Category Archives: Scripture

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.

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Timothy, Evangelism, Scripture, Sermon

1 Timothy 1.18-20

Title: The Charge Reiterated

Text: 1 Timothy 1.18-20

CIT: Paul reiterates his reason for Timothy’s presence in Ephesus to charge certain men not to teach unsound doctrine which means, they should not teach any doctrine that does not align with the Apostolic Faith.

CIS: That same Apostolic Faith has been handed down to you. This generation of believers is entrusted with this precious gift and the responsibility to pass it on to others and protect its purity and from corruption.

 

Intro: David Allen, a Guest columnist for the Southern Baptist Texan, tells the story of an ultra-marathon that took place in 1983, in the land down under, in Australia. 150 world-class runners converged on Sydney for this 543.7-mile race to Melbourne. At the time, it was the world’s longest and toughest ultra-marathon. On the day of the race, a toothless 61-year-old potato farmer and sheepherder named Cliff Young approached the registration table wearing overalls and galoshes over his work boots. At first, the people there thought he was a simple bystander–someone who was interested in what was going on. They were shocked when Cliff meandered over to the registration table and wanted to sign up for the race.

What these people didn’t know was that Cliff had grown-up on the farm without the benefit of such luxuries has horses and tractors and 4-wheel drive vehicles. For his entire life, Cliff had run around the hillside rounding up sheep or cattle on their 2000-acre farm. There were times when Cliff would spend 2 to 3 days running around the hillside, rounding up his animals.

The staff, of course, wasn’t so sure that he was serious about entering this race. He wasn’t dressed like the others. He was decades older than the others. However, after much convincing that he was serious, the race staff issued him a bib with the #64 on it. When the gun went off all of the runners took off in a sprint. All, that is, except for Cliff. Can you imagine the scene: athletes with sculptured bodies, Taped up, Vaseline in all the right places, water bottles and food snacks tucked away in their backpacks; running shorts and shirts with athletic company logos on them, Nike running shoes, a shot is fired and all of these professional athletes take off like they’re in race. But, slowly at the back of the pack, Cliff begins to shuffle along. Remember, he’s wearing his raincoat and galoshes over his boots. There were those who thought it was wrong to let Cliff in the race. Someone should stop that crazy old man before he hurts himself.

But, five days, 15 hours and four minutes later, Cliff Young came shuffling across the finish line in Melbourne, winning the ultra-marathon! The nearest runner was some nine hours and 56 minutes behind him. Australians were riveted to the TV as they watched reports of the race unfold. How could someone like Cliff beat all of those well-trained athletes? Everyone knew that the race would take 6 1/2 days, with the runners running some 18 hours each day and sleeping 6 hours at night. But Cliff didn’t know that. Everyone was asleep when he ran by the camping area. He just ran day and night and night and day until he finished. He beat the previous record by 9 hours.

Transition: It sounds kind of like the tortoise and the rabbit. While the others slept, he would pass them up. I’m sure they thought that he was so old, that he couldn’t compete and wouldn’t even complete the race. I’m sure they all thought that he was so slow that they just couldn’t lose. But, but to everyone’s amazement, old, slow and steady won the race.

Paul uses words like these to describe the Christian life. Clay read those verses for us earlier this morning: Runner, Athlete, Fighter. We see that last word in our text today: rd 1 Tim 1.18-20;

This ends the opening section of Paul’s letter to Timothy. You’ll note in the very next verse Paul begins to outline for Timothy the way this looks in the church: Prayer, Roles and Responsibilities, Leadership (the two offices of the church); In Chapter 4 Paul comes back to the issue of doctrine and purity for those who are in leadership. In Chapter 5, Paul outlines care for church membership and the way we act toward each other. Paul closes out his letter in Chapter 6, returning to this topic of Timothy’s responsibility as pastor there at Ephesus. Today we close out this introduction with a return to the charge:

The Charge Reiterated was two-fold:

  1. Confront false teaching: (18-19a)
  2. Confront false teachers: (19b-20)

Let’s take these one at a time:

  1. Confront false teaching: (18-19a); well, how? Paul gives Timothy some great, even inspiring instruction. Note first:
    1. Fight Well: rd v 18; the term is soldier (a noun) and the 2nd term is what the soldier does (verb). A plumber plumbs. A Policeman, polices. A soldier… fights. We don’t usually think of church work in terms of fighting. But in a very real sense, it is. But here’s our problem: We often forget who we’re fighting against! Our fight isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual realm. That’s probably Satan’s greatest advantage over us. We see this and we think “Yeah” and we fight each other. Wrong! This is a spiritual battle and it requires us to be strategic or methodical in our warfare. 2nd, he says,
    2. Use your gifts: rd 18a; what does he mean here – in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you? The key is the wording that follows, that by them you may wage the good warfare… Lit.: in order that you might soldier in them the good battle. Or, … in order that you might soldier in them the good campaign or war. But, when you put the whole phrase together, don’t forget the ‘by them’ or ‘in them’ prepositional phrase. He writes: 18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that you may fight in them (i.e.: your spiritual gifts, the prophecies) the good fight.
      1. 2 Tim 1.6 Paul mentions that these gifts came to Timothy when Paul and other men laid their hands on Timothy and prayed over him.
      2. There is another way, too. These gifts are affirmed by the people who love Timothy. Paul mentions Lois and Eunice. He mentions in Acts 16, the citizens of Iconium and Lystra, as speaking well of Timothy. They had observed his life and affirmed his gifts. Fight Well, and use your gifts. And 3rd,
    3. Live out what you believe: Paul mentions this 3rd way we see Timothy is to confront this false teaching, by living out his faith. Rd v 19a; holding faith and a good conscience.
      1. Holding faith is lit.: having faith, meaning it is something you possess. What is implied here is that this faith is The Faith. The Apostolic Faith, as has been passed down from Paul to Timothy. You don’t see the definite article here, but it is used earlier – and according to the rules of grammar in the Gk language, the article is to be applied Cliff Youngagain, here, even though it isn’t written. If I recall, it is called anarthrous. But I could be wrong on that. Here’s the point. He’s talking about the apostolic faith.

Ill. Now, this is deep. I mean really deep. Consider that Paul was entrusted with this Faith. He passed it on to Timothy. Timothy will be encouraged to pass it on to other faithful men. That was God’s plan all along. That’s it. This faith, if it is to live on, has to be passed on to others. AND, added to this, it must be preserved in its purity. That’s your job – and that’s my job. Two P’s: Pass it on AND Keep it Pure.

This isn’t some recipe passed down from generation to generation that you might change up a bit for taste. This must be kept pure and undefiled. Those are the rules.

Holding faith and next,

  1. a clear (good) conscience – do you know how to have a clear conscience? It’s how you live. It is when you know what to do and you do it. Simply put: it is living out your faith in the day-to-day context of relationships. (19a) husbands to wives, wives to husbands; children to parents and parents to children; friend to friend and neighbor to neighbor; boss to employee and employee to boss; worker to customer and customer to worker; and on and on it goes.

App.: Timothy, confront false teaching head-on. Fight the good fight, use your gifts well as you live out what you believe.

Transition: Paul does something absolutely mind-boggling for us at this point. He names names! Are you kidding me! rd v 19b-20, He’s naming names and pointing fingers!

 

  1. Confront false teachers: (19b-20)
    1. Who have rejected this (the faith and a clear conscience) (19b); instead, they’ve swerved (v6) off course and are teaching the opposite of v9-16.
    2. Who are specifically named: Hymenaeus and Alexander; Do we have to do this? I think yes, we do. We must call false teachers out. And this can be so hard. Why? Because some of you like those false teachers. Men and Women. Here’s the problem: we all like to hear inspirational, feel-good teaching. I do. But, what if it is false? Those teachers need to be called out – by name. Let me say that my goal isn’t to begin naming false teachers by name this morning. That would take too long! But, the context is about confronting false teachers in the church. And that isn’t just my calling – but it is yours, too. (20)
    3. Who have been excommunicated (20); handed over to Satan. Someone asked me what this means. I said, “I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound good.” I think this means those men were put out of the church. Some people don’t like that. They feel like it is judging. Well, it is. We’re commanded to judge people in the church. It is non-believers, people outside of the church we’re not supposed to judge. That’s probably what hurts us so bad in the eyes of the world. We’re judgmental of lost people and don’t say anything about the evil that lurks within!

Ill.: I’m grateful for the men in my life who loved me enough to help me as a young preacher and teacher; to correct my faults with love and care.

The Charge: Timothy, confront false teaching head-on. Fight the good fight, use your gifts well as you live out what you believe. When you hear it and see it, call it out – name names! Call ‘em out and put ‘em out of the church.

 

Application:

  1. You’ve been entrusted
  2. You’ve been equipped
    1. w/ the prophecies (Scripture)
    2. w/ the faith (i.e., the Apostolic Faith)
    3. w/ responsibility to live out that faith before others
    4. w/ responsibility to speak it.
  3. You have some negative examples

Conclusion: Story of Cliff Young? He won the race because he simply did what he had always been doing. He’s gone now. He passed away 20 years later, in 2003 at the age of 81. He won $10,000 for coming in first place. He divided up the money and gave the first 5 runners, who came in after him, $2,000 each. He didn’t do it for the money. When asked why he ran, he simply replied. I always wanted to run in a race and this one fit my calendar. The race organizers asked him to run again. But he said, “No. I don’t think so.” When asked of his secret, he said: “don’t stop.”

What about you? Do you find your walk with Christ a struggle, because it isn’t something you live and breathe every day? Don’t wait for the gun to go off to get started preparing. Let the Christian life be your normal MO. And then, when called to ‘fight the good fight’ or to ‘run the race’ it’ll be something you already do normally…

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Christian Living, Scripture, Sermon

1 Timothy 1.12-17

Title: Jesus Came to Save Sinners

Text: 1 Timothy 1.12-17

 

Introduction: One of the things I miss about having church on Sunday night is that it is so relaxed. The music, the conversation… really everything. I miss people sharing Scripture and the specials from children and others who might not normally sing on a Sunday morning. But what I miss most is the testimony time. Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, testimonies were more about the person rough life than about the grace and mercy of Christ. But that is more the exception than the rule. I tell you, I worship when I hear a powerful testimony to the grace and mercy of God. I really do. Something in my spirit is moved.

As we’ve made our way through 1 Timothy we’ve seen Paul charge Timothy with the task of confronting teachers who present unsound, unhealthy doctrine. But now Paul takes a break to insert this… almost parenthetical statement about the joy and privilege of serving Christ and this statement culminates in a glorious doxology.

Transition: But get this, that even in Paul’s Testimony, the story isn’t about him. It is about Christ. This is what Paul wants you to see – He wants you to see Christ. First, he wants you to see:

I.     The Mercy of Christ (12-13):

exp.: rd v 12; Paul expresses his Gratitude toward Christ for his incredible mercy in appointing Paul into Christian Service: Look at how Paul points to Christ…The Mercy of Christ is evident in the following actions:

  • Christ has strengthened him (lit.; empowered me): rd v 12; Timothy, you’ve been called to this work and this is my experience in the work: Christ has empowered me to do this ministry which he has called me to do.

app.: I know I usually give my applications at the end, but can I just stop right here and say, wow! What an incredible application for us. Christ will give you what you need to accomplish the mission he tasks you with! Provision is such an important lesson to learn.

ill.: Phil 4.10-13; context – the context is God’s provision for Paul; that also means strength to enure when it seems you have nothing;

  • Christ has judged him faithful (lit.: considered or thought me faithful; NASB)
  • Christ has appointed him to this ministry; this echoes v 1; an apostle; commissioned; And this is where we see the mercy of Christ; appointed to this ministry, this service (διακονίαν) in spite of the fact that…
    • All of this in spite of the fact that he, himself felt that he was so undeserving of Christ’s mercy. Rd v 13; He says: I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent
    • The Reason: He had acted ignorantly and in unbelief

ill.: we saw that in the passage John read for us earlier; there at the stoning of Stephen, giving approval Acts 7.54-8.3;

app.: Mercy is such a beautiful word – mercy displayed through equipping Paul and empowering him to do this blessed ministry.

t.s.: So first, Paul wants us to see the Mercy of Christ in his life – in spite of who Paul was and how he had acted as a non-believer. Secondly, Paul wants us to see

II.    The Grace of Christ (14-16):

exp.: Paul’s displays his Attitude toward the Gospel because of the grace of Christ toward him: (Christ’s Amazing Grace toward Paul);

exp.: rd v 14a; overflowed like, in superabundance; According to Gordan Knight, this grace, which overflows in superabundance, not only forgives and strengthens, but it moves one into a sphere of faith and love – and better, it keeps one in that sphere. But listen, to Calvin on this…

faith and love may be referring to God… I opt for a more straightforward exposition. Faith and love bear witness to God’s grace that has just been referred to, so nobody will conclude that Paul is boasting for no good reason. Faith is contrasted with Paul’s unbelief (v13); Love in Christ is contrasted with the cruel persecution Paul had handed out to believers. It is as if he was now saying that God had transformed him and he was now a new person.

That’s pretty deep if you ponder on it for a bit. Christ, in all of his mercy and grace, gives the believer the faith and love he or she now needs to live this Christian life. I think this matches what Paul teaches to the Romans in Romans 5.

And to add strength to this, Paul now seems to quote a popular saying: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Ill.: Philip Ryken tells of how modern-day worship leaders have taken to changing words in hymns to make them more palatable. One example he gives is: Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved and strengthens me. Which, sounds harmless at first. But, the point Ryken makes is that people don’t want to be considered wretches. They’re basically saying God’s amazing grace reaches to them, but that they’re pretty good people – not wretches. And then Ryken goes on to quote Brian Ragan: Grace is amazing because it saves wretches, not because it puts a final polish on nice people.

What we need to do is see ourselves as Paul sees himself. He, himself, was an example of Christ’s incredible patience toward the hardest sinner. I think the way you and I do that is to see ourselves in light of Christ. I think you do that when you see who Christ is in all of his holiness and purity and glory. And, we then see ourselves in comparison to him – then, we’ll understand the term wretched.

Ill.: it is kind of like having a standard for jumping. We might think we’re pretty good jumpers for someone our age, but the truth is there is someone who jumps higher and farther than we do. Jason, or Blake. If we were that way we’d be happy to jump high and we’d compare ourselves to others that we’re better than and strive to be like those who are better than us.

Back in Harlingen, we had a gym. I’m sure they still do. I was minister of youth and recreation, so I hosted a basketball game at lunch. We had a group of guys who would take lunch and come to play basketball. It was so much fun. There was always a lot of trash talking and fouling, traveling – basic rule-breaking. But, nobody ever believed he was actually at fault. Including myself! So I set up a camera to record our game. I placed it up on the 2nd floor and videoed our lunch hour game. Afterward, I told everyone what I did and most of the guys wanted to stay and watch. I knew I recorded it and was still embarrassed at what I saw. That was at least 25 years ago and I couldn’t believe how pitiful I looked. I’m so used to seeing the pros move and jump and run.

But here’s the thing: the standard in jumping is to jump as high as Lebron James! The stand is to jump up and touch the moon! And no one can do that – we all fall short of the standard – if that were the case.

The reality is that the standard is Holiness – and all of us fall short of the glory of God in that category, too! Only one person met the standard: Christ! But look at how incredible this grace and mercy is toward him in v16; rd v 16; Wow! That’s’ a beautiful picture of the Messiah.

Transition: Once we see ourselves that way and we realize just what He has done for us – his incredible patience toward us, we can’t help but break out in Worship… and that is exactly what Paul does in v 17.

III.   Doxology: The Magnitude of Paul’s Praise to Christ for His great mercy and grace.

exp.: we see that in v 17; rd v 17; this is a sermon in itself. We could set aside this verse, break it down phrase by phrase, word by word and create a sermon series on the glory and majesty of the Father. That actually sounds fun! 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

So, what did we learn today? What will you take with you when we go our separate ways?

Take-a-ways:

  1. I want you to think about the attributes of Christ as Paul presents Christ in his testimony: strengthens, empowers, provides, patient, loving, faithful, He doesn’t give us what we deserve and He gives us what we don’t deserve. You’ve probably heard this little ring before:
    1. Mercy: not getting what we deserve; Paul describes his experience of calling to this incredible service as ‘mercy’. He deserved was what he had dished out to others. He counted it as a blessing to suffer for Christ.
    2. Grace: getting what we don’t deserve; Paul describes his experience of salvation as ‘grace’ toward him. He did not deserve salvation or the privilege of serving the Master. But really, who does? Who is?
  2. I’m glad Samaritan’s Purse was here today with us. I’m grateful for their ministry and the opportunity we have to participate. But I want to caution you: don’t think that the sum of your Christian service is sending shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts to children. Because serving can feel good. Helping out at helping hand can stroke your ego. Those are good things, but that isn’t what saves you. It should be what you do because of who you are.
    1. The Trustees and I are planning to meet soon to talk strategy for the upcoming year. We want to encourage missions and evangelism. That is all part of the plan. But don’t rely on that to make you feel good about yourself and your Christianity.
    2. It isn’t that you don’t do them then, but that you do those ministries with the right intentions.
    3. Isn’t it odd or peculiar that Paul considers it ‘mercy’ that Christ would allow Paul to suffer as he had caused others to suffer? It brings up a great question about what does it mean to suffer and do we see that as God’s mercy in our lives?
    4. I think we often see mercy as God doing something wonderful in our lives – but what about suffering for him in accomplishing the ministry he’s called us to…
    5. What does it mean that the disciples… left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Or, when Paul says… Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
    6. How crazy, right? To see God’s mercy in suffering for Him and His glory! It’s Gut-check time.
  3. I think of Paul’s statement about the perfect patience of Christ. Peter says the same thing – it isn’t that the Lord is slack in returning, it’s that he is displaying his perfect patience toward us. If you sit here today and you’ve never committed your life to Christ, that should move you, that he has delayed his return to give you more time.

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Timothy, Authenticity, Christian Living, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel

1 Timothy 1.8-11

Title: What do we know about the Law?

Text: 1 Timothy 1.8-11

What do we know about the Law?

The answer is honestly…very little. And, what we do know about the law we oftentimes don’t really understand. Or, we misuse it.

When one thinks about the law, that person usually thinks of it in negative terms. But the Bible doesn’t refer to the law in negative terms. Not really… consider:

Does this sound familiar:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Or this one:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

If you read Psalm 119 regularly, you might be familiar with this one: 97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

Do we just throw out the Law as Christians? I mean, it is the Old Testament, right?

No! Because, the law does some truly wonderful work for us. Listen to what Paul writes in Galatians.

19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

So, we can’t gain righteousness through the Law, but it still serves a purpose. The theme of Romans 8 is that we aren’t to live by the law anymore, but rather by the Spirit, whom God has given us when we become Christians.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.

And just how did he do that? We continue in Romans 8: 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.

We’re in 1 Tim 1. We’ve only just begun our study in 1st Timothy. Paul writes this letter for Timothy to encourage him to take a strong stand against false teachers. That is clear in v3-4; In v5-7 we are reminded, as we consider the law, of what the goal is supposed to be. Rd v 5; Love! Love.

Don’t forget that. It is so easy to do! Maybe people start off with love in mind, but it quickly disintegrates into anger and bitterness and defensiveness. It becomes a goal of winning an argument and being right.

Ill.: I remember after seminary learning about the Catholic Church and finding some truly wonderful practices about the Catholic Church. I met Father Dan Crawford, an Episcopalian Priest, who mentored me. It seemed to me that seminary training for me was more about what they did wrong and why the Reformation was launched. I knew about our differences, but not anything about what we hold in common. For me, it felt so much about being able to defend our differences and to win an argument if I debated someone who is Catholic or Episcopalian or Pentecostal. Maybe we need to stop being so argumentative and we need to start listening more.

Here’s where I’m going with this:

  • There are some people we feel comfortable worshiping with because they are just like us.
  • There are some people we wouldn’t feel comfortable worshiping with because they’re different.
  • But there are some people who are so different, that we would say, “That isn’t even Christian.”

But, in every instance where it comes to doctrine, this isn’t about winning arguments. It isn’t about debates. Paul reminds us here: it is all about love.

Certain men, teachers of the law, did not have love as their motive. 1 Timothy 6.3-10 tells us their goal was to get rich. They taught certain aspects of the law from Speculation and not true knowledge and experience. And so we pick up in v8 of 1st Timothy 1 where Paul begins up the law. So, what do we know about the Law? Well, Paul presents three facts about the law that I would like to spend the rest of the morning inspecting. The first fact, we know that…

I.     The Law is Good (8)

exp.: and we see that clearly communicated in v 8; rd v 8; how is it that? We see what looks to be a conditional clause: it is good if one uses it lawfully. So, you can use the law in an unlawful way. And I think that is what v6-7 is all about: Certain persons, by swerving from these (i.e., a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith), have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Using the law in an unlawful manner means to make confident assertions about the law that are false.

  • It means using the law for ill-gotten gain.
  • Using the law in an unlawful manner means leaving love out of the equation.
  • It means being ‘right’ in a debate. It means using others to get what you want.

Ill.: There are different types of arguments and I’m not sure any of them are good to engage in. We have speech and debate; I’m not talking about those types of things. I’m talking about the casual conversations you have with your workers, friends, and acquaintances. If you argue and push until you win – you might lose the battle of trying to win them to Christ. If something is heretical, yes, you should shed light on that. But again, what is your goal – to show how stupid they are? Or, is your goal love and you want to help that person. Those are two very different things.

app.: I shudder to think of my behavior in the past when I was quick to defend a belief or something I disagreed with. Paul establishes for us that he’s not bothered about the Law being taught because the Law is good. So, don’t be afraid of it. Instead – look for Christ in it.

t.s.: Which brings us to Paul’s next fact… The law also has purpose.

II.    The Law has Purpose (9-10)

exp.: rd v 9a: understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just (or righteous), but for the unjust or the unrighteous; and he outlines them; read them; rd v9-10;

I want you to note that these echo or parallel the 10 commandments; you might consider these a commentary by Paul on the 10 Commandments; (the first three pair follow the 1st part of the Decalogue) lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane,; (the rest of the list, the 2nd part of the Decalogue) for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine;

thou shall honor your father & mother; thou shall not murder; thou shalt not commit adultery, enslavers is lit.: ‘manstealer’ it is used to describe someone who steals people and sells them; liars – bearing false witness;

Transition: Paul moves through the purpose and goodness of the Law and shares with Timothy that their newfound Faith in Christ doesn’t go against the Law;

2nd, note that The law has purpose – it shows us what a life in Christ is like.

Ill.: Listen to John Piper as he uses Galatians 3.19-25 to explain this text: So the law, Paul says, is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious. This sounds very much like Galatians 3:19. Paul asks, “Why the Law then?” Why was it added 430 years after Abraham was justified by faith? He answers, “It was added because of transgressions.” He does not say that it was added because of righteousness. It was added because of these kinds of things we read in this list in 1 Timothy 1:9-10. The law had a special role to play in setting a rigorous, detailed standard of behavior which functioned, Paul said, to hold people imprisoned (Galatians 3:22) or under a guardian or tutor (Galatians 3:24) until Christ came and justification by faith could be focused on him. The law commanded and condemned, and pointed to a Redeemer who was to come. Then Paul says, in Galatians 3:25, “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

app.: So, it parallels the 10 Commandments and 2nd, it points us to Christ. Paul wants to establish that he’s not bothered about the Law being taught because the Law is good. Its purpose is to demonstrate life and to point to the one who was to come. It shows us our need for Christ; It shows us our sinfulness and our sin; it shows us our need for forgiveness;

t.s.: which brings us to this 3rd fact of Paul’s in what do we know about the Law? We know that (1) the law is good and we know that (2) the law has purpose. And, (3) we know that…

III.    The Law & the Gospel are in One Accord (11)

exp.: v 11; in accordance with the Gospel; that’s pretty clear; I think the converse would be true then: if you find something in the law and it doesn’t line up with the Gospel, then there is something wrong with the Gospel you’re teaching. That’s a bold statement. Am I off here? Think about this for a moment – let that sink in: if you’re teaching something from the law and it doesn’t line up with the Gospel – then there is something wrong with the Gospel you’re teaching. You’re not teaching Paul’s Gospel. You’re teaching a false Gospel. The whole phrase, the Gospel of the glory is used only one other place in Scripture: 2 Cor 4.4 – In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

ill.: If you come across a teaching that declares you can be unfaithful to your wife. That is a false gospel. If you come across a teaching that insists you can steal something because you’re entitled to it. That’s a false gospel. If you hear a teacher proclaim that God wants to give you the abundance of riches and he or she declares that to be financial riches – that’s a false gospel.

app.: The Gospel is quite clear – and the law is in accordance with it. That is just one of the facts we know about the Law: 1. It is good; 2. It has purpose and 3. It is in accordance with the Gospel.

Conclusion: In 1945 the USS Indianapolis what’s sailing in the Pacific. On one particular run, the Indianapolis sustained significant damage from a Japanese Kamikaze – a plane that uses itself as a bomb. The ship limped to a nearby Island and made what repairs she could. But the damage was significant enough that the Indianapolis was then forced to return to San Francisco for major repairs.

In 1945, many Americans believed the War was coming to an end. All indications were that was the case. Because of this, Lt. Commander John Emery used his position to pull some strings and get his son, William Friend Henry stationed to the USS Indianapolis at San Francisco. The Lt. Commander thought his son would be safe there. He thought his son would stay there in dry dock while repairs were being made. And, then, she would probably never head back out to war – the war would be over and his son would be alive. So, using his rank and his relationships with his powerful friends, he got his son transferred to Indy.

But a need arose. The powers that be needed a ship to transfer the atomic bomb to Guam. The USS Indianapolis was in a perfect place to become the ship that would transfer ‘the bomb’ – The atomic bomb that would be loaded onto the Enola Gay and then flown to Japan, where it was dropped on Hiroshima.

It was after this transfer at Guam that the Indianapolis was sent to the Philippines for some training exercises. The crew thought they were safe. Laziness and inaction by others gave the Captain of the Indianapolis a sense that they were safe. Lt. Commander John Emery thought they were safe – he thought his son was safe, but as you know – if you’ve ever seen the movie Jaws – you know it was torpedoed and sank. You know that most of the men on board that ship were killed. In an effort to save his son, the actions Lt. Commander Emery took actually brought about the death of his son.

There is another story about a Father whose actions brought about the death of his son. But this father wasn’t acting to save his son. The actions he took were intentional. He was acting to save you and me. God sent his Son, Jesus to die on the Cross of Calvary and to pay the penalty of sins for you and for me. You see, that’s the Gospel. Talk about love as the goal: that’s the Gospel.

Paul wants to establish that he’s not bothered about the Law being taught, because:

  1. The Law is good.
  2. It shows us our need for Christ.
  3. It is consistent with the Gospel.

Take-a-ways:

  1. Read the Law – it is good for you. It is a major part of your sanctification. Read a little. Meditate on one verse. Read one chapter a day. Read 5 chapters a day.
  2. Learn the Law, so that you might learn of Christ’s Character. Remember he said that he didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He fulfilled it. Perfectly. Which is my third take-a-way
  3. Live the Law – to do so would be to be like Christ. Sure, there are some hard things about the Law, but in reading them, learning them and living them out, there is great reward. Do this, because the Law is good, it has purpose and it is in accordance with the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God.

Leave a comment

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

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?

Leave a comment

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

1 Timothy: An Introduction

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 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 the church at 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. What we’ll find as we work our way through this letter is that 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. Our basic goal this morning is to look at the introduction of this letter. 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.

From: Paul

exp.: rd v 1; 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 Timothy in Miletus when he was meeting with the Ephesian elders; however, Paul’s journey was toward Jerusalem 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. Paul has a sense (concerning himself) that the end is near there in 2 Timothy.

app.: He must be feeling that a bit as he writes his 1st letter to Timothy. 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

To: Timothy

exp.: rd v 2; he uses the same language with Titus; my true child in the faith. The Gk word here means legitimate. I think this conveys the idea 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.

Part II:

Introduction: Love Does, Bob Goff; rd pg 94-95; eating Lard instead of Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

That’s the problem with religion: people package it in attractive ways, but always leave a person wanting. The problem with it all is that what most people are selling isn’t what Christ is offering.

Review of Part 1: From; To; Dates;

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 of Paul’s.

  1. We see it in Acts 20, as Paul says goodbye to the Ephesian Elders at Miletus. Rd Acts 20.17; 25-32;
  2. 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)
  • 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. Consider it was in Latin! The Word of God was spread only through copies and oftentimes, 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 comes Johannes Guttenberg and his printing press in 1450, making it possible to have a copy of God’s Word. And that is what he wanted. “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”
  • Here is the irony in it all. Even after the Printing Press comes along, the church doesn’t want common people to have the Word of God in common hands. They saw that as a danger. They outlawed Scripture that was translated into common languages. Latin was the ‘Authorized’ version for those folks. I think of the modern-day movement of KJV Only folks.
  • So, for the next few hundred years, the word of God could then be spread by reading it and the public preaching and teaching 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. You can stream your favorite preacher or teacher into your home any hour of any day. 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.
  • This past year, an article came out in the New York Times questioning the foundational doctrines of our faith (I read about it in Dr. Albert Mohler’s daily briefings): 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: Dr. 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 past Spring:

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 “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. Most people want to hold on to their sin and to religion. But what they end up selling you is much like a tub of lard wrapped in a Cream Cheese package.

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 to 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.
  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.

 

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Timothy, Christian Living, Church Discipline, Elders, Gay Marriage, Homosexuality, Scripture, Sermon, Sin

Luke 2.8-20

Title: The Shepherds’ Story

Text: Luke 2.8-20

 

Introduction: Ps 119.18… Lord, open our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of your Law. Amen

Read the traditional story; Lk 2.8-20; though there are many characters in this story, and the most important character is Christ, this little section, this pericope is framed and hemmed in with the Shepherds (v 8, 20);

You see my Title: I’d like to look at their story, Last week we looked at the Wise Men (Magi) as shared by Matthew. Luke chooses to tell us of a different group of people. Whereas the Magi were prominent, probably wealthy foreigners – servants to the King; these shepherds represent the poor and socially outcast. So, first, I want to answer some questions about who they were and what they were doing. 2nd, I want to explain their experience concerning the sign they were given by the Angel. And 3rd, We’ll look at what they found when they followed their curiosity, believing what the Angel had proclaimed.

I.     The Shepherds (8-11)

exp.:

  • Who were they?
    • The lowest class of people – socio-economically – like I mentioned earlier, the polar opposite of the Magi; consider the Magi entering into Jerusalem. They get entrance to the king. The Shepherds? I don’t think they would have an audience with the King. The Magi – well dressed and having an entourage. The Shepherds? Probably dirty and surrounded by sheep! But here’s a similarity for you: the Magi were foreigners. And so probably, too, were the Shepherds. I honestly never thought that through – I always just assumed the Shepherds were from Israel. Let me show you in the text.
  • Where were they from? Rd v 8a; In the same region; does that mean that they weren’t normally from that region, they just happen to be there? Isaiah 60.1-7; Jeremiah 49.28; Genesis 25.13;
  • What are they doing? Rd v 8b; most literally: watching watches; ill.: isn’t that how it is when you work all night long? Working in the fields w/ their sheep,
  • What did they see? Rd v 9; An angel of the Lord; appeared; 21x’s in NT; All by Luke except Paul uses it three times; 1 Thess 5.3 – in the return of Christ; there is a sense of suddenness, catching one off guard; So, there, the shepherds are, minding their own business, and shoomp, there’s an angel standing there; but there’s something accompanying the angel which adds to the scene – what is it? Rd 9b: God’s Glory; No wonder they were sore afraid; lit.: they feared a great fear; Think Peter, John, Isaiah; read v 10-11; Wow! What a message! Rd v 12 a;

t.s.: this is our 2nd point this morning… the way the Shepherds would know what the Angel said was true is that there would be a sign for them.

II.    The Sign (12-15)

exp.: rd v 12; Isa 7.14 told us to look for this: 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. The context in Isaiah would lead someone to think that he’s talking about his own son (as mentioned in Isa. 8), but we come back to the promised son in 9; Why would the Shepherds need a sign? To help us understand this, let’s look at the sign.

1st, a baby: how many were in Bethlehem? When Cameron was born, he was the only baby born that day. There was another baby there who had been born the night before. And, when we left, there was another lady walking around ready to deliver… New Braunfels has more than 100,000 people in that vicinity – maybe more. I’m guessing in Bethlehem, a newborn baby would have been easy to find.

2nd, wrapped in swaddling clothes; this word, here in the Gk, is a word derived from the Gk word meaning strip, as in a strip of cloth; further, that word is a derivative of the word σπαράσσω [sparasso /spar·as·so/] v. Prolongation from spairo (meaning “to grasp”, apparently strengthened from 4685 through the idea of spasmodic contraction); the picture this word creates is a cloth contracted tightly around the baby. One of my elders in Tyler said their family calls this: a baby burrito! What a great description! The 1st part of this sign is you’ll find a burrito baby.

In Ken Bailey’s book, he said the angel anticipated their anxiety and told them not to be afraid: The angels anticipated this anxiety (remember, they feared a great fear) and told the shepherds they would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (which was what peasants, like shepherds, did with their newly born children). But there is a third part to this sign – rd 2.12 – lying in a manger;

            3rd, Lying in a manger

app.: this is their sign – a baby tightly wrapped in a strip of cloth, lying in a manger; And then, all of the sudden, there was with the angel… rd v 13-14;

t.s.: Now, rd v 15; and that brings us to this last part… the scene

III.   The Scene (16-20)

exp.: rd v 16; 1st we note how they went with haste; 2ndly, we note they find, found; rd v12; they found the baby, just as the angel had said; lying in a manger.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Excursus: I’d like to take a moment and revisit our Bible Study from Wednesday night – when we looked at the passage just before this one (2.1-7). The Scripture says in these first 7 verses that:

1st of all, this most likely wasn’t in a barn and it wasn’t in a cave. It was probably all taking place in a house in Bethlehem. These ideas of Mary’s abandonment and struggle come from tradition – not from Scripture. The most likely source is a story written around 200 AD (cf. Bailey). Luke 2.6 clarifies that they had been in Bethlehem when Mary went into labor.  Rd 2.6

2nd, there was no inn. Inn is a very poor translation and probably has just kept being used by new translations because it really messes up the traditional story. It isn’t wrong per se, just there is a better word in English that we could use here. The word used here is translated more closely as a “guest room”. Let me show you what I mean:

  • Most houses were one-room – those homes of common people were one room: consider Lk 13.5
  • 2nd, these homes would house their animals, too. Most people didn’t have barns. The Parable of the Wealthy Fool describes a man who built storehouses – not barns. A barn is really a western idea.
  • Kataluma κατάλυμα; Mk 14.14; Luke 22.11; wealthier folks had a 2nd room – a guest room. For the wealthiest, it would oftentimes be on top – like a 2nd floor – which is what we find at the Last Supper; Luke 22.12
  • The word ‘room’ in 2.7 means space; there is no room on the table.
  • Added to this: Luke has a story about an Inn and an Innkeeper; Luke 10.34 – The Parable of the Good Samaritan. If Luke meant an inn, why didn’t he use that word?

 

exp.: I’d like to demonstrate for you what a typical house might look like. When we understand, other passages become clearer. For example, Judges 11.29-40; Jephthah; It never crossed his mind that a person would come out of the door! He thought it would be a goat or a cow or some other animal that was housed up! In the story of the Magi, when they get to Bethlehem, where do they find the Messiah they’ve been seeking: And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.

Apologies: listen, I know this is kind of strange – after all of the years you’ve probably had visions of Mary all alone and crying in a dark alley, Joseph taking her to some barn to deliver her baby because she’s been rejected by the people of Bethlehem – that’s all great staging for storytelling, but it isn’t what the Bible communicates.

Mary and Joseph stay with their relatives in Bethlehem, but apparently so did some other relatives who are in the guest room. Because there is no room (space) and because Mary is pregnant, she’s in need of care… She’s in the house. When the baby comes, she wraps Baby Jesus in cloths and lays him in the perfect bassinet next to her – a manger, a feeding trough.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s what I love about this story: they went with haste to see what the Angel had proclaimed to them – and they found things just as the Angel had said. I think of the story of the wise men, who sought the one born King of the Jews. And, now, we see these men doing the same thing! I reminded of Deu 4.29ff: But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.;

Can we pause right here and post our 1st observation?

Observations:

  • Seek: You will find Him if you search after Him with all of your heart and with all your soul! Did you know that promise still holds true for you today? The context for that passage was for the Jews who had abandoned their God. God promised them, that even after that failure, he would be found by them – if they searched for him with all their heart. That means in your state right now, if you seek him, you’ll find him, if you search w/ all your heart. You’ve got to do what these guys did – you’ve got to respond to the message you’ve heard. Notice they didn’t just say: Wow! That was cool! So, where were we? Oh, yeah… No, they went with haste! What a perfect time of the year to seek Christ. What a perfect time in your life – right now, to seek him!
  • Share: Rd v 17-18; I love this. They didn’t keep quiet about it. They shared! That’s what we should be doing! We should be sharing, too. This is observation #2: Share this wonderful, good news of the Savior you’ve found. Can I ask you…has God been good to you?

Maybe you’re thinking no. Maybe you tried trusting the Lord, but it just didn’t seem like he answered you. Can I be blunt – God will not bless you in your sin. I know some folks think that God hasn’t been good to them because he hasn’t blessed them in their sin. I wouldn’t say God does that. But, seek him – his kingdom and his righteousness (and all of these things shall be added unto you, as well). Tell others of his goodness toward you.

  • Give Glory: Rd v. 19-20; 3rd observation – I think this is what God wants in the Christmas story – the glory! He wants us to praise and glorify him!
  • The Reason we Hope. Russel Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Of the SBC: Article on Atheist’s advice to Lie to Your Children Jesus told us to have a child-like faith. Even the Atheists see it. For many without hope, the holidays can be a sad time. But it is the same for those who hope.

Often times our expectations of what once was and our experience, in reality, differ so greatly that it hurts and we get depressed. I watched a video of the Chapmans. For those of you who don’t know, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, lost their youngest girl in an accident. Their youngest son was driving back up to the house and in the excitement, little Maria ran out in front of the car. Will Franklin never saw his little sister. Their grief is inexpressible. As they pulled out ornaments to adorn their Christmas Tree, they have very special ornaments made by Maria. As they videoed the time of Christmas preparation, they talked about how hard Christmas is, but just what it means to them. I hope and pray I never have to experience what they went through, but what a message. The Reason for this season – God with us, is so that we can have the hope of one day being with him forever. And, added to this, we will be reunited with those who’ve gone before us. The pain is real and present. But the pain will not last forever. We celebrate what God has done because of the hope he has given us.

If you don’t have this hope, come talk with me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Isaiah, Luke, Purpose, 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.

Leave a comment

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

Joseph

Title: Joseph

Text: Matthew 1.18-25

Introduction:

Every year I get the same questions about sermon preparation for Christmas: What are you going to say different? About Mary, About Joseph, About the Magi, About his birth? That’s a good question! What’s new about the birth of Jesus? Many of you have heard the Christmas Story preach or talked about more times than you can count! When preaching on Joseph, we come to an especially difficult place. We don’t have any quotes from him. There is so much more about Mary. Let me encourage you to look for something different – maybe, for something you’ve never noticed before – or something you’ve never thought of before.

For me, I’d like to personalize it – make it more of my own. So, let’s review the story of Joseph. Then later, you can tell me if you learned something new. Truth is, if we look, every time we read the Scriptures, God reveals something special that we’ve not seen before. He teaches us something new or brings things into perspective from a different vantage point.

Have you ever noticed it for yourself? You read something you’ve read it before, but this time, you learn something new?

Let’s not assume we know the story, but rather, let’s go to the Bible. I say that because much of what we know of the Christmas story is from songs and plays and movies. Some of the stuff is fluff!

Transition: This morning I’m simply going to share with you of how Joseph submitted to the will of God – once he knew it. I’m going to share with you of the struggle he endured – and try to help you see just how great that struggle was. But first, I’d like to just begin with his situation. Rd v 18; the 1st tidbit of information we’re given is Joseph’s situation:

I.     His Situation (18)

exp.: he is betrothed to a young lady named Mary; if this is a typical betrothal, she’s a young girl…a teenager say 15 years old or even younger; we all know women who were married by that age or even younger; to be betrothed means that one has pledged their ‘troth’ to another; their truth or fidelity; You know of the arranged marriages in that culture; these exist today;

ill.: back at Calvary, we adopted some IMB missionaries who serve in a country where there are arranged marriages. There were multiple instances where these young ladies were given to none believers. You and I have to take ourselves out of our current mindset to try and understand just how arranged marriages work. I think this is a very real problem for young women in middle eastern and eastern countries where young believers are given in arranged marriages to non-believers.

For Joseph, His situation is fine, except for one small detail we find in verse 18; before they came together she was found to be with child…; When you and I read about his betrothal, we understand him to be engaged to Mary. But for Joseph, it’s more that!

Jewish Weddings in that day were quite different than the weddings you’ve probably experienced. The Jewish Wedding contained two main parts:

  • The Kiddushin – betrothal (pledge); this is the period of time in which v18 is referring. It might be something similar to an engagement period, but much more intense. We would see this couple as married. They have a relationship in which they are married in every way except, in the evening, she goes home to mom and dad. They’ve not consummated the relations – and won’t until after the next part…
  • The Huppa (Wedding ceremony – one year later); during the Kiddushin, the bride would prove her fidelity. You’ve probably seen a Jewish wedding on TV or in a movie. Maybe you’ve even been invited to one and experienced it. It is a huge event.

Ill.: remember the wedding at Cana (John 2), when Jesus turned the water into wine? A big event… So big, they ran out of wine…

app.: So, it is during this one-year period (The Kiddushin) that it is discovered Mary is pregnant. And Joseph doesn’t know the last part of that verse yet…from the Holy Spirit.

Listen, there are some secrets you can hide, but being pregnant is practically impossible to hide.

t.s.: So, 1st we see his Situation: He has pledged his love and fidelity to Mary (and her to him), but it appears she has broken faith, but Matthew then shows us Joseph’s struggle

II.    His Struggle (19-23)

exp.: rd v 19; Man, you really begin to see this man’s character when his struggle reveals his character. I think Character has come to describe a person, either good or bad. But I think the original meaning was only good and virtuous. Someone either had Character or he/she didn’t. Noah Webster wrote in 1828: The peculiar qualities, impressed by nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others; these constitute real character, and the qualities which he is supposed to possess, constitute his estimated character, or reputation. Hence we say, a character is not formed, when the person has not acquired stable and distinctive qualities. So, you either have character or you don’t. Let’s look at Scripture says about his character:

  • He is righteous or just; I love this word δίκαιος; this word describes a person’s actions; to say that someone is righteous or just doesn’t mean they’re good in their heart, but that they’re good in their actions. This is a word that describes God. He is righteous.

Ps. 36.6:        Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep;

Ps. 65.5:        By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, man and beast you save, O Lord.

Ps. 74.19: 19     Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?

Being righteous means acting rightly. Joseph wants to do the ‘right’ thing. He is going to act in a godly manner about this horrible, embarrassing situation he’s found himself in.

Now, I’m pretty sure you know by now his options, but let’s just review them;

  1. The Law said such a crime deserved death; Deu. 22.21 said any woman who played the prostitute should be put to death by stoning; But did you know that the penalty was higher for the daughter of a priest? Remember last week we learned that Mary is of the priestly lineage of Jesus. Lev 21.9; any daughter of a priest getting pregnant out of wedlock should be burned to death; Now to be fair, the laws in that day had been changed and altered and explained away that it wasn’t really that common to happen. You remember John 8…the woman caught in adultery?
  2. So, another option available to him would have been to charge her publicly and put her on trial for her actions. Though death might not have been the judgment, she definitely would have been publicly disgraced. She probably would have been beaten in the public square. Her family would have been humiliated. But Joseph doesn’t appear to even consider these options; death and a trial are really out of the question for him; If he wanted to though, he could have really broken her spirit. Here’s his answer: rd 1.19b – and unwilling to put her to shame.

ill.: Pause for a moment and think about your young self: how would you have handled such an embarrassment? You feel the pain of betrayal. You feel the embarrassment of her infidelity. How would you have responded? How have you treated others in the past for the way they mistreated you? Or, the way you felt you were mistreated?

This little comment in v 19 says so much about his character, his kindness – even toward this one who has hurt him! Rd 19c – resolved to divorce her quietly… He didn’t want to publicly humiliate her, so, he has still another option: (the verse continues)

3.  He resolved to divorce her quietly; yes, divorce…Now, you might be thinking, “Hey, wait a minute, they weren’t married! They were only engaged. Remember, you can’t think of this in 21st Century, Western World terms. In a Jewish marriage, they enjoyed all the rights of a married couple, except consummation and living together; There’s something else to consider as well: The father had received a dowry for her; (they lose a worker, the other family gains one); So, if the marriage was to be dissolved, there needed to be a returning of the dowry; But that aside, consider this word ‘quietly’. Whatever the arrangements were before, Joseph has decided to do this all quietly. Gk.: λάθρᾳ (lathra); lathroscopic; privately or quietly; Acts 16.37; But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? Can I just tell you that this communicates to us so much about this man? Why would Joseph now resolve to treat her so kindly? Answer: Because of the 1st statement…he is just, righteous; just like Jesus (as we say in John 8);

I’d like to take a moment and go to Isaiah, who gives a repeated picture of Christ in the Suffering Servant; one such picture (ch. 42.1ff), reads…;

The Lord’s Chosen Servant

42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my Spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations. (we meet the servant in v 1,4)

      He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

      a bruised reed he will not break,

and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice. (we see his service – just, right – in v 2,3)

      He will not grow faint or be discouraged

till he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his law.

t.s.: Joseph (acting very Christ-like) looked beyond the punitive measures of the law to meet the needs of a young teen whose life had been radically changed. She was bruised and burnt out, but he didn’t break or quench her.

4. But there is one more thing here that Matthew wants us to see in the next verse (20a); When considering his options and his actions, we come to a clearer perspective of his character. Rd v20; In v 20a, this word ‘considered’, is only used one other time in the NT and that’s in Matthew (9.4); rd 20a; think evil; Gen 6.6 (sorry; regret); Joshua 7.21 (translated coveted);

ill.: This past Thursday was filled with emotion. I’m so proud – in a good way. But, I experienced an emotion that I just don’t know how to describe. In those precious moments after our grandson was born, I was filled with great emotion – an emotion I don’t know quite how to describe. After I had spoken with my mom, I thought of my dad, who passed away 20 years ago. Regret; anger; sadness; hurt; disappointment – and yet, none of the above, but some of all of the above. It was all through my thinking. No decision had to be made – no action to take. Just emotion – an indescribable emotion.

App.: that’s what we’re getting here – regret, anger, sadness, hurt, disappointment, sorrow. And in all of this – what an incredible balance between his pain, his anger, and the way he chooses not to respond in like manner – to hurt her, to cause her pain. But, instead, he responds… well, like Jesus – in a godly fashion.

  • He is hurt (troubled, disturbed, angry, most lit.: stirred); ‘as he considered these things; he’s in turmoil; What is important to note is the timing – translation: while he is in turmoil…behold, an angel of the Lord…rd v 20b-23;

t.s.: So, Matthew shows us 1st, His Situation, and (2nd) how he Struggled with it all. Now, Matthew lets us in on one last bit of information about Joseph – his obedience to God’s instructions through the angel…

3.   His Submission

exp.: We see his submission in v24-25; four specific details to show his submission to God’s will:

  • He did
  • He took
  • He knew her not (Gen 4.1)
  • He named

Conclusion: From what I read in Bailey’s book and MacArthur’s Commentary, Women didn’t have to go along on these journeys to handle the legal matter of registering for the census. (Read from a commentary) So, why did Joseph bring Mary along? I think it was because he was just and righteous, demonstrating a deep kindness and just how much he cares for Mary. Maybe he was concerned for her back home with what the people knew (or assumed they knew). Maybe she wasn’t safe back home without his protection. Maybe he didn’t want to leave her to have the baby alone; Maybe, he wanted to bring her along because he knew the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem; Whatever his reason, even in her state, he brought her along… He was a just man, a righteous man… and that was evident in what he did.

Take-a-ways:

  1. Character is revealed through struggle. How are you responding to your struggle? Do you want to get back at, or hurt those who’ve injured you? If you were to ‘self-evaluate’ your situation, what kind of grade would you give yourself?
  2. Do you have a forgiving spirit toward those who’ve hurt you? It is a characteristic of our Lord – forgive them, Father, they know not what they do. It doesn’t mean you have to keep going back to that person and serve as their punching bag. It doesn’t mean you have to go back to that person and be their doormat for them to mistreat you. But there is something truly powerful in forgiving someone. Bitterness, Anger, resentment, hatred… those are just toxic emotions that destroy your spirit. Susan Cheever wrote: Bitterness is like drinking a poison and waiting for the other person to die.
  3. Emotion is a wonderful blessing and yet a horrid curse – all depending on what it does to you. Something I’ve learned from my wife is never to make decisions when I’m hurried or emotional. Sometimes you have to make decisions when you’re emotional, but you’ve got to get the better of your emotions and make a well thought out decision. I learned this much the hard way. I’m the kind of dad who would charge into the bedroom and spank all three of my kids – only to later find out only one of them had been at fault. I wish I would have counted to 10 first: counted by minutes… or even hours.
  4. Do you realize that what you believe is what you do? Much like Joseph who did as the Lord commanded; who took Mary to be his wife; who knew her not until she had given birth; who gave him the name Jesus, as was commanded. We oftentimes speak of faith as something we possess – my faith got me through it. But, faith is really a verb…

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, Isaiah, Matthew, Sermon

The Genealogy of Christ

Title: The Genealogy of Christ

Text: Matthew 1:1-17

CIT: God’s Work throughout Time

CIS: God has been at work pulling all things together in presenting Christ. God is still at work today.

Introduction:

Princess Diana, Winston Churchill, and George W. Bush are distant relatives whose ancestry can be traced back to a fifteenth-century English squire, genealogists say. Researchers for the U.S.-based company MyFamily.com found that the trio’s roots can be traced to Henry Spencer of Badby, Northamptonshire. Badby lived between 1420-1478 and was married to Isabella Lincoln.

According to Gary Boyd Roberts, a genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Bush is descended from British royalty going as far back as 12th century King Henry I, the son of William the Conqueror.

So, I was wondering: How important is a genealogy? Did each of these people you see here get their lofty positions because of the genealogy?

Linda Click, Adrian, Mich. Christian Reader Showing that genealogy isn’t that important. She wrote: One day I sat down with my daughter and explained with great pride that her grandfather was a preacher, her great-great-grandfather was a preacher, and her great-great-great-grandfather was a preacher. To which she replied, “Wow! We sure come from a long line of grandfathers.”

Lisa and I have been sharing with folks over the last few months that we’d taken a new position and were going to be moving. “Where?” people would ask. Tarpley, Tx. We would answer. “Tarpley? Where’s Tarpley?” I only met one person who actually knew where Tarpley is! A few new because I said: between Bandera and Utopia or South of Kerrville. But only one person actually knew. Karen Pylant. She said her family is from here.

app.: You know, genealogies aren’t that important to us: maybe through interest, but not for our being able to do things. Lisa and I are not able to come to Tarpley because of our connection to Bruce and Karen Pylant.

I mentioned President Bush, he wasn’t elected president because of his genealogy – not even because his dad had been president. You and I can buy and sell and move and do things without our genealogies. However, for the Jews, that wasn’t the case. Each Jew understood the importance of their genealogy. They needed their genealogy to buy and sell and trade and move and get certain jobs. That’s what we’ll be looking at this morning.

Transition: We begin our journey together in Matthew 1.1. I’ve never heard anyone preach on Matthew 1:1-17; We’ll also be looking at Luke 3:23-37, the genealogy of Christ in that book. You can have them open and flip back and forth if you’d like.

Let’s begin by reading in Matthew…rd v 1; rd v 17

Transition: I’ve divided this morning’s message into two parts: The Importance of His Genealogy and The Interpretation of His Genealogy. Let’s look first at The Importance.

I.     The Importance of His Genealogy

exp.: Genealogies were important for a few reasons:

  • Purchasing land: Lev 25:23-27; Ruth 2:20; Jeremiah 32:7,8
  • Determining a priestly line: Ezra 2:62; Ezra 7:1-6; Neh 7:64;
  • Determining a royal line: 1 Chron 5:1-7 (Gen 35:22; 49:4);

exp.: The importance of His Genealogy: v 2-6a are found in 1 Chr 2:1-15; v 6b-11 are found in 1 Chr 3:10-14; v 12-16 are 1 Chr 3:15-19; Every name is covered up to v 13;  from Abiud through to Christ is unconfirmed, but really no problem. It was very common for families to keep their genealogy! 1 Chronicles 9:1 tells us that all of Israel was recorded in Genealogies; King Saul’s is down in v 35-44;

With Christ’s Genealogy, we have a problem- because we have two of them – and they don’t match! I don’t know if you’ve ever read the genealogies found in Matthew in Luke and compared them, but they differ. Here are some struggles you might have:

  1. Luke’s is recorded backward.
  2. But even so, From Abraham to David – they’re the same.
  3. From David to Zerubbabel, they follow two different lines – but they do come back together at Zerubbabel.
  4. Then, from Zerubbabel to Jesus, they split again.

The Featured Image on this posting is a Table Outline of the lineage I’m referring to. and it might help in following along with the names. 

app.: So what is the application to this? If Lineage was so important, why does the Lineage of Jesus seem so messed up? Which one is the right one?  Those are great questions and they should lead us to understand what each writer was doing. We must combine and interpret what we have…

t.s.: So let’s do that… #2… The Interpretation of His Genealogy

2.     The Interpretation of His Genealogy

exp.: Matthew 1:1-17; Lk 3:23 -38; Luke follows the OT Pattern we see with Moses and the way his genealogy is recorded. It is given just before he begins his ministry. It is the same with Luke in recording the genealogy of Christ.

  • Two Genealogies: Here’s what I think is happening…
    • First
      1. Matthew – represents Joseph’s lineage: Joseph’s
      2. Luke – represents Mary’s lineage: Lk 3:23 – as was supposed; Luke uses this word quite often, especially in Acts to communicate a thought that people had, but they were obviously wrong;
    • Second
      1. Matthew – uses Joseph’s lineage to confirm a Royal or Kingly Line.
      2. Luke – uses Mary’s line to show or confirm a Priestly Lineage. Connection: Consider that Mary’s cousin was Zechariah and he served as a priest in the Temple.
    • Third
      1. God is using these two to demonstrate his goodness toward us. Can I let you in on a little secret? I think God gives us pictures or illustrations of his story or his existence for us to identify him. For example He gave us pictures of the Messiah in David and Zerubbabel. Theologians call these “types’ of Christ. These two guys were special compared to all of the other kings of Israel. David could function as a priest and a king, but Saul couldn’t. Saul didn’t have both lines. And neither did Solomon, or any other of the Kings. Until you get to Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel is a type of Christ – giving us a picture of the Messiah, so we could recognize Him when he appears. (Ill.: Isaiah 25)
    • Fourth
      1. God is showing us a picture of how he is the Father of Jesus and why the Jewish people would accept Jesus as King. There is a prophecy concerning David, that God promised David that he would always have a descendant on the throne (2 Samuel 7). However, Jechoniah, because he had led the people astray, He was told that he would be childless (Jeremiah 28.30); How can God keep both promises? Kinsman Redeemer. A Kinsman Redeemer is a process that God gave to the people of Israel to ensure that the lineage could be preserved.

Ill.: Ruth 2.20; 3.9; 4.13-14 – they rejoice that God has given Naomi an heir for her husband and her sons. Which, BTW, is preserving the royal lineage. Cf. Mt 1.5

Here’s where I’m going with this: The Jews could accept Jesus as the Messiah because Joseph didn’t have to be Jesus’ biological father. God became the Kinsman Redeemer, if you will, preserving the Royal Lineage on behalf of Joseph.

Conclusion: Now, George W. didn’t get to be president because of his prominent heritage. No one does, except Jesus. He’s different. He is both priest and king. The book of Hebrews teaches about these two roles and how Jesus played the part. He offered Himself on a cross to pay for our sins. Only he could.

Take-a-ways:

  1. The Advent of Jesus was not “Plan B”. God had already planned it all out. – Just as he has planned the future.
  2. Things are going along according to plan. Just as it was, so it shall be. When Christ returns sometime in our near future, it will all make sense. So, we anticipate his return, just as they anticipated his arrival. We have been given these pictures or illustrations so that we will say as in Isaiah: “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
  3. We should be praying about our part in the plan. How might God be using you? Will you miss out on things because you’re so into you and not into what God is doing?
  4. I’m reminded that all of time is in God’s hands. So is everything outside of time.

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, Genealogy, Isaiah, Luke, Matthew, Scripture, Sermon