jump to navigation

No Generation Gap in the Body of Christ September 26, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Apostle Paul, Body of Christ, Discipleship, Second Timothy, Suffering.
add a comment

NO GENERATION GAP IN THE BODY OF CHRIST
2 Timothy 2:1-18

In the last Olympics, it was fascinating to watch the 4-by-100 and the 4-by-400 track and field races. In all of these races there is a baton that is passed on from runner to runner. The baton is essential to successfully completing the race. If it is dropped the race for that team is over. It doesn’t matter if the drop occurs during the exchange of the baton or during the running of the race. The minute the baton is not where it is supposed to be, the team is out.

In the same way, Grace Bible Church is running a relay race. There is, however, a difference in that we are all running at the same time, we all have our hand on the baton. Some are ready to let it go. Their time in the race is almost over. Others have their hand fully on the baton. Still others are grasping at the baton so that they can get a greater grip on that baton. If, however, a generation drops the baton, the race for Grace Bible Church may be over.

A. The oldest of us need to be imparting their most important lessons (doctrinal/practical) because we will soon be gone (verses 1, 2a, 7-9, 11-13). These lessons are threefold…

1. Be strong in God’s grace (verse 1).
2. Remember God’s gospel (verses 2a, 7-8).
3. Be willing to suffer (verses 9, 11-13). By the way, the creed in verses 11-13 indicates that there was a generation before Paul, a generation that passed down truth in the form of hymns like this one and creeds like the ones found in 1 Corinthians 15 describing the gospel. Let us like Paul look forward to the future but let us also forget that the truth of our message is anchored in the early church who received it from our Lord Jesus Christ who confirmed what the Old Testament prophets revealed in their message from God. If God never speaks to you with a direct message you still have a message from God. Just because it is mediated does not mean it is not God’s word.

B. Those of us following need to be strong in the truth (doctrinal/practical) as we focus on entrusting those less experienced among us who are found faithful in the truth (verses 1-13). Paul, writing from prison, had just related how he had been encouraged by Onesiphorus, who had come to Rome, to his prison cell, and had ministered to him. Who, however, is going to encourage Timothy? Paul volunteers but just in case encouragement from a prison cell is not enough, Paul reminds him that there is grace to be found in the Christ, Jesus.

“The… movie “Black Hawk Down” contains a scene that is quite instructive at this point. A vehicle filled with wounded American soldiers has come to a stop in the middle of a street where Somali bullets are flying in every direction. The officer in charge tells a soldier to get in and starting driving. ‘I can’t,’ the soldier says, ‘I’m shot.’ ‘We’re all shot,’ the officer replies. ‘Get in and drive’” (from Ray Pritchard). Paul is encouraging Timothy to get in and drive.

If the first generation reminds us that we should be willing to suffer, this next generation reminds us that we should be down in the trenches suffering with others. We get tired, we get frustrated, we get discouraged but we need to remember that’s the way the Christian life is. We are soldiers in battle, athletes in competition, farmers laboring for the future. The reward is after the battle, after the game, after the harvest. Now, we need to be strengthened in the grace of Christ.

C. The less experienced among us need to focus on learning to be faithful (verse 2, doctrinally/practically) so that we will be worthy to teach others (verses 14-18).

Have you heard “about the Chinese Bamboo tree[?] When you plant it, it doesn’t come up for five years. The first year—nothing. The second year—nothing. The third year—nothing. The fourth year—nothing. Then in the fifth year, it grows 90 feet in six weeks! The question is, ‘Did it grow 90 feet in five years in six weeks?’ Obviously, it took five years, even though for most of the time it seemed as if nothing was happening” (Ray Pritchard). We give up much too early. We forget that much of the work of God is like the Chinese bamboo tree.

How do you learn to be faithful? (1) You learn the truth of the Bible for that is where faith, the foundation of faithfulness, is to be found (2:15); (2) you learn to give of your time, your money, and your relationships by spending time serving God, including him in your plans, and committing yourself to his people.

This faithfulness, however, is not only talking about what we do but also what we believe. This week we heard in the news that it was discovered that Jesus had a wife. If that worried you, then there are some things that you need to know.
1. The supposed evidence is no bigger than a business card. There is so little text, we don’t even know what it says about Jesus and marriage.
2. It was supposedly written well over three hundred years after Jesus died and it is not certain that it is authentic.
3. If it is authentic, it may well be produced by Gnostics who were heretics and did not even exist until the century after Jesus lived.
4. Jesus was a common name during that time. Just like the grave of Jesus, so what?
5. If Jesus was married, so what? Do we not believe that Jesus was a man like we are in every respect except that he did not sin? What is so sinful about being married and having children by your wife?

Paul says do not waste your time within the church debating things like this that you know are not true. Teach faithful doctrine. Yes, answer the questions of those from outside, defend the faith, but don’t tolerate such foolish teachings within the church. They are not to be tolerated.

D. Those not yet among us must receive that which is true or they will be damned (verses 12, 18, 26). The snare of Satan is a snare that leads to eternal damnation.

How do you assure that those not in this auditorium today will receive the word? By not wasting your time with those things that corrupt the gospel of Jesus Christ. What does that look like today? It looks like a return, not to the culture of the previous generations but rather to the truth that is eternal, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Many years ago, when [Ray Pritchard] taught through Colossians in a Wednesday night Bible class in Oak Park [near Chicago], a small group of people would come to the chapel for the lessons… [They] often only had 20 or 30 people there…One year [he] spent a long time going through Colossians verse by verse…[One] night [he] came to Colossians 1:28… Bob Allen was there that night. Bob must have [been] around 80 years old. He had come to Christ in a dramatic conversion many decades earlier. His faith was deep and genuine, and he was by nature a modest man who didn’t talk about himself very much. Because there weren’t many people there that night, [Pritchard] roamed up and down the aisle of the chapel, waxing eloquent about the true purpose of the ministry. At one point [he] had Bob stand up to portray the day he would stand before the Lord. [Pritchard] imagined [himself] saying, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, this is Bob Allen. I present him to you as complete in Christ.’ A hush settled in the room as the magnificence of that day dawned on [the congregation]… Bob whispered, “Thank you,” as he sat down.” Will the generation following you say, “Thank you” to you and your generation?

Keeping the Faith September 19, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Apostle Paul, Perserverance, Second Timothy.
add a comment

KEEPING THE FAITH
2 Timothy 1:13-18

In 1992 Jon Bon Jovi came out with an album titled “Keep the Faith.” Richie Sambora said, “‘Keep The Faith’ recognised how tough the nineties [were] and [tried] to encourage a positive message in… difficult times. [One of the songs, ‘I Believe’ [had the] message… that people should believe in themselves, not images they see on TV.” Keeping the faith, however, didn’t begin in the early 1990’s. Over two thousand years ago, Paul wrote about keeping the faith. The keeping of the faith also involved belief but it did not belief in one’s self but rather belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today I would like for us to understand what it means to keep the faith and what the consequences of keeping or not keeping the faith are.

A. Keeping the faith involves holding fast to the healthy teaching we have received through faith and love in Christ (verse 13). Where does this love and faith come from? In this case it came from the Apostle Paul to young Timothy just as earlier it had come from his mother and his grandmother to Timothy. When we talk of sharing our faith, we mean telling about it but these people shared the healthy teaching of the word of God because of the faith and love that they had in Jesus Christ.

B. Keeping the faith involves maintaining spiritual health through the indwelling Holy Spirit (verse 14). Notice that maintaining spiritual health is not described as coming through the filling of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit or even the anointing of the Spirit. It is simply through the indwelling of the Spirit that we are able to maintain spiritual health. It is not by becoming more yielded but rather based on the reality of our salvation. I trust Christ, the Spirit indwells me, and from then on my faith and spiritual health is dependent on the Spirit of God living in me.

Pastor Sugden of South Church was preaching once on “What God the Spirit Can Do for Us.” He said, “A fellow came to me not too long ago and said, ‘Do you tackle the dress problem?’ ‘No, I don’t.’ ‘Well, why?’ ‘Good common sense will teach us how to dress.’ Good common sense will teach us about our conduct…Good common sense will permeate our entire beings if we give God the Holy Spirit a chance in our lives. You know what I do? I pray for this every morning, because there are so many days I feel so low on common sense. There are so many situations where, humanly speaking, you have to be the one to call the plays. You have to be in touch with the living God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, who will give you in that hour good common sense” (taken from Classic Sermons on the Holy Spirit compiled by Warren Wiersbe, preached on February 4, 1970 at MBI’s Founder’s Week conference).

C. We must not turn away from faith in Christ (verse 15). If we do, there are consequences (Hebrews 2:1-3, “Therefore, we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…”).

Now this seems contradictory. If I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, I will maintain my faith but if I do not maintain my faith I will not escape eternal punishment. What does this mean for those who seem to have begun in the faith but have fallen away? This is not an easy answer but I think 1 John 2 answers it well for us. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they no doubt would have remained with us.” This should assure our hearts and help us to be serious without panic when we assess our spiritual wellbeing.

1. Turning away involves what we believe (2:17-18). There are some things that do not matter that much. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it is wrong or okay to bring food or drink into the auditorium here at church. We don’t but not because it eternally matters. There are things that matter but they don’t matter in eternity. Many of the issues we get excited about don’t matter. Sports, politics, finances, academia, entertainment. All of these have their place but they do not matter much at all. It does matter, however, what you believe about God’s Word. It does matter what you believe about Jesus. It does matter what you believe about sinful man. It does matter what you believe about God’s redemptive plan. To turn away from these things matters. To turn away from them is to allow the cancer of Satan to destroy us.

2. Turning away involves what we do (4:3, 10, 14-15). To say I believe the Bible is without error and then not to obey it is turning away. To say I believe Jesus is Lord and Savior and not to obey Him is turning away. To say I believe that God will save sinners through Jesus Christ and to try to get to God through good works is turning away from the sound pattern, the healthy regimen of doctrine.

D. We are rewarded by living out our faith (verses 16-18). We are not rewarded solely based on our belief system but rather on the outworking of our belief in Christ.

1. Our reward is undeserved (Compare verses 16, 18 with 4:6-8, 16). This is hard for us to understand. Olympians earn their medals. Soldiers earn their stripes. Our rewards, our medals, though they may identify us as faithful servants, suffering servants, and witnessing servants but the reward is not ours because the victory is not ours. Our victory is in Jesus.

2. Our reward is based on our actions toward others (verses 17-18).
“His official name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Amadeus Theophilus Mozart…He was only thirty-five when he passed on. He was living in poverty and died in obscurity. His sick widow seemed indifferent to his burial. A few friends went as far as the church for his funeral but were deterred by a storm from going to the gravesite. By the time anyone bothered to inquire, the location of his grave was impossible to identify…He is gone. Or is he? …Then what good lives on? …that ‘Mozart touch.’ No other sound is like it…In his music, Mozart lives on [a timeless trophy]…Okay, so you’re not brilliant…Your trophy is your contribution…” (from Chuck Swindoll). This passage and many others like it indicate that our trophy is based on how we minister to others.

The question today is this. Are you indwelt by the Spirit? If you are you have been changed and are being changed. If not then you cannot, you will not maintain your faith in Christ. You will look for salvation from another way, a different way. Look to Jesus alone and be saved.

What We Share In Christ September 5, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Apostle Paul, Body of Christ, Faith, Gospel, Hypocrisy, Reward, Second Timothy, Suffering.
add a comment

WHAT WE SHARE WITH EACH OTHER
2 Timothy 1:3-12

One of the biggest misconceptions of our modern society is that we have to feel good about each other in order to have true community or, to use a biblical word, true fellowship. As often happens, we get the cart before the horse. We often compare the church to a family. Yet we would never say that it is good mutual feelings that form a family. We recognize that love for one another is characteristic of a good family but we also recognize that a dysfunctional family is still a family.

Perhaps I can explain it this way. When our children are conceived or adopted they become a part of our family, not because they feel good about life or about the faces that greet them when they come into the world but because they are conceived into or adopted into a family. At that moment they begin to share everything with their family. In the same way, the moment one is born again they begin to share with other believers. Today we want to look at some of those things we share with one another as members of the Body of Christ gathered together at Grace Bible Church.

A. We share with each other a genuine faith in Christ (verses 3-7). The word genuine means without hypocrisy, without pretending. Faith is either genuine or it is not. Genuine faith might be strong; it might be weak but it does not pretend.

1. Our genuine faith is characterized by a pure conscience (verses 3-5). In 2 Timothy 3:5 Paul describes those without a pure conscience. They have a form of godliness but deny its power. They say I have faith but they live differently.

“Major Osipovich, an air force pilot for the former USSR, planned to give a talk at his children’s school about peace. But he would need time off during the day to give his talk, so he volunteered for night duty…Soon the Soviet pilot was caught in a series of blunders and misinformation. In the end, Major Osipovich followed orders and shot down [an] unidentified aircraft. The actions of an air force major preparing to talk about peace plunged 240 passengers to their deaths and sparked an international incident that pushed world powers to a stand-off” (Leadership, Summer 1994). We may say we have faith but our actions demonstrate whether our faith is real or not.

Those without genuine faith are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 2:2-4). If, however you have a genuine faith, the power of God will help you to love others rather than yourself or money or pleasure. If you have genuine faith you will live humbly, in submission to and thankful for authority. If you have genuine faith you will find a way to forgive and control your temper and your tongue.

2. Our genuine faith is characterized by a powerful spirit (verses 6-7). A genuine faith does not fear because it is confident in Christ. A genuine faith produces power in the form of love for others and for God. A genuine faith protects your mind from the deception of the devil.

B. We share with and in Christ the sufferings of the gospel (verses 8-11). Paul writes Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Suffering with Christ is not optional.

1. It is our calling (verses 8-9a). Christ has enlisted us as soldiers. Soldiers suffer. They don’t take breaks during battle. At Petersburg, Virginia the Union soldiers had dug a 500 foot tunnel to a chamber under the Confederate army. In this chamber explosives were placed in preparation for a surprise attack. When the explosion was set off there were immediately 278 casualties and a huge crater formed where the Confederate soldiers had been posted. Four Union divisions were to attack immediately after the explosion to take advantage of the confusion and to hopefully bring the war to an end. The first division belonged to Brigadier General James H. Ledlie but Ledlie was not with his troops. “He was immured in a bombproof [nearly a quarter-mile away], swigging away at a bottle of rum… joined [by another of the four divisions’ commanders, Brigadier General Edward Ferrero]…It…cost Burnside 3828 men, nearly half of them captured or missing” in great part because two commanders took a break during the battle (based on Shelby Foote’s account of the battle in Volume III, The Civil War: A Narrative).

2. It is our privilege according to His purpose and grace (verses 9b-10a). Before time began God purposed to give us grace through Jesus Christ. When Jesus came, that grace and love were revealed to the world. He “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” We have done nothing to deserve this calling but called we are nonetheless. We will suffer but it is a privilege that will be rewarded throughout all eternity.

3. It is our necessity (verses 10b-11). It is one thing to be called. It is another to fulfill that calling. Paul says, “God has appointed me to suffer for the gospel but I can do nothing else.”

C. We share with and in Christ a glorious certainty (verse 12). Only the soldier who fights receives the glory of the soldier. Only the athlete who competes wins the gold medal. Only the farmer who sows, reaps a harvest. The hymn Paul quotes from in 2 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.”

“Mario Cuomo, governor of New York, writes in Life magazine about…Poppa…We had just moved to Holliswood, New York…it had some land around it, even trees. One in particular was a great blue spruce that must have been 40 feet tall. Less than a week after we moved in, there was a terrible storm. We came home from the store that night to find the spruce pulled almost totally from the ground and flung forward, its mighty nose bent in the asphalt of the street…We stood in the street, looking down at the tree. ‘Okay, we gonna push ‘im up!’ [Poppa said]. ‘What are you talking about, Poppa? The roots are out of the ground!’ ‘Shut up, we gonna push ‘im up, he’s gonna grow again.’ …So we followed him into the house and we got what rope there was and we tied the rope around the tip of the tree that lay in the asphalt, and he stood up by the house, with me pulling on the rope and Frankie in the street in the rain, helping to push up the great blue spruce. In no time at all, we had it standing up straight again! With the rain still falling, Poppa dug away at the place where the roots were, making a muddy hole wider and wider as the tree sank lower and lower toward security. Then we shoveled mud over the roots and moved boulders to the base to keep the tree in place. Poppa drove stakes in the ground, tied rope from the trunk to the stakes and maybe two hours later looked at the spruce, the crippled spruce made straight by ropes, and said, ‘Don’t worry, he’s gonna grow again…’ If you were to drive past that house today, you would see the great, straight blue spruce, maybe 65 feet tall, pointing up to the heavens, pretending it never had its nose in the asphalt” (Leadership, Winter 1993).

This is what we share in Christ. We share in a genuine faith in Him, a faith that produces suffering here on earth and a glorious reward in eternity. We will reign with Him in His kingdom here on earth. We will celebrate with Him the great Passover, when He for the first time drinks of the fruit of the vine with those of us who have put our faith in Him and have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of light.