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Guarding The Gospel Of Grace

 
 

 
 
"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier."
 
 
Good Morning my beloved,
 
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift you up in our prayers. We ask that you would do the same for us.
 
I'd like to begin with the word of our Lord "Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." - John 14:6
 
Apostolic succession is essential to a healthy church. However, whenever I speak of apostolic succession, today, it is important to define what is meant. I am speaking to the adherence of the model that is provided in the holy Scripture. I do not subscribe to the aberrations, however popular they may be, that occur in contemporary church. What I mean by "apostolic succession,"that there is a continuation of the Apostles’ doctrine.
 
Tragically, we are aware of the many scandals that have plagued many of the churches holding to this particular aberration. Those who have perpetuated heinous crimes against innocent youths and those attempting to cover over crimes, which were committed by priests, who were certainly not at all living as Peter would have lived. It is abundantly clear that God could not approve of their actions! However, they would argue that because of a succession of ordination, going back to Peter, then doctrine and full fellowship are ensured.

There are a number of evangelical churches, and especially those lauded by one particular group, is held a form of apostolic succession that has caused great harm to the cause of Christ. While these churches do not argue that they have a succession of ordination; rather, they hold to "baptismal succession." In their argument, your baptism is invalid if you cannot trace your baptism back to John the Baptist. Their de facto argument is that only baptism administered by a church holding the name "Baptist" is valid; and all other baptisms are, by definition, ineffective and defective. This is just not Scriptural.

Apostolic succession, is witnessed by appeal to the Word of God as we hold our churches to the standard of God's Word. You will note a statement concerning the practice of the first congregation in Jerusalem. "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." These earliest Christians were committed to knowing and obeying what was taught by the Apostles. The mark of apostolic succession is witnessed among churches that practice it today, whether they actually use the term or not. However, it is the succession of teaching that defined the first congregations and continues to mark the faithful congregations today.

The culture in which Paul and Timothy lived was one of distorted values, misleading commitments, moral corruption and confusion, and dangerous misconceptions. As a result, the whole Roman world was about to explode with violence. Today, we live in a world that's in deep trouble, however, many do not even realize it.
 
In Second Timothy 1:14, the Apostle Paul charged Timothy to "Guard the truth which has been entrusted to you." In Chapter 2, we will explore ways by which this is accomplished. As Christians, I believe that it is necessary for us to understand, this must be done in every age. A focused ministry of leading others to become true disciples of Jesus Christ which means that they, too, are able to others to become true disciples of Jesus Christ. I would encourage each of us to ask ourselves,"Am I committed to guarding the truth?"  
 
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
 
Heavenly Father,
 
Father, we are so grateful for Your Word. We pray that it would penetrate the hearts and minds of those hearing it today, that they might lead a strong spiritual life, a teacher with whom the truth of God is deposited, of which we are entrusted to be committed and faithful to passing on. Lord, I pray that You would raise up godly men, qualified and competent to teach. Lead us to those who are able, in whom we can invest our lives, to rear faithful teachers of the truth. Father, help us to preserve sanity in an insane world.
In Jesus' name 
Amen

Today's Message: Guarding The Gospel Of Grace

Once I accept the challenge of mentoring another believer in the effort to encourage him to be a true disciple of Jesus,the first thing that I do is pray about it. Seeking God's guidance. This is what Jesus did in selecting the twelve:

Luke 6:12-13 tells us that "It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles."  

It is interesting to note that Jesus selected the twelve only after having spent time with them and observing them. Then He prayerfully sought the Father’s guidance. That is exactly what we must also do, following His example.

Open with me your Bibles to Second Timothy chapter two verses one through four. We must be cautious not to involve ourselves in the depositing of God’s Word into the lives of just any believer. They must prove themselves worthy of this eternal investment. God gives only one requirement, but it is crucial. This requirement is faithfulness, it is the dividing line between mediocrity and excellence.

I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read to you from today's text, to set it in our minds. II Timothy 2:1-4.

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier."

I believe that the only way one is able to keep their inner life strong, is by a personal relationship to the One True Living God. That has been proven again and again, all throughout human history. There are millions of people, who think that they can stand against the forces of evil, in today's world by leaning on their friends, family, therapist, psychiatrist, or mental health counselor, they will find they will only crumble, or run, when you need them most. And, what's worse,is the ones that seem to bail first, are the very ones you thought would be there with you until the end.

In his earlier letter to Timothy, Paul had reminded Timothy that he had received a charge to confront errant teaching, doing so in a manner that brought honor to Christ, while revealing his love for Him. He was to expose those individuals who erroneously promoted themselves as spokesmen for God because of self-appointment. Opposition to error, and especially opposition to errant teachers, is seldom welcomed either by those confronted or by members uncertain and confused about the status of such individuals. I believe that every teacher of the Word, must know that our time afforded is limited, there must be an end to every ministry. Upon Christ’s return, all of our work will cease. Until then, each of us knows, that we must go all the way to the ends of the earth. Whatever is done, must be done today. 

In John 9:4, Jesus warned those ho would follow Him, "We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work." Whatever must be done, whatever we hope to accomplish for the cause of Christ, must be fulfilled now. Therefore, our ministry to the people of God is urgent. The writer of Hebrews 3:13, cautioned disciples with these words "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."

Paul urged the Christians in Romans 13:11-14, "Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

We serve a Sovereign God, however, speaking from a human perspective, at any given moment,, the Christian faith is but one generation from extinction. We do not have the luxury of time, in fulfilling Christ's commands tomorrow.

In verses 1-3, Timothy is being commissioned to succeed Paul, so he issues him three urgent commands; "be strong, entrust and suffer hardship." Allow me to say, this same commission is given to those of us who serve Christ, even today. Many are prone to relegate what Paul has written to only preachers of the Word. However, I believe that it's easy to imagine Paul's words apply to every believer, both generally and specifically. Is it possible that our contemporary view grows out of our distorted view of the church. As pastors and elders, we have done a poor job of teaching the saints the truth of who we are and of our relationship to our Sovereign Head of the church, Christ Jesus. Many today, see church as a spectator sport. They come to church, they sit back, watch the worship team, listen to the choir, the preacher teach and leave. Without ever becoming involved, the entire service experience is seen as a form of entertainment. We seem to have forgotten that each and every believer is one day going to stand before the Lord and give an account for his service. The first congregation saw the church was a living entity, the service was not a concert performance, the church was the living Body of the Risen Lord and they were members of that living Body. 

Though the workman dies, the work must continue. Allow me to remind you, that each generation is responsible to reach the next and so on. Apart from new birth in the family of faith, the present generation dies, ceasing to exist. I have witnessed this very thing occurring in several churches today. Succession ends with the last one willing to faithfully prepare the next generation of believers, passing on the role of preacher.

Believers are empowered by the grace that is in Christ Jesus; however, this power is not figurative as some have so often imagined. Because this truth is often unintentionally distorted, I must stress this truth.  If one follows Paul's argument beginning in the previous chapter and you will see that the power supplied by Christ’s Spirit enables His followers to adhere to the truth, recognizing and guarding against error. What God supplies does not empower us to resort to the methods of this world in order to accomplish His work. The power supplied to us by God is the power to be holy, power to recognize error and power to speak the truth in love! I find it to be disturbing that many pastors attempt to employ the means of this world to accomplish the work and will of God. In doing this, we will only accomplish what the world can achieve.

In Closing..

While the world may not be impressed by the messages we bring, it is this message that brings life to those who are dead, opens the ears of the deaf and gives sight to those who are blind. I'd like you to recall The Apostle Paul’s teaching to the Church of God in I Corinthians 1:18-19; "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."

Today, pastors are hired based on a degree, earned in a school, some connection within a particular denomination. They will teach what a professor has taught, accountable to denominational entities, rather than being held accountable to the Word of God. Making it even easier to preach what sounds good and what makes one feel good about themselves, what is culturally acceptable rather than being built on the Holy Spirit and the pure Word of God.

However, I know that even as I preach this message, someone is listening, someone who will seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who will carry it beyond the days of my life. God is at work now, calling upon the heart of some young man to declare this message. He is working in the life of a believer somewhere, equipping that sister or preparing that brother to speak to a neighbor or to comfort a colleague. It is of no particular importance how polished they are in speech or in dress; it is essential to know that they are serious about pursuing holiness, righteousness and that they are faithful in declaring the Gospel message, and they are walking closely with our Lord Jesus Christ. They will receive the knowledge that only a few men will attain among the faithful, the Good News of Jesus Christ. For a church that holds the preacher accountable for what is taught, measured by the Word of God, will be a community of faith that will be denoted as faithful and competent.

Yes, beloved, I believe even now, God is preparing the heart of someone, equipping them to stand firm in the faith, strong against the storms of life, someone who will not shrink in the face of adversity, who is more concerned with teaching the truth and pleasing God, rather than a board or the members of the congregation, who will teach the Gospel, glorifying His Name.

For a day is coming, when I will cease to exist, but before that day arrives, I am confident that God will call upon the heart of another, who will spent equal time on his knees, fervently praying for others, as he does on his feet to reach the ears of the lost, restore those who have strayed from the path of the Narrow Gate, whose life will evidence God’s appointment. 

"Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments"

May it be so..  

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

 
 
 
 
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