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


Is your church growing?

A quick note:  Part 2 of Proud to be an American is coming later this week.  You didn’t miss it.

This seems to be a common question in the church world.  I always remember my parents speaking about pastors that would go to conferences and the big question for pastors seems to be “how big is your church?”  The joke was pastors would exaggerate.  The term was “evangelically speaking” we have X amount of people on Sunday morning.

Recently I walked into Starbuck’s and ran into a man that I used to go to church with.  He’s a guy I don’t mind seeing but I probably wouldn’t put much effort into attempting to see him.  The first question out of his mouth was “Where are you going to church?”  I knew this was a loaded question but I told him I’m still going to Grace Fellowship.  “Oh great how’s it going down there?”  Wonderful I told him.

Here it comes….

“Is it growing?”  “I’ve heard a lot of people have left their” Yes it is growing I told him.  “Oh great because I know that the “So and So” family left and a lot of others…. whose still there from the original launch?”  “Well it was nice to see you”

Yes it was God Bless.

So this really had me thinking about what’s the big deal about church growth?  Is it important for pastors to exaggerate how many members or “attendees” they have each week.  If this is the benchmark for success I’d say Joel Osteen is the clear winner.  He’s going to have more crowns than anyone could imagine.  How do we really measure growth?  Mankind cannot read hearts so the only way they can measure success is by numbers.  It kind of makes me think of how the Pharisees and early Jews measured success.  If you had health, wealth and prosperity God had certainly given you His favor.

This all sounded great until that Jesus guy came along.  Seems He turned everything upside down.  His measure of success was the exact opposite of everything they thought.

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.  Matthew 19:30

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it…  Luke 9:24

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you… Matthew 5:11

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you… Matthew 5:44

This guy is radical.  Maybe He was having an off day; perhaps He’s better at building a big church.  We know he had a lot of followers.  The crowds were enormous.  There were mobs, “multitudes” the scripture tells us.  More people than could possibly be counted.  He certainly had something great to offer.  After all He was healing them all.  Anyone that came to Him was healed.  Can you imagine how cool that must have been if you were sick.  Incredible!

Then He does something so unusual that the modern day church builders must really scratch their heads and say why?  In John chapter 6 the Lord is giving a sermon for the ages.  Can you even begin to comprehend what it must have been like to hear God Himself proclaim the gospel?  I can’t imagine how incredible that must have been.  But this sermon was different, it rocked their world and it upset the status quo….  “This Guy is out there, He’s just plain wacky.”  “Eat My flesh?”  What?  “Drink My blood?”  “This guy is nuts….”

John 6:66-68 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.  Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”  But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

There it is church growth 101….  Well okay not exactly.   So how do you measure the success in a church?

2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and forever.  Amen.

1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Ephesians 4:14-15 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ

Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

I don’t believe a big church is sinful.  I’ve attended Grace Community Church in California where John MacArthur is the pastor and I know God has numerically blessed that ministry as His word is faithfully taught.  I also don’t believe that a small church that is not growing numerically is a bad thing.

What one must really consider is how are the saints being edified and trained for ministry?  Are you growing in holiness and sanctification?   Are people being saved and lives being changed?  Are you being challenged from the pulpit?  Are you accountable to the leadership and submissive to them?  Do they proclaim the gospel message and does a call to repentance go out consistently?

These are all signs that God is growing His church.