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Faithful To The End


"10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We are so grateful to have our brothers and sisters from all over the world here with us today.
We praise God that He continues to grow our ministry daily, reaching even more and more people! God is GREAT! We continue to pray for all of you.
Most all of us who know Christ would likely say, "I long to be as faithful to Christ, even unto death, whether I die a martyr’s death or live to a ripe old age, I want to be faithful to Christ, my Lord and Savior, who gave Himself for me." However, as we know, spiritual faithfulness is not an automatic process. When I see Christian leaders fall into sin, bringing horrific disgrace to the name of Christ, I realize that I too am not invincible and I pray, "O' Lord, grant me the grace to remain faithful to You, especially when I face strong temptations, opportunities to compromise on the truth, whether in doctrine or morals."  Beloved, we must continue to pray to be faithful, and so this, I pray for you all. 
Whenever the Bible warns us about deception, when it commands us to not be deceived and delude ourselves, we must be very careful, because deception is always precarious. Deception picks your pocket, and steals your wallet, while you continue to think everything is okay. In the context here, we must understand, the warning is, just because you have been a faithful, ongoing church member for years, just because you have faithfully served Christ for years, or even the fact that you have been faithful in your marriage for years, none of these things guarantee of your future faithfulness. We need to understand, that long term spiritual faithfulness does not happen haphazardly. We must be intentional and deliberate about it daily. In other words, our past faithfulness does not automatically guarantee our future faithfulness.  
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Father, thank You for Your Word, this powerful truth, this reminder. Lord, we are living in a time when many are being deceived because their own sin, their own wretchedness, their blinded by their own minds, exalting themselves over Christ. The increasing evil of the this present not only causes them to be deceived, but deceivers of others. A time when the hearts of men are becoming more hostile, more violent, in turn,  more and more influenced by their wickedness. Lord, the accumulation of deceptive teaching and lies continue escalate, causing even the faithful brethren to be lead astray. Father, as we near closer to the return of Christ, the worse their influence becomes. The godly are suffering, the church is suffering. 

Father, we pray that You will raise up the strong and faithful teachers of the Word, who are unwilling to compromise on truth, who will courageously and boldly speak the truth, in unwavering resolution to remain faithful to You. Help us to be strong. We pray for those who are being deluded, that You would awaken them to the truth, open their eyes and ears. We pray that You would soften the hearts of the lost, the unregenerate, that before the coming hour arrives, even one more would receive Christ. Father, I pray that today would be that day, when those who without Christ, would be confronted with the reality of their sin, and that in recognizing their true condition, they would come to Christ, with a broken and contrite heart, repent, surrendering to Him, seeking forgiveness. May it all be to Your glory and Christ's sake.
In Christ's name we ask and pray
Today's Message: Faithful To The End
We are living in an age, where firm preaching that defends the faith is less than popular. It is being deemed as hate speech, prejudiced against the ungodly. Strong, effective defenders of truth are being intimidated, threatened, afraid to speak out on sin. The rare and godly preacher of the Word are being censored. And, as the opposition continues to increase, we must continue to fight to stand firm, to fulfill the call to ministry we have received from God.
My heart is burdened, I am therefore, I am compelled to caution the congregation of the Lord, that simply because a man can deliver a stirring sermon, invoking emotion, it does not mean that he is a man of God. I was a member of a congregation that was seeking a pastor on one occasion. A man came seeking the position. He was as we used to say, a little long in the tooth, a veteran preacher, having worked within the denomination for many many years. Preaching his sugar stick, which by the way, every pastor has at least one. The congregation was again eager to agree as it was pleasing to the hearer, an acknowledgement as to their righteousness.
After the sermon, I had the opportunity to speak to him, to question him in private. I asked for a synopsis of his doctrine, I wanted to know what his assessment of his reputation in his present community was, and the effectiveness of his message, in it's relation to the Word of God. The bottom line, I wanted to know, if he believed, that he was fulfilling his calling.  It was painfully obvious that he was looking for a salary, staying the course until retirement and not a place of service.
Open with me your Bibles to the Book of Timothy chapter 3 verses 10-13. This is a marvelous portion of Scripture, so rich. It is one of those passages that includes a very familiar text, that nearly every believer knows by heart, verses 16 and 17. However, those two verses alone, will require that we pay some well deserved time and attention for our study. So, for today we're be unpacking verses 10-13.
I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read these verses to you, to set them in our minds as we prepare our hearts for what the Holy Spirit has for us today.  II Timothy 3:10-13
"Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."
Young Timothy faced the same challenges that faithful pastors have always faced. The pressure to tone down his rhetoric, to accommodate "good people," who "may have" deviated from the truth "just a little." And, to just get along and go along, to appease the wealthy hearers, who tend to make large contributions to the church. So, the Apostle Paul focused on the need for Timothy to be a strong, defender of the faith. If Timothy would endure, to stand firm in the faith, he would need to have strong convictions. The message today examines not only Timothy’s need for a strong example in his spiritual mentor, it focuses on Timothy’s spiritual mentor and the need for all who preach to have such mentors. Every believer needs examples to follow, which is why the Bible gives us the stories of so many faithful witnesses. And, although we see many of them, that have fallen into sin, God graciously grants us many others, such as Paul and Timothy, who finish strong and well. Our text today, shows us both how to recognize and follow godly examples.
Paul begins in verses 10 and 11 by telling Timothy, "Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!"
These verses begin with "Now you," which is in an emphatic position. The point Paul will make is made even more emphatically still when he uses the conjunction in the adversative sense. This formula will appear again when Paul wishes to draw a contrast between Timothy and the false teachers. Like Jannes and Jambres, these false teachers were denoted as being resistant to the truth. Timothy, on the other hand, was fully acquainted with Paul’s life and service. The young theologue had chosen to identify with the truth. 
The Apostle Paul's doctrine was crucial. However, he appeals to far more than his doctrine alone when he calls Timothy to remembrance. He uses nine nouns to speak of the totality of his life with which Timothy was quite familiar. He appealed to “my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings.” To be sure, doctrine was the first matter to which Paul appealed for Timothy to recall. Built upon his doctrine were the other aspects of his life. 
I strong believe, that we as parents, should pray that our children would come under the influence of many godly examples. over the years, I have known parents that have tried to keep their children exclusively under parental influence, not allowing church youth leaders or anyone, to get close to their children. Their motive, was no doubt, to protect their children from falling prey to harmful influences, which is always a huge risk. However, it seems to me that it is to our children’s advantage to be exposed to a number of godly adults besides that of us as parents. 
We all need help in rearing our children, and if another trusted godly person could have a positive impact in their lives, I believe that we should not only take advantage of it, but that we should thank God for it. As I am sure many of you are already aware, our children will often listen to the guidance of others more quickly than they will coming from a parent. 
I also believe this to be true of pastors. There are some pastors who are fearful of having their flock listen to the teachings of other pastors, perhaps this is out of fear that the other pastor will say something that undermines what they have been teaching. However, allow me to just say, that I do not have a corner on God’s truth! I encourage you to benefit from other godly pastors who are faithful to Scripture and stand firm on God's Word. Throughout the years I personally benefit from the ministries of J. Vernon McGee and others. 
Though I must caution you to be diligent, as there are quite a large number of religious charlatans out there! I am saddened to say, I have, in my life, seen many preachers who use the Holy Word of God, as one would use a "How To Home Improvement" magazine. While I'll be the first to acknowledge, that Scripture provides all the "How-To," tools we need, there is so much more than helping others "cope with their problems in this life!" The Bible teaches us about the need for salvation, and the Living Savior and how to trust in Him to forgive their sins. God’s Word is able to give even a child the wisdom that leads to salvation. The many godly men and women who practiced what they preached!
I believe that you should be able to look at a person’s way of life and tell whether or not they are a godly example worthy of following. This would include how he spends his time, how he manages money and possessions, what kind of entertainment he enjoys, and how he relates to his family, friends, fellow workers, and even to strangers. Is he rude or insensitive? Is he oblivious to the needs of others around him or is he patient, kind and caring? Christianity is a way of life that affects all areas of life. A godly example lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul was a man of purpose, and his purpose, was to bring God's purpose. He did everything for the glory of God. Paul related every aspect of his life to the supreme purpose of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord and making Him known to others. Paul's ambition was to be pleasing to Christ, and he therefore, disciplined himself for the purpose of godliness. I believe that is vital in the life of a godly example.
Then, in verse 12, Paul tells Timothy, and all of us that "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Paul spoke of the challenges he faced on several occasions, most notably in his letters to the Church in Corinth. What I believe must be observed, is that Paul wasn’t the least bit hesitant about explaining the cost of service before the Lord. The ministries of an Apostle were not always, appreciated by the membership of the churches. 
This a promise for you to claim! While the type and intensity of the persecution will vary from ridicule or rejection to physical violence or even death, every true Christian who lives a godly life in this evil world will experience persecution. If you are honest at work, your honesty will convict those who cheat, and they will try to get you. If you speak out about injustice or evil, you will be ridiculed and attacked. Many Christians today, seem to have forgotten what it means to be Christian. 
This was also true of the Christians in Corinth, in fact, they were even treating Paul with disdain as if they were capable of judging his labors. Paul was pleading with them to cease being judgemental and critical of him, especially as they compared him to other, less noble individuals purporting to be servants of God. 
In I Corinthians 4:6-14, Paul wrote, "Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world,  both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;  and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children."

And in II Corinthians 6:3-10 he wrote "giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; a  punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

Rather than to let such awful persecution deter him, Paul went right on preaching the gospel.  So, when Paul says that the Lord rescued him out of them, he means that God brought him through them. God did not always keep Paul from trials, although there were certainly times He did. 

I have known a number of Christians, who wonder what was wrong with their faith, because they aren't experiencing instantaneous, miraculous answers to their prayers.I would anyone who feels this way to carefully read Colossians 1:9-12, which teaches us "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light."

Allow me to mention, if God’s mighty power always delivers us instantly from our trials, then why would we need steadfastness and patience, with joy? The only reason we need steadfastness and patience with joy is that God has not yet delivered us from our trials. It takes God's mighty power to give us joy in the midst of the unanswered prayers and our ongoing trials. That brings us to another mark of a godly example. A godly example is also known for his teaching and his character.

The Corinthians thought rather highly of their spiritual perspicuity. However, they were duped by charlatans masquerading as super Christians. Paul met that distortion of the faith head on when he challenged the Corinthians to think. They needed to step back and consider the willingness to sacrifice demonstrated by both the super apostles and the Apostle to the Gentiles.  

In II Corinthians 11:22-31, Paul wrote, "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying." 

Obviously, the Apostle Paul made an impression on the early churches. A book known as the Didache gives us insight into the early life of the churches. The earliest references to the Didache goes back to as early as 70 A.D. Though the book is not canonical, nor should anyone imagine it can claim apostolic authorship or approval, it does give insight into the general practices of the early churches. At one point, the book reads, "Now, turning to apostles and prophets you must treat them according to the rule of the gospel. Every apostle who arrives among you is to be welcomed as if he were the Lord. But normally he must not stay with you for more than one day, but he may stay a second day if this is necessary. However, if he stays a third day, then he is a false prophet! When he leaves you, an apostle must receive nothing except enough food to sustain him until the next night’s lodgings. However, if he asks for money, then he is a false prophet!"

One nomadic in that early day did so out of love for the Lord who appointed him to service. He did not seek an easy life, and he knew that he would not be honored in most instances. And settled pastors were the first to be singled when the pagans attacked. One cannot read the account of Paul’s service provided in the Book of Acts without coming to the realization that he paid a high price to serve the Lord. It has been noted by many for years that unlike this day, the Apostles would go to a town and check in at the local jail. Greeting them with a "Keep a cell open for me, fellas, there's little doubt that I’ll be checking in soon!" 

Life with the Apostle was never dull! Paul managed to keep things jumping. And he did this, not by being confrontational, but with love and gentleness as he firmly presented the claim of the Living God through the message of life. Paul did not seek out to be provocative; however, he endeavored to be faithful to Christ, and truthful, seeking the benefit of all through the preaching of the Word. 

Here is a truth, that I believe must be remembered, even today. Suffering with Christ is inevitable for the believer living in union with Him. Since the Apostle had been reminding Timothy of the cost of his own service, he now extrapolates to all who desire to live a godly life in Christ. You can be a church member and never experience opposition. However, you cannot live a godly life and avoid opposition; you cannot have the longing to be godly in Christ without facing some level of opposition. Sooner or later, you will be called to take a stand for what you believe! 

As it is not all praise and glory when a man accepts the divine appointment to oversee Christ’s work in a congregation, as you cannot effectively war against the enemy while living a life of comfort and luxury. And, because the church is composed of individuals, with different interests and personalities,  it is inevitable that there will be conflict; and tragically, that conflict will occasionally result in heated exchanges and even in open warfare, despite the fact that those warring are brothers. Standing firm in the faith invites opposition from those who want the pastor to be "reasonable" according to their opinion. This fallen world simply cannot understand why we care unable accommodate "just a little bit" of sin, why we insist on righteousness. 

Jesus said in Matthew 10:16-20, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Those Christians who would imagine that Jesus would guarantee them the absence of conflict, obviously have forgotten the rest of teachings in this same chapter. In verses 34-39, He said "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."

 Paul says in verse 13, "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

What I can tell you with all certainty is that "evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." And, when their wickedness is exposed through the teaching of the Word of God, they will react with anger, striking out in their rage at the one whom they see as thwarting their designs on deceiving the people of God. The servant of God can anticipate a strong reaction when he faithfully declares the truths of God.

The Apostle Peter also warned us of these people in II Peter 2:1-3, when he wrote, “False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words." 

Paul warns us of their assault against the faith, adding that their destructive efforts to deceive will intensify we move toward the cataclysmic conclusion of the present age.

In Closing....

What I find to be most disheartening, is when false teachers introduce  their wicked teaching into the life of the faithful. Such distorted presentations are thought by many to be Christianity; sound doctrinal teaching, is merely a perversion of the God's Word. This is surely what we are witnessing today,  by the large numbers of followers that mindlessly follow the popular televangelists promising material blessing through adherence to them and the precepts they present rather than insisting on commitment to Jesus Christ. As many follow their sensuality, their emphasis on the material aspects of life, "the way of truth will be blasphemed."

God is able to deliver us from every evil. And, if He so chooses to allow us to suffer, it will be to His glory.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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