Persevere O’ Man of God

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…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

Ordo Salutis and Other Big Sounding Words – Part 1

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I recently was asked to respond to some questions about certain biblical terms that many people will hear that attend church or engage in Christian conversations. Sometimes these seem like such big and overwhelming words, but they are important to understand, not to sound important, but to understand how God works in the lives of His people.

I thought it would be good to share these, as others might have some of the same questions. To some it might be review, or basic knowledge, but please don’t just excuse them because you understand them.

Ordo salutis, which is the Latin term for order of salvation.  When and how does salvation occur and what happens and in what order.  Some of these steps may occur simultaneously while others are progressive, such as sanctification.  Here is a link to a great infographic from Tim Challies that really shows a beautiful picture of how this looks; I often refer back to this in discussions that I have with people about salvation.

In short here is the order:

Election

Calling

Regeneration

Conversion

Justification

Adoption

Sanctification

Perseverance

Glorification

The definitions I’ve utilized are from “Behold Your God: Rethinking God Biblically” by Dr. John Snyder, unless marked by an * which come from the infographic and include my own personal comments.

*Election – Before creation, because of His sovereign good pleasure, God chooses some people to be saved.  (Ephesians 1:4-6)

*Calling – God summons people to himself through the human proclamation of the gospel so they respond in saving faith. (Romans 8:30, 2 Timothy 1:9)

Note: there is a difference between an effectual call and a general call.  The general call goes out to all who hear the gospel, but the effectual call has an effect on the elect (Matthew 22:14), also God has clearly revealed Himself to all of mankind, so man is without excuse for his lack of response, see Romans 1:19-20.

Regeneration – Regeneration is the work of God’s Spirit in which He changes the spiritual condition of a person, bringing him from death to life.  Regeneration is the beginning of all of the moral changes in the believer.  It results in a life of ongoing change (sanctification) and ends in the complete transformation of the believer into the image of Christ (glorification).  Another term for regeneration is being born again.  (John 3:3, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Titus 3:5-6)

*Conversion – We willingly respond to the gospel call, repenting of sin and placing faith in Christ for salvation.  (This of course, can only happen to those that effectually hear the call.  Examples: Acts 16:14, Acts 16:30-31, Matthew 18:3)

Justification – Justification is a legal action by which God declares the believer to be freed from his guilt and made right before God’s law.  Unlike regeneration, it does not change the soul of the believer.  Justification alters the believer’s legal position before God, changing it from guilty to innocent.  Justification is the outcome of atonement and the imputation of Jesus’ righteousness to the believer.  (Romans 3:19-26, Romans 8:30, Luke 18:14)

Adoption – Adoption describes the new relationship the believer has to God by using a family-related term.  God, by the new birth and justification, makes the believer His adopted child.  God becomes his father and Jesus his brother.  The believer enters into all the responsibilities and joys of being in God’s family.  (Romans 8:15, Ephesians 1:5)

I wanted to briefly highlight the word responsibilities, because this shows us the importance of the fact that we are not free to continue in sin that grace may abound.  We are now called to be holy and set-apart – see Ephesians 2:10, Romans 6:1.

Sanctification – Sanctification has two parts.  First, the believer is set apart to God by the purchasing work of Jesus and regeneration.  Thus, the believer belongs solely to God and no longer to the world.  Second, the believer is daily being set apart in heart and life by the work of the Spirit, making the believer holy in his practice.  (Acts 20:32, John 17:17-19, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:11)

This might sometimes by two steps forward, one step back, but as Dr. Snyder says, it’s a daily process.  This is a wonderful way to examine our lives, as to whether we are truly in the faith.  Do we have victory over sins that used to beset us?

Perseverance – Perseverance refers to the fact that the true believer will not fall away from his relationship to God, but rather by trusting God (faith), he will endure until the end.  (John 10:26-30, John 17:9-12, John 17:24-26, Ephesians 1:13-14)

The scripture speaks so boldly and plainly on this doctrine.  We can also understand that believer’s can fall into sin, but they will not remain there for an extended period of time, and will respond when confronted with their sin (Psalm 51).

I will address backsliding in the second article, but this gives us the truth that God’s elect can never truly fall away.  The modern church misunderstands backsliding as a state in which true converts just fall back into sin, but in reality they most likely have never been converted.

Glorification – Glorification refers to the completion of all aspects of the believer’s salvation.  It is the final step to his rescue that comes when in heaven he sees Christ face to face and is ultimately transformed spiritually and physically into an everlasting perfect person. (Romans 8:17, 8:30)

Philippians 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it maybe conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. 

Praise God that we will finally be relieved from this body of death and sin will no longer be in our lives, this will of course only occur after death or the return of the Lord Jesus.

Next time we will look at some other terms used in Christendom.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Kevin