Hold Fast

paulwritinghisepistlesinprison

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

Shepherds

shepherds and sheep

As I mentioned last week we don’t think very much about sheep in this day and age and it’s logical that we think little about shepherds. The role of a shepherd has changed in this modern day and it doesn’t have the same meaning it had in biblical times. The work of a shepherd still exists today in areas of the world and people still care for sheep in the way that the scripture describes for us.

Let’s take a look at why the role of shepherd is important today for those of us that call ourselves Christians. The word shepherd quite obviously comes from the joining of the two words sheep and herd. So a shepherd is one who herds sheep. It can also mean pastor or one that works in the “pastures”.

1 Samuel 16:11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”

Isn’t it interesting that David was a shepherd, the man after God’s own heart and would be the first acceptable King, started as a lowly shepherd. We also see that Abraham, Moses, Jacob all were shepherds. Jesus described Himself as the “Good Shepherd” that lays down His life for His sheep. The metaphorical use of shepherding and the important role of shepherds are as significant for us today as it was in the times of Christ.

We can see that God uses the lowly to reveal His greatness. Shepherds were considered the bottom rung of society, shepherding was not a glamorous job. It was a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job. Sheep never stop being sheep. They need constant care and watching over. We saw in the article about sheep that they need constant watch because there is so much danger for them. They easily contract illness and cuts which can cause disease. They are very susceptible to attack from predators.

So you might say, “Well this is moderately interesting but how does it affect us today?”

There is a tremendous amount of New Testament application to the role of being a shepherd, but for the sake of this article, being shepherded. What does it mean to be shepherded by those called to be shepherds?

Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…

As established above the word pastor here is the same word as shepherd (poimēn) which means literally or figuratively to be a shepherd or a pastor. We can see that Christ Himself has appointed men in your life to be your pastor, for what purpose…for the purpose of equipping you for the work of ministry and the edifying of the body.

This really is the primary purpose of the church and the work of those that are in ministry as pastors and elders. It’s not to stand on the stage and give you a pep talk about life, or provide you with a motivational speech to keep you going until next week.

The pastors job is bring the weight of scripture to bear upon your life. That you would be edified and equipped for the work God has for you. Not to fill the seats with his wonderful charm and quick-wit.

The shepherd will do the unpopular things to keep his sheep healthy. He will pin them down and pull bot flies out of their infected flesh. Doesn’t this make the 23rd Psalm come to life?

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures…” Just think about this for a moment, it’s not your own desire to lie down in a green pasture, you must be made to do it.

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” If you are a child of the King you will be led on the path of righteousness, for His name’s sake.

“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Sometimes the shepherd must use the rod to correct, even when it’s unpopular.

1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

What an overwhelming charge give to those that Christ has appointed. They are told to be examples and overseers. They are accountable for souls, and we generally just want to be sheep, right? We desire our own way, and we might want some accountability, but not too much.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Here is a charge to us sheep. We are to willingly place ourselves under the authority of our shepherds, as we willingly place ourselves under the authority of Christ. We have established earlier by looking at Ephesians 4:11 that Christ Himself has placed those shepherds and now we must obey and be submissive.

Why?

Because it is profitable for us! Doesn’t it make sense that when sheep have illness and disease and the shepherd digs out the nasty infection that can kill his sheep; that is profitable for that sheep? Do we make that connection? Have you considered the last time you fought against God’s desire for your life and you refused to obey or submit? If your shepherd was faithful in his calling, he did his job.

Did you fulfill your requirement?

May we humble ourselves today, for the plan God has put in place for the profit of His people.

Kevin