I had the greatest of intentions when I began this little series to post three articles from Second Timothy. Well since this is part three, I will continue to write and see where we end up. Today, hear the word of the Lord, as He speaks through the Apostle Paul to Timothy.
…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 2 Timothy 1:9-11
I think it’s important to see the Sovereignty of God in this section of text, because outside of the calling, purpose, grace and salvation of a Holy God nobody would ever be saved. Given the discussion we had last time I think this is easily missed. It’s easily missed, because just like the mission, it’s an often times unpopular message. But if we don’t understand the goodness and mercy of God that controls all things, then we are to misunderstand the majority of what Scripture teaches us. So much of what I want to say can be summed up by the Prophet Ezekiel. So let’s see what God tells us through His Prophet.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. – Ezekiel 36:22-27
Why does God, do what He does? Isn’t it simple? He does it for His name’s sake. That is it. My work is over. You’ve been informed. Now, that wasn’t all that hard was it, or was it?
Question number one from many reformed catechisms is the same thing.
- 1. What is the chief end of man?
- Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
Whew, again, that’s pretty simple to understand, but the bottom line, for most people is that’s really difficult if not impossible to swallow. Here is the problem. I will make a pretty bold statement here, in that it’s not only the problem, it’s the reason all heresies and false teachings arise. It all goes back to the garden and the attempted coup by Adam and his desire to kick God off His throne and become “god” himself. I’m sure by now you are hanging on a thread, well… what is it?
Man replaces God honoring worship with man honoring desires. Man-centered theology replaces God-centered theology. Man wants to rule, and he wants to subject God under his feet. But guess what? God will have none of it, and although man believes sometimes and most of the times that he is the center of the universe, God has declared that’s not so.
Psalm 2:1 – Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?
Psalm 2:4-5 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath. And distress them in His deep displeasure.
Brothers and sisters, friends and anyone else that might look upon these words, I hope you will consider today that the God of the universe, the King of all creation, the Holy One, sits on His throne and He is in charge. Not a thing escapes His attention, not a sparrow falls to the ground outside His sovereign will. Not a single human being is saved without His enabling. He calls and the elect respond. Those saved are not any more intelligent or any more capable than the worst of all the sinners outside of God’s decrees. He does His good pleasure, because He’s God.
Well, there is so much more to say, and I don’t have the time and space I desire, but we can see the gospel has been established by Christ Himself through His revelation. He came to this earth and He did what no man could accomplish. He fulfilled the law of God that sinful man might be saved; He proved this by conquering death and rising from the grave. He is worthy, and we have the written word that Paul has given us, to know the truth and the validity of the message.
As we go out today and consider God’s plan, as one that sows seed, we must sow good seed; the seed of the pure gospel. When we boldly and unashamedly proclaim the gospel, God saves. He uses the foolishness of the message to save some, for His glory. What a marvelous message, what an amazing privilege we have.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 2 Timothy 1:8-11
Paul uses a term he is fond of to point us back to the importance of what he just finished saying. “Therefore”, and as my pastor says, what’s the therefore, there for? Paul told Timothy that he is to have a spirit of boldness about the gospel, and I think this is important to draw our minds back to the previous post and consider our power, our love through a sound mind. Why? Because when we focus our energy on those around us, we are far less likely to be focused on ourselves, and in turn this causes us to lose our fear, or our timidity.
This is an important turn in thinking because now Paul is going to smack us upside the head with the reality of what’s coming next. Do Not Be Ashamed! It’s quite interesting to note that the Greek word epaischynomai means do not be ashamed. Quite honestly, we just can’t hide from the meaning behind what Paul is pushing us into, and more often than not, we are kicking, fighting and screaming against it.
Why be ashamed? I will touch on two reasons.
One of the reasons I’m firmly convinced we are ashamed, is that we have missed the purpose of the gospel. In today’s professing church, we are taught many things, and most of them are not biblical. There is a general focus on the purpose of why Jesus came to earth, and what we are to do, but it’s wrong. Let’s look at the right focus.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. – Romans 1:16
The first thing we must understand is the gospel is for salvation. It is the message that God uses to save those that will believe. If we get this wrong, we miss the entire point. We misunderstand that man needs saving, we miss that God is holy and must punish sin; we miss the need for Jesus Christ as the solution to the fact that man cannot save himself. We miss the whole mission.
“for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:10
If this is misunderstood, everything else will be misunderstood. The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to give us life and give it more abundantly in the way most think. He did not come to give us an example of how to live, although Christians will try to live like Christ. He did not come to heal people and hang out with them in a bar, although He did heal to prove His divinity and He did hang out with sinners to call them to repentance and faith in His Name. If we don’t understand His mission and His purpose, then our mission and our purpose will be wrong.
It’s Just Plain Easier
I’m convinced another reason the professing church today is misguided is because it’s easier. I know this because I was misguided and it was easier. It was much easier to sit inside a comfortable church building, singing great “worship” songs and slapping people on the back for an hour a week than it is to do the work of an evangelist. It’s much easier to pass out water on the bike path, than it is for me to stand on the street corner and publicly proclaim Christ and call sinners to repentance. It’s much easier to say that Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life than it is for me to tell them they are a filthy wretch and God will pour out His wrath upon them unless they submit and surrender to Him.
Because at the end of the day, this is more practical, it’s more pragmatic, it’s more enjoyable, and it’s a whole lot less stressful. Isn’t this what the Apostle was trying to warn his son would be the temptation? Isn’t this what Paul is still telling the professing church today?
“Hey, brother… Hey, Pastor… Hey church member…” “Guess what, I’ve got some good news and some bad news, which would you like to hear first?” “Let me start with both, you are going to get to SUFFER!”
Isn’t this why it’s misguided and easier, because in reality nobody really wants to suffer… They want a Jesus that makes their life easier, and more enjoyable. They want a Jesus that requires little, and gives much. They want a Jesus, that’s a soft, effeminate, with lambs and children on His knees. They want a Jesus that wraps His arms around us and says “its okay little buddy, I love you anyway…; I realize you are trying to stop that sin in your life, and I’m okay with it…”
When we lack timidity, when we are bold in the faith, and when we stand on the truth of God’s Word and proclaim it to a dead world, we have the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. When you go out into the world, as Jesus commanded us to do, then you get to share in His pain and you get to experience ever so slightly some of what He experienced. This sanctifies us; this makes us more like Him. This makes us bold as a lion.
If you are a church leader, a pastor, or even a pew sitter, please meditate on these words today and be challenged by them. God will judge our works here on earth. If you are saved you won’t be judged to condemnation for your rebellion to His word, but you will sure regret the life you wasted here. If you are just a church goer, you must repent and believe the gospel. If that miracle occurs in your life you will be remarkably different. It will be bring persecution and suffering for righteousness sake. You will have the opportunity to share in His sufferings.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:10
Paul was reminding and preparing young Timothy of his job and the joys to come. He is reminding us today that we must or we are not. And that is very hard for me to wrap my mind around, because I like my comfort.
…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also… – 2 Timothy 1:5-7
Today I’m going to begin an exegetical journey through 2 Timothy 1:5-14. I believe it will take three posts to do this section any justice but I’m confident it will bless you and encourage you as we look at the life of Timothy and the Apostle Paul’s charge to his son in the faith. I’m hopeful it will show us a difference between those that hold to sound doctrine and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul has been imprisoned in Rome for the second time, and this time he is no longer in the same position he was under his first imprisonment. In the past he had some freedom, and Paul reports it actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (Philippians 1:12), this time it would appear he is in a cold and damp cell, with little hope for release. Paul seems to understand this as later in this letter he writes that he has finished his race (4:7) and his departure is at hand (4:6). He desires for Timothy to come to him and see him one last time. Paul has clearly been abandoned by most and in this letter he desires to strengthen and encourage Timothy. Perhaps young Timothy is weakening, as the daily duties of Pastoring a church have worn him down. He’s still a young man and he needs some fatherly wisdom to help him. Haven’t we all been there in our faith? That we need those men that have mentored us to build us up and encourage us?
We also see the important role that Paul has played in Timothy’s life. Paul had met Timothy as a very young man and had taken him under his wing, so to speak. He had identified that this young man had “potential”, he had been raised in a home that taught the Scriptures, and when the gospel was preached to Timothy, his mother and grandmother, they believed. How important and how obviously we see, that practically, as parents to feed our children the truth of God’s Word.
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:6-7
Was Paul bothered by what was going on in Timothy’s life and leadership? This seems to be the case, as he was calling him to action. This word anazōpyreō means to rekindle a flame, to stir up the coals, or to take a bellows and blow into the fire. One of my favorite things is to sit beside a campfire and I love just poking and prodding at the logs and the coals. This is the imagery that we have of Paul challenging Timothy, not to lose his fire for the Lord.
Paul was reminding Timothy of these things, it was important enough to challenge Timothy that something was starting to slip, and Paul had invested a lot of time and energy in building a team, if you will, to continue what the Lord Jesus had started. This was worthy of another letter. It is worthy for us today to be reminded of the solemn charge, that when God laid His Sovereign Hand upon us that we are to continue in faith, and in sound words that bring glory to His Name, whether we are in ministry in an official capacity or simply out in the world proclaiming Christ to those dead in their sins and trespasses.
We all need a little encouragement. In fact we need a lot of encouragement, because ministry is hard work. Satan attacks those that are on the front lines. He hates those that fight for the King, and if you are little under attack, I would ask are you doing little work?
Fear, Power, Love & Sound Mind
We will finish this section with a challenge to those of us that call ourselves Christians. The word “fear” in this verse actually means timid. Are you timid about your faith, if you are timid about your faith, who is that about? Do you really believe that the gospel must be preached for people to be saved? Do you really believe people will die in their sins and trespasses?
Then it’s time to get over your love of self! Your timidity…
Turn your love to those that need it the most, the lost. Those are the ones you need to love, and that type of love will be unpopular in many if not most instances. This love is “agapē” the kind that does not seek its own, it seeks the benefit of others; it is the sacrificial love that Christ displayed on the cross.
I really love what Charles Spurgeon said about the desire of men’s souls and I think it really helps us focus on the problem. The problem being we are self protectors, we don’t care much for conflict.
“If you really long to save men’s souls, you must tell them a great deal of disagreeable truth.” – C.H. Spurgeon
That really sums it up doesn’t it? Men must hear things about themselves they don’t want to hear, and that requires someone to tell them such things, an unpopular message at best. Have you been reviled for this message?
Finally a sound mind is required. This requires self control, sober thinking, lack of silliness, and an attitude of solemnity. We must not think too highly of ourselves, we must be gentle and under control, but we must tell men a great deal of disagreeable truth in order to save their souls. Of course we know God saves their souls, but we are like the mail man delivering an unpopular message. We didn’t write the mail, but we must place it in their hands. (This is a loose translation of a thought by Voddie Baucham).
Next time we will dig into the heart of the matter, and expose the missed opportunity and downright falsity of those claiming to be leaders in the modern day church. We will see just how challenging this bit of bad news really is, before one can understand and receive the good news. We will see that it requires men in leadership that are godly, not little boys standing behind pulpits delivering pep talks.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and become obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. – Philippians 2:5-8
All of us Christians will applaud this beautiful verse of the Bible, because the death of our Lord Jesus Christ means life for those that believe in Him. We are amazed by this incredible sacrifice that proves He conquered death once and for all. Because He lives, I can live, and so can you.
But I really want to focus on something here that really struck me this past week that I doubt very few Christians consider and certainly don’t apply to their lives.
“He made Himself of no reputation…”
The Lord Jesus Christ completely emptied Himself, made Himself hollow, or useless. This is what this means. It means vanity, or of no effect. Now we certainly know that He accomplished His tasks and He was “effective” in the way He needed to be effective, but not in the way that most view effectiveness.
Look how Isaiah describes Him.
He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him; He was despised, and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. – Isaiah 53:2b-3
I don’t think any self professing Christian would struggle to read these verses, or to even heartily agree with them, but here is my challenge today. Do you live like this? Do I live like this?
When is the last time you emptied yourself of your reputation?
This past week I had the wonderful privilege to standing on a stool in Hollywood California and publicly proclaiming the Word of God to all those that pass by. Before you start thinking that I’m getting proud of myself, I want to assure you this has nothing to do with me, because I’m going to be greatly challenged in this post as well.
But isn’t it a worthwhile discussion and an opportunity for us Christians to ask ourselves this question?
When is the last time you’ve been looked on with disdain because you boldly proclaimed the name of Christ as Lord and Savior? Do we expect that somehow the servant is above the master? That Christ never expects a thing from us?
As I walked up to the North Hollywood Metro I could hear the word of God clearly coming from one of the men, and I had the joy of meeting Tony Miano for the first time. Tony is a man that publicly proclaims the truth consistently and up to 5 or 6 times per week. He is either open air preaching, passing out bibles and tracts, or standing in front of the abortion clinic pleading for young women not to murder their babies, telling them there is hope in Christ. I’m humbled and ashamed at my pathetic attempts at evangelism when I compare myself to Tony.
But yet when I now return home and consider that if I begin doing this in my town, it won’t take long for me to empty myself of my reputation. How long before I see people in public that I know through my business or I know from high school, or someplace else? It’s not a big town that I live in, so I don’t imagine it takes that long.
What will they say? What will they think?
“Wow, I mean, what happened to Kevin?” “He was a nice guy, a “normal” guy.” “Was he seriously standing there hollering about God? That’s really weird, what a freak…”
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:12
Certainly, Paul didn’t mean that did he?
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10
This is a big challenge for me, and I hope it will be a challenge for you to consider this article. You see in 10 minutes of open air preaching, more people heard the gospel out of my mouth than heard it from me in my whole 49 years of life. Just think about that for a moment.
Over 1000 bibles were given out in four days of evangelism.
And people say this is ineffective… by whose standard?
Please consider your testimony and your witness today. Please consider how bold you will be for Jesus Christ if you call Him Lord? I’m very challenged by this, and I hope you will be as well, because as my brother Tony challenged me about my fear and nervousness, he asked me to dig deeper as to the reason for the fear. “Kevin, I’d say it’s your love of self that has you be fearful.” Ouch…
I would say brother Tony hit the nail right on the head and it’s the reason most would never consider preaching the word publicly, and I hope that today we will consider speaking to someone when it’s inconvenient or embarrassing, or we risk rejection. Wasn’t Christ rejected? Are you above your master?
Are you a Pastor or a church leader, and do you have men that you are training for the work of ministry, to publicly proclaim His name? If you don’t you should, because very few will enter your church building, in comparison to those you can reach out on the streets. Or maybe Noah, Jonah, Jesus, Paul, Whitfield and countless others were wrong? I don’t know…but I suspect not…
Go out and preach, go out and fulfill the Great Commission, this is why you were saved.
“Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering…” These lyrics appear in a popular, modern, worship song by Matt Redman. But what does it mean to suffer in today’s Christianity, as I’m sure many people sing along with this song but have no concept of real suffering.
I think most people equate suffering today, in the “church” as something that comes from numerous sources, none of which are biblical standards of suffering. I expect that even making this statement will be offensive to many because when we are suffering we want to believe we are suffering biblically, especially if we name the name of Christ.
What is it to suffer?
Experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant) – this is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition. I could probably dig a little deeper, but this is what most people will consider to suffer.
When we feel bad, or when we feel like we didn’t get what we deserve, we feel as though we are suffering. Some might be suffering the loss of a loved one, or suffering the loss of a job. These are certainly unpleasant things that occur, and nobody likes them, but are they really suffering as the Bible would describe it?
Our family has recently been watching a series about heroes of the faith. These are people that endured prison, endured beatings, and many of them endured martyrdom. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned in Communist Romania for speaking out against Communism. He spent over eight years imprisoned and three years in solitary confinement with no lights or no windows. He was beaten and tortured, physically as well as psychologically and yet he maintained his sanity by preaching sermons during the night to himself. His survival and proclamation of the gospel is beyond what we can imagine today.
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:10-12
Paul is instructing young Timothy how to be a faithful minister of the Word. He is setting the example before him of his own life. He is telling him how it’s going to be…and Timothy must know how his future will most likely turn out. Only a true believer will set himself up for this, because it’s not going to be fun.
I’m challenged by this, and I hope you are as well, because I think we need to be. I think we must be…
We don’t currently experience this today, at least not in this country, mostly… But I believe we will, and I believe I must prepare my children. It’s why I think it’s important for them to see those that gave their lives for the faith. They suffered and died to proclaim His name.
Consider these great heroes of the faith, their names are unknown to us, but their example lives on, and it’s one for us to consider when we are afraid to open our mouths and hand someone a gospel tract.
…Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should be made perfect apart from us. – Hebrews 11:35-40
This doesn’t sound like my Christianity? I realize we are in a different time period, and the place we live right now, is unlikely that I’m going to be destitute and or sawn in half. But should I then say, this has no place in a conviction in my life? Absolutely not, this should shame me when I won’t open my mouth, or I look at my 401K statement and think, boy if I only had a little more, I’d be in pretty good shape.
No, how about giving until it actually effects my 401K? How about standing on a corner and proclaiming the name of Christ and actually praising God for the ridicule that will no doubt ensue? Would this be better or worse than being slain with the sword? That’s not a mutually exclusive proposition; I can do one without the other. I probably won’t be slain, but I will probably be made fun of, and that would be a slight way in which I could suffer for Christ sake, wouldn’t it?
Could I, or could you risk some embarrassment every now and again, to give someone a message of love? To tell them they need Jesus, because without Him they are on a crash course for Hell? Do we believe that? If we sort of don’t…then we won’t… If Hell is real, then its consequences are real, and we need to tell people, we need to warn them.
I’d like to consider this verse in a different way today.
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled.” But ou do nt give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead. – James 2:14-17
This verse is clearly and plainly for believers, please don’t be confused, and here is how I want us to think differently about it. If we don’t live out our faith in a tangible and real way, proclaiming Christ to dead people, we are doing the same thing to them. We might even give them something warm and fill them with food; in fact lots of misguided ministries do just that. But…..do they give them the bread of life?
Do we tell them God is holy and man is sinful? Do we tell them Jesus is the answer to their sin problem? Do we tell them they must turn from their sin, and embrace a new life in Christ? This is the gospel, this is necessary, and they need to be born again, or they will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So, let’s go out and suffer, just a little bit this week. Just a little bit, so we can learn to suffer a little bit more and then someday, maybe we can really learn how to suffer.
If a Virtuous Wife is a wife that is working with and for her husband as unto the Lord, then the opposite of that is most certainly a contentious woman. God created Eve as a helper suitable for Adam; a woman that would assist man in his endeavors to take dominion over the earth and subdue it.
This woman that God so graciously gave Adam was designed perfectly for him. She was intended to be compatible. And I can’t imagine what Adam thought when he first saw her. It was perfect. She was perfect. God’s design was perfect.
And then…of course, we know the story…
Sin entered the world and God put rivalry between man and woman, the woman became infected with the desire to rule over her husband. If you are married, then you know that this curse is still alive and well in mankind. We see the effects of it in the world. We see the role reversals more prominently all the time. Just flip on your television and watch a couple commercials. The “men” on these commercials are not biblical men. They are lap dogs. They are the product of a world gone wrong. The women have become the power brokers. They are the ones we are asked to look to for guidance, and decision making.
God made women beautiful, and He made them strong, but He also made them a weaker vessel. He made them like fine china, but yet with a different type of strength. Men you know what I mean, and only a fool, would not recognize the immense treasure of a godly wife, and the amazing gift she is to her husband.
Why the issues? Why is there contention? And more importantly how does a godly woman become a woman of virtue?
The Proverbs tell us much about the difficulty in living with this woman.
Better to dwell in a corner of a
Than in a house shared with a
contentious woman. – Proverbs 21:9
Better to dwell in the
Than with a contentious and
angry woman. – Proverbs 21:19
Do we notice that “angry” was added in verse 19? Not only is this woman contentious but she is also angry. She wants to strive against her husband, and she’s angry with him? Does she have just cause to be angry? Perhaps, but we must also identify the source of anger.
If she’s angry for any other reason than God’s glory, then she’s sinfully angry and more likely than not the anger is selfish. Oh, I know we can find reason to believe she’s angry for righteous reasons, but we must examine the motives, deeply and with a self focus, as opposed to a “him” focus. Side note: ladies, wives, I didn’t say he was perfect, and we’ll deal with him another day, but let’s keep it where it needs to be for now.
A continual dripping on a very
And a contentious woman are
Whoever restrains her
restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right
hand. – Proverbs 27:15-16
Look at the absurdity of trying to restrain a contentious woman. Is it impossible to restrain the wind, or hold oil in your hand? Have you known wives like this? Have you been a wife like this, or are you a wife like this?
What is the answer? This really is a dividing line between a woman that desires godliness and one that seeks her own way. The word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart and no creature is hidden from His sight.
The wise woman builds her
But the foolish pulls it down
with her hands. – Proverbs 14:1
This tells a story, about what’s at the heart of the matter. Wisdom or foolishness…salvation or condemnation… I’m not saying this will look like sinless perfection, but in the heart of a wise woman, there will be progress in her Christian walk, and I’m writing today, to those that profess Christianity. I realize how foolish this will be for the unbelieving woman. You hold the power in your hands to help form your husband into a more godly man if he is a believer. You can build him up, or tear him down with your own hands. And if he is not a believer you can push him further away from your profession of Christianity, or drive him to it.
You might be fine china, but you have more power than you can even imagine, and if you are Christ’s you must use it for His glory, not for your own purposes. I realize many of you have made mistakes, and been a poor witness for the Lord, but there is hope. You must repent of your past sins, and seek Christ diligently, and He will rebuild your house, unless you labor in vain.
This past week I had the privilege to hear some of the finest Bible Expositors that are around today. The men that God has given wonderful gifts, to exhort and edify the body of Christ. I’ve learned much from these men, and I also have much to learn. I came away knowing how little I really know about God and His word. I realized I’m a man that has devoted the majority of his life, to worthless things.
I look back down the road from my salvation in 2009 and I understand I’ve come a long way, but yet I see a great mirage that I continue to chase and it just keeps getting further away. I’m thankful that is the case. It causes me to hunger and thirst all the more, yet it is sometimes overwhelming in my desire to know truth. Not just for the sake of knowledge, but so that when I bow before my Lord, I will know Him already, yet I desire to know Him so much more.
That is the way the Christian life is meant to be, and I was stunned to hear one of the men say this very thing, a man that from my perspective knows more than I will ever know, or could ever know in several lifetimes. He knows Hebrew and Greek and even speaks them fluently and reads in them.
Among all the amazing sermons, something was said by Paul Washer that really struck me. It was almost a side note. A little blurb on the end or at the start of something that I’m sure for most people was not noticeably significant. But it hit me, and I know it hit others, as I’ve heard testimony about how it affected them. He said this about his wife, and I’m going to paraphrase. He said that in 20 some years of marriage his affection and love for his wife has grown, and that has primarily been because she has grown in virtue. Her growth in virtue has allowed him to love her more.
This is really an incredible statement, because her growth has caused growth in her husband. It’s a mutually dependent relationship. She depends on him, he depends on her. When they are working together there is much more forward motion. Much more ground is gained; all to the glory of God, but how He blesses them in this relationship and this growth.
Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above
The heart of her husband safely
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life. – Proverbs 31:10-12
To really understand this wife of Proverbs 31 we must understand what it means to be virtuous. The Hebrew word is chayil : strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army
No wonder she is hard to find, this is not the meaning of what most think is virtue. Most think that it’s more like chaste, almost graceful or elegant, or simply revolves around her moral character. She no doubt is of the highest moral degree, but that is not at all the biblical concept of virtue. Virtue is all about the strength, might and efficiency of a woman. She’s an army wife. She knows how to get things done, and she doesn’t just sit and consume resources. She’s sturdy… and faithful to her tasks.
If her commander needs her to take a hill, she takes the hill. We must understand who it is she’s working for. “The heart of her husband safely trusts her…” She’s a kept woman; she knows that it is her husband that she is to fulfill and to complete, as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-23). She is a helper. How radically different from the modern concept of the strong woman? She’s strong for sure, but her strength is not for her own benefit, her own fulfillment, and her own desires. She’s strong and independent, but not for her own benefit, it’s for the benefit of another.
What a contrast…
Next post, we will take a look at the virtuous woman’s counterpart, the woman that mostly resembles the world today. We will see a stark difference between these two. We must then consider what is the difference? Why?
When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” – Matthew 26:20-21
The mere thought or reading of this verse is devastating to me. I can barely take in the magnitude of what was happening at this moment in time. The closeness of the relationships that had been formed for three years between Jesus and the twelve is probably hard for us to grasp at this point in history. We have very little to compare that level of relationship, these men traveled and ministered together, and were with each other for nearly every moment.
Judas was a good liar, and he was adept at concealment. He knew how to blend into each and every situation. He might have started out with wonderful expectations of the Messiah. Perhaps, he thought the Messiah would deliver them from the hands of Rome…finally, and then he would achieve the goals he had, the fulfillment he desired, or whatever it was that he really thought he wanted. He clearly, in his inner most being, had no desire for Christ for spiritual reasons.
But don’t we all have those tendencies and desires sometimes?
When I put the work into examining my motives for what I do, and why I do them, I really must stop sometimes and say, “What are you doing?” “Why did you do that?” “Was that for God’s glory or for your own pleasure, your own personal fulfillment?”
Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” – Matthew 26:25
Did he know?
Isn’t this a profound question, something for us to really think about?
Did Judas realize what he was doing, or did his sin blind him so much that he didn’t think that far down the road. In fact the Lord said, “It would have been good for that man, if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24) Can you imagine that it would have been better for Judas to have never been born, to never have walked the earth, to never have breathed a breath, or have his heart beat, to never have seen the sun, taste good food, or to have walked with God Himself on this earth?
He spent time with his Creator, he knew Him on a very intimate level, but yet he really never knew Him at all. Just think, Judas associated with Christ, but he never “knew” Christ, there are many people out there just like Judas. Many of them have a deep intellectual understanding of Christ, yet they don’t know Him.
They are holding onto something… To truly know Christ, means denying yourself, it means that you will abandon everything you have ever, or will ever place your trust in, outside of Him. Charles Spurgeon once said that “If you really long to save men’s souls, you must tell them a great deal of disagreeable truth.” Those that evangelize to the dead, or preach the gospel of peace, know this reality. You know people don’t like what you are telling them. They don’t want to face their sin. It means they have to let go of something. It means they have to admit “it would have been better that they never had been born”, and this is so very true isn’t it? Because what’s the alternative? The alternative is a short life, here on earth, grasping for 30 pieces of silver. When we get that silver, we realize it never held any real satisfaction…a temporary fix at best. Its blood money, but most don’t see it that way.
This past week I had a conversation with a guy that I’ve known for a long time and as I listened to him tell me things I could see that what he thought about himself was really important. However, my heart was crying for him, because he is so lost, and he doesn’t even know it. He’s a nice guy, in some respects, but he doesn’t know the wrath of God abides upon him. He doesn’t know that it would be better that he had never been born, unless he repents and believes the gospel.
From his book “Twelve Ordinary Men” John MacArthur wrote this:
“He was a coward. He knew the popularity of Jesus. He was afraid of the crowd. Like every hypocrite, he was obsessed with concerns about what people thought of him, so he was hoping to betray Jesus as quietly as possible. He was looking for the doorway to hell that was most convenient. And when he found it, he plunged right in.” 
What happens when we fall into sin? Are we a Judas or are we Peter? Do we have sorrow that leads to death or sorrow that leads to repentance? This is the difference and if you’ve never understood that you are a Judas outside of godly sorrow leading to repentance, then you are still a Judas. Judas deceived himself, and he never knew his eternal fate had been sealed when he committed himself fully to Satan’s plan.
You will either be broken on the Rock, or smashed to pieces by it. Today is the day to get right with God. Today is the acceptable day of salvation for those that truly understand they are hanging by a thread over the eternal flames of hell. Those in eternal torment right now, with no way out, know it. Don’t find it out too late. Repent, and turn from your sin and be saved.
“So expert was he in his hypocrisy that he fooled everyone but Jesus, right up to the very end.” – John MacArthur 
 John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men (Thomas Nelson, 2002) 193
 Ibid – 192
…I don’t know anybody that does know Stuart Scott, and so I can’t say anything about him with absolute certainty. I do know that he was well liked and loved by many. By all accounts I’d be pretty certain we could have hung out and become friends. I’m confident we’d engage in good conversation and enjoy a cup of coffee together. He seemed likeable. He seemed decent. He obviously had a tremendous amount of love for his family.
I’m not a huge sports fan, but the times that I saw Stuart Scott on ESPN I thought he was incredibly talented and was on some very funny commercials. So for the most part I’d say I really liked him. Today I’m still 49 years old and on Sunday Stuart Scott’s life ended at 49 years of age. I’m not sure why his life ended and mine continues, but that’s just the way it is. God is in control, and it is His decision who lives and who dies. He’s sovereign over all of it.
This article is not about Stuart Scott. It’s about you. It’s also about me. And most importantly it’s about the God that gives us life, and takes away life. If you or I don’t recognize that truth…that reality, then this article really needs to be considered long and hard. It takes hard work to really think about things like this, because…well honestly, because it’s just plain hard. I hate thinking about death. I hate watching shows where people die, especially the young or especially those that seem “good”.
I really wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. It is because man wanted to have his own way. Ultimately a man, Adam, chose his own way. Not God’s way. So we are left with that life taking cancer, if you will. It has us all infected, infected to the point of death. There was a warning that came along with the command. Don’t eat from this one tree, and if you do, you WILL die. And now we see that clearly in the death of what seemed like a really nice man.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. – Hebrews 9:27
Every one of us will die once. That speaks of our life here on earth. Our physical bodies… they will die. There is no doubt. And we see the reality of what happens next. The judgment. This means we will face judgment after our death. It’s easy to understand isn’t it?
But do you, or do I, really understand that? Please allow that sink in for just a moment. We will stand before the Creator and be judged. He knows every thought we’ve ever had. He knows every deed we’ve ever done. He sees it all. Nothing is hidden from His sight.
That time when you were so angry with, you fill in the blank, that you just wanted to smack them… did you know that is the same as murder? Every time you looked upon another human with sexual desire, other than your spouse that is the same as adultery? Every lie you ever told has been recorded in the book and every disobedient act against your parents.
Did you know that you’ve committed treason against the One that made you? Treason is a crime punishable by death. It really sounds grim. It sounds hopeless.
Did you know there is a way out of the bottomless pit you are now in? His name is Jesus. He died on a cross nearly 2000 years ago, and if you turn to Him, cast off your sins and repent of them, then place all your hope and trust in Him, you will be saved. You will be saved from God’s wrath and indignation toward those that are at enmity with Him.
There is still hope for you, if you are reading this. There is still hope for me as I write. I can’t save myself anymore than Stuart Scott could heal himself of cancer. That’s why we need Jesus. He came to this earth and healed to prove His divinity. He lived, He suffered, He died, and He rose again to conquer death. That is the good news. That is the best news I’ve ever heard. Will you reject His sacrifice today, or will you submit to His Lordship. You will give account.
He said these words that we could understand His grace and His mercy. He will give you rest, if you are tired of fighting against the deaths of this world. He gives life, and He gives it richly to those that place their hope in Him.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29-30
I hope Stuart Scott knew this.
Most of us believe that whatever we are doing is important. I know when I wake up in the morning it’s really easy to begin focusing on the tasks at hand and all the things I’d like to accomplish in the upcoming day. Each day we have a brand new opportunity to be productive. Most of us will go to our jobs and provide for our families. This is a good thing. This is biblical and it’s God honoring. Isn’t it?
Well I guess it depends on your perspective.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved
sleep. – Psalm 127:1-2
There is something very interesting about the Word of God. It’s mostly, easy to understand. There is nothing difficult about what this says. We don’t need an in depth study of each word to understand the message. There are two groups of people that will read this and take away very different understandings.
There is a warning contained in this passage for the unbelieving. This warning is clear. Outside of faith in Jesus Christ everything in your life is vanity. The word vanity in short means “useless”. Your existence is useless. It means that it is literally and figuratively ruined (morally). The unbeliever has a morally bankrupt life, and yet they have no concept of this. They believe their existence matters.
If I was to interview Oprah Winfrey, she would believe that her work is really making a difference. She would believe that her building of schools, her building of wells to provide water and educating young girls, is having a positive effect on the world around her. She believes, without a doubt, that she is building a city and it has meaning. I can feel the pushback already, because when I hear her words, and I know what she believes, then I lay her words on top of God’s Word, these two don’t go together.
Her building is vanity. It’s useless, because it is not built on Christ. It is not built by the LORD. It is vain for her to rise early and to stay up late. When we really get past the emotion of this, we can see that all of this is vanity.
Then we have a call to the Christian. For the Christian these things do matter. This is not permission to be lazy in our efforts. Christian’s should be the best workers they can be, and should always give full effort to what they do, in no way is this a call not to be diligent in our work. However, we should not call upon our own desires and our own wisdom in taking on these endeavors. All good things come from God, but we must act. There will be effort on our part, and that effort will be toil and difficult. God Himself has said that would be His curse upon the sons of Adam.
What are we to do with all of this, because it’s really difficult for most of us to think about how much vanity is all around us? I know that I’m challenged in my life when I think about it. I must really consider how many people I pass in a day that their lives are ultimately useless. I say that not to be hard but to awaken my conscience to their dire condition. I must preach to them because it’s their only hope.
If you are a believer, consider those around you and the message we must give that will be unpopular. As I said at the beginning, most of us believe we matter. Every person on this earth is created in the image of God and are therefore valuable and we have no idea how God will use them. We know that many will perish in their sin, but as far as we are concerned we have a job to do. We must tell them that God is holy, and there is coming a day of judgment. Will you build your house in vain, or will you build your house for the glory of God?