Category Archives: Evangelism

1 Timothy 2.1-7

Title: Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Text: 1 Timothy 2.1-7

CIT (Aim): Praying for others and living a quiet, peaceful life with all godliness and holiness are the fertile grounds for fulfilling the Great Commission.

CIS: I want to encourage our congregation to speak up and tell people about Jesus and the hope we have in him.

Context: The Corporate Body – we’re not talking about individual responsibility.

Introduction: Lisa and I sat in a worship service once, many years ago, and heard a preacher tell the story about a Lighthouse. It was a great story. The jest of the story went like this:

There once was a lighthouse on a tiny island just off the coast. It was a wonderful little lighthouse that saved many a ship as it sailed toward the shore. The people in the town loved the lighthouse and were very proud of that lighthouse. But with the rise of technology, the lighthouse no longer served its function. So, the people moved the lighthouse from the island into town. There, they cleaned it up, fixed it up and created a schedule so visitors could come and hear wonderful stories of how the lighthouse once saved people from doom. There were pamphlets and books, videos and calendars with pictures of the lighthouse. The sad moral of the story was that the lighthouse no longer saved lives. It no longer served the purpose for which it had been created. The Lighthouse was now no longer a lighthouse, but a museum.

The point the pastor was making was that many churches have become museums. The open their doors and are no longer places of worship, but rather give tours to tourists, who come and take pictures of the magnificent stained-glass windows and painted ceilings.

I think that the pastor was on to something. He was challenging his church to consider not just the day they were in, but to consider where they were going.

So, let me ask you this morning: what will the church in Tarpley look like in 25 years? Will she be a museum, where folks come and take tours and learn about the glory days of when Pastor Dick Sisk led the church?

We’re studying 1st Timothy. Today we’re starting chapter 2. We’ve just finished the introduction, which is basically all of Chapter One. Paul is writing to Timothy and he charges Timothy to say something: to confront false teachers and their false teaching/doctrine. Now, in Chapter two, Paul turns to some basic practices in the church to be observed with order and oversight.

To help us construct our passage clearly, Paul uses a word here, that guides us through the points he’s trying to make. That guide, that word is all. You’re familiar with the Gk word which means all, too: παν. And you see it translated into English as all or every.

  • Panacea: a remedy for all ills or difficulties
  • Pan-America: including all of America, North, and South
  • Panchromatic: sensitives to the light of all colors
  • Pandemonium: the home of all demons in Milton’s Paradise Lost; A wild uproar
  • Panorama
  • Pantheism
  • Pantheon

We locate this word in six locations:

  • First of all, in v 1;
  • In every way, v 1;
  • Pray for all people v2;
  • All who are in high positions, v 2;
  • God desires for all people v4
  • Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all people, v6

I think from this, we find Paul’s Structure: v2, all people; v4, all people; v6, all people

  1. Our Priority: The Call to Prayer and Piety that pleases God (1-3):
    1. Prayer for Leadership: The way we battle false doctrine (1)
    2. Godliness:
      1. Public Perception and (2)
      2. God’s Pleasure (3)
    3. Our Purpose: The Foundation for this call to Public Prayer and Piety (4-7)
      1. God’s Passion in seeing the lost saved (4)
      2. God’s Plan in sending his Son as a ransom for all (5-6)
      3. God’s Purpose in sending us (7)

 

Let’s look at this first section:

I.     Our Priority in the Church (1-3)

exp.: Why do I say priority? Look what he says in 2.1: rd v 1a; first of all; this means one of two things: the first, as in order and maybe even in importance. You either start with prayer or nothing is more important than prayer. If you ask me which one it is, I’d say, both!

Can I repeat that: It is the first thing you should do and there is probably nothing more important in your winning people to Christ than our prayers for them. Which brings me to another very important bit of information. Context: The context here is public prayers (as opposed to private). You will see in v 8 that Paul is referring to the public worship setting. As the church gathers, the first order of business, AND, there is nothing more important than this order of business – is to pray publicly for all people.

We don’t always do that do we? I’m sure there are many reasons, but here’s one: We’ve moved our worship from public settings to these buildings. That wasn’t the early church’s MO (modus operandi). In the very beginning, they met in the Temple. As we make our way through those first few decades of the church’s existence, we see them gather in homes and in public places. They would gather in public places and other people (outsiders) saw them. That still happens to some degree (that is: lost people observing the church in worship). It is my assumption that not everyone who comes to church on Sunday morning is saved.

But the early church didn’t construct magnificent edifices of costly construction like we do. That comes along sometime later. The early church met in public places. Crazy, huh? That’s a foreign concept for us today. But I wonder if the church would fare better if she met in homes and in public places.

ill.: As I think about this, I’m reminded of something: Did you know that the American Church has more in debt each year to banks and financial institutions than what she gives to missions each year?

That’s right: the American Church is Hundreds of Millions of dollars in debt for the Buildings and Worship Centers and Gymnasiums and Swimming pools and Bowling alleys and parking garages….

I’m rambling, but it goes to show you that prayer isn’t our top priority – and according to what Paul is saying – it should be.

No, the early church met in homes and in public places.

Back to our text: Paul says, First of all! Paul has been going off on these false teachers and their false doctrine and then he comes to structure and order in the church. And what comes first? 1First of all, then, I urge that and Paul gives us 4 words for prayer in the church. They’re really all synonyms for prayer.

  • Supplications
  • Prayers
  • Intercessions
  • Thanksgivings

This is “requests, specific requests, general requests, and even gratitude.” It’s all still just prayer. It’s talking to God. It is interceding on behalf of needs – and the context here is publicly praying for people.

Some would argue that this passage is in direct conflict with what Jesus taught in Mt 6.6: But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. But the context there was attitude. These folks would be neglecting the previous verse, which reads: “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. If your purpose is being seen – then, yes, check the motives of your prayers!

Or, as our text outlines for us who to pray for: it says all people. Now, let me ask you: is that even possible? Well, the answer would be no. You don’t know all of the 7.5 billion-plus people on this planet. So, how can you fulfill this charge? Let me offer you a little help in understanding what Paul means in a 1st Century Context of the Greek language. This word translated all can be more easily understood as all kinds. I sometimes translate it that way to help understand what is being communicated.

Ill.: I first came across this passage back in College and wondered about how it was possible: Mt 4.23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So, if you take this literally, there were no other sick people in Galilee. But if you understand the meaning of the word as ‘all kinds’ of sickness and disease – well that changes it a bit doesn’t it?

So you should understand the text as saying; Rd:

V 1: prayer for all kinds of people;

V4: God desires that all kinds of people be saved;

V6; Jesus died (gave himself a ransom) for all kinds of people;

And, Paul says, first of all, pray. And then specifies next that these prayers be made for all kinds of people… let’s label this:

  1. A Call to Prayer: Our priority in the church is a call to prayer; it is like the foundational way we battle false doctrine; but I think there is more here, and that is seen in this little statement: prayers be made for all people.
    1. For sure, there is this universal idea or theme to his statement. In Jewish religious practices, the Jew would normally pray for their neighbor. Paul’s idea is pretty radical compared to what they were used to practicing. Basically, there isn’t anyone who fits outside of these parameters. You can’t find someone you’re not supposed to pray for…
    2. I don’t think this means to be generic in your prayers: God bless everyone. Let there be peace on earth. But rather, pray for all people. Everyone you can think of. There is no one who you shouldn’t pray for.

rd v 2; for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Let’s call this:

  1. A Call to Piety: this is holy living as described in 4 parts: peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified. You might see this as the Public’s Perception of us. This is what they see in us. So, with this in mind, I think Paul is being more specific here in what he’s talking about in prayers: this isn’t the private devotional prayer. This is public prayer. It is Public Prayer as observed by others who are watching us in our Worship Services.

I think 2ndly, Paul tells us why we are to do this:  in order that… we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. For the Jews, this was a practice that was encouraged because, in that 1st Century, the emperor was to be worshiped. The act of publicly praying for the emperor was encouraging and it caused those in high offices to back off of pressuring and persecuting the Jews and the Christians. So, first, the leadership backed off. 2nd, the leadership would be kind toward those people allowing them to lead… a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

app.: Here is Paul’s charge to them through Timothy: Pray and practice Piety. Because he continues in v 3; rd v 3; it pleases God. This is the pleasure of God in the Church: Prayer and Piety.

t.s.: Let’s continue… 2nd,

II.    Our Purpose in Evangelism (4-7)

exp.: God is pleased with this kind lifestyle and then God desires; Rd who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. So, there is this call to prayer and a call to holy living, all within the sight of lost people. And what is the result – that people would get saved.

In the context of our lives today – which is totally different now than it was for those people – I’m thinking that Worship is still an evangelistic tool. We don’t worship for that purpose, but it is a result of lost people coming into the presence of the church as she worships. At least it should be! I mean, if worship is focused on us, then it won’t be. But if worship focuses on God, then it will be.

Let that sink in for a moment: The passion of God is for people to get saved. Is that overstated? I don’t think so. Peter said something very similar in 2 Peter 3.9

And then, Paul tells us how they can get saved: it’s his plan. Rd v 5; One God (holy, perfect) and us sinners; but there is a mediator who brings us together; How did he do that? rd v 6; Christ freely gave himself as a ransom.

This would be my plea to you this morning if you’ve never committed your life to Christ: God is holy and perfect. We are sinners and our sin separates us from God. I like to use a book like this to illustrate the sin that separates us. So, because we were helpless to act on our own, to remove this sin, God has sent his own son to die on the cross for our sins. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and he was raised three days later, where he ascended to be with the Father – and rules and reigns in glory.

And the Bible teaches us that if we’ll surrender our lives to him, that if we confess Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we’ll be saved.

Paul says, that was his mission, rd v 7; that’s God’s purpose for him. But, that is also our mission. We’ve been given the Great Commission.

Conclusion: Paul did his job, as outlined in v5-7; the church flourished. Church tradition teaches that the Apostle John moved to Ephesus sometime around the time 2 Timothy was written. We don’t know if that is true or not, but it is certainly possible. We know in his later life that he was exiled to the isle of Patmos, just off the coast from Ephesus -so that lines up. The church at Ephesus experienced its most fruitful time after this letter was written, in the early ’60s and through the ’90s when John lived there.

But, from that point on, as the church at Ephesus entered the 2nd Century, she faced a steep decline – such that, she would disappear from the annals of history by the year 200. Today, Islam rules this area. Indeed, just up the coast, in what is known today as Istanbul, their famous Muslim Mosque, used to be a church building. It is called Hagia Sophia. And today, it isn’t even a mosque. It’s a museum. Many churches throughout time have faded from history and have become Museums.

Application: What is to become of us? What will we pass on to the next generation? Will we pass a vibrant, living church? Or, will we leave them a pretty building that houses a museum? Do we understand our roles and responsibilities as a church? Are we susceptible to the plague of mediocrity and the result of living in the past, with no eye to the future? Consider this, if we reach no one for Christ from this point forward, who will be here 25 years from now?

So, what do I want you to take home with you? Take-a-ways:

  1. A Call to Prayer. Pray daily. Pray about our future (mission; programs; staff). Pray for people to get saved. Pray for God’s protection on your pastor; on your congregation. On you. Pray for unity.
  2. Evangelism is the Main Thing when it comes to perpetuity. Evangelism is our business. Yes, we come together to worship, but out there – Evangelism is our business.
  3. Evangelism is most effective when undergirded with prayer and a godly lifestyle.
  4. He who determines the ends also determines the means. That means that the same God who knows who will get saved has determined that the way they will get saved is through your obedience to share with them.

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Filed under 1 Timothy, Evangelism, Scripture, Sermon

1 Timothy 1.3-7

Title: Timothy’s Appointment to the Church at Ephesus

Text: 1 Timothy 1.3-7

Introduction: March 2, 1962. Hershey, PA. Wilt Chamberlain scored a record 100 points in one game. The record has been approached a couple of times but never broken. Kobe Bryant scored 81 points a few years back. My hero David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs scored 71 in one game. And, the night he set the record, he made 28 free throws out of 32. Here’s the thing about that: Chamberlain was a pitiful free throw shooter, but not that night. Normally, he would shoot in the 40% area. That night he shot nearly 90%. The difference? He shot his free throws underhanded.

But here’s an interesting tidbit of information: shortly afterward, Wilt Chamberlain went back to shooting his free throws overhead and his percentage plummeted once again.

Why? He tells us in his biography: I felt silly, like a sissy, shooting underhanded. I know I was wrong. I know some of the best foul shooters in history shot that way. Even now, the best one in the NBA, Rick Barry, shoots underhanded. I just couldn’t do it.

Check that out…he says: I know I was wrong. He is saying the right thing to do – the best way for him to score on his free throws would be to shoot underhanded. But then he says he just couldn’t do it.

Here’s my question: I wonder how many men would have to shoot underhanded before he would have changed his style.

Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast on this topic (Revisionist History)– the idea that each of us has a threshold where we will surrender our beliefs about something. We have beliefs, but we don’t live by those beliefs all the time.

Gladwell gives the example of a teenager who drives a hundred miles an hour with three of his buddies in the car. He isn’t doing it because he believes it is the right thing to do. He probably believes it is wrong. His threshold for doing what he believes is so low, that he surrenders what he knows to be right to do something wrong. Consider if his grandma was driving that car. Do you think she would drive 100 miles per hour to impress his friends? Example: Do you think Linda Duke would drive 100 miles per hour to impress her grandchildren? Or Virginia Huntress doing the same thing to impress great-grandchildren’s friends? Their threshold for such activities is pretty high. Probably, untouchable.

Transition: Here’s where I’m going with this: Identifying this threshold in our lives is so very important.

Consider a leader in the church. The truth is that when a leader upsets people in the church something happens:

  • Upset one person and that person might leave-taking their family, sometimes their friends, their tithe, and their opinions that they share with others in the community.
  • Upset more than one person and you could have a potential church split.
  • Upset enough people and you’re out of here…terminated.

So, people-pleasing is a tough dilemma for leadership. Leaders face a threshold like what Gladwell talks about in his podcast.

I wonder what it was like for young Timothy… Here is a young man who has to stand up to the likes of false teachers in his church, the church at Ephesus. Turn with me to 1 Timothy 1.3. Pg ???.

I’ve identified three parts to the overall passage of 1.1-11: A Bird’s Eye View of our Journey through 1 Timothy

  1. The Purpose of the Leader: His Charge (Week 1) v1-3
  2. The Purpose of the Letter: His Concern (Week 2) v3-7
  3. The Purpose of the Law: His Caution (Week 3) v8-11

We’re in the 2nd section: Paul’s Concern. In this section we note:

  1. The Assignment at the Church (v3-4) Charge certain persons not to teach
  2. The Aim in this Charge (v5) The aim of this charge is love issued from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
  3. The Assessment of the Church (v6-7) Certain persons have swerved from these (a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith).

Let’s begin with…

I.     The Assignment: to remain and charge (v3-4)

exp.: The assignment was to… rd v 3b; to remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…

  • The Charge: Authority from Paul, now on Timothy; Authority of Paul has established in 1-2; an Apostle; by the command; God our Savior; Christ our hope; Now, Timothy has an Assignment and it comes under the authority of Paul. This comes straight from the top! There is a direct line here in the chain of command;
  • Specifics:
    • Do not teach a different doctrine; Gal 1:6-10; you see this in the churches in Galatia, but it is also evident in other letters of Paul. There is only one Gospel. Anything different is false. Note the threshold for Paul in v 10; You can’t make him preach something else to please men.
    • Do not devote
      • Myths and Endless genealogies: scholars don’t agree on what these endless genealogies were; probably something to do with Jewish ancestry; however, what is important is what chasing after these useless myths and endless genealogies did: it brought…
      • Speculation v. Stewardship; I have no idea where this quote comes from. I wrote it down years ago and came across it this past week in my notes on this passage: Speculation without knowledge detracts from responsible execution of the ministry; and here’s why…
        1. Speculative knowledge is a type of theoretical knowledge. It is a knowledge that is gained through reflection without experience.
        2. Stewardship involves our use of not only the financial resources but our gifts, talents, abilities and time.

ill.: I.H. Marshall: …the label applied here and elsewhere in the PE may target not just the fallacious interpretation of OT passages but also applications of this material to conduct that contradicted traditional patterns of godly behavior.

app.: this is the danger of moving away from God’s Word and teaching from the way one feels about something.

t.s.: And Paul has given this particular assignment to Timothy to ‘charge’ these men not to teach false doctrine; But Paul gives Timothy a warning on how this is to be done; Rd v 5;

II.    The Aim: love from… (v5)

exp.: the Gk word here is τέλος; the vb form of this word is τελέω (to bring to an end); this is the word from which we get “telescope”  or “telephone” and others like it; it means to bring something which is far away much closer. This is how we get our word for goal or purpose. You plan your current situation so that you’ll arrive at the appropriate place. The purpose, The goal, The aim, The endgame is love.

  • this verse changes the thought from the negative result of erroneous teaching to the motives of proper instruction within the church; The motive, the goal the aim is…
    • Love (issues itself from Three Sources)
      • A pure heart; καθαρᾶς 1 John 1:9; the καρδία; is the center of the person; who we are before God; our true personality; the seat of our emotions; the origin of desires; This is what we are to love God with…’all of our heart’; Q.: seriously, who wants to bring an impure, dirty heart before God? No one, right?
      • A good conscience; 2nd dimension of the inner person; this word isn’t found in the OT; the heart served in this capacity; in the NT it means a knowledge of good and bad; compound word, with (to gather) knowledge; This conscience isn’t the ultimate judge of right & wrong; it only serves us as a guide since it can be seared by sin; important: we think sin doesn’t affect us, but it does; what our eyes see, what our ears hear; what our senses experience, through time, slowly disconnect us from reality; we truly are in an age when evil is called good and good is called evil, where reality is called false and false is called reality. The media would have you believe you’re watching reality TV. John writes: Little Children, keep yourselves from sin. A pure heart brings a clear conscience. Note: the word good is sometimes translated clear, which would fit here well;
      • A sincere faith; it appears the false teachers taught with an objective other than love, their goal: 1 Tim 6:5 ff; was their pockets;

app.: their endgame is not “love”! Their endgame was what they could get from these people…

t.s.: and so Paul placed Timothy there to confront these men, v 6ff tell us why; rd v 6-7;

III.   The Assessment: Certain men have missed the mark (v6-7)

exp.: The problem: these men are ‘missing the mark’; they have wandered (turned); Certain people have lit.: “missed the mark”; they have deviated off course and wandered from these (a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith); These people are the “false teachers of the Law”; this word, νομοδιδάσκαλοι teachers of the Law is found only 2 other times in the NT and clearly refers to teachers of the Mosaic Law; This ‘missing the mark’ leads to:

  • Vain Discussion; ‘empty, fruitless discussions’; kids are good at this; and that’s immaturity; “my uncle has some cows”; what’s bad is when adults do that; what’s worse is when teachers do that; Question: what exactly were they doing wrong? rd v 7
    • Teaching without understanding (they are wrong)
    • Application with error (they are sincerely wrong)

ill.: As a pastor, I have had people say to me: We don’t need more doctrine! What we need is more practical preaching! I think that means: don’t teach us, tell us stories.

app.: But can’t you see that doctrine is the basis for living? It is what you know from experiencing God’s Word as you live out his teaching for your life. My goal isn’t to motivate you to live a better life. This thing I do up here isn’t just about inspiration. My goal is to love you in such a way that it leads you to a closer relationship with God. And, I do not really love you if all I do is tell you what you want to hear!

Transition: The Church must keep great oversight on what is being taught and be willing to confront doctrine that is unhealthy. Our threshold must be high and not give in to what is popular or the current trend.

Conclusion: Wilt Chamberlain mentioned Rick Barry in his biography as the one person who would shoot his free throws underhanded. He also mentions that Rick Barry led the NBA in Free Throw percentage each year. Rick says that one year he missed only 9 shots. 9! And the next year, he only missed 10. To put that in perspective, Lebron James misses about 150 free throws a year. Rick Barry made 90% of his free throws throughout his career. Lebron James? 73%! Wilt Chamberlain? 50%!

What made Rick Barry not care about what others thought? Well, His goal wasn’t to please others. His goal was to make the shot. He really didn’t care what people thought about him. And, the fact that others made fun of him didn’t bother him. His threshold was incredibly high.

So let me ask you: how high of a threshold do you have toward others making fun of you for not following the world? Paul had an incredibly high threshold. He’s encouraging Timothy to have a high threshold. And I’m doing the same for you: and that brings us to the applications for this morning…

Application: So what do we learn from this section of Paul’s letter? As a pastor, I question my threshold for your pleasure. Will I bow to pressure to do what other churches are doing? You want something from me – the way I preach, the way I lead music. Will I give in to music that is less than glorifying to God to please your ears?

As an individual, what is your threshold? Do you want to grow and gain members so much that you’ll water down what is right and true in order that the lost might be comfortable? And we might see more folks join the church?

Points to ponder:

  1. What is (y)our assignment here?
  2. Do we do what we do because we truly love people? Does our stewardship flow from a heart of love?
  3. What is our threshold for seeing that our church is a New Testament church and not just something that adjusts itself to the culture to accommodate and make lost people feel comfortable?
    1. Really, why do we meet here? What is the goal? What are we trying to accomplish?
    2. If this isn’t organized around the lost, when do they or how will they get saved?
    3. What does it mean for us to Pray the Word, Sing the Word, Read the Word, See the Word, and Preach the Word?

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Filed under 1 Timothy, Christian Living, Church Polity, Evangelism, Scripture, Sermon

Missing Christmas

Title: Missing Christmas

Text: Matt 2.1-12

CIT: Some people missed that first Christmas.

CIS: We can miss Christmas this year if we are like them…


Introduction: Van Morris from Mt. Washington, KY tells the story of a woman who was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall in days before Amazon.com. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before.

Her arms were full of bulky packages when an elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load.

As the doors closed, she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!”

A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement.

Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator, came a single voice that said: “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”

I get the idea that this woman was missing Christmas.

Transition: I think it’s easy to miss Christmas. I did for many years. Even after becoming a Christian, I still didn’t get what Christmas was all about – what Christmas is all about.

In Matthew 2, we read about different people or groups of people who missed that first Christmas for various reasons. Rd v 1-2;

We can miss Christmas this year if we are:

I.     Self-Centered like King Herod

exp.: rd vs 3; He was troubled; stirred; Why? He was looking out for himself. You see, He was a very selfish man! So concerned for his throne was he, that he murdered anyone whom he thought might try and take it from him;

ill.: Those he killed (pg 70, Miracle).

exp.: feeling he had been tricked by the Magi and worried about this baby boy, he responds with a fury – rd 2.16-18; Man, Herod is doing anything he can to protect his throne. He is going to miss Christmas because he is most concerned about himself.

app.: We can miss Christmas this year if we are intolerant of Christ and his right to sit on the throne of our lives – if we seek our own rights obsessively; this sounds harsh, but I don’t know of any other way to say this – you ready? You’ll miss Christmas if you think Christmas is all about you. That was Herod’s problem.

t.s.: Let’s look at the 2nd group.

II.    Self-Satisfied like the people of Jerusalem

exp.: We see them in v 3; rd v 3; but their troubled minds are well-warranted! For them, it’s self-preservation like Herod, but on a different level. They know very well what could happen if Herod gets upset. And, as we read down in v16-18, their concerns become a reality.

And why shouldn’t they miss Christmas? They had everything they needed right there in Jerusalem. They don’t need any more religion. They had the Temple – and they thought that meant they had everything. They missed Jeremiah’s message in chapter 7 about putting their trust in the Temple: Jeremiah told the people: Amend your ways. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord!’ Their understanding was that God dwelt in a building made by men. They had this understanding that God was in their midst. So, they didn’t worry about externals because they were sure that God was on their side. But here’s the problem – they had set the terms: 1) the building; 2) the leaders 3) their rules and regulations – they had their religion

III.   Self-Righteous like the Religious Leaders.

exp.:  rd v. 4-6; they’re busy; they just throw out the answer and move on; I’m shocked that none said, “Why do you ask?”  Israel had been looking for the messiah since Deu. 18:15; He had been promised since Genesis 3.15; Here the religious leaders knew the answer to Herod’s question but couldn’t care any less about what it actually meant.

ill.:  J. MacArthur: These men were too busy with themselves to be concerned about Jesus. Engrossed in their own pride, their self-righteousness, their self-sufficiency, they carried on their ritual and their petty theological discussion in the confines of their own comfortable system. They had no time for the Son of God.

app.:  Here’s the problem – sometimes we know the answers here (point to my noggin), but we can’t apply the answers here (point to my heart). Is there any excuse for us? I wonder if these guys had stopped looking for the Messiah. They got wrapped up in study and memory work, they just forgot all about what they were supposed to be doing.

And let’s be honest: it’s easy to do! It’s easy to focus in on the holiday on activity and parties and forget the real reason for the season. It’s easy to think Christmas is all about you. It’s easy to zero in on all of the activity and get so busy you miss the baby in the manger. It’s easy to entrust the work to someone else.

ill.: I think we are already doing that around here; in commercials; in Christmas displays; In the songs playing in stores; Lisa and I stopped in at Starbucks for some Tea and Coffee when little Cameron was born. We got a lot of drinks for the family. As we were waiting on our order to be filled, I looked around to see if there was anything in the Holiday decorations that made reference to Christ. Anything! I found nothing. Nothing at all to even hint that Christmas is about Christ.

ill.: Last Christmas I watched a News interview of people on T.V. who were in the holiday spirit: The views ranged from sentimental to irreverent. Some were sentimental saying Christmas is a time for family and friends. Others said it is a special time for Children. Some people were humanistic saying it is a time for brotherly love, to put aside our differences and come together. Others were just downright rude, saying that it was just another excuse to party. But not one person being interviewed said it was a time to recognize the birth of Christ.

To further illustrate this point: Is Jesus featured on television at Christmastime? According to a National Religious Broadcasters analysis of 48,000 hours of programming during December 2002, 90 percent of programming did not have a significant spiritual theme.

Some 7 percent had a religious or spiritual theme but did not refer to Jesus.

Jesus was the focus of only 3 percent of Christmas programming.

app.: you won’t find the Christ-Child, the Messiah on TV or in the papers; you’ll find him…we’ll may I quote: Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

t.s.: and finally…

We are sure to enjoy Christmas this year if we

IV.    Insistently, Incessantly Search for Christ

exp.: Why? What got them started? I’ll tell you what, time is getting away from us, so, we’ll pick up with this next week and talk about the ones who didn’t miss that first Christmas.

Take-a-ways:

  1. Just like Herod, we all need to learn this lesson: Christmas isn’t about you. But then again, most things in life aren’t. Christmas is a great time to focus on others and to pour our love out on them. And building on that…
  2. The word holiday, in our modern-day language, is formed from two words: Holy & Day. Can we bring holiness back into the season? I’m not talking about just being religious – like the inhabitants of Jerusalem. You might be wondering how…
    1. Well, one thing you can do: come to church for worship on Christmas Eve. It’s a great way to put your ‘holiday’ time into a proper perspective. I’m not saying to abandon your traditions or kick out your relatives. I’m just saying take some steps to make the occasion holy. Sure, you’ll have to work through some logistics: you may have your family visiting. Bring’ em along. They’re not saved, you say… Invite them. What a witness to declare to them this is a holy time for you. This season is when your Messiah was born.
    2. Something else you could do is to give your gifts away. Don’t panic, but just hear me out. Instead of giving gifts to each other, take the money you were going to spend on gifts in your family and go on a mission trip together. Or buy Christmas gifts for a needy family who won’t have nice gifts.

Be creative – make the season holy…

  1. As I think about these religious leaders, I really feel for them. They’re so religious, they miss the single greatest religious moment of their lives. Listen, there is a lot to do in getting ready for Christmas. You may have travel plans, family coming in, decorating, buying food, gifts, and the list goes on. Don’t get so busy with working to make the holiday grand that it just goes right on by you and all you feel is worn out. If you’re working hard to make it grand, then enjoy it. Sit down with a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate; or eggnog) and watch the lights on your tree and listen to and sing along with the Christmas music. Soak it in.

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Filed under Christmas, Evangelism, Family, Matthew, Scripture, Sermon

1 Timothy 2.1-7

Title: E = P x Q

Text: 1 Tim 2.1-10

CIT (Aim): Praying for others and living a quiet, peaceful life with all godliness and holiness are the fertile grounds for fulfilling the Great Commission.

CIS: I want to encourage our congregation to speak up and tell people about Jesus and the hope we have in him.

Context: The Corporate Body – we’re not talking about individual responsibility.

Introduction: E = P x Q; Evangelism = Prayer multiplied by a Quiet, peaceful life with all godliness and dignity.

I like this title, but for sure, it needs some ‘splainin’… More on that in a moment. For now, let that ruminate for a while.

I heard the following story on RadioLab. It’s really good and goes into to so much more detail than I can this morning, so I commend the podcast to you:

I want you to go back in time with me to 1944. Go with me to 1944, up north, to Thermopolis, Wyoming some 30 miles south of where we used to live. Three miners at a place called the High Line Coal Mine, just outside of town, had stepped outside of their mine. I don’t know if they were done for the day and headed home or if they just were taking a break. But, they were standing at the entrance to the mine, just about dusk and they hear this whistling sound over their heads that ends with a loud explosion. Across the Bad Lands, about a mile away, they see this large cloud of dust. Above them, there is this floating circle. Today we’d call it a UFO – an object that is flying, but which is unidentifiable. Someone asks me: do you believe in UFO’s and I say yes. Do I believe in little green men from other planets flying around incognito: No! But, do I believe there are objects that remain unidentified by individuals. Yes. I think there are logical explanations for those things. But, that’s what this is… a floating circle. They best described it as a parachute. But that wasn’t what it was, but something they could identify it with.

They jump in their truck to follow it and do for a little while, but because it is dark, they lose sight of it soon thereafter and abandon the chase.

  • About that same time, a little boy and his daddy are working in their barn in Colorado when they hear an explosion. They run outside and there is a smoldering crater in their front yard.
  • In Wyoming, a 9-year-old boy is playing in his front yard he hears an explosion.
  • Throughout the winter of 1944, there are these strange reports about explosions, and there are sightings of these ‘parachute’ looking things in the skies.

Napa, California; Lane Deer, Montana; Detroit, Michigan, Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and the list just goes on. Everyone who sees these ‘things’ and hears these explosions come up with many different guesses to what they’ve experienced: plane crashes; gas line explosions; and you name it. But, they’re all guesses. No one knows for sure.

Until one day, Sheriff Hyde came across one these ‘parachute looking’ things and he was able to apprehend it. Sheriff Hyde is probably the quintessential sheriff; serving in Utah, just north of Salt Lake City: Stetson Hat; a giant of a man, gun on his hip. He gets a phone call from a local farmer who says there is this balloon, parachute contraption in my field, just floating around. So, the Sheriff jumps in his car and speeds out to the farm. He runs out into the field and grabs a hold of this thing. He later described it as a huge globe, paper white, and coming down from this globe are these thick 40’ ropes. Attached to the bottom is this heavy metal chandelier with bombs hanging off the bottom.

Well, the Sheriff, leaving his hat and holster and gun in his car, runs up to the ‘thing’ and grabs a rope. He hopes to maybe tie it down and keep it safe for the authorities to come and check it out. But, just as he grabs the rope, a gust of wind comes and takes the balloon up and away. But the sheriff doesn’t let go of the rope. This thing climbs higher and higher and crosses a canyon. But he doesn’t let go. He slams to the ground on the other side of the canyon and he tries to tie it off on some sort of juniper plant, but it brakes loose. He grabs hold and it takes him back across the canyon. It bounces about the field – the same one where it was earlier, but the sheriff can’t hold it down or tie it off. He’s sick and nauseated from being spun around and fighting with this thing for some time. His vision is blurry and exhausted from fighting to keep this thing down, but he doesn’t give up.

You see, he knew the government had been getting these reports of ‘parachute balloons’, the explosions, and UFO reports. But the government didn’t have any proof they really existed. Sheriff Hyde knew this was a great opportunity to lasso one. So he continued to hang on. He was eventually able to get it tied off to the root sticking out of the side of the canyon. He was the first one to actually capture one of these contraptions.

The government came and took it away and said nothing. They (the powers that be) decided that it would be best to keep it all quiet. They didn’t want to set off a panic amongst the people. So they just didn’t say anything. And not saying anything was a costly mistake.

Not saying anything. I think sometimes that not saying anything makes people talk, gossip and guess their way through problems and situations. Not saying anything hurts a situation more than just telling people. People’s imaginations are far worse than the truth. Sometimes it really is the right thing to do, but for the most part, it appears to me that just isn’t the case.

Two people in the church get sick. Both have cancer. One asks the church for prayers and tells them ways they can be praying. For sure, they don’t say everything about their illness, but enough that people are sensitive to their sickness and then they pray. The other says nothing. People start talking. What’s wrong? That start talking to each other… it turns into gossip. I don’t think that most people mean it to be hurtful, but it is what it is. People can’t help themselves, even though they should. And the very thing that the quiet, private person did not want has happened. While the first person doesn’t get gossiped about.

Not saying anything can be costly. Like in our text today…

Look at the title here: E = P x Q. Evangelism equals Prayer multiplied by a quiet, peaceful life lived out in all godliness and dignity.

Paul is writing to Timothy in this letter. He charges Timothy to say something: to confront false teachers and false doctrine. Then, in Chapter two, Paul turns to some basic practices in the church to be observed with order and oversight. These practices are important in combating false doctrine.

Now, Paul could have just listed them and been quick about it:

  • First, Pray (you see that in 2.1) and pray for everyone, including your king and other leaders.
  • And those public prayers need to be backed up with godly, honorable lives. People are watching.
  • If you desire to be an overseer, an elder, then here is your standard. Oh, and it is the same for men and women who serve as deacons in the church.

You see, four sentences and I’m through the next couple of chapters. But that isn’t Paul’s style. That isn’t Paul’s nature. He’s a teacher. So he expounds. He digresses from the topic to explain. And I’m so thankful he does.

Let’s look at these and see how I came up with this formula: E=PxQ.

The Evangelist’s life is filled with prayer and a quiet, peaceful life lived out with all godliness and dignity. How is that so? Paul tells us in the following verses. I’ve listed them as follows:

  1. The Pleasure of God in His Church (1-3)
  2. The Plan of God for His Church (4-7)

Let’s look at this first section:

I.     The Pleasure of God in His Church (1-3)

exp.: Look what he says in 2.1: rd v 1; first of all; this means the first, as in order and maybe even in importance. You either start with prayer or nothing is more important than prayer. If you ask me which one it is, I’d say, both!

Can I repeat that: It is the first thing you should do and there is probably nothing more important in your winning people to Christ than your prayers for them. Now the context here is public prayers. As the church gathers, the first thing we should do and there is nothing more important than what we do than to pray publicly for all people.

I wonder if you agree… I’d challenge anyone here this morning to stand to their feet and declare a more important component to Evangelism than prayer. Maybe you could teach me something here, something that I’m not seeing.

First of all! That’s a pretty bold statement. Paul has been going off on these false teachers and their false doctrine and then he comes to structure and order in the church. And what comes first? 1First of all, then, I urge that and Paul gives us 4 words for prayer in the church. They’re really all synonyms for prayer.

  • Supplications
  • Prayers
  • Intercessions
  • Thanksgivings

This is requests, specific request, general requests, and even gratitude. It’s all still just prayer. It’s talking to God. It is interceding on behalf of needs – and the context here is praying for people. And, Paul specifies next that these prayers be made for all people… let’s label this:

  1. A Call to Prayer: it is like the foundational way we battle false doctrine; but, I think there is more here, and that is seen in this little statement: prayers be made for all people. For sure, there is this universal idea or theme to his statement. In Jewish religious practices, the Jew would normally pray for their neighbor. Paul’s idea is pretty radical compared to what they were used to practicing. Basically, there isn’t anyone who fits outside of these parameters. I don’t think this means to be generic in your prayers: God bless everyone. Let there be peace on earth. But rather, pray for all people. Everyone you can think of. There is no one who you shouldn’t pray for.

I think Paul begins to digress here for a moment in v2. He seems to do that quite often; rd v 2; for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Let’s call this:

  1. A Call to Piety: this is holy living. You might see this as the Public’s Perception of us. This is what they see in us. So, with this in mind, I think Paul is being more specific here in what he’s talking about in prayers: this isn’t the private devotional prayer. This is public prayer. It is Public Prayer as observed by others who are watching us in our Worship Services.

ill.: Did you see that President Trump stopped by David Platt’s church this past week? It was all over the news. First, because it looked like he had a new hairstyle. Then, because some of David Platt’s church members were upset that the pastor prayed for the president! David Platt used this passage and prayed for the President. The president had stopped by that morning because he said he wanted to pray for the victims of the Virginia shooting this past week. And David prayed for the president. He didn’t know he was coming. He heard that he would be there at the worship service just a few minutes he actually showed up.

Can I chase a rabbit for a minute, that’s really right up this alley? Y’all, it doesn’t matter who the president is. He still needs our prayers. And someday, she will need our prayers. You may not agree with someone’s politics, but this hatred in the political realm is getting out of hand. I would hope that no matter what politician showed up here asking for prayers that our congregation would act appropriately. And pray for that leader.

Paul tells us why we are to do this: in order that… we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. For the Jews, this was a practice that was encouraged because often times the emperor was to be worshiped. The act of publicly praying for the emperor was encouraging and it caused those in high offices to back off of pressuring the Jews. So, first, the leadership backed off. 2nd, the leadership would be kind toward those people allowing them to lead… a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

app.: Here is Paul’s charge to them through Timothy: Pray and practice Piety. Because he continues in v 3; rd v 3; it pleases God. This is the pleasure of God in the Church: Prayer and Piety. Three P’s: Prayer, Piety, and Pleasure.

t.s.: Let’s continue… 2nd,

II.    The Plan of God in His Church (4-7)

exp.: this is good and pleases God, but more than that – it is his plan! Rd who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. So, there is this call to prayer and a call to holy living, all within the sight of lost people. And what is the result – that people would get saved. Wouldn’t you just love to please God? Pray for the salvation of all people. Right now, we’re just focusing on Who is your 1? Who is your 1? The challenge is to pray for 1 person, 1x a day, for 1 minute at 1 o’clock. This is our simple way of helping our church fulfill this charge: to pray, to practice piety, and present the gospel. Check this out: his pleasure is that we pray for all people – specifically, that, v4, they get saved by coming to a knowledge of the truth.

And then, Paul tells us how they can get saved: it’s his plan. Rd v 5; One God (holy, perfect) and us sinners; but there is a mediator who brings us together; How did he do that? rd v 6; Christ freely gave himself as a ransom.

This would be my plea to you this morning if you’ve never committed your life to Christ: God is holy and perfect. We are sinners and our sin separates us from God. I like to use a book like this to illustrate the sin that separates us. So, because we were helpless to act on our own, to remove this sin, God has sent his own son to die on the cross for our sins. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and he was raised three days later, where he ascended to be with the Father – and rules and reigns in glory.

And the Bible teaches us that if we’ll surrender our lives to him, that if we confess Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we’ll be saved.

Paul says, that was his mission, rd v 7; that’s God’s purpose for him. But, that it is also our mission. We’ve been given the Great Commission.

This is truly a beautiful passage if you just let it wash over you. God’s heart is to see all people come to him. 2 Peter 3.9 tells us that it is God’s will that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

  1. God’s Pleasure – (3-4) in a church that prays for He Desires; Salvation
  2. God’s Plan – (5-6) His Gospel; Son
  3. God’s Purpose – (7) Paul’s Mission; Sent

Transition: Can you imagine if Paul had remained silent? What if he never said a word?

Conclusion: Remember the story of the UFO’s – the unidentified flying objects? The reports came in from all over the west, but the government didn’t say anything. The military kept quiet about these UFOs.

A couple of years earlier, in April of 1942, Lt. Col. Doolittle and his band of raiders flew what was basically described as a suicide mission to Tokyo. They flew their bombers to Japan and bombed Tokyo and other places in the Japanese Islands. What that did was terrify the Japanese, who had felt safe before, but now, after this bombing mission, left them vulnerable and scared.

People in the US knew of this raid. Doolittle and his men were heroes. But, here’s what the country didn’t know. The Japanese government issued a challenge to their people: we must find a way to bomb the US mainland.

One particular day, a Japanese man was standing on the shores of his island contemplating this challenge and saw a balloon go up into the sky. He noticed it drifted eastward, toward the US. He wondered what would happen if he could launch a larger balloon. Would it rise high enough, and last long enough to make it to the US? He launched a larger balloon and noticed when it got to a certain height it would just take off and head eastward. What he didn’t know, but we do now, is there is this thing called the Jet stream. There were many trial and errors, but eventually, The Japanese govt. loved the idea and weather balloons were chosen. They had sandbags, altimeters, and bombs. The altimeters would keep them below 30,000 feet. And if they got too low, sandbags would drop, causing them to rise back up into the Jet Stream.

Now you know, that’s what those explosions were. That’s what those UFO’s were. And the US Govt. knew, but they chose not to tell the people because they didn’t want to start a panic. They had done geological tests on the sand from the sandbags and determined that not only did the sand come from Japan, but it came from a specific island. They even knew the specific beaches where this sand came from. Man, the wonders of technology. But, they didn’t say anything.

9,000 balloons were launched. And virtually none of them did any damage. None did any harm… except for this one balloon.

Bly, Oregon lies on the southern part of Oregon at the base of Gearheart Mountain. A balloon landed there. Cora Conner and her sister were invited up to the mountain for some fun. Cora’s little sister, It was Sunday, May 5, 1945. Pastor Archie Mitchell and his wife, Elsie, pregnant with their 1st child, invited some youth to go up the mountain for a picnic. …. Wanted to go because there was this guy there who liked her and he was going. …. Begged her sister to go, too, but she couldn’t because she was working the switchboard for the town.

The pastor pulled up and the youth all jumped out of the truck and ran around the area just goofing off, while Pastor Mitchell grabbed the fishing poles and picnic basket and what not. One of the young youth noticed something strange. And, he called all of the kids and Ms. Elsie over to look at this… what we know now was a downed weather balloon with its sandbags and odd looking canisters. Some 30’ in diameter, white, pale, canvas type, contraption laying on the ground. Elise called out to her husband and said that he should come over and look at this thing they’d found. He couldn’t see anything because they were all gathered around this thing – up close and tight. Pastor Archie took a couple of steps toward them when one of the youth picked up the bomb and it exploded – killing all 5 youth and Elsie and her unborn baby.

 

No one knows for sure, but what if the govt had issued warnings? What would have happened if the people knew about these weather balloons? What if they had known and immediately upon seeing it would have stayed clear until the proper authorities had gotten there? Kids are kids – and curious kids do curious things. Maybe they still would have died because they would have ignored what they knew. But what if they did stay clear because they knew. Maybe they would have lived a long and wonderful life.

The truth is we’ll never know. But this is what I do know: Evangelism isn’t evangelism if we keep silent. You can pray. You can live a godly and honorable life. But if you and I keep silent, then how will they know? Romans 10.14 asks us: 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

You’ve heard of this challenge: Who is your 1? I was so blown away this past week at the many prayer requests you guys shared with the staff – to pray for your One. I want to take that one step further. I was hoping you might join me in praying for each other’s One. Here’s how I’d like to do this.

Challenge: post the names to the cross and pray. Elders, come first, Deacons, too. And then make yourselves available to pray for and with others.

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Filed under 1 Timothy, Evangelism, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel

1 Timothy 1.1-3

*Note: the audio begins late… for the full audio version, you can visit our church’s Facebook page and view the service.

Title: 1 Timothy: An Introduction

Text: 1 Timothy 1.1-3

Introduction: Erin Brockovich is now famous for her legal work against a giant company. She herself was not a lawyer, but rather a legal clerk who worked for a small law firm. Her story inspires most because she represents many of us – at least that is the way we see it.

She didn’t look the part. She wasn’t educated. She had made many mistakes when she was young. She was judged on her appearance and not on her work. The snobs with the money judged her incompetent because she didn’t dress like they did. She didn’t have the law degree they had. It was a modern day David and Goliath story. Pacific Gas and Electric Company had been poisoning the land around Hinkley, California. Their reckless behavior made the people the people of Hinkley and the surrounding area sick – many even died.

Her story inspires because she stood up to the mammoth of a company that had money and lawyers to fight. But she never backed down. She spent countless hours learning the ins and outs of that company. She met and got to know the people of Hinkley. She knew the sick by name. She knew their spouses and what their spouse did for a living; she knew who their kids were and what grades they were in. She knew where they lived. She knew where they shopped; who their doctors were; the most intimate details about their lives. She knew the company was dumping hexavalent chromium and contaminating the water sources the people of Hinkley were drinking.

Her story inspires because she spoke out and defended the ones who could not stand up for themselves and won.

For me, the Pastoral Epistles inspire like that. Paul writes to these young men who are serving as pastors in their local churches and encourages them to speak out against those who are killing the people around them. He writes to Titus in Crete and to Timothy in Ephesus. Our focus this morning is on Ephesus and this letter to Timothy. The Letter is entitled 1 Timothy. If you’re using a pew Bible, you’ll find the letter on page ???

Paul states his purpose quite clearly in 3.14-15; rd 3.14f; you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Sound Doctrine is vital to a church’s existence. Unhealthy doctrine destroys a church. Sound Doctrine teaches a church 1) how to behave, 2) it represents God, and 3) is a pillar and buttress of the Truth!

Over the next 4 months, our church will be looking at 1st Timothy. I have invited 8 men to walk this journey with me, 6 of whom will preach to you at one time or another. I did not choose the sermons for the guys, nor their texts. It was all very random. The only part to this that I did know were the dates that needed to be filed. In some ways, I feel like Paul – and these men are like Titus, Timothy, Tychicus, Apollos, Zenas, etc.

Our basic goal this morning is to look at the introduction. We find the introduction in 1 Timothy 1.1-3 or on page ??? if you’re using a pew Bible.

Basic Outline: First, we will look at the writer (who the letter is from), then the recipient (who the letter is to), and his purpose, which he alludes to in v 3;

  • From: Paul
  • To: Timothy (and the church at Ephesus)
  • Purpose: you may charge…

Transition: that outline looks short, but the truth is, there is so much here, so let’s get to it.

  1. From: Paul

exp.: Paul wrote this letter somewhere around the years 62-66 AD. Consider the following

  • Paul was martyred by Nero in Rome. That is the historical tradition and has strong backing.
  • Nero died in 68 AD, so, we’ll start with that date.
  • Paul was near his death when he wrote 2 Timothy, his last book or letter that we have. If Nero put Paul to death, then Paul died before Nero. Make sense?
  • So, let’s put Paul’s death around 67 AD – that means 2 Timothy was written near that time.
  • There are at least two winters recorded in the Pastoral Epistles (Titus 3.12 and 2 Timothy 4.21).

Titus 3.12: When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.

2 Tim 4.21: 21 Do your best to come before winter. Another winter is fast approaching. Each reference is a different context. So: at least two different winters. They could be one year apart or more; winter of ’67; the winter of ‘65. So, that would put 1 Timothy somewhere around 62-64 AD. These are rough guesses, of course – give or take a few years on each side the largest span would be 62-66. You probably have a good guess at the introduction in your Study Bible at 1 Timothy.

Next, Paul is imprisoned in 2 Timothy, but in 1 Timothy, he appears to be writing after his imprisonment as mentioned in Acts 28. I tried to locate times and places mentioned in 1 Timothy with Acts and I can’t reconcile them. Allow me to show you what I mean:

1 & 2 Timothy place Timothy in Ephesus. I jokingly say that he is the pastor of the 1st Baptist Church in Ephesus. 1 Timothy has Paul going to Macedonia (1.3). In the book of Acts, Paul does travel to Macedonia from Ephesus (Acts 20.1), but Timothy has not been left behind in Ephesus. Instead, he is sent ahead to Macedonia (Acts 19.22). Added to this, Timothy accompanies Paul on his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20.4). It is possible that Paul left at Timothy in Miletus when he was meeting with the Ephesian elders; however, Paul’s journey was toward Jerusalem in the opposite direction of Macedonia.

So, I can only conclude that Paul was released from prison after Acts 28. He ministered and wrote his letters (1 Timothy and Titus) between the dates of 62-66 AD. Then, at some point after those letters, he is thrown into prison again. According to 2 Timothy, he must have gone eastward after his Roman Imprisonment and not on to Spain, because he left his cloak and books at Troas. From his prison cell, during this 2nd Roman Imprisonment, he wrote his last letter, 2 Timothy.

app.: Paul has a sense about him that the end is near. Verse 1 tells us about his calling: apostle. That means he is a missionary, a church planter. His authority is from God, who has called him and commissioned him. But, as the years have gone by, he finds himself unable to keep up with his previous pace of planting churches and discipling new believers. Jail time has put a toll on his body. Long hours, long travel, persecution, stress, these all have aged him.

So, he has strategically placed younger men in places of service. 1.3: Timothy at Ephesus; Titus at Crete (1.5); He sends their replacements. 2 Tim 4.12: Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Before that, in Titus, Paul sent Tychicus to Crete – evidently to carry that particular letter. Paul mentions that Zenas, the Lawyer, and Apollos have been there with Titus and that Titus should send them on their way to Paul. Crescens is in Galatia; Titus served in Dalmatia, as well as in Crete. Mark is serving somewhere along the way between Ephesus and Rome. It would be a hard, but fun study to locate all of the names of these young men and see where Paul had located them for service – with both locations and dates.

Now, added to their placement as overseers in their respective churches, Paul has given them instructions about how a church should look and act. Now, this is so important! Don’t miss that! That is what these letters, 1 Timothy and Titus, are all about; more on that in a moment.

t.s.: For now, let’s turn our attention to Timothy

  1. To: Timothy

exp.: rd v 2; he uses the same language with Titus; my true child in the faith. The Gk word here is legitimate. I think this means that Paul had a hand in their conversion to Christ and their foundation in discipleship. My guess is that Timothy was converted to Christ on Paul’s 1st MJ. We first meet Timothy in the book of Acts (16.1). Paul and Barnabas had finished their 1st MJ and had returned to Antioch to report their mission work. After some days and some disagreement about how they should handle things, Paul and Silas take off on Paul’s 2nd MJ. Their first stop is in Galatia, at Derbe and on to a small town called Lystra. This is where they meet a young Timothy, who has impressed the people of Lystra and Iconium – and Paul, too. Paul immediately recognizes his potential and wants Timothy to accompany them on their journey. And so begins a mentoring relationship between the two men that will last for the next 15 years or more. So great is this relationship, greater even than any other relationship Paul will have with many men, that Timothy appears in all but three of Paul’s letters. Galatians, Ephesians, and Titus. An interesting side note about that: Timothy was from Galatia and he was the pastor at Ephesus.

The rest of v 2 is a typical salutation – if there is such a thing. Paul has worked at refining his introduction through the years to reflect a high Christology. And, built upon that Christology is the authority given to Paul. It is typical in nature to other letters, but of course, reflects the change and growth in his faith. Listen to Gordon Knight:

This form of salutation reflects three factors: first, the teachings of the Christian faith have molded Paul’s adaptation of the standard form. Second, there is a great uniformity in this molding, especially in the grading section, which reflects a certain crystallization of his manner of expression of the essential Christian truths in these salutations. Third, there are certain variations that either reflect the recipients’ situation and need or anticipate and emphasize that which will be presented in the letter proper.

In all of his letters except the letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul refers to the recipients’ relationship to Christ (i.e.: to all the saints in Christ Jesus, as here – my true child in the faith, etc).

ill.: but here is where we can’t see the bond and what has forged it. As you read through acts you see Timothy right there with Silas and others, learning how to stand for Christ, learning that persecution will come. He is watching Paul as he suffers: in Philippi, in Thessalonica, in Berea as he watched Paul sail away alone – alone for his own safety; he is there in Corinth when the city erupted and wanted Paul’s head. Timothy was at Ephesus the first time Paul spoke there. He probably heard Paul’s promise to return if the Lord willed it. And the Lord did and Paul returned and stayed for two years. He watched as the people jumped up and down, screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” He watched as Paul begged to address the thousands of people who wanted him dead. Paul saw a crowd where he could preach Christ. I’m sure Timothy was one of the men who begged him not to do that. The crowd yelled for two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

We have a bunch of material from Acts where Timothy watched and learned from Paul. But what about the “so much more” that we don’t have. What was it like in those prison cells as they had time for some one-on-one discipleship? What was it like for Timothy to listen to this brilliant man who knew the Scriptures and how to apply them? What was it like to watch as the man went from reading the Scriptures to quoting them because his eyes were failing him? What was it like to hear the story of Paul’s conversion and calling – to hear him tell it – the story we read about in Acts Chapter 9 without the inflection, without the emotion of Paul’s voice?

app.: As a pastor, I’m in awe of this relationship. Paul loves the people of Ephesus. He detests false teachers coming and leading people astray. He trusts Timothy to serve those folks – to teach sound doctrine and protect them from the foolishness that others try to bring into a church.

t.s.: which brings us to this last section… it deals with what I touched on at the end of the 1st section… the purpose of these letters, and this one in particular.

  1. Purpose: charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine

exp.: rd v 3; Paul gets straight to the point. This is why I left you there in Ephesus. This is why I’m writing to you! Paul deals with false teaching repeated through his ministry. We see it in just about every letter. We’ll see it in this letter, so you’re going to see it again and again (1.3-11; 13-20; 4.1-7; 6.3-10; 20-21).

  • Myths (1.4; 4.7)
  • Genealogies (1.4)
  • A concern with the Jewish Law and its application (1.7)
  • Empty sounds and contradictions referred to as ‘knowledge’ (6.20)
  • Deception (4.1-3)
  • Immorality (1.19-20)
  • Financial Gain (6.5)
  • Harsh Asceticism (4.1-5) through denying the self what God has blessed us with; rd; 4.1-5

ill.: false teaching is alive and well in the church today. Consider the following for us:

  • For the first 1500 years of the Church’s existence – teaching came only through hearing the Word. Very few people could read it and very few people had access to it. The Word of God was spread through copies and often times, those copies were chained to the altar at the church. Regular people did not have their own copies. The only time they got God’s Word was through the preaching.
  • Along come Guttenberg and his printing press, making it possible to have a copy of God’s Word. So, for the next few hundred years, the word of God could only be spread reading it and the public preaching of it. As the Word of God became more and more prevalent, it was outlawed in certain countries. The Church didn’t want it in the hands of normal people because they might teach falsely. I think it was more about control.
  • The Advent of Radio and Recording makes it much easier to access the preaching part. But today, with the internet and TV, with its 557 channels and nothing on, you can hear multiple preachers in any given hour. False teaching can be pumped into your homes and into your head anytime you want to listen to anyone who tickles your ears.

app.: For me, it is a scary time.

  • Consider Mayor Pete Buttigieg: the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, IN. He’s the next big thing for liberals because he is gay and he is married to a man. And, he is a very nice young man. He’s intelligent and articulate. He went to Notre Dame, Harvard, and Oxford. Ok, so far not too very different from most liberals. But, here’s the thing: he spouts his faith and declares his Christianity unashamedly. And this is where I think Sound Doctrine is of great importance to us. Just look at our text, down in v 8-11. Now, there are some, probably more on the internet than here in this room, who would say it is wrong from me to ‘judge’ him and his faith. I think to some degree that would be true. But this is where we need to be very careful. Scripture is clear on this issue. He may be sincere, but he is sincerely wrong according to Scripture. What is scary for me is that there is a group of young, progressive Christians who are pushing and supporting his rise through the Democratic party.
  • Al Mohler recently shared an article which came out in the New York Times questioning the foundational doctrines of our faith: the Trinity, The Virgin birth, The Resurrection of Christ. I’m guessing it was Easter and all – and that’s the perfect time to attack Christians. Nicholas Kristoph interviewed a Seminary president: Serene Jones. She is the president of Union Theological Seminary. And the article basically boils down to throwing out the main tenets of our faith. Serene Jones doesn’t believe in a resurrection. She says the empty tomb illustrates that “the ultimate love in our lives cannot be crucified and killed.” She says there isn’t a resurrection in Mark – only an empty tomb. Kristoph challenges her, not really, but just so she can expand on her thoughts: But without a resurrection, aren’t we left with just the crucifixion? She answers: “Crucifixion is not something that God is orchestrating from upstairs. The pervasive idea of an abusive God-father who sends his own kid to the cross so God could forgive people is nuts. For me,” she said, “the cross is an enactment of our human hatred. But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering. Isn’t that reason for hope? Well, according to Paul – No! If all we have is the crucifixion, if Christ is not raised, then we are to be pitied above all men. If Christ is not raised, then we are hopeless and our faith is futile.
  • Joel Osteen is a motivational speaker who masquerades around as a preacher. I’ve chosen not to slam other preachers, but I don’t think Osteen lands in this category: a preacher. Joel Osteen’s teaching revolves around the self. There is no guilt and shame – those things don’t belong at his church. He will not talk about sin – that is so degrading. What he focuses on is making you feel better about yourself when you walk out those doors.
  • The following is from CBSNews.com this morning:

Rachel Held Evans, a popular, progressive Christian writer who challenged the traditional evangelical views, died Saturday, her husband confirmed in a blog post. She was 37.

Evans was hospitalized in April for what she described in a tweet as “a flu + UTI combo and a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics they gave me.” Her husband, Daniel Evans, had been updating on her blog about her health, writing that she had been placed in a medically-induced coma.

On Saturday, he wrote that she had been weaned from coma medication, but seizures had continued and severe swelling of her brain had been found, which he wrote caused severe damage that “ultimately was not survivable.”

“This entire experience is surreal,” Daniel Evans wrote. “I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story.”

Evans was the author of several books, including “Faith Unraveled,” “The Year of Biblical Womanhood,” “Searching for Sunday” and “Inspired.” She spent more than a decade writing about what she described as “faith, doubt, and life in the Bible Belt” on her blog. 

Her popular writing and views on Christianity often enraged traditional evangelicals. In 2015, The Washington Post called her the “most polarizing woman in evangelicalism.” She was an advocate for LGBT membership in the church, urged fellow pro-life Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton and wrestled with the role of the patriarchy in the church. She served on former President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 

She eventually left the evangelical church, writing in 2016 that “church universal is so much bigger than white American evangelicalism, and that’s going to become ever more apparent in the months and years to come.” 

I’m sad that this young woman died.

But the saddest part of her story is that so much of her ‘ministry’ was much like Hymenaeus and Philetus. She rejected the hard parts of the Bible and followed how she felt. Many have been led astray. She had a great point. I too have been sickened at the organized church; the power plays of individuals; the segregation that is most evident on Sunday mornings.

t.s.: So, how do we handle this? Well, a guilty man should feel guilty. Sin is what separates us from a holy God and we have to deal with our sin. Most people just don’t want to change. But God loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

Conclusion: We must act and respond like Paul, who is being very clear that Sound, Healthy Doctrine is vital. It is what should guide the church. It isn’t enough to just babble on and place your focus on things outside of Scripture, like how you feel. We must be clear about what is in Scripture. And that is the whole purpose behind 1 Timothy.

Application:

  1. The Charge: someone has to confront those who are teaching something other than sound doctrine. Someone has to cry out that the water has been poisoned. Don’t drink that water, but rather, come to the life-giving water. Here at Calvary, that is the elders’ responsibility.
  2. The Word of God is our Standard: It has to be the standard. Culture changes; laws change; emotions change; The Word of God is unchanging! For Timothy, he had the letter to the Ephesians, and he had this letter. This letter closes with a plural “you” – that is ‘the church’, so it appears that Paul had the intention for this letter to go to the church, too.
  3. The goal of this charge is love… v. 5; it isn’t to win arguments, but people. I’ll expound on this next week, but how can we say we love someone, but don’t love them enough to tell them the Truth.

As I think about Ms. Rachel Evans, I’m reminded that her passion was for those who were being rejected by the church. Something has got to change! But what must not change, is the Word of God on which we stand. What must change – is us. Love must drive us to understand God’s Word and use it as the standard for our faith.

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Romans 8.28

Title: Our Hope in Suffering

Text: Romans 8.28

Introduction: Joseph; all things seemed bad; actually, they didn’t just seem bad; they were bad; they were actually very bad; Consider:

  • His brothers hated him. Most of them wanted him dead.
  • They didn’t kill him, but they made his father think that he was dead.
  • They sold him into slavery. Human trafficking.
  • Purchased by Potiphar to serve in his household.
  • Falsely accused of rape – or attempted rape.
  • Thrown in prison and forgotten.

When Jacob had died, his brothers got scairt! They knew their deeds had been wrong. They feared for their lives. They said: rah-ro! Now that dad is gone, Joseph might want to repay us the evil we did to him. So they concocted a story – it might be true, but I’m not so sure it is. “Hey Joseph, Dad said that you should forgive us for the evil we did to you.”

But Joseph was very insightful and said: “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Here’s an interesting understanding of God’s activity and our activity. I don’t fully understand it all, but I see it here very clearly: God is at work accomplishing his will, his purpose, his plan. And somehow, he does that through our actions in life.

God took all of the bad things that happened to Joseph – which were the result of this brothers’ evil toward him – and worked it for the Good. God had intention in their actions.

That’s deep!

Joseph’s story is a great illustration of our text: And we know that, for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I love this verse (Romans 8.28). But I do worry that too many believers take a popular verse like this and apply it to their liking outside of its framed context. This is a real Danger for us. Not just for this verse, but for any verse, really… As we journey into this message and take a closer, deeper look at this verse, I want you to consider right now, that you’re seeing a caution sign. Caution: Don’t take this verse out of context. But maybe that isn’t strong enough. Maybe our sign should read Danger: Don’t take this verse of out of context.

Note: 2 parts – Sovereignty and the Free Will of Men & Context of Suffering

And speaking of context, the context for Romans 8 has not changed; the overall arching context of our passage is suffering. He hasn’t dwelt on suffering, but that is the context. The theme or the topic is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s activity in the life of a believer. Paul is writing about certain people and that really comes out in the next couple of verses. Note how many times it says: for those who or those whom. 6x’s! And just who are these those? It is those who love God, those who have been called according to his purpose. If you go back a verse, to 27, you see the Holy Spirit intercedes for these same people in accordance with God’s Will, in accordance with His purpose.

This presupposes a relationship. I would like to stop right there and save this discussion for next week. For now, I want you to know that there is a special relationship between God and his people. Now, even though we won’t discuss them until next week, we need to remember that “those” people are who this verse applies to.

 

Our verse is 8.28: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

This morning I simply want to look at this short phrase (all things work together for good) and talk to you about what we know because of whom we know. We are God’s and with that knowledge of him, we experience confidence. It comes back to the old adage: It’s not what you know, but whom you know!

It says in v.28 And we know (perceive; not experiential); in the original language of Gk there are these two different words for what we translate ‘know’. Other languages differentiate between these two understandings of this word. English, not so much. One word is γινώσκω and it is experiential knowledge. The other word is οἶδα and it means to perceive something.

Ill.: let’s say a boy is watching his dad hammer in a nail. The dad misses the nail and hits his thumb. The dad now knows by experience that when you hammer in a nail and miss the nail and hit your thumb, it hurts. That’s the word γινώσκω. The son, who is watching, he’s never hit his thumb with a nail. But, he’s watching closely and he sees his father’s reaction. He hears his father cry out. He sees his father recoil;  he grabs his thumb; he drops his hammer. The boy percieves his father’s pain. He knows (oida) that if you hit your thumb with a hammer it will hurt.

Paul writes: We know (we perceive) that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Because we know God, we can be confident that all things work together for good. But what if it doesn’t seem like it at the time? all things work together for good… Listen you can have confidence that just like Joseph, God is working his plan, just as he did for the people of Israel.

  1. πάντα: all things
  2. συνεργεῖ: work together
  3. εἰς ἀγαθόν: for good

How do you think we would live if we truly believed that God was sovereign? Some of you are getting scared! You’ve heard these verses and predestination, foreknowledge, election, and calling, those terms scare you. But don’t be. This is just a simple question: How would we live if we truly believed that God was in control of this world, even down to the bottom of our lives?

Would financial distress scare you? Would sickness, illness or even death scare you?

I read a story this week about some folks, some Moravian Christians, who were traveling on a ship sometime in the 1740s. They had gathered for worship on deck when a storm swirled up out of nowhere. The story goes that the storm wreaked havoc and many aboard the ship thought they would die. That is to say, many on board with the exception this small group of Christians who had gathered for worship. They just kept singing and worshipping. As the storm raged, they worshipped. One observer was amazed as he watched what he thought would be his last moments on earth, this band of believers singing without a care in the world.

As the storm subsided, these worshippers finished their time together. The young man who was observing them couldn’t help but stop and ask some who passed by him: Weren’t you scared? Weren’t you terrified during the storm? They calmly answered him: No. He pressed them: What about the women and the children? Weren’t they afraid? One of them stepped forward and said: No, our women and children are not afraid to die.

That astonished the Englishman and it stayed with him for days. He would later identify that moment as one crucial step in his becoming a Christian. By the way, the Englishman? John Wesley.

I often wonder at how my theology has affected my witness and how my witness has affected other non-believers observing my life and my struggle.

You see, I ask this question about God’s Sovereignty, but not as a preacher. I ask this question out of my personal experience. Most of you know my brother’s wife passed away from her struggle with cancer. But did you know that my biological mother passed away on Thursday? As I reflect on my life, I’ve got a bunch of questions that flood my mind. But not about God! And I don’t doubt or worry about what God has done and is doing.

Now, how is it that Christians can behave in a manner that doesn’t fit with their suffering? How is it that believers respond to suffering, death and what appears to be chaos in this world with total confidence? Like the Moravian believers on the ship? It is because … look at v 28… it is because we know that for those who love God … he works all things together for good.

We know… contrast this with what we saw in v 26; 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. We may not know what to pray, but what we do know is that God is at work, working all things together for good.

Let’s take a moment and look at these word pairs:

  1. πάντα: all things
  2. συνεργεῖ: work together
  3. εἰς ἀγαθόν: for good

Even when we don’t know a lot about what is going on in this life, we still know that God is working all things together for good…

These two words in English, all and things, are really one word in the Gk. ‘Things’ is added to complete a thought expressed in the Greek, but not really communicated in English. The idea is that God is taking the totality of your life and doing something special with it. Let that sink in for a moment.

Ill.: The idea is that God is taking the totality of your life and doing something special with it. Have you ever thought about that? The good, the bad, the ugly… all things. Those mistakes you made? God is using them, too. Those poor choices you’ve made – let’s just call it what it is: sin. When you sinned against God and rebelled against his desires and commands – well, God is using those situations and circumstances for his glory and he’s working it out for the good.

Do you see those 2nd set of words: working together

These two words in English, working and together, are also one word in the Gk. This Gk word is the word from which we get our English word: synergy. Syn (συν): with; and εργός: work.

Ill.: As you guys know, this past week I was in Arizona to be with my brother who lost his wife. My job was to be there for him. So, I did my best to be available when I was needed. During this time, two people made theological statements. Their intentions were to encourage the family. These remarks were in passing and I don’t think they meant any harm. But these two people, really nice people made statements about God that just are not true.

I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t my place and I know these people had good intentions. But this is what crossed my mind: Sound, healthy doctrine is important. I can’t tell you why bad things happen to good people and what God’s purposes are in all matters. I don’t know why some people get cancer and die and other people get cancer and live. I don’t why a tornado hits a neighborhood and one house is demolished and the other house is untouched. I don’t know why two people make the same bad decision and experience two different outcomes. But I do know that God is at work in your life. And I know enough to tell you not to tally up your points halfway through the game of life. All things not just some things, all things work together for good.

This is what we know as Christians: God is working all things togetherfor good…

All things: the good and the bad, the expected and the unexpected, the suffering and the rejoicing, in laughter and in pain – those experiences; God is working all things together for good.

When I was on sabbatical, I read a few leadership biographies and autobiographies. One man I enjoyed reading about was Harry Truman. What I didn’t know about him was his sense of humor. He tells the story of a man who was hit on the head and the people took him for dead. This tells you how old the story is! He was picked up by the undertaker and taken to the funeral home. He woke up in the middle of the night and sat up in his coffin. He looked around and said, “Good night! What’s going on? If I’m alive then why am I in a coffin. And if I’m dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom so bad!”

Don’t judge what God is doing in your life in just one moment of your life. Because if you try, the totality of it all will not make sense.

Friday I got a call that my biological mother passed away. I knew this day would one day come. I mentioned it to Lisa when we talked through some decisions I had to make years ago. Let me explain.

I was abandoned by my mother at a young age. I don’t know the whole story because I was just a baby. There are six of us kids who share the same mom and I think they would all agree with me that her decisions and the decisions of our fathers really messed us up.

Now, I’m an external processor and I’m not trying to process this in front of you. The pulpit isn’t a place to do that. And, I don’t want to go into all of the gory details that have created this man of dysfunction that you’ve come to know and love. But I want you to know a little, so what I say will make sense.

As a young man, my biological mother blamed me for her messed up life – like it was my fault she did this and did that. As with all of her children, each of us was made to feel like we somehow were the cause of her failures. I abandoned that line of thinking and made the conscious decision to not put myself in harm’s way ever again. So, I’ve not spoken to my mom in decades. That was my decision. And she made it easy because she never called me. The last time we spoke, I called her. She wrote me two letters in my life. Once when I 18 years old and once when I was 50. I saw her at my grandmother’s funeral, which was about that same time (the 1990s).

So I get this phone call Friday morning that she has died and I look at this wake of destruction in the life of so many people. I’ve heard that she was going to church regularly these past few years. I’m glad. I can’t say this morning that she was or wasn’t a believer because I don’t know. I’ll probably hear some good stories in the days and weeks to come.

I’m reminded of a funeral I did for a woman in my church in Worland. It was probably my first funeral there. Rowena was in her 90’s. I’d know her for a very short period of time, but I what I knew of her was that she loved the Lord. She prayed for me regularly. She was reading her Bible and studying her Sunday School Lesson when she died. At the funeral, I told of my experience with her and stories other church members shared. I told people how much Rowena loved me, loved the church and how much I was going to miss her.

But after the service, her daughter approached me and told me that she didn’t know that woman. The woman she knew was not a believer and had left a wake of destruction in her life.

As I reflect on that, I remember now hearing stories about my Nana from her younger years. She, too, had made many poor decisions and hurt many people. I imagine some of my dysfunction can be traced back to her decisions. But that isn’t the woman I knew. The woman I knew read the Bible with me every night I was with her. She would rise early and make me a hot breakfast – always, a hot breakfast. Cold Cereal was for Saturday mornings and late night snacks. After she fixed breakfast, she would enjoy a cup of coffee and read her Bible. That’s the woman I remember.

So what I say to you today isn’t just some mantra I repeat that gets me through the tough times. It isn’t just some cliché I throw out with no feeling. This statement is a fact of my life. All things work together for good, for those who love God, who’ve been called according to his purpose.

Let me offer some take-a-ways:

  1. All things: Consider Joseph’s life, what a mess! Some might consider that he brought some of his struggles upon himself! He shouldn’t have been so arrogant toward his brothers or his parents. Bad things happened, and no matter who is responsible for those struggles, those experiences all work together for good.

Some of you might be thinking that I just don’t know all of the bad stuff in your life. I don’t have to! We hide that stuff well, don’t we? Our dysfunction? Our Sin? Our rebellion?

  • Some kid might say to you, ‘Dad, you got mom pregnant and then married her.’ Who are you to lecture me?
  • Or Mom, you were living with dad and you weren’t even married.’ You have no right to…
  • Or, ‘I remember when you stole that stuff.’
  • You used to smoke. Or cuss, or… .fill in the blank.
  • Your life hasn’t always been a model example of what a Christian is.

Listen, that’s what Grace is for. Tell those who know you best: Yes, Yes, and Yes. I did do that. I was that man. I was that woman. But it isn’t the gory stuff I want you to focus, but rather the grace of God that forgave this pitiful, wretched person.

You may not see it. You may not even be able to comprehend it. But God is working all things!

  1. Working together: Unless you’re dead this morning, your story is still being written. And if you’re dead, please let one of the ushers know. They might just think you’re sleeping through my sermon. Listen, your story is still being written. Don’t write it off! Let God do his work in and through you.

If you’ve messed up, own up to it. Confess it. Let it be an example of God’s incredible, amazing Grace! And then, trust that God is going to use, not just that experience, but the totality of your life to work all things for the good. This moment might be a struggle, but it will pass. Trust that this is one chapter of God’s book about you for his glory.

  1. For good: even when it seems it is so bad. There will be tears. There will be pain. There will be sorrow. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Whatever you’re going through, hang in there. And then we come to these last words…

  1. For those: Who are the ‘those’ in this passage? Well, it is a topic I’d like to visit next week. But in short, it is those who love the Lord. Those whose lives have been committed to him.
  • If you’ve never done that, I want to give you the chance.
  • Maybe you just need prayer.
  • Maybe you feel the Lord’s calling on your life.
  • Maybe you’re interested in joining the church. We have a new member’s class scheduled for the 17th of May.

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Funeral, Purpose, Romans, Romans 8, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 8.12-17

Title: Adopted by the Spirit!

Text: Romans 8.12-17

Introduction: We are a peculiar people. That is, we Christians are a peculiar people.

Vernon McGee tells the story about the peculiar man who thought he wasn’t peculiar. A preacher was trying to describe this idea of peculiarity to another man who was insistent that he himself was not peculiar in any way. The pastor said that everyone is peculiar to some extent. Everyone. But the man demanded that the pastor was wrong about him – he was perfectly normal and had no peculiarities. The pastor said, “I can prove you are peculiar.” The man said, “Go ahead” as if to accept the challenge.

How do you stir your coffee…with your right hand or with your left hand? Without hesitation the man replied. “I stir my coffee with my right hand.” The pastor quickly responded: You see there, you are peculiar. Most people use a spoon.

Peculiar means: 1) strange or unusual; or 2) particular or special. When I say we’re a ‘Peculiar’ people, I mean special, we are particular; we’re special.

This is what Paul is communicating to us in Romans 8.12-17 – the passage that Henry read for us earlier.

Paul began in v 1 by declaring that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. How that has come about is because the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death. And he did that through Christ Jesus. In v5-8 Paul expanded on this freedom in the Spirit to the idea that living life in the Spirit gives the new believer focus: a focus he or she has never had before.

When the Holy Spirit comes to live in the believer, the Spirit brings Freedom and Focus. Then, Last week we looked at the first of a two-part sermon:

  • Alive by the Spirit! And today,
  • Adopted by the Spirit!

AIM: This second message really builds upon last week’s. First, we’ve been made alive by the Spirit of God. But, he doesn’t just quicken our spirits – he moves in and takes up residence. And then, to add to the beauty of it all, he adopts us, and makes us his Children. Paul will build upon this doctrine in chapter 9. Let me show you quickly. Turn over to the next chapter and look at v 22-23; So, don’t take any of this out of context. You need to understand the Romans 9 is all about the Sovereignty of God. It asks: who are we to question the way God does what he does to accomplish his purposes. It is all for his glory. He knows best how to glorify himself, even if we don’t get it. He doesn’t do what he does with our permission or even within the realm of our understanding. But this is what he does make clear: he quotes from Hosea 1.10 & 2.23. rd Rom 9.25-26; 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

So, Paul’s aim here is to declare that God is going to adopt his children and make them his own. How? How will God fulfill his promise to his people? And, how will it include those who aren’t even Jews? Answer: Adoption. When we become Christians, we become children of the living God!

Ok, now, let’s look at our text in Romans 8.12-17 (p. 888). In this passage, Paul says of those of us who are being filled with the Spirit of God…

  1. We are obligated to the Holy Spirit (12-13)
  2. We are sons of God, our Father (14-15).
  3. We’re heirs with Jesus (16-17).

So, let’s take these one at a time…

For those of us who are being filled with the Spirit of God…

I.     We are obligated to the Spirit.

exp.: You see that in v 12. Now, this sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? In v2, he said we have been set free. And here, it says we are debtors? Well, think about it for a moment. What it says in v 2 is that we’ve been set free from the law of sin and death. We’re no longer enslaved to sin and death. 2ndly, this word debtors means we’re obligated. Our obligation now lies with the Spirit of God, not our own sinful passions and desires of the flesh. We’re obligated to the Holy Spirit to live our lives now according to his purpose and plan.

ill.: Truth is, we’ve all tried it our way and we failed. That is usually what brings us to God. We live our lives in pursuit of our passions and we make so many mistakes. These poor decisions usually lead to pain and anguish. It is in this despair that we reach out to God.

exp.: he tells us how we fulfill this ‘obligation’ in v 13; you see, when we pursue the flesh, we live life the way we want and that destroys our lives. When we surrender our lives to Christ, his Holy Spirit comes and lives in us. Then, as we live out our lives in Christ, he begins to show us things that don’t fit into our new lives with him. We come under conviction for our actions and behaviors. As that happens, we must by the aid of the Holy Spirit… well, read v13… by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body.

ill.: I’m often reminded of my sweet friend who I told you about that went to the doctor routine check-up. She was asked how her treatments were going. She asked what treatments? The doctor said your treatments for cancer. She said, “I don’t have cancer.” The doctor said ‘oh, no’. You see, at that point, it was too late. Fourteen months of inaction left her cancer to spread. Of course, you know now that she has since gone to be with the Lord.

I wish that was the only story I’d ever heard like that. I heard a story recently of a man who heard that his PSA number was high, but he was told that it was nothing to worry about. By the next checkup, it was too late, cancer has spread to other significant parts of the body. He died a few months later. You hear stories about women, too. Its probably only a spot, I wouldn’t worry about it. The lady takes that to mean – don’t worry about it. She doesn’t follow up because she doesn’t think she’s supposed to worry about it. And that inactivity of the person leads to hyperactivity of cancer and soon… death follows.

App.: I’m here to tell you that you have a type of cancer called sin. You need to worry about it. You need to deal with it. It will kill you! Satan lies to you and tells you that your sin is small. It’s only a spot. Those numbers are small compared to others. But, listen dear friend: You cannot let it run unchecked in your spirit or it will destroy you.

A 2nd Word on death to the deeds: I’m reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 9, as we talk about putting to death the deeds of the flesh: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. When we become believers, it isn’t as if all of the troubles go away. In this life, you will find struggle, toil and difficulty. There may be suffering involved. That doesn’t just go away. It won’t go away this side of heaven – not as long as we live in these bodies. That is why we must make a conscientious decision every single day to die to ourselves. That is why Jesus said daily.

app.: Your spirit lives in this tent called a body. Inside this body you have thoughts. You talk to yourself. That’s why, when you become a Christian, two things take place. One is internal. The other is external. Romans 10.9-10 says, because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. You make that decision inside, but you manifest what’s inside of you through expression. Your life is always a manifestation of what’s inside you. And when you confess, “Jesus is Lord” with your mouth, it is an external expression of an internal experience.

t.s.: The Spirit takes over our lives, from the inside out. Then, when that happens, the next verse says we become sons and daughters of God. For those of us who are being filled with the Spirit of God…

II.    We are sons and daughters of God. 

exp.: rd v 14: 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. So, you confess your sin and invite Jesus into your heart. You see that – when we give our lives to Jesus and His Holy Spirit moves into our hearts and lives, God adopts us into His family. We become children of God. 1 Jn 3.1-3: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

So, you give your life to him and he purifies your life. Really, in two ways: 1. When you get saved. He washes you clean as freshly fallen snow. That covers every sin you ever committed and every sin you’ll ever commit. All washed away through his forgiveness. 2. As you walk with him. You’re now his child and he will guide you in his path of righteousness for his name’s sake. He shows you what he doesn’t like and as his child, you surrender those things, whatever they are, to him.

Rd v 15; 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” So now, as a child of God, because we’ve been adopted, we can call him ‘Abba, Father’; it is interesting that up until the time of Jesus, the Jews would never call God, “Father.” Even though he has referred to himself that way with them. God was too big. It seemed to irreverent. How could anyone approach the creator of the Universe and use such an intimate title? Abba is like saying, “Daddy”. Jennifer and Christopher call me Daddy. Still today. Stephen calls Lisa – Mama. Still.

I don’t know about you, but that is just Amazing to me. God, who created the Universe, who spoke the worlds into order, who is powerful and awesome and will judge the nations – this same God, loves me so much that he adopts me and then creates this intimate relationship with him where I can approach his throne and call him, Daddy!

ill.: there is a scene in Anna and the King where the king’s little girl has a problem. She runs away from the chaos of the classroom and runs to her father. He is on his throne and there are dozens of people surrounding him, all bowed down to the ground. But, the little girl isn’t fazed. She has a relationship with her dad that is so different than those people. She runs right up to him with her problem.

Show clip of Anna and the King daughter jumping into the lap of her father.

app.: If you’re a believer, if you’ve surrendered your life to Christ – that’s your new life! The Spirit-Filled Life now makes it possible for you to enter into the Throne Room of Heaven and sit on your Daddy’s lap and converse with him.

t.s.: Your Heavenly Father has made that possible! But there is so much more than just this moment in life that God has blessed us with…

For those of us who are being filled with the Spirit of God…

III.   We’re heirs with Jesus. You see that v 16-17.

exp.: rd v 16-17; heirs w/ Christ! That means we have the promise of heaven. I think Heaven is a wonderful promise – and I know someday that will be mine. I suppose for many, thinking of heaven gets them through the tough times of suffering on earth. Next week, we’ll talk more about suffering. I’ve got that on the radar for the next sermon pair:

  1. The Temporary State of Suffering
  2. The Permanent State of Hope

For now, I want you to think deeply about this gift of the Holy Spirit that allows you to access to God. It’s as simple as bowing your heart before him and lifting up your requests to him. And that is possible because:

  1. The Holy Spirit has moved into your life and has taken up residence. He has been leading you to follow him and you have been, daily, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, in order that you might walk closer to him.
  2. This presence of the Holy Spirit has made you a child of God. You’re his child – a child of the King and that grants you exclusive rights in the Kingdom of Heaven. You have his ear and his heart.
  3. We’re now, Co-heirs with Jesus
  4. This access that you now have is only needed for this moment. Because one day you will be in presence in such a way that you will see him face to face. And you’ll be change – for you will be like him.

And all of this is what I think makes us Peculiar. Special.

Application:

  • My guess is that there are some here who have never surrendered their hearts to God. You don’t have the kind of access I’ve been talking about because you’re not his. Let me offer you an opportunity to respond to this invitation. Come to Christ!
  • Maybe there is another decision on your heart and you’re ready to share that with someone. You’re ready for them to begin praying for you. Maybe you desire to join Calvary, roll up your sleeves and get involved in the ministry here.
  • I have a challenge for our members. It’s called Whose your 1? Here’s how it works: you pray for your someone, once a day, for one minute, at one o’clock.
    1. Pick someone. No more than one. Who is your one?
    2. Set your timer or alarm or notifications to alert you at 1 PM every day.
    3. When your alarm or alert goes off.. quietly intercede with all the gusto you can muster for that one person to get saved.
    4. And do so for one minute.

Some of you are like: I’m going to pray for 10 people for 10 minutes… Listen, this is hard enough. Don’t even pick two people. Just focus on one person to pray for every day at 1pm for one minute. And see if God doesn’t open up doors…

ill.: imagine with me for just a moment. What if Jesus came to you in this moment? What if he said to you: I’m going to answer every prayer request you’ve brought to me this past week. What would that be like? Would anyone get saved? What transformations for the Kingdom would take place?

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Romans 8.1-4

Sermon Series: The Spirit-Filled Life

Title: The Spirit of Life Brings Freedom!

Text: Romans 8.1-4

Big Idea: We no longer stand condemned, because have been set free by the Spirit of God.

 

Introduction: The Focus of Romans 8 is on the believer’s Spirit-filled life. For the next few months, as we push toward Easter, I would like to focus on this chapter. I will present a series of sermons in repeated ‘two parts’. Let me show you what I mean:

# Sermon Series: The Spirit-filled Life Text:
1. Introduction: No Condemnation Romans 8.1
2. The Spirit-filled Life brings Freedom! Romans 8.1-4
3. The Spirit-filled Life brings Focus! Romans 8.5-8
4. Alive by the Spirit! Romans 8.9-11
5. Adopted by the Spirit! Romans 8.12-17
6. The Temporary State of Suffering Romans 8.18-21
7. This Permanent State of Hope Romans 8.22-25
8. The Work of the Spirit in the Spirit-filled Life Romans 8.26-27
9. The Work of the Spirit Step by Step Romans 8.28-30
10. Who can stand against us? Romans 8.31-32
11. Case dismissed! Romans 8.33-36
12. Conclusion: Nothing Can Separate Us! Romans 8.37-39

There is the intro, which I brought to you a couple of weeks ago. You see #10 and #11 have a ‘trial’ feel to them. I’m still working on a title to go with those two messages. And of course, #12, is our Conclusion.

Romans 8 isn’t how on ‘how’ to be saved – that really is all presented in Romans 1-7, as we covered Introduction. Romans 8 is about your life in Christ Jesus. You’ll see it as the top and the tail to the chapter; rd 8.1-2; 39.

In chapters 1-7 we find the Gospel: God is Holy; Mankind is sinful; Our Sin separates us from God and brings about God’s Just Wrath toward us; In our helpless estate, Christ paid that penalty for us; That payment was totally sufficient to cover every sin of every person who ever lived; There is the Personal Response of the individual by faith in Christ; That individual is then immediately justified and continually being sanctified. And then we come to Romans 8: the Spirit-filled life of the believer. Romans 9-11 deal with The Freedom of Man and the Sovereignty of God. Romans 12-16 will be all about the practical side of the New Believer’s Life in Christ (i.e., loving your brother, serving each other, how we are to now perceive the governmental authorities over us, etc.). But Romans 8, this all about this Christian Life now lived out by the Spirit of God in Christ.

Let me show you the overwhelming emphasis on the Spirit in chapter 8: 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 26, 27 (Romans 7, starting in v 7 has an overwhelming emphasis on I, me, my!).

When you are saved you ask Jesus to come into your life, forgive you of your sin and to take up residence in your heart. Have you ever heard that before? There have been so many foolish debates about this: do you ask Jesus into your heart or do you ask God to live in you or do you ask for the Holy Spirit? The answer is basically yes. The Holy Spirit then comes and takes up residence there – in you.

The Holy Spirit has different terms or names here in chapter 8: Mostly, he is called The Spirit; rd v 9; The Spirit of God; The Spirit of Jesus;

Now, at this point, in my sermon preparation, I paused. You might have already hit the pause button yourself. All of this is – is theology. Teaching, Teaching, Teaching. Doctrine, Doctrine, Doctrine. You might find yourself drifting away… doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, snooze…

But this doctrine is so important. It is vital to the Christian Life. Here’s the way this text breaks down:

  • Declaration: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Why? Because… (NIV: Because, for; HCSB: Because, and then just explains in v 4) the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Answer: You’ve been set free! But then he answers another question that arises.
  • How? Because… For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. In other words, Obedience to the Law was not possible. Indeed, it is insufficient. He continues: By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. So, where the Law was lacking, Christ fulfilled that righteous requirement as set by God. And, so now will live differently. We live by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

That difference can sometimes look the same. What I mean is this: Some folks actually think that the Christian life is following rules and regulations. These same people, well-meaning as they are, say to the new believer, you can’t do this and you must do that. But what happens to the new believer is that they begin to feel pretty good about their ‘doing’. They’re acting like their mentor tells them to act. They’re behaving like their mentor tells them to behave. And so they begin to think that by ‘doing’ they’re demonstrating their salvation. The problem with this is that no one can live that out perfect. Failure comes eventually, and when it does, so do doubts about their salvation. They think, if I were saved I wouldn’t behave this way. Go back to chapter 7: the things I want to do, I don’t. The things I don’t want to do, I do. That’s legalism gone amuck.

Paul says, huh-uh. That’s not how it works. Legalism is a vicious cycle. Go back a few verses to 7.24 and read through. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. And then he makes this declaration:

Declaration: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Transition: Paul then explains the process…

Why is that? And how can it be? Let’s answer that first question: why?

Why? The Spirit of Life has set us free from the Law and from its curse of death (2)

exp.: V 1 is a declaration of Justification. Boom! Immediately, your sins are forgiven. But, v2 then explains why this happens. It happens because (rd v 2) …the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. This is the principle being taught: the law brings sin and death. But, the Spirit brings life.

Paul is giving us some facts about the Law here.

  1. The Law defines Sin for us. It communicates to us what it means to be sinners. Perfection is the outline. You can’t be perfect, so you sin. You and I would have no idea what sin is if the Law had never said: Thou Shalt not covet. And, once we learn what sin is, something interesting happens. And that is #2
  2. The Law produces sin in us. It communicates the boundaries and we automatically want to cross those boundaries. You hear “don’t covet” and you learn what it means to desire the things of other people. What do you do? You start wanting what other people have. Your neighbor gets a new truck and what do you want? A new truck! And more than that – you want his new truck!
  3. The Law brings death. It can never bring life. Here is the Law. One infraction against it and you’re done. The penalty for breaking this one time? Death. Therefore, the law brings death.

app.: Why? By accomplishing all three as it processes itself through the life of people. We learn what sin is and it produces in us this desire from which we cannot break free on our own. The Law then kills us; it destroys us. But then we come to Jesus. And for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation. We’ve been set free from the Law. The Law loses its power over us and we’ve been given new life in Christ.

t.s.: So here is the review: We come to Christ confessing our sin. Immediately, we’re justified. There is therefore now no condemnation. Why? Because God has given us his Spirit of Life, setting us free from the law of sin and death. But that brings up another question: How? How does all of this happen? How is it put into motion? And that’s our next question: How? The answer is in v.3; rd v 3; Answer:

How:

  • God did for us what the Law could never do. (3a)

exp.: The Law is perfect, but we can’t live out that perfection. And one infraction against the Law condemns us. The Law is holy, but it can’t make us holy because we can never live it out perfectly. Instead, it produces sin in us. The Law shows us, teaches us what holiness is and demonstrates for us our great failure and our great need. There is a recognition at this point that we can never ‘do’ the law in such a way as to save ourselves. Never. We are helpless and left to die because we justly deserve that punishment of death as required by the law because we are lawbreakers!

app.: And since we were helpless, God acted on our behalf.

t.s.: which brings us to more explaining in that answer:

  • God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. (3b)

exp.: rd 3b; God sent His Son in the flesh. There is more theology here, more doctrine. Two very important teachings for us! God sent his own son in the flesh. Here’s the principle: God’s Son equates to his perfection. Alistair Begg says it this way: Paul is safeguarding for us two important truths: His Divinity and His Humanity. His Divinity demonstrates for us his perfection and sinlessness and, his humanity demonstrates for us that he became flesh.

By sending his own Son (His Divinity) in the likeness of sinful flesh (His Humanity) and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,

  1. The Reality of Christ’s Humanity. Jesus is real. He isn’t a legend. He isn’t some fable. His story isn’t told to teach us how we should live – you know, be like him. He was loving. He was kind. Be like him! Yes, but that isn’t the point. The point is that God sent his son in Human form – taking on flesh and bone. And then, there is this 2nd Truth:
  2. The Fact of Christ’s Sinlessness. Jesus, by living a perfect life, became the only one who could do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Listen to 2 Corinthians 5.21: 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.

ill.: This is why we sang this morning:

Jesus Paid It All

I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small

Child of weakness watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

Lord now indeed I find, Thy pow’r and Thine alone

Can change the leper’s spots, And melt the heart of stone

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete

Jesus died my soul to save, My lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

Oh praise the One Who paid my debt

And raised this life up from the dead

exp.: the rest of that verse reads: he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. If you make your way back to Romans 3.21ff, you’ll find that God put Jesus forth as a propitiation for our sin.

app.: When I hear the word propitiation, I think of God’s Wrath. The Wrath of God was satisfied in the death of Christ on the Cross. Jesus was that righteous requirement of the law.

Conclusion: So, how does this apply in the world?

There is a recent story posted by FoxNews:

It reads:

A young Manhattan dietitian hanged herself in her West Village apartment after posting a suicide note online in which she apologized to her mom and said she “felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life,” police sources said Thursday.

San Francisco native Tara Condell, 27, was found dead with a cloth around her neck inside the bedroom of her home on West 10th Street around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday after police were called to the residence for a wellness check, sources said.

Worried co-workers called the cops after Condell did not show up for work at the Midtown office of Top Balance Nutrition on Wednesday — and saw that Condell posted the note to her website, according to sources.

One of Condell’s co-workers was waiting outside the woman’s home by the time cops arrived.

In addition to the note left on her website, Condell left another suicide note in a folder in her living room, sources said.

Condell — who, according to her website, is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in general nutrition, weight management, gastrointestinal disease and diabetes care — apologized to her mother at the end of the note posted to her site, saying, “I’m really sorry mama.”

The young woman began the note — which was titled, “I Hate The Word ‘Bye,’ But See You Later Maybe?” — writing, “I have written this note several times in my head for over a decade, and this one finally feels right. No edits, no overthinking. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment, and I am just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired.”

“I realize I am undeserving of thinking this way because I truly have a great life on paper. I’m fortunate to eat meals most only imagine. I often travel freely without restriction. I live alone in the second greatest American city (San Francisco, you’ll always have my heart). However, all these facets seem trivial to me,” Condell wrote.

She continued: “It’s the ultimate first world problem, I get it. I often felt detached while in a room full of my favorite people; I also felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life. No single conversation or situation has led me to make this decision, so at what point do you metaphorically pull the trigger?”

 

You see her picture there: A beautiful young woman who just missed this message. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment. Can I tell you that is true if you do all you can to find your happiness here on this earth? You will be disappointed.

But please, hear the message Paul is giving us. We’re sinful people. Our sin separates us from God. There is nothing on this earth that will satisfy the longing you have inside. Nothing. If you search this young woman’s blog posts, you’ll see she had an incredible life. She was gifted. Beautiful. Intelligent. She loved science. She had many friends. But she couldn’t find happiness here in what earth offers.

And neither will you. Hope can only be found in Christ. As our text here says, he alone can set you free. And if the Son sets you free, you are truly free indeed.

 

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’ll have a moment of silence and then someone will lead us in a closing prayer. If you’ve never given your life to Christ, won’t you do that this morning? Maybe there is another decision on your heart: church membership, surrendering to ministry. Whatever it might be, I’d love to visit with you about that. Maybe you’re visiting with us this morning. Please, come introduce yourself. I’d love to visit with you some. We’ll have coffee, donuts, and cookies back in the back. Let’s fellowship together for a while.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Romans, Romans 8, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

Romans 7.7-25

Title: The Christian’s Relationship to the Law

Text: Romans 7.7-25

CIT: The Law of God is a wonderful gift because it shows us the nature of God and God’s desire for our perfection. But, sin corrupts the Law, as it were, and leads us deeper and deeper into sin.

CIS: The Law brings knowledge and with that knowledge produces death.

 

Introduction: The president of the United States exited the Gilpatrick hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at about 8 pm. He was headed to make a speech. John Shrank held his Colt pistol up from about 4-5 feet away and shot the president in the upper right part of his chest. The bullet hit its target and blood began to flow, but Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t fazed.

The crowd jumped on the man and began beating him, yelling, “Kill him!” I suppose they would have beat him to death, but the president stopped it. President Roosevelt commanded the crowd to stop and asked the man to be brought to him. He wanted to see this would be assassin and ask him why he did it. The man only stood there. No response. “Oh, what’s the use,” said the president. “Turn him over to the police.”

The president coughed into his hand a few times and determined that since no blood was coming forth, he must not have been lung shot. Later, he would find out that he was wrong. His people ordered the president to the hospital, but Roosevelt overturned their decision. Nope. He had a speech to give and he wasn’t going to miss it.

Transition: Well, I’ve not been shot, but I feel just as strongly about what I have to say as I’m sure Roosevelt felt about what he had to say. I would imagine that my topic is even of greater importance.

 

Thesis Statment: Today we will look at the law and find that its impact on us is quite different than what we might expect.

Certainly, it is different than many Jews would expect. The Jews struggled with this thought. They asked:

  • If where sin abounds and grace abounds all the more, then should we sin all the more?
  • Are we to sin because we are not under law, but under grace?

Last week we saw how Chapter seven is a reflection of Chapter six. Chapter six was about The Christian and his relationship to sin. Chapter 7 is about The Christian and his relationship to the law. Last week we focused on the principle where Paul states in v 1, that we are to die to the law, just as we died to sin. He then gives the illustration of the marriage covenant and how the covenant is dissolved upon death and likewise, when we die to the law, we’re now free to enter into a new covenant with Christ.

Verse six says in that same way, we’ve been released from the Law because we’ve died to it and now are free to serve in a whole new way of the Spirit. Paul begins verse 7 with another question: What then shall we say? That the law is sin?

Now, to get an understanding of where Paul is headed this morning, I’d like to take you straight to the end of Paul’s discussion on the Law to show you his conclusion on the matter. We find it in v.22: For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So, just how does he get there? Let’s look at his testimony:

  1. Ignorance: If it weren’t for the Law, he would have remained ignorant about sin (rd 7a)
  2. Knowledge: The Law revealed to him that he was a sinner. (rd 7b-8)
  3. Condemnation: He died when sin came to life in him. (rd 9-11)
  4. Salvation: Only through Christ Jesus our Lord. (25)

That’s what I think is happening in chapter 7, Paul is giving us an autobiographal sketch of his life – his testimony if you will. So, what we’re seeing here is that Paul makes a declaration of the Law and each person’s legal standing in verses 1-6. He gives the Principle in v1 (rd v 1), the illustration of marriage in v. 2-3, and the application in v. 4-6. In the rest of the chapter, Paul will then outline the experience of the law in a person’s life from a personal perspective and the experience each believer has in relation to the law as they die to it.

Note the person pronouns in Chapter 7 (I, me, my). Show pic of the personal pronouns in my Bible.

I think the passage then moves from simply being Paul’s testimony, to a statement of all Christians. All of us are like Paul. We’re all sinful. We all struggle with the same things.

I’ve outlined my message this way:

  1. The Beauty of the Law
  2. The Ugliness of Sin
  3. The Hope we now have in Christ

Transition: Let’s look first at The Beauty of the Law found in 7-12

I.     The Beauty of the Law (7-12)

exp.: We just read these verses as we looked at Paul’s testimony. His conclusion is that the Law is good. See verse 12?

  • The Law brings knowledge (7a)
  • Knowledge brings Death (7b-11)
  • This reveals the beauty of the Law, that it is: (12)
    • Holy
    • Righteous
    • Good

app.: You should say to yourself as you read v 12: WHAT? That didn’t make sense at all. Paul is saying, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad… so it’s good. So naturally, another question is asked in v 13, the 4th in this section,

t.s.: Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?

II.    The Ugliness of Sin (13-20)

exp.: Are we to blame the law for what sin did? No! The blackness of sin is exposed within the Light of God’s Wonderful Law. The closer we get to God and his holiness, the more we see our sinfulness.

Ill.: I think that’s why we try to compare ourselves to others. We look so good when we compare ourselves to other people. We can always find people who are worse than us. But, when we compare ourselves to the Lord, that’s when we see ourselves for who we really are. Our sinfulness is exposed.

exp.: Here is how it works: Sin exploits the Law! The Law is holy, good, and righteous. But sin, it produces death through what is good. Don’t you just hate when something good gets distorted and turned into something ugly?

ill.: That is what sin does: it takes something good and perverts it.

  • You and I were made for relationships. You and I were designed for intimate relationships.
    • Prostitution
    • Pornography
    • Homosexuality
    • Facebook
    • Cohabitation
  • Medicine and Science
    • Drugs
    • Alcohol
    • The Physical World (Evolution vs. Creation)
  • Music
  • Books

Ill: Johannes Guttenberg, inventor of the printing press said: Religious truth is captive in a small number of little manuscripts which guard the common treasures, instead of expanding them. Let us break the seal which binds these holy things; let us give wings to truth that it may fly with the Word, no longer prepared at vast expense, but multitudes everlastingly by a machine which never wearies to every soul which enters life.

And he said: It is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams. Through it, God will spread His Word. A spring of truth shall flow from it: like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.

Sin has corrupted this precious gift to mankind, just as sin does to every wonderful gift God gives.

app.: Sin is an ugly distorter. In the end, it brings death.

exp.: let’s keep reading. Rd 14; Paul is teaching us something very important here (about himself and every believer), that we have two parts to our person.

  1. The Fallen Nature (the flesh)
  2. The Divine Nature (the Spirit)

Note these two as we continue reading; rd v through v20;

So, here is this tension, Paul wants to do good, but struggles with doing what he doesn’t want to do. I think we’ve all been there. Paul is describing these two natures that live in each believer and are at war with one another: Galatians 5.17: 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

  1. The Fallen Nature (or the flesh):
  2. The Divine Nature: 2 Peter 1.4: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

And this is exactly what he finds in v 21ff; rd 21; he finds these two natures at work in himself.

t.s.: So, the Law is beautiful, but sin perverts and corrupts it in such a way that I find myself drawn to doing the things I don’t want to do. Is there any hope for me? For you? Yes, You and I have our hope in Christ.

III.   The Hope we have in Christ Jesus (22-25)

exp.: rd 22-25a; Christ is our only hope; We must abide in him. This is what he taught us – to abide in him. And if we abide in him and his words abide in us, then, we would produce fruit. For apart from him, we cannot bear fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Transition: Have you ever noticed that some things are meant to be used in a certain way, but they don’t get used that way? Some how, some way, the very thing that is meant to do something or bring about some cause, or result, or action, actually gets used in a totally different manner and brings about a totally different reality.

Take Roosevelt’s speech for example. I’m sure he never intended his speech to serve as a ‘bullet-proof’ vest. I’m sure he had no idea that by NOT cutting his speech, the thickness of the papers would help save his life.

Conclusion: President Theodore Roosevelt stepped up to the podium and asked the crowd to be especially quiet that evening. The crowd grew quiet and then Roosevelt dropped the bomb. “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have been shot.” He then unbuttoned his coat to show a blood soaked shirt.

President Roosevelt’s speech lasted 90 minutes. He stood there and gave his speech the whole time.

It was determined later that what saved his life was his speech. I don’t mean that he made the speech, but rather the pages on which his speech was written. It was a thick wade of paper which he had folded up and placed inside his right coat pocket. Added to that, was the thickness of his overcoat and the metal eyeglass case in the same pocket. The bullet did make it through all of that and enter his chest. The followed up the fourth rib that leads to the heart. The Bullet did pierce his lung. But Theodore Roosevelt, ever the man’s man, didn’t let a little thing like a gun-shot wound to the chest slow him down.

After the speech, President Roosevelt went to the hospital. The doctors determined that it would be too risky to remove the bullet. And so, the president lived with the bullet in his chest for the rest of his life.

The Law is like that, in a manner of speaking. You might think that obeying the Law perfectly will get you into heaven, but the Law was never intended to be perfectly obeyed. The purpose of the law is to show you your sinfulness and your need for a Savior. Some people use it in a way that it was never intended, hoping that it will save them. But the Law can’t save you – it can only show you that you need to be saved.

Application: Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

  1. Maybe you are at that place this morning. Just maybe you’re sitting there realizing that you are a sinner and all of your work at being good has never really been successful. Maybe, just maybe, you realize you need the forgiveness of your sin which comes only through Christ. Would you trust him this morning as your Savior, to come into your life and wash away your sin? This is the Gospel story, the good news:
    1. You and I are sinners. We become aware of this through the law.
    2. God is holy and our sin separates us from him.
    3. The only way to have a relationship with Him is to have our sin removed. But we can’t do that on our own. No amount of obeying the law can ever satisfy the debt we owe for our sin.
    4. So, because we were helpless and in an incredible state of need, God sent his perfect and holy Son Jesus to die for our sin. And, by placing our trust in him, he washes away our sin and makes us holy and righteous – which now makes it possible for us to have this relationship with him.

Would you trust Christ today?

  1. Maybe there is another decision on your heart? Maybe you feel called of God to share this good news with the world as a missionary, a pastor, or an evangelist. Maybe God is calling you to church membership here at Calvary? Maybe you’re just interested in learning more about these things.

I’d like to close with a song and then a prayer. After that, we’ll be dismissed to a time of fellowship with coffee and cookies and doughnuts. I want to give you a chance to respond to whatever decision God is placing on your heart. Come and visit with me in the back and let’s talk it…

Song: Show yourselves to be…

Are you showing yourselves to be following him? Let’s pray…

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Filed under Evangelism, Romans, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 6.1-14

Title: Live Like You’re Dying!

Text: Romans 6.1-11

Introduction: We began a new section of Romans last Sunday. Romans 6-8.

In case you’ve missed it before, here is a rough Outline –

  • Romans 1-2: Sin
  • Romans 3-5: Salvation
  • Romans 6-8: Sanctification (basically answering the question: How do we now live?)

Paul ends chapter 5 with sin being so great and bringing so great a death, but God’s Grace is even greater and superabounds to cover sin. That final section starts with Adam’s trespass (5.15, 16, 17, 18, 20), his one sin and explodes onto humanity bringing death to all. But, the grace of God through his Son, Jesus super-abounds to an even greater degree, covering that sin and bringing life where sin once brought death.

Now, someone in Paul’s past must have argued or debated with him and asked the following question: rd 6.1; What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

Paul was teaching what the church had already decided some years before as more and more Gentiles were being saved. The problem had been that Gentiles weren’t becoming Jews first. The early church decided that Gentiles didn’t have to convert to Judaism to become Christians. I referred you to Acts 15 and Leviticus 17-18 (19) for a personal Bible study.

But not all Jews felt that way. They were teaching that you must follow the Law. And, that is probably where this question popped up originally. You can imagine a debate. Paul declares the teaching of Acts 15 and someone begins to debate with him. Saved by faith are we now? Where sin increased, grace increased all the more then? So, Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound all the more?

I feel like I should stop for a moment and address something I said that I hope hasn’t confused some. This is what I said last week:

We probably think this is absurd, but that’s because we’ve been studying this for … well, our whole lives. But in that 1st century, when Jews would confront Paul about this new life in Christ, they were thinking of the law. The Law was everything to them. Paul was teaching what the church had already decided some years before as more and more Gentiles were being saved: we don’t have to follow the law anymore – we’ve been set free from those burdens. The church said, there are four areas of concern from the Law that Gentiles who have become Christians should follow.

I want to clarify: I’m not saying we throw out the OT! I’m not saying those promises are null and void. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to obey the Law to get saved. Salvation only comes through Jesus. What I’m saying is that we’ve been set free from the burden of the Law to live out the law as believers in Christ.

I said: we don’t have to follow the law anymore. We don’t have to… but, in a very real sense we do.

This was in our Bible Study lesson during the Bible Study hour last week. In Galatians 5 we read: 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Note: these are actions which are unlawful! The fruit of the Spirit, though, is different. This fruit isn’t an action or actions, but rather who you are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no … ? Law.

So, it isn’t that we’re bound by the law anymore. We’ve been set free from those burdens to live a life of faith in Christ. I encourage you to study Leviticus 17-18 (19) and compare it with Acts 15. For the whole context study Acts 8-15.

Back to the message: Paul has been asked a question – probably from a Jewish Christian who has debated him and believes the Law should be obeyed. And I get it. Let me show how Paul develops his answer in Chapter 6:

  • Paul answers with 4 questions:
    • two in v 2-3 and
    • two more in v 15-16;
  • After these questions, which are really answers, he expounds to clarify for us what he means.

A basic overview serves as a guide through our first section:

If you skip to the end, you gain tremendous perspective of where Paul is headed. Let me show you what I mean:

  • He asks the question in v1: Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
  • He gives his answer in v 22: 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. The end is eternal life – the process is Hence, the 3rd part of our outline in Romans: Sin, Salvation, Sanctification.

So you have your answer: No, you don’t go on sinning, because God is sanctifying you, preparing you for eternal life. Now, how did Paul get there? We looked at the first part last week in v. 1-11…

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (1-3)

exp.: Should we then sin all the more that Grace may abound all the more? No; His answer is straight forward and to the point: μὴ γένοιτο; Lit.: not become; May it never become; Or May it never be.

Paul presents two questions to refute this line of thinking:

  • First, he asks: How can we who died to sin still live in it? Implying that we can’t. He will expound on this in a moment. For now he continues with his 2nd question,
  • Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

t.s.: I’d like to chase another rabbit for a moment, if I may. This passage is often quoted during baptismal celebrations. Let me ask this 2nd question:

Is this passage about the ordinance of baptism?

exp.: No, I don’t think this is about the ordinance of baptism, per se? Baptism is mentioned here. You can learn about baptism here. But the context isn’t about Baptism, but rather about the new life in Christ.

2ndly, and more important, Paul is not saying that the act of baptism completes this process of salvation. There are some Christians who believe that it does. Typically, and historically, Baptists understand the act of baptism is symbolic. It’s a physical picture of what has happened spiritually. I have a phrase I’ve coined: It is an external expression of an internal experience.

The word Baptize (βαπτίζω) means to immerse.

You ask, well then, why didn’t the guys who translated the Bible originally translate it that way?

Good question: let me give you a bit of history that I was taught when I was younger.

ill.: When King James ordered the Bible to be translated into the King’s English back on 1609, the translators had some problems. Not every word in one language translated over into the new language. Take names for example. David means “Beloved” or “Uncle”. It would be weird if they translated David “Beloved” every time his name popped up (Or, Vis versa). So, instead of translating the name, they transliterated it. There were other words that caused them problems and so they transliterated those words, too. Like places, cities, and areas. There are things that exist in one language and not in another. So, the translators transliterated.

Transliteration is the process of taking a letter in one language and putting down a corresponding letter in the other language. I’ll show you what I mean…

βαπτίζω = Baptize

This word wouldn’t offend anyone. That’s the word for what we do!

app.: So, with all of that being said: I don’t think we’re talking so much about the act of being immersed in water as we are about being immersed into Christ and spiritually experiencing a death, burial, resurrection and new way of life.

You see, those are the four components or parts used by Paul in this passage to describe what Christ has done and to describe our new life in Christ. We looked at them last week, so just let me mention them.

We’ll only take a moment to look at v 4, because v 4 has all 4 components:

  1. Death
  2. Burial
  3. Resurrection
  4. New Life

We were buried2 therefore with him by baptism into death1, in order that, just as Christ was raised3 from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life4.

This is his answer and he comes back to it in his final statement on this issue down in v 11: 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Transition: This is your new life in Christ. Now, Paul gives us 4 imperatives to obey and live out in order that we might do just that – walk in this new life in Christ. I present it this morning by asking a third question:

What we must do! (12-14)

exp.: v 11 is the answer: consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God. Verse 12 is the practical application. You’ll note he says therefore in v 12. Because of all this – and then we find three imperatives representing four commands. Paul leaves us with: 2 don’ts and two do’s. # 1 rd v 12;

  1. Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
  2. Don’t present your members to sin as instruments (weapons) for unrighteousness.

You’re probably getting the idea that putting this sin to death thing isn’t going to be easy. Do you mean to tell me that sin is going to try and make me obey its passions? Are you trying to tell me that I’m going to struggle with letting sin dominate my life as an instrument (weapon) of unrighteousness?

Yeah. That is what Paul is telling us. Sanctification doesn’t come easy. It takes work. How?

We’ve mentioned them already: 1st, do what v 11 said, die to sin. 2nd, give it a good burial.

Ill.: have you ever heard of people being buried with their belongings? This week I read of one man who had his dead dog buried with him. One man asked to be buried in his recliner and a checkerboard in his lap – Oh, and the key to the Mausoleum just in case his undertaker was mistaken. That was back in 1899.

App.: That is that attitude we have to have. You can’t say you want to die to your sin and keep things around you that help you commit that sin. You’ve got to put it to rest! Let me give you some helps here:

  1. Spend some time in God’s Word everyday. And then spend some time praying.
  2. Get an accountability partner. Someone who can ask you the hard questions. Now, this person is only as good as you let them be. If you lie to them, then they’re no good to you. Plug: Men’s Ministry on Saturday.
  3. Set up boundaries.
    1. Don’t be alone with another person of the opposite sex without others being there, too. Don’t go to lunch with, don’t travel with, don’t spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex. Period.
    2. But up boundaries on your TV viewing, your browser on your computer, your phone, etc. Have your wife set up your TV with a code and not let you know what it is.
    3. Give your passwords to your wife/husband.

Paul gives us some practical steps in his third imperative in two more commands:

  1. Do present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.
  2. Do present your members (that means every part of who you are, every part of your mortal body) to God as instruments (weapons) for righteousness.

app.: These last two are one in the same action. These commands tell us how we must consider ourselves now that we’re no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to Christ.

t.s.:

Conclusion: Did you notice I changed the title of my sermon? Take a pen and mark out the word not.

Tim McGraw had a hit with Live Like You Were Dyin’. If you know the song, you know the idea for the song is about a friend who found out he had cancer and was dying. When he found out he was dying, he really started living.

I’d say take that advice: Live like you’re dying to yourself every single day. Put the old self down, bury ‘im, so that he doesn’t have his way. And then, resurrect the new self and live like you’ve died to yourself. As Paul said: Consider yourselves dead to sin. Consider yourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? No. That part of me has died. I now live a new life.

Invitation: if you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ, I’d like to present you a chance to do so. In a moment, we’re going to meet in the back for a time of fellowship over coffee and cookies and doughnuts. If you’d like to find the forgiveness of your sins and begin this new walk in life I’ve been talking about, come and see me. Or visit with one of the elders. We’d love to share with you how you can do that.

Or maybe there is another decision on your heart. You are feeling a call to ministry and mission; you are wanting to join the church; we’d like to visit with you about that.

Let’s have a moment of silence to reflect upon these decisions and pray.

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Filed under Evangelism, Romans, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel