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Missed Opportunities

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The church is alive and well in this country. At least there are a lot of people that attend church in this country, and specifically it seems as though there are many people that attend large churches. This seems to be a trend in much of the evangelical churches of today for many people. I don’t have a lot of statistics to support my statement, but this article isn’t really about backing up that claim with statistics. I can look around my hometown and see several large churches that have a big attendance.

I recently attended a home-school conference and the conference was held at a church facility that was quite incredible. They had a very large auditorium, they had a sprawling campus, they had nearly every program that one could imagine to appeal to nearly every segment of every possible audience. I mean they had it all. Youth facilities, that looked to have a rockin’ band, multiple languages, cafe, coffee shop, book store, gymnasium, and on and on, even a jungle room for the tots. If you wanted something for your family and you wanted to go to church this would be the place.

I can imagine the “pull” a place like this has on the people around it. It’s the hip place to go to church. I’ll bet they can sing Amazing Grace like no other place in town. Whether that be a traditional version, or a new modern version, I’d be pretty certain this place can deliver…

It was while attending this conference that something really struck me. We were sitting in the auditorium, and Voddie Baucham was the keynote speaker. He had many sessions over the days we were in attendance and Voddie was very kind and stuck around after his sessions answering questions. A man and his wife sitting a row below us to our right said they were considering home-schooling their children, but the kids were a little older and they were rebelling against the idea. He asked Voddie if they should insist, or allow the kids to have their way. The answer was quite remarkable and probably the opposite of what most people would think. He told them they need to pull them in tight to their bosom and hold them their as long as they can.

In other words, don’t you dare let them go, and don’t you dare allow them to determine their course.   I was blessed by Voddie’s compassion for this couple and I was struck by the pain this couple seemed to be in over this decision, that they were struggling to make.

After the session I was walking outside the auditorium and I saw the man that asked the question and I approached him. I said that I was touched by his question, and had a compassion for his situation. Then I asked him if his church would assist him in shepherding him through this, and helping him make a decision about the home-schooling. It was at this point that I was grateful for what the Lord has done in my life and bringing me to the point that I continue to have more clarity as what the church is for.

He said to me, “well I don’t think they’d care either way… the church is very big and I’m not sure they’d have an opinion…” I guess I’m not surprised, but I’m surprised… this man didn’t go to the church where this conference was being held, but he described it as big, and I can imagine that it was similar. And among the “bigness” of their ministry they have missed their opportunities. They have missed their primary calling as the church. They have blown it… They are so full of the fact that they need to reach more people with Jesus, that they didn’t notice that the people that need Jesus the most are their own attendees.

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. – Acts 20:28-29

These “shepherds” are so busy, they have no time to shepherd the flock. They’ve built such great kingdoms that they have no idea what’s going on at the grass roots level. It is actually tragic, and I fear for these leaders. They have no idea the condition of their flock. I’m sure they think they are doing good work, because they have lots in attendance, but are they really building the church?

I’m not against all manner of large churches, I know of some very good ones, that have figured out how to take care of their people even though they are big. They have available resources, but even in the best of these churches, if you desire to be lost in the crowd, you can certainly do that. I don’t mean to claim my church has it all figured out, because we don’t, but I highly esteem the leadership in our church because of how much they care, and they invest in the lives of the people God has entrusted them.

If you consider what a true shepherd does, and you consider today that most church leaders are nothing more than religious CEO’s it’s a big difference. A shepherd guarded the holding pen at night with his very life. He laid across the doorway that nothing could enter without him knowing about it. The shepherd closely inspected his sheep everyday to see if they had infections. I can’t cast a blanket upon every large church, just as I can’t say that every small church shepherd’s the flock well.

What I desire to have people consider in this article is what is the condition of your flock if you are a church leader. If you are not a church leader and you attend a church, how are they doing shepherding your soul? If you were considering home-school, would they guide you through that process? Or would they be too busy to concern themselves with such a trivial matter?

Kevin

Bruce Jenner and a Reprobate Mind

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I am not a social commentator, I’m a Christian.   I have no desire to be a social commentator, but I’ve found myself commenting on things in the news lately. The world we live in is a dark place, and it’s going to get worse and for those that are Christians we will find ourselves being more and more marginalized as society continues to degenerate.

I can remember Bruce Jenner as a great Olympic athlete, and not only an athlete, but a gold medalist in one of the toughest events in the Olympics, the decathlon. His commitment to achieve this level of “success” must have been hard to imagine.

And now he’s a she… at least in his mind. If you were to run into him somewhere you might think he’s a she also, but appearances can be misleading. As a Christian I’m a seller of truth. I only want to deal in truth, and my calling is to tell others about the truth.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

This is true. This is what God did.

Then God said, “Let Us, make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the seas, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:26-27

God created man in His own image, and gave man an eternal soul. Man is valuable to God, as he is an image bearer of the Creator. Of all the creatures on the earth, man has been created with a soul that will live forever.   Bruce Jenner was created a man, and an image bearer of God, but what happened that caused a man to think he should be a woman? Isn’t that a legitimate question to ask ourselves?

Well, if you are a Christian, you should know the answer. But do you really know the answer, from the source of truth, and will you be prepared to have a conversation with someone when asked about it? Are you prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within you?

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5

There is a great battle that rages, and all of mankind seeks some meaning to life. Most seek some form of meaning through happiness. They believe they are called to happiness, and they even “deserve” to be happy. I would imagine, Bruce Jenner thinks becoming a woman will make him happy. Mankind seeks fulfillment through consumption. They desire to consume the joys of the earth whether that be entertainment, vacations, sex, or a bigger home. Man is always seeking the next big thing.

Man seeks to numb his pain, or consume through the use of some form of medication. He drinks himself into a state of no feeling. He brags about how much he enjoys strong drink and his prowess as an addict.

He doesn’t realize his problem is sin. He doesn’t realize there is joy in Christ, and God is in none of his thoughts, so he tries to rationalize his life, and he rejects the very God that created him in His image. He continues to reject the grace of God, and does all sorts of abominable things all the while declaring his own goodness. In the depraved mind of Bruce Jenner, he thinks he is doing the right thing and it’s proof that he doesn’t know the truth.

He doesn’t know that the truth could set him free…

He doesn’t know that when the Son sets him free, he is free indeed…

He doesn’t know that he will face God’s wrath unless he turns from his wicked ways…

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen. – Romans 1:24-25

Bruce Jenner, has been given up by God, and he has dishonored his body, and the Creator that created him. He has believed the lies that his sin will make him happy, and will offer a fulfilling life. He has served the created being, primarily himself. He doesn’t want to hear about it, because he believes he’s done the right thing. His mind and his heart are darkened. He has fully rejected the goodness of God.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting… – Romans 1:28

The King James Version says a “reprobate mind” which is a word used of metal that is cast away. It is unfit for use, unproved. It is a mind that has been so corrupted by sin, that it no longer thinks properly. The conscience has been so seared and hardened that it has lost its grip on reality.

The problem with God’s word, for most, is they won’t or can’t discern the truth from the lie. This is not difficult to understand, but it’s difficult to accept for those that don’t cherish the truth. This is an offense, and stumbling block to understanding Christianity. I expect this article will be an offense to many.

In the classic work “The Pilgrim’s Progress” on his journey to the Celestial City, Christian must face the trials of Vanity Fair. That place where sin and temptation run mostly unrestrained.   The word vanity connotes a smug or egotistical complacency joined with emptiness, futility and a touch of frivolity. It’s not ironic that the magazine we most associate with this title has Jenner on its cover. The wisest man to ever live, told us that it is all vanity and not to be pursued (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). He told us how worthless of an endeavor it really is. All will face the temptations of the Vanity Fair, and in Bunyan’s allegory, those that prove to be true Christians will face great trials and persecution over their desire for truth, but will strand firm in the face of adversity.

If you are a Christian or you profess to be a Christian, you must be prepared to stand for the truth. How you react to this and the countless other acts of depravity that will come, determine whether you are truly in the Lord. Make no mistake, this will be the line that divides the pretenders from the true believers. If you believe you are somehow being progressive in your thinking or supportive of this lifestyle you are deceiving yourself, and you risk death. You risk the same death and judgment that awaits Bruce Jenner, lest he turn from his sin and live.

who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. – Romans 1:32

Will you stand on truth or crumble under the weight of popular opinion? Will you be hated and persecuted for righteousness sake? Jesus said you must, or you’re not. A great dividing line is forming, and which side of it will you stand? Will you fear those that can kill your body, or fear Him that can kill your body and soul?

Jesus Christ came to this earth and fulfilled the law of God, that you and I have no hope of ever fulfilling. He suffered a brutal death on the cross, suffered the wrath of God that sinners can be declared righteous. That is the good news. We are all without hope unless we turn to Christ for the salvation that He freely offers, that stands true for me, it stands true for you, and it stands true for Bruce Jenner.

Seek the LORD while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. – Isaiah 55:6-7

Kevin

What Can We Learn From Josh Duggar?

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I rarely write about current events, but I think this is important enough to talk about, so today I will. The Duggar Family of 19 Kids and Counting has released reports of sexual abuse by Josh Duggar, the eldest son. The family never reported the situation until it had been discovered and then reported on by a news agency. I won’t dig into the should they have…, or the what should they have done scenarios…, because there are so many, I’ll allow the “experts” to comment on that side of things.

I write from a strictly Christian perspective, and I will tell you my family and I enjoy watching 19 Kids and Counting. It’s hard to find anything of any quality on television and this show attempts to bring decency to their message. This report of Josh is certainly disturbing and bothersome to me and to many that are fans of the family and program, as it should be. The reality is that rarely are things as they seem, and television is in the business of making things look good or bad, depending on what they want to show.

In no way do I approve or think what happened is right. The Duggars are part of a sinful world, and they are sinners by nature. We, just like them, are all under the wrath of an Almighty God outside of His regenerating work.

among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)… – Ephesians 2:3-5

One big problem I see in this whole situation is what I call an assumed salvation. I don’t know this family, so I don’t know the interactions the parents have with the children on a daily basis. I don’t understand, nor profess to know, how Jim Bob disciples his children.   They home-school, and do Bible studies, I assume they are members in good standing of a local church, according to what I see on the show. However, this does not make regenerate believers in Jesus Christ.

The danger for Christian families, and especially large Christian families, is that because they train their children to behave properly, unless their hearts have been changed they are only good looking little Pharisees. White-washed tombs, full of dead men’s bones. They look so shiny and pretty, but inside are full of corruption.

This is or was, clearly, the case with Josh. Was this something that brought him to salvation and recognition of his sin? Did this cause him to be broken, to weep, lament and mourn over his heinous offenses against a Holy God? I really don’t know. I hope it did.

The lesson I need to learn, and the lesson you need to learn from this, for our own children, is that we must preach the gospel to them.   I wrote last time about the salvation of our children, and it seems that the timing was well ordered by God’s providential plans. We have a role to play. Jim Bob and Michelle have the most important role to play in the life of their kids if they are truly saved. Spread good seed, preach the gospel, and trust God for the results.

We should never fail to teach to our children’s hearts, and show them how they can’t do it on their own. Whether it be something as repulsive as sexual molestation, or talking back to your parents, they need the gospel. All those beautiful little children need to know they need Jesus and they need the cleansing work that He did on the cross.

No matter how good it looks on the outside, or how much we teach the Bible, God must do a work in their hearts. If I could ever offer the Duggar family my tiny little speck of advice, I would call this situation exactly what it is.

It was not a mistake. It was sin.

It was so despicable and ugly to a Holy God that His Son was brutally murdered for it. He took the wrath that we deserve, He hung on that tree until it was finished. He did it so that sinful man has hope. He did it so you and I might be reconciled to the Father. Josh Duggar is a sinner, I’m a sinner, you are a sinner, and unless we repent and turn from our sin and confess Christ as Lord then we will pay for that sin eternally in hell.  Unless we’ve been washed by the blood of Christ then we are no longer seen as sinners, but as having the imputed righteousness of Jesus.

The offer of salvation is free to those that will come to Him. Let’s learn a great lesson from this and lift up this family in prayer that God would be glorified as He so richly deserves and perhaps someone will be saved I hope what the devil intended for evil, God intended for good.

And a warning to those that take some joy in this situation.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

We all need Jesus.

Kevin

Will Your Children Be Saved?

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Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. – Psalm 127:3

Indeed children are a reward, and how can we look upon our precious little ones and not consider them a gift of God. Children are also a heritage says the word of God, they are like a treasured possession that God has given to us for many purposes, one is in the hopes we pass down a godly line and continue to perpetuate the gospel. That is my hope, and that should also be your hope for your children. My hope is in the Lord, that He will save them, and that He will do all His good pleasure.

But what if that doesn’t happen?

I believe completely and trust fully in the Sovereignty of God. In some circles, I suppose I’m called a “Calvinist”, in that I affirm the doctrines of the Bible that John Calvin taught. This is a four-letter word to many in the professing Christian world, but can I trust in a God that sits back and does not have His hand upon everything; even the salvation of destruction of my children? Oh what a difficult topic this is to write about…

The LORD has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. – Proverbs 16:4

Have we not read the Scriptures? Do we avoid the hard topic of the reality of salvation? Do we assume because we are faithfully following the Lord that our children will automatically do that? This is a reality, which a Christian must embrace; because there is no guarantee of salvation for our children. We won’t explore the covenantal aspect in this post, but if we only take a cursory glance at Scripture to see how many disobedient children followed their obedient parents, it becomes obvious there is no guarantee.

“But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” – Jonah 2:9

Do we really trust that salvation is of the Lord? This is a very good question to ask, but it’s a hard question to ask. You can do all the right things. You can take your children to church, you can catechize them, you can teach them the Holy Scriptures, but you can’t guarantee their salvation.

So what do you do now? Do you “let go and let God”? I sure hope not. I sure hope you and I will be diligent, because we also have God’s commands, and the thing I believe is more important than anything else in this conversation is our obedience; if you are a believer, than you MUST be obedient to the Scriptures.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7 see also Ephesians 6:4

Believing parents, and especially fathers are commanded, you’ve been given an order that you must obey, to train your children, all the time. Not part of the time, not some of the time, but at every opportunity you have. You have a responsibility to carry out the commands of the King.

Our children have a responsibility in this equation. They are commanded to repent and turn from their sin. They are without excuse, as all of mankind is without excuse, if they don’t repent and turn from their sin. There will be no “out clauses” on judgment day.

Listen to the testimony of Charles Spurgeon, in how his mother would conduct family worship and plead with them. Would you do this with your children? Would they understand the gravity of their situation, should they go unconverted? Would you not do anything and everything for your children that they might come to know the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?

“It was the custom, on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay at home with us, and then we sat round the table, and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scripture to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading; there was a little piece of Alleine’s Alarm, or of Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted, and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we sat round the table; and the question was asked, how long it would be before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek the Lord. Then came a mother’s prayer, and some of the words of that prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is grey. I remember, on one occasion, her praying thus: “Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” – C.H. Spurgeon

Could you say this to your children? Would you love them this much, to have them consider that you would testify against them?

Kevin

Spring…

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For a few short days in the spring, our little piece of the earth is alive with color and beauty. The colors are vibrant, the grass is lush, and the fragrance that fills the air is sweet. But it never last long…

Each and every year this is the pattern…

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth: The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. – Song of Solomon 2:11-12

It’s short, just like life…

We know the truth of this, yet in our lives we don’t always see it, because we are often caught up in the mundane aspects of life.

As I considered my yard the other day, I wanted to take some pictures to remember it, the grass looks as close to perfect as I can get it, but there are things you can’t see. And there are things there that I can’t see.

Lurking under the ground were moles (I think they are now gone), and popping up are dandelions and weeds. These are representative of sin. All believer’s have sin (1 John 1:8), but it’s also true that all believer’s have the Holy Spirit of God and have the ability to conquer sin (Romans 6).

Our lives are like our yards and if we don’t constantly attend to them, like a gardener protects his garden, then the ugliness begins to take over. The dandelions spread and in one or two seasons your yard is full of them.

So for the believer, to flourish, he must attend to and have attended to his yard, by the word of God (Hebrews 4:12), fellowship with the saints (Acts 2:42), and exhortation through the preaching of God’s Word (1 Timothy 4:13). God has given us certain privileges and gifts (1 Timothy 4:14). He has provided Pastor’s and teacher’s (Ephesians 4:11-12 that watch out for the flock (Acts 20:28) and teach the truth of Scripture (2 Timothy 1:13). He has provided the love and fellowship of other saints and He has told us to not forsake gathering together (Hebrews 10:25).

Lazy gardeners will allow their responsibility to relax, and they will skip every once in a while, because it’s just more convenient. We also have the pragmatist who will attend Saturday evening so they can go to their kids sporting events, rather than gather on the one day a week God has ordained (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). In fact we call it the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10), doesn’t that tell us something?

The Christian life is one of commitment and responsibility, but it is filled with tremendous joy. It is not for those that desire ease and comfort.

I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:30-34

If you’ve become lazy in your responsibilities as a Christian and yes I mean you have responsibilities. Then repent and turn from your sin, or better yet, examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5) to see if you are truly in the faith. There are no short cuts in Christianity. It’s a narrow and difficult path that leads to life, not a smooth easy highway (Matthew 7:13-14).

Kevin

Hold Fast

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We’ve reached the end of a study that for me has been incredibly rewarding. It was a challenge that came out of the blue, so to speak, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to consider this topic and stand in amazement at the depth and richness of the Word of God. Each word has meaning, and each word was breathed out by God Himself, through the pen of each individual writer. Using their unique style and their own unique personalities that God caused to say exactly what He wants us to know.

I must ask you a very simple but hard hitting question. Do you believe that about the Bible? Do you believe that it is the inerrant, infallible, all sufficient, breath of God? Do you believe that it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that they man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work? And it is the only means by which God saves? Get this wrong and you miss the whole thing? Because then you’ve strayed from sound teaching. You’ve done just what Paul warned Timothy against.

Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. – 2 Timothy 1:13-14

Paul is telling us to hold on with dear life to these words, to cling to them, as if to let go would certainly mean death. Imagine being on the deck of a ship in a big storm and the huge waves will wash you overboard. You must cling to the railing or surely you will be lost at sea. This is the imagery that comes to my mind when I think of holding fast.

However, what do you cling to? If you cling to the wrong thing it might certainly break and give way, the importance of dearly holding on is secondarily important to what we cling to and we must hold onto something solid. Something that is immovable. We must cling to dear life to the sound words committed to Timothy by Paul.

Notice here that Paul asserts his authority. Imagine the arrogance of this man claiming that his words are sound. Have you ever had a discussion or an argument with someone that wants to dismiss Paul as a notch below Jesus? “Well those words are not in red”, they might say. No, let’s put that argument in the ground very quickly… “All” Scripture is breathed out by God… Paul says so himself right here, this is the Word of God and the “words” of God.

And he goes onto proclaim that they are in Christ Jesus. Jesus appointed Paul to be a minister of the gospel, not some lesser known author, or irrelevant part of what God’s Word says. Paul is authoritative, and his words carry the full weight of God. This is a slippery slope and you will quickly descend into apostasy if you believe this lie.

Finally, hold onto the good thing which was committed to you.

Is salvation a good thing?

In this day and age we have so much going for us. Most of us live in homes that are heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. We rarely if ever miss a meal. We have plenty of resources to entertain ourselves. We enjoy vacations and time for leisure. There is seldom a day that goes by that we don’t flop down on a comfortable chair and we have the opportunity to read a book or watch television. We really don’t think about eternity on a daily basis. We really don’t spend a lot of time considering the eternal souls of those around us. We seldom if ever tell someone they are in danger, and standing at the edge of a cliff being supported only by a very thin thread of life.

So is salvation a good thing? We think so little of it, because we are so arrogantly walking around as if God does not really exist. I realize this doesn’t apply to all of us. I also realize this doesn’t apply to all of us all the time. It does apply to all of us sometimes. And I would like to us think about having it apply to us less of the time.

Paul lays it out quite clearly, that the only way we grow in this grace, and that we recognize our condition is through the power of the Spirit of God. He is the “Helper”, and for God’s people, we have the ability that others don’t have. We have the Holy Spirit living inside us, sustaining our salvation, preserving us to live in His power; to do the work that we were created for. He is there to sustain, to chasten, to convict, and for some to save.

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 21-23

We are kept by the power of the Holy Spirit, to do the work, for which we have been called. Today, we have an opportunity to proclaim His name. We have the privilege to call on a power that is unknown to most of the world, and use that to bring Him glory. This is your purpose if you are a believer. If you are not a believer, then your purpose is to repent and turn from your sin, or you will perish in your sin. This mission is not complex. In fact it’s quite simple.

The only question that remains; will you be faithful?

Kevin

Hope?

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For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. – 2 Timothy 1:12

We’ve turned a slight corner in looking at 2 Timothy 1:5-14, but yet we have so much more to see.

Paul has told us much, and he’s given us much encouragement. He wanted to stir up Timothy to continue in his work. He has reminded him of his need for boldness, for his ability to suffer, and to not be ashamed of the gospel. He has reminded young Timothy of the holy calling by which he was called and that all of this was planned in time past. Paul has declared authoritatively his role as an apostle and a teacher and that all his authority has been ordained by Jesus Christ Himself and proved Himself the Christ through His death and resurrection.

There is so much hope in Christ, and Paul doesn’t want Timothy to forget this. Have you ever wanted to encourage a friend, or a loved one? You remind them of the difficult things they’ve been through, and the things they’ve accomplished, and how they have so much more potential? Yes, this is what Paul wants to remind Timothy. This is not a Joel Osteen pep talk, no; it’s a call to action. It’s an exhortation to press on…

Well, Paul once again reminds Timothy of his sufferings, and why he is not ashamed. We’ve previously discussed the suffering aspect of the gospel, Jesus certainly suffered and we as Christians are told we will suffer, but today that is certainly different than it was then. But yet a day is on the horizon that this will change. I’d like to have the true believer consider this for a moment. Are you prepared? Are you preparing your family for the day that is coming? My children will suffer for the gospel, should the Lord save them, much more than I ever will. They will be minimized, they will be reduced, and they will certainly be persecuted. Will the next generation by martyred? It’s a possibility.

So where’s the hope in all this, so far, it’s mostly depressing?

The hope is just around the corner, look at what Paul then says “For I know whom I have believed…”

What an absolutely incredible statement of Jesus Christ. There is Paul’s hope. There is Timothy’s hope, and there is your hope and my hope. Jesus Christ, in all His incredible glory, is the hope for believers.

It is a real hope right? I mean it’s not a false hope like Buddha, or Muhammad? It’s not “hoping” that everything will turn out okay, its real hope. It’s something we can actually place our faith and our hope in. It’s real, it’s tangible.

And He is risen…

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-6

Paul had confidence in his hope, because he had confidence in the Word of God. Paul believed in the authority of Scripture. He believed that God’s Word stood the test of time, that God’s Word foretold the coming of Christ, His life, His death and His resurrection.

According to the Scriptures…

Paul believed the eye witness accounts, he knew they were accurate, he had talked with these people, and not only that; Paul himself had seen the risen Lord.

Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. – 1 Corinthians 15:8

This was a lock for Paul. This is the reason he had the confidence he had. This is why Paul would willingly and happily suffer. He knew…he had first hand, intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and he was confident that for which he was called.

Lastly, Paul knew that the promises were true. He knew that what had been committed would be kept. The saints would persevere. They would persevere because God keeps His promises. He is not slack concerning His promises, He is not a liar, and He is incapable of lying. So either it was true or it wasn’t and there are no other options.

Paul believed. Do you believe?

Do you believe what the Scriptures say and do you believe the promises that God has in store for those that serve Him out of a pure heart; a pure heart that only He can give? Yes, we all want eternal life, but do you also believe the promises that He makes to the unrighteous? Because that is terrifying, and if you have some head knowledge of Him, without an intimate knowledge, a saving knowledge of Him you must also believe His promises. His promise that says He will punish the unrighteous. Those without faith will perish. The wrath of God will be poured out upon them for eternity.

But today there is still hope for you. Today you can turn to Him and be saved. That’s a promise you can count on.

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. – 1 Timothy 1:16

Kevin

A Sovereign God

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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. 1. What is the chief end of man?
  2. 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.

Kevin

Do Not Be Ashamed…

paulwritinghisepistlesinprison

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.

Misguided Focus

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.

Kevin

Persevere O’ Man of God

paulwritinghisepistlesinprison

…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.

Background

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.

The Charge

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.

Kevin

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