Monthly Archives: September 2017

SIX QUALITIES OF A GODLY MAN

Title: Six Qualities of a Godly Man

Text: Romans 1.8-15

CIT: Paul’s Prayers for Rome Reveal Much About This Man

CIS: There are characteristics and traits to observe in an Apostle.

Introduction: It is quite typical to move from the Greetings and Salutations to a mentioning of Prayer and Thanksgiving in a 1st Century letter. That is exactly what Paul does in this next section.

Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Rome is outlined in verses 8-15. First of all, these prayers include thanksgiving for the fact that their faith is known and proclaimed by other believers throughout the Greco-Roman world (8).

Secondly, Paul offers the unceasing request to one day make his journey to Rome (9-10). His request is simply to preach the gospel among them and it is expressed in three separate statements:

1st, Paul’s desire is to impart some spiritual gift to them to encourage them and to be encouraged by them, as well (11-12).

2nd, Paul has intended for some time to get to them but has been prevented from ministering there (13). Now, it appears that whatever was hindering is no longer in the way.

3rd, Paul has a calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He says he is under obligation to all and so desires to come and preach the gospel in Rome.

These prayers reveal more of the man we know as The Apostle Paul and his desires as a godly man. I think there is more than just information sharing here. Paul is opening up his soul and giving us a glimpse inside.

Transition: This week I shared with the Venture group in Chapel about the old man and his elder wife who were sitting at the Table sharing a meal. The woman looked over at her husband of many, many decades and felt this overwhelming sense of pride. Herbert, I’m proud of you, She gushed. Without missing a beat, the old man replied: Well, I’m tired of you, too!

Sometimes it is easy to communicate what is in your heart and at other times… not so much. Sometimes you want to communicate what lies deep within but it gets misunderstood.

Well Paul doesn’t confuse us here and there is no miscommunication as he reveals his heart to the church at Rome – and to us. Paul tells them plainly what he feels and what his desires are. He does so by laying his prayer requests before God and he lets us all in on those prayers.

For us, we’re able to glean some qualities from a godly man. These qualities are Paul’s, but I think they can be true for any man or woman who has been called of God to serve. And yes, that means even you. Your first temptation might be to take them and measure them up against me. To be honest, that is fine. It really is something you should do. I would encourage you to do so. Furthermore, you can use them to measure up your spiritual leaders (i.e.: elders and deacons).

But don’t be so quick to just move in that direction. I want to encourage you to use these marks for your own life – to see how you measure up to Paul. And, I would not say these marks are exhaustive and complete. But I would say they are useful for us today in their current form to help in our service and ministry. So here we go…

Six Qualities Found in a Godly Leader:

I. He has a thankful heart for all God has done in fulfilling His promises. (8)

exp.: rd v8; God is fulfilling his promises to the Romans. The proof is in the pudding! They’re being discussed wherever there are other Christians gathering. It is interesting what Paul doesn’t note here. He thanks God, but not for…

  • It isn’t their leadership – pastors or elders.
  • It isn’t their worship.
  • It isn’t their facilities.
  • It isn’t their ministries or ministers.
  • It isn’t their mission work.
  • It isn’t the money they’ve raised for disaster relief or the people they’re sending to help the folks in Jerusalem.

Paul is grateful for their faith. Faith is expressed and their expression has been something to talk about. The word all appears 2x’s in v 8; two different words: all is the word pan; the 2nd all is the word from which we get whole. A most literal translation would be the whole world. And I think to myself: Really? The whole world? I think what he is saying is that brothers and sister across the Christian world are talking about the faith of this church. That is amazing… people talking about their congregation.

ill.: this past week Spring Creek Baptist Church was in the News. The County Commissioner who attends there, JoAnn Hampton was indicted on aggravated assault charges this past week. Back on April 2nd, Ms. Hampton came to church to find someone had already prepared the Lord’s Supper Table. It seems a 72-year-old member of the congregation and Ms. Hampton had already had words about the timeliness of setting up the table. The 72-year-old woman came in early and set everything up. Ms. Hampton was furious. She went to the pastor’s office where the woman was talking with the pastor and assaulted her. Basically, she pushed her back onto the couch and the woman injured her hand.

app.: That isn’t the kind of notoriety Paul is talking about! These folks in Rome are in the news because of their faith. Do you remember I told you Claudius Caesar kicked the Jews out of Rome in 49AD? Well, it appears this young Gentile congregation had to start living by faith. And the result was the testimony of those who were scattered abroad.

Philippians 1.6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Paul was so thankful to God for fulfilling his promises to this congregation.

t.s.: The 1st Quality we see here of this godly leader is: he has a grateful heart. 2ndly,

II. He recognizes His first and main audience is with God (9a)

exp.: The context, of course, is that God is his witness  – that he is telling the truth concerning his prayers. Rd v 9a; Yes, God is his witness, but more than that. It is God that he serves. When he says with or literally, in, my spirit… I think that is his way of saying with my whole heart.

You’ve probably felt this way about yourself when you’re singing: Bless the Lord, O’ my soul, and all that is within me… bless his holy name. All that is within me… that is, with my spirit. And his service: the gospel. This may be hard to grasp, but a pastor’s first calling is to the gospel. It is the spread of the Gospel that saves souls and it is the repetition of the gospel that disciples the believers. It’s the telling and retelling of that old, old story – over and over again.

ill.: I love to tell the story of unseen things above. Of Jesus and his glory… of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story because I know tis true. It satisfies my longing as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story – tis pleasant to repeat. What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own Holy Word.

I love to tell the story. T’will be my theme in glory to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

app.: Sing them over again to me… Wonderful words of life. That’s what discipleship is. And that is what the godly man loves to do – is to tell the story that changed his life. And to tell the story that sustains this congregation. Well, a godly man recognizes his first and main audience is with God. It is God he serves. That’s why God is a witness to the work and prayer.

t.s.: He has a grateful heart. He recognizes that he serves God by serving others with the Gospel. 3rd,

III. He incessantly remembers the church in his prayers (9b-10)

exp.: Paul’s prayers don’t just end with thanksgiving. Paul’s prayers are unceasing for this congregation, moving from gratitude to a very special request. Rd v 9b-10; Paul’s desire is to travel to Rome. Who wouldn’t, right? Anyone here ever been to Rome? We’re looking for missionaries to serve in Tahiti and Hawaii! We need Home Missionaries in Florida and Colorado!

ill.: I remember reading about some missionaries who on Sunday morning would go skiing and stop at a chapel up on the slopes. There, they would lead a service. I thought: where do I sign up? Well, my guess is that some of the hardest ministry is in the midst of those who think they don’t need it. But, those people need Jesus, too.

app.: Paul’s message is clear, but let me be very literal here: so that without coming to an end, remembrance of you I make my request or I do my asking; “Without ceasing, unrelenting”; It’s very wordy, but desperately points out the prayers of Paul for these people.

Do you know that your leadership prays for you? I can’t say for me it is without ceasing. I wish I were better at it. But I do pray for you daily. Sometimes I pray for individuals. Sometimes I pray for groups. And my requests for you vary according to our needs.

I like knowing how to pray and what to pray for. If you want me to be specific in my prayers for you, email me or drop it in the offering plate. That will allow me to pray specifically for you.

t.s.: Godly leaders have grateful hearts. They recognize their service to others is service to God. And they pray for their churches and their members. They keep them before the Lord. 4th… And we see this of Paul…

IV. He desires to encourage them through his service (and to be mutually encouraged by them in theirs) (11-12)

exp.: look at v 11; do you see the 1st word there: γὰρ. A marker of reason. Because; At this stage he’s telling them why he wants to come. Truth is, he finally gets to it in v 15; …so I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. His purpose in going there is singular in focus (i.e.: to preach the Gospel, v 9, 15) but this focus of preaching the Gospel is expressed in three different ways; the 1st is in v 11: I like to translate this: For I long to behold you. I want to see you, to behold you with my own eyes. Continue reading v 11…

  1. By preaching the Gospel in their midst, he would be imparting a spiritual gift that will encourage them and strengthen them. Added to this, that he might be encouraged at the same time. Rd v 12; He’s heard about their faith (8) – really all over the Christian world. I’m supposing because of Paul’s popularity that they’ve heard of his faith, too. If not, they will from Phoebe and anyone else carrying this letter.

app.: I don’t know if you’ve thought this through or not, from a personal standpoint, but living out your faith in front of others strengthens and encourages them…just as you are when you see others living out their faith.

Last month Jamie Dean of World Magazine shared the story of a North Korean defector who talked about the punishment and persecution of Christians. One family kept their Bible in magpie nest… a bird’s nest. Late at night, someone would crawl up into the tree, into the nest and get the Bible. They would read what they could under the cloak of darkness. Then, get the Bible back in place before sun up. One day, a neighbor who was cutting a branch down, somehow caused the nest to fall and reveal the Bible. The family was busted. Can you imagine? How many of you have your Bible with you now? If we were in North Korea, we’d all be thrown in prison.

We’re so blessed to live out our faith in the eyes of others. We’re so blessed that we don’t have to hide our Bible in a tree outside. You, meeting in your community group… that’s mutually encouraging to each other.

Transition: Paul hopes to strengthen them and to be strengthen and encouraged by them in return. Also, he says in v 13; Rd v 13a; this is the 2nd way of he hopes to preach the Gospel to them but it is also our 5th quality that we find in Paul.

V. He surrenders his will to the Lord’s will in spite of what he himself wants (13)

exp.: he’s been hindered from going there to Rome. He has wanted to for some time, but for some reason, God hasn’t opened that door to him.

  1. Because, whatever was hindering him before, is no longer in the way. I suppose it was his mission work in the east. He has been preaching the Gospel everywhere he can between Jerusalem and Greece. Now, he’s finding others who’ve gone before him… like Rome for example. Having completed that task, and seeing the area evangelized, Paul’s desire now is to expand the mission work to Spain. We’ll see that in 15.24. He’ll mention also in chapter 15 the gift from the Asian churches to Jerusalem and his need to travel there to deliver that gift. But after that, he wants to come see them on his way to Spain.

app.: Man, we’re learning something very valuable here, in this quality Paul displays. Sometimes, and this has been my experience as a believer and as a pastor, God says no. Sometimes God says, yes. And sometimes God gives us a third answer and says – not yet. It doesn’t mean no, forever, just for a while. It usually means that God has some work to do in our hearts and in our lives to prepare us for what we’re asking.

ill.: When Lisa and I were in Cotulla we felt a call to go to the Rocky Mtns and work. We knew the call was on our hearts, but God wasn’t opening up the door. Instead, we went south to Harlingen. God made it clear to us that we were to go south. The criticism was pretty sharp by some. I thought God was calling you to go north? Well, we moved to Harlingen, 8 miles north of the Mexican border. And God used our experience there in so many ways, preparing us for the ministry in Wyoming.

I could stand here and begin telling you stories of what I learned in deep South Texas that God used in Wyoming, but we don’t have time… so I’ll save those for then.

God may have called you and is preparing you, but thus far has hindered your progress. Let me encourage you: Trust him. Whatever you want for this church or this mission or this ministry or your community group or… whatever it is of God… Let me tell you: He wants even better things than you do. So let this quality be found in you: surrender your will to his, in spite of what you might want. Let him finish preparing you for the task ahead.

t.s.: His 3rd expression is found in the rest of 13(b) and 14.

  1. His obligation to the Gentiles encompasses the believers in Rome. Do you see the last word in v 13? It is the word from which we get ethnic… ethnic groups or as we say today, people groups.

t.s.: and that my friends, is the 6th quality we find in Paul…

VI. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it (14-15)

exp.: He is eager to preach the Gospel to this unreached people group. I didn’t say unreached and unengaged, because I’m assuming they are engaging their own people. But as a whole, they remain unreached. That is his mission field. He’s been gifted to be successful among the ethnos… the unreached people groups.

t.s.:

  1. He has a thankful heart.
  2. He recognizes his 1st audience and service is to God.
  3. He keeps his people and ministry before the Lord in prayer…
  4. He desires to strengthen and encourage his people through his service and to be encouraged by them, too.
  5. He surrenders his wants and wishes to the Lord, in spite of what he desires. That’s because he trusts in What God is doing…
  6. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it.

Conclusion: Let’s land this plane. So what will you take home with you today? How can you make it personal?

Application: 1st, let me ask you some questions…

  1. What moves you to prayer?
    1. Gratitude? Or, are you taking God’s blessings for Granted?
    2. Is it opportunities for the Gospel? Do you get excited about what God might be doing in your life and in the life of your church?
    3. Or do you find you only pray when things are bad and you’re in need?

Maybe that is a commitment you need to make this morning: to pray regularly.

  1. Do you recognize that your service to people and for people is really to and for God? He is your first audience. I think of the ministries we have:
    1. CUB: it is easy to get tired of people who just use you.
    2. Bridgemark and Venture: for bridgemark, sometimes it feels like people just take advantage, just using the building; but then there are times when I see the good we’re doing in a child’s life. Do you realize that there are children who will grow up to be adults and know how to read because of your ministry? Some little girl down there will hold her granddaughter someday and read the Bible with her. Some man may read Scripture from the pulpit. Or even more – God may call one of them to missions or to the pastorate. Don’t grow weary in well doing. You’re serving God by serving people when you do his bidding.
    3. Maybe its teaching Bible Study or a Community Group. Trust that your service to God is being rewarded and used by Him for his glory.
  2. Do you know your calling and are you passionate about it? I hope so. If not, you’re missing out on so much. I believe God has every person here for a reason and it isn’t to keep the seat you’re sitting in warm. God began a good work in you and I am confident that he will carry it through to completion.

If you don’t know your calling, will you come visit with me about that? Or, maybe you’d feel comfortable with an elder. Please come talk to us. If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I offer him to you today.

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Filed under Calling, Christian Living, Romans, Sermons, Spiritual Formations

Romans: An Introduction

Text: Romans 1.1-7

Introduction: I’ve always had a fondness for Romans. I guess it began with the Roman Road (3.23; 6.23; 5.8; 10.9-10; 13) Romans 8.18; and that long passage from 29-33; Romans 9 and the Sovereignty of God;

  • I remember reading about Martin Luther when I was on Sabbatical and how Romans 1.17 moved him…changed him. That powerful experience where Martin Luther read that one is justified by Faith alone launched the Reformation. But so many others have had similar experiences in Romans.
  • Augustine’s life was changed when he read Romans 13.13-14. He would become the 1st great scholar to truly have an impact on the church 4th
  • John Wesley had attended a meeting and someone, whoever was leading the study from Romans, began to read Luther’s preface to his commentary. Wesley was ‘strangely warmed’ as this book on Romans was being read and his spirit was stirred to Faith. Wesley, of course, was one of the ministers who was instrumental in the Spiritual Awakening that began in England and spread to the US.
  • John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress – came to faith and was stirred by Romans.

And the list goes on.

And that is what I want for us here – that we would experience a life changing study. I pray that somewhere in the course of our study, your life will be changed, your spirit warmed and that you will never be the same.

History:

I find it interesting that Paul hadn’t established the church at Rome. Most of us just assume that the letters he wrote were out of his concern for something he started. But that isn’t always the case – and for sure, not this letter.

Let me give you a little history as I understand it. Jewish Christians established the Church at Rome as they were scattered abroad in times of persecution. Of Course, the Roman Catholic Church believes Peter established it; however, there is evidence of the church’s existence as early as 42AD. Peter was still in the area of Israel as late as 45AD. Paul is clear in this letter that he didn’t start it. So, best we can surmise, Jewish Christians came to Rome and began sharing with other Jews who got saved.

Now, in 49AD Claudius Caesar expelled the Jews from Rome. So, that left only Gentile believers in the church at Rome. By 54AD, Jews were making their way back into Rome because Claudius had died and his decree was no longer in effect. That left the church without a Jewish influence for some 5 years. We don’t know of what other influences good or bad, these believers would have had. Paul’s letter then, would be so very important and play a major role in their understanding of the Christ and the Church. Paul’s writing takes place sometime between 55-58AD. My guess is that his letter of Theology would be a stabilizing factor for their church.

With that thought in mind, you’ll see in his letter that he is addressing a bit of conflict between the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers. That should become clear for us when we get into chapters 2 and beyond.

Reasons for writing this letter:

That is one reason why he is writing: conflict between these two groups. But in the process, we get some great theology that comes out…

Another reason he’s writing is because he wants to visit them and stay with them on his way to Spain. Paul’s very clear about having preached throughout that area from Jerusalem to Greece. His desire is to boldly go where no man has gone before to preach the Gospel.

Ill.: Henry Cho tells the story of a buddy of his, BJ. That’s his name: BJ. It doesn’t stand for anything. He got tired of people asking him, so he would respond B only, J only. When he applied to get a driver’s lisence, he didn’t want there to be confusion – so he put down on the form, B only, J only. Of course it came back that his name was Bonly Jonly. Anyway, Henry and BJ were watching Star Trek:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The intro finished and the music started. BJ then asked Henry: Do you think they’ll ever get to Boldlygo. Like, Boldlygo is the place they’ve been heading: to boldly go, where no man has gone before.

Well, that’s Paul… not to a place called Boldlygo, but rather to Spain – to boldly preach where no man has preached before. And Spain was as far away as you could go… He would need a stopping point along the way. Rome was it.

The Introduction:

This intro is the longest intro of any of Paul’s 13 letters. It is more theologically robust and full. Let’s read it together. Rd v 1-7;

There are 4 parts to this introduction:

  1. Paul introduces himself: The Man
  2. Paul tells them what he does: His Message
  3. Paul tells them why he does what he does: His Authority or His Commission by God
  4. Paul lists the recipients: but it is so much more than just the believers at Rome. It identifies certain traits believers possess. Belong to Christ, loved by God, called to holiness, Grace, and Peace.

Transition: Let’s walk through these verses with the first section:

I. The Man (1)

exp.: he identifies himself in three ways in v1: a slave; an apostle; set apart

  • Slave: δοῦλος; The lowest form of a human being;

Ill.: have you been reading about the move in our city to change the name of Lee High School? I really don’t get it. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I don’t understand why people want to erase history. If we do, then we’ll be doomed to repeat it.

We find something similar here in modern translations. Your version probably says servant or bondservant. If you have the Holman CSB, you have a literal translation of slave. Why is it softened? It’s offensive. Slavery is offensive. And well it should be.

You and I abhor slavery, but it is a very real part of our world. Ignorance of this fact doesn’t make it go away. People, women and children mostly, are kidnapped and sold into slavery every day. Even, right here in Tyler!

When you think of slave, you probably have negative thoughts. I hope so. And, I think you’d be right on with what Paul is trying to illicitate in you.

Slaves have no rights. Yes, you and I want to set those who’ve been enslaved set free. Boko Haram still has Christian girls captive who he has enslaved. This should capture your attention. Now, with this thought in mind, I want you to see how Paul sees himself.

app.: Do you fight against this idea? I sure do. I hate slavery. The stories of young girls being kidnapped and sold into slavery nauseates me. It makes me angry. Look at what Paul is saying here: that he is a slave of Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is His Master. He has no rights. He is totally and uterrly at Christ’s Command. He can do nothing of his own, but only what his master commands.

  • Apostle: called to be; An apostle is someone who has been sent with a mission; Commissioned; The idea that he has been called is that this isn’t his own doing. He didn’t just set out to do it because He had a passion for the Gentiles. God called him and commissioned him.

App.: We begin to sense that Paul is taking our eyes off of him and putting them upon God. Paul is nothing – the lowest form of a human, a slave. His Master is Jesus Christ. Paul is called and commissioned to a task. That means the work he is doing is someone else’s work. His job, his mission is because they have commissioned him to this task. Specifically, he says…

  • Set apart: this is a compound word different from the idea of sanctified. Usually, when we see set apart, we think of holy, separate. This compound word means away from and marked off with clear boundaries.

ill.: We’re all called in some sense – to be believers. You’ll see that in v 6 and again in v 7. This calling, well, it’s different. Sure, we’re all called to share Christ. This calling here, though, well, It is just different. I sometimes wish I could be like you. Sometimes when I hurt. Sometimes when I want to quit and give up. Coffee Cup: Pastor. Sometimes, though, I love what I do and who I am. My calling is different than yours. God called me to all of the same things he has called you to…I’ll mention some when we get down to v 6-7. But, he called me to something more. I’ve been set apart for a specific ministry here. I don’t take that lightly. I know some of you have ideas about what that is. And, some of you aren’t afraid to tell me. But, as one who has been called – my one heart’s greatest desire is to be found faithful to God. My heart’s desire is to be the pastor God intends me to be. So that when I stand before him – on that day, I’ll hear him say of me: Well done, Fred. Enter into the joy of your salvation.

app.: notice in each characteristic Paul is placing the focus on God. That’s his goal. You see, this calling is all about Him. He is the Master, He is the one who commissions and sets apart His slave to accomplish His task.

t.s.: And that is who Paul is saying he is… He is really nobody: a simple slave doing the work His Master has commanded of him. 2ndly, His message….

II. His Message (2-4)

exp.: at the end of v 1, Paul tells us what it is he has been called and set apart to do: the Gospel. And he outlines for us just what he understands about that Gospel in v 2:

  • God Promised; we saw this from Genesis 3.15 onward.
  • From long ago, and long before Paul’s day… hundreds and thousands of years.
  • Through His Prophets: Rom 3.21-23 talks about a righteousness that can be attained apart from the law – to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
  • In the Scriptures: that is where the promises are recorded; these are his Holy Scriptures

Exp.: rd v 3; concerning His Son; well, what about His Son? Two major points he makes and expands on:

  1. Son of David: lit.: seed of David; the point he’s making is that Jesus was from the House and Line of King David. The Messiah is from David’s line. Paul’s point here is that Jesus was human. 100% Human. He ate and drank and slept and walked and sweat and tired and … everything humans do, except of course, Jesus was without sin. Hebrews 4.15 says: 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Paul places emphasis upon this when he says according to the flesh. Not only was he human, the Son of David, but he was also…
  2. Son of God: rd v 4; declared is the word in Greek from which we get our word in English The Horizon is a line that clearly separates the earth from the heavens. The horizon helps determine or declare, if you will, where the earth ends and the heavens begin. Paul is saying that there was an event that clearly separates him from all other humans, making him divine. And that, my friend is the resurrection. It isn’t to say that Christ was not divine before the resurrection and it isn’t to say that he wasn’t God’s son before he became David’s son. No, as a matter of fact, the construction of the original language hints that he was indeed God’s Son before he ever became David’s Son. You see that in the Construction and brought out so well by the ESV.

Cranfield and others say this is an early confession formula that Paul is using. If that is to be the case, and I believe that it is, then as a Confession of sorts, it is meant to be poetic and flow. I think it is saying something unique about the resurrection. Something new happens here. It is a new era: a new age. Life lived on this earth will now be different. And for you and me and anyone else who comes to faith in Christ, it is! We no longer offer sacrifices. Our sacrifice was offered in Christ. We now live by faith and have Christ as our priest. We no longer need a priest to intercede for us.

He experienced life in the weakness of the flesh and died that way. But, he was resurrected to New Life in the power of the Spirit. He really died: all the way, dead. He wasn’t mostly dead. His heart stopped. His brain waves stopped. His blood stopped pumping through his heart. But, three days later – He is alive!

app.: this is Paul’s message.

t.s.: Next we see the why, which he has touched upon a little in v. 1;

III. His Authority (5)

exp.: why he does what he does; rd v 5; grace and apostleship; Not many people that I know of are saved and called in the same experience. If you’re familiar with Acts 9, then you know that Paul’s salvation experience was also his calling to spread the Gospel. And this calling is to bring about the obedience of faith, that is, to see people surrender their lives to Christ. That through faith and obedience, the whole world might come to Christ – you see that in among the nations.

ill.: I can’t help but think about this mission we’ve accepted to reach our people group. Every people will be represented around the throne. That call still goes out to us… to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.

There is a church about 2, maybe 2.5 hours away that has heard about our mission. They’re small, but are seeking a partnership in this mission. Will you make that a matter of prayer? It would be help for us in the area of finances and the area of service. But, the conversation has only been broached. Conversations can break down at any time. So please be in prayer as we do our part to reach this people group and possibly some others around that area.

app.:

  • Paul saw himself as God owned;
  • He saw his message as God prepared;
  • and he saw his authority as God appointed.

Conclusion: Paul concludes his introduction with a statement that really is about all believers; rd v6-7;

I’ve been taught that Spurgeon used to teach his students in their preaching to make a Beeline to the Cross. Really, it’s His Story, so it is all about him. I don’t know if it is always true, but for the most part, every message should point people to Jesus.

That’s what Paul has done here:

  • In telling us who he is, he points us to Jesus.
  • In telling us what he does, in the Gospel, he points us to Jesus.
  • In telling us why he does what he does and by what authority he does it, he still points us to Jesus.

I’ve been reading up on Luther in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. One of my favorite stories is of Jon Huss, who some 100 years before Luther spoke out against the papacy and the Catholic Church. But, Luther said that his gripes with the church were different Huss and Zwingli, who predate Luther. Where Huss and Zwingli spoke out against the morals of the Pope and the Church, Luther’s outrage was at the Theology of the Church. And Romans played a huge part in that.

For sure, think about it: if it was simply moral, then we would all still be Catholic. The difference would be a moral Pope and a moral leadership within the Church. But the difference is theology. Salvation isn’t found in the Church – it is found in faith through Jesus Christ and him alone.

So, what will you take home with you today?

Application:

  1. All of your life should point people to Christ.
    1. He is our Master.
    2. He is the one who has called us.
    3. And, he is the one who has given us His Great Commission.
  2. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. There is no other way to be saved. There is no other man to trust. There is no other work to be accomplished. If you wondering about this this morning, Paul called it the obedience of faith.

I want to offer Christ to you this morning…

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Romans, Sermons

Affirming the Call of God

Title: Affirming the Call of God

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

Introduction: We’re in 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 this morning. Turn there.

Answering the Call of God upon one’s life can be the most exhilarating and adrenalin pumping adventures for any man. It is scary and exciting all at the same time. The journey begins with humble commitment and unrealistic expectations. I suppose the same goes for missionaries and other types of call.

But it gets hard through the years because the church often times feels it must keep a tight budget. Pay raises are passed over and excused as budget cuts. Church members try to run a faith budget like their home or business. Added to this, no one keeps track of the minister’s days off (except for maybe his wife, who feels defenseless in speaking up about either the finances or the workload) and so he works too many days without taking the break he needs. Many men of God feel overworked and underpaid.

Church members feel that the call of God weighs heavily on the person’s life and that they’re called to serve – they’ve been called to ministry, not to money. The pastor and his family are made to feel out of place and awkward if they even talk about money.

Isn’t it odd how the church wants men who’ve been to school – who have a Master’s Degree or even a Doctorate, but they want to pay those men like they’re high school dropouts?

Anybody getting uncomfortable? Are the A/C’s working ok? Is it getting warm in here?

There are hard issues in calling someone to commit to this ministry. Aren’t there? You’re getting something very special here in calling this family. What will you give in return?

How Special, you might ask: The elders and the search team feel like we’ve found you the very best man for the job. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not exaggeration. We’re so excited to present this young man to you. WE believe we’ve done due diligence in ferreting out this man from the crowd of applicants. Furthermore, we believe Duffey to be an answer to the prayers we’ve offered. We believe this is God’s man for this position.

I’m not slamming any of the other applicants. There were some quality applicants. And I’m sure God has great plans for those people; however, we believe God’s plan for Calvary is this man. It began for us as elders a couple of years ago and has grown to this point. We done our best to follow God’s leading in this area. Nearly 2 years later, we’re standing here in front of you guys with a confident assurance that God has brought us to this place.

Transition: So, what do you do as a church with this information? How do you behave and act toward someone being called as Pastor of Worship and Students?

A Brief look at the Reformation:

Historically, the Pope and his Bishops did all that. The Pope basically issued orders ex cathedra and the people followed. Martin Luther and John Calvin rose up against that very thing in a little movement called the Reformation. Luther taught that Christians should gather, not at the call of a particular man (pope or priest), but that they should gather around their shared convictions. That was huge! Unheard of!

Ill.: Ignaz Semmelwiess had a revolutionary idea for doctors. As a physician himself, it was something he began to do in his practice – and his patients faired well because of it. He, however, was opposed and ostracized. His views were seen as unscientific. The mistreatment he experienced from his fellow physicians was so great and so overwhelming that he was forced from his practice. Decades later, as doctors began to see the wisdom in what he had done, they began to adopt this new practice of his. But he wouldn’t live to see it. He died in an insane asylum years before.

What was his crazy idea? Simply this: wash your hands before visiting each patient. That’s it. Wash your hands in between patients.

App.: many of you would be grossed out if your doctor didn’t wash his or her hands when they came into see you. But that’s because it is accepted today.

And it is that way as you vote today. It should feel natural. Christians in the 1500’s would be aghast!

Luther believed that Christians should organize themselves as their own final authority in religious matters. Next month will mark 500 years since this radical new teaching. You practice it today, but it was born out of the Reformation and established under much persecution. Luther believed firmly that the Bible teaches what we call ‘congregationalism’. We are governed as a Congregation. Luther and many of the Reformers believed that the sheep know the Shepherd and identify his voice. John 10.4-8

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

Jesus warns the believers about false teachers and the fact that they have the ability to do something about it.

Cf.; Mt 7.15: A Tree and Its Fruit 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

We see this set out plainly for us in the pattern for selecting deacons. Acts 6.3-4: Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

I love this: YOU pick. We’ll put them to work. When Luther wrote about these new ideas and practices in 1523, he entitled his tract, A Christian Assembly or Congregation Has the Right and Power to Judge All Teaching and to Call, Appoint, and Dismiss Teachers, Established and Proven by Scripture.

You must understand how radical this was in 1523. The Reformation had been gaining ground over the past 100 or so years to be sure, but to pick and choose your leaders? That was a radical reformation. And just how did Luther accomplish such a feat? He translated the New Testament for the people to study these very doctrinal issues in their own language.

This doctrine of Congregationalism began gaining momentum through the 1600’s as John Cotton, John Owen, and Thomas Goodwin advocated for “the Congregational way.” By the time of the American Revolution, a full 40% of Christians in the American Colonies was in a congregational church.

So what do we do with this gift of self-governing? We choose. You chose your deacons. You chose your elders. Sure, it all begins with a sub-committee of sorts doing the hard labor of research and organization. But in the end, you listen to the voice of the Lord and affirm God’s will in this matter.

There was something going on in the life of the Church that we find is very similar to what we’re doing here today. 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 is about a collection taking place throughout Asia Minor and is being carried to the brothers in Jerusalem and Judea who are in need. That is the context. But here is the application:

God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

Transition: let me show you where this is in the passage…

I. Your Affirmation of Him with your vote (16-18)

exp.: rd v 16; God was at work in the life of Titus, placing deep within him, a care and a concern for the people. God has been at work in the life of the Henderson family. At sometime in the past, he put a deep desire for ministry in Duffey’s heart. God called him to this service. Furthermore, God is calling him to serve here. That is being demonstrated through a passion for leading in Worship and ministering to our Students. Your vote today affirms the Call of God to this place.

rd v 17-18; It is so hard to explain the passion in one’s heart when God calls. It moves men to service and surrender. The passion for ministry is something that burns deep within. It is a felted thing, but evident in one’s actions. By your vote, you affirm

  1. His Call to this ministry
  2. His Passion for this ministry

t.s.: 2ndly,

II. Your Appointment of Him to this Ministry (19-22)

exp.: rd v 19; As your leadership, we’ve done what we believe is God’s will for Calvary. We have not entered this lightly. We have bathed this in prayer over the past two years. We’ve cast vision and dreamed dreams. We made PowerPoint presentations of how to realign staff and reorganize our ministry to accommodate the needs of the church. We’ve evaluated our situation and found it lacking. Stability has been the answer we’ve come up with and Stability is what we’re trying to bring about. We believe God has brought us to this place. Not just over the past 2 years, as this began for us in October of 2015, but even over the past 10 years. We believe and understand that God has been at work in the life of our church all along, bringing us to this point.

And so we present Duffey to you. But, like the Church at Corinth who had to appoint men to do the work that they couldn’t do, you must appoint Duffey to this ministry in our congregation. We present him to you for this appointment because we’ve found him to be of sound character and high moral value.

Note what Paul says of Titus and Epaphras; rd v 20;

  • Blameless; rd v 21
  • Honorable; rd v 22a
  • Trustworthy: Tried and Tested; rd v 22b
  • Full of Faith – con: with; fidere – faith.

app.: His presence here today with his wife demonstrates his confidence in you. He loves the ministry and mission you’ve displayed and have been active in. He and his wife have spoken highly of what you’ve been doing. We as a team have heard them. They are so excited about the opportunities to serve with us – helping us accomplish the ministry God has called us to.

t.s.:  Which brings me to my last point this morning. God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

III. You Support Him in Accomplishing the Ministry (23)

exp.:rd v 23-24;  It excites me to think of this young man coming alongside me in ministry… to be my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. Which makes me think of a few cautionary points.

Benefit here doesn’t mean that your work is done. He is not here to do your work – the ministry God has called you to accomplish. He is here to benefit you, not take your place. His presence and ministry should augment what we’re doing here at Calvary. I’ve experienced this first hand when I accepted a call some years ago. The team that brought me in just disappeared. They felt their work was done.

I know you have worked hard, but now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to rise up!

2nd, We (the elders) don’t believe that because God has brought Duffey, Calvary will now grow to a thousand. Our baptistery will not overflow because Duffey Henderson is leading our Students. Our coffers will not overflow with money because Duffey Henderson is leading our Worship. That’d be nice, but your elders don’t have some “if you build it they will come” mentality. We don’t think Duffey is the Savior of the World. No, that position has already been filled and will never be vacated!

Conclusion: Howard Hendricks, Living By the Book (as quoted by Chuck Swindoll)

A scientist was using the inductive method to observe the characteristics of a flea. Plucking a leg off the flea, he ordered, “jump!”

The flea promptly jumped.

Taking another leg off, the scientist again commended, “jump!”

The flea jumped again.

The scientist continued this process until he came to the sixth and final leg. By now the fleet was having a little more difficulty jumping, but it was still trying.

The scientist pulled the final leg off and again order the flea to jump. But the flea didn’t respond. The scientist raised his voice and demanded, “jump!” Again, the flea failed to respond.

For third time the scientist shouted at the top of his lungs, “jump!” But the hapless flea lay motionless.

The scientist then made the following observation in his notebook: When you remove the legs from a flea, it loses its sense of hearing.

app.: Funny how the scientist didn’t connect the dots correctly… we’re worried that you might think like that scientist. Baptisms, Financial blessings may come and they may not, but don’t connect the one with the other. God’s blessings are God’s blessings.

Still, Your support of Duffey is vital to the accomplishment of this ministry. You call him, you appoint him, you support him. You support him with your words, your presence, and your money. You support him by loving his wife and their children. Pay him well and make sure he is keeping the Sabbath.

Duffey’s success is dependent upon you.

We’re going to move to a time of business now. We’ll take a few moments for folks to leave if they’d like. If you’re a guest, you’re welcomed to stay if you’d like, but please feel free to slip out if you’d like. As for our membership: we’ll take a couple of minutes to break (go to the bathroom or get a drink) and then we’ll regroup for our special called Business Meeting.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Calling, Commissioning Service, Faithfulness, Leadership, Sermon