spirit that constantly puts God on trial.”

This might hurt some of our prides, but essentially this comes down to pride. Pride is far and wide considered the sin from which all other sins flow. Ezekiel 28:17 reads: Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.

Pride is one of the so called 7 deadly sins. We are bombarded with the message that we are to take pride in ourselves. We are to take pride in everything we do. We are to take pride in our sins especially. We are told to take pride in a abe loud and proud about our immorality. About our greed. About Idolotry. We are to be loud and proud about our self idolotry. We take pride in our openmindedness. We take pride in how enlightened we are, that we dont have to believe in these antiquated, racist, sexist, narrow views of who God is.

Not only are we told and shown to take pride in our sins and our rebellion against God, but we are to encourage all the rest of the people around us to do the same. In fact, tday, your kind of an outcast if you dont. If you dont take pride in your sins and you dont tell others to take pride in their sins, you are a closed minded bigot. Period.

Paul writes in Romans chapter 1, he lists a whole long list of sins that we do that are rebellion against God. The list is a list of sins that are worthy of death. And at the very end of that list, the very last verse of Romans chapter 1, he writes: Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

These sorts of things are not just limited to those “out there,” this is not just those that are outside the church. Not just those that are on the “other side” of us. But a lot of this is coming from within the church as well. There are church signs all over this county, this state and this country that say things allong the lines of, “All are Welcome,” and “Come as you are.” Those are true words in and of them selves.

No one with a bilical understanding of salvation and evangelism and discipleship would, or should say that only certain people, or only people with their lives put together, or even nly people who struggle with this sin instead of that sin, are welcome to come to church. We should want and encourage and invite all people in all walks of life, in all lifestyles and all seasons of life to walk through those doors on any given Sunday Morning and here the life changing Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But thats not what those church signs actually mean. Those are code statements that really mean something else. Those statements really should read “Come as you are and stay as you are.” or “All are Welcome, no need to change.”

Thats not what the Bible calles us to. The Bible does not affirm our sins, instead it calls us to repent. Martin Luther says that a Christians life is one of repentence. Meaning that our repentence is a life long process. We are to spend our life in Christ continually growing and changing and continuing to repent. Our sins are not to be our identity.

And yet thats exactly what they are when our life begins. Before we come to a saving knoweldge and faith in Jesus Christ, our identity is sinners. Thats who we are and its not something that we can can change by our own power. When we leave this life and we stand before God in judgement, if we have not submitted to him and repented of our sins, we will be seen in his eyes as sinners.

God nows all that. He nows it all and has planned for this and has created a redemption plan before the beginning of time. This was a plan to save us. It was a plan to redeem us. It was a plan to reconcile us sinners with his holiness. And we see this plan prophecied all the way back in Genesis 3. God could send a saviour, he would send someone who would accomplich our salvation, our redemption and our forgiveness.

And it is through his son, through Jesus Christ, his perfect, sinless life, his death on the cross, his resurrection, we can have our sins forgiven. We can have our hearts changed from stone to flesh. Our identities can be changed. Through the Holy Spirit inside of us when we come to faith, our identity is changed from sinner, to saint.

But that requires dying to self. That requires stopping doing what we like doing, what our flesh craves. Gods love and mercy and grace trump our desires though. And as he he changes our heart, he also changes our desires. We still stumble, we still give in to temptation, though the longer we walk with Christ, the less we should be struggling with that. But what does Romans 8:1 say? There now is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Gods forgiveness, his mercy, the death of Jesus, those are not partial things. Christs death is sufficient for all the sins his children will commit, past, present and future. You cannot sin away your salvation. Jesus says in John 10:28: I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

The Key pillars of the Reformation that you have heard me repeat often, that Salvation is by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Jesus Christ Alone, as revealed by the Scriptures Alone and to the Glory of God alone. These doctrines make it clear that God is the one and the only one who saves us, And that our salvation, eother receiving it or keeping it is not dependant on anything that we can offer.

I love the way Paul Washer says it, You are not saved because your faith and your repentence are perfect. You are saved because the work of Christ is perfect and you are clinging to that in your fraility and your helplessness.

Ultimately right is right and wrong is wrong. Period. Gods Word says so. God says so. And we weary him by saying otherwise. God does not celebrate in our sin. It grieves him. It is cosmic treason against an all holy God. Adam and Eve’s sin is what fractured our relationship with God. God doesnt need us. He doesnt need anything. If he did, he wouldnt be God. But in the outpouring, in the overflow of his love, he created us to be with him and to glorify him. Our sin changed that. Our sin brings dishonor to him. JC Ryle reminds us [Don’t mistake] God’s patience with sinners for the idea that God is tolerant of sin.

He is not going to do nothing about that. He is not going to sit idly by. If He celebrates our sin, that makes him a liar and unholy. So sin is still sin and always will be. He is not going to do nothing about it and allow sin to come into fellowship with Him. First He cant, because His holiness cant be in communion with sin. But also, even if He could, He wouldnt because that would take away from His Holy Justice.

God will deal with sin. He will deal with our sins. We dont always, or sometimes, often see it. We cry out as is said in Malachi 2:17 “Where is the God of Justice?” Of Course this is not the only place we see Israel cry out in this way. We see the prophet Habakkuk starts out his book, chapter 1, verse 2-4 crying out,

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? 3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

We even look around us today and wonder why all of this is allowed to go on. Death, disease, murder, stealing, corruption, all the things listed in the various lists of sins in the New Testament, lists in Romans 1, Galatians 5, 1 Corinthians 6 and Revelation 21 just as a few examples. I marked them down in the notes and I encourage you to look them up on your own later.

But we see those things going on and it can be easy to wonder where God is in all this, why he is waiting to act or why are we feeling or receiving Gods discipline. Well, the author of Hebrews deals with that second part, writing in Hebrews 12:7 & 8:  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

God pours out his discipline on us to help sanctify us. He disciplines us because he loves us. Those who are not his children, they will feel his wrath and his judgment, sometimes in this world, but always in the next. We, his children will sometimes have to deal with the negative consequences of sin in this world, but never in the next.

We dont know when that will be, our transition from this world to the next. And many of us will often pray, “LORD come quickly.” The motivation behind this prayer is we see whats going on around us in this world, the corruption taking place, the hurt and the death, and we read about the promises that are coming, we read about Jesus Second Coming. We read about what eternity future will look like, at least the glimpse we get to see. John records in His revelation, Revelation 21:1-7:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment

And we are rightly excited to finally experience that for ourselves. Everything in this world is a a shadow, a broken mirror of what is to come. But why hasnt God brought this about to fruition? Why is He allowing this world to continue as it is? Peter addresses this in his second letter, 2 Peter 3:3-9 he writes:

scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

We remember that God is God. He is omniscient, all knowing, he is omnipresent, all places and times, and omnipotent, all powerful. He is sovereign and in control of all things. He has all of eternity past and eternity future already planned out. He is patient, knowing that not all who will come to him have yet come to him. There is still hope that we can share the Gospel with those who have not yet been saved. And we dont know when that moment will be.

Since the time of Jesus resurrection, we have been in the alst days. And we dont know the time nor the the hour that Christ will return. So there should be some urgency when we are sharing the Gospel.

We dont know who will and who wont respond. We are to have faith that those we share it with will respond while knowing that not all will. God is the one who knows who will respond. There is a great quote from Charles Spurgeon about evangelism, saying: If God would have painted a yellow stripe on the backs of the elect I would go around lifting shirts. But since He didn’t I must preach “whosoever will” and when “whatsoever” believes I know that he is one of the elect.

When I started writing my sermon, did not expect this sermon to go on as long as it would have, God obviously wants us to hear some things this morning and so we are going to look at how God says he is going to respond to sin next week.

Israel is crying out, “Where is the God of Justice!” And God has an answer for them. Sin is sin and the wages of sin is death. Thats part of how He will respond. But the other way he responds is with a free gift that is eternal life in Jesus Christ our LORD. And much of the rest of Malachi will be looking ahead at the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, and the messenger that God will send ahead of his son. So, lets go ahead and pray, and get some water and let you all get out of the heat and we will continue on in Malachi and specifically finishing this section of Malachi next week.

Lets Pray

Malachi 1:6-2:9 pt 2 The Church is a Defender of Truth

Malachi 1:9-2:6 pt 2

The Church is a defender of the Truth

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to the Book of Malachi. If you do not have or own a Bible, please remember to grab a Bible from the back table as our gift to you. One of our missions here at Bangor Community Church is to get the Word of God in the hands of as many people as possible.

So, the book of Malachi is where we are. Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and is split up in to 6 different sections. Over simplifying, 6 different dialogues that God is having with Israel. We started last week looking at the second and longest of those last week, looking at Malachi chapter 1, verse 6, all the way on through to Malachi chapter 2, verse 9.

We saw how God calls us to put Him first. We are here in church to worship and glorify God first and foremost. If we are not fully focused on God and his glory, then God says, dont bother. Church is a poor hobby. Dont play Church.

And we saw what we are to be, as a practical outpouring of our glorifying God, what we are to be as the church. We are to edify and build up the body of Christ, we are to evangelize those that dont know Jesus Christ, and to disciple those who do, so they grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the LORD. And we are to contend earnestly for the faith.

We are to give God our first and our best, of our time, our money, our thoughts, our actions and our life. God is talking here to Israel in general but also, specifically to the priests, those who are called to do the work of the LORD. They have been dropping the ball, and giving cheap, diseased sacrifices. God is going to remind them of what their calling is.

So, before we jump into that part, we are going to read the text that we are looking at this morning. Again, it is a longer section, the same section we read last week. Malachi 1:6-2:9. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to follow along in whichever is your preferred translation. So starting in Malachi, chapter 1, verse 6, God, speaking through His prophet, says:

 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord‘s table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be[b] great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations

 “And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2 If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will rebuke your offspring,[a] and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.[b] 4 So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction[c] was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people[d] should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

So, I mentioned last week too, that specifically God is talking to the priests of Israel. Those who were called to teach the law, to run the temple, to perform the sacrifices, those who are to serve God and spread the Word and his Will throughout the nations. And so, that may seem like it means that he is not talking to us, that he is only talking to a certain segment today.

However, we read in 1 Peter 2:9, that this includes us, as Peter writes:  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

God created this world with order, not chaotically, not randomly. He created things to go in a certain order and to work in a systematic way. It started as a paradise, but man sinned and chaos was brought into the world. Thats why the world is as it is today, because of our sin and disobedience. Because we are totally depraved. We have a sin nature that enslaves and control us.

But God is a graceful God. He is a God who cares about his creation. So he has poured his grace on the entire world. Some of that is whats called common grace. This is all of the good things that we see around us. God is still giving blessings to the world around us.

This is everything from rain to help plants grow, swamp coolers and Air Conditioning. This is the colors that we see around us, the beauty of nature. This is pet dogs and our favorite books or movies. This is art in general, this is way that our favorite food tastes. This is our friendships and our marriages and our relationships. This is everything Good and lovely in this world. And this includes the revelation of how to live right and the standard of our Holy and Perfect God.

And then there is specific, special grace. This is what God pours out on those whom he calls to believe in him and to save from the consequences of our sin. And it is only through the grace of God that we get this. He chooses to pour his specific, saving grace through the vehicle of faith, and only faith that is in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

God is very clear in His Word. There is only one way and there is only two choices. Salvation by God is through his grace alone. Jesus shows us the two destinations possible in his parable of the Goats and the Sheep in Matthew 25. Starting in verse 31, he says:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

These sheep are those whom he has called, those whom he has poured his saving grace out on. Those who have turn to him in faith, trusting in Jesus Christ to forgive them of their sins and repenting of their sins. The sheep are those whom He calls His children.

He continues on down in verse 41, speaking to the Goats:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

This is referring to those who have not turned to Him. Those who trust in themselves or any other god rather than the One true God. Those who think that they can be righteous enough, or can be holy enough. These are those who, as Paul puts it in Romans chapter 1:18, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. The Truth of Scripture and of who God is is made plain and clear by God through His creation. We have no excuse for not recognizing the truth except that our own rebellious, unrighteous attitudes reject the truth for what we want the truth to be instead.

And one of the biggest points that is made by Jesus in the parable is that these are the only two options. There is no partially saved. There is no temporarily saved. There is no used to be saved. You are saved by grace through faith in Christ or you are not. Period.

We looked last week at the sufficiency of Scripture. How we are to defend the doctrine that as Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17:  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

We looked at that the Word of God is the foundational book and rock that we can base our faith on and how it is when we get away from the truth of scripture that we fall into heresy, blasphemy, apostasy, compromise, and so much more. Gods word is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword. Hebrews 4:12. Nothing is more important, or helps us stay In the truth or focused on God more than defending and affirming the Word of God.

One of the most important, if not THE most important truths contained in the Word of God is the exclusivity of Christ, the need that we have for a savior and that Christ is the only savior.

And one of our jobs as the church, as a royal priesthood is to defend that truth. We are to share that truth. We are to help as many people as possible know that truth. And we need to remember to do so out of and with love. We can say the right things, we can say the exact words of the Bible, but if we are not speaking the truth in love, we are wrong.

Speaking the truth in and with love is very different than compromising the truth. We need to hold firm to the truth. We need to grab Jesus and the Bible with both hands and go full speed ahead. But, one of the most common reasons we start speaking the truth in the wrong way is that we are frustrated that people don’t get it. Or because we want them to see the truth so bad. Or whatever the motivation, it can typically be narrowed down to not trusting God to take care of the results. We are called to be faithful and God is called to take care of the results.

In Chapter 2 of Malachi, God tells the priests about being faithful to what God has called them to. And he points out the difference between true, obedient priests, and the false priests who fail to obey the commands of God.

In Malachi 2, verses 2 & 3:

If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will rebuke your offspring,[a] and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.[b]

One of the things we need to make sure we remember is the order that these things transpire. We are either sheep or goats. That determination is the first thing. Are we children of God or are we not? First, Gods grace is poured out in us and we repent of our sins and we turn to Christ. Then we receive the blessings that come with it. Also after we become a child of God, we are able to follow and obey his commands.

Without Gods saving grace, without the Holy Spirit changing us from the inside and regenerating us, we are not able to obey God. Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please him. So, without faith, we are the Goats, to be cursed, to be thrown into the eternal fire. If we do not honor his name, which can only be done through true spiritual worship that comes through faith, than God will send curses down on us.

But, if we come through faith and enter into covenant with God, he says in Malachi 2, verse 5 & 6: My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction[c] was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.

Life, peace, full of awe towards Him. Jesus says that he came to give us life and life abundantly. John 10:10 And John says towards the end of his Gospel, John 20:31, 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.

True instructions are to be in our mouths. We are to speak the truth. We have to know our Bible, and now it in context in order to do this. Right doctrine matters. Gods Word matters. I love this quote by Jared Wilson:

The Bible is so revealing, so penetrating, so calibrating, so explanatory and upending. The Bible is God himself telling us the what, where, when, why, and how of everything that ultimately and eternally matters.

Malachi 2:7 says:  For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people[d] should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. Again, thats every believer. We are a royal priesthood. And we are called, both individually and as a corporate group, as a church gathering, to guard knowledge. Not to keep it away from others, on the contrary, to make sure that right knowledge is passed out to all.

Let me ask this. Those that have been a Christian for longer periods of time, Do you guard knowledge? And do people ask you for instruction? I think we can bring this around to discipleship and mentorship. Titus chapter 2 says that the older are to teach the younger.

This is not exclusively referring to age, bit to maturity in the LORD and his word. Are you teaching those newer in the faith, those who are curious or have questions, are you sharing true, biblical knowledge and instruction with them? Are you able? Or do you need to spend time in the Word and with someone sharing knowledge and instruction with you?

Want to know a secret? We should always be in both camps. As you grow and mature in the faith, you should be looking for those around you whom you can invest in and you can teach, once you have a solid foundation in Gods Word.

Once you become a Christian, you should never not be learning and growing. You should be seeking our fellow Christians, brothers and sisters, depending on the context, who are willing to teach, to invest in you. Who are willing and able, thats important too, to guard knowledge and share it with you and to share right instruction with you, helping you grow in wisdom and knowledge of the LORD. That should never stop, no matter how long you have been a Christian. There will always be someone more mature, some one who knows more, and even if you dont recognize it, someone who you can learn from.

Now, you should not start mentoring and discipling someone else as soon as you become a Christian. When you start out, you take time to sit under right biblical teaching and learn from those who have gathered and acquired a lifetime of biblical, godly, knowledge.

And all this plays into, how do we know what teaching, what knowledge and what wisdom is right to give and right to listen to. It all comes back to the Bible and what it says about Jesus Christ.

False teachers never accurately portray who Jesus Christ is. They either diminish or demean Jesus humanity or his deity. These can be subtle. These teachings can be hard to notice at first. But if you look and use the Bible to test the spirits, to test all things by scripture, even bible verses that are quoted, the fruit will become apparent. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Matthew 7:17 & 18.

If and when we see teachings that say things like Jesus was just a man while here in earth, That should be a red flag. That start can lead to many different endings, but as you may have learned in school, a faulty premise always leads to a faulty conclusion. Its false and unbiblical and cuts away saving faith. Or if you here that Jesus was God, be only appeared to be a man. This is wrong too. He was truly God and Truly Man. Thats part of why it could only be Him that had the ability to be our savior. 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 you 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. What does Paul say about these? Galatians 1:6-9:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Heres why those things are able to get a foothold even though they are false Gospels. Because often, the can be a result of the true Gospel. When the true Gospel is preached and received, it can, at times, as a secondary matter, result in healing, or miracles, or equality, or prosperity, or whatever. But it is not promised, necessary or required. And the reverse is true to. If that is absent, it does not mean that the Gospel is absent as well.

False teachers wont hear this. If you point out false teaching or false Gospels, it is highly likely that you will be called divisive, that you are fostering disunity or that you are dividing up the body of Christ. But God points out here that it is the False teachers that are divisive.

Malachi 2:8 & 9:

But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

Our job as the church is to defend the truth. Our job as the church, both individually and as a group, is to be a pillar, a buttress of truth, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:15. We are to know Gods Word, trust Gods Word and preach Gods Word. We are to share Gods Word and leave the results with him. We have the word of God, the sword of the spirit and thats all we need.

Ill leave you with a Charles Spurgeon Quote, 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.

Lets Pray.